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Rays Winter Leagues Recap: Andrew Velazquez Dynamic for Indios

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It took a few days, but Andrew Velazquez is back to showing the potential that made him catch the Tampa Bay Rays’ eyes in the Jeremy Hellickson trade.

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Dominican Winter League: Aguilas Cibaenas 7, Leones del Escogido 3

This game is amusing because a couple of players tangentially related to the Rays both homered. For Escogido, Jordan Pacheco went 1 for 2 with a homer, a walk, and 2 runs scored. The homer was Pacheco’s first in 21 DWL games–he has done a good job making contact and getting on base, but his power has been almost non-existent. For Cibaenas, meanwhile, Danny Richar went 2 for 5 with a homer and 3 RBI.

I mention Pacheco’s connection to the Rays quite often–he taught Matt Moore his breaking ball–but Richar’s is actually one we haven’t talked about. He was traded from the Texas Rangers to the Cincinnati Reds as part of the return for Josh Hamilton.

In regards to the more Rays-related players, Manny Ramirez went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk and a run scored for the Aguilas, and a pair of ex-Rays prospects pitched in relief for Cibaenas. Cesar Cabral managed to retire none of the three batters he faced while Matt Ramsey tossed a perfect inning with a strikeout. Manny is certainly playing like Manny right now, delivering four straight 2-hit games.

Mexican Pacific League: Yaquis de Obregón 4, Venados de Mazatlán 2

Olmo Rosario had a big game for the Venados in their loss, going 2 for 4 with a homer and 2 runs scored. He has caught fire in his last 7 games, hitting .407 with 3 doubles, the homer, 4 RBI, and 5 runs scored. He has even walked twice without striking out a single time. It will be interesting to see how long he can keep this up.

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League: Indios de Mayaguez 8, Congrejeros de Santurce 0

Now, to our main event. Andrew Velazquez was 0 for 11 entering this game after a prolonged hot streak to begin the year, but he had the type of game that could get him going once again. He went 2 for 4 with a 2 walks, 2 stolen bases, an RBI, and 2 runs scored.

Velazquez’s plate discipline might be the most impressive part. After starting the year with an 8-1 strikeout to walk ratio, he now has made it a strong 9-4 mark overall. His .358/.414/.491 line is impressive enough, but the walks make it look more likely that he can keep it up. It is always exciting to see a 20 year old performing like this against older competition.

Senadores de San Juan 8, Criollos de Caguas 3

Making his San Juan debut was Shane Dyer, who went 2 perfect innings with a strikeout. Dyer, a former 6th round pick with the Rays, wrapped up his second season in the Cincinnati Reds system in 2014 and did a relatively good job. He still hasn’t returned to Triple-A since a disastrous stint with the Durham Bulls in 2012, but he did have a 3.26 ERA and 22 saves in 49.2 innings at Double-A Pensacola this year.

Venezuelan Winter League: Tiburones de La Guaira 5, Caribes de Anzoátegui 2

The Tiburones’ trio of ex-Rays minor leagues played a part as La Guaira managed to dispatch the Caribes. Cesar Suarez went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base, Miguel Rojas went 2 for 4, and Alex Cabrera went 1 for 4 with a run scored.

On the Anzoátegui side, meanwhile, Jesus Flores went 1 for 4 and caught 1 of 2 attempted basestealers. He also picked Rojas off of first base. This game wasn’t the best example, but Flores has been playing out of his mind at the plate, hitting .375 over his 7-game hitting streak with 2 homers and 7 RBI.

Aguilas del Zulia 5, Navegantes del Magallanes 4 (11 innings)

Alex Torres is still trying to recapture his form after an up-and-down season for the San Diego Padres in 2014. This game was not the type of results he was hoping for as he went 4 innings allowing 3 runs on 4 hits, striking out 6 while walking 3. Torres now has 7 strikeouts but also 5 walks in 6.1 innings pitched for Zulia. The Rays appear to have been right selling high on Torres when they had a chance as his control has always been an issue except for in 2013.

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