Rays Winter Ball Recap: Henry Wrigley Debuts for Caracas
A year passes, and then they comeback again. One of the ironies of Winter Ball is how players so often return to the same team year after year even though everything can change in the intervening time. From 2012 to 2013, Alex Torres went from a pitcher who could not throw strikes for his life at Triple-A to one of the Rays’ best relief pitchers. Nevertheless, he came right back to play for the Aguilas del Zulia this offseason. But unfortunately, the stories are not always so positive. Henry Wrigley‘s stint with the Leones del Caracas helped earn him an opportunity with the Colorado Rockies organization, but after a disastrous season, he is back with Caracas once again.
Dominican Winter League: Tigres del Licey 6, Aguilas Cibaenas 4
The Aguilas mounted a late comeback to turn this into a ballgame, and that would not have been possible without the effort of Juan Sandoval, who tossed 1.1 no-hit innings, striking out 2 while walking 1. Two other former Rays prospects saw time for Cibaenas, Hector Luna and Omar Luna. Hector has had a nice season, hitting .291, but he went just 0 for 4 with a run scored. Omar, meanwhile, made just his second start of the season for the Aguilas but did finally notch his first hit, going 1 for 4 with a run scored. Luna was the reverse of Wrigley last offseason. He came into Winter Ball after hitting .315 for the Rays’ Double-A Montgomery affiliate, but after a season that saw him manage just a .235/.295/.294 line for Cibaenas, his market in minor league free agency shrunk significantly. He would up splitting 2013 between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlatnta Braves organizations, even seeing time with independent El Paso.
Mexican Pacific League: Tomateros de Culiacán 12, Mayos de Navojoa 2
Remember when the Rays signed catcher Ali Solis as a minor league free agent? He is still set to join the organization, but he will do so under another name. Solis has apparently always gone by his full name, Roman Ali Solis, and don’t be surprised if he ends up in Rays camp as “Roman Solis.” Less important than his name, though, will be how he plays, and luckily he has been doing that just fine for the Tomateros, going 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI in this game. He now has a .275/.323/.450 line in 161 plate appearances for Culiacán. For the Mayos, Jon Weber went 1 for 3 but Wes Bankston finally cooled off, going 0 for 4.
Venezuelan Winter League: Tiburones de La Guaira 1, Tigres de Aragua 0
Little was happening for Aragua in this game, but just about every moment of excitement came from Hector Gimenez, who went 2 for 3 with a walk. Gimenez has continued to impress thoroughly for the Tigres, hitting to a .274/.381/.559 line with 15 homers and 51 RBI in 53 games. He even has a 45-33 strikeout to walk ratio. Pretty good for a player with a reputation as a weak-hitting backup catcher.
Cardenales de Lara 9, Leones del Caracas 1
Quite a few notable players appeared in this game for both sides, but we will start with Henry Wrigley, who went 0 for 3 with an RBI in his first game for the Leones. Wrigley was excellent for Caracas last winter, managing a .299/.350/.537 line, and he hopes to muster even a fraction of that this offseason. Wrigley missed the majority of 2013 with injuries and things did not go well when he was healthy either as he managed just a .188/.227/.348 line in 119 plate appearances. Bobby Abreu appeared alongside in him in the loss for Caracas, going 1 for 3 with a walk. Then there two former Rays that appeared out of the bullpen for Lara. Jesus Colome worked around a hit to toss a scoreless 8th before Romulo Sanchez got around 2 hits in the 9th to finish off the game with a shutout inning. Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas was right in the thick of things for Lara’s offensive effort, going 3 for 4 with 2 doubles and an RBI>