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Alek Manoah

10 predictions for 2023

Blue Jays ace Alek Manoah, and UCLA's Jaime Jacquez highlight Our Esquina's 10 predictions for 2023

No predictions for 2022 noted that the Astros would replace Carlos Correa 2022 with a rookie who would lead them to the World Series title. That’s exactly what Jeremy Peña did while earning the American League Championship Series and World Series MVP awards.

A few predicted that Sandy Alcantara would win the NL Cy Young Award. Many expected that Chris Olave would star in the NFL, but few could have imagined Malcolm Rodriguez would be one of the steals of the 2022 draft.

It’s almost impossible to predict the future. But we’re making predictions anyway. Our Esquina’s staff has tried to predict the future. Here are 10 sports predictions for 2023.

A Latina for the U.S. at the Women’s World Cup

1 – A Latina will break through for the U.S. women’s national soccer team. Veteran defender Sofia Huerta and forward Ashley Sanchez will fight for spots on the U.S. national team. There have never been two Latinas on the U.S. national team at the Women’s World Cup.

Could this be the first? Moreover, could Huerta or Sanchez be a steady presence like trailblazer Stephanie (Lopez) Cox. We predict that Huerta or Sanchez will earn a spot on the roster as the U.S. tries to become the first country to win three Women World Cups in a row. 

2 – Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez will be the first Latino taken in the NFL draft. The 6-foot-2, 201-pounder from The Colony, Texas, is one of the best defensive backs in the country. 

3 – Toronto Blue Jays ace righthander Alek Manoah will win the American League Cy Young Award. No Latino has won the AL Cy Young Award since Venezuelan Felix Hernandez of the Mariners won it in 2010.

The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Manoah was 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA during his first All-Star season in 2022. He finished third in the 2022 AL Cy Young race. He’s an early favorite to win it in 2023.

Valdez, Javier lead Astros staff

4 – An Astros pitcher will win the AL Cy Young Award in 2023. Sure, we know we just predicted that Manoah will win the AL Cy Young Award. We’re making multiple predictions, though. 

Astros lefty Framber Valdez and righthander Cristian Javier proved to be among the best in the majors last season. Framber was essentially a co-ace and the workhorse of the staff that included 2022 Cy Young winner Justin Verlander.

Javier proved to be a star in the making, starting a pair of combined no-hitters, including the one in Game 4 of the World Series. He won’t surprise anybody with his greatness, but Javier has the arsenal to ascend further. 

Damien Martinez

5 – Oregon State running back Damien Martinez will compete for the Doak Walker Award. Martinez rushed for more than 1,000 yards while earning Freshman Offensive Player of the Year and first-team all-conference in the Pac-12.

6 – Jeremy Peña will earn his first All-Star nod. This prediction seems like an easy lock, considering what Peña accomplished as a rookie. He was the first rookie shortstop in history to win an AL Gold Glove.

Correa’s replacement also was the MVP of the ALCS and World Series. He has the name recognition and the talent to earn his first All-Star berth this year if he stays healthy.

Look for Jaime Jaquez at the Final Four

7 – Jaime Jaquez will lead the UCLA Bruins to the Final Four in Houston. Two years after leading the Bruins to the Final Four, the Mexican American preseason All-America returned for his senior season for another shot at the Final Four.  

8 – The Dominican Republic will beat the United States in the World Baseball Classic. Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Rodney Linares has arguably the most loaded squad in the WBC. Nobody would bet against Sandy Alcantara, Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Jose Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Peña, Javier and Valdez, to name a few.

9 – Julio Urias will win the NL Cy Young Award. Urias was snubbed for the 2022 All-Star Game in his home ballpark. He proved to be one of the best pitchers in the NL, though. The young Mexican lefty finished third in the NL Cy Young Award race. 

He was 17-7 with a 2.16 ERA in 2022, becoming the first Mexican to win an ERA title.  Although he’s entering his eighth season in the majors, he’s still only 26 years old. After leading the NL in victories in 2021 and in ERA in 2022, Urias appears primed to win the NL Cy Young in 2023.

10 – Brandon Moreno, UFC’s interim flyweight title holder, will beat Deiveson Figueiredo on Jan. 21 in their fourth fight. Moreno became UFC’s first champion from Mexico when he beat Figueiredo on June 12, 2021.

All three fights between the Mexican and Brazilian flyweights have been thrillers. Figueiredo won the first and third fights via decision. Moreno won the second via submission. If the pattern holds, Moreno will win the fourth fight. 

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