When Randy Fontanez played on Team Puerto Rico in the 2013 World Baseball Classic it was an honor for him to represent his homeland, “The World Baseball Classic was the best thing to ever happen to me closely followed by the no-hitter I threw against Notre Dame.” Fontanez continues, “The experience I gained from those three weeks are something that I will forever remember and use in my future playing baseball.”
Following the WBC finals, in which Team Puerto Rico lost to Team Dominican Republic, Fontanez went on to pitch for the St. Lucie Mets and in 45 games, he was 9-7, with a 3.41 ERA, one save, and 83 strike outs in 60.2 innings. After the season, he participated in Winter Ball with the Indios de Mayaguez (“Mayaguez Indians”) of the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League in Puerto Rico, and in 11 games he was 1-1, with a 1.26 ERA, and 11 strikeouts in 14.1 innings. The Indians are managed by former Mets infielder Carlos Baerga.
The Mayaguez Indians finished the regular season in a three-way tie for first place at 21-19. In the league’s Round Robin playoff series, the Indians advanced to the league finals, with an 8-3 record and faced the Criollos de Caguas (“Caguas Creoles”) who also finished the regular season tied for first. In the first round of the playoffs, Fontanez had a 0.00 ERA, 5 hits, 1 save, and 9 strikeouts in 8 innings of relief.
In the league finals, the Indians defeated the Creoles 4 games to 2 and advanced to the Caribbean Series in Margarita Island, Venezuela starting Saturday Feburary 1st. The five teams that will be vying for the title are Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela and defending champs Mexico.
In the Puerto Rican league finals, Fontanez was 1-1, 3 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts in 3.1 innings in relief. The Mets pitching prospect shared with me his feelings on playing with the Puerto Rican team, “It is an unbelievable feeling being able to represent Puerto Rico again for the second year in a row.” He continues, “No better feeling than having Puerto Rico across my chest, a true blessing.”
The teams do consist of a handful of major league players, some top prospects as well as players from the native land. I asked the right hander how he felt about the teams chances, “All the teams are tough, and it’s going to come down to what team gets hot this week.” Fontanez added, “I believe we can win it.”
When I asked him if he felt pressure not only representing Puerto Rico but also the Mets organization, he responded with a smile, “Never pressure, just an opportunity.” Great attitude for a young man about to take on the Carribean.
(Photos: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images and Randy Fontanez Facebook Page)