You are in for a fun Winter Ball recap today as we cover several new former Rays to go along with our usual batch of exciting players. Most exciting thing, though, is that Wes Bankston regained his spot on the Mayos de Navojoa and has celebrated with two straight multi-hit games.
Dominican Winter League: Gigantes del Cibao 2, Toros del Este 0
Joey Terdoslavich must really want another opportunity for the Atlanta Braves as he continues his great winter, going 3 for 4 for Este. Unfortunately, his teammates did not do much to help him out. Terdoslavich has a .300/.348/.517 line in 66 plate appearances so far for Este. Mayo Acosta also has good numbers, managing a .268 average, but he had no luck in this game, going 0 for 3. For Cibao, Ramon Ramirez nailed down his 8th save, striking out 2 as he worked around a hit in the 9th. A 2.37 ERA and a 15-6 strikeout to walk ratio in 19 innings pitched have made it clear that Ramirez wants an invite to big league camp for next year. Then there is the new face we will cover, right-hander Winston Abreu, who tossed a perfect inning to finish the game for Este. Abreu managed a 2.45 ERA in two relief appearances for the Rays in 2009, and he was absolutely lights out during his time wih the Durham Bulls, managing a 2.11 ERA, a 13.5 K/9, a 3.1 BB/9, and a 0.4 HR/9 in 104 appearances and 106.1 innings pitched between 2009 and 2010. Unfortunately, big leaguers never were fooled as much by the movement on his low-90′s fastball as he managed a 7.31 ERA in 38 appearances. Abreu is now 36, but he appeared to really enjoy his time in Tampa Bay, signing with the Rays three times as a free agent (prior to 2009, after the Cleveland Indians released him in August after the Rays had traded him, and prior to 2010), and he might be worth a look as Triple-A filler.
Mexican Pacific League: Aguilas de Mexicali 6, Yaquis de Obregón 1
Russell Branyan is hitting just .150 in his last 10 games, striking out 15 times versus just 2 walks, as he has really started to fall down to earth after a huge start for the Aguilas. He did manage a hit and a run scored in this game, but he also struck out 2 more times in his 1 for 4 day. He still has strong numbers overall, managing a .235/.364/.496 line, and he will hope to get hot again. Also appearing in this game were two former Rays minor leaguers, although neither had a good game. Darnell McDonald, who we know from the Boston Red Sox and briefly with the New York Yankees, also spent the better part of two years with the Durham Bulls between 2005 and 2006, managing a .289/.345/.447 line in 902 plate appearances, drilling 46 doubles and 26 homers while stealing 37 bases (although note that those counting stats were over a season and a half). Those were impressive numbers, but unfortunately the Devil Rays were loaded in the outfield in those years (just about the only place they were loaded). Also unfortunate was that McDonald went 0 for 4 for Obregón in this game. Even worse, though, was Bobby Cramer, who allowed 4 runs in 1.1 innings of work for the Yaquis. Cramer was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Rays in 2003 but was released two years later despite a strong season at Low-A Charleston, managing a 3.32 ERA, a 6.9 K/9, a 1.7 BB/9, and a 0.6 HR/9 in 62.1 innings pitched. Cramer eventually signed with the Oakland Athletics, making the big leagues with them for 9 appearances between 2009 and 2010 and actually managing a 2.53 ERA in 32 innings pitched.
Mayos de Navojoa 4, Caneros de los Mochis 2
For whatever reason, Wes Bankston went home after his game for the Mayos on November 13th, and it was an entire month before he got into another game for Navojoa again. He is quickly starting to make up for the lost time. Bankston went 2 for 4 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored on Friday and followed it up by going 2 for 4 again on Saturday to help lead the Mayos to victory. Jon Weber also had a nice game, going 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. It was bizarre seeing Weber without Bankston in the Navojoa lineup for so long, but they are back together and poised to help the Mayos win games.
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League: Congrejeros de Santurce 9, Gigantes de Carolina 6
James Houser had his latest solid start for the Congrejeros, but he had to work a little harder than usual to achieve it. Houser went 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 9 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1. It was not exactly pretty, but it was enough for Houser to improve to 4-1 in 8 starts for Santurce to go along with a 3.02 ERA and a 31-9 strikeout to walk ratio in 41.2 innings pitched. Houser turns 29 years of age today, and as a left-hander who has shown some promise both in Independent ball and here in Puerto Rico over the last year, it will be interesting to see if he gets a chance to get back into affiliated ball. Jesus Feliciano went 1 for 4 with a walk and 2 runs scored in the loss for Carolina, also delivering an outfield assist, while Robinson Cancel went 1 for 3.
Venezuelan Winter League: Navegantes del Magallanes 8, Cardenales de Lara 7
Several different former Rays prospects had nice games in this one as Magallanes edged Lara. For Magallanes, Robinson Chirinos went 2 for 4 with a run scored, Erold Andrus went 0 for 4 but did have an RBI, Erik Hamren struck out 1 in 0.2 perfect innings, and Jean Machi nailed down the save with 2 strikeouts in a perfect 9th. Romulo Sanchez did not have the same luck, allowing 3 runs, 1 earned, on 3 hits in an inning of work to allowe the Navegantes to overcome a 7-5 deficit in the 9th to win. Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas homered in the loss for Lara, going 1 for 5 with a homer and 2 RBI. Moustakas has 3 homers and 11 RBI in 10 games for the Cardenales, but his 11-2 strikeout to walk ratio cannot be a good sign.