Being an established big league player playing in Winter Ball would seem to a relaxing experience as you’re playing against worse competition while hanging out in your home country. However, it also adds a dimension of pressure- you’re the star and you have to deliver. It’s always nice when you can show your teammates and the crowd exactly why you were so good in the major leagues for a while.
Dominican Winter League: Aguilas Cibaenas 12, Leones del Escogido 9
Omar Luna has finally started hitting. Luna delivered his second consecutive multi-hit game after not having another one since November 17th, going 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored for Cibaenas. Two other ex-Rays also appeared for the Aguilas. Tim Corcoran has been great for Cibaenas but had a rough start this time around, allowing 6 runs on 5 hits in 3.1 innings, striking out 1 while walking none. However, his groundout to flyout ratio was actually 7-1 and his groundball to flyball ratio was 9-3. Unfortunately for him, all three flyballs went for extra-bases: a 3-run double by the Pirates’ Starling Marte, a double by Marte, and a 2-run homer by the Astros’ Fernando Martinez. The start raised his ERA from 2.61 to 3.73. Ouch. Better luck next time, Tim. Manny Ramirez helped the Aguilas rally to save Corcoran the loss in the game, going 2 for 6 with 3 RBI.
Gigantes del Cibao 7, Toros del Este 4
A couple of ex-Rays prospects appeared for Cibao, with Rhyne Hughes going 1 for 4 and Jhonny Nunez finding a way to finish the game but not before allowing 2 runs on 3 hits in the 9th, although he did strike out 2.
Mexican Pacific League: Mayos de Navojoa 7, Yaquis de Obregon 4
In the Wes Bankston-Jon Weber matchup that only I’m following, Weber got the better of Bankston but Bankston’s team came away with the win. Weber went 2 for 3 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored while Bankston went 0 for 4. Teammates on the 2007 Durham Bulls, Bankston and Weber are seeing their batting averages get awfully close- Bankston dipped to a .307 average in this game while Weber got his average up to .303.
Naranjeros de Hermosillo 3, Algonoderos de Guasave 1
This game was a pitcher’s duel all the way, but Jorge Cantu found a way to take advantage of one of the very few mistakes the pitchers made. 23 year old career Mexican Leaguer Marco Tovar was ridiculous for Hermosillo, going 7 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 7 while walking none, and posting a 7-0 groundout to flyout ratio. His only mistake was a solo homer by the Twins’ Chris Colabello (who happens to be a great story, spending 7 years in Independent Ball before the Twins signed him this year and watched him have a great year at Double-A). Ex-big leaguer Andrew Sisco wasn’t nearly as overpowering but certainly got the job done, going 7 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 3 and walking 3 but posting a 12-2 groundout to flyout ratio. Ex-big leaguer Karim Garcia singled in a run against him in the 3rd inning for the only run he allowed. But after Sisco departed, Cantu came up huge against reliever Adrian Ramirez, slamming a go-ahead 2-run homer in the 8th that would provide the winning margin in the Naranjeros’ 3-1 win. Cantu went just 1 for 4 in the game, seeing him batting average on the year slip to .219, but he certainly made the 1 count, and Humberto Cota went 1 for 3 with a walk. Cota is hitting just .214 and .176 in his last 10 games, but he’s walking like there’s no tomorrow, walking 21 times in 152 plate appearances (13.8%) including 7 of his last 41 (17.1%).
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico): Congrejeros de Santurce 6, Gigantes de Carolina 4
Three ex-Rays made appearances in this one, with Felipe Lopez, who we haven’t heard about in a while because he’s been really struggling, finally having a good game, going 2 for 3 with 2 walks, and RBI, and a walk for Santurce. Lopez has walked 10 times against 8 strikeouts in 12 games, managing a .404 OBP, but he’s hitting just .229. Jesus Feliciano went 1 for 4 with an RBI for Scott Kazmir‘s Carolina squad while Eddie Morlan, who the Rays acquired along with Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett in the Delmon Young trade, allowed a run in an inning of work for the Gigantes.
Venezuelan Winter League: Tigres de Aragua 9, Navegantes de Magallanes 1
Four ex-Rays appearing for Magallanes in this one, but as you can see from the score, not much good results. Chris Nowak went 1 for 3 with the Navegantes’ only run scored, Erold Andrus went 0 for 3, Leslie Anderson went 0 for 1 as a pinch-hitter, and Jean Machi blew up for the second straight appearance, allowing 3 runs in just an inning of work.
Caribes de Anzoategui 7, Leones del Caracas 4
Not good news in this one as Henry Wrigley started in left field batting 5th for Caracas playing in just his third game since November 21st but went 0 for 2 before leaving the game. Hope he’s OK- he has been dealing with a stomach ailment and maybe that flared up again. Ex-Rays prospect Jon Meloan nailed down the save for Anzoategui, working around a hit with a pair of groundballs in a scoreless 9th.