Winter League Update - 12/9

Every offseason, the Arizona Fall League receives plenty of publicity as the league where organizations send their top prospects to extend their season and get some extra at bats. But besides the AFL, there are a number of winter leagues throughout Latin America that perform the same service – inside, get updates on the Tigers playing winter ball.

The Tigers have a few players down in the Venezuelan League – a pair of which are big leaguers continuing to refine their skills.

After a bit of a sluggish start, Omar Infante has picked up his performance, raising his average to .265. Infante is slugging .422, and has also swiped 4 bases, yet another solid sign that Infante continues to progress and could be a star in the making for the Tigers.

Wilfredo Ledezma on the other hand, hasn't been as impressive as hoped. After an unimpressive outing in which he allowed 4 runs in 2 innings, he followed that up with another subpar outing, giving up 3 more runs in 2 innings. It is possible however that Ledezma's arm may simply be tired after a long season. Nothing to be concerned with, yet.

Little talked about Rick Palma has been impressing in Venezuelan League, sporting a 2.30 ERA through 9 games. The lefty has been mostly used in the bullpen for the organization, but has been starting for Occidente, and impressing many. Palma also has 37 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings, and has a WHIP of 1.32.

Shifting to the Dominican League, the Tigers have a number of big leaguers and minor leaguers participating in the league.

One of which is IF Gilberto Mejia. Mejia hasn't been running, hasn't hit for much power and has continued to display average skills in the field, but thusfar has a .318 batting average, a good sign for a player who at times in the past has struggled with his average.

1B Juan Tejeda had a breakout year for Erie, but hasn't enjoyed any success thusfar for Escogido. He has received only 11 at bats, so it's a very a small sample size, but in those 11 at bats, he has yet to get a hit, and has struck out 5 times. A much larger sample size will be needed before anything definitive can be stated about Tejeda's winter progress.

One who hasn't struggled in the Winter League is Tejeda's teammate, Franklyn German. German, in a setup role, is 0-1 with a 2.35 ERA. But possibly the most telling stat – just 3 walks in 15 1/3 innings of work. It remains to be seen if German will be able to translate this success at the big league level where he's consistently struggled, but a good sign nonetheless.

Reliever Eulogio Delacruz, much like Tejeda, doesn't have overly impressive numbers – but he's only appeared in 2 games, recording just 1 out. So, until he gets some more game time, his 54.00 ERA shouldn't be worried about just yet.

Minor league veteran Rayner Bautista is also down in the Dominican League – but again, has only received a few at bats – so his .333 batting average doesn't mean much when it's just one hit.

One definite bright spot has been Victor Mendez. Mendez has struggled to put it all together in the minors, and may be running out of chances – but is sure buying himself some time with an impressive stretch in winter ball. Thusfar, Mendez has a .266/.382/.422 line. That includes 12 walks with just 64 at bats – a great sign for Mendez, as increased patience could allow him to finally realize his raw potential.

Back to the big leagues, another youngster continues to build off an impressive second half to the season, as Carlos Pena has continued to hit with authority for Licey. Pena is hitting .327 with 3 Home Runs and 11 RBI, and is also being extremely patient at the plate – with 12 walks in 55 at bats. If Pena can continue this success into next year, he might finally fully realize the potential he had when the Tigers acquired him 2 and a half years ago in the Jeff Weaver deal.

Roberto Novoa has also done well for the Licey club – striking out 18 batters in 19 1/3 innings of work. His WHIP (1.45) and ERA (3.72) are both impressive, but not spectacular.

And one final player that has been very impressive and was just recently acquired by the organization is Byron Gettis. Gettis is currently hitting .368, albeit with little power. Despite his lack of power numbers though, he is still slugging .427, and is tied for the team lead with 7 RBI.

Overall, there are a number of things to be excited about concerning the Tigers' prospects down in winter ball. Now, the hope will be that they continue this success, and bring it with them to spring training come February.

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