The Winter Meetings start next week, 139 minor leaguers were added to 40-man rosters prior to last Tuesday's deadline, and several players currently on 40-man rosters will not be tendered contracts by their respective team and become free agents before Friday's deadline. So there's a lot going on in the world of baseball, including some exciting game action in Australia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Here's some player notes from the past five days …
- Kyle Blanks, 1B/OF, Padres (Carolina-PRBL): 5-for-9, 2 2B, 0 BB, 2 K. Recently signed to a one-year, $600K deal to avoid arbitration, it wouldn't have been a huge surprise if the Padres had cut ties with their former top prospect this offseason. Blanks, 26, has been unable to stay on the field due to multiple injuries and has played in a total of just 146 games in parts of four seasons. Blanks is recovered from shoulder surgery and playing in Puerto Rico, where he'll get some much-needed at-bats before trying to win a bench job next spring.
- Arquimedes Caminero, RHP, Marlins (Este-DWL): 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, BB, 3 K. The 25 year-old Dominican has a big-time arm and, now that he's healthy, should be in the Marlins' bullpen at some point in 2013. Caminero missed most of 2011 with an injury but returned in 2012 to post a 1.64 ERA with 19 walks and 44 strikeouts in 38.1 innings between Hi-A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville. After two scoreless innings on Friday, he lowered his ERA to 0.77 in 11.2 Dominican Winter League innings.
- Ezequiel Carrera, OF, Indians (Magallanes-VWL): 8-for-22, HR (1), 2B, 3 RBI, 5 BB, 2 SB (5). The Indians aren't expected to pursue any marquee free agents this offseason, although they do have some pretty big holes to fill in their lineup. How aggressively they pursue outfield help could depend on how they feel about the 25 year-old Carrera and whether they think he could excel as an everyday player. He doesn't profile as an impact regular because of his lack of power and on-base ability, but a commitment to working the count and drawing more walks could help. Thus far in Venezuela, Carrera has a .429 OBP with nine walks and five strikeouts in 11 games.
- Leury Garcia, SS/2B, Rangers (Cibao-DWL): 7-for-18, 2B, BB, 4 K. The 5'7" middle infielder was overshadowed by teammate Jurickson Profar in Double-A despite hitting .292 with 12 doubles, 11 triples, and 31 stolen bases in 100 games. Only two years older than Profar at 21 years of age, Garcia has plus defensive skills and should have enough bat and speed to become a big leaguer in the near future. His seven hits over the past three games has boosted his average to .306 in his first 24 Dominican Winter League games.
- Luis Mateo, 2B/SS, Cardinals (Caguas-PRBL): 7-for-12, 3 RBI, BB, K, SB (2). After homering 12 times in his first 237 minor league games, Mateo hit 12 in 113 games for Lo-A Quad Cities in 2012 to go along with 22 doubles and 18 stolen bases. The 22 year-old has yet to flex his power down in Puerto Rico but he does have 14 hits in his first 39 at-bats, including five multi-hit games. He'll likely start the 2013 season in Hi-A, where he struggled badly (.478 OPS) in a 56-game stint in 2011.
- Joe Ortiz, LHP, Rangers (La Guaira-VWL): 1.1 IP, 0 R, H, BB, 4 K. One of two Rangers minor leaguers added to the 40-man roster last week — Leury Garcia was the other — the 5'7" Ortiz struck out the side in a 1-2-3 inning on Saturday. The 22 year-old posted a 2.15 ERA with nine walks and 52 strikeouts in 62.2 innings between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock and will be competing for a bullpen spot in the spring.
- Rinku Singh, LHP, Pirates (Adelaide-ABL): 3 IP, 0 R, H, BB, 3 K. Winner of "The Million Dollar Arm" reality series back in 2008, Singh and runner-up Dinesh Patel became the first Indian born players to sign with a major league organization when the Pirates inked the pair later in the year. While Patel was released two years later, the 24 year-old Singh is still going strong and appears to have a major league future ahead of him. After posting a 3.00 ERA with 18 walks and 65 strikeouts in 72 innings with Lo-A West Virginia, Singh continues to gain experience by pitching in the Australian Baseball League, where he has four shutout innings to start the season.
- Alexander Torres, LHP, Rays (Zulia-VWL): 5 IP, ER, 4 H, BB, 6 K. Could this be the offseason where the Rays finally trade away one of their big league starters in order to land a much-needed bat in the middle of their order? If they do, they'll have plenty of good candidates to fill the hole and Torres would be among them. The 24 year-old has fallen behind Chris Archer and Alex Cobb in the pecking order, mostly due to his extreme wildness (63 walks in 69 innings), but he has great stuff and more outings like he had on Friday could put him back on track to a big league rotation gig. The inconsistency, however, is still troubling as he followed up a five inning, two walk and 14 strikeout performance on October 27th with 13 walks over his next 15 innings.
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