Winter Ball Notebook: Ramirez's winter season looks to be over
I’m filling in today with the Winter Ball Notebook as regular contributor Steve Orbanek is temporarily away. This gives me an opportunity to post several news nuggets on a few of the Indians players participating in winter ball that have not been reported elsewhere.
Thanks to a site follower who wishes to not be named for some help in providing some of this information.
News and Notes
- Infielder Jose Ramirez looks like he is probably done playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic this offseason. He last appeared in a game on November 22nd because of a finger injury and he has since left the Dominican Republic and returned to the states to have it further evaluated. It remains to be seen how serious it is, but I would think at least as a precaution that he will be shut down for the remainder of the winter ball season. The injury is unfortunate as he was just starting to turn things around offensively after a very slow start. In 25 games he is hitting .287 with 0 HR, 7 RBI and .707 OPS, although one concern is his plate discipline which has cratered as he has 3 walks and 17 strikeouts. He is in the mix for a utility role with the Indians in 2014, so let’s hope that this injury is not serious and he is 100% by the start of spring training.
- First baseman Jesus Aguilar continues to perform very well in the Venezuela Winter League. Given an opportunity to play every day he is hitting .312 with 12 HR, 35 RBI and .937 OPS in 39 games and will probably end up playing a little over 50 games this winter. This is a very good opportunity for him to gain additional experience considering last year he only played in 22 games for his Caracas team in Venezuela hitting .267 with 3 HR, 9 RBI and .862 OPS. Comparing his two winter ball campaigns he had 4 walks and 26 strikeouts in 60 at bats last winter, and this winter he has 15 walks and 29 strikeouts in 157 at bats this winter, so there is no doubt that his plate discipline has improved. He got off to a hot start and has slowed down of late, though had a hamstring injury that resulted in him missing a week of action and may have contributed to his recent slump.
- Shortstop Erik Gonzalez continues to surprise in the Dominican Winter League as he has now played in 34 games and is hitting .336 with 1 HR, 12 RBI and .803 OPS. To the surprise of many, the Indians rostered him this offseason, but considering the large jump in value he had this season proving he can play shortstop and with the ability to produce at the plate, he is an asset to the Indians they did not want to risk losing. His athleticism and versatility are very intriguing as a potential utility option down the road, though he will need to make some strides with his approach at the plate. Even still, his winter ball campaign is great to see and a perfect capper to a breakout season for him.
- Outfielder Carlos Moncrief has had a tough go of things in Puerto Rico hitting just .263 with 1 HR, 9 RBI and .620 OPS in 19 games. The sample size is small as it is just 76 at bats, but there are some concerns with the sudden dive in his plate discipline as he has 3 walks and 24 strikeouts after he made such a big stride in this area over the course of the season at Double-A Akron. In addition to the step back with his plate discipline, he is not showing much power as just 3 of his 20 hits have gone for extra bases. That said, this is a good experience for him as it will give him something from which to work from as he prepares to take another step forward in his development next year at Triple-A Columbus and potentially in Cleveland at some point.
- Left-handed pitcher Elvis Araujo has been inserted into the starting rotation for his Venezuela Winter League team. His manager for Zulia has liked what he has seen of him so far and put him in the rotation to see what he can do. In nine total appearances (two starts) he is 0-1 with a 1.62 ERA, and in 16.2 innings has allowed 13 hits, 1 home run, 3 walks and has 6 strikeouts. He needs a lengthy, strong showing to not only make up for lost innings this year, but give him a foundation with which to reestablish himself on so that he can come back in 2014 and have a much needed big year.
- Right-hander Bryan Price has had a nice 2013. First, he had a big year between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus where in 47 combined appearances he went 2-3 with a 2.04 ERA, and in 75.0 innings he allowed 57 hits, 5 home runs, 16 walks and had 92 strikeouts. He has since gone to the Venezuela Winter League and impressed racking up a 1.89 ERA and 6 saves in 15 appearances (19.0 IP, 8 H, 0 HR, 6 BB, 19 K). He was rewarded for his strong showing this year with a placement on the 40-man roster two weeks ago, and coincidentally he has not appeared in a game since. His last appearance was on November 16th and like many American players it looks like he just had a one month contract to pitch there. What a big year for him, and great to see as the Indians need bullpen options to potentially fill four losses to the 2013 major league pen.
Here are the stats through December 2nd:
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