Welcome back to The Cardinal Nation’s weekly summary of St. Louis Cardinals players competing in winter leagues around the world. Again in Week 8, 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, four Cardinals hitters are still participating – Anthony Garcia, Yariel Gonzalez, Roberto Bautista and a recent free agent signee, second baseman Dickie Joe Thon.
In the Dominican, the only active Cardinal position player is Memphis catcher Alberto Rosario. Palm Beach shortstop Juan Herrera and Peoria outfielder Magneuris Sierra have not played since November and have been removed from these reports.
The two Cardinals Mexican Winter League position players are Cuban outfielder Randy Arozarena and Mexican native and catcher Irving Wilson. However, Arozarena was deactivated on December 16 and it is not clear if he will return. Catcher Carlos Soto, a Mexican native, appeared in two games several weeks ago, but none since, and has been removed from the report.
Four 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, new 40-man roster player, second sacker and outfielder/second baseman Breyvic Valera and recently-added St. Louis outfielder Tommy Pham.
Hitting stats - season
Following are stats for the winter ball season for active hitters through December 21, sorted by OPS.
|Thon, Dickie Joe||2B||A+||AGU||PWL||32||0.156||0.222||0.156||0.378|
|Thon, Dickie Joe||16||32||3||5||0||0||0||3||3||9||0||2|
Hitting standouts - season
The three at the top have not changed. Valera continues lead the way among Cardinals in the four slash categories. Despite fewer at-bats, the leader in both walks and RBI is Martinez. The two have almost as many walks as strikeouts.
Arozarena had a hot start, but turned ice cold in December. Still, he is the only Cards winter ball player with at least 10 steals. However, his success rate of 61.5 percent (16 of 26) is not great. With a week to go in the regular schedule, Arozarena is still tied for the LMP stolen base lead.
At the other end of the spectrum are four hitters with batting averages at or below the Mendoza Line and OPS’s under .600 – Ricardo Bautista, Tommy Pham, Dickie Joe Thon and Alberto Rosario. Of them, Pham is the most concerning by far. He has already been released by one winter ball team this off-season and could be on the way to a second embarrassing divorce.
Following are hitting stats from the period of December 13-21 only, sorted by batting average.
|Thon, Dickie Joe||4||8||2||3||0||0||0||3||2||1||0||1||0.375|
Hitting standouts – week
While Wilson and Thon performed well in very limited action, the hot hitters for the period are winter standbys Valera and Martinez. While Valera had a higher batting average, Martinez showed more thump, with six extra base hits, and production, with five RBI. Therefore, the outfielder is our Hitter of the Week.
Before his deactivation, Arozarena was in a major slump. Over his last 10 games, the outfielder managed just two singles in 34 at-bats (.059) with 13 strikeouts. He finished on an 0-for-14 skid, including seven strikeouts.
Former Puerto Rican Winter League MVP Anthony Garcia just cannot get his bat going this winter. He did co-lead the way with four walks during this period, but had only three hits, all singles, for a .176 BA.
Pham did not hit in Venezueal and now is not hitting in the Domincan, either. Last period, the outfielder had just two singles in 22 at-bats (.091). Though he took four walks, he fanned a whopping 10 times for a strikeout rate of 38.5 percent for the period and 37.3 percent for the winter as a whole. Simply put, a Major Leaguer should not be performing this poorly against lesser pitchers.
Look for the Week 8 Pitching Report coming on Friday.
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