Mario Valenzuela (minors02)
Mario Osuna Valenzuela
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 209 lb.
Outfielder Mario Valenzuela was signed by the Chicago White Sox as a nondrafted free agent on June 19, 1996. He played in 21 games in 1996, batting .260/~.304/.397 for the GCL White Sox, mostly at DH. He was loaned by the White Sox to Saraperos de Saltillo of the Mexican League for the 1997 season and appeared in only 19 games, in which he hit .250/~.318/.400.
Valenzuela was chosen as an Appalachian League All-Star in 1998. He batted .330/~.397/.524 that year for the Bristol White Sox. He was fifth in the Appy League in average. Mario as fourth in the Midwest League and led the entire White Sox organization in batting average (with a .323/~.380/.476 line) in 1999 while playing for the Burlington Bees. His six double plays led all MWL outfielders as well.
He was chosen as a Carolina League All-Star in 2000 while playing for the Winston-Salem Warthogs. Mario batted .261/.335/.448 and led the White Sox minor league system by scoring 87 runs. He hit 21 homers, drove in 85 and struck out 110 times. He tied Junior Brignac for the league lead with 15 outfield assists, led the league in total bases (235), at-bats (524) and games (138).
Mario got his first taste of AA and AAA in 2001, splitting the season with the Birmingham Barons (.290/.330/.463) and Charlotte Knights (.261/.291/.483). Combined, he batted .281/~.315/.471 with 22 home runs.
Mario missed the entire 2002 and part of the 2003 seasons with injuries, only batting .254/.277/.377 in 37 games in the latter year. He returned full time to the Knights in 2004 and batted .263/.307/.494 with 25 home runs. His 15 outfield assists tied Matt Diaz for the International League lead.
Mario left the White Sox organization in 2005 and returned to the Mexican League with the Saltillo club. Mario batted .360/.402/.665 and had career-highs in batting average (.360), slugging (.665), home runs (31) and RBI (103). He made the LMB All-Star team as the top right fielder and was 4th in the league in homers.
Mario was chosen to play for Mexico in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. He batted .250/.294/.500 and hit 1 home run in 6 games during the WBC. He hit an apparent home run off Roger Clemens in the game in which Mexico eliminated the United States. The ball hit off the foul pole and landed back in play; the umpires that ruled the ball hit off the wall. Mario held up at second base but later scored on a single by Jorge Cantu.
Mario once again struggled with injuries during the 2006 season, appearing in only 7 games with Saltillo. Seemingly recovered, Mario played for Algodoneros de Guasave of the Mexican Pacific League during the winter of 2006-2007, batting .310/.463/.773 with 10 home runs.
Valenzuela produced at a .353/.397/.644 rate for Saltillo in 2007 with 26 homers and 73 RBI in 79 games. He was third in slugging behind Donny Leon and Karim Garcia and finished fourth in home runs. In 2008, Mario hit .302/.364/.470 with 71 runs in 88 games for Saltillo.