Rays Winter Ball Recap: Leslie Andereson, Wes Bankston Break Out

By Robbie Knopf

Wes Bankston has spent the last several years playing in Independent ball and is struggling to find a more lucrative position. Leslie Anderson hopes to avoid the same fate.  Both are going to need several more games like they had on Sunday to make that possible.

Dominican Winter League: Aguilas Cibaenas 7, Gigantes del Cibao 4 (11 innings)

Juan Sandoval tossed a scoreless 6th inning for Cibaenas, working around a couple of hits as he got a pair of groundouts, but Sergio Espinosa was the loser in the game for Cibao. After a perfect 10th, Espinosa came back out for the 11th and allowed a single, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice bunt before the runs scored with Willy Paredes in the game. Espinosa, who was last in the Rays organization in 2011, is coming off a dominant season in Independent Ball and will hope to pitch well for Cibao to possibly get back into affiliated ball.

Mexican Pacific League: Caneros de Los Mochis 6, Mayos de Navojoa 4

The Mayos de Navojoa have continued to bat Wes Bankston fourth even as he has been struggling believing that their veteran first baseman was moments away from breaking out. Finally on Sunday, he did just that, going 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored. Hopefully Bankston is starting to settle in. Unfortunately, it was another former Rays prospect who took the loss for the Mayos, although it wasn’t his fault. Cecilio Garibaldi got two quick outs in the 9th before allowing a walk and getting pulled for Andrew Russell. The move did not work out as Russell allowed a 2-run home run to Jake Fox.

Aguilas de Mexicali 8, Venados de Mazatlán 2

Mike Jacobs had a nice game for Mexicali, going 2 for 5 with a 2-run homer and a pair of runs scored. and Kevin Kouzmanoff stayed red-hot, going 3 for 5 with 2 runs scored. Jacobs has finally turned it on after a rough start, delivering back-to-back multi-hit games. Kouzmanoff, meanwhile, has been on fire since the onset, hitting .485. For Mazatlán, their two Rays could have had better days. Henry Mateo went 0 for 4 and Oscar Armenta‘s MPL debut lasted all of one batter, who he walked. Armenta had a rough season in 2013 with the Princeton Rays after pitching well for the GCL Rays in 2012, and hopefully he can build some confidence this offseason as he gives it another go next year.

Venezuelan Winter League: Caribes de Anzoátegui 8, Aguilas del Zulia 7

Big news for Virgil Vasquez as he agreed to a minor league contract with the Twins for next season. This game did not go too well, though, as he lasted just 2 innings giving up a run on 4 hits. The bigger story, though, was Leslie Anderson for the Caribes. Anderson went 3 for 5 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored, and suddenly he’s hitting .471 through 4 games, although the double was his first extra-base hit. Anderson is finally on the free agent market. This is his chance to prove he belongs in the major leagues. Can he keep playing well to do just that?

Leones del Caracas 6, Bravos de Margarita 0

Nope, Daniel Mayora isn’t slowing down yet. Mayora went 2 for 2 with 2 runs scored in this game, and apparently the new strategy to deal with him is to hit him with pitches as he was hit twice in this game. His .448/.500/.828 line through 32 plate appearances is not too shabby. Hard to believe he started the year on the Leones’ bench. Bobby Abreu also went 1 for 4 with a walk and a run scored in the win for the Leones