This year the beginning of the winter leagues snuck up on me. Let me tell you, having the playoffs and midterms during the same time of year is an unholy mess.
I’ll give you a quick intro and things to look for, plus a chart for each league that contains the vitals on Giants prospects. I’m most eager to watch a trio of youngsters in the Caribbean leagues: outfielders Jesus Galindo and Rafael Rodriguez, and first baseman Angel Villalona.
Also here’s a schedule for the seasons in each league.
|Dominican League||Oct 14-Dec 21|
|Venezuelan League||Oct 11-Dec 30|
|Australian Baseball League||Nov 1-Jan 27||postseason Jan 31-Feb 10|
|Arizona Fall League||Oct 9-Nov 15|
|Mexican Pacific League||Oct 13-Dec 30|
|Puerto Rican League||starts Nov 8|
Before we get down to the brass tacks of the Giants in the winter leagues, here are some tidbits. Some of these rosters are huge, namely Cibao in the Dominican League. I counted over 50 players listed there. Some players appear on rosters but clearly aren’t playing; see Hensley Meulens as Margarita’s manager, Anibal Sanchez as Game 3 World Series starter, Francisco Peguero, who was running in the victory parade at AT&T Park on Monday night, and Leo Rojas, who I will explain later on.
Some former Giants you might be interested in: Osiris Matos and Eugenio Velez are playing for los Toros del Este in the Dominican League, Kevin Pucetas is part of Cibao’s huge roster, and Pedro Feliz is playing for Escogido.
I supposed I’ve wasted enough of your time. Here are your 2012 Giants in the Dominican Winter League.
A quick guide to reading the “acquired” column: FA means “free agent” plus the year the player signed. Rule V is of course the Rule V Draft plus the year the player signed. A double digit number followed by a round number in parentheses means the year and round the player was drafted.
The Dominican League has many more Giants than last year, including Roger Kieschnick, Angel Villalona, and Adalberto Mejia. I picked the wrong year (2011) to go to the Dominican Republic.
|Edward Concepcion||RHP||DWL||Cibao||San Jose (A+)||FA 06|
|Adalberto Mejia||LHP||DWL||Cibao||Augusta (A-)||FA 11|
|Luis Rojas||RHP||DWL||Cibao||San Jose/AZL (rookie)||Rule V 11|
|Francisco Peguero||OF||DWL||Cibao||Fresno (AAA)/San Francisco||FA 06|
|Rafael Rodriguez||OF||DWL||Cibao||Salem-Keizer (short-season)||FA 09|
|Justin Fitzgerald||RHP||DWL||Escogido||Richmond (AA)||08 (11th round)|
|Kelvin Marte||LHP||DWL||Escogido||San Jose/AZL||FA 07|
|Wilmin Rodriguez||LHP||DWL||Escogido||Fresno (AAA)||FA 04|
|Roger Kieschnick||OF||DWL||Escogido||Fresno/AZL||FA 08|
|Todd Linden||OF||DWL||Estrellas||Fresno||FA 12|
|Angel Villalona||1B||DWL||Este||Dominican Summer League (rookie)||FA 06|
Edward Concepcion allowed two runs in an October 21 appearance for Cibao and fell victim to the long ball. This year he threw 48 2/3 innings with 51 strikeouts and 37 walks in 46 games in San Jose.
Adalberto Mejia has yet to play. He’s a highly rated left-handed pitching prospect who went 10-7 in 106 2/3 innings with 79 strikeouts, which is kind of low but he also had 21 walks. Mejia split time between bullpen and rotation in Augusta.
Luis Rojas also did not play. He pitched 12 innings this year and allowed three runs in eight innings in San Jose during his first year in Giants org.
Francisco Peguero didn’t play of course because he’s kickin’ it in the SF Giants dugout. He had a letdown power year in Fresno but hit okay for average (.272) and struck out at his usual rate (82 in 449 at-bats).
Rafael Rodriguez didn’t play. He’s one of the key guys this winter as he has yet to deliver on his promise. He had his best power year to date in Salem-Keizer, but it was still a letdown due to 162 at-bats and a step down from Augusta in 2011. His walks also declined.
Justin Fitzgerald made his first start of the winter season October 18 against Cibao and pitched four innings with two runs and four hits. He had five strikeouts. The righty had 130 strikeouts in 164 2/3 innings in his second year in Richmond this summer.
Kelvin Marte did not fare well in his first outing against Licey October 4, allowing a run without recording an out. Marte made seven starts in San Jose this year and again had low strikeouts. A year ago he’d pitched 147 2/3 innings, by far a career best. It’s disappointing to see him fall back into his old style.
Wilmin Rodriguez has been around forever, at least as long as I’ve been following the Giants system. This year Rodriguez pitched 62 1/3 innings in Fresno in an unremarkable year. His winter season is going much better, with 1 1/3 shutout innings over two appearances.
Roger Kieschnick didn’t play. He had a great bounce back year from injury in 2012 with 15 homers and 40 RBIs and a .306 average. I was checking for him to walk, and he did an okay job of that too. If Kieschnick has another solid year in Fresno, he could get back into the top 15 in the system.
Todd Linden has had the most work of the Giants players in the Dominican League so far and is wearing opposing pitchers out. .381 with two home runs and four multi hit games. Of course he has eight strikeouts in six games; some things never change. Linden returned to the system this year and walked pretty well–53 walks to 99 strikeouts.
Angel Villalona is perhaps the most important Giants player this winter because he’s trying to make his way back from two years out of the game. Forget about his legal problems; missing two full years of ball is a backbreaker for any prospect. He’s played in two games so far and hit a home run October 20 against Cibao. Villalona hit .303 with seven home runs and had 23 walks in the DSL, playing as a 22-year-old against younger competition. Still, it’s good to see him hitting well and getting back into baseball.
Now we move onto the Venezuelan League, the winter home of the aforementioned Galindo and a promising lefty in Edwin Escobar.
|Jose Flores||IF||VWL||Zulia||Richmond/Augusta||FA 03|
|Boof Bonser||RHP||VWL||Margarita||Fresno/AZL||FA 11|
|Mitch Lively||RHP||VWL||Margarita||Fresno||FA 08|
|Yusmeiro Petit||RHP||VWL||Margarita||Fresno/San Francisco||FA 11|
|Edwin Escobar||LHP||VWL||Lara||Augusta||Trade 10|
|Leo Rojas||C||VWL||Anzoategui||AZL||12 (15th round)|
|Daniel Mayora||C||VWL||Caracas||Richmond||FA 12|
|Jesus Galindo||OF||VWL||Caracas||Augusta||FA 09|
|Ehire Adrianza||SS||VWL||La Guaira||Richmond||FA 06|
Jose Flores is hitting .393 with one home run and five RBIs in 28 at-bats. Flores has bounced around the Giants system since 2006 and played two years in San Jose before moving down to Augusta this year, where he played the majority of his season. He was eventually bumped up to Richmond where he hit .231. Flores has always walked well through his career but his drawback is a lack of a clear-cut position. He’s listed as a third baseman and that’s where I’ve seen him most in person but the organization doesn’t seem committed to putting him in any one role. Plus he’s 25; enter the age per level flap.
Speaking of old…here’s Boof Bonser all over again. I include everyone in the organization in these reports because you never know who will end up making a difference in San Francisco. For example, Jean Machi. I only knew of him because of the winter leagues reports I did last year. He came over as a minor league free agent before last year and made it to the majors. Anyway, Bonser isn’t doing well in two starts for Margarita, with five runs in 6 1/3 innings. He gave up a home run October 18, which really hurt his ERA. This year Bonser threw 39 1/3 innings with 26 strikeouts, mostly in Fresno. It was an improvement over the 3 2/3 innings he had last year in the Mets organization.
Mitch Lively started out his winter season with Margarita by allowing two runs in two innings but since then has thrown two scoreless innings. He had a good year in Fresno with 47 appearances and 69 strikeouts. Lively has been up and down over his Giants career and the last two years has been an upswing for him with better stats and advancing to Triple-A for the first time in his career.
You might remember Yusmeiro Petit for his post-division clincher start in San Francisco, taking over for scheduled starter Tim Lincecum. Petit had a decent year in Fresno with 153 strikeouts in 166 2/3 innings. 2012 was Petit’s first year in the organization and his return to baseball in the States; in 2011 he pitched 36 2/3 innings for Oaxaca in the Mexican League. He has yet to pitch for Margarita.
Edwin Escobar hasn’t yet played this winter had a strong season for Augusta with 122 strikeouts in 130 2/3 innings, the heaviest workload of his career. The deal that brought him over from Texas turned out to be a great swap for the Giants, as he’s always shown good strikeout numbers but finally put it together with a full season’s worth of innings.
The only 2012 draftee in the Caribbean leagues, Leo Rojas made his Giants debut in the AZL this year with a .250 average in 44 at-bats. He was suspended 50 games for violating MLB’s substance abuse policy in September, so I imagine that would extend to winter league games. I’ll keep an eye on him when he plays, if he does at all this winter.
Daniel Mayora made it to the Giants org this year after a long career in the Rockies system and a brief stay in the Rays’ system. He won Eastern League Player of the Week and made the EL All-Star team. Mayora has five walks in five games so far.
I got a few emails about Jesus Galindo in the last year, from fans and even the Salem-Keizer front office telling me to watch for him. Word is this kid is quite exciting. 40 steals in 66 games is pretty impressive. He’s one I’ll be watching for sure, once he gets into games.
Ehire Adrianza has played in five games thus far and has three hits and three walks. He’s returned to Venezuela to play in the winter leagues down there, something he’s done every year since I’ve covered him in this organization. Adrianza walked well in his first year in Richmond this summer. Unfortunately his uncle Ozzie Guillen was canned yesterday.
The Arizona Fall League has the most number of high-profile prospects among the winter leagues, per usual, including some of the top hitters in the organization like Joe Panik, Ricky Oropesa, and Gary Brown.
|Jake Dunnington||RHP||AFL||Scottsdale||Richmond||FA 09|
|Chris Gloor||LHP||AFL||Scottsdale||Richmond||09 (17th round)|
|Heath Hembree||RHP||AFL||Scottsdale||Fresno||10 (5th round)|
|Dan Runzler||LHP||AFL||Scottsdale||Fresno/San Jose/San Francisco||07 (9th round)|
|Chris Dominguez||IF/OF||AFL||Scottsdale||Richmond/Fresno||09 (3rd round)|
|Ricky Oropesa||1B||AFL||Scottsdale||San Jose||11 (3rd round)|
|Joe Panik||SS||AFL||Scottsdale||San Jose||11 (1st round)|
|Gary Brown||OF||AFL||Scottsdale||Richmond||10 (1st round)|
Scottsdale is 6-6 after the first week and a half and stand in second place in the East Division.
Jake Dunnington had a brief year between Augusta and Richmond with 25 1/3 innings but performed well with 32 strikeouts and eight runs allowed. He’s off to a good start in Scottsdale with four innings over four appearances. The right-hander hasn’t allowed a run and has five strikeouts.
Chris Gloor had a swingman role in Richmond, making 13 starts in 32 overall games and throwing 105 2/3 innings. So far for the Scorpions Gloor is a starter with 12 innings over three outings. He earned his first win of the fall season October 20 against Salt River. Gloor has 11 strikeouts and three walks.
Heath Hembree had an elbow injury July 5, which caused him to miss about six weeks and returned at the end of the year to pitch seven strong outings. Before that he was rumored to replace Brian Wilson, during the halcyon days of closer-by-committee in San Francisco. The closer allowed 24 runs and 20 walks over 38 innings in Fresno. So far in the AFL Hembree has four scoreless innings with eight strikeouts and no walks. He collected one save on October 19 against Salt River.
If Villalona is the most important hitter to watch this winter, Dan Runzler is the most important pitcher to watch. He’s had injury problems in the past and went from one of the key lefties out of the bullpen to forgotten man this year. Runzler threw a combined 30 innings between San Jose and Fresno and gave up a lot of runs and had high walks. He made six appearances with the Giants and didn’t allow a run over 3 2/3 innings. He’s had a lot of work in the AFL and earned a win on October 19 against Salt River. His first three appearances were hitless and he’s allowed three hits over his last two outings. Runzler’s season ERA stands at 0.00 so far.
Chris Dominguez is hitting .313 for the Scorpions and connected for a home run October 13. He has three RBIs over his last three games. Dominguez split another year between the levels, this time Richmond and Fresno. His power disappeared and his strikeout numbers were awful–97 whiffs to nine walks. Dominguez without power is just a big guy stuck at a corner position. Not a good look.
Ricky Oropesa had a better power year than his predecessor at first base in San Jose, with 16 home runs and 30 doubles. He also did better with walking, at 59 walks to 150 strikeouts. He played a lot the first week of the season but hasn’t seen much action over the last few days. Oropesa hit a home run October 17 against Mesa and has walked at a much better rate with seven free passes to eight strikeouts.
Joe Panik hit .297 and walked very well in his first full year in San Jose and has performed similarly in the AFL. He has two RBIs and four walks in 29 at-bats so far and has racked up seven hits over his last four games. Panik also has two steals.
Seems like all the Giants hitters in the AFL are getting the same amount of work. Gary Brown has eight hits in 28 at-bats, including four hits last week. Brown walked well, had 33 steals, and hit .279 in 539 at-bats for Richmond. He also had 32 doubles. Of all the Giants prospects, I have to say Brown’s year impressed me the most. He really needed to prove himself as a hitter after last year in San Jose, and he’ll need to do it again in Fresno in 2013. I’m thinking he’ll be prepared for it.
No Giants are listed in the Mexican League as of yet, and the Puerto Rican League begins in a few weeks. I’ll see you all next week with the next winter leagues update.