TigsTown MLN: Latin America Fall Updates

Beyond the Arizona Fall League, fall and winter ball is being played elsewhere in the globe. See how those players are competing so far in their "off-season" season.

Liga de Beisbol Dominicano

Right-hander Alfredo Figaro finally made his first appearance for Estrellas, starting Wednesday's game. The start didn't go quite as many may have hoped, as Figaro was touched up for five runs on six hits in just 1 2/3 innings of work. It's been a lengthy layoff from game action for Figaro, so I would be cautious in reading too much into this start. Figaro should get plenty of other opportunities for his DWL club, and he should still be considered a dark horse candidate to see some innings at the back end of the Detroit rotation in 2010.

Another top Tiger prospect not fairing too well is catcher Alex Avila. Appearing in only one game this week, Avila was 0-for-4 in that lone appearance behind the dish, lowing his season line to .158/.233/.184. This small sample doesn't change anything in terms of Avila's prospect status or his readiness for 2010, but it does speak to the likelihood that he has tired significantly after the long grind of his first full professional season.

On the other hand, outfielder Brennan Boesch has continued exactly what he started this summer; a breakout campaign worthy of serious attention. In four games this week, Boesch was 4-for-17 with a triple and three RBI. His season line now sits at .275/.326/.475 through 51 at-bats. Boesch's performance is furthering his case for being added to the Tigers' 40-man roster in the coming weeks.

Another Tigers outfielder that has come out with a vengeance this fall is five-tool stud Wilkin Ramirez. After missing the first few games with Licey, Ramirez has made up for lost time as he has posted a .344 average and drawn four walks in ten games.

While Ramirez's overall numbers are still shiny, the last week has been a bit rough, as Ramirez has gone 3-for-14 with no walks and four strikeouts in four games. The hope is that this type of performance is not indicative of a regression for Ramirez, as he looks to enter spring training in competition for a big league job.

Liga Venezuela Beisbol Professional

Tigers prospects in Venezuela have seen limited action over the last week, with left-hander Wilfredo Ramirez making one appearance and right-hander Zach Simons making only two appearances over that span; most of which did not go very well.

Simons outing on Tuesday saw him give up a hit and a walk, while not recording an out; the second time this fall that he was unable to get an out. On Thursday, Simons managed a better outing, retiring the only two batters he came on to face.

Ramirez was able to get a total of four outs in his lone outing, but not before he gave up a run on two hits and a walk. That outing pushed Ramirez's ERA to a still solid 3.86 over 4 2/3 innings, as he looks to make a strong impression in his bid to receive a spring assignment to a full-season club.

Liga Colombiana de Beisbol Profesional

The lone Tigers' representative in the Colombian Winter League, Ramon Lebron, continued an already strong start to his winter season. After a merely solid start in his league debut, Lebron exploded on the scene in his second outing this week. In six innings of work, Lebron yielded just one run on three hits and two walks, while striking out seven. Lebron is one of the Tigers fastest rising prospects, and his mid-90s heat could earn him an aggressive assignment next spring.

Liga Paralela

The Tigers youngsters in Liga Paralela have run their overall record to 8-10-1 after a week that saw them win just two of the six games they played. The offense continues to really push the Tigers, as they are averaging over five runs per game.

The offense has been buoyed by big performances from two graduates of the Tigers Venezuelan complex, as shortstop Hernan Perez and outfielder Luis Salas have both come out and put their skills on display through the season's first 19 games. Perez has hit the cover off the ball, leading the team with four home runs and 14 RBI. His whopping ..380 average leads the team, for those with more than 15 plate appearances, and he is one of only three Tigers to appear in all 19 games so far this season.

After making his stateside debut in 2009, Perez drew the attention of many organizational instructors and coaches during the Fall Instructional League with Minor League Field Coordinator Mike Rojas saying, "That kid is a player. He could really be a good one."

After seeing time at three different levels for the Tigers in 2009, reaching as high as High-A Lakeland, Liga Paralela now offers Perez an opportunity to continuing growing on the field and to continuing preparing for the challenges of the 2010 season; an opportunity he seems to be taking advantage of early on.

Tigers Director of International Operations Tom Moore sees a great opportunity for Perez to improve and be ready for 2010, "Having the ability to face pitchers that have competed in A-ball (and sometimes higher) from the year before does nothing but prepare someone like Hernan for his second year in the U.S. Whatever level he starts at in 2010 in the U.S., he should be ready for it."

Similarly to the strong start Perez has had this fall, Luis Salas has come out flashing the tools that had many prospect watchers excited as he came stateside in 2008; tools which were not always on display during a challenging year in the Midwest League in 2009.

"In many cases after a long year, players need a chance to rest after the season, both physically and mentally. Once they take a few weeks off, they play refreshed and can build momentum and confidence going into the next year," said Moore.

Thus far, Salas has flashed moments where he hits the cover off the ball through 19 appearances, with a .243/.354/.386 line in 70 at-bats. He leads the team with seven doubles, while also slugging one home run and ranking second on the team (to Perez) in RBI with eleven.

While the offense has done its fair share to help the Tigers to a solid start, the pitching has come through on many occasions as well. Right out of the gates, left-handed starter Jose Siso is sporting a 3.71 ERA through four starts. While he has allowed 21 hits in 17 innings, he is missing bats and keeping hitters guessing as evidenced by his 19 strikeouts.

Tom Moore sees a young player that can really use the experience of Liga Paralela to his advantage as he continues his development, "Pitching in this league has been very helpful for Siso, both this year and last year. He has very good stuff, but as with most young pitchers, he just needs to learn to be more consistent, and this league has allowed him to work on that." Leading the team in appearances as he works out of the bullpen, right-hander Wilsen Palacios has also come out very strong this fall. The hard-throwing reliever had a lot to deal with in 2009 as he faced a suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs, but Moore believes the entire experience could provide great growth in the end; "This year has been a good learning year for Wilsen. He has a great arm and is learning to use it effectively in each outing he pitches. We are excited to see how the learning process this year will translate to success next year."

So far in seven outings for the Tigers, Palacios has a 1-2 record with a 3.55 ERA and two saves, tying him for the team lead. In just 12 2/3 innings, Palacios has managed to allow only eight hits and six walks while striking out an impressive 16 batters.

All four of these players have been keys to the solid start of the Tigers Liga Paralela team, and they are four experienced players that should be able to help keep the team competitive on a daily basis. Check back next week to see if other players have stepped to the fore and started helping push the Tigers up in the standings.


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