Winter Ball Update 2012: Part Three

In hindsight, I probably should have posted this last week, since the winter meetings are going to dominate the headlines for the next few days, but it’s too late now and I don’t want to go another week without updating. Anyways, the current league leaders are the Estrellas de Oriente (Dominican Republic, 24-14), the Tomateros de Culiacan/Yaquis de Obregon (Mexico, both with a 7-2 record; the Mexican league is a bit different from the other leagues in that they have winners for the first half and second half; the Tomateros won the first half with a 22-13 record), the Criollos de Caguas (Puerto Rico, 12-5), and the Leones del Caracas (Venezuela, 27-19).

This round of updates features a few new additions, but there are several others (particularly in the Dominican Republic) who haven’t played since the last update, so you’ll probably notice that the ranks are a little thin outside of Venezuela. But let’s get to it. All stats are current to December 1st.

Dominican Republic

Ramon Garcia (LHP, Leones del Escogido)- 17 G, 2-1, 4.09 ERA, 22.0 IP, 20 H, 14 R, 10 ER, 10 BB, 21 K: Things have gotten better for Garcia since the last update, for the most part. He’s only given up one earned run (three total) since November 20th. However, he hasn’t been doing much long relief recently. Most of his outings are less than an inning, which suggests that he’s mostly being used as a LOOGY for now.

Ramon Santiago (IF, Leones del Escogido)- 7 G, 29 AB, .345 AVG, 10 H, 3 SB, .387 OBP, 3 RBI: I was starting to wonder if Santiago was going to play winter ball at all this year. I know Jim Leyland believed that Santiago’s struggles at the plate this season were related to him not playing winter ball last year, and as a result, he wanted him to play this year. Well, it’s only been seven games, but so far, so good. Santiago is an everyday player in the Dominican Republic, and he’s only gone hitless in one game. He’s not really hitting for power but he’s not expected to. What I find kind of interesting are the three stolen bases in only seven games.

Mexico

Jamie Johnson (OF, Caneros de los Mochis)- 14 G, 53 AB, .340 AVG, 18 H, 3 2B, .426 OBP, 3 RBI: Jamie Johnson is a left-handed hitting outfielder who spent most of this season at Erie with a brief stint in Toledo. Between the two teams, he hit .276 with two home runs and 39 RBIs. He doesn’t hit for power, but so far he’s been a steady bat for the Caneros, with his best performance being a 4-for-5 day on November 23rd.

Puerto Rico

Efrain Nieves (LHP, Criollos de Caguas)- 5 G, 0-2, 13.50 ERA, 6.2 IP, 12 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 6 BB, 4 K: Nieves has only appeared once since the last update, and it was pretty disastrous. He gave up five earned runs on four hits and a walk in two innings on November 28th. He has not pitched since then.

Alex Burgos (LHP, Indios de Mayaguez)- 5 G, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 3 K: Well, he’s not striking anyone out, but Burgos is otherwise putting up solid numbers so far. His latest outing was November 29th, when he pitched two scoreless innings of relief.

Venezuela

Carlos Monasterios (RHP, Bravos de Margarita)- 4 G, 0-2, 8.25 ERA, 12.0 IP, 18 H, 11 ER, 8 BB, 5 K: The Tigers signed Monasterios to a minor league deal a couple weeks ago. He last pitched in 2011 in the Dodgers organization, but only one game in Triple A. He had Tommy John surgery in July of 2011, and was released by the Dodgers during spring training this year (and underwent additional surgery to repair nerve damage to his arm). Presumably he’ll provide starting pitching depth in Toledo next year. Given the fact that he’s still working his way back from injury, it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s struggled in the LVBP. His last start was the roughest, going 1.1 innings and giving up five earned runs. He was removed from the Bravos’ roster last week and has been in the Liga Paralela ever since, where he has a 1.29 ERA. He has been added back to the Bravos’ roster for this week.

Jose Alvarez (LHP, Caribes de Anzoategui)- 13 G, 0-3, 2.21 ERA, 36.2 IP, 29 H, 12 R, 9 ER, 13 BB, 23 K: Alvarez has made two starts since the last update, both very strong, but he still hasn’t gotten a win out of any of them. On November 24th, he pitched six innings and gave up only one unearned run on 3 hits and no walks. On December 2nd, he pitched 5.1 innings and gave up one earned run on six hits and a walk. He was in line to win that game until their closer blew the save (and then went on the disabled list yesterday) and one of their setup men gave up a walk-off grand slam in extra innings.

Niuman Romero (IF, Caribes de Anzoategui)- 40 G, 154 AB, .253 AVG, 11 2B, .326 OBP, 21 RBI: After suffering through a big-time slump, Romero has picked it up somewhat with the bat. He has hits in seven of his last eight games, with 6 RBIs in that span. His best performance came on November 29th, when he had four hits in five at-bats, including three doubles (which was part of a 21-hit attack by the Caribes against the Navegantes del Magallanes, a game which they won 16-3).

Avisail Garcia (OF, Caribes de Anzoategui)- 6 G, 22 AB, .273 AVG, 6 H, 4 R, .385 OBP, 1 RBI: If Bruce Rondon is the most closely followed Tigers player in winter ball, Avisail Garcia would have to be a fairly close second. It’s hard to tell his progress after only six games, but his average appears to be decent, and I’ve been told he’s been playing game-changing defense. Unfortunately, I did not see yesterday’s game, and I wish I had, because apparently, he had that cannon arm of his on display. I am hoping to catch some games online soon, which can be tricky with the Caribes (since they usually only get televised when they are playing a popular team like Magallanes or the Leones), but hopefully, that way I can get a more detailed assessment.

Victor Larez (RHP, Leones del Caracas)- 24 G, 1-0, 0.99 ERA, 27.1 IP, 15 H, 3 ER, 9 BB, 22 K: Larez gave up two earned runs on a home run on November 21st, which were the first two runs he’s given up since the beginning of the season, but his numbers are still extremely impressive. And as you would expect from an ERA like that, the Leones are starting to use him as a setup man. Most of his outings recently are only one inning, and he now has seven holds.

Wilsen Palacios (RHP, Leones del Caracas)- 13 G, 1-1, 4.91 ERA, 14.2 IP, 17 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 6 BB, 9 K: Palacios was in the midst of a pitching slump during the last update. He’s since turned things around. His last five outings have all been scoreless, though oddly he only has two strikeouts in that span (which covers six innings). His most recent outing was on December 1st, consisting of two scoreless, hitless innings.

Hernan Perez (IF, Leones del Caracas)- 31 G, 75 AB, .213 AVG, 16 H, .234 OBP, 11 RBI: Unfortunately, Perez’s average has absolutely plummeted since the last update (when it was at .254). He’s only 1 for his last 16 at-bats, with no walks in that span. He hasn’t started quite as many games recently. There are several in which he’s been a late-inning defensive replacement. Asdrubal Cabrera was added to the Leones’ roster today, so it’s possible that Perez’s playing time will be reduced even more.

Bruce Rondon (RHP-Navegantes del Magallanes)- 13 G, 4-1, 4.26 ERA, 6 SV, 12.2 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 14 K: As you might guess from the sudden sharp rise in ERA, something went wrong. I actually saw the game where this happened (and actually, it was the first time I saw Rondon since spring training). He came into the bottom of the ninth in a  game against the Tiburones de La Guaira on November 24th. The game had been an absolute slugfest and Magallanes was leading 16-12 when he took the mound. He proceeded to give up five runs and lose the game 17-16. He only walked one, although there was a wild pitch and a passed ball that both proved to be costly. Mostly he just got hit around, and hit around hard (Five hits total, and his two outs came on a bunt and a long fly ball to the wall). From what I can tell, there was a lot of fan criticism directed toward their acting manager for using him at all (which I don’t really understand; it would make more sense to criticize him for leaving him out there long enough to give up five runs). He then went several days without pitching, but that was because Magallanes went into a rut where all their pitchers were struggling. Giving up 17 runs was only the beginning. They also had games last week where they lost 9-2, 9-1, 16-3, and 6-1 (also two games where they won 14-4 and 14-5), so there weren’t any save situations for him. He finally saw action again yesterday and picked up an easy save in a 1-2-3 inning on two ground balls and a strikeout (I did not see this one, though), and apparently the fans have all forgiven him.

Jose Ortega (RHP, Navegantes del Magallanes)- 11 G, 1-0, 5.30 ERA, 18.2 IP, 23 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 9 BB, 16 K: Ortega hasn’t really been the exception to the rule of struggling Magallanes pitchers in recent games. His only scoreless appearance in the past month was a one-batter outing on November 23rd. He was part of the damage in that 17-16 game (where he gave up four runs in two innings) and in the 16-3 loss to the Caribes (where he gave up three runs in two innings). Like Rondon, walks weren’t really a problem; he just got hit hard.

Argenis Diaz (IF, Navegantes del Magallanes)- 15 G, 27 AB, .148 AVG, 4 H, .250 OBP, 2 RBI: Diaz has seen some time as a late-inning defensive replacement, although he did get some starts. However, he just can’t get going with the bat. He hasn’t appeared in a game since November 25th, and he was removed from the Magallanes roster today. I’m not sure whether that’s related to the injury he was dealing with a few weeks ago or if it was simply to make room for Elvis Andrus.

Yorfrank Lopez (RHP, Tiburones de La Guaira)- 6 G, 0-0, 4.60 ERA, 15.2 IP, 19 H, 13 R, 8 ER, 8 BB, 11 K: Lopez only made one start after the last update. On November 24th, he only lasted 1.1 innings and gave up 4 runs (3 earned), on four hits (two home runs)  and a walk (This was the game that the Tiburones eventually won 17-16). He was removed from the roster the following Monday, presumably because of his struggles. I assume he’s in the Liga Paralela, but unlike Carlos Monasterios, he was not added back to the roster today.

And now for a couple of brief news pieces

-Brayan Villarreal was added to the Caribes de Anzoategui roster today. As I reported last time, he’ll be on a 15-inning limit and will be the team’s closer during that time. He’ll probably be the last “new addition” to the list of Tigers playing winter ball, simply because it’s getting pretty late in the season (unless the Tigers sign someone, of course).

-According to the MLB Transactions page, Kelvin de la Cruz signed with the Dodgers and Luis Angel Sanz signed with the Pirates, so I will no longer be updating them (though Dodgers and Pirates bloggers are certainly welcome to use my notes as a reference).

-It’s not really feasible for me to translate the whole thing, but for those of you who can read Spanish, you might enjoy this article on Miguel Cabrera and how he’s matured over his career.

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