Though he missed two months of the season due to elbow tendonitis, Julio Mateo has recently been sighted on the mound down in his homeland of the Dominican Republic. Mateo is currently pitching with the Escogido Leones, the same team he and fellow Mariner Rafael Soriano pitched for last offseason.
This time around the 27-year-old is not starting and is only using the league as a minor tune up before spring training. With a 2.84 ERA in 6.1 innings pitched and four strikeouts to one walk, the results thus far are looking good.
With many questions surrounding the how the M's bullpen will be set up next season, a healthy Mateo is needed to provide a strong foundation.
2-0, 2.84 ERA, 6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 K
.467/.500/.533, 15 AB
Puerto Rican Winter League
After a season in San Antonio's rotation, Juan Done is using the Puerto Rico Winter League to try and find his touch again. During the year, Done would periodically give up a number of runs in just a few short innings, but his ability to control the damage has kept him away from such games thus far.
In a start against Ponce on December 14th, Done gave up three home runs, but all were solo shots. By the end of his six and a third innings of work, the 24-year-old still had kept his team within range, giving up just the three runs with seven hits, a walk and three strikeouts.
His next start on the 20th was a little smoother. During that outing, he went six innings, allowed two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out six, this time, keeping the ball in the park. Finding some consistency is all that's keeping him from developing into a solid prospect.
The Winter Leagues are not reserved just for rising organizational stars, however. Even players who have retired or are battling their way through the independent leagues can be seen on the field once the regular season ends. One such player is lefty pitcher Melvin Pizarro, who spent a number of years in the Atlantic League before playing in the Mariners organization at 26 years of age.
While Pizarro was an asset in the Inland Empire bullpen during the season, putting up a 3.86 ERA over 70 innings, he has yet to capture the same magic with Mayaguez, where he is teammates with Done. In 12.0 innings pitched, his ERA stands at 5.00 and opponents are batting .286 off of him. On the other hand, he has lost only one and has saved three games.
Though his path to the majors was certainly sidetracked, Pizarro will be taking another step up and should begin 2005 with the San Antonio Missions.
0-1, 3.58 ERA, 27.2 IP, 24 K, 7 BB
1-1, 3.18 ERA, 17.0 IP, 10 K, 12 BB
0-1, 5.00 ERA, 12.0 IP, 8 K, 8 BB
0-0, 4.15 ERA, 13.0 IP, 5 K, 7 BB
.239/.300/.478, 2 2B, 3 HR, 3 BB, 12 SO
.262/.304/.431, 5 2B, 2 HR, 4 BB, 18 SO
Venezuelan Winter League
Though Cesar Jimenez, Rick Guttormson and Jose Lopez have established themselves as all-stars within the Venezuelan Winter League this year, the Mariners will be without one such all-star next season. Luis Ugueto, who spent the 2004 season with Tacoma, was non-tendered on December 21st and has since signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals.
Ugueto has split time between the infield and the outfield for the Lara Cardenales, just as he did with the Rainiers previously. The 25-year-old was batting .302/.341/.453 with Lara at the time the signing was announced, and had been hitting near .400 earlier in the season.
Ugueto will most likely be headed for the Royals' Triple-A affiliate in Omaha, though he may be given an invitation to spring training and a chance to earn a job there.
1-1, 10.50 ERA, 12.0 IP, 14K, 8 BB
0-0, 3.18 ERA, 5.2 IP, 5 K, 6 BB
0-1, 2.70 ERA, 3.1 IP, 3 K, 3 BB
.296/.394/.444, 8 R, 3 2B, 7 BB, 12 SO
0-0, 3.33 ERA, 24.1 IP, 14 K, 17 BB
5-2, 1.15 ERA, 31.1 IP, 38 K, 11 BB
.000/.000/.000, 4 AB, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 SO
2-0, 2.51 ERA, 32.1 IP, 21 K, 14 BB
.306/.357/.573, 11 2B, 9 HR, 11 BB, 15 SO
.177/.200/.306, 2 2B, 2 HR, 1 BB, 10 SO