From BR Bullpen
Efrén Espinoza Rodríguez
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 174-211 lb.
Efrén Espinoza has played for Mexico in a couple major international tournaments.
Espinoza debuted professionally with the 1998 AZL Mexico team, hitting .313. In 1999, he returned to the team and batted .306. He moved to the Mexico City Red Devils and batted .263/.293/.289 in 22 games in 2000. Due to the arrangement between the Red Devils and Pittsburgh Pirates, Espinoza moved to the latter system in 2001. He struggled, only hitting .222/.266/.370 in 50 games for the Hickory Crawdads and .145/.185/.177 in 19 contests for the Lynchburg Hillcats.
Espinoza returned to Mexico in 2002 and hit .269 with 3 homers and 25 RBI for the Red Devils. In 2003, he batted .222 with 2 HR and 10 RBI between two Mexican League squads. He was still put on Mexico's roster for the 2003 Baseball World Cup and was just 2 for 17 with five walks as a regular DH. Luis Cruz and Jorge Cantu got the regular time on the left side of the infield.
Espinoza improved to .310/.378/.473 in 49 games as a backup outfielder for the 2004 Red Devils. In a similar role in 2005, he hit .314/.381/.514 in 63 outings. In 2006, the 25-year-old Efrén moved to the Oaxaca Warriors and batted .342/.407/.614 with 23 homers and 15 steals (in 19 tries). He was 11th in the Mexican League in OPS.
In 2007, the up-and-comer returned to Mexico City and hit .328/.381/.510 in 64 games. He was on Mexico's team in the 2007 Pan American Games and went 4 for 11 with 4 RBI and two walks; much of his damage came in a rout against Panama when he was 3 for 3 with 3 RBI. Only José Luis Sandoval had a better average on Mexico or drove in as many. Espinoza also played for Mexico in the 2007 Baseball World Cup, doing a great job. He hit .424/.550/.636 with 8 runs in 10 games. The only negatives were a .895 fielding percentage at third base and a 40% success rate on five steal attempts. He led the tourney in times caught stealing and tied Ben Risinger for the most times hit by pitch (4). Espinoza made the Cup All-Tournament team at third base, beating out players such as Evan Longoria, Andy LaRoche, Tai-Shan Chang and Yulieski Gourriel. He was the lone Mexican player on the All-Tourney team.