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5:24 AM UTC
What better way to top that – by one foot – than in a huge moment in the global spotlight?
Paredes’ solo home run off Marcus Stroman in the second inning of Mexico’s 5-4 quarterfinals win against Puerto Rico at loanDepot park on Friday soared 412 feet into left-center field at 104.7 mph.
His first homer of the World Baseball Classic cut into Puerto Rico’s early 4-0 lead and sparked Mexico’s offense.
“We are representing Mexico,” Paredes said. “It’s a lot of adrenaline that you feel on the field. I had never felt that adrenaline, even when I debuted in the Majors. It was beautiful.”
Paredes’ night was only beginning with that homer. Mexico was fighting to rally from a 4-2 deficit in the seventh frame, and Austin Barnes, Randy Arozarena and Alex Verdugo had loaded the bases with no outs against Alexis Díaz.
Joey Meneses popped out. Rowdy Tellez struck out. Suddenly, the 24-year-old Paredes was at the plate in a bases-loaded opportunity with two outs.
Parades, who is 3-for-15 with the bases loaded in his big league career, delivered a sinker from Jorge López into left field for a two-run single. He advanced Verdugo to third on his line drive, setting the stage for Luis Urías to plate Verdugo with a go-ahead RBI single into right.
“The hit in the seventh inning and Luis’ hit was even better,” Paredes said. “My heart exploded.”
Paredes is entering his fourth Major League season with the momentum of these clutch performances. The 24-year-old third baseman made his big league debut on Aug. 17, 2020, in Detroit and played two seasons there before being traded to Tampa on April 5, 2022, in exchange for Austin Meadows.
It remains to be seen when Paredes will rejoin the Rays in Spring Training – Mexico advanced to play Japan in the semifinals on Monday (7 p.m. ET on FS1). When he gets back to camp, he will have added WBC top performer to his young resume.
“It was beautiful for me,” he said.