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Winter Ball Notebook: DWL playoffs begin

Winter Ball Notebook: DWL playoffs begin
December 28, 2012
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With Tuesday marking the Christmas holiday, winter action was quite slow this past week, but there are some signs that seem to indicate that things are about to heat up.

For starters, the Dominican Winter League began its round robin playoffs on Thursday night. So now, the four remaining teams (Aguilas, Estrellas, Escogido and Toros) will play 18 games with the top two teams advancing to the best-of-nine League Championship Series.

Additionally, the Puerto Rican Winter League and Venezuelan Winter League will both be entering the postseason soon. The final day of the regular season is Sunday in both leagues.

After that, four teams in the PWL advance to a best-of-seven Divisional Series before a best-of-nine League Championship Series. In the VWL, five teams advance to a round robin-type playoff format where the teams play 16 games. The top two teams then compete in a best-of-seven League Championship Series.

While winter league playoffs may be not bring the same excitement as say an Indians postseason appearance, it still should provide fans with a nice opportunity to follow some players and also serve as a nice appetizer to spring training (which is drawing closer and closer by the day).

So, with that said, here are some thoughts deep and shallow in regard to players competing during this past week in the various winter leagues…

Carlos Santana unfortunately had a very rough regular season in the DWL. In 20 games with Leones del Escogido, Santana went 14-for-71 (.197) with four doubles, six RBI, 14 walks and 20 strikeouts. He was never really able to find his groove and seemed to be stuck in a major slump that he was never able to break (he endured two four-game hitless streaks during the season). However, there could be some positive news for the switch-hitting catcher. On Thursday, Santana played in a round robin playoff game with Leones del Escogido. Escogido earned an 8-2 win over Aguilas Cibaenas, and Santana played a big part in the win as he went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a home run, two RBI and two walks. All things considered, Santana’s game was practically perfect and a major step in the right direction. As stated previously, the DWL playoffs last for quite awhile, so Santana may just have some time to recapture his bat magic.

— Speaking of Indians players competing in the DWL playoffs, Jose Ramirez seems to be off to a good start, which makes sense considering his brilliant regular season with Toros del Este. In 38 games with the team, Ramirez went 44-for-141 (.312) with five doubles, one triple, 22 RBI, 18 walks, 23 strikeouts and 10 stolen bases. On Thursday, Ramirez played a part in the Toros 3-1 win over Estrellas as he recorded two singles. Prior to the season, Ramirez was overlooked because of his lack of power, but he continues to get on base, and he seems to be someone who could rapidly move throughout the system. He has remained startlingly consistent all season this year, and his start to the DWL playoffs shows that he has no intentions of slowing down.

Chun-Hsiu Chen saw his winter league season come to a close last week. The 24-year-old first baseman had spent this winter honing his game in the Asia Winter Baseball League, and the results were impressive. In 16 games, Chen went 14-for-44 with two home runs and 23 RBI. His line of .318/.388/.523 was quite impressive, especially since Chen did not show much power during the 2012 season. As it’s been said before, Chen has to hit for some power to have a chance to break into the Major Leagues and stick as a first baseman. That is probably ultimately very unlikely, but the right-handed hitter has hit wherever he has played, and some might even argue that his advanced bat is already Major League ready. His performance this winter certainly did nothing to hurt his stock, and who knows, perhaps Chen could get a cup of coffee in the Majors this coming season. Stranger things have happened.

— Before he made his debut in the Australian Baseball League this winter, I noted that catcher Ryan Battaglia may be a player to watch for one specific reason: power. In 20 games with the AZL Indians this past season, Battaglia hit .214/.382/.417 and of his 18 total hits, nine went for extra bases. So far, the trend seems to be continuing in the ABL. In 14 games, Battaglia has compiled a .271/.264/.521 line with four doubles, one triple and two home runs. He has a total of 13 hits and seven of them have gone for extra bases. It would be a stretch to even call him a marginal prospect at this point, but no one can deny that the kid has power. Since he does seem to at least have one Major League tool, perhaps there is some hope for the right-handed hitter.

— Right-handed pitcher Joseph Colon has quietly had a solid campaign with Cangrejeros de Santurce of the PWL. In nine games and eight starts, Colon has a 3.46 ERA in 39 innings with 17 walks and 31 strikeouts. The problem with Colon this winter has been control as it has led to some problems, especially in his last two starts where he has walked four batters in both contests. Though walks were not a problem for Colon at all during the 2012 minor league season, so hopefully it is just a minor hiccup. Because of his size and lack of overpowering stuff, Colon is going to need to be a consistent strike thrower to advance through the system and while the overall numbers are good this winter, it would be nice to see some improvement in the walk department.

— It’s hard to figure where Jeanmar Gomez fits into the Indians plans moving forward, but unfortunately, his winter showing in the VWL has done him no favors. In five starts and 14 1/3 innings of work, Gomez has a 5.65 ERA. The right-hander has especially had poor results in his last two outings where he has been lucky to make it through two innings and has allowed four earned runs in both appearances. Provided the Indians do not sign a veteran starting pitcher, one would believe that Gomez might have a legitimate chance to win a spot in the starting rotation this spring. However, Gomez had problems with giving up the big inning this past season, and that problem seems to have followed him to the VWL. You can never buy into winter league stats too much, but there is something very discouraging about Gomez’s last two performances.

— Right-hander Paolo Espino has recovered nicely from his start last week where he allowed seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. Since then, Espino had an outing where he pitched five innings of scoreless ball and he then allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings on Thursday. Espino is essentially a finished product in the minor leagues, but he’s really not a Major League option because of his lack of stuff. Nonetheless, he certainly has performed quite well over the years, so it would be nice to see him finish strong this winter, and maybe, just maybe, he might have a chance to make an appearance for the Indians sometime this season. Obviously, if Espino is pitching for the Indians, it’s likely a sign that things have gone quite sour for the Major League club, but it’d still be nice to see a deserving individual get his shot.

Stats as of December 28, 2012

BATTERS LGE    G     AB    R   H   2B   3B   HR   RBI   BB   SO   SB     AVG      OBP      SLG      OPS
Aguilar, Jesus VWL 20 56 5 15 7 0 3 8 3 24 0 .268 .323 .554 .876
Battaglia, Ryan ABL 14 48 7 13 4 1 2 5 6 14 0 .271 .364 .521 .885
Cabrera, Asdrubal VWL 9 41 3 11 2 0 1 4 2 7 0 .268 .318 .390 .708
Campbell, Andrew ABL 23 80 7 23 2 0 2 5 9 15 1 .288 .356 .388 .743
Carrera, Ezequiel VWL 28 104 20 29 4 1 2 7 16 15 7 .279 .372 .394 .766
Cid, Delvi DWL 6 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Diaz, Juan DWL 40 118 14 30 5 1 2 13 5 26 1 .254 .285 .364 .649
Fedroff, Tim DWL 19 71 8 17 0 0 1 5 10 18 0 .239 .333 .282 .615
Gomes, Yan DWL 17 59 9 11 2 0 4 7 5 13 1 .186 .269 .424 .692
Hernandez, Luis VWL 24 92 14 34 9 0 0 11 3 9 1 .370 .385 .467 .853
Holt, Tyler AFL 17 60 8 18 0 0 0 8 5 10 4 .300 .353 .300 .653
McDade, Mike DWL 24 77 5 22 5 0 0 8 6 17 0 .286 .356 .351 .707
McGuiness, Chris AFL 25 92 5 26 5 0 4 27 13 16 0 .283 .370 .467 .837
Moncrief, Carlos AFL 11 42 6 7 2 0 1 1 6 19 3 .167 .271 .286 .557
Monsalve, Alex AFL 13 47 8 16 5 0 0 6 2 8 2 .340 .360 .447 .807
Perez, Roberto PWL 18 56 7 15 2 0 0 3 11 11 0 .268 .388 .304 .692
Ramirez, Jose DWL 39 146 22 46 5 1 0 22 18 23 11 .315 .389 .363 .752
Rodriguez, Ronny DWL 3 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Rodriguez, Ronny AFL 18 67 8 16 3 3 0 7 2 17 6 .239 .257 .373 .630
Rodriguez, Ronny TOT 21 68 9 17 3 3 0 7 2 17 7 .250 .268 .382 .650
Santana, Carlos DWL 21 74 9 16 4 0 1 8 16 20 1 .216 .352 .311 .662
Spears, Nate DWL 6 16 2 1 0 0 0 1 3 5 0 .063 .200 .063 .263
PITCHERS LGE   W    L    G   GS   SV       IP    H   ER   HR  BB   SO   ERA GO/AO   WHIP     AVG
Armstrong, Shawn AFL 0 0 5 0 0 5.2 2 0 0 4 3 0.00 0.27 1.06 .105
Berger, Eric VWL 1 5 9 9 0 45 45 15 2 11 38 3.00 1.34 1.24 .257
Bryson, Rob PWL 0 0 14 0 0 14.2 4 0 0 7 18 0.00 0.80 0.75 .083
Colon, Joseph PWL 2 4 9 8 0 39 32 15 2 17 31 3.46 2.48 1.26 .229
Espino, Paolo VWL 1 1 7 7 0 30.2 35 17 9 6 27 4.99 1.67 1.34 .285
Gomez, Jeanmar VWL 0 1 5 5 0 14.1 22 9 1 3 9 5.65 4.50 1.74 .344
Hagadone, Nick DWL 0 1 6 0 0 6 6 6 1 5 8 9.00 0.60 1.83 .261
House, T.J. AFL 3 1 6 6 0 27 20 9 0 9 26 3.00 1.53 1.07 .208
Langwell, Matt PWL 0 2 13 0 1 16 14 2 1 9 26 1.13 2.30 1.19 .237
Murata, Toru VWL 0 0 5 4 0 16.1 26 11 3 4 9 6.06 0.83 1.84 .347
Nieve, Fernando VWL 0 1 3 2 0 7.1 8 6 0 6 9 7.36 1.75 1.91 .276
Packer, Matt AFL 0 1 8 0 0 13.1 16 6 1 5 10 4.05 3.60 1.58 .327
Puerta, Breily VWL 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.50 3.00 .250
Salazar, Danny DWL 0 3 5 3 0 14 12 6 1 4 17 3.86 2.00 1.14 .226
Soto, Giovanni PWL 1 0 11 0 0 15.1 4 2 1 8 19 1.17 2.38 0.78 .083

Steve can be reached via email at orbaneks@gmail.com.

User Comments

Jim
December 29, 2012 - 12:05 PM EST
LOL Rob...perhaps we could wait until Lillibridge signs with someone...then deal for him AGAIN!!!
Rob
December 29, 2012 - 1:08 AM EST
Don't forget Tribe traded DeLa Torre to get a certain MLB stud by the name of Brent Lillibridge. maybe this year we flip Bryson for a similar "impact" player.
Jim
December 29, 2012 - 12:19 AM EST
I would love to see Bryson pan out though...but the ONLY reason why (other than for his benefit) is to add another piece to that Sabathia deal. I know they were high on him back then, but boy...that seems like ages ago...
Jim
December 29, 2012 - 12:17 AM EST
Tony's dead on...

When you follow minor league transactions, then talk to the scouts, it becomes abundantly clear from year-to-year how they value players moving forward, and Tony listed a bunch of guys that at one time were on the fence or even top prospects, but because of injury, or just plan stagnancy, haven't progressed, and were passed.

That's not to say they NEVER get a chance. There's always that "juan diaz" moment, where a guy is at the right place, at the right time...to catch lightning in a bottle. There are just so many arms that are high-value relief prospects, that these guys...like Bryson in particular, just aren't going to wheedle through.

There was a moment or two in Kinston a couple years ago, where you got the impression that Bryson was on the verge, and he just never could take the next step...thanks to injury, then lack of control.

They aren't even toss-ins at this point. This isn't to say that can't be productive, or even have an electrifying year, but when you compare them even to a borderline guy like Matt Langwell, they are a step below him as well, because he's been so consistently good over the past three seasons...but...his arm is in the same category.

Not sure any of that makes the kind of sense you want...

but these guys are valuable to any organization as professional ballplayers...just not major leaguers at this stage of the game.

If anyone has the pulse of guys like that...it's Tony...who spends more time as a journalist with the guys in the minors that make the decisions as anyone...
Tony
December 29, 2012 - 12:07 AM EST
MT, the problem is, the trade value for guys like Bryson, Price, Landis, etc are minimal if anything at all. It is possible they could trade them for minor cash deals though this spring as there are just too many arms for Akron and Columbus....or get a spare part to fill in a need at Akron or Columbus. We have seen this in the past. unfortunately, there just is no real value attached to those guys to expect anything of value with the Indians as a player next season or as a trade asset.
MT88 in WI
December 29, 2012 - 12:05 AM EST
If Bryson is as far down on the list as you report Tony, then the Tribe should make a minor move with him or have him included as a throw in with it's next deal.

Personally, I want to see Bryson pan out for the Tribe's benefit but if they are going to focus on so many others, they need to use Rob as a resource for a flyer in an area were they do not have the exteme depth. I have to believe that another team would be willing to take a flyer on him hopping they catch the "lightening in the bottle"
Tony
December 28, 2012 - 11:26 PM EST
Not to be a party pooper or anything, but Bryson is far from in consideration as a Major League option for the Indians. He will probably split the 2013 season between Double-A and Triple-A, and then be allowed to leave as a minor league free agent after the season. Way too many guys above him on the priority level, so it would take a lot of injuries and an out of nowhere showing where his command and stuff improve greatly for him to get back on the radar with the club.
Jake
December 28, 2012 - 7:57 PM EST
Its nice to see armstrong, Soto, and Salazar continue the strong play. Those three pitcher will make solid additions to the Indians pen or rotation in the near future. Bryson and langwell also have pitched well. The Indians have a brings truck full of relief arms in the minors that they can use to make deals or move some close to expiring contracts in the majors Joe Smith and Chris Perez to get more talent for the rotation or position players. Its safe to say the Indians will have a strong bullpen for years to come. kudos bud grant on strong drafting and Dominican signings.
Roger
December 28, 2012 - 2:12 PM EST
except for 4.3 bb/9 bryson's numbers were off the charts. in retrospect the CC trade did net us michael brantley, if rob bryson can come out the major league bull pen that would be great. CC signed with the stankees as soon as he could so had we held on to him the extra two months we would received innoculous draft choices. LaPorta didnt work out but if he has had to endure two operations on same hip maybe the first one wasnt succesful and who know he comes to goodyear and lights it up what has turned out to be maligned trade could be called a steal of a deal stranger things have happened. and even the CPLee trade may bear fruit you just never know.

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