Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rays in the Liga Paralela (Venezuela)

Tampa Bay RaysWe've talked quite a bit about the Venezuelan Winter League, which is made up of current and former major leaguers and upper-level minor league players. But there is another winter league in Venezuela for younger, lower-level players called the Liga Paralela. Tampa Bay has a team in the league made up of players from their Venezuelan Summer League team, the Princeton Rays, and recent international signings.

The league ended December 19th with the Tampa Bay team finishing 19-32, good for 12th out of 15 teams. Here is the Tampa Bay roster and final statistics. Some notable performances include Julio Cedeno (.300/.380/.550 in 140 AB), Omar Bencomo (2.25 ERA in 32.0 IP, 33/6 SO/BB), Wilking Rodriguez (0.66 ERA in 27.1 IP, 36/3 SO/BB), and Albert Suarez (1.15 ERA in 15.2 IP, 15/2 SO/BB).

Perhaps the most impressive performance was turned in by SS Hector Guevara, who the Rays signed last summer for $200,000. Despite just turning 17 on October 7th, he put up a line of .313/.376/.398 in 166 AB. Ben Badler had this to say about Guevara at Baseball America:

Guevara made a strong impression this winter by showing off what he does best: hit. Guevara should be a power hitter in the future, but he displayed excellent hands at the plate and contact-hitting skills in the Liga Paralela, giving him an intriguing package of a player who could hit for both batting average and power. Guevara signed as a shortstop and is a 55 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, but his defense is raw and he could end up sliding down the defensive spectrum. He gave a preview of his defense this winter by committing 17 errors in 47 games mixed between shortstop, third base and second base, but it’s his bat that the Rays are banking on carrying him to the big leagues.

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