Minnesota Twins' Youth Corps: Venezuelan Winter League Edition
Proving the theory that there is no off-season in baseball, the Arizona Fall, Venezuelan Winter, Mexican Winter, and Dominican Winter Leagues are already up and running, even before the World Series ends.
The Arizona Fall League, Major League Baseball's official off-season league, is structured in such a way that teams send all their players to one team. This is not the case with the other leagues, which have no formal affiliation with the American game.
Players from Mexico, Venezuela, or the Dominican Republic are frequently signed to play with local teams even before they play in the United States, and will return to those teams as often as they wish. Players without a home team, so to speak, can be assigned by their major league teams, though these arrangements tend to be less formal than those in the AFL.
With that in mind, most of the Twins' players play for the Tigres de Aragua, but there are a few others on other teams. Additionally, not every player will play for a full season, so guys like Deolis Guerra (those listed as having no line) may play later, but have not seen game action yet.
So, without further adieu, here's the Twins' Venezuelan contingent and how they've done so far.
Tigres de Aragua:
Wilson Ramos (.375/.434/.771, 4 HR, 15 RBI in 48 ABs)
An expanded discussion of Ramos’ success and what it could mean for his future will be up at TwinsMVB.com in the near future. As excellent a start as Ramos has had, he’ll need to continue to hit well for this to be a substantive result. Still, nothing wrong with 50 great ABs—it’s just a matter of what they’ll mean going forward.
Justin Huber (.357/.471/.429, 0 HR, 4 RBI in 28 ABs)
Hidden behind Ramos’ start is Huber’s start, which may not be as good, but certainly isn’t bad. The Australian earned a call-up after Justin Morneau went down, but ended up injured himself. It’s unclear what his role is with the team, but if he wants to stay at first base, he’ll need to start slugging the ball much more consistently.
Dustin Martin (.182/.231/.250, 1 HR, 4 RBI in 33 ABs)
The best is yet to come? Between typing up his line so far and writing this sentence, Martin hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning after the game had been suspended on Saturday night. The Twins’ valuation of Martin may well determine how they deal with their outfield situation this off-season. More on this to come.
Jonathan Goncalves (.182/.182/.364, 0 HR, 2 RBI in 11 ABs)
Spent the year at E-town, so struggling in a league that ranks between AA and AAA is no indictment of his skills or future potential. Both of his hits are doubles, so he’s not getting cheated when he does make contact. More worrying than his .182 BA is a 4/0 K/BB ratio.
Edgar Ibarra (0-0, .1 IP, 0 ER, 6.00 WHIP)
Miguel Munoz (0-0, 1 IP, 2 ER, 4.00 WHIP)
Oswaldo Sosa (0-0, 1.2 IP, 1 ER, 1.80 WHIP)
A trio of young arms, the first two from Elizabethton and Sosa from Ft. Myers. The WHIPS are ugly, no question about it, but this is as easy a call as there is to make: too small a sample size. Check back on these guys when they’ve actually thrown some innings.
Jason Jones (0-0, 13.1 IP, 7 ER, 1.35 WHIP)
Jones is doing for the Tigres what the Twins hope he’ll be able to do for them: keep runners off the bases and get ground balls.
He’s gotten 1.58 ground outs for every air out he’s allowed and walked just two batters in three starts, both figures the Twins would like to see him continue to post. His first start was his best, so keep an eye on him to see if he can post a strong outing his next time out or if he’ll continue to deteriorate as hitters get more familiar with his stuff.
Frank Mata (2-0, 8.1 IP, 2 ER, 1.68 WHIP)
Mata’s been more effective than his line may indicate, as he’s allowed no runs in more outs than those in which he has allowed them. He’s still walking too many, so he’ll need to bring that rate down.
Jhon Garcia (no line)
Jose Mijares (no line)
Cardenales de Lara
Winston Marquez (0-0, 13 IP, 7 ER, 1.73 WHIP)
Like many of the other arms listed, Marquez is young for this league, and is going to have some growing pains. One thing to watch with Marquez is his platoon spilt—take a look, you’ve never seen anything like it.
He’s holding righties to a .194 BAA, but lefties are hitting .857 off of him. That’s batting average! If he can drop that anywhere close to average, he should be pretty effective; otherwise he may have a ceiling as a ROOGY.
Leones del Caracas
Alejandro Machado (no line)
For some players, playing at almost every level from Low-A to AAA means a rocket rise to future stardom. Machado is not one of those players. He's playing out the string on a AAA to AAAA career. It's sad, but nothing he does here will make his path to the majors any clearer.
Navigantes del Magallanes
Deolis Guerra (no line)
Truly one of the most enigmatic players in anyone's system. A strong winter league could help Guerra gain confidence he'll need going into a full year at AA New Britain. If he struggles...well, it's all a crap shoot with him anyway, isn't it?
Tiburones de la Guaira
Pedro Guerra (0-1, 5.1 IP, 6 ER, 2.44 WHIP)
The 19-year old went 7-0 as a starter for the DSL Twins (Dominican Summer League), but he’s pitched exclusively out of the ‘pen so far for the Tiburones. Not really enough time to make any substantive judgment, but he’ll be a name to watch as the winter leagues progress. A great few weeks could earn him a camp invite, but at this point, it’s all about reps and innings.
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