The last week of winter league play brings more for Rockies fans to be excited about, as well as a few less than encouraging signs, for our week-in-review of prospects and minor leaguers from the organization playing winter ball around the world.
Before we begin, one note: the Australian Baseball League All-Star Game will be tomorrow, Wednesday, December 16 at 1:30 a.m. MT. Two Rockies will appear, with Alex Balog representing Team World and Robbie Perkins suiting up for Team Australia. You can watch the game live on MLB Network in the United States.
Alex Balog had another excellent start this week for the Sydney Blue Sox in Australia, this time picking up the win in a complete game shutout. He allowed three hits, walked two and struck out seven. For the year, he is now 5-2 in 45⅔ innings pitched, allowing 34 hits and 12 runs, only seven of which are earned. Balog has walked 13, struck out 45, and has a WHIP of just 1.01, to go along with 2.5 BB/9, and 8.8 K/9. These are impressive numbers for a guy who is, on average, three years younger than his competition. He fits the Rockies' mold as a high strikeout, low walk pitcher and is someone to keep an eye on in Hartford in the spring.
Correlle Prime brought his average up 13 points to .265 this week, going 5-for-13 for Perth, also in the ABL; he walked once and drove in one. He is now hitting .265/.310/.393 in 32 games across 117 at-bats, with nine doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs. He is another on a long list of Rockies with a low walk rate, though, having walked only eight times so far as he tries to recover from an uninspiring summer in Modesto.
Also in Perth, Prime's teammate Michael Benjamin continues to struggle, though he did go 4-for-13 this weekend. The 23 year old shortstop is now hitting .205/.272/.295 in 112 at-bats; he has one home run and six runs batted in to go along with that meager slash line. He didn't drive any runs in this weekend of play, but did score twice.
Robbie Perkins remains the worst performer of the four Rockies down under, hitting only .177/.316/.190 in 79 at-bats, including a 1-for-10 swoon this weekend. Perkins' last ten appearances have not been kind to him, as he's hitting only .091 (2-for-22) since November 22. His on base percentage has been bolstered by 15 walks, though. Just as was the case with Perkins last week, he has more walks (15) than he has hits (14) this winter.
In the Caribbean, Antonio Senzatela had another good start, getting the win after throwing five scoreless innings in which he allowed five hits and walked two. He finally has a decision, and is now 1-0 with a 2.82 earned run average in 22⅓ innings across five starts. He has allowed seven runs, walked two and struck out eight. The California League's 2015 pitcher of the year is doing it all against competition that is on average 6.9 years older than him, too. Senzatela is another arm to watch next year in Hartford on what should be a very impressive team.
Rudy Owens was unable to keep up his strong form in the Dominican, having his worst outing of the winter. He pitched only an inning and a third, allowing four hits, five runs and walking two before he was pulled. Owens managed to escape without picking up a decision, and is now 2-3 with a 3.18 earned run average, 17 walks and 33 strikeouts in 45⅓ innings pitched for Toros del Este.
Helmis Rodriguez has not pitched since our last update, and indications are that Triburones, his team in Venezuela did not receive the proper authorizations from the Rockies to continue playing him. Rodriguez ought to be a member of the Modesto Nuts' starting rotation in 2016.
In place of Rodriguez, let's take a look at the newest member of the Rockies organization, Luis Niebla. In case you missed it, Niebla was selected by Colorado in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft and will likely begin the summer season with Triple-A Albuquerque. Niebla is playing for Los Mochis in Liga Mexicano del Pacifico. So far, he is 4-3 with a 4.24 ERA, and has struck out 39 and walked 31 in 57⅓ innings across 11 starts. Niebla's most recent start came on December 10, and was certainly not one of his best. He got the win, despite giving up seven runs on 10 hits in five innings.
As always, we will be back next week with another update from around the globe.