2007-2008 Cards Winter Ball Recap: Hitters

Analyzing the results of a dozen position players from the St. Louis Cardinals system that participated in Winter Leagues in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Colombia.

In part one of this report, we looked at St. Louis Cardinals pitchers that competed in winter ball. This time, we switch to the 12 position players from the Dominican Republic (LDBP), Venezuelan (LVBP), Nicaraguan (LNBP) and Colombian (LCBP) winter leagues.

As before, we start with a few highlights of these players' winter seasons and close with news of several former Cardinals farmhands that have moved on. (2007 regular season teams in parentheses.)

Rico Washington (Springfield/Memphis) played in 60 games for the Caribes de Anzoategui (LVBP), batting .305 with a .422 OBP and .497 SLG. Washington had 60 hits (14th in the league), 34 runs (11th), 12 doubles (13th), 1 triple, 8 HR's (t-5th), 37 RBI's (4th), 98 total bases (9th), 36 walks (3rd), 2 caught stealing, and a .919 OPS. Washington struck out 21% (41/197) of the time, grounded into 6 double plays, and had 9 errors.

Washington was the everyday third baseman and one of the leaders of the team. He started out batting in the seventh, eighth and ninth spot in the lineup and later moved to the fourth, fifth and sixth spot. Washington had a ten-game hitting streak between November 4th and November 16th when he went 14-for-33 (.424) with 2 HR's, 1 double, 1 triple, 5 RBI's, and 5 runs. He had 17 multiple hit games and two of those games were for three hits. His best game came November 29th when he went 2-for-4 with 1 double, 1 HR, 1 RBI, and 2 runs. (Runners left in scoring position, two-outs: 6)

Washington helped lead Caribes into the LVBP playoffs, but continued in the slump that began late in the regular winter season. He played in 14 post-season games, batting .255 (13-for-51) with 2 doubles, 1 HR, 4 RBI's and 6 runs. Washington also struck out 28% (17) of the time, grounded into 2 double plays, and had 6 errors. Playing everyday must have worn him down, especially coming off the playoffs for the Texas League (where Springfield lost).

Washington, like Hugo Castellanos, was re-signed to a Minor League deal with an invite to St. Louis Cardinals camp. He has only an outside chance to back up Troy Glaus at third base. After an injury-plagued season last year, let's hope Washington gets back into form to help David Freese's transition to Triple-A and maybe Allen Craig later in the year.

Henry Guerrero (Springfield) played in 2 games for Caribes de Anzoategui (LVBP), batting .400 with a .400 OBP and .400 SLG. Guerrrero was 2-for-5 with 1 run, 2 total bases, 3 strike outs, and 2 errors. The only reason I can think he played is to give some breaks to the everyday catchers on Caribes. (Runners left in scoring position, two-outs: 1)

Guerrero spent the vast majority of his winter season playing for the Cardinals squad in the Venezuelan Parallel League: link

Jose Martinez (Springfield) played in 39 games for Tigres de Aragua (LVBP), batting .260 with a .295 OBP and .406 SLG. Martinez had 25 hits, 8 runs, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 2 home runs, 10 RBI's, 39 total bases, 5 walks, and .701 OPS. He only struck out 9% (9/96) of the time and had only 1 error during the regular winter season.

Martinez started out the season playing shortstop and second base before being moved to left field due to the addition of Chicago Cub Ronny Cedeno. After moving into the outfield, Martinez struggled at the plate and became a reserve. He batted mainly in the eighth and ninth spot in the lineup. His best game came October 13th when he hit 2-for-2 with 1 HR, 2 RBI's, 1 run, and 1 sacrifice. (Runners left in scoring position, two-outs: 8)

Martinez' Aragua squad reached the LVBP Playoffs where he was basically used as a pinch runner and late-inning substitution. We was given one full game in at shortstop. Overall, he went 2-for-5 with 1 HR, 5 RBI's, 3 runs, 1 sac fly, and 1 walk in five games. Martinez did not play in the LVBP championship series against Lara.

Since a few players decided to not play in the Caribbean Series, Martinez got the nod to play second base and shortstop. In six games, he went 5-for-22 (.227) with 3 doubles, 3 RBI's, 3 runs, 1 walk, 1 sacrifice, 1 strike out, and grounded into 2 double plays. His highlight for the series was scoring the run to knock Bartolo Colon out of the game on February 6th.

Martinez will more than likely begin this season with Springfield. Depending on how the infield works out in St. Louis, he may see time at Memphis and perhaps even make his MLB debut with the Cardinals late in 2008 or in 2009.

Juan Lucena (Springfield) played in 4 games for Tigres de Aragua (LVBP), batting a horrible .143 with a .143 OBP and .286 SLG. He was 2-for-14 with 2 runs, 2 doubles, 3 RBI's, 4 total bases, and .429 OPS. He struck out 14% of the time (twice) and had 1 error. He made 1 start at first base, 1 start at shortstop, and the 2 other games was a pinch hitter for the DH.

Lucena didn't do well hitting-wise in the Venezuelan League and one might think that was the reason he spent most of his time down with the Aragua Parallel League team: link

Cesar Izturis (Chicago/Pittsburgh) played in 16 games for Cardenales de Lara (LVBP), batting .333 with a .348 OBP and .413 SLG. He went 21-for-63 with 8 runs, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 4 RBI's, 26 total bases, 2 walks, 2 stolen bases and a .761 OPS. He struck out 10% (6) of the time and had 3 errors. Izturis started the second half of the season for Lara and took over shortstop and lead off duties for the team before taking a break at the beginning of December. Izturis assisted in 8 double plays, had only 3 hitless games and 6 multiple hit games in the 16 he played. His best game came November 14th when he went 2-for-4 with 1 triple, 1 RBI, and 1 run.

Izturis helped lead Lara into the LVBP playoffs. In the round-robin tourney, Izturis went 15-for-53 (.283) with 1 double, 2 triples, 4 RBI's, 7 runs, 4 walks and 3 strike outs. He only had 1 error and assisted in 11 double plays. Izturis was moved to the ninth spot in the batting order. The team moved on to the championship round where Izturis went 6-for-17 (.353) with 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 3 runs, 1 stolen base, 4 strike outs, and assisted in 6 double plays. Lara was knocked out by Aragua.

Izturis had a great winter season and is the front-runner for the Cardinals starting shortstop position this spring. I hope to see some of these winter numbers carry over into the coming season. Izturis got some work in batting ninth in the order much like he probably will be doing this season for the Cardinals, though I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a look at the lead off position this season. Let's hope injuries don't plague his season much like they did the last two years. Izturis has a past history of playing for Lara in winter ball: link

D'Angelo Jimenez (Washington/Triple-A) played in 29 games for Tigres del Licey (LDBP), batting .220 with a .333 OBP and .310 SLG. He was 22-for-100 with 20 runs, 6 doubles, 1 home run, 8 RBI's, 31 total bases, 17 walks, 1 stolen base and a .643 OPS. He struck out 16% (16) of the time, had 1 caught stealing, and 6 errors. Jimenez played one game at 2B, 16 at 3B, two at 1B and was DH for 8 games.

One thing that stuck out most about Jimenez was he reached base 18 straight games, including an eight-game hitting streak during which he went 12-for-30 (.400) with 1 HR, 4 doubles, 6 RBI's, 8 runs, and 5 walks. He could not hit the ball when he was slotted in the DH role (2-for-28, .071). Jimenez' best game came November 12th when he went 4-for-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI's, and 4 runs. (Runners left in scoring position, 2-outs:6)

Jimenez' Licey club went on to the LDBP playoffs and Caribbean Series, where he saw limited action as either a pinch hitter or DH and played one game as the first baseman. He went 2-for-10 with 1 RBI, 3 walks, 2 strike outs, and assisted in 2 double plays.

I wonder whether he will play a significant role for the Cardinals this year. He's only under a minor league contract and can be cut anytime without any obligation to him. But the Cardinals are known to bring in a lot of players for certain positions to compete. Still, I see him starting out at Memphis if he accepts an offer.

Shane Robinson (Palm Beach) played 40 games for the Toros (LCBP), batting .292 with a .381 OBP and .424 SLG. He had 42 hits (t-3rd on the team), 33 runs (1st), 10 doubles (t-3rd), 3 home runs (5th), 12 RBI's, 61 total bases (5th), 17 walks (1 intentional), 11 stolen bases (1st), 2 sac flies and a .875 OPS. He struck out 12% (18/144) of the time, had 2 caught stealings, and 2 errors.

Robinson mainly played CF, with a couple of stops at C and 3B. He did go a short time in November where he didn't play, which could be from him hitting so poorly or perhaps he had a minor injury. When Robinson returned, he caught fire and started hitting again.

I would imagine the reason he made the trip to Colombia was to help him get back into playing mode after injury problems the last couple of seasons.

Dan Nelson (Palm Beach) played in 42 games for the Toros (LCBP), batting .304 with a .425 OBP and .478 SLG. He had 42 hits (t-3rd on the team), 27 runs (2nd), 10 doubles (3rd), 1 triple, 4 home runs (4th), 23 RBI's (t-2nd), 66 total bases (4th), 28 walks (1 intentional), 1 stolen base and a .783 OPS. He struck out 22% (30/138) of the time, had 1 caught stealing, and 6 errors. Nelson played mainly at 3B, but made trips to 2B, LF, and RF. Nelson played the whole season and in late December ended his play. One of his best games came on December 12th when he hit 3-for-5 with 1 double and 1 triple.

My thoughts are Nelson was sent to Colombia to find his power stroke he has not shown while in the minors. He showed a great deal of improvement compared to his time at Palm Beach last season. Look for him to perhaps see time at Springfield behind Allen Craig since Juan Richardson has been cut loose.

Chris Grossman (Palm Beach) played 12 games for the Toros (LCBP), batting .205 with a .239 OBP and a .273 SLG. He had 9 hits, 2 runs, 3 doubles, 4 RBI's, 12 total bases, 2 walks, and an .864 OPS. He struck out 13% (6/46) of the time, had 4 errors, and 1 passed ball. He played all his games at catcher, but made one appearance at shortstop. His best game came November 7th, when he hit 3-for-3 with 3 doubles, 1 run, and 2 RBI's. He played the first half of the winter season and headed back to the States.

Grossman really struggled compared to this past season at Palm Beach. I wonder if he possibly was one of the catchers previously considered for a shot in spring training. Look for him to be back at Palm Beach next season. I really don't see Grossman advancing any time soon due to his age and the number of catchers already ahead of him on the depth chart.

Donovan Solano (Palm Beach) played in 50 games for the Caimanes (LCBP), batting .328 with a .405 OBP and a .389 SLG. He had 59 hits (1st on the team), 7 doubles (5th), 2 triples (t-2nd), 26 RBI's, (3rd), 87 total bases (5th), 20 walks (3rd), 3 stolen bases (3rd), 1 sacrifice, 1 sac fly and an .883 OPS. He struck out 12% (21/180) of the time, had 1 caught stealing, and 14 errors. He mainly played 2B, spent some time at SS, and one game each at C and LF.

Solano helped lead the Caimanes into the LCBP Playoffs where he hit 21-for-58 (.362) with 5 doubles, 1 triple, 7 RBI's, 8 runs, 2 sacrifices, 4 walks, 1 stolen base, 6 strike outs, and 3 errors over 12 games. The Caimanes won the LCBP Championship and went on to face Boer of Nicaragua. In that championship, Solano hit 6-for-14 (.429) with 4 doubles, 1 triple, 1 run, 2 RBI's, 1 sacrifice, and 1 walk over the four-game sweep.

With Solano spending time at 2B this winter, will he get a push at that position or will he play SS? I see him starting the season at Palm Beach once again to see if he can carry over some of his production from the Colombian League. He may have to wait and see what the organization does with Jose Martinez and Juan Lucena.

Luke Gorsett (Palm Beach) played for Tigres del Chinandega (LNBP), batting .220 with a .284 OBP and .362 SLG. He had 39 hits (4th on the team), 23 runs (3rd), 5 doubles, 1 triple (2nd), 6 HR's (1st), 25 RBI's (1st), and 7 walks. He struck out 11% (19/177) of the time. He was one of the starting OFs for the team.

Gorsett started off the season with a little pop in his bat but it later calmed. He still managed to tie for first in HR's and 6th in RBI's for the league. That led to him being selected as a reserve in the Nicaraguan League All-Star Game, where he went 2-for-2 with 2 RBI's and 1 run. He came very close to receiving the All-Star Game MVP, but didn't. His team missed the playoffs by five games, finishing third of four teams.

Gorsett went to Nicaragua to work on his power swing that he seemed to lose after his injury in college. He would have hit more HR's, but the strong winds kept a number of his hits in the park. Look for Gorsett to start the season at Palm Beach and possibly move up later in the season depending on his hitting. Make sure you check out the interview I did with him around Thanksgiving 2007: link

Amaury Marti (Springfield) played for Indios del Boer (LNBP), batting .393 with a .446 OBP and a .589 SLG. He had 42 hits (6th on the team), 24 runs, 6 doubles (6th), 5 home runs (1st), 25 RBI's (3rd), and 9 walks. He struck out 15% (16/107) of the time. Marti started playing in the second half of the winter season, after his brief play in the Arizona Fall League, as one of the team's main OF's. He still was tied for fourth overall in HR's and tied for sixth in RBI's for the league.

The Cuban was named to the All-Star Game as a starter and hit 1-for-2 with 1 strike out. He was named player of the week for hitting 5-for-8 with 2 HR's, 1 double, 5 RBI's, 4 runs, and 1 strike out over two games during one week in January. Marti also participated in the League Home Run Derby, where he had three HR's and finished fourth overall.

Marti lead his team into the LNBP playoffs, where he hit 7-for-20 with 5 runs, 1 double, 2 RBI's, 4 walks, and 1 strike out. He also had a .480 OBP and .400 SLG. Boer ended up taking the LNBP Championship, but Marti did not go with the team to Colombia for the final playoffs. He instead headed back to the States to prepare for spring major league camp.

After a very slow start to his winter season in the AFL, Marti killed the ball in Nicaragua. I would think that his play in Nicaragua helped him with the invite to Cardinals spring training camp. I still see him starting the season out at Memphis to get some at bats and additional experience.

Former Cardinals Position Players in Winter League Play


Edgar Gonzalez (Memphis) signed a Minor League deal with the San Diego Padres, played for Venados de Mazatlan (LMP): link


Jose Contreras (Palm Beach) played for Tiburones de La Guaira (LVBP): link


John Rodriguez (Memphis) signed a Minor League deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, played for Caribes (LVBP): link



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