Baseball players head to Winter Ball for a variety of reasons, but in just about every case, the players have almost nothing to lose. Whether they’re trying to prove a great year wasn’t a fluke, rebound from a poor year, just relax in their home country, attempt to recapture past glory, or so many other options, it’s hard not to like seeing your players in Winter Ball. Henry Wrigley is certainly making his time count, and among all the other Rays prospects, there’s nothing to lose by getting a little more playing time.
Dominican Winter League: Gigantes de Cibao 4, Aguilas Cibaenas 1
Apparently two Rays prospects is better than one Rays prospect even when the one has a big league pitcher starting for them. Bartolo Colon started for the Aguilas and went 4.1 shutout innings in his second Winter Ball appearance, allowing 5 hits but striking out 2 while walking none.The Phillies’ Hector Luna gave him a 1-0 lead on a solo home run in the 2nd inning. But after Colon departed, the Astros’ Jimmy Paredes drilled a grand slam off of Red Sox prospect Josh Fields (not to be confused with the ex-big leaguer) as the Gigantes won 4-1. Wow, three Giants won on Sunday between the New York Football Giants, the San Francisco Giants, and the Gigantes (which means Giants in Spanish). For the Rays-related players, Omar Luna went 0 for 4 as the Cibaenas shortstop, ex-Rays prospect Rhyne Hughes went 1 for 3 with a double and a run scored for Cibao, and Jhonny Nunez, who was released by the Rays in July, earned the save for Cibao with a perfect inning, striking out 2.
Leones del Escogido 10, Tigres del Licey 8
Apparently it’s always crazy when you pit the Lions against the Tigers. Escogido built up a 5-0 lead in the game, hitting the Mets’ Jenrry Mejia pretty hard as he allowed 2 runs on 2 hits in 2.1 innings, striking out 2 while walking 4, and Angels prospect Ariel Pena did not have a game he could be proud of either, allowing 2 runs in 1.1 innings on a 2-run double by Mauro Gomez of the Red Sox in the 5th. The Escogido lead was 5-0 because their starting pitcher, Daniel Cabrera, who you may remember from the Orioles, tossed 5 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5. But in the 6th, everything came apart as the Leones needed four pitchers to get of the inning- including the Rays’ Frank De Los Santos, who allowed a single to Leonys Martin of the Rangers in the only batter he faced in his first DWL appearance- and allowed 6 runs, all with 2 outs, on a Mike Olt (Rangers) 2-run double, a Juan Francisco (Braves) 2-run homer run, and a solo shot from Michel Abreu to make it 6-5 Licey. But the Leones came right back with a 3-run bottom of the 6th, including a 2-run triple by Gomez to take a 8-6 lead, and 10-8 would eventually be the final. Other than De Los Santos, who rather forget his appearance, lefty Braulio Lara worked around a hit and a walk to pitch 0.2 shutout innings for Licey (he doesn’t have a strikeout in four DWL appearances), and ex-Ray Jesus Colome tossed a perfect inning.
Mexican Pacific League: Mayos de Navojoa 6, Naranjeros de Hermosillo 5
Hard to recognize very many players in this game, although it was pretty interesting. Career Mexican Leaguers Carlos Gasteulum and Edgar Quintero combined for 5 hits and 3 solo home runs in the loss for Hermosillo while ex-Orioles prospect Kraig Binick went 3 for 5 with a double and 2 RBI for the Mayos. For the ex-Rays, Wes Bankston went 1 for 3 with a walk for Navojoa to make his batting average in the MPL an even .300 while Jorge Cantu singled in a pinch-hit appearance for Hermosillo.
Venezuelan Winter League: Cardenales de Lara 6, Navegantes del Magallanes 3
Tough game for the ex-Rays of Magallanes as Lara breezed by them. Ex-big leaguer Joe Thurston and former Mariners prospect Johan Limonta homered for Lara while Darwin Perez of the Angels went deep for the Magallanes. Chris Nowak and Erold Andrus, both ex-Rays prospect,s went a combined 1 for 8.
Aguilas del Zulia 4, Bravos de Margarita 0
It wasn’t Alex Torres‘ turn to start for Zulia on Sunday, but maybe his ridiculous pitching of late is contagious. Josh Schmidt, a 29 year old career minor leaguer who has spent time with the Yankees and Marlins organizations, was great for Zulia, going 6 innings of shutout ball allowing just 5 hit sand 2 walks while striking out 7. The only Rays-related player who actually appeared in the game was ex-Ray Sean Burroughs of Margarita, who went 1 for 3 with a walk.
Leones de Caracas 7, Tigres de Aragua 5
In the game you’ve all been waiting for (since I alluded to it in the open and then proceeded to not mention it until now), the Leones had an incredible amount of opportunities, 17 chances with runners in scoring position, and scored only 7 runs, but managed to came away with the win. Rays prospect Henry Wrigley singled in a run to give Caracas an early 1-0 lead, But Alex Romero, an ex-big leaguer for the Diamondbacks, slammed a 3-run homer to make it 3-1 Aragua. But then Hernan Perez took over, lacing an RBI single in the 4th and then a bases-clearing 3-run double in the 5th, and the Leones held on to win. Perez went 2 for 4 with a double and 2 RBI, and Wrigley was not too shabby either, going 3 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored. He’s hitting .316 for the Leones including .405 in his last 10 games. He still isn’t walking though, walking just 3 times on the VWL season against 12 strikeouts, and two of those were in one game.