It’s hard to believe, but winter ball will soon be over.
The League Championship Series matchups have both been decided in the Dominican Winter League and the Puerto Rican Winter League. The DWL matchup pits Aguilas Cibaenas and Leones del Escogido against one another while the PWL championship will see Indios de Mayaguez vs. Criollos de Caguas.
With the seasons wrapping up, that means fewer and fewer Indians players will be competing in winter ball. So, this is unfortunately one of the last editions of the Winter Ball Notebook.
In two weeks, I plan to rank the top 10 overall Indians performers from all of the various winter leagues this season.
But, that is still two weeks away. So, until then, here are my thoughts deep and shallow in regard to Indians players competing in the winter leagues this past week…
— Jose Ramirez’s winter season officially came to a close on Wednesday after Toros del Este failed to qualify for the Dominican Winter League Championship Series. It was thought that Ramirez might get one more shot to impress Tribe fans, but Thursday’s DWL games were cancelled after it was known that Aguilas Cibaenas and Leones del Escogido had clinched the top two spots in the league. It’s a bummer that Ramirez did not get one more game because that may have been all he needed to further impress. There was really no point at all this winter season that Ramirez started to slow down. He finished the season with a .315/.384/.379 line while going 64-for-203 in 53 games. Ramirez also recorded 13 stolen bases along the way. Prior to this season, Ramirez was essentially an unknown, especially when you consider that he had gone unranked in Tony Lastoria’s Top 100 Prospects rankings. Yet, where would Ramirez be placed now? One has to expect that we’re now looking at a Top 20 guy. It’s absolutely remarkable.
— Jesus Aguilar generated some fear among Indians fans earlier this week when he left a game after a strained left leg. His removal was thought to be only a precautionary move, but the big first baseman has yet to play since that game. Unlike the Puerto Rican and Dominican winter leagues, which are now entering into their league championship series, the Venezuelan Winter League still has some time left as the round robin playoffs do not end until Monday. Aguilar’s team, Leones del Caracas, is currently tied for first place in the round robin playoffs, so there’s a chance that he could see even more action beyond Monday. However, this is all said with the assumption that the Indians do not make the decision to shut Aguilar down, which could be quite likely as teams often get spooked when a player goes down with an injury in winter ball. Even still, it’s been an impressive winter for Aguilar, especially considering the poor start that he got off too. In 29 games, Aguilar has posted a .279/.340/.581 line. You can’t help but love the slugging percentage there.
— Tied aside Leones del Caracas for the top spot in the VWL Round Robin Playoffs is Magallanes de Navegantes, which happens to be the team of outfielder Ezequiel Carrera. Carrera, like Ramirez, has played in a large number of winter league games this season. In 42 games, Carrera has posted a .278 average to go along with 20 walks and 23 strikeouts. Many have been hoping that the improved plate discipline is a sign of things to come as that’s been one area where Carrera has struggled on the Major League level. However, the improved plate discipline is likely the result of decreased competition; it’s an area that Carrera has excelled in each of the past two winter seasons. For example, in 2010, Carrera hit .261 with 20 walks and 17 strikeouts in 41 games. Also, in 2011, Carrera hit .270 with 18 walks and 21 strikeouts in 39 games. In other words, the numbers are quite similar, which seems to indicate that Carrera really has not turned the corner in regard to plate discipline.
— Quincy Latimore, the player recently acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Jeanmar Gomez, has put up some decent numbers in his limited playing time for Adelaide Bite in the Australian Baseball League. In 10 games, Latimore has gone 11-for-40 with four doubles, two home runs and nine RBI. Ten games is an extremely small sample size, but you have to like the power numbers that he’s displayed as six of his 11 base hits have gone for extra bases. At this point, Latimore does not look to be much more than organizational depth, but you never know for sure. Plus, the acquisition of him seemed to be a better alternative than just getting nothing for Gomez when he was designated for assignment.
— Andrew Campbell has now played in a total of 36 games this winter in the Australian Baseball League, which is a pretty decent sample size. Overall, Campbell has posted a .299/.379/.433 line with three doubles, one triple, four home runs and 12 RBI. The most impressive aspect of Campbell’s winter season is the consistency that he has played with. It seems as if he is able to at least record one hit on every night that he plays, and he’s avoided going into any long slumps. He’s not a player to get overly excited about, and we always say that he has to hit stateside for it to really matter. However, one key thing to remember is that Campbell really has not had the opportunity to be an everyday player in the states. He has had that opportunity this winter with Brisbane, and he seems to have taken advantage of it.
— Amazingly, with the DWL round robin playoffs ending, only one offensive Indians player remains in action: Delvi Cid. It would be an understatement to say that Cid’s playing time has been limited this winter. Despite the fact that he has been with Aguilas Cibaenas since the season began, Cid has been primarily used as a pinch runner, and it’s really an extreme rarity when he gets the opportunity to take an at-bat. Overall, Cid has gone 2-for-6 in nine games this winter. What’s discouraging is the fact that Cid is actually coming off a very strong season at High-A Carolina where he posted a .281/.343/.774 line in 95 games. It would have been nice to see him get an opportunity to replicate that kind of success with Aguilas Cibaenas.
— With the final days of the winter season ahead, Asdrubal Cabrera is probably now the most interesting Indians player to follow moving forward. In 24 games in the VWL, Cabrera has gone 28-for-97 with five doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI. The most encouraging point is that this is really the first successful winter season, from a performance standpoint, that Cabrera has had in the past three years. Cross your fingers that this means that Cabrera will be showing up for spring training in much better shape than years past.
Statistics as of January 18, 2013