Winter League Wrap Up

The Tigers have a handful of players that have ventured down to the Caribbean to participate in Winter League ball. Once again leading the way among Tigers is infielder Omar Infante, who has put together yet another productive winter.

Infante had a productive regular season, posting a .333/.404/.473 line. Infante, who played for Leones del Caracas, was solid yet unspectacular all around, with only 14 strikeouts in 93 at bats. Infante continued that success in the playoffs, posting a .408 batting average in 12 games before Caracas was eliminated. As strong as Infante's numbers were during the regular season, they actually got better in postseason action; he didn't show much patience, but his .408 average kept his on base percentage impressive, and he slugged over .500.

It should be noted of course that Infante has excelled before in the Venezuelan Winter League, exciting many fans about his potential before returning to Detroit only to find himself back in a reserve role. Of course, Infante is still only 25, so the possibility remains that he could find his stride in '07 at the big league level.

Wil Ledezma also spent the winter getting in some work with Leones, unfortunately, he didn't find the same success that Infante did. But, Ledezma was only out on the field in live action for three games, and was getting the work in mostly just to stay sharp, much like he has in previous winters. So, Ledezma and his 12.38 ERA shouldn't be something to worry about.

Both Jackson Melian and David Espinosa also were working out down in Venezuela and got some limited regular season work in, but neither appeared in the playoffs. For the year, Melian posted a .194 average in 36 at bats.

Espinosa experienced a bit more success, but it was also much of the same with him. He hit .239 in 21 games and as always displayed excellent patience at the plate with a .358 on base average. Espinosa also drove in nine in his time down there. Unfortunately, the area in which Espinosa truly needs to improve is his power considering his lack of defensive options, and the power still has yet to come around, with just one extra base hit.

Of course, there are lingering rumors that Espinosa will not be returning to Detroit for the 2007 season, as he might be looking to move on and get a fresh start.

The Tigers didn't send any known prospects down to the Dominican Winter League, however, a pair of minor league free agents that the club has recently signed were getting work in down in the Dominican; outfielder Timo Perez and reliever Dennis Tankersley.

Perez, while never having been known as a power guy, showed a little bit of a power stroke for Licey, crushing a pair of home runs as he hit .268 in 41 at bats. Perez will likely compete for a backup outfielder role, as he highlights his speed and defense for the club.

Tankersley made a pair of long relief appearances for Licey and was effective in both appearances, despite taking the loss in one. Tankersley had a 1.93 ERA and a .206 average against over 9 1/3 innings. He's also hoping to compete for a job with the Tigers, likely as a middle reliever for the club.

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