Happy Cinco de Mayo! This is the day those in Mexico celebrate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire. For those of us in the US, we celebrate Mexican food specials to order out and enjoy a couple of Margaritas. It is also the day the Brewers usually wear their “Cerveceros” jerseys. The Brewers have had a handful of really successful players with Mexican heritage. In this list, we want to discuss the top four Brewers who came from Mexico.
4) Jorge De La Rosa
De La Rosa made his Major League debut in 2003 with the Milwaukee Brewers. He had a twisting road that landed him in Milwaukee for his debut. He was first signed as an amateur free agent by Arizona then a couple of years later purchased by the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox then traded him back to Arizona in the Curt Schilling trade. Later that off-season of 2003, he was in the package being sent to Milwaukee which also included Craig Counsell, Lyle Overbay, Junior Spivey, and Chris Capuano in exchange for Richie Sexson. De La Rosa pitched the next three seasons in Milwaukee accumulated a 6.23 ERA over that time. While he struggled with the Brewers, he went on to have a long, successful career in the Show. He never was an All-Star, but he did have some very productive seasons in his nine years spent in Colorado. Widely considered the toughest place to pitch because of the altitude, De La Rosa had a very respectable 4.35 ERA over his time in Colorado. He pretty much was the poster child for what a solid #4 pitcher looks like.
3) Marco Estrada
Estrada was a 6th round pick by the Washington Nationals in the 2005 draft. He was claimed off waivers by the Brewers in 2010 and played the next five years in Milwaukee. Estrada never found too much success in Milwaukee. His best season was 2012 when he went 5-7 with a respectable 3.64 ERA. It was the only season with the Brewers he pitched above average compared to the rest of the league. In 2014 Estrada led the league in home runs given up with 29 in a season, the only time he led the league in a category. He pitched a 4.11 ERA over his five seasons in Milwaukee. Immediately upon leaving Milwaukee, Estrada had his best season in Toronto finishing the season 10th in Cy Young voting and was an All-Star the following year.
2) Yovani Gallardo
Yovani was the Brewer’s ace for a span of years which included a couple of playoff appearances. He was the Opening Day starter five straight years from 2010 to 2014. Yovani was the Brewer’s 2nd round pick in the 2004 MLB draft. Just three years later in 2007, he made his Major League debut. In his rookie season at the age of 21, he went 9-7 with a very respectable 3.67 ERA. He spent eight seasons in Milwaukee receiving one All-Star appearance and one Silver Slugger. In 2011 he pitched a 3.52 ERA and finished 7th in Cy Young award voting. Yovani was an incredibly durable pitcher making at least 30 starts for seven straight seasons. Yovani was also an exceptional hitter for being a pitcher hitting 12 career home runs. In 2010 he hit .254 with 4 home runs en route to his Silver Slugger Award. After his years in Milwaukee, he had one above-average season and arguably the best season of his career with the Rangers in 2015. He then bounced around the next few seasons never finding much success. He finished with a 15.5 WAR in Milwaukee making him the 2nd best Mexican born player to play for the team.
1) Teddy Higuera
Teddy was purchased by the Brewers in 1983. In 1985 he was making his Major League debut. Teddy came up to the Bigs and immediately made an impact. In his rookie season, he went 15-8 with a 3.90 ERA and finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting. He followed up his impressive rookie campaign with an even better sophomore season. In 1984 he went 20-11 with an incredible 2.79 ERA. He made his first and only All-Star appearance, finished 2nd in Cy Young voting, and 15th in MVP voting. He was doing all this at the time when fellow Mexico native Fernando Valenzuela was also at the top of his game pitching for the LA Dodgers. Teddy played a total of 9 seasons, all with Milwaukee. He never made another All-Star team despite some impressive seasons following 1984. He ended his career with a 30.3 WAR which ranks 2nd among Mexican born players, trailing only Valenzuela. He finished only 7 WAR behind Valenzuela despite playing a whole eight fewer seasons. Teddy made his debut at age 27 whereas Valenzuela started at the age of 19. Teddy ranks 5th in WAR among Brewers all time.