Winterball roundup: Venezuelan Winter League

Rangers Insider takes a look at how several Rangers performed during this year's Venezuelan Winter League.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Kendy Batista
Position: Pitcher
DOB: July 5, 1981
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 165
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Venezuelan pitcher Kendy Batista might be the most mysterious pitcher in the entire organization. Selected by the Rangers in the Minor League portion of this season's Rule 5 draft, the 25-year-old Batista has never played in the United States. The righty appeared in 15 games with Baltimore's Venezuelan Summer League team, allowing just four earned runs in 15.1 frames. In that time, Batista collected two wins, five saves, and held an impressive 27:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Batista's winter in the VWL might have been even more impressive. Even though his 4.10 earned run average in 37.1 innings might not be sparkling, the right-hander did it against AAA and Major League competition. The majority of the players in the VSL are raw teenagers. In his 37.1 innings, Batista logged 30 punchouts while holding opposing hitters to a .267 average.

There is no telling where the 25-year-old rookie will wind up to begin the 2007 season. One option would be putting the righty in extended spring training and letting him play with the Rookie League club. The team could also let him play for a full season team right off the bat. Batista's performance this winter shows that he might be capable of playing immediately. At any rate, the mystery of Kendy Batista promises to be an intriguing storyline for the 2007 season.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
06-07 La Guaira (VZ) 1-3 37.1 39 12 30 4.10


Vital Statistics:
Name: Nate Gold
Position: First Base
DOB: June 12, 1980
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 230
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Nate Gold was one of the best sluggers in all of Minor League baseball throughout his breakout campaign in 2006. The Gonzaga product – who hit 33 home runs in 56 games with the Bulldogs in 2002 – slugged 34 home runs while driving in 103 with the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders this past summer. Gold hit .292 and posted a remarkable on base-plus-slugging percentage of .958.

The 26-year-old first baseman played with Caracas of the Venezuelan Winter League for the first couple of weeks of the season. Gold didn't hit for the same amount of power, but his numbers were still decent. He hit .277 with five doubles and seven walks in his 15 games, covering 47 at bats.

At 26 years of age, Gold has never seen a pitch above the Double-A level. Despite his eye-popping numbers in 2006, the fact that he is just two months younger than Mark Teixeira keeps him from becoming a top prospect. However, that is not to say that Gold cannot have a solid Major League career. There is little doubt that the first baseman should keep mashing when he hits Triple-A Oklahoma this summer.

Year Team AVG AB 2B HR RBI R SB BB SO OBP SLG
06-07 Caracas (VZ) .277 47 5 0 4 2 0 7 11 .382 .383


Vital Statistics:
Name: Ben Harrison
Position: Outfield
DOB: September 18, 1981
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 203
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

When the Rangers drafted Ben Harrison in the seventh round of the 2004 draft, he was coming off a career in which he was one of the most prolific hitters in University of Florida history. The outfielder, who ran into multiple ailments in 2005, was not fully healthy until 2006. The health showed, as Harrison combined to hit .289 with 26 home runs, 101 runs batted in, and 15 stolen bases between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco in 2006.

Harrison took his momentum to the Venezuelan Winter League and did not stop hitting. The former Gator busted out of the gates, leading the VWL in hitting for the first month of the season. Though the outfielder finally cooled off, Harrison finished with a .311 average with 14 doubles, two homers, and 21 walks in 39 games before his season was cut short with a shoulder injury.

Much like the 2006 regular season, the 25-year-old had no problems with the VWL pitching. Harrison's age is a bit of a concern, but it will become less of one if he is able to prove that he can hit Triple-A pitching during the 2007 season.

Year Team AVG AB 2B HR RBI R SB BB SO OBP SLG
06-07 Oriente (VZ) .311 132 14 2 15 18 2 21 35 .414 .477


Vital Statistics:
Name: Salomon Manriquez
Position: Catcher
DOB: September 15, 1982
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 190
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

The Rangers took Manriquez in the Minor League portion of this winter's Rule 5 draft. The 24-year-old backstop already has seven years of experience in the Expos/Nationals organization. His best season came with High-A Potomac in 2005, when the catcher hit .287 with 36 doubles and 15 home runs. Manriquez was unable to match that performance in Double-A last season, as he hit .257 with 18 doubles and 10 long balls.

Manriquez appeared in only three VWL games, going 2-for-7 with a home run. He will likely split the catching duties with Emerson Frostad at Double-A Frisco in 2007.

Year Team AVG AB 2B HR RBI R SB BB SO OBP SLG
06-07 Magallanes (VZ) .286 7 0 1 1 1 0 2 2 .444 .714


Vital Statistics:
Name: David Paisano
Position: Outfield
DOB: November 26, 1987
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 165
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Most fans probably do not remember the little-known outfielder, who was sent from the White Sox to the Rangers in the much-discussed John Danks-for-Brandon McCarthy trade. Paisano is an extremely young outfielder who hit .338 with 13 doubles and seven triples with Chicago's Venezuelan Summer League club in 2006.

The youngster played sparingly for the Tiburones (Sharks) this winter, appearing mostly as a late-game defensive replacement and pinch-runner. Paisano recorded just 15 at bats, getting hits in two of them.

It is far too early to get an accurate prediction on what Paisano will do in the future and how he rates as a prospect. The 19-year-old will most likely play Rookie League ball with the AZL Rangers in 2007.

Year Team AVG AB 2B HR RBI R SB BB SO OBP SLG
06-07 La Guaira (VZ) .133 15 0 0 2 6 2 2 5 .235 .133


Vital Statistics:
Name: Guillermo Quiroz
Position: Catcher
DOB: November 29, 1981
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 200
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Quiroz, 25, is another one of the many catchers that were added this offseason to give the Rangers depth behind starter Gerald Laird. The native Venezuelan has shuffled between Triple-A, the Major Leagues, and the disabled list throughout much of the last three seasons.

The former Blue Jays prospect was used as a backup catcher throughout the winter. Quiroz played in 17 games, getting nine hits in 45 at bats. As the fourth catcher on the Rangers' 40-man roster, he will compete with Miguel Ojeda and Chris Stewart for a Major League roster spot when spring training opens later this month.

Year Team AVG AB 2B HR RBI R SB BB SO OBP SLG
06-07 Lara (VZ) .200 45 2 1 1 5 0 4 6 .280 .311

Future Rangers Top Stories