Welcome back to The Cardinal Nation’s weekly summary of St. Louis Cardinals players competing in winter leagues around the world. Again in Week 7, we start with the offense.
The four leagues which join Cuba in the annual Caribbean Series in February continue – the Dominican League (LIDOM), Mexico (LMP) and Venezuela (LVBP) and Puerto Rico League (PWL).
In Puerto Rico, three Cardinals hitters are still participating – Anthony Garcia, Yariel Gonzalez and Roberto Bautista. A fourth player has joined them in recent free agent signee, second baseman Dickie Joe Thon.
In the Dominican are Memphis catcher Alberto Rosario, Palm Beach shortstop Juan Herrera plus Peoria outfielder Magneuris Sierra. However, Herrera and Sierra have not played since November. If they do not reappear by next report, they will be removed.
The two Mexican Winter League position players still under Cardinals contracts are Cuban outfielder Randy Arozarena and Mexican native and catcher Irving Wilson. They have been joined by DSL catcher Carlos Soto, another Mexican native.
Three hitters have been suiting up in Venezuela, including outfielder Jose Martinez, who finished 2016 in St. Louis. Also playing are recently-signed free agent shortstop Wilfredo Tovar and new 40-man roster player, second sacker and outfielder/second baseman Breyvic Valera.
The week, they are joined by St. Louis outfielder Tommy Pham and another recent free agent signee, catcher Gabriel Lino. However, this will be Lino’s only appearance here as his winter season is over.
Hitting stats - season
Following are hitting stats for the winter ball season through December 12, sorted by OPS.
|Thon, Dickie Joe||2B||A+||AGU||PWL||24||0.083||0.120||0.083||0.203|
|Thon, Dickie Joe||12||24||1||2||0||0||0||0||1||8||0||1|
Hitting standouts - season
Valera continues lead the way among Cardinals in the four slash categories. Despite fewer at-bats, the RBI leader is Martinez. The two have almost as many walks as strikeouts. Other .300 hitters for the winter to date are Arozarana and Gonzalez.
Arozarena still leads Cards winter ball players with 16 steals, though his so-so success rate of 61.5 percent is eroding slightly.
Newcomers Lino and especially Thon have really struggled this winter, but the fact they were signed anyway reminds us to not get too wrapped up in winter ball results. As mentioned above, Lino is already done the winter, but Thon remains active.
As was the case with his Peoria teammate Eliezer Alvarez, new 40-man roster player Sierra performed badly against this advanced level of competition.
Following are hitting stats for the last week only, sorted by batting average. (The exceptions are Lino and Thon, whose full winter results are shown.)
|Thon, Dickie Joe||12||24||1||2||0||0||0||0||1||8||0||1||0.083|
Hitting standouts – week
The hot hitters for much of the winter, Valera and Arozarena, have hit a decided cold patch. Martinez continues his solid performance and while Garcia is doing ok, he is hitting nowhere near as good as in his prior winter league MVP-caliber years.
Then, we have nine hitters batting under .231 for the week – ouch! They include major-leaguer Pham, who one would hope will get going. Three singles and nine strikeouts in 21 at-bats is hardly worth writing home about.
As the only Cardinal batting over .276 for the period, third baseman Yariel Gonzalez at .421 is the clear choice as our Hitter of the Week.
The June free agent signee from the University of Science and Arts, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) institution located in Chickasha, Oklahoma, is no stranger to high batting averages. Gonzalez hit over .400 in each of four collegiate seasons with three different institutions.
The 22-year-old switch-hitter began his professional career with Johnson City and was promoted to short-season Class A State College at the end of July. Between the two stops, Gonzalez slashed a credible .284/.345/.387/.732, driving in 20 in 41 games, but hitting just one long ball.
Look for the Week 7 Pitching Report coming on Thursday.
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