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November 21, 2012

Minor League Update

Games of November 20

by Jason Martinez

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What I learned while scouring the Caribbean League box scores on Tuesday evening is that teams can actually have more than 50 players on their roster. In a 16-inning game between los Estrellas de Oriente and los Gigantes del Cibao, a combined 24 pitchers and 31 position players were used. Only two players, however (Todd Linden and Jean Segura), had more than one hit and only five of the 31 pitchers allowed a run in the 4-3 victory for Cibao.

  • Jorge Alfaro, C, Rangers (Ponce-PRBL): 2-for-4, 3B, K. "The Legend", as he's known in these parts, continues to do impressive things in the league named after one of the greatest baseball players of all-time, the legendary Roberto Clemente. The 19 year-old Colombian bounced back from consecutive hitless games with a triple and a single to boost his 10-game average to .333. He also threw out Dodgers prospect Yasiel Puig, who was brave enough to try and steal second base against him.
  • Alberto Cabrera, RHP, Cubs (Este-DWL): 2 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 4 K. A move to the bullpen in 2012 was just what the doctor ordered for Cabrera, a hard-throwing prospect who had control issues throughout his first six minor league seasons working primarily as a starter. Cabrera earned a big league call-up on August 1st after posting a 3.11 ERA in 55 innings between Triple-A and Double-A with 14 walks and 74 strikeouts. He lost the strike zone during his first big league stint but the progress in the minors was encouraging. They'll stretch him out in Spring Training -- because it's worth finding out if he can maintain his control over long outings -- but the 24 year-old has the stuff to pitch late in games, while not many other Cubs relievers currently on the roster do. 
  • Fautino De Los Santos, RHP, Brewers (Escogido-DWL): IP, 0 R, H, BB, 3 K. Even in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, De Los Santos' 5.80 ERA and .319 opponent's batting average doesn't translate to much future big league success. At 26 years old, he's yet to have a consistent run of solid seasons despite a fastball that can reach the upper 90's. That fastball is the reason he's still on any team's 40-man roster and on a team with limited bullpen depth, he's on an actual projected 25-man roster
  • Starling Marte, OF, Pirates (Escogido-DWL): 2-for-4, BB, 3 SB (6). Marte has easy 20-20 potential, plus defense, and might even be a future .300 hitter in the big leagues. The 24 year-old reminds us almost daily of these tools, like on Tuesday when he stole his fourth, fifth, and sixth bases of the season without being caught. It's his 8 walks and 14 strikeouts that catch my eye, though. Yes, 14 strikeouts in 65 plate appearances is a lot but guys who hit 20-plus homers can strikeout a lot. It's fine. Now, if he can walk more than 50 times in a full major league season, as opposed to the 20-30 times per year he's destined for if he doesn't improve his plate discipline, the Pirates will have two superstars roaming their outfield. 
  • Kyler Newby, RHP, Free Agent (Cibao-DWL): 5 IP, ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 K. The first of 13 pitchers used by Cibao in an eventual 16-inning loss, the 27 year-old free agent continued to pitch well with five strong innings. After a fine season as Double-A Bowie's closer in 2012 (2.44 ERA, 19 Sv, 21 BB, 74 K in 55.1 IP), Newby should be able to land another minor league deal with an invite to big league camp in the spring. 
  • Eury Perez, OF, Nationals (Escogido-DWL): 3-for-5, 3B, K. The Nationals' center field prospect broke out of a 7-for-48 start to his season with three hits and a triple on Tuesday. Unlike Marte, who appears to be making an effort to draw more walks in the DWL, the 22 year-old Perez is a free swinging right-handed hitter who continues to struggle in that area with no walks and 13 strikeouts in his first 53 plate appearances. 
  • Angel Villalona, 1B, Giants (Este-DWL): 2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, K. Villalona, who signed with the Giants in August 2006 as a 16 year-old, was a highly-touted prospect up until he was accused of murder in September 2009. He returned to the organization after being cleared of charges last offseason. After missing two full seasons, the Giants weren't about to push Villalona back too quickly so he spent 2012 in the Dominican Summer League, where he posted a .927 OPS in 44 games. OK, so a talented 21 year-old should put up big numbers in the Dominican League against kids who are three, four, and five years younger. He's also off to a great start in the DWL (6-for-15, HR, 3 BB) but his prospect status will remain in the dumps unless he can show something in full-season ball next season.

 

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