Herrera Off To Fast Start In Venezuela

Oakland A's prospect Javier Herrera had an up and down season. He began the year as the A's number two prospect, but then saw his season derailed by a steroid suspension. He shook that off to have an All-Star season with the Kane County Cougars. Now he is back in his homeland of Venezuela and he is hitting the cover off of the ball.

Javier Herrera is one of the Oakland A's most promising five-tool prospects. The 20 year old has plus power, good speed, a great arm and the ability to hit for a good batting average. He showed all of those skills in 2004 when he won the Northwest League MVP award for his play with the Vancouver Canadians. However, Herrera's 2005 season was somewhat disappointing. It began when he was the highest profile prospect to be suspended for steroid use at the beginning of the season. When he returned from the suspension in late April, Herrera struggled, hitting at .200 until mid-May.

However, from that point on, Herrera began to resemble the player who dazzled the Northwest League. A week-long stay with the AAA-Sacramento River Cats in late May seemed to ignite his season. Herrera hit .417 with a homer and three RBI in five games for the River Cats. He returned to Kane County on May 28 and was their best offensive player for much of the rest of the season. Despite a late-season wrist injury, Herrera finished his stay with Kane County with a .275 batting average and a 818 OPS. He also stole a team-high 26 bases. He was named a Midwest League All-Star for his efforts.

Herrera returned to his native Venezuela to play winter ball for the Caracas Leones. The season has just begun, but he is already making a big impact on the league. Herrera is currently second in the league with a .455 batting average. He also has a .900 slugging percentage. He has a triple and a homerun and three runs batted in over four games played.

Herrera has been joined on Caracas by former Cougar teammate Tomas Cabaniel. Cabaniel is coming off of a mediocre season that saw him post a 4.43 ERA and a 32:30 K:BB ratio in 31 games for the Cougars and a 12.60 ERA in a brief, four game stint with Stockton. Another A's minor league pitcher, Brigmer Leon, is pitching for Aguilas del Zulia of the Venezuelan League this winter. He made 27 appearances for the Stockton Ports this season. Sacramento River Cats AAA All-Star reliever Victor Moreno is on the roster for the Tigres de Aragua this winter and Stockton reliever Elvis Avendano will be pitching for La Guaira Tiburones. He will be sharing the bullpen with Angels' closer Francisco Rodriguez.

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