Joel Serna Barrientos
- Bats Right, Throws Right
Joel Serna was a minor league infielder for 21 years. A second baseman for the majority of his career, he also saw action at shortstop in the 1970s and at third base in the 1980s.
Serna debuted in 1970, which he split between the Covington Astros (.276/.342/.335) and Monterrey Indios (.313/.375/.423). He was named the All-Star 2B in the Appalachian League. In 1971, he batted .242/.300/.293 for the Sumter Astros and was .001 shy of leading the Western Carolinas League 2B in fielding percentage.
Joel made it to the Mexican League in 1972 and spent the rest of his career there. He batted .249/.299/.316 for the Monterrey Sultans that year. In 1973, he improved to .310/.384/.431 for the Reynosa Broncos, probably his best season of the decade. For Reynosa in '74, he fell to .242/.322/.350 with 9 triples, two shy of the league lead. In 1975, Serna hit .259/.318/.377 with 10 triples.
Serna hit .244/.338/.318 for the 1976 Broncos. Moving to the Cardenales de Tabasco in 1977, Serna hit .281/.331/.354, followed by seasons of .292/.372/.368 and .254/.315/.333. In 1980, he hit .288/.358/.454 with the Monclova Steelers for the best slugging percentage of his first 16 seasons. In the second half of the 1980 season (post-strike), Serna hit .320/.389/.412 with the Mexico City Tigers.
Moving on to the Saltillo Saraperos in '81, Serna hit .282/.343/.400. At age 30 in 1982, he produced at a .193/.291/.269 rate for Monterrey in a low-point season. He rebounded a bit in 1983, hitting .255/.346/.324 for the Sultans. With the Veracruz Eagle of 1984, the Monterrey native batted .277/.355/.328.
Back with Monclova for '85, Serna hit .265/.382/.394 and set career highs with 76 walks and 29 doubles. In 1986, aided by the liveliest ball in the league's history to that point, he hit .295/.370/.460 and set a personal best of 16 home runs.
Remaining with Monclova for 1987, Joel batted .271/.358/.371, then followed with a .318/.395/.465 year in 1988 for a career-best campaign at age 36. He set personal highs with 87 runs and 73 RBI. In '89, he slumped back down to .260/.320/.351.
In 1990, he rejoined Tabasco and finished up his career by batting .264/.325/.319.
Overall, Serna hit .270/.345/.370 in 19 seasons in Mexico, with 118 home runs, 903 walks, 326 doubles, 2,164 hits, 1,002 runs and 2,311 games with 102 steals in 202 tries. Through 2000, he was 15th in league history in walks, 16th in doubles and 6th in games.
Serna became a player-manager for Tabasco partway through the 1990 season and held the role for the early part of 1991. He later managed Monterrey for part of 1995. In 1990-1991, he guided the Potros de Tijuana to the Mexican Pacific League title. The team was 1-3 in the 1991 Caribbean Series.
Serna was a coach for the Sultanes de Monterrey in 2012.