Winter Ball Notebook: Ramirez is on fire
It’s been a busy week for the Cleveland Indians on a variety of fronts. While the Major League team made some movement with a trade last weekend, Tribe prospects continue to hone their craft in the various winter leagues.
The Arizona Fall League, Dominican Winter League and Venezuelan Winter League all remain in action, and the Puerto Rican Winter League officially began on Thursday. Indians players competing in the PWL include: left-handed pitcher Giovanni Soto, right-handed pitcher Joseph Colon, catcher Roberto Perez, right-handed pitcher Rob Bryson and right-handed pitcher Matt Langwell.
The addition of all these players into the winter fray helps make for an even more interesting winter season as some, particularly Soto, will be very interesting players to watch over these next few seasons.
But with that being said, let’s dive right into this week’s notebook. Some thoughts deep and shallow in regard to last week and some of the fall and winter ball participants…
— Second baseman Jose Ramirez is simply a hitting machine. So far, in eight games with Toros del Este in the DWL, Ramirez has gone 11-for-24 (.458 average) with three RBI. He has also walked six times compared to just five strikeouts. Oh, and it gets better. Aside from his first game in which he went 0-for-0 with a sacrifice, the switch-hitting Ramirez has recorded at least one hit in every other game that he has played. Keep in mind that this performance is following a 2012 season that saw Ramirez post a .354/.404/.465 line between Single-A Mahoning Valley and Single-A Lake County. Because of his size and lack of power, it’s hard to project him as a future everyday player, but if he continues to hit like this, then who knows? You would think that someone his age would slow down after the season, especially in winter ball, but Ramirez has been the model of consistency since day one.
— Like many others, I am a big fan of the Indians decision last week to trade right-handed reliever Esmil Rogers to the Toronto Blue Jays for shortstop Mike Aviles and catcher/infielder Yan Gomes. Most are excited about what Aviles can bring to the table, but I’m equally as excited about Gomes. Plain and simple, the guy is just a ball player as he can virtually play anywhere in the field. Gomes has been a participant in the DWL this winter season and has posted a .208/.271/.472 line in 15 games and 53 at-bats. The average leaves a lot to be desired, but Gomes has also hit four home runs and driven in seven runs. To put that into perspective, no other Indian in winter ball has hit more than one home run, and Gomes’ RBI total is tied for the most runs driven in by an Indian this winter. I am a realist, and I do not expect miracles from Gomes, but think about the flexibility that he does offer if he makes the Major League club. I dunno about you, but I certainly like the idea of a right-handed bat that can play anywhere and also provide some decent power.
— Catcher Alex Monsalve has really started to heat up as of late, and this was at no point more evident than in Thursday’s AFL contest. Overall, the right-handed hitter went 4-for-4 in the game with a double and two RBI. The four-hit performance also marked the fifth straight game that Monsalve has recorded a hit, and he has now gone 14-for-39 in 11 games. It’s obvious that he is really starting to settle into a groove at the plate, which is great to see, especially considering he has not been known to be a high-average hitter.
— Juan Diaz seems to be settling in nicely as the everyday shortstop for Estrellas de Oriente in the DWL. In his past three games, Diaz has gone 5-for-11 with two RBI. Overall, he has gone 9-for-36 in 14 games, which is good for a .250 average. Diaz is a player who we would all like to see perform well this winter season, especially if there is even a one percent chance that Asdrubal Cabrera gets traded this offseason. If that were to be the case, one has to believe that Diaz would spend some time at the Major League level in 2013. He’s coming off a solid 2012 campaign where he seemed to get better as the season went on, and that also seems to be the case so far in the DWL. We all know that the glove is there. Now it’s just the time for the bat to catch up.
— He has kind of flown under the radar, but outfielder Tyler Holt is arguably having the best winter season of any Indians outfielder playing in one of the winter leagues. In 15 games in the AFL, Holt has gone 16-for-54, and he has also stolen four bases along the way. The one negative for Holt so far is his lack of power — he still has yet to record an extra-base hit in any of the games he has played. But power or not, it’s nice to see him put together such a solid winter campaign, especially considering he was coming off a pretty underwhelming 2012 season between High-A Carolina and Double-A Akron.
— It’s hard not to like the progress being shown by right-handed pitcher Hector Rondon. After really struggling in his first two outings, Rondon has now pitched in six straight games without allowing an earned run. Overall, he has posted a 6.48 ERA in 10 games and 8 1/3 innings of work. The numbers are heavily inflated because of his first outing in which he allowed four earned runs in 1/3 of an inning. With his history of injuries, Rondon is an easy guy to get behind. So far, it seems as if he’s doing all the right things to put himself in line for a shot with the Major League team. I would not be surprised to see him spend some time at Triple-A Columbus next year and then possibly get a Major League call-up if he performs well.
— Outfielder Carlos Moncrief has struggled somewhat in his last few games. On the positive side of things, it’s good to see him healthy and playing, but the numbers have really started to trail off. Overall, in eight games, Moncrief has gone 6-for-33 with one double, one home run and one RBI. The troubling thing about his numbers is the fact that he has recorded just two walks against 15 strikeouts in those eight games. The lack of patience can be attributed to the fact that Moncrief is still developing as an outfielder after spending time in the organization as a pitcher. But it’s an area where Moncrief must improve. The left-handed hitter celebrated his 24th birthday this past Sunday, and time is not on his side. Since he is now a 24-year-old and has not played above the High-A level, it is imperative that the plate discipline takes more steps in the right direction. It sounds cruel, but the reality is that he’s not getting any younger.
— Left-handed pitcher Giovanni Soto made his debut in winter ball Thursday when the PWL kicked off. In his first appearance, Soto pitched 2/3 of an inning while throwing a wild pitch, walking two and allowing two unearned runs. This is obviously not the kind of way that any pitcher wants to start off the winter season, but Soto gets a pass considering it was his first outing. Following his strong 2012 season, Soto has seen his stock rise somewhat, so he will be another arm to keep an eye on during this winter season. His cutter is a plus offering, and he’s not typically an erratic thrower, so Thursday’s debut can probably be overlooked.
Stats as of 11/09/12
Steve can be reached via email at email@example.com.