Rays Winter Leagues Recap: Brandon Allen Goes Off
By Robbie Knopf
Over the course of his major league career, Brandon Allen has rarely found consistent production. However, he has always found his moments, and he had plenty of them on Wednesday night for the Caribes de Anzoátegui.
Arizona Fall League: Mesa Solar Sox 5, Peoria Javelinas 2
This was the most forgettable night of the AFL so far for the Tampa Bay Rays prospects on the Javelinas. Justin O’Conner went 0 for 3 with a hit-by-pitch while Kes Carter went 0 for 3 with a walk. That’s it. O’Conner did throw out one of two runners attempting to steal while Carter had an error and an outfield assist.
Surprise Saguaros 13, Scottsdale Scorpions 11
The fact that Luke Maile is on Surprise’s roster and not Peoria’s gives the Rays to have two catching prospects playing every Wednesday. That’s pretty cool. Maile did his best to pick up the slack for the Javelinas’ guys, going 1 for 2 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored. The Scorpions were kind enough to take him out of the game in the fifth inning as they held an 11-6 lead. On the other hand, when you’re playing one game all week, wouldn’t you want to play the entire contest even if the first few innings were tough?
Mexican Pacific League: Venados de Mazatlán 7, Mayos de Navojoa 2
Sergio Espinosa has always been a reliever, whether in the regular season or in the Winter Leagues. Well, until this year. The Cuban defector and former Rays prospect went 7-2 with a 3.15 ERA in 12 starts and a relief appearances for Puebla in the Mexican League this year, and now he’s starting for the Venados as well.
Espinosa’s first game went extremely as he went 5 shutout innings allowing just 3 hits, striking out 2 while walking none. HIs groundout to flyout ratio was an excellent 10-1, continuing his 50.5% groundball rate with Puebla. We’ll have to see how Espinosa does moving forward, but going from a reliever to a starter and succeeding is a pretty big deal. Espinosa hasn’t played affiliated ball since 2011, but if he’s trying to get back, this could very well be the best thing he can do.
Leading the way in regards to Espinosa’s run support was fellow ex-Rays prospect Olmo Rosario. He went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, 3 RBI, and 2 runs scored. He’s up to .300 to begin the season with a tidy 5 RBIs in 5 games. Jon Weber went 0 for 3 with a walk in the loss for Navojoa.
Caneros de los Mochis 5, Tomateros de Culiacán 3
Justin Christian had a nice game for the Caneros in this one to rebound from a couple of rough days, going 2 for 4. Christian is hitting just .214 to begin the season–but thanks to 6 walks against just 1 strikeout, he actually has a .450 OBP. Nice job by him finding a way to be productive even when the hits have not always been coming.
Christian’s teammate Carlos Fisher had a rough outing, walking 4 in 0.2 innings on his way to allowing a run while Ali Solis went 0 for 2 for Culiacán.
Venezuelan Winter League: Tigres de Aragua 5, Tiburones de La Guaira 3
Hector Gimenez is best known as a backup catcher for a trio of big league teams, but he actually spent a season in the Rays system in 2008. It’s an interesting dichotomy that the Rays can’t find a good catching situation yet there are ex-Rays catchers everywhere because they have always been looking for possible solutions.
In any event, Gimenez had a nice game for Aragua, going 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and an RBI. Cesar Suarez did his best for the Tiburones, going 2 for 4 with a double, but it was not quite enough. Alex Cabrera went 0 for 3 with a walk and a run scored for La Guaira while Erold Andrus pinch-hit unsuccessfully.
Aguilas de Mexicali 8, Yaquis de Obregón 4
Obregón has a chance to be my favorite Caribbean team this year because of the four young Rays prospect they have. In this game, making appearances were Armando Araiza and Edwin Fierro. Araiza went 1 for 3 while Fierro went an inning allowing 2 runs on 2 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1. The strikeouts were nice, but everything else about his performance leaves something to be desired. Mike Jacobs, who unlike Araiza and Fierro was drafted by the Rays, went 1 for 5 with a double and an RBI in Mexicali’s win.
Aguilas del Zulia 5, Leones del Caracas 4
The Leones finally moved Henry Rodriguez out of the nine-hole, moving up to sixth for this game. Sure enough, his magic disappeared and he went 0 for 4. Will he back in the nine-hole tomorrow or will they give him another chance higher up? Daniel Mayora also went 1 for 4 with an RBI in the loss for Caracas.
Caribes de Anzoátegui 8, Navegantes del Magallanes 3 (14 innings)
This was an exceedingly long game, lasting 5 hours and 28 minutes, but Brandon Allen–if few other people–liked every minute of it. Allen went 3 for 4 with 3 walks and 2 runs scored. We certainly would have expected him to factor more heavily in the scoring, but he managed to raise his average from .200 to .316 and his OBP from .294 to .458 just over the course of this game! Reaching base six times is quite the feat, and congrats to Allen on that.
Tomas Perez also had a strong game for the Caribes, going 2 for 5 with 2 doubles, a walk, and 2 runs scored. He doubled in the 14th to start the 14th-inning rally and scored the go-ahead run. A pair of multi-hit games has Perez at a .357/.471/.571 line so far in the VWL season. Jesus Flores went 0 for 2 for the Caribes while Reinaldo Lopez faced one batter and allowed a hit for Magallanes.