The Caribbean winter league regular season is coming to an end (Dominican league ended December 21) and there are several Rockies and Rockies affiliates who competed there at some point. The winter leagues vary year to year in competitiveness but are generally AA-AAA type quality, and make for good, entertaining baseball. You can catch a lot of these games on ESPN 3 (including the playoffs)—a good option for those of us craving baseball this offseason. Here is a quick look at some notable players/performances:
Ramon Hernandez, Navegantes del Magallanes
I have a special place in my heart for Magellan’s Navigators, particularly since one of my favorite books is Joe Hall’s Pigafetta is My Wife. This year’s team was particularly star-studded with Pablo Sandoval, Juan Rivera, Jose Altuve, Endy Chavez and more taking part. Hernandez saw pretty limited action: in 9 games he batted 250/286/281.
Jonathan Herrera, Bravos de Margarita
Herrera didn’t do much, and performed below expectations overall. In 105 at bats he’s hitting 238/283/305 with a home run. He still has the capability to be a serviceable part-time/utility guy with the Rockies.
Jhoulys Chacin, Leones del Caracas (who play at 3,000 feet)
Chacin finished his season with the Lions on a high note late November but had a mediocre Venezuelan season overall: 42.1 innings pitched, 19 walks, 35 strikeouts, 4.04 ERA. Hopefully he can get completely healthy and have a season more like his 2010-2011 effort. His teammate Guilermo Moscoso (and recent Rockie) had a nice looking 2.88 ERA in 25 innings, but only struck out 16.
Rafael Ortega, Tiburones de La Guaira
Ortega has had a solid winter batting 306 with an 383 OBP. This is a good sign for Ortega that as he climbs through the system he’s capable of hitting AA-AAA pitching. You’d like to have seen him hit for more power, but hey, I’ll take it.
Charlie Blackmon, Toros del Este
Blackmon has absolutely torn it up as a member of the Bulls. In 96 at bats he hit .353 with a .859 OPS and 1 home run. I’m excited to see what he can do this year as a member of the Rockies. It’s highly unlikely that he’ll reproduce anything near these winter numbers, but I’d like to see him get an extended chance this year—especially if they move Fowler (which seems/feels unlikely at the moment).
Matt McBride, Toros del Este
Had an amazing year at AAA last year and had a pretty good winter session. He batted 250/330/365. I’d like to see him get an extended look in spring training.
Josh Outman, Toros del Este
Outman got off to a fast start but hit a wall fast posting a 4.21 ERA in 25 innings. However, he did finish with 26 strikeouts, 24 hits allowed, and 11 walks, which is nothing to get too bent out of shape about.
Wilin Rosario, Aguilas Cibaenas
Got a late start but in 10 games he hit 333/463/636. Hopefully this is a sign that he’s going to continue the good offensive things he did last year.
Obviously it’s tough to know what to take away from winter league performances and I think the answer is not much. Despite the small sample size many players approach it as “tune up” work in preparation for spring training where they do more “tune up” work. What it can often do is make coaches’ (especially those not bothered by small samples) heads turn long enough for a player to get an extended look in spring training or other roster consideration. They also hopefully have a better idea of how to approach Chacin to have him ready to go in 2013. If nothing else for us fans, it’s an opportunity to enjoy quality baseball that sometimes produces moments like this one from Manny in his first at bat of the year: link