Winter League Notebook: October 25, 2004

A number of A's prospects have already picked up their bats and gloves and have started playing in various winter leagues. Find out how such top prospects as Dan Johnson, Matt Watson and Jairo Garcia are doing in their respective leagues in this edition of <i>Winter League Notebook</i>…

Mexican League

The A's have three members of their organization currently playing in the Mexican League: Sacramento RiverCats Dan Johnson, Matt Watson and Mario Ramos. Johnson and Watson are teammates on the Hermosillo Orange Growers and Ramos is suiting up for the Los Mochis Sugarcane Growers.

Both Watson and Johnson have had slow starts to their winter league seasons thus far. Through nine games, Watson has managed only six hits in 32 at-bats (.188 average). However, his season hasn't been completely unproductive, as he has walked five times, homered twice and driven in six runs. Watson, who will have a chance to compete for a back-up outfielder role with Oakland next season, has played all three outfield positions for Hermosillo and has yet to commit an error.

Johnson was hampered at the beginning of the winter league season as he battled to recover from a case of vertigo, which knocked him out of the last two weeks of the major league season. Johnson has been slowly warming up at the plate and finally broke through on Sunday with his first winter league homerun. He is currently hitting .207 with that homerun and six RBI in nine games. He has scored five runs, tied for third-most on the team. Johnson has played exclusively at first base and has committed one error.

On again, off again prospect Mario Ramos has had a strong start to his Mexican Winter League season. Ramos, who will be a minor league free agent this off-season, has made three starts for Los Mochis. He has a 1-1 record and a nifty 2.37 ERA over 19 innings. He has struck out 19 batters, while walking only four and has a 1.00 WHIP. He has allowed two homeruns, however, as his struggles with the longball have continued. However, if Ramos continues his strong showing, he should receive a lot of interest from teams looking for lefthanded organizational pitching depth this off-season.

Dominican League

While it is expected that the A's will have more members of their organization playing in the Dominican Winter League by the middle of the season (namely Dominican League favorite Eric Byrnes), for now Jairo Garcia is the A's representative in this league. The season began on Friday and Garcia threw an inning on Opening Day for Leones del Escogido and allowed two runs in the frame. Garcia recovered in his next outing on Sunday to throw a scoreless frame, although he did give up two hits. The A's will keep a close eye on Garcia's progress during the Dominican Winter League season and how he does may determine whether or not he is given a shot to make the A's 25-man roster in spring training.

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