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Rays’ Isaac Paredes: Get to know the man with the sweet swing

Tales | Raised in Mexico, acquired from Detroit, previous teammates with Wander and a romantic at heart.
Isaac Paredes hits a home run off Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes during Tuesday's game at the Trop.
Isaac Paredes hits a home run off Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes during Tuesday's game at the Trop. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Jun. 25|Updated Jun. 25

ST. PETERSBURG — Isaac Paredes made quite a name for himself last week with his record-setting power show, tying the Rays’ team record by homering three times in one game, becoming the first in their 25-season history to do so in four consecutive at-bats. And by homering in a third straight game on Saturday he became the second, with Brandon Lowe, to hit at least five in a three-game span.

That would be an impressive outburst for any player, but even more so one who is 23 years old, was playing in his 88th, 89th and 90th big-league games, and had hit a total of seven previous homers (five of which were earlier this season).

Here are five things to know about Paredes:

Trading places

Isaac Paredes came to the Rays from Detroit in a trade for Austin Meadows.
Isaac Paredes came to the Rays from Detroit in a trade for Austin Meadows. [ JOSE JUAREZ | Associated Press (2021) ]

Paredes was first signed in July 2015 at age 16 by the Cubs for $800,000 and was halfway through his second pro season when he was first traded, sent to the Tigers with promising prospect Jeimer Candelario in exchange for two pennant race pickups, catcher Alex Avila and reliever Justin Wilson.

That experience helped during the final days of spring training when Paredes was surprisingly dealt to the Rays, along with a competitive balance round draft pick, for Austin Meadows. While Meadows was obviously the bigger name, Paredes (through Saturday afternoon) has the better stats:

Meadows (through 36 games): 128 AB, 32 hits, 9 runs, 0 HRs, 11 RBIs, .250 BA, .347 OBP, .328 SLG, .675 OPS

Paredes (through 33 games): 95 AB, 22 hits, 17 runs, 10 HRs, 20 RBIs, .232 BA, .288 OBP, .579 SLG, .867 OPS

Impressive company

CAPTION: (St. Petersburg, FL.--07/04/06) Jonny Gomes slides into home on a Ty Wiggington single in the 5-run 8th inning.   STAFF PHOTO-JAMES BORCHUCK
STORY SUMMARY: Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs Boston Red Sox   (Times photo by JAMES BORCHUCK)
CAPTION: (St. Petersburg, FL.--07/04/06) Jonny Gomes slides into home on a Ty Wiggington single in the 5-run 8th inning. STAFF PHOTO-JAMES BORCHUCK STORY SUMMARY: Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs Boston Red Sox (Times photo by JAMES BORCHUCK) [ BORCHUCK, JAMES | St. Petersburg Times ]

Paredes was the sixth Rays player to homer three times in a game, and the first to do so by the fifth inning. He joined a list of familiar names:

• Jonny Gomes: July 30, 2005 vs. Royals

• Evan Longoria: Sept. 18 2008, vs. Twins

• B.J. Upton: Sept. 9, 2012 vs. Rangers

• Evan Longoria: Oct. 3, 2012 vs. Orioles

• Travis d’Arnaud: July 15, 2019 at Yankees

• Brandon Lowe: Oct. 2, 2021 at Yankees

• Isaac Paredes: June 21, 2022 vs. Yankees

Paredes was the fifth Mexican player to hit three homers in a game (per baseball-reference.com data going back to 1901), joining Bobby Avila (1951), Vinny Castilla (1999, 2001), Erubiel Duraza (2002, 2004), Christian Villanueva (2018).

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Paredes was the first big-leaguer to homer in four consecutive at-bats (he was hit by a pitch his fourth time up Tuesday) since the White Sox’s Jose Abreu on Aug. 22-23, 2020. And he was the first to do so against the Yankees (and second in at least 60 years) since Bo Jackson (July 17, 1990-April 9, 1993).

Personal matters

Bobby Smith high-fives Vinny Castilla after Castilla hit a three-run homer during a 2001 Devil Rays game.
Bobby Smith high-fives Vinny Castilla after Castilla hit a three-run homer during a 2001 Devil Rays game. [ Times (2001) ]

His name is pronounced eez-ACK puh-RAY-dehs. And though he goes by Paredes, his full name is Isaac Edgardo Paredes Calderon. … He has two brothers and one sister and was raised by his grandparents as well as his mom and dad. … Paredes grew up in Hermosillo, in the northwestern Mexican state of Sonora, where soccer was the more popular sport, and said “we’d need a lot more time in order to describe how it was growing up” there. … He said he is “very proud” to represent Mexico in the majors, and considers Vinny Castilla, the one-time Ray, among his idols. ... Another idol is wrestler John Cena, from whom he copied the celebratory gesture of waving his hand in front of his face.

A romantic side?

Paredes has one of the most interesting walkup songs on the team, De Los Besos Que Te Di, by popular Mexican artist Christian Nodal. The song is somewhat romantic, about a discussion between former lovers, the title translating to “of the kisses I gave you.”

Paredes said his choice wasn’t about the words. “I picked it because it’s a classic Mexican song,” he said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “I was hoping the fans here when they hear it they have a connection because it’s a Latin singer.” So is he a romantic at heart? “I could be,” Paredes said.

On-field achievements

Isaac Paredes makes a face during his Rays debut in the third inning against the Twins on May 1.
Isaac Paredes makes a face during his Rays debut in the third inning against the Twins on May 1. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

He made his major-league debut Aug. 17, 2020; got his first hit that day (a two-run single off the White Sox’s Gio Gonzalez); hit a grand slam on Aug. 21 for his first homer (off Cleveland’s Adam Plutko). … He played in the 2019 All-Star Futures Game, teaming with Wander Franco and against Luis Patino. … He made All-Star teams in three of his four full minor-league seasons. … He has impressed the Rays with his maturity. “He can slow the game down it seems like,” manager Kevin Cash said. “He processes what he wants to do at the plate. He processes when balls are hit to him and how he wants to go about catching a ball, the footwork needed, being aware and mindful of the situation of the game. That’s pretty cool to see a young player do that.”

Rays rumblings

With their first series of the season in Toronto starting Thursday and a vaccine requirement to get into Canada, the Rays are likely to be without a player or two. … Ji-Man Choi ordered Winix plasmawave air purifiers as gifts for all Rays players and coaches. Why? “Because he’s a good teammate,” Brett Phillips said. ... Interesting timing for the Rays’ Faith Day event Saturday, the same day as the St. Pete Pride parade. ... Third baseman Yandy Diaz didn’t mishandle Josh Donaldson’s 99-mph line drive Wednesday; it broke the webbing of his 44 brand glove and was repaired by Navarro, the multitalented interpreter and batting practice thrower. … MLB.com’s latest mock draft has the Rays using the No. 29 pick on July 17 on Reno (Nevada) high school lefty Robby Snelling; Baseball America and The Athletic have them on lefty Brandon Barriera, from American Heritage High in south Florida. ... The Rays’ handling of their June 4 Pride Night remains an occasional topic of conversation around the game. Mets outfielder Mark Canha told SNY-TV’s Andy Martino that as an LGBTQ+ ally he figures he was “probably in the minority” in any major-league clubhouse and thus “the Rays situation doesn’t really surprise me. It is what it is.” … Rewarding moment for pitcher David Hess on Tuesday when he threw an inning for Triple-A Durham, completing his return from a battle with a cancerous germ cell tumor. ... Class A Bowling Green won its first half division title in the South Atlantic League. The Rays have afternoon starts five of six days starting Wednesday, including holiday matinees Friday (Canada Day) and July 4 in Boston, plus the Saturday split doubleheader (12:07 and 6:07 p.m.). ... Shane Baz’s changeup is on a list of pitches that should be thrown more often, per The Athletic statmaster Eno Sarris.

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