Monday, December 26, 2011

Liga Paralela Wrap Up

The Liga Paralela winter league in Venezuela ended a few days ago. Unlike the Venezuelan Winter league which features many major leaguers, the Liga Paralela has young players from the lower levels of the minors. The Tampa Bay team finished at 9-31, 25 games out of first and dead last among the 15 teams. There were a few highlights:

Alejandro Segovia - The 21 year-old catcher only played in 18 games for Hudson Valley last season (plus five in the GCL), hitting a respectable .276/.364/.414 in 58 at-bats. This winter he led the entire Liga Paralela in home runs with 11 while batting .358/.500/.852 in in 81 at-bats. He added seven doubles for a total of 18 extra-base hits and walked (19) more than he struck out (13). He did struggle defensively, committing five errors and allowing 18 stolen bases in 24 attempts over 28 games. I'd expect to see him in some role with the Bowling Green Hot Rods in 2012, probably as a part-time catcher and DH.

Cesar Perez - In his second go around with the GCL Rays the 18 year-old third baseman only hit .147/.207/.147 in 150 at-bats while committing 15 errors in 42 games. His 2011 numbers regressed across the board from 2010, dropping him from every Rays prospect list I've seen. Last fall we ranked him at #35, but after going 150 at-bats without an extra-base hit in his second time through the GCL it's understandable he didn't warrant a mention this year. He may be out to prove us wrong after finishing second in the Liga Paralela in home runs with nine (behind Segovia) and seventh in league in slugging at .594 (Segovia didn't bat enough to qualify). Overall he was .292/.333/.594 in 106 at-bats. His defense remains a questions after committing 13 errors in 30 games, a .919 fielding percentage. If he's moved up to Princeton next year I doubt he'll be the primary 3B. I'd expect Brandon Martin as the primary SS with Johnny Eierman splitting time between short and third, leaving Perez some 3B and DH.

Leonardo Reginatto - As Hudson Valley's primary third baseman in 2011 he hit only .198/.254/.251 in 207 at-bats. He improved in the Liga Paralela to .242/.288/.355 in 62 at-bats. Heading into his fourth year in the organization, and despite the improvement this winter, I'm not sure the 21 year-old will have a roster spot after spring training.

Julio Cedeno - In his fifth season in the Rays organization Cedeno split time at third base with Robby Price and DH'd for Bowling Green in 2011. Over 264 at-bats he hit .246/.278/.394 with eight home runs in his second season with the Hot Rods. This winter he led the Liga Paralela in total bases and doubles, was second in hits, and finshed fourth in RBI. His overall line was .333/.358/.520 in 150 at-bats. (Note: not sure why, but he played for the Magallanes team instead of Tampa Bay.) Despite the nice numbers he was old for the league at 22 and and more experienced than the other players, having played in two years of full-season ball. He missed half the year in Bowling Green with injury, so it was nice to see him playing often and well in winter ball. Despite the success this winter it would be a surprise if he is the starting 3B for Charlotte next season. His bat hasn't developed, he rarely walks and strikes out way too often, and his defense has been passable at best. His best hope is if Hector Guevara repeats at Bowling Green, giving Robby Price the majority of time at 2B for the Stone Crabs. Otherwise, Price and Robi Estrada and possibly Taylor Motter will by vying for time at third with Cedeno. Another thing to think about is if/when the Rays move Derek Dietrich off shortstop, he will probably take over at 3B. I wouldn't expect it in 2012 for Charlotte, but it wouldn't be a shock either.

Felix Gonzalez - The switch hitting 21 year-old played 5 positions (3B, SS, 2B, LF, RF) for Princeton in 2011, hitting .289/.319/.344 in 90 at-bats. In limited action in the Liga Paralela he hit .267/.267/.400 in 15 at-bats. Expect him in a utility role for Bowling Green or Hudson Valley in 2012.

Ismel Antunez - The 20 year-old outfielder split time between the VSL and GCL Rays in 2011, batting .241/.346/.319 in 257 at-bats with 29 stolen bases overall. Like Gonzalez he barely played in the Liga Paralela, hitting .200/.368/.267 in 15 at-bats. Listed at 5'7", 166 pounds, he really only projects as a CF. Expect him to compete for time with James Harris in Princeton.

Turning now to the pitchers, let's begin with Albert Suarez - Another player who has seen his prospect status drop in the past year, he remains the second youngest member of the Rays 40-man roster at age 22 (Wilking Rodriguez is still 21). Injuries limited him to eight games for the GCL Rays and Charlotte Stone Crabs in 2011. Overall he posted a 2.15 ERA with 18 strikeouts and eight walks in 29.1 innings. In the Liga Paralela he started six games and had a 2.05 ERA with a 15-4 SO-BB ratio in 22.0 innings. He also pitched in the Venezuelan Winter League against older, more experienced players. In the VWL he's 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in two starts. After pretty much a lost season in 2011 I would expect him to begin 2012 in the Charlotte rotation.

Eli Echarry - The 19 year-old righthander was 0-5 with a 7.05 ERA in 12 games (six starts) for the GCL Rays in 2011. He struck out 38 and walked 19 in 44.2 innings. In the Liga Paralela he had a 4.22 ERA in 10.2 innings over four games (two starts). I'm guessing we'll see him in the Princeton bullpen in 2012.

Hugo Duarte - After four seasons in the VSL Duarte made his stateside debut for the GCL Rays in 2011. In 12 games (six starts) the 21 year-old righty posted a 3.33 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 17 walks in 54.0 innings. In the Liga Paralela he had a 5.14 ERA in 7.0 innings. He should join Echarry in the mix at Princeton next year.

Reinaldo Lopez - A 20 year-old righthander, Lopez completed his fourth year in the organization with Princeton in 2011. He appeared in 14 games (6 starts) and posted a 3.66 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 15 walks in 51.2 innings. In the Liga Paralela he had a 1.00 ERA over 9.0 innings with seven strikeouts and two walks. He's a solidly built guy at 6'2", 221 pounds. He's been used quite a bit as a starter so far in his career, 26 starts in 46 appearances, but I expect him to be in the Hudson Valley bullpen next year due to competition with draftees for starting roles and his low strikeout rates throughout his career.

Most of the rest of the Tampa Bay team was made up of VSL players, including one of note, Oscar Hernandez - After posting the greatest offensive season in the history of the Rays organization for the VSL Rays in 2011, he pretended to be a mere mortal in the Liga Paralela this winter. In order not to destroy the confidence of his young opponents he limited himself to a .185/.267/.333 line with only one home run in 27 at-bats. Behind the plate he threw out three of five basestealers. He doesn't turn 19 until July 9th, so I would expect him to make his American debut catching for the GCL Rays this June.

One last note on a personal favorite, Omar Bencomo - Omar was released this fall after posting a 3.97 ERA in 38 games for the Bowling Green Hot Rods in 2011. Over his five years in the Rays organization he struck out 208 batters and walked only 34 in 270.0 innings. This winter, pitching for the Magallanes team, he led the Liga Paralela in walks (three in 38.0 innings) and was ninth in ERA at 2.13. Here's wishing Omar all the best in his future baseball career.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent Wrap-Up Doug. Can't wait to see Segovia, Perez, Suarez, Echarry and Hernandez in '12. Especially Segovia's stats in the Liga Paralela look exceptionally well. Also seeing Perez' power coming through is promising.