Tampa Bay, FL- Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena made LatinoMVP headlines on Friday evening at Tropicana Field. In pristine fashion, with Latino Sports founder Julio Pabón and our Florida correspondent Joe Ferrera at hand during pregame, the Tampa Bay Rays dynamic duo were presented their LatinoMVP AL Rookie of the Year awards on the field.
Throughout the 32 years of the awards history, Franco and Arozarena were the first teammates to win the LatinoMVP Rookie of the Year in back-to-back seasons. Attention Rays faithful: you have an elite winning duo for the perennial future.
Latino Sports prefers to present the historic LatinoMVP awards during Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15th-Oct 15th) for a multitude of reasons. Most importantly, in part to promoting and recognizing the contributions made by many in growing baseball across Latin America, the LatinoMVP awards carry drastic weight. The talent level out of Latin countries delivers year on year, with the most transcending names arising in the sport.
And for that, since 1989, the LatinoMVP has become the oldest and most prestigious award exclusively given to Latin players. Over the years, players and coaches across MLB have compared the LatinoMVP to winning a ‘Latin Grammy’.
Furthermore, presenting the LatinoMVP awards during Hispanic Heritage Month falls in line with remembering the significant impact Roberto Clemente left on America’s pastime. Clemente was the symbol and apex of growing baseball across Latin America. He consistently took part in charitable work throughout his offseasons to donate baseball equipment back to his homeland of Puerto Rico. The heroism and contributions laid out by Clemente will never be forgotten as we continue to remember his legacy.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Latino Sports was unable to present Arozarena with his 2020 LatinoMVP AL Rookie of the Year award until this past Friday evening. The Cuban native was anticipating this day all season, as Latino Sports informed Arozarena on his achievement earlier in the year at Yankee Stadium. He expressed his thoughts on an award exclusively given to Latin players.
“For me, this is a great award. A special award, especially since there have been so many Latino baseball players that have played in the big leagues, so it’s good that there is an award for the Latino players. To have won that award reminds me of all the sacrifices that I had to go through in my career to get to where I have gotten to. For me to represent the Latino community in receiving this award makes this special.” – Randy Arozarena, recipient of the 2020 AL LatinoMVP Rookie of the Year.
He added, “It’s a very nice award and thanks to all the other Latino players that have been an example and have won the award.”
In his 2020 rookie campaign, Arozarena solidified himself as the next superstar in the making. Whether on the field, in the batters box, or on the bases, #56 constantly makes the winning type of plays. In 23 games throughout the pandemic shortened 2020 season, Arozarena totaled seven HR with 11 RBI and 18 hits on a .382 on base percentage. Nonetheless, the postseason is where your legacy is cemented.
Determined by the Latino Sports Writers & Broadcasters Association (LSWBA), Franco was voted the 2021 LatinoMVP AL Rookie of the Year Award. The 21-year-old, of Bani, Dominican Republic, continues to be a cornerstone to the Rays winning success. Over the course of 70 games in the 2021 season, Franco clipped a .288 batting average with seven HR, 39 RBI, and 81 total hits. He defeated Houston Astros Luis García and Texas Rangers Adolis García on the 2021 LatinoMVP AL Rookie voting ballot. Similar to his teammate Arozarena, Franco produces in the October clutch.
Leading up to the presentation on Friday evening, Franco discussed the significance of the award and how gracious he is to achieve a feat so historic.
“Well first, thanking God for this opportunity. I’m very happy because I’m receiving recognition for my work. I’m very happy and proud,” Franco said. “It’s a marvelous award. It’s an award that a player has won from his sweat and courage. It’s an award that is well merited.”
As the season winds down, Latino Sports continues our prestigious award presentations across the country. The following are the dates for the remaining 2021 LatinoMVP ceremonies.
September 18th: San Francisco Giants awarding Carlos Rodón his 2021 A.L. LatinoMVP Pitcher of the Year award.
September 20th: Los Angeles Dodgers awarding Julio Urías his 2021 N.L. LatinoMVP Pitcher of the Year award.
September 27th: San Diego Padres awarding Juan Soto his 2021 N.L. LatinoMVP award.
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Robert Rizzo is the assistant editor for Latino Sports
Follow on Twitter: @RobertRiz994
Watch Sports with Rich live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with host Rich Mancuso and co-host Robert Rizzo.
Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network.
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