It has been a long time since we have done a winter update. Myworld takes a look at the hot, or not so hot players in the Venezuelan winter league. It appears to be a two team race for the top spot between Caribes and Aguilas, but more than one team qualifies for the round robin playoff that qualifies you for an appearance in the Series del Caribe.
Caribes de Anzoátegui (25-10)
Oswaldo Arcia (.340, 4, 9) is their top hitter, the only player to have an OPS over 1.000 (1,113). He is a recent arrival who has only played 14 games. Niuman Romero (.330) leads the team in doubles (10) and is second to Arcia in average, but he has also played in 27 games. Orlando Arcia (.289, 7, 25) leads the team in homeruns, RBIs and runs scored (23). Independent league player of the year Balbino Fuenmayor (.328, 4, 15) has also carried a hot stick. He has only walked once in over 60 at bats so when he is at the plate Balbino is swinging.
Jose Alvarez (4-0, 1.03) leads the team in wins despite starting only one game. Opponents are hitting the lefthander for a .169 average and the 16 leafthanders who have faced him have yet to get a hit, with seven whiffs. Paolo Espino (3-0, 3.68) is the top starter. His 31 whiffs lead the team. Cody Hall has picked up 10 saves and has given up just one unearned run in his 15 innings of work. Pedro Rodriguez (0.48) is the top set up man, but has still picked up four saves. It is a mystery how Francisco Butto (4-2, 11.32) has picked up four wins with that ERA.
Aguilas del Zulia (24-10)
Giovanny Urshela (.398, 3, 22) may be done for the winter after hurting his knee. The Indians want him to rehab in a couple weeks at their spring training camp. The big RBI man on the team is Aaron Altherr (.286, 4, 27). He has also struck out 35 times in 31 games. Ali Castillo (.317, 1, 13) leads the team in runs scored with 24, leading the team in stolen bases with 11. Mark Minicozzi (.358, 3, 15) has an impressive 29/22 walk to whiff ratio. His .988 OPS leads the team. An Asian team might be wise to sign him.
Tim Dillard (4-1, 1.47) is picking off the vulture wins in his 16 relief appearances. He has picked up one save while the opposition hits him at a .138 clip. Yeiper Castillo (1-1, 1.50) only averages just over five innings per start, which could be a reason for all the Dillard victories. Eric Marzec (2-1, 2.57) has shown phenomenal control in his six starts with just two walks in 35 innings. Diego Moreno (3-0, 3.38) also takes advantage of vulture wins, but he also has picked up five saves.
Tigres de Aragua (19-14)
A poor 7-11 record on the road is a big reason for their third place standing. Ramon Flores (.390, 2, 9) and Teodoro Martinez (.360, 4, 19) are raking. Teodoro his three of his four homeruns in one game and Ramon upped his average with a six hit game. Renato Nunez (.281, 4, 22) is the top RBI bat on the team. Jose Martinez (.287, 2, 12) leads the team in runs scored (21) and doubles (10). Avisail Garcia (.250, 3, 11) is a recent addition to establish some power lost by the departure of Mike Hessman (.227, 1, 4).
Manny Correa (4-1, 4.92) has won mover than half his starts (7) but his other numbers are less than impressive (12/16 walk to whiff ratio in 38 innings). Chris Smith (2-2, 3.76) leads the team in K’s with 32 in 38 innings. Ronald Belsario (2-0, 1.32) has been designated for assignment despite his good winter. A 4/7 walk to whiff ratio in 13 plus innings seems to indicate he is getting hitters out without his usual heat. Jon Hunton (0-1, 3.21) has picked up five saves in his 15 appearances. The 38 year old ex-outfielder Jason Lane (1-2, 4.82) is trying to resurrect his career as a pitcher. He does throw lefthanded, but righthanded hitters feast off him (.326).
Navegantes del Magallanes (15-17)
Adonis Garcia (.317, 3, 15) has played the most games (29) which has given him the most RBIs. His three homeruns also lead the team. Lew Ford (.330, 1, and Ronny Cedeno (.269, 0, 6) are tied for the lead in runs scored (15). Roughned Odor (.222) is a recent addition who should provide some offensive production. He has only played two games.
Pitching has been the strength of the Navegantes with ironically Orangel Arenas (4-0, 2.22) leading the way. Dustin Richardson (2-2, 3.15) and Bobbie Blevins (1-2, 2.97) have also been providing solid starts. Hassan Pena (1.76, 9 saves) has been their closer.
Leones del Caracas (17-20)
Alex Gonzalez (.382, 4, 18) had a big 8 RBI game to vault him into the top spot for the team in RBIs. He also has a 1.119 OPS but has only played 15 games. Felix Perez (.333, 3, 12) is the team leader in runs scored (22) and doubles (10). L.J. Hoes (.327, 1, 10) has been a recent offensive addition with a line drive bat. Danny Vazquez (.321, 2, 15) has collected five triples, which is equal to his doubles and homeruns combined. The team would like to see more production in the bat of Jesus Aguliar (.264, 4, 15).
Boone Whiting (0-4, 5.41) has canceled out the wins picked up by Jarrett Grube (2-0, 4.55) and Buddy Boshers (2-0, 3.25). Boone has an ugly 22/21 walk to whiff ratio. Jesus Pirela (0.60) has been the closer with 6 saves.
Cardenales de Lara (15-21)
The Brazilian Paulo Orlando (.315, 4, 23) has been showing some pop, leading the team in RBIs and runs scored (20). The leading hitter is Gabriel Noriega (.338, 1, 15) but that goes with an unimpressive 4/27 walk to whiff ratio in 36 games. Maikol Gonzalez (.240, 0, has the team lead in stolen bases (6), but his 13/11 walk to whiff ratio has not led to a good average. Carlos Rivero (.281, 7, 19) has bashed a league leading seven homeruns. Cesar Izturis (.333, 0, 11) is still playing and showing how easy it is to hit Venezuelan pitching.
Nestor Molina (3-2, 3.48) and Cesar Jimeniz (2-3, 3.55) have been providing the Cardenales the most consistent starts. Erasmo Ramirez has recently arrived to give the team three six inning starts without allowing any earned runs. In one start he did not allow a hit. The opposition is hitting only .150 against him with righthanders flailing at .129. He did allow two unearned runs in his first start. Tim Gustafson (1-2, 4.58) and his 20 appearances lead the league. Luis Vizcaino (2.30) and his six saves gives him the closer role. Terry Doyle (2-3, 4,43) is second in the league with his 40 KO’s.
Tiburones de La Guairá (12-22)
Alex Cabrera (.265, 5, 11) continues to sail balls over the fence at 43 years of age. Rene Reyes (.298, 3, 16) has been another ageless wonder at 36, leading the team in RBIs. The only player with significant playing time hitting over .300 is Odubel Herrera (.360, 3, 10). Carlos Sanchez (.103, 1, 2) has been a real drag on the offense but got two of his three hits yesterday.
Junior Guerra (2-2, 4.05) leads the circuit with his 41 whiffs. Edgmer Escalona (2-2, 2.95) has deserved a better fate, but the bats make contact with the ball (43 hits in 36 innings with only 17 whiffs). Buddy Baumann (1.86) has only given up one run in each of his three starts and one run in his five relief appearances. He walked seven in his first two appearances, but followed up with only three in his next six appearances. Gregory Infante (0-1, 2.20) has been asked to be the closer, saving half of their 12 wins. Enrique Gonzalez (3-1, 1.93) has salvaged some vulture wins in his 17 relief appearances.
Bravos de Margarita (11-25)
This team is always consistently in last place. Eliezer Alfonzo (.254, 5, 23) and Taylor Motter (.250, 5, 12) share the homerun lead. Alfonzo leads the team in RBIs while Motter leads the team with 20 runs scored from the lead off spot. The top hitter is Alberto Gonzalez (.338, 0 10). After a strong start Aaron Hicks (.220, 1, 4) stumbled and was released, despite a strong 13/11 walk to whiff ratio that put his OBA at .381, 80 points higher than the Bravos leadoff hitter Motter.
Eric Berger (3-2, 2.61) is the only starter with a winning record. Forrest Snow (0-1, 1.00) has been a recent addition to the starting rotation. In his last start he gave up his only run, but it was enough for him to pick up the loss. Not an impressive group.