Power-hitting first basemen aren’t exactly common in the Rays system. Henry Wrigley has never been a real prospect for the Rays, but after he hit .285 with 13 homers in 94 games at Triple-A Durham in 2012 and they have to at least give him a shot. Wrigley entered winter ball this year with more pressure on him than ever and faltered at the start, but he had a great game Thursday and it will be interesting to see what he can do in spring training.
Could Wrigley power his way into a big league role? (Credit: Nick Martinez, J.C.M. Action Photography)
Venezuelan Winter League: Leones del Caracas 5, Caribes de Anzoategui 3
The Leones started the Venezuelan Winter League 0-3 but entered Thursday on a 3-game winning streak. It can’t be a coincidence that their turnaround began when Rays prospect Henry Wrigley started hitting. Wrigley had a big game Thursday as the Leones overcame a late really by the Caribes to win 5-3. The Caracas offense hit Caribes starter Juan Marcano (Padres) hard in the second inning, getting a 2-run double by veteran outfielder Wilfredo Romero followed by an RBI double by Indians prospect Jesus Aguilar to make it a 3-0 game. An RBI single by the Padres’ big league super-utility player Alexi Amarista got a run back for Caribes in the top of the 3rd, but Wrigley restored the Leones’ 3-run cushion with a sac fly in the bottom in the inning. The Amarista RBI single drove in the only run Caracas starter Scott Carroll (White Sox) allowed as he went 6 innings of 1-run ball allowing 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out just 1 but also posting a 12-4 groundout to flyout ratio. The Caracas bullpen was much shakier. Victor Larez (Tigers) allowed a solo homer to Jordan Brown (Brewers) in the 7th inning to make it a 4-2 game. The Leones got that run back on a solo homer by Wrigley in the bottom of the 8th off of the Yankees’ Jon Meloan, and it proved crucial as the game could have gotten awfully tight. With 2 outs and nobody on, Ronald Uviedo (Blue Jays) allowed a double to Brown followed by an RBI single by Mike Wilson, to make it a 5-3 game before Uviedo struck out Gerardo Avila to end the game as the Leones emerged victorious. Wrigley, the DH for Caracas, was one of the heroes in the game, going 2 for 3 with a homer, a double, and 2 RBI with his runs batted in providing the winning margin in the game.
Arizona Fall League: Phoenix Desert Dogs 2, Surprise Saguaros 2 (11 innings)
This one ended as an 11-inning tie, but there was a little drama to get to extra innings and a trio of Rays prospects had solid games. The Saguaros took a 1-0 lead in the 3rd when Red Sox catching prospect Christian Vazquez doubled and later scored on a groundout by fellow Red Sox prospect Michael Almanzar groundout. But Phoenix came back with 2 runs in the 4th to take the lead, stringing together an RBI triple by the Marlins’ highly-touted outfield prospect Christian Yelich and the Braves’ Edward Salcedo to make it 2-1. The game then went to the bullpens, where the best performer on either team was the Cardinals’ Kevin Siegrist, who went 3 shutout innings striking out 4 while walking none. After the Phoenix bullpen had tossed 5 shutout innings, Grant Dayton (Marlins) came back for the 9th in his second inning of work. But Darrell Ceciliani (Mets) singled with 1 out followed by a Brian Fletcher (Royals) double to move Cevillani to 3rd, where he scored on a wild pitch to send the game into extra innings, where it was eventually declared a tie. Hak-Ju Lee had a great game for Phoenix, going 1 for 3 with 2 walks but also his 4th caught stealing of the season against just 1 stolen base. Lee really needs to get in going on the basepaths, a problem he has dealt with in the problem. Tim Beckham also went 1 for 5 while Kevin Kiermaier went 1 for 4.