Not too often that a middle reliever grabs a headline here in our Rays Minor League Recap, but Romulo Sanchez deserved it. Admittedly it was a slow day in Winter Ball, with just 4 games being played and no Rays delivering crazy performances, but that doesn’t detract from just how well Sanchez pitched.
Dominican Winter League Postseason: Estrellas de Oriente 7, Aguilas Cibaenas 3
Extremely tough game as they blew a 3-0 lead after 5 innings by allowing 3 runs in the 6th and 4 in the 7th. Lorenzo Barcelo struck out 7 across 5.1 innings for Cibaenas but came apart in that 6th inning. Among the ex-Rays, Manny Ramirez went 1 for 4 with a double, a walk, and a run scored while Hector Luna went 0 for 4 with a walk.
Toros del Este 5, Leones de Escogido 4
Julio Lugo and Willy Aybar were hitting so well that the Leones moved them up to second and fifth in their lineup respectively. That did not go so well. Lugo went just 0 for 5 with a Golden Sombrero while Aybar went 0 for 3 with a walk. They provided no help as Escogido nearly came back from a 5-0 deficit. The Houston Astros’ Fernando Abad was excellent for Este, going 5 innings allowing just an unearned run on 4 hits, striking out 7 while walking 1.
Venezuelan Winter League Playoffs: Navegantes de Magallanes 4, Cardelanes de Lara 3
The Cardelanes were able to come back to tie the game after trailing 3-1, thanks in no small part to Romulo Sanchez, who was dominant in the 4th and 5th innings, going 1.2 innings allowing just 1 hit, striking out 3 and recording his other two outs via groundouts. Even after a miserable season at Triple-A Durham for the Rays in 2012 (6.31 ERA), more pitching like that is going to get Sanchez another invite to a big league camp somewhere. However, you get the feeling that Magallanes is going to win it all in the VWL. The Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants played each other in the 2010 World Series, but key players from each team, Elvis Andrus and Pablo Sandoval, are teammates for the Navegantes and hitting out of their minds. In this game, Sandoval hit a go-ahead home run in the 8th inning while Andrus went 3 for 4 with a run scored. Jean Machi nailed down the save for Magallanes, working around a walk in the 9th with 2 groundballs and a pop-out to end the game. Erold Andrus, whose playing time over the past month for the Navegantes has been almost unbelievably sparse, went 0 for 4. Good luck to him rediscovering his stroke because as we saw earlier in the VWL season, he has the ability to be another key contributor in the Magallanes lineup to pair with Sandoval and the other Andrus.
Leones del Caracas 4, Aguilas del Zulia 1
The Leones del Caracas have to be asking themselves why they didn’t give Daniel Mayora earlier. Mayora, who didn’t receive regular playing time until his ex-Durham teammate Henry Wrigley went home for the winter, went 1 for 2 with an RBI and a run scored for Caracas and is hitting a solid .286 for the Leones so far in the VWL playoffs. One other little-known ex-Ray that we have never mentioned before got into the game for Zulia as Deivis Mavarez went a third of an inning for the Aguilas, allowing a hit. Mavarez, 26, was a little right-hander in the Rays system from 2007 to 2011 after getting released from the Astros organization and showed some promise, reaching as high as High-A in his first season in the US in 2009, but he saw his career top out there as he managed just a 61-51 strikeout to walk ratio in 81.2 High-A innings.