Need a fix? Here’s what’s happening in the winter leagues (AL Central)
In my last article, I covered what’s happening in winter ball for AL East teams. Continuing with the theme, here’s the latest and greatest from the AL Central.
Chicago White Sox
Carlos Sanchez — After batting .323 in three different levels of minor league baseball in 2012, Sanchez is proving himself on a bigger stage in the Arizona Fall League (AFL). In 73 at-bats, the outfielder is hitting .301 with 10 stolen bases and 12 RBIs.
Andy Wilkins — Another White Sox hitter enjoying the AFL, Wilkins has slugged two home runs and driven in 13 while batting .284 in 81 at-bats. The 24-year-old first baseman was a fifth-round draft pick in the 2010 draft.
Hector Santiago — Santiago spent some time in the big leagues this year and was rather impressive out of the bullpen and as a starter; especially in his last start of the season when he struck out 10 Indians over seven shutout innings. He’s carried that success into the Puerto Rican League, where in his first start, he struck out six in six innings and allowed only one run. He could be a factor in the White Sox rotation in 2013.
Jose Ramirez — This 20-year-old shortstop was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Indians in 2009. Through his first two years in the minors, he’s batted .338, including a .354 average through two systems in 2012. In the Dominican winter league, he’s out to a hot start batting .389 in his first 36 at-bats with eight hits, six strikeouts and three stolen bases.
Alex Monsalve — Another 20-year-old undrafted free agent signee, Monsalve has impressed in the AFL with a .359 average in only 39 at-bats, including a 4-for-4 day on Nov. 8. The catcher has been mediocre offensively in his minor league career but could be a nice trade chip.
Trey Haley — A second-round draft pick, Haley has been lights out in the AFL. Through 11 innings, the righty has only allowed two runs on two hits. He posted a 2.33 ERA in 2012, while striking out 49 batters in 38.2 innings pitched, finishing the year with the Indians double-A affiliate.
T.J. House — A year younger than Haley at 23, House has a 2.86 ERA over five starts in the AFL. He struck out 21 in 22 innings, while surrendering 16 hits and eight walks. He could be a back-of-the-rotation starter or trade chip.
Justin Henry — Getting up there in age at 27, the former ninth-round draft pick seems to be figuring it out offensively. Following up a minor league season where he batted .300, he’s staying fresh in the Venezuelan League where he is hitting .265 in 83 at-bats with 16 walks. He profiles to be a potential fourth outfielder for the Tigers this year.
Victor Larez — Larez posted a 1.72 ERA in 2012 for the Tigers high-A team working out of the bullpen. Playing in the Venezuelan League this offseason, he’s given up one run in 18 innings, while striking out 15. At 25, he could fit into the Tigers plans in the upcoming years or be involved in a possible trade.
Chris Oxspring — Oxspring is an interesting story. At 35-years-old, this right-hander is hoping to make the Tigers roster after a strong season in the Australian Baseball League. He certainly has impressed in his first two starts, allowing only one run in 16.1 innings. He’s struck out 21 without walking a single batter and allowed only 10 hits. In his last game on Nov. 9, he pitched a complete-game shutout, while striking out 14.
Kansas City Royals
Luis Durango — Recently signed as a minor league free agent from the Braves, Durango is a speedy outfielder who could help spark a team. He hit .289 in triple-A for the Braves in 2012 with 46 stolen bases. Still relatively young at 26, he’s hitting .291 in the Venezuelan League through 86 at-bats with five stolen bases and 13 walks. He could be a fourth outfielder for the Royals next year and should get a shot in spring training.
Edwin Carl — After back-to-back impressive minor leagues seasons, Carl is showing he can be an effective arm out of the bullpen in the AFL. Through 11.1 innings, he’s given up one earned run and struck out seven, while only allowing five hits and three walks. The 24-year-old righty could be a specialist for the Royals in a couple of years.
Justin Marks — A third-round draft pick by the Oakland Athletics before being shipped to the Royals, Marks is pitching well in the AFL. The lefty starting pitcher has an ERA of 2.21 in six starts. He’s struck out 16 and walked five in 20.1 innings. The 24-year-old will likely start the season at triple-A and could be a back-of-the-rotation starter or trade piece.
Nate Roberts — A fifth-round draft pick in 2010, Roberts is batting .472 in 53 at-bats in the AFL. He also walked 10 times and only struck out five times, while swiping six bases. He hasn’t played above single-A ball, but he’s been a .300 hitter his first three years in the minors and looks to be a future key in the Twins outfield.
Chris Colabello — Not quite considered a prospect at age 29, but Colabello has put up impressive numbers in 2012. For the Twins double-A affiliate, he batted .284 and drove in 98 runs. In the Mexican League this offseason, he’s hitting .304 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs in 92 at-bats. Possibly a late bloomer, this first baseman is making a case that he belongs in the pros.
Michael Tonkin — A 30th-round draft pick, Tonkin made it onto the AFL roster and is proving his worth. In 13.2 innings out of the pen, he’s only allowed seven hits, two walks and one run, while striking out seven. He’s never posted an ERA higher than 3.87 in his five minor league seasons. He’s yet to pitch above high-A, but his numbers keep getting better. In 2012, he posted a 2.08 ERA in 69.1 innings, while striking out 97.
Angel Mata — A 20-year-old, non-drafted free agent, Mata is pitching in the Venezuelan League this offseason. Through 11.2 innings pitched he’s struck out 14 and only given up two runs.