By JAMES TUBB
When Adrian Salazar joined the Medicine Hat Mavericks in late May, he had his sights set on signing a professional baseball contract.
After a blistering start to the WCBL season, he achieved that goal.
The Glendale, Arizona product has signed a pro contract with Saraperos de Saltillo of the Mexican League and reported to the club.
Salazar spoke with the Medicine Hat News on Monday while in the Guadalajara, Mexico airport awaiting his connecting flight. He said he’s excited for the opportunity and the chance he had with the Mavericks.
“It’s just an exciting time, I’m thankful for the time I had in Canada, glad I got to experience that but this was the goal,” Salazar said. “I’m glad I finally got to achieve that but I have a lot of work to do, a lot of work.”
The 23-year-old joined the Mavericks from Ottawa University in Arizona, where he played four seasons of university baseball. In 23 games as a Maverick, the infielder quickly showed his offensive capabilities, leading the WCBL in batting average (.433), RBIs (30) and he was fourth in the league in hits with 42.
Salazar says as soon as he joins the team they are heading on the road. He isn’t sure when he will get in the lineup but is already looking forward to proving himself and isn’t too concerned about playing at the next level.
“The overall plan is just to do my thing out here then hopefully get another opportunity back in the States, which would be the dream, but I have to perform out here first,” Salazar said.
“The same way I went to Canada is the same way I went into my senior season, at the end of the day it’s baseball, that’s all it is. There might be some more fans, there might be people getting paid but at the end of the day, it’s just baseball and you have to perform anyway.”
He says the contract talks came in last week and he almost jumped on a plane and left for Mexico immediately, but he had to return home to get his Mexican passport first. That extra step afforded him the opportunity to don the Mavericks red one last time, with his final game June 29th at Athletic Park against the Okotoks Dawgs, a 6-0 loss for the Mavs.
He said he was happy to get one more game in with his teammates.
“It was good being around the guys because when I found out, I wasn’t with the guys so I didn’t know if I was just going to get to say my goodbyes to everyone and wish them well,” Salazar said.
Mavericks head coach Tyler Jeske says the team is proud of him getting the opportunity to further pursue his pro career.
“While we no doubt will miss his contributions both on the field and in the clubhouse here, in Medicine Hat, it is always exciting to see a young man have the opportunity to take the next step in pursuit of their career aspirations and goals,” Jeske said.
Salazar said the Mavericks coaching staff helped give him confidence.
“I got to get close with Forgy (Michael Forgione) and Tyler more than Rod (White) but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a relationship with Rod either,” Salazar said. “They just kept telling me to do what I do. Play hard, don’t try to press, and it just made it easy to be successful.”
He said he’s obviously going to miss his teammates and plans on staying in touch with them, but he’s also going to miss the Gas City.
“I really enjoyed being there, everyone was so close,” Salazar said. “Those small towns, everyone was rooting for each other and it was nice to see the support from everyone. No matter if you’re a baseball fan or not, it seemed like everyone was supportive.”
Salazar says he will also miss having a Tim Hortons right nearby the stadium and being able to get their wraps.
He said he’s watched a couple of the Mavericks games while he was heading home and plans to track the club for the rest of the season and hopefully far into the playoffs.
“I just want to wish all the boys back in the Hat good luck, have a great rest of the season,” Salazar said. “Hopefully, they can find a way to send me a ring at the end of the year.”
(This story was originally published in the Medicine Hat News and has been republished here with permission).