“Vamos al grano” or like you’d rather say: let’s go straight to the point. This article is, just like last year, the follow-up article on our visit to the D-Backs that play in the Winter Leagues. This year there is no baseball season in the Australian ABL (but the D-Backs don’t send players there anyhow), so we only have to take a look at Venezuela, México, etc.
Let’s see who we have around here. And, yes, AzCutter: I am combing Latin-America here and see if I get “something”. (´∀｀)
Jose Herrera, C/1B, Águilas de Zulia (LVBP, Venezuela)
- DOB: 02/24/1997
- In the organization since: 07/08/2013
- Status: on 40-man roster
- Winter League Stats: 24G, .356/.500/.438 (platoon catcher, back-up at 1B)
Jose Herrera is already 8 years with the Diamondbacks and he will be 25 years old next year. That is 1⁄3 of his lifetime as a D-Back. I don’t think many of us are able to say that. Being that long with the Diamondbacks says something about both the faith the team has had in him as well as how slowly he has progressed. He spent 3-4 years in Rookie leagues and another 3-4 years at several Class A teams and didn’t reach AA until this season. The bat showed sufficient power to get a call-up to Reno this season and he was covered in our Rule 5 article. As expected he was added to the 40-man roster this off-season.
His team Zulia is league fodder for the Venezuelan baseball teams and currently ranks last. But Herrera is the team’s star if we look at his offensive stats. The walk rate looks unreal with 21 walks in 73 at bats and we shouldn’t add too much value to that in the LVBP, but this year in the minor leagues he showed a good eye as well. Defensively he is behind José Briceño, a Rockies minor league depth piece, so Herrera doesn’t look much more than a back-up catcher for the D-Backs, but because of the successful bat he has been logging a third of his playing time at 1B as well and I am sure the Diamondbacks have followed that experiment with some interest. Add to that the switch-hitting capabilities and the probabilities of an MLB debut for the 2022 Diamondbacks only increase. In Venezuela, by the way, he is team mate of former D-Back Silvino Bracho who is on his way to get forgotten in Triple A.
Miguel Aguilar, LHP, Yaquis de Obregón (LMP, Mexico)
- DOB: 09/26/1991
- In the organization since: 09/19/2016
- Status: Outrighted to AAA (Reno Aces)
- Winter League stats: 5.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.706 WHIP
Just like last year I have a feeling Miguel Aguilar is on a pitching limit. He has seen very limited use and did not report to his LMP team until being outrighted off the 40-man roster. Were he to be used more, than without a doubt he is one of the better pitchers in the Mexican baseball league. If he finds success again at MLB level is a bigger question, but I think he could be of value.
Juniel Querecuto, SS, Cardenales de Lara (LVBP, Venezuela)
- DOB: 09/19/1992
- In the organization since: 03/23/2018
- Status: Assigned to AAA (Reno Aces)
- Winter League stats: 37G, .241/.322/.316 (regular at SS)
I thought Querecuto was no longer with the Diamondbacks, but I also thought that Querecuto could have gotten a call-up to the MLB this season, so what does that make of me? Querecuto had groin hernia surgery in 2020 and that sounds as awful as it probably was. I thought it could be an explanation for his disappointing defensive stats in 2021, both in Reno and the LVBP, but according to Wikipedia the only one who might have complaints related to his post-surgery performance is Mrs. Querecuto.
Querecuto is highly-valued in Venezuela, but not in Arizona. He is not much more than a depth piece at the minor league level but certainly has proven his value there logging innings all over the diamond in 2021.
Eduardo Díaz, LF/RF, Caribes de Anzoategui (LVBP, Venezuela)
Wow, that’s the third player in the Venezuelan winter league and this article is already becoming too long. Díaz really never appeared in any conversation until he hit pretty well in Amarillo. The Texas sun did him well after a very meagre batting line in Hillsboro. Díaz is Rule 5 eligible as well, but will stay in Amarillo in 2022. He is playing with 21 D-Back Asdrubal Cabrera and maybe that explains why his fielding is terrible for his team. It prevents him from being not more than a back-up for the Caribes although he isn’t batting that bad for them with a .286/.342/.457 batting line in 12 games.
Jancarlos Cintrón, 2B/3B, Criollos de Caguas (LBPRC, Puerto Rico)
Cintrón was a 24th round pick in 2017 so his odds of making the big leagues aren’t great and after a poor showing in Reno his outlook isn’t much better at 27 years of age. He has always been older than his competition and therefore a lifetime .701 OPS in the minors isn’t promising. He is a regular for the Puertorrican champions at 2B and 3B and that might very well be his ceiling. But he has a great smile and you know that no matter what, you should always keep smiling.
Oscar Santos, C/DH, Gigantes de Carolina (LBPRC, Puerto Rico)
Santos is a 10th round pick of the 2019 draft and got a promotion to Visalia this season after slugging to a 1.075 OPS in the Rookie league. Both his team in Puerto Rico and the D-Backs used him as a DH whenever possible, so that probably says enough about his catching skills. He is a regular name for his team in Puerto Rico so that is a good thing and his .851 OPS might not seem much, but is still second on his team.
Leandro Cedeno, 1B, Leones de Caracas (LVBP, Venezuela)
22-year old Leandro Cedeno was signed by the Diamondbacks on November 22, 2021 after being released by the St. Louis Cardinals after a sub-par season at A+ and AA. He’ll join the Sod Poodles and we’ll see what he does there. Hopefully more than what he has shown in just 3 games so far in Venezuela (.167/.214/.250).
Ramses Malave, C, Leones de Caracas (LVBP, Venezuela)
2017 international signee Ramses Malave is the 4th catcher on his team’s roster and hasn’t logged not one at bat. That shouldn’t be too surprising after being crowned Miss Visalia with 103 strike outs in 219 at bats for the Rawhide.