Rays Winter Leagues Recap: Olmo Rosario Drives in 6
By Robbie Knopf
Another two-day Winter Ball Recap is coming to you here, and there were some interesting things going on in the last two days. The regular seasons are ending in the Mexican Pacific League, the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League, and the Venezuelan Winter League (it already finished in the Dominican Winter League), and that led to some crazy shenanigans like players appearing at all 9 positions. There was also some more typical impressive feats, like Olmo Rosario‘s 6 RBI to lead the Venados to victory.
Dominican Winter League: Estrellas de Oriente 5, Aguilas Cibaenas 1 (12/29)
Ramon Ortiz delivered a strong playoff start for Oriente, going 5 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was an excellent 9-2. The 41 year old right-hander put up a 3.76 ERA in 9 regular season outings for the Estrellas, and he rewarded their faith further with his performance in this game. We can’t be too surprised that he is doing this well, though–he did appear in the big leagues as recently as 2013.
Every other Tampa Bay Rays-related player in this contest had a game to forget, all for the Aguilas. Manny Ramirez went 0 for 4, Juan Sandoval allowed 2 hits without recording an out, and Cesar Cabral allowed an unearned run on 2 hits in 0.2 innings pitched.
Mexican Pacific League: Venados de Mazatlán 14, Charros de Jalisco 8 (12/29)
It is quite a feat to be the margin of victory in a game that your team wins by 6 runs. Olmo Rosario began the scoring in the game with a grand slam in the first inning and never looked back, finishing 4 for 5 with a homer, 6 RBI, and 3 runs scored. It’s hard to pick a better note on which to end the regular season, and Rosario’s outstanding year deserved such a close.
Rosario rode an extended hot streak that began in the middle of the season as he hit to a .314/.366/.487 line with 25 doubles, 6 homers, and 44 RBI in 67 games on the whole. He led the MPL in doubles and finished 2nd in hits and total bases, 3rd in RBI, 4th in slugging percentage and OPS, 5th in runs scored, and 6th in batting average. The former Rays prospect certainly attracted some attention to himself and the question will be whether he’s setting himself up to be a sought-after player in the Mexican League or will get a call to return to affiliated ball.
Yaquis de Obregón 7, Naranjeros de Hermosillo 3 (12/29)
Armando Araiza went 2 for 4 with a run scored for Obregón in this game to conclude his tear to end the MPL season. Araiza finished 8 for his last 22 (.364) with 3 doubles and a homer among his 8 hits. He received more than half of his 37 at-bats on the season in the year’s final two weeks as he played well and continued giving the Yaquis reasons to give him time.
A small sample size like this admittedly doesn’t mean much, but after Araiza hit to just a .214/.292/.316 line for the Bowling Green Hot Rods this season, it is nice to see him gaining some confidence at the plate. Araiza’s defense is outstanding, and if he can make strides offensively, the Rays will have themselves another interesting catching prospect.
Also appearing in this game were Adan Munoz, who went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI for Hermosillo, and Freddy Guzman, who struggled to an 0-for-4 day with a walk and a run scored.
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League: Indios de Mayaguez 14, Gigantes de Carolina 3 (12/29)
This game turned into a blowout, but Brendan Harris certainly cannot be blamed for that. The former Rays and Twins infielder went 4 for 5 with a triple and an RBI to raise his average to .381 with the Gigantes. Jesus Feliciano also went 1 for 3 in the Carolina loss.
Gigantes 7, Criollos de Caguas 2 (12/30)
At the least the Gigantes finished the regular season on a better note, with Harris and Feliciano being solid contributors once again. Both went 1 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored. Harris finished with a .378/.462/.422 line in 12 games after coming over from the MPL while Feliciano will receive Most Valuable Player votes after hitting to a .345/.368/.457 line with 21 RBI in 31 games. Feliciano finished second in the league in hitting despite a slump to end the year.
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Cangrejeros de Santurce 4, Senadores de San Juan 1 (12/30)
Rene Rivera could have had a more exciting finish to the RCPBL regular season as he went 1 for 4, but his excuse is that he was too busy watching Jose Lozada. The Washington Nationals farmhand appeared at all nine positions in the game, and while he did go just 0 for 3 at the plate, he delivered a walk, 2 stolen bases, and a run scored while also retiring both batters he faced on the mound. Lozada had previously played every position but catcher as a professional, and he did a nice job seeing time everywhere in this contest.
Robert Andino, best known for his walk-off hit off of Jonathan Papelbon in Game 162 back in 2011, went 1 for 3 with a run scored for Santurce in their win.
Venezuelan Winter League: Caribes de Anzoátegui 4, Navegantes del Magallanes 3 (12/30)
In regards to a player appearing at all nine positions, however, Tomas Perez and the Caribes have the clear edge. Not only did they win the game, but they also executed the feat with a player 12 years older than Lozada. Former Devil Ray Tomas Perez had, at one point in his life, played every position but catcher and centerfield, and now he can say that he has appeared at every spot. The 41 year old Perez did go 0 for 3 in the game, but he retired the only batter he faced on the mound.
We see a position player appear at all nine positions much more often in the minor leagues (or, obviously, in Winter Ball) than in the majors. According to the Baseball-Reference Play Index, only four players since 1914 have gotten into a game at all nine positions, most recently Shane Halter in 2000. The oldest of the four was Scott Sheldon at 31 years of age. It is pretty crazy that Tomas Perez pulled off the feat despite being nearly 1o years older than Sheldon.