The only Rangers prospect to participate in Saturday's Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game was right-handed reliever Fabio Castillo.
Castillo, 21, responded with a scoreless fifth inning, throwing 10 of his 16 pitches for strikes. After yielding a leadoff single, Castillo induced a Brandon Belt flyout and a pair of groundouts from Yankees prospects Brandon Laird and Austin Romine.
As usual, the Dominican Republic native flashed a power repertoire that included 11 fastballs––ranging between 93-96 mph––and five 86-88 mph sliders. Castillo threw four of the breaking balls for strikes, getting a swinging strike and all three outs on it.
Castillo may still be young, but he first appeared in a game for the rookie-level Surprise Rangers in 2006. He is eligible for this December's Rule 5 Draft if he isn't on the club's 40-man roster, though he will likely be added in the near future. The prospect has yielded one run in 8.2 innings with Surprise thus far.
La Guaira designated hitter Max Ramirez (.278/.394/.444) broke out of his slump on Saturday by going 1-for-3 with a solo home run and a base on balls. The round-tripper was his second in 15 contests.
Pitching for the third consecutive day, lefty specialist Joe Ortiz entered and walked the only batter he faced. Through Ortiz has yet to officially permit a run this year, he has given up four hits and four walks in 2.1 innings––spanning nine appearances.
Liga Paralela is, essentially, the minor leagues of Venezuelan winterball. It is where the younger players craft their skill and older, more experienced players shake off the rust before going up to the big club.
Shortstop Edwin Garcia made his first appearance of the season for the Caracas Liga Paralela club. The 19-year-old batted second and went 2-for-4 with a double. He also struck out once and committed one error.
Garcia appeared in 94 games––mostly at second base–-with Single-A Hickory in 2010, posting a .229/.291/.283 slash line. Though he isn't generally known for his work with the bat, Garcia is a smooth defender with strong footwork and soft hands.
While La Guaira's Renny Osuna has plenty of versatility, he's normally an infielder. On Saturday, Osuna played in right field and he played the part of a corner outfielder offensively. Osuna went 3-for-4 with a double, two triples, and three runs batted in. The 25-year-old is beginning to find his stroke after getting out to a 6-for-40 (.150) start with the big club.
Centerfielder David Paisano, who was 0-for-16 with the big La Guaira team, had one single and one RBI in four official at-bats in the game.
Fireballing righty Ovispo de los Santos made his winterball debut for Aguilas Cibaenas on Saturday evening. The reliever entered in the seventh inning and walked both batters he faced––Alberto Castillo and Lucas Montero––before being lifted. Neither baserunner came around to score.
De los Santos broke out as a prospect in 2010, posting a 2.77 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 26 innings. The 22-year-old possesses effortless heat with a 94-97 mph fastball that reached triple digits this past summer, but his slider has been a work in progress.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound hurler has a legitimate power arm and he is beginning to learn how to use it. He has an opportunity to reach Double-A Frisco in 2011.
Another hard-throwing reliever––Pedro Strop––worked the ninth inning for Cibao. Strop gave up one run (a solo homer from former Rangers outfielder Victor Diaz) on two hits in one inning. He struck out the side without issuing a walk.
Licey's Engel Beltre appeared as a defensive substitution in left field during the seventh inning, though he was pinch-hit for in the ninth.
Mike Ballard (1.17 ERA/.151 BAA) continued his dominance in Puerto Rico on Saturday, as he worked five shutout innings and earned the victory for Caguas. Ballard gave up only two singles, walked zero, and struck out five.
The left-hander had a no-hitter and faced the minimum through 4.1 innings. Dodgers prospect Dee Gordon was plunked by a Ballard pitch to lead off the game for Carolina, but he was immediately caught stealing at second base. Ballard went on to retire the next 12 hitters.
The 26-year-old Ballard has yielded two earned runs on eight hits in 15.1 innings with Caguas this season. He has walked only two while striking out a league-high 16 batters.
The circuit has begun its 2010 campaign, but there will be no Rangers players participating this season.
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