Fans Falling in Love With MLB’s New Wave of Latino Stars. Will Brands Follow Suit?

What: Several Latino stars have the potential to be strong marketing faces of baseball.
Why it matters: As brands look to grab the Hispanic audience via baseball, a young crop of players is ready to make big splashes into the 2020's.

Credit Keith Allison

Baseball takes its beginning of winter siesta for the next few weeks, as the period from the just-completed Winter Meetings (@WinterMeetingsto the annual awards presentations in mid-January becomes a good time for respite, with the exception of winter ball in the Caribbean, reflection and a look ahead.

A lot of the buzz in Las Vegas this past week was around the marketable new faces in MLB (@MLB), many of whom are Latino, and several, like free agent Manny Machado, still to find a home

With a look forward in mind, we talked to the folks at La Vida Baseball (@LaVidaBaseballto get a feel for who the marketable Latino stars are that brands should, and will have an eye on as pitchers and catchers report and companies look for the big splash of marketable names.

All one needs to do is look at the increasing number of Latino players getting All-Star Game votes and selling jerseys to see there is value off the field as well.

Here’s a look at five to watch:

  • Javier Báez, Chicago Cubs (Puerto Rico)
  • Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians (Puerto Rico)
  • Machado, team TBD (Dominican-American)
  • Ronald Acuña, Jr., Atlanta Braves (Venezuela)
  • Carlos Correa, Houston Astros (Puerto Rico)

While there are a lot of variables that play into making a list in mid-December the list shows the great depth of where brands can be looking in select markets. Machado, for example, is still a free agent. If he signs the largest contract in baseball history with the New York Yankees (@Yankeeshe is immediately number one on any list, even with the character questions that were raised in the postseason.

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing's preeminent topics. Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss "How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms". Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: "Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?"Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada's meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

The two hottest rising names on this list are Báez and Acuña.

Báez has become must-see TV in Chicago with a young Cubs team that has been in the postseason in four consecutive years. His dynamic play, electric smile and overwhelming charisma on the field make him a target for brands almost as much as he is for the lens of a camera.

Ronald Acuña, Jr. Credit: Flickr/Thomson200

Acuña didn’t make his major league debut until the end of April but was named the National League Rookie of the year. He jumped into the top 20 jersey sales in 2018 in spite of the late start to the MLB season and doesn’t turn 21 until Dec. 18. Being in a major market with a team that appears to be beginning what could be another extended run of success could make him one of the faces of baseball in the future.

Two Cuban players who just missed the top five are Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and White Sox second baseman Yoán Moncada. Puig has been in the middle of some significant trade rumors lately; his ultimate destination could impact his market appeal. On the other end of that same conversation, Moncada could benefit from the White Sox appearing poised to spend big money on significant free agents. If Bryce Harper or Machado signs with Chicago’s south side franchise, Moncada’s profile could jump in 2019.

“The on-field game being played at the major league level is young, exciting and dynamic. And many of the players emerging in the new generation of superstars are Latino,” said Tab Bamford, managing Director, La Vida Baseball. “All one needs to do is look at the increasing number of Latino players getting All-Star Game votes and selling jerseys to see there is value off the field as well.”

From sneaker companies to beverage brands to traditional packaged goods, the push for multicultural around three key sports: soccer, basketball, and baseball, has never been stronger. If you are looking to hitch a ride on a star train in baseball, here’s the list to start with. MLB’s Hot Stove may be dialed down a bit, but the business side never shuts off.

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Cover Image: credit Keith Allison

Jerry Milani @gbpackjerry

Jerry Milani is a freelance writer and public relations executive living in Bloomfield, N.J. He has worked in P.R. for more than 25 years in college and conference sports media relations, two agencies and for the International Fight League, a team-based mixed martial arts league, and now is the PR manager for Wizard World, which runs pop culture and celebrity conventions across North America. Milani is also the play-by-play announcer for Caldwell University football and basketball broadcasts. He is a proud graduate of Fordham University and when not attending a Yankees, Rams or Cougars game can be reached at Jerry (at) JerryMilani (dot) com.

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