Winterball Season Roundup

The 2008-2009 winterball season was full of outstanding performances for hitters in the Rangers system. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at how the Rangers faired during this year's winterball campaign.

Arizona Fall League: Surprise – Season Over

Julio Borbon spent much of the Arizona Fall League season batting leadoff and playing centerfield for the Surprise Rafters. The 21-year-old showed excellent results to go with his impressive skills, as he batted .287 with three doubles, three triples, one home run, and a .404 on-base percentage in 24 games. Borbon, who drew just 29 walks in 126 regular season games, tied for fourth in the Fall League with 17 free passes. He also swiped seven bases in eight attempts.

First baseman Chad Tracy had a disappointing showing in the Fall League, as he was just 9-for-57 in 15 games with the Rafters. With three doubles and three home runs, the Pepperdine product did have six of his nine hits go for extra bases.

John Whittleman also scuffled for much of the fall, going 8-for-59 [.136] at the plate with two doubles and two home runs. Whittleman did heat in up the last few games, finishing 4-for-12 with two doubles, one home run, and six walks, but it wasn't near enough to save his overall numbers.

Justin Smoak split 51 at-bats between the Surprise Rafters and the Peoria Javelinas. The Rangers' first round pick in the 2008 Draft, Smoak looked outstanding against more experienced competition, as he batted .353 with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, and 10 walks in those 51 at-bats.

Reliever John Bannister, who was added to the Rangers' 40-man roster in late-November, showed impressive stuff in the Fall League. The right-hander appeared in 18 innings, posting a 5.00 ERA with eight walks and 19 strikeouts.

Also added to the 40-man was Willie Eyre, who used the 2008 Fall League season to help him rehab from last season's Tommy John surgery. The 30-year-old made eight starts, going 0-3 with a 6.49 ERA. In 26.1 innings, he surrendered 33 hits, walked eight, and struck out 33.

Promising left-handed reliever Beau Jones saw his ERA shoot up after a couple of rough outings in November. The Louisiana native ended up finishing his AFL campaign with a 2-0 record and an 8.44 ERA in 13 appearances. He totaled 16 innings, in which he allowed 21 hits while walking nine and fanning 16.

Another reliever whose ERA suffered at the hands of a couple of late-season outings was Andrew Laughter. The big righty, who is one of the Rangers' top relief prospects, had a 6.14 ERA in 14.2 innings. Six of his 10 earned runs allowed came in a November 15 outing in which he went just two-thirds of an inning. Laughter walked six and struck out 12 overall.

Mexican Pacific League

With Mochis and Mazatlan battling it out for a trip to the Caribbean Series, there are no Rangers products left in the Mexican Pacific League.

Luis Mendoza was the most successful Rangers product in Mexico this winter, as he went 4-1 with a 2.68 ERA for Obregon. The native of Veracruz pitched 40.1 innings and allowed 35 hits while walking 13 and fanning 19. A sinkerballer, Mendoza got 2.41 groundouts per flyout.

Outfielder Brandon Boggs played part of the season, batting .175 in 22 games. He had three doubles, two home runs, and a .575 OPS.

Steve Murphy appeared in just two games for Obregon, going 0-for-7 with one walk.

Infielder German Duran spent most of the season at Hermosillo's primary third baseman. The Zacatecas native hit .239 with six doubles and one home run in 25 contests.

Venezuelan Winter League

After La Guaira's playoff loss and Guillermo Moscoso's return to the U.S., there are no longer any Rangers products playing in Venezuela this winter.

Shortstop Guilder Rodriguez, who the Rangers picked up in the minor league portion of December's Rule 5 Draft, was 4-for-15 in seven games with Lara.

Playing for Caracas, Moscoso was 2-1 with a 5.57 ERA over 21 innings. He surrendered 25 hits, walked 12, and struck out 23.

Magallanes shortstop Elvis Andrus played in 50 games and batted .257 with four doubles, three triples, and two home runs. He drew 25 walks and struck out 36 times.

The Rangers had eight different players get action for La Guaira at some point during the 2008-2009 season.

A veteran of the Venezuelan Winter League, right-hander Kendy Batista struggled a bit in the regular season [1-1, 5.96 ERA in 22 relief appearances], but was lights-out in the playoffs for the Tiburones.

Though he didn't pitch in the playoffs, Round Rock native Brian Gordon was excellent in the regular season, going 4-2 with a 1.79 ERA. Gordon totaled 45.1 innings, allowing just 37 hits. He walked 10 and struck out 37.

Young left-hander Joseph Ortiz saw very limited action as a middle reliever out of La Guaira's bullpen. He yielded eight runs – seven earned – on seven hits in 4.1 innings over 10 appearances.

Right-hander Jorge Quintero pitched in two games, giving up one run in one full inning of work.

Catcher Max Ramirez won the Venezuelan League's Rookie of the Year award by batting .298 with 14 doubles, 15 home runs, and 53 RBI in just 50 games. Ramirez had an astronomical 1.009 OPS.

Infielder Renny Osuna saw limited action as a utilityman. The 23-year-old appeared in 17 games and was 5-for-32 [.156] with a double and a home run.

Outfielder Miguel Alfonzo played in eight games and was 3-for-16 at the plate with one double. He walked once and struck out 11 times.

Ben Harrison also didn't see action in the playoffs, but he played in 44 regular season games. The Key West native hit .274 with 10 doubles and five home runs. His 24 walks helped lead to a strong .384 on-base percentage.

Dominican Winter League

Nelson Cruz's Cibao club dropped the Dominican Winter League's championship series to the Licey Tigers.

Outfielder Julio Borbon was outstanding in 19 regular season games for Aguilas Cibaenas. The Tennessee product batted .366 with two doubles, four triples, and two home runs in just 71 at-bats. Borbon had a 1.013 OPS.

Right-hander Joselo Diaz pitched in six games – getting five starts – for the Toros and was 2-1 with a 4.84 ERA. Alfredo Gonzalez, who pitched out of the Double-A Frisco bullpen in 2008, also played for Este and allowed seven runs – six earned – in seven relief innings.

Young prospects Jose Vallejo and Engel Beltre both saw most of their Dominican Winter League action as a pinch runner or late-inning defensive replacement. Vallejo was 1-for-10 at the plate while Beltre went 3-for-14 with one double.

Nelson Cruz joined the Gigantes del Cibao in midseason and hit .362 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs in just 105 at-bats [27 games]. The slugger also walked 11 times, helping to give him an impressive 1.055 OPS.

Pitcher Elizardo Ramirez made six appearances – four starts – with Escogido. He totaled 13 innings and went 0-2 with a 5.54 ERA. Warner Madrigal pitched out of the bullpen for the Leones and yielded 11 runs in just 7.1 frames.

Infielder Joaquin Arias saw action in just two games, going 1-for-7 with one run batted in.

Dustin Nippert's Licey club will represent the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Series, but Nippert only saw regular season action with the Tigers. Nippert had a solid showing, as he posted a 3.48 ERA in seven starts. In 33.2 innings, he walked 18, fanned 33, and limited opposing hitters to a .243 batting average.

Although Jarrod Saltalamacchia played for Escogido in the regular season [and batted .364 with five doubles and nine home runs in 64 at-bats – plus 17 walks], he has been added to the Licey roster for the Caribbean Series.

Puerto Rican Winter League

Joseph Torres worked as a left-handed middle reliever for Caguas and allowed three runs in 3.2 innings over nine games pitched.

Ponce hurler Adalberto Flores went 1-1 with a 12.83 ERA in 13 relief appearances [13.1 innings].

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