Need a fix? Here’s what’s happening in the winter leagues (AL East)
For those who missed my last article, there is still baseball being played. Even though the Major League Baseball season has ended, the sport never dies. That’s why it’s still the greatest sport in the world and our national pastime.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on out in the desert and especially in other countries. You can find most of the information you need at MLB.com, but unless you’re present while watching the games, it’s hard to get a good sense of how these players are performing.
Unfortunately I haven’t been able to watch any games, so all I can go on is stats and articles I’ve read. With the Hot Stove season cranking up some of these prospects could become potential trade chips; so keep an eye on that.
Zelous Wheeler — This 25-year-old third baseman has been tearing it up in the Mexican League batting .359 in 92 at-bats. He’s hit four home runs and driven in 18. A 19th-round draft pick in 2007 by the Milwaukee Brewers, Wheeler was claimed by the Orioles in March.
Alexi Casilla — The Orioles newest addition is looking to earn a roster spot by playing in the Dominican League this winter. In only 28 at-bats, Casilla has eight hits, three of them triples.
Jonathan Schoop — Schoop is considered one of the best prospects in the Orioles system. Playing third base, his development may be halted, which in turn could make him trade bait this winter. Playing in the AFL at 21, Schoop is helping his stock rise by batting .276 in 58 at-bats and drawing 16 walks for a .462 OBP.
Boston Red Sox
Bryce Brentz — Selected in the first round of the 2010 draft by the Red Sox, Brentz has put up impressive numbers in the minors. Those numbers seem to be holding up in the AFL as he’s batting .327 in 52 at-bats with 17 hits and 11 RBIs. He plays right field and could be up soon for this club, if not traded.
Anthony Ranaudo — Another first-round pick from the 2010 draft, Ranaudo is looking to stay fresh in the Puerto Rican League. In only one start — three innings — he hasn’t allowed a hit, has walked one and struck out three. His first two seasons in the minors have been awful, but maybe the 23-year-old righty can put it together.
Marco Duarte — Durante is another right-handed bullpen arm for the Red Sox. He’s been around a few organizations, but his numbers in Mexican League hope to put him in contention for a roster spot. In 21.2 innings he’s struck out 27 batters and walked nine, while allowing seven earned runs.
New York Yankees
Slade Heathcott — This former first-round draft pick has racked up 16 hits in 51 at-bats at the AFL. The center fielder has put up solid but not-all-to-impressive numbers in the minors. He could be an extra outfielder or trade chip for the Yankees.
Ramiro Pena — The undrafted 27-year-old shortstop is doing well in the Mexican League this winter posting a .304 average in 69 at-bats with six doubles and three home runs.
Mark Montgomery — Taken in the 11th round of the 2011 draft, Montgomery has put up some gaudy numbers in the AFL. Through 9.1 innings, he’s given up two hits, one earned run and four walks, while striking out 17. His numbers in the minors are just as impressive as he’s boasted and ERA under two in his first two seasons. This 22-year-old righty could be in the Yankees bullpen sooner rather than later.
Cesar Vargas — Another solid righty coming out of the bullpen, Vargas is 21 years old and pitching in the Mexican League this winter. Through seven innings, he’s allowed seven hits, three walks and one earned run, while striking out 10. The undrafted free-agent signee doesn’t have much experience in the minors, but could be a trade piece.
Tampa Bay Rays
Henry Wrigley — As the Rays look to replace B.J. Upton in the outfield, 26-year-old Wrigley is hoping to compete for that spot. After several solid minor league seasons, the outfielder is batting .319 in 91 at-bats in the Venezuelan League. He’s hit eight home runs and driven in 20 RBIs.
Kevin Kiermaier — Another outfielder looking to catch the eyes of Rays coaches, Kiermaier is hitting .309 through 55 AFL at-bats with six stolen bases.
Hak-Ju Lee — Considered one of the Rays best prospects and future shortstop, the 22 year-old Lee is carrying a .273 average in 66 at-bats in the AFL. His 8/17 walk-to-strikeout ratio may delay his call up to the majors.
C.J. Riefenhauser — A 20th-round draft pick in 2010, the 22-year-old Riefenhauser is putting up good numbers in the AFL. In eight games, including one start, he’s pitched 11.2 innings and only allowed one unearned run. He’s only given up four hits and three walks, while striking out 13.
Toronto Blue Jays
Kevin Pillar — Though a small sample size, Pillar has 18 hits in 46 at-bats for the Rafters in the AFL. The 23-year-old outfielder also has seven stolen bases. Taken in the 32 round of the 2011 draft he has a combined .331 average through two minor league seasons. Could be an up and coming star for the Blue Jays, or a potential trade chip.
Moises Sierra — Sierra got his first taste of major league action in 2012, but didn’t fare so well. He’s looking to impress in the Dominican League where he’s hitting .292 through 65 at-bats with three home runs and 16 runs scored to go along with five stolen bases.
Ryan Tepera — The 25-year-old, right-handed starting pitching prospect has faired pretty good in the hitter friendly AFL. He’s only allowed seven earned runs in 16.2 innings (five starts), while only walking five and striking out 19.