Rays Winter Ball Recap: James Houser Sparkles in Santurce Loss

By Robbie Knopf

As a baseball team, getting good starting pitching is such a critical part of winning games. For a pitcher, though, it has to bug you every once in a while that you pitch as well as you want but it doesn’t matter unless your team gets you some runs. Rays pitchers have gotten a little bit too familiar with that over the year, and that is what James Houser is feeling after his hard-luck loss on Saturday.

Mexican Pacific League: Naranjeros de Hermosillo 3, Venados de Mazatlán 1

Henry Mateo had a strong game in the loss for Mazatlán, going 2 for 4 with a stolen base. Mateo has been playing well, hitting .300 in his last 10 games, but the Venados are just 2-8 over that span. For Hermosillo, Jason Urquidez closed out the game for his 16th save, striking out 2 in a perfect 9th. He has struck out 2 without walking a batter in each of his last 3 appearances, allowing just 1 hit combined in those games. Urquidez managed a 0.25 ERA for independent Lancaster this year, and now he has his ERA in the MPL down to just 0.35. Urquidez’s strikeout to walk ratio is less impressive at 25-10, but if he keeps this up, some major league team will have to give him a look even after he struggled for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate at the end of 2013.

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League: Leones de Ponce 1, Congrejeros de Santurce 0

Matched up against former big leaguer Joel Pineiro, James Houser knew right from the start that he needed to deliver a great outing. He did exactly that. Houser went a season-high 7 innings allowing just 1 run on 7 hits, striking out 5 while walking none and posting a 10-4 groundout to flyout ratio. But the one mistake he made, a solo home run to Jordan Lennerton, proved to be enough as Santurce lost 1-0. Houser, a week away from turning 29 years old, keeps seeing his numbers get more impressive. He is now 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA, striking out 28 while walking 8 in 36.2 innings pitched. The former Rays second rounder has done enough to major league organization have noticed, but he will have to keep up this level of play to secure a deal.