Rays Winter Ball Recap: Jesus Aguilar, Hector Gimenez Slam 2 HRs, 5 RBI

By Robbie Knopf

It’s always cool when a player slams two home runs. Two home runs for a player on both teams? Now we’re talking about a special game.

Dominican Winter League: Leones del Escogido 5, Aguilas Cibaenas 2

Hector Luna‘s strong winter continued as he slammed a solo homer in the loss for the Aguilas. He now has a .326/.434/.556 line in 53 DWL plate appearances, slamming 2 homers and 4 doubles and also managing a 7-9 strikeout to walk ratio. Unfortunately, it was another former Ray, Juan Sandoval, whose collapse cemented the loss for Cibaenas as he allowed 2 runs in just a third of an inning. The fact that Sandoval’s ERA still stands at 2.45 after that tells you just how he has been. Julio Lugo also got into the game for Escogido, going 1 for 5 with a double.

Mexican Pacific League: Algodoneros de Guasave 6, Tomateros de Culiacán 5 (14 innings)

Jorge Cantu and Ali Solis were absolutely horrendous for the Tomateros in this game, going a combined 1 for 12, but let’s talk about a player we have not talked about yet, Jeff Bennett. Bennett started for Guasave and went 6 strong innings allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 3 while walking 2. Bennett had appeared out of the bullpen in his previous four appearances and had allowed a run in his last three games, but maybe starting could work out better for him. Bennett, 33, split 2013 between the Mexican League and Independent Ball, but he appeared in the major leagues as recently as 2009 in a Rays uniform, although it did not go well (9.95 ERA in 10 appearances).

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League: Gigantes de Carolina 3, Congrejeros de Santurce 2

Victor Mateo started for Santurce and delivered another strong performance, allowing 1 run on 7 hits in 5.1 innings, striking out 4 while walking 1. He improved his strikeout to walk ratio to an outstanding 33-8 in 28 innings pitched as he has emerged as a dependable starter for the Congrejeros. However, it was the Gigantes who won this game with a 9th inning rally. Carlos Corporan tied the game with an RBI single, but it was a former Rays prospect who finished the game as well as Mateo started it as Jesus Feliciano drilled a go-ahead RBI single to lead Carolina to their 3-2 victory. Feliciano went 2 for 5 overall in the game and he now has an outstanding .352/.424/.409 line in 99 plate appearances.

Venezuelan Winter League: Leones del Caracas 9, Tigres de Aragua 5

On Tuesday, Hector Gimenez had his latest huge game. He had homered in his previous two games but hadn’t done anything like he did against Caracas, going 2 for 4 with 2 homers and 5 RBI. Unfortunately for him, Cleveland Indians prospect Jesus Aguilar did the EXACT SAME THING on the other side, and the Leones also received a solo homer from Bobby Abreu and 2 more RBI from Jesus Guzman. Gimenez has put up huge numbers in the VWL, managing a .265/.369/.548 line with 13 homers and 46 RBI in 47 games. Pretty good for a player usually known as a weak-hitting catcher! Aguilar, meanwhile, slammed 16 homers in 130 games at Double-A Akron last year and already has 16 homers in 44 games in the VWL. Aguilar has always had some raw power he hasn’t been able to tap into often enough, and the Indians have to hope that’s all coming out now.

Cardenales de Lara 8, Navegantes del Magallanes 5

The player you’ll hear about most from this game is Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, who went 1 for 4 with a solo home run for Lara. But four current and former Rays also appeared, with Robinson Chirinos going 1 for 3 with a walk and 2 RBI for Magallanes, Jesus Colome tossing a shutout inning for Lara, and Erik Hamren and Erold Andrus both having forgettable games, with Hamren allowed an unearned run and Andrus pinch-hitting unsuccessfully.