Happy New Year! It’s just about playoff time in Latin America. The postseasons in Venezuela and Mexico are just about to start up, while it is already underway in the Dominican Republic. However, for this post, I am going to focus on regular season performances. I’ll start including postseason numbers in the next update. Also, I’m going to try something different in regards to the various news bits. Instead of putting the news in a bullet list at the bottom, I’ll incorporate it into my list of players. Therefore, there are some players who have not participated in the last two weeks, but there are news stories concerning them (specifically, injury-related; luckily, none appear to be serious at this time, but they do affect players who were on the MLB roster in 2012 and they are the types of injuries that may potentially linger into spring training).
Audy Ciriaco (SS, Aguilas Cibaeñas)- 16 G, 41 AB, .220 AVG, .261 OBP, 3 RBI: Ciriaco appeared in only one regular-season game since the last update. On December 21st, he went 1-for-3 with a run scored and two strikeouts.
Ramon Garcia (LHP, Leones del Escogido)- 25 G, 3-2, 3.42 ERA, 26.1 IP, 25 H, 15 R, 10 ER, 14 BB, 24 K: Garcia’s last two appearances of the regular season (which came on December 18th and 19th) weren’t exactly memorable. He didn’t give up any runs of his own, but neither did he get anyone out. He faced three batters in that span and gave up hits to all three.
Ramon Santiago (IF, Leones del Escogido)- 21 G, 83 AB, .325 AVG, 27 H, 1 HR, 5 SB, .411 OBP, 9 RBI: Santiago cooled down a little bit down the stretch, but that’s all relative. He did have a couple 0-for-4 games, but they weren’t consecutive and he didn’t have a long slump at all. He went 2-for-5 on December 19th, with a double and a run scored, and 1-for-3 on December 22nd, the final game of the regular season.
Gustavo Nuñez (SS, Leones del Escogido)- 4 G, 13 AB, .308 AVG, 4 H, .438 OBP: Nuñez had been taken from the Tigers in the 2011 Rule 5 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and then traded to Pittsburgh. After spending the entire 2012 season on the disabled list for the Pirates, the Diamondbacks returned him to the Tigers a couple weeks ago. He only appeared in four games in the Dominican Republic, all of them in November, but small sample size aside, it was a good four games.
James Avery (RHP, Algodoneros de Guasave)- 9 G, 5-0, 3.00 ERA, 48.0 IP, 43 H, 16 ER, 14 BB, 36 K: Avery finished his regular season on a high note, with two scoreless outings. His final start, which was on December 21st, was a gem, with seven scoreless innings on two hits, three walks, and seven strikeouts. He also made a relief appearance on December 28th, tossing three scoreless innings, giving up only a hit and a walk.
Alex Burgos (LHP, Indios de Mayaguez)- 9 G, 2-0, 2.57 ERA, 14.0 IP, 14 H, 4 ER, 7 BB, 10 K: Burgos has turned things around since the last update. He’s made two long relief appearances, both scoreless. He pitched four one-hit innings on December 21st and two innings on December 29th with a hit and a walk. Also, he’s been on a strikeout binge. Each of those last two outings featured three strikeouts.
Carlos Monasterios (RHP, Bravos de Margarita)- 7 G, 0-3, 6.12 ERA, 25.0 IP, 37 H, 17 ER, 10 BB, 10 K: Monasterios’s winter ball stint is over, since the Bravos failed to make the postseason and he was not taken in the substitution draft (for the record, no Tigers were taken in the LVBP substitution draft). He made two starts after the last update. The first was on December 18th. He gave up a single run, but only lasted two innings. He made probably his best start of the season on December 22nd, going five innings and giving up only one run on eight hits, with two strikeouts.
Jose Alvarez (LHP, Caribes de Anzoategui)- 17 G, 2-4, 2.49 ERA, 47.0 IP, 36 H, 16 R, 13 ER, 15 BB, 29 K: Alvarez made two relief appearances near the end of the season, after the Caribes had clinched a playoff spot. Both were scoreless one-inning appearances that were pretty much meant to keep him sharp for the postseason. He will be in their starting rotation for the first game of the round robin (which begins tomorrow).
Brayan Villarreal (RHP, Caribes de Anzoategui)- 3 G, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K: This is the first of the injury updates (oddly enough, they all concern Tigers who play for the Caribes de Anzoategui). In case you missed my last update, I’ll recap. After his third outing of the season, Villarreal reported discomfort in his throwing elbow, and the Tigers brought him back to the United States for further tests (and here I must make a correction from my last update, where I said they flew him to Detroit; it was actually Florida. I apologize for the error). The good news is that it was only elbow tendinitis (as opposed to something that needed surgery or anything of that nature). The bad news is that it sidelined him for the rest of the regular season. He’s scheduled to begin throwing again tomorrow. The Caribes were hopeful of getting permission from the Tigers to allow him to pitch in the postseason, since he only used up three of the fifteen innings he was limited to, but there’s a problem of timing in that. The round robin takes three weeks, with the final week of January consisting of a best-of-seven championship between the top two teams out of the round robin. If Villarreal begins throwing again tomorrow, he will have to take two weeks to rebuild arm strength. That won’t leave very much time for him to make much of a contribution in terms of pitching in games. It’s not impossible that he’ll pitch in the postseason, but right now, it’s looking extremely unlikely. Also, if you’ll recall, he was supposed to be the closer for his team. While this would probably not have changed the Tigers’ plans for him (whatever they may be), it may have been very helpful for his development and at the very least, it would have made for some interesting discussion during spring training. UPDATE: Jason Beck reports that Villarreal will indeed not pitch in the playoffs and will instead focus on getting ready for spring training.
Omar Infante (IF, Caribes de Anzoategui): This is our second injury update. Infante had been considering playing a few games in winter ball to get him ready for the World Baseball Classic (if he is named to the team), but when he broke his hand in the final game of the World Series, it looked as though that would not happen. However, he began taking batting practice a few days before Christmas and he thought he might play in a few games during the final days of the regular season. That didn’t happen, but as of a few days ago, there was still the possibility that he would participate in the postseason, although he has been experiencing knee pain, so if he did play, it will likely have been as DH and not as the second baseman. However, word came today that he will not play in the postseason because he feels he cannot get himself physically ready in time.
Avisail Garcia (OF, Caribes de Anzoategui)- 15 G, 54 AB, .185 AVG, 10 H, 7 R, .267 OBP, 1 RBI: And here is our final injury update of this post. Back on December 15th, Garcia was left out of the lineup because of a sore left wrist (originally reported as a sore left hand). It was not thought to be serious, and he was only expected to miss the one game. He ended up missing nine games (with an off-day and the three-day Christmas break mixed in there). I’m actually a bit surprised that the Tigers never brought him to the United States, especially since they brought Villarreal back at the first report of pain. He finally returned to the lineup on December 29th, the second-to-last game of the season, and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He did not play in the final game, which was a day game after a night game. He will not participate in the postseason due to having to travel to the United States twice to fulfill prior commitments with the Tigers (My guess would be Tigerfest and/or the Winter Caravan), so he’s done playing until spring training starts. Between the injury and the fact that he hit under the Mendoza line, I’d say it wasn’t the performance he was hoping for.
Victor Larez (RHP, Leones del Caracas)- 32 G, 1-0, 0.76 ERA, 35.1 IP, 20 H, 3 ER, 11 BB, 25 K: When you take both numbers and health into consideration, I daresay Victor Larez had the best winter ball season of any of the participating Tigers. He appeared in four games since the last update, all scoreless outings (mostly in the sixth or seventh innings). The Leones del Caracas did make the postseason, and Larez is expected to participate.
Wilsen Palacios (RHP, Leones del Caracas)- 18 G, 1-1, 4.95 ERA, 20.0 IP, 21 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 7 BB, 14 K: Palacios may have had some difficulties early on, but he ended the season strong. He made three scoreless outings since the last update, a total of three innings, with three hits, no walks, and three strikeouts.
Ramon Cabrera (C, Leones del Caracas)- 32 G, 90 AB, .267 AVG, 24 H, 1 HR, .309 OBP, 12 RBI: Ramon Cabrera continued hitting .333 over is final ten days to make his average a bit more healthy than it had been at the last update. He had an especially strong finish to the season. In the final game on December 30th, he went 3-for-5 with three runs scored (This particular game was a 10-8 slugfest).
Hernan Perez (IF, Leones del Caracas)- 41 G, 90 AB, .222 AVG, 20 H, .247 OBP, 12 RBI: Since the last update, Perez has appeared in five games. However, all but one were as a late-inning defensive replacement, and he did not get to the plate in any of those games. He finally made a start on the last game of the season (which was his first at-bat since December 9th), and went 1-for-4.
Bruce Rondon (RHP, Navegantes del Magallanes)- 18 G, 4-1, 4.41 ERA, 9 SV, 16.1 IP, 16 H, 8 ER, 6 BB, 19 K: Rondon picked up the strikeout pace a bit in his final three outings, notching four in that span. He also netted two saves and a scoreless inning (which was either to get him some work or because Magallanes had exhausted their bullpen, since in that particular game, they were blown out by the Leones del Caracas). His final outing of the season was a one-out save when Magallanes brought in another pitcher with a five-run lead. That pitcher gave up three runs and they had to bring Rondon in for the final out. Magallanes finished the season in first place and thus have the top spot in the playoffs, but Rondon will not participate (He was removed from the roster after the substitution draft, presumably at the direction of the Tigers, since he’s close to his 20-inning limit; oddly enough, he’s being replaced by former Tiger Enrique Gonzalez). Looking back on his season, I don’t think he had the “dominant” performance that Dave Dombrowski has been hyping up about him (after all, in most of his outings, he did have at least one baserunner), but I don’t think he did anything to hurt his chances (although as I say this, I will add the disclaimer that the only time I saw him pitch was the outing in which he gave up five runs). Oh, and by the way, you know how at the end of the MLB season, all the teams make their rookies dress up in drag or silly costumes? They do the same thing in Venezuela.
Jose Ortega (RHP, Navegantes del Magallanes)- 14 G, 1-0, 5.32 ERA, 22.0 IP, 27 H, 15 R, 13 ER, 11 BB, 17 K: Ortega returned to Magallanes for the final week of the season (and presumably the postseason, since he was not taken off the roster after the substitution draft). On December 28th, he pitched a scoreless inning with a walk against the Bravos de Margarita. On the final day of the season, he gave up one run on two hits and a walk against the Caribes de Anzoategui.
Argenis Diaz (IF, Navegantes del Magallanes)- 17 G, 31 AB, .129 AVG, 4 H, .243 OBP, 2 RBI: Like Ortega, Diaz made two appearances in the final week of the season. He had one at-bat on December 28th, which was an out. He made the start on December 30th and went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.