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December 20, 2012

Minor League Update

Games of December 19

by Jason Martinez

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As free agent pitcher Edwin Jackson closes in on a decision on which team gets to pay him about $13 million per season for the next four years, I'll remind you once again that Javier Vazquez, who decided not to play in 2012, is pitching in Puerto Rico and could announce his return before the season starts. The 36 year-old, who was still a very effective pitcher for the Marlins in 2011, has a 3.71 ERA, 3 walks, and 23 strikeouts (11 on Wednesday) over his first 17 innings for Ponce. Vazquez made about $100 million in his major league career, so I'm not saying the ridiculous amount of money being spent on free agent pitchers this offseason is going to sway him back to the majors. Actually, I am saying that. Since when is $100 million enough money for anyone?  

Notable performances from La Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente  

  • Yadiel Rivera, SS, Milwaukee Brewers: 2-for-4, K. It's worth mentioning Rivera whenever he has a solid game at the plate. The 20 year-old, who played in the Lo-A Midwest League in 2012, has raw power (85 extra base hits in 282 minor league games) and solid defensive skills but his career .274 OBP tells us he has a long ways to go.
  • Henry Ramos, OF, Boston Red Sox: 3-for-3, HR (1), 2B, BB, SB (3). A 5th Round draft pick in 2010, Ramos failed to show significant progress in his second season of Lo-A ball in 2012 (.682 OPS in 2011; .708 OPS in 2012). The switch-hitter is only 20 years-old, however, and spent much of his youth playing soccer so there's hope for him yet. He's also having a terrific season in Puerto Rico.
  • Josh Romanski, LHP, New York Yankees: 5 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 0 BB, 5 K. A former rotation-mate of Brian Matusz with the University of San Diego and 4th Round pick of the Brewers in 2008, Romanski finally got his pro career started with the Yankees in 2010 after Tommy John surgery. His numbers were impressive over three minor league seasons, but the 26 year-old currently finds himself looking to catch on with another organization as a minor league free agent. He has a 2.10 ERA with 8 walks and 34 strikeouts in 40 innings in Puerto Rico.

More notable performances from La Liga de Beisbol Dominicano  

  • Mike McDade, 1B, Cleveland Indians: 2-for-3, K. Four multi-hit games in the last week for the switch-hitting first baseman, who was claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays on November 30th. As of now, he has a small chance at a roster spot although the Indians are looking to add another position player or two this offseason.
  • Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: 1-for-4, HR (5). Only one hit for the Cardinals' top prospect on Wednesday, although he is 16 for his last 43 to raise his average to .318. I'm pretty sure this guy never slumps.
  • Daniel Corcino, RHP, Cincinnati Reds: 5 IP, 0 R, H, 2 BB, 4 K. One of the few really good pitching prospects still playing this time of year, the 22 year-old has already thrown 164 innings in 2012 between Double-A Pensacola (3.01 ERA in 26 starts) and Escogido. He should have another full year in the minors, likely with Triple-A Louisville, before he pushes for a spot in 2014.
  • Juan Cruz, RHP, Free Agent: 2 IP, 0 R, H, 0 BB, 3 K. Released by the Pirates despite posting a 2.78 ERA in 43 relief appearances, the 37 year-old Cruz is off to a solid start for Licey (6.2 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 2 BB, 11 K) as he tries to draw up interest from major league teams.

Notable performances from La Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional  

  • Gorkys Hernandez, OF, Marlins: 4-for-4, 2B, BB. The 25 year-old continued his assault on Venezuelan League pitching with four more hits to raise his batting average to .362 in 54 games. Currently penciled in by me as Juan Pierre's platoon partner, the Marlins have to at least be slightly encouraged by Hernandez's performance since he hasn't provided much offense at the major league level.
  • Kelvim Escobar, RHP, Free Agent: 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K. The former 18-game winner, who has been out of baseball due to shoulder injuries since 2009, nailed down his first save with two impressive innings of work. At 36, he's looking to make a comeback and it's certain that teams will pay closer attention after Wednesday's performance.
  • Carlos Zambrano, RHP, Free Agent: 6 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 K. What the heck? Since I've mentioned Vazquez, Cruz, and Escobar as free agents looking for work, I might as well finish off the update with a Zambrano mention. He was actually pretty good over his first 11 starts with the Marlins in 2012 (2.81 ERA, 73.2 IP, 53 H, 29 BB, 56 K) before struggles with consistency got him moved to the bullpen. At just 31, he could be a very low-cost innings-eater on a pitching-starved team such as the Astros or Twins.

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