The Winter League which starts earliest is the Venezuelan one, and two Diamondbacks prospects already have over 125 winter ball at-bats under their belt there. Both are 25 years old, and so far it’s outfielder Rudy Flores who has made the best showing. In 36 games for Bravos de Margarita, he has already hit five home-runs, and his overall line of .279/.363/.465, an OPS of .828 which ranks him third on the team. Second baseman Ildemaro Vargas is on the Cardenales de Lara. His batting average and on-base percentage have been respectable enough, at .261 and .320, his power has been dialed back, from even the relatively low level he showed in the minors (six HR in 525 at-bats). Vargas has one HR in 138 at-bats for the Cardenales, though is 5-0 in stolen-base attempts.
Also in Venezuela is catcher Oscar Hernandez, though he’s seeing less playing time: Oscar is hitting .224/.283/.408 in about fifty PAs. We see about the same amount of action for the other two significant players for Arizona, who are both in the Dominican Republic. The best numbers there belong to Gabriel Guerrero, although his status as a Diamondback is up in the air, since he was designated for assignment last week. He’s hitting .333 with a home-run and 11 RBI in 11 games with Estrellas Orientales, and an OPS of .851. Sergio Alcantara is giving the lie to the old saw that “You can’t walk off the island”. Batting .325, he also has a K:BB ratio of 4:9, for an on-base percentage of .449, although he has yet to notch his first extra-base hit, after 40 at-bats. This has kept his OPS down to .774.
Making the best impression is the man whose hair has been rated an 80 by talent evaluators, Matt Koch. After a scoreless inning in relief, Koch has started twice for Tigres del Licey, with remarkably similar lines each time: five innings, no runs allowed, on just one hit with no walks. The only difference, two and three strikeouts. After his 11 innings, he currently has a WHIP of 0.182 and a batting average against of .059. Small sample size, obviously, but it’s a reminder we shouldn’t forget about him being in the mix for a spot with the Diamondbacks next year. Arving Gonzalez of CDN Radio in Santo Domingo sent us this quick chat he had with Koch, about how things are going in the Dominican Republic. Thanks to Arving for sharing it.
The most active D-backs pitcher to date is Mexican Miguel Aguilar, who pitches for the Yucatan Lions. The left-handed reliever signed a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training from Arizona, in late September. This off-season, he has appeared in 19 games for the Yaquis de Obregon in the Mexican winter league, and has a 3.78 ERA over 16.2 innings. But he has been better of late, with just two hits and one run allowed in his last 7.1 frames, along with a 7:1 K:BB ratio. Another LOOGY, Gabriel Moya has played 15 times with Aguilas del Zulia in Venezuela, and has settled down after a rough start - he’s holding LHB to a .100 average. No-one else from the Arizona organization has yet pitched much, but Silvino Bracho, also with Zulia, is just beginning his off-season and has three scoreless innings under his belt.