The Undercards: No Stopping Jorge Cantu, Willy Aybar Stays Perfect


One of my favorite Jorge Cantu stats: not even his platoon splits could say consistent. In 2005, his coming-out party for the Devil Rays, he managed a .833 OPS versus right-handed pitching with 22 of his 28 home runs compared to just a .737 mark against lefties. The next year, his .696 OPS against righties was actually edged by his .704 OPS versus lefties. Bottom line, Jorge Cantu is one of the most consistent players we’ve ever seen. But when he goes on a hot streak, it seems to last him a year or two like he showed in 2005, 2008, and 2009. He’s on one of those streaks right now- but how long will it last?

Dominican Winter League: Estrellas de Oriente 5, Gigantes del Cibao 3

There are defensive collapses and then there’s the disaster that happened behind ex-Rays minor leaguer Bobby Livingston, who had previously made the big leagues with the Mariners and Reds. Livingston began this game for Cibao by tossing 4 shutout innings after the Gigantes staked him to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning and then began the 5th by getting two groundouts. Then the following happened: Juan Diaz singled on a soft groundball that third baseman Hanser Alberto couldn’t field cleanly, an error by shortstop Jean Segura gave Oriente 1st and 3rd, a single to center by the Blue Jays’ Moises Sierra plated a run to make it a 3-1 game. Then Alberto couldn’t field another soft groundball to third to load the bases and prompt the Gigantes to take him out of the game in favor of Wilson Valdez. It was too late. Clearly frustrated by this point, Livingston left a pitch up in the zone and Cubs prospect Junior Lake drilled a grand slam to give the Estrellas a 5-3 lead and that’s the way the game would end. Rhyne Hughes also went 1 for 4 for Cibao.

Tigres del Licey 5, Aguilas Cibaenas 3

It was the biggest joke for several years that Juan Miranda was going to be the Yankees’ first baseman. That understandably never happened- but Miranda really is not that bad a player, managing a 98 OPS+ in 298 big league appearances and had a .784 OPS at Triple-A Durham for the Rays in 2012. He also happens to be red-hot ever since returning to the Licey starting lineup after the DWL All-Star Break. Miranda was back at it in this one from the cleanup spot in the Tigres’ order, going 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, and 2 RBI, and in his last 4 games he’s a ridiculous 7 for 10 with 2 doubles, 2 walks, and 3 RBI to raise his line on the season to .304/.389/.413. If only he had any power- he doesn’t have a homer all season. Also appearing for Licey was Juan Cruz, who was outstanding, going 2.2 innings allowing just a hit and a walk while striking out 4. Don’t mess with these big league relievers at Winter Ball. Manny Ramirez and Hector Luna had a rough day for Cibaenas, going 1 for 4 and 0 for 4 respectively.

Toros del Este 8, Leones del Escogido 6

Obviously all of your existences depend on how Willy Aybar did in his pinch-hit appearance for Escogido on Sunday after he went 3 for 3 his last 3 times out. Aybar did not get a hit this time- but he did walk. Aybar actually was not a great pinch-hitter in the big leagues, hitting just .247, but he did hit .269 with 2 home runs in 2010, the last time he was in the big leagues. Aybar was hitting in the batting order spot of Julio Lugo, who had a horrible game, going 0 for 4 with 4 strikeouts.

Mexican Pacific League: Mayos de Navojoa 8, Caneros de los Mochis 6

Wes Bankston‘s hot streak stalled a bit as he went 0 for 4 with a walk and an RBI. The bigger story in this game was ex-big leaguer Ben Broussard, who slammed 2 homers for the Mayos. Broussard last appeared in the big leagues in 2008 with the Rangers and retired the next year but is making a comeback and it has gotten off to a nice start as he’s hitting .455 with 3 home runs in his first 6 games for the Mayos. Broussard hit 21 homers between the Indians and Mariners and slammed 15 or more homers each year from 2003 until 2006.

Venados de Mazatlan 4, Algodoneros de Guasave 0

Henry Mateo had a nice game for Mazatlan, going 3 for 5 with 2 doubles and a run scored, and Matt Buschmann finished off the game in a non-save situation and tossed a perfect frame. Buschmann actually battled with control issues as just 6 of his 13 pitches were strikes but did so successfully. Buschmann has a 2.16 ERA in 6 appearances for Mazatlan.

Yaquis de Obregon 6, Aguilas de Mexicali 5

Remember that game when Joe Maddon accidentally listed two players at third base for the Rays on the lineup card he handed to the umpire and was forced to bat the pitcher Andy Sonnanstine third and then Sonannstine wound up hitting an RBI double as the Rays won the game? That was the story with Mexicali in the game except the pitcher Jorge Campillo was batting 4th, and it may have cost the Aguilas the game. Campillo pitched OK, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings, but he went 0 for 2, leaving Jon Weber on base twice. Weber went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk for the Aguilas in the game.

Naranjeros de Hermosillo 10, Tomateros de Culiacan 5

Congrats to the Tomateros- they got Jorge Cantu out once. The problem was the other four plate appearances. Cantu went 3 for 4 in the game with a double, a walk, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored as he drove Culiacan crazy, improving a .324 average in his last 10 games and a .260 average on the MPL season. Humberto Cota also went 1 for 2 for Hermosillo. Cota is hitting just .227 in 180 plate appearances for the Naranjeros but has a great .350 OBP as his strikeout to walk ratio is a nice 37-25. He has mashed lefties to a .375/.500/.500 line with 8 walks against 4 strikeouts but is hitting just .175 versus righties.