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Updated: June 28, 2021
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Copyright © 1997-2021
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2021 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photo by Henk Seppen & WBSC)

Pitcher Tom de Blok signs professional contract in Mexico

...Tom de Blok pitching for L&D Amsterdam Pirates...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
PUEBLA (Mexico) / AMSTERDAM (Neth.) - Pitcher Tom de Blok, who plays for L&D Amsterdam Pirates and the Netherlands National Team, has signed a professional contract in Mexico and will play in the Liga Mexicana de Béisbol in the remainder of the season. The 25-year old righthander pitcher was scouted during the WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier, which ended on Saturday (June 26). De Blok will play for Pericos de Puebla, which plays in Estadio Hermanos Serdán, where the games of the Qualifier were played in the past week. The club announced the addition of the pitcher on Sunday (June 27).

This also means that reigning Dutch champion L&D Amsterdam Pirates will have to do without their pitching-ace in the remainder of the season, which resumes coming Thursday. After conclusion of the Mexican season, De Blok can return to the Amsterdam-team to play in the Dutch postseason. So far this season, Tom de Blok was 3-2 with an 1.64 ERA in six games (all starts). He struckout 45 batters in 33 innings. His ERA is fourth-best in the league. His 45 strikeouts are second-best behind Lars Huijer (HCAW), who leads the league with 52.

On May 13, Tom de Blok threw a 7-inning Perfect Game for Amsterdam Pirates against DSS/Kinheim. This was only the fourth Perfect Game in the highest Dutch baseball-league.

During the Baseball Final Qualifier, Tom de Blok had a strong outing against the Dominican Republic in the second game of the Netherlands during the event. The Orange Team lost 9-3 in its opener against Venezuela, but then lost a thriller against the Dominicans, 4-3. The team was eliminated after losing the Semi-Final against Venezuela with a 10-0 score.

It was thanks to the performance by De Blok that the game against the Dominicans remained scoreless for five innings. In these innings, De Blok gave up only three basehits, got six baserunners, but only one of them got into scoring position. With that, the strong Dominican squad, which included several Minor League-players, as well as some former Major Leaguers, was unable to do something. With runners on base, De Blok closed the first, second and third inning with a strikeout. In the fifth, the lone Dominican runner got into scoring position, but for the fourth time, De Blok closed with a strikeout.

The Dominicans then struck with three runs in the sixth inning. With two outs, De Blok gave up a homerun and a double, which ended his stay on the mound. Trailing 3-0, the Netherlands came alongside by scoring in the eighth and ninth inning, but the Dominicans then won in the bottom of the ninth inning on an error.

With his strong performance, Tom de Blok attracted attention from scouts and after completion of the event, he signed with Pericos de Puebla. While the Netherlands Team traveled home, De Blok stayed behind in Mexico to join his new team. Pericos de Puebla announced the addition of De Blok on Sunday and confirmed that he was added to the active roster immediately, taking the spot of Dominican Gabriel Arias, who has a shoulder injury. The club also announced that De Blok will be the team's starting pitcher coming Friday in a home-game against Leones de Yucatán, which is the opener of a 3-game series.

...Tom de Blok pitching for the Netherlands against...
...the Dominican Republic during the Olympic Qualifier...
(© Photo: WBSC)
On Tuesday, the team from Puebla opens a 3-game series against Tigres de Quintana Roo, which is the team of Curaçao-born Wendell Floranus, who last season pitched in the Dutch big league for Quick Amersfoort. Next week, Puebla plays a 3-game series against Guerreros de Oaxaca, which is the team where Curaçao-born pitcher Jair Jurrjens signed on June 8. Floranus and Jurrjens also pitched for the Netherlands Team during the Olympic Qualifier.

Pericos de Puebla is currently in second place in the Zona Sur of the Liga Mexicana, which is the South Division. The team trails Diablos Rojos del México. The season in the Mexican League opened on May 20 and closes on August 6, followed by the postseason that begins the next day. The best-of-seven Series de Campeonato is scheduled for August 27 through September 4.

Also pitching in the Mexican League is 48-year old former Major Leaguer Bartolo Colón. The righthander is 4-1 and he pitches for Acereros de Monclova, which is in third place in the Zona Norte. From 1997 through 2018, Colón played in 21 seasons in the Major League for eleven different teams.

Tom de Blok, while playing in a youth-team as well as the second team of Amsterdam Pirates, signed his first professional contract at age 17 on August 26, 2013 with Seattle Mariners. He would then made his professional debut the following season (2014), but he returned home early after only a brief period in Minor League Spring Training. Instead, he pitched for HCAW in the 2014 season, making his debut in the Dutch big league. After the 2014 season, De Blok returned to Amsterdam Pirates for whom he then pitched in 2015 and 2016.

On April 10, 2017, De Blok was then signed by Detroit Tigers. Shortly thereafter, the righthander made his debut and in the 2017 season, he pitched for West Michigan Whitecaps (Single-A) for whom he was 4-2 with a 2.87 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 78 1/3 inning in 23 games (11 starts). He also appeared in one game for Connecticut Tigers (Single-A Short Season). In 2018, De Blok again pitched for West Michigan in eight games (all starts) and was 1-2. He promoted to Single-A Advanced and threw in 11 games (all starts) for Lakeland Flying Tigers for whom he was 4-4. In the 2018 season, De Blok struckout 71 batters.

In 2019, De Blok played the entire season for Lakeland. He appeared in 21 games (20 starts), but was 2-13 with a 4.04 ERA, striking out 85 batters in 111 1/3 inning.

Last year, he was to pitch again for Lakeland, but due to the measures against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the entire Minor League-season was cancelled. Instead, De Blok pitched again for L&D Amsterdam Pirates in the abbreviated season in the Dutch big league. He then pitched in five games in relief and was 1-0. In November last year, he became a Free Agent and as he as without a contract, he didn't return to the USA this year. With that, he stayed in Amsterdam and again pitched for L&D Amsterdam Pirates for whom he was the Game 1 starter so far in the 3-game series the team has played.

Besides De Blok,Jurrjens and Floranus, three other current players of the Netherlands Baseball Team also have played in Mexico during their career, being Roger Bernadina, Yurendell de Caster and Curt Smith. Orange Team Manager Hensley Meulens played the final three seasons of his professional career (2000-2002) in Mexico. The Dutch player with the longest career in Mexico is Curaçao-born Sharnol Adriana, who played fourteen seasons in the Mexican competition between 2000 and 2014.

(June 27)

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