14-11-1, 2.5 GB
The Saguaros held on for a 5-4 victory on Thursday, plating two runs in the top of the ninth before yielding three in the bottom of the frame.
Shortstop Hanser Alberto (.360/.389/.460 in 14 games) extended his modest hitting streak to seven games with one single in five at-bats. He was also caught stealing.
Through those 14 Fall League contests, the 20-year-old Alberto is 18-for-50 (.360) with a double, two triples, two walks, and three strikeouts. He's stolen three bases in seven attempts.
Surprise catcher Kellin Deglan went 0-for-3 with a walk, striking out twice. Although Deglan, also 20, is just 5-for-29 (.172) with two walks and 11 strikeouts in eight games, he has performed well behind the plate. The former first-round pick gunned down both attempted base stealers on Thursday, and he's thrown out 6-of-12 (50%) this fall.
Although there was just one game in the Dominican Republic on Thursday, it was an absolute marathon. The Tigres del Licey defeated the Gigantes del Cibao, 12-11, in a nine-inning game that took four hours and twenty-three minutes to complete.
Licey held off a late Cibao rally that included six runs in the top of the ninth inning.
Cibao leadoff hitter and second baseman Leury Garcia (.273/.304/.455 in 16 games) went 1-for-6 (a single) with an RBI and a stolen base. The switch-hitting prospect has a knock in each of his last two games, but he's still slumping over his last nine contests, going 4-for-34 (.118) with a walk and eight punchouts.
Meanwhile, Licey centerfielder and leadoff man Leonys Martin (.288/.364/.470 in 17 games) was 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI, and his fifth stolen base. He struck out twice.
Martin, 24, has caught fire of late and is now 19-for-66 in the Dominican Winter League with four doubles, a triple, and two home runs. The Cuba native has drawn eight walks, struck out 14 times, and stolen five bags in six tries.
Triples machine Engel Beltre (.381/.435/.643 in 15 games) had a single and two triples over four at-bats. The right fielder also recorded an outfield assist by erasing a runner at third base.
After socking 17 three-baggers in 133 contests at Double-A Frisco during the regular season, Beltre has five triples in his first 15 winterball games. Overall, he's 16-for-42 with a double, those five triples, three walks, and 10 strikeouts.
Beltre currently leads the Dominican circuit in batting average (.381), triples (five), and OPS (1.078). He ranks second in both on-base percentage (.435) and slugging percentage (.643).
Braves prospect Julio Teheran started the game for Licey by yielding three runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings. Rangers left-hander Chad Bell followed by giving up two runs on two hits in an inning, striking out one. Both of Bell's runs allowed came on a two-run homer off the bat of Mets prospect Rafael Fernandez.
Entering the 2012 regular season, the 23-year-old Bell hadn't thrown more than 104.2 innings in a year (2010). But he logged a career-high 142.1 frames between High-A Myrtle Beach, Double-A Frisco, and Triple-A Round Rock. In addition, he has now made five appearances (three starts) in winterball.
Bell has the following stat-line in those five winterball games–-9.2 ip, 13 h, 8 er, 3 bb, 8 k. While his fastball and overall stuff has been sharp, his command––both in and out of the strike zone––has been highly inconsistent.
No Rangers appeared in LVBP on Thursday.
Magallanes third baseman Elio Castillo, who batted ninth, doubled twice in four at-bats. He also laid down a sacrifice bunt, drove home a run, and struck out once.
Playing right field for the Tiburones on Thursday, Jhonny Gomez was 2-for-3 with a double and two walks.
Caracas second baseman Santiago Chirino (.308/.386/.359) went 3-for-5 with a triple and an RBI. He was also caught stealing. Shortstop Edwin Garcia was hitless in three official at-bats, though he walked twice and knocked home a run.
Although Chirino has hit well in 14 Liga Paralela games, he's struggled defensively while seeing action at both middle infield positions. Normally a second baseman during the regular season, Chirino has committed six errors for a .891 fielding percentage.
Caimanes right fielder Diego Cedeno (.333/.444/.422) singled once, doubled once, and walked once in six trips.
Cleanup-hitting right fielder Joey Butler (.228/.353/.351 in 17 games) singled and struck out once in four at-bats.
Hot-hitting Guasave catcher Jose Felix got another start behind the plate for his club, and he produced with two singles in four trips. Through his first 10 winterball contests, the 24-year-old Felix is 11-for-27 (.407) with three doubles. He's fanned three times without drawing a walk.
Thursday was opening day for all six of the Puerto Rican Winter League's clubs. Expect to see a number of Rangers prospects in the circuit––particularly on the Ponce team––throughout the winter.
The Ponce season opener featured four Rangers––first baseman Mike Bianucci, catcher Jorge Alfaro, and right-handed pitchers Anyelo Leclerc and Alex de la Cruz.
Bianucci, who batted third, singled once in four at-bats. He also committed a fielding error at first base.
Alfaro, batting fifth, was 2-for-3 with a walk and a run batted in. But the young catching prospect was also caught stealing and had two passed balls behind the dish.
Leclerc yielded two runs while working the eighth inning, giving up a hit and walking three. De la Cruz recorded three groundouts in a scoreless ninth.
The Ponce starting pitcher on Thursday was right-hander Ryan Tatusko, who was sent to Washington in the Cristian Guzman deal at the 2010 trade deadline. He posted a 3.50 ERA in 27 appearances (eight starts) for the Nationals' Double-A affiliate this past regular season.
Batting eighth and manning center field in Brisbane's season opener, Rangers farmhand Hirotoshi Onaka singled once and struck out twice in three plate appearances.
The 24-year-old Onaka was signed by the Rangers to a minor league contract in December 2010 after he completed a four-year collegiate career at Japan's International Pacific University. The switch-hitting Japan native began the 2012 regular season at extended spring training before finishing the year between short-season Spokane and Single-A Hickory. In 35 games at the two levels, he went 29-for-96 (.302) with four doubles, 17 walks, and 26 strikeouts. He also stole four bases in five attempts.
In his Australian Baseball League debut, Onaka went up against 35-year-old right-hander Chris Oxspring, an Aussie native who made five appearances for the San Diego Padres in 2005. Oxspring tossed a complete-game four-hit shutout on Friday (in Australia – Thursday in the States), striking out 14 batters without issuing a walk.
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