Game three of the 2019-2020 Liga Mexicana del Pacífico finals was an important contest for Venados de Mazatlán. This is true, of course, of every game in the LMP finals, but staring down a possible 0-3 deficit to a seemingly dominant Tomateros de Culiacán squad made the game that much more important. Win, and the Venados take back some control of the finals. Lose and more than likely the Tomateros run away from Venados and win the series in four or five games. Some games are more important than others, and that’s why the Venados were lucky to have their ace on the mound this night.
Juan Pablo Oramas is as unassuming as they come. He sports an average build and has the look of a normal guy. To elaborate, Oramas doesn’t look like a guy who should be on the mound for the most important game of his team’s season. Oramas looks like he’d be more at home doing someone’s taxes or watching the game he’s about to pitch in from a local bar. It may be the unassuming visage of Oramas that makes his dominance all the more impressive.
For seven innings Oramas overpowered and outworked the Tomateros hitters. He gave up five hits, didn’t offer up any free passes, and not a single Tomatero runner crossed home plate. The Venados needed Oramas to be the ace he has become and he did exactly that. The Tomateros have a potent lineup, highlighted by perennial LMP Most Valuable Player contender Dariel Álvarez, and they weren’t able to find an answer for what Oramas was throwing at them.
If you’re a fan of the San Diego Padres then Oramas may be familiar to you. Oramas spent eight seasons in the Padres minor league system. He was never a top-end prospect, but he did flash the potential to be a competent starter and thus the Padres stuck with him despite plenty of struggles along the way. Then in 2014, he posted a 5.61 ERA and 1.627 WHIP in 110.2 innings of work for the Padres’ AAA-level Pacific Coast League affiliate, the El Paso Chihuahuas. The Padres had seen enough and cut ties with the prospect.
The Villahermosa, Mexico native had already been playing in LMP for a few years by that point. He continued to play for Naranjeros de Hermosillo in LMP but left affiliated ball altogether and signed with Diablos Rojos del México of the AAA-level Liga Mexicana de Béisbol. The lefthander continued to be inconsistent in both LMB (even after switching teams to Olmecas de Tabasco) and LMP action. Last year something clicked and now as a 29-year old Oramas has put himself in contention for the title of the best pitcher in Mexico.
In 2019 with Tabasco Oramas put up good numbers. A 3.85 ERA may not seem all that impressive until the type of league is taken into account. LMB in 2019 was a hitter’s paradise with a new baseball flying out of stadiums at record numbers. Despite this Oramas put up numbers similar to his best LMB seasons prior to 2019 and that is an accomplishment. Meanwhile, in the 2019-2020 LMP season, Oramas put up a K/9 of 9.8 and an ERA of 3.09. The ERA is good, but the K/9 is more impressive because it shows that Ormas sustained the ability to miss bats more consistently that he first displayed in the 2018 season. In the span of two years, he has added a full two strikeouts per nine innings.
Because of his look and his approach Oramas is not going to grab the attention of scouts and viewers. He’ll work the edges and smartly place his 92-93mph fourseam fastball over and over and then next thing you know it’s the 9th inning and he’s thrown a shutout while walking no one and only giving up three hits. Looks aside Oramas has become a pitcher to watch in baseball. Not everyone has the game figured out when they’re 23 years old. It takes some players, especially pitchers, longer. That appears to have been the case with the former Padres farmhand. The Juan Pablo Oramas taking the mound these days is a force to be reckoned with and looks to continue that trend for many seasons to come.
Editor’s Note: Oramas would go on to get shelled in game 7 of the LMP final, lasting only 2.1 innings and allowing 7 hits, 5 runs, and 2 home runs. While not exactly the emphatic end to a dominant playoff run all pitchers reach their maxing out point and Oramas looked as tired as could be in his final start. I personally do not feel that game 7 reveals anything negative about Oramas moving forward.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – LMP.mx