Andrés Ayón Bron
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 170 lb.
Andrés Ayón is second all-time in the Mexican League in winning percentage but the Cuban hurler did not arrive in Mexico until he was 27 years old. A player on the Cuban National Junior Team in the first World Junior Championships in 1956, Ayón was first signed by Cincinnati Redlegs scout Nap Reyes.
Assigned to the Wausau Lumberjacks in 1957, Ayón went only 8-13 with a 4.94 ERA as a swingman. In '58, he made a significant leap forward with the Visalia Redlegs. There he had an 18-8 record and 3.40 ERA. He tied for fourth in the California League in wins and was in the top 10 in ERA.
In 1959, Andrés made three stops in the Cincinnati farm system. He was 12-4, 3.69 for the Topeka Hawks, 3-4, 3.21 for the Savannah Reds and 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in a brief look at AAA with the Havana Sugar Kings. Overall, the right-hander was 15-9 that year and was now 41-30 on his career.
Ayón was converted into a relief role in 1960 and was 5-6 with a 3.00 ERA for the Havana club, which finished the year as the Jersey City Jerseys. He was third on the team in ERA, beating out Mike Cuellar among others, but did not get a look from Cincinnati in the majors. In '61, he was 6-6, 3.43 for Jersey City, then 8-4, 3.62 for the Macon Peaches in 1962. In Macon again in 1963, Ayón went 5-3, 3.51. He had been 65-49 in the US-based minor leagues.
In 1964, the Cuban moved to the Liga Mexicana, where he became an instant sensation with a 16-5, 2.94 season for the Puebla Parrots. He was third in LMB in ERA and tied for second in wins, one behind leader Miguel Sotelo. He was just 17-12 with a 4.16 ERA in 1965 and finished third in victories. For Puebla in '66, Ayón went 16-12 with a 3.62 ERA and on June 25, threw the league's first no-hitter in almost 5 years. In the Mexican Pacific League in 1966-1967, he won MVP, the first pitcher to do so since Miguel Sotelo five years prior; he was 11-6 with a 1.84 ERA for the Tomateros de Culiacán.
Andrés moved to the Jalisco Charros in 1967 and had his best season in terms of wins, going 25-6 with a 3.34 ERA and won nine more games than any other pitcher in the Liga. He fell to 13-13 in '68, but improved his ERA to 3.19 and lost one game with the Seattle Angels in his final game north of the border. In 1969, Ayón was 20-12 with a 2.57 ERA for Jalisco, finishing 7th in the Liga in ERA, tied for third in wins. In '70, he was under .500 for only the third time in 14 pro seasons to that point as he was 11-14 with a 3.48 ERA.
In '71, Ayón pitched 15 games for the Sabinas Pirates and 9 for the Saltillo Saraperos, going 12-6 with a 1.22 ERA. He threw 147 innings, one less than the amount needed to qualify, but league president Antonio Ramirez M. awarded him the ERA title as he would have had to allow 14 earned runs in one inning to fall behind Leonardo Ferguson (2.01). He was also one of 7 managers for the Piratas on the year.
1972 was another stellar campaign, spent entirely with Saltillo, where the 35-year-old went 22-3 with a 3.15 ERA. He led the Liga in wins and threw a seven-inning perfect game on June 30 against the Monterrey Sultans. It was the second perfect game in the history of the LMB and the first since Ramiro Cuevas 19 years earlier. Going 11-6 with a 3.10 ERA for Saltillo and Puebla in '73, Ayón retired. He would come back out of retirement several times in the 1970s and went 2-5, 3.88 for the 1975 Cordoba Coffee Growers, 1-2, 2.86 for the 1976 Nuevo Laredo Owls, 2-1, 3.24 for '77 Nuevo Laredo and 1-1, 2.50 for '79 Nuevo Laredo at age 42. Overall, he went 169-98 with a 3.15 ERA in Mexico and 234-148 in his minor league career. He was also 19-11 in the Mexican Pacific League and 21-11 in the Cuban National Series. He is 12th all-time in the Mexican League in ERA among pitchers with over 2,000 innings (as of 2000) and is second to Rafael Garcia (.645) in winning percentage, at .633.
Sources: Viva Beisbol newsletter by Bruce Baskin (July 2006 edition), The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros, various Baseball Guides, Pat Doyle's professional baseball player database