Rays Winter Ball Recap: Jesus Feliciano 2-Run Triple Lifts Carolina

By Robbie Knopf

Winter ball can turn into one of a multitude of things depending on the player. For some, it can serve as a fresh start, a chance of redemption after a season of struggles or maybe even two. Jesus Feliciano saw his career crescendo in 2010 as he improbably made the New York Mets’ major league roster as a 31 year old rookie, but 2013 saw him slip out of affiliated ball into the Mexican League and have a rough season. This winter, though, Feliciano has shown that he isn’t done dreaming yet and he’ll do everything in his power for one more chance.

Dominican Winter League: Gigantes del Cibao 7, Estrellas de Oriente 2

Sergio Espinosa and Jhonny Nunez were huge as they made sure Oriente never got close, with Espinosa tossing a perfect inning with a strikeout and Nunez one-upping with him with 2 K’s in his 1-2-3 frame. Espinosa’s ERA is now an incredible 0.84 threw 10.2 DWL innings. But let’s talk for a moment about Wilson Betemit, who went 0 for 3 with 2 walks for the Gigantes in the game. We know Betemit as the former Yankee and Oriole, but he also has the distinction of getting trade for three future Rays: Nunez, Danys Baez, and Willy Aybar.

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League: Gigantes de Carolina 4, Congrejeros de Santurce 1

Billy Hamilton‘s RBI double gave Santurce a 1-0 lead in the 6th, but the Gigantes roared back with 4 runs in the 7th. Singles by Carlos Moncrief and Robinson Cancel with one out gave Carolina the go-ahead run on base, and Ruben Gotay tied the game with a single before Jesus Feliciano came through with a 2-run triple over the head of Hamilton to give the Gigantes a 3-1 lead. Feliciano actually lowered his average over the course of his game, but the go-aahead triple was just the latest highlight in his incredible RCPBL season. Feliciano now has a .356/.442/.444 line with 2 doubles, a triple, and 7 RBI in 52 plate appearances. He has not hit for much power, but he has struck out just twice while walking 6 times. Even more interesting, though, is that Feliciano, a lefty hitter who has traditionally been weaker against same-side pitchers, has actually mashed against them so far this winter, managing a .368/.500/.526 line with two of his three extra-base hits in 24 plate appearances. If Feliciano has really broken through against lefties, his defense and baserunning could have him primed to get an offer to big league camp by the time the Puerto Rican season is through.