Wednesday Winter Hot Stove – Edition 1
Every Wednesday here on “Quack of the Bat,” we will be providing an update on the former Ducks players that are currently spending their offseason playing winter league baseball. Most of the leagues are primarily focused in the Caribbean, with teams playing in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Each year, members of the Ducks and the other seven teams of the Atlantic League join players from affiliated organizations and other professional baseball leagues to play winter ball for a variety of reasons. Primarily, they are looking to showcase their skills for an opportunity at receiving an invite to Major League spring training or a contract with a Major League organization. Others are focused on staying in baseball shape and working on the ‘tools of the trade’ year-round to prepare for the 2014 season in the United States.
Here’s a look at some of the former Ducks playing winter ball this year:
The Puerto Rican Winter League, known as The Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente, features a plethora of former Ducks on the rosters of their five teams. Their season begins November 1. Here is a breakdown of the teams and players:
Criollos de Caguas
Ducks: John Brownell, Ramon Castro, Shaun Garceau, Eddy Ramos, Derek Blacksher, Nelson Figueroa
Also joining them are Atlantic Leaguers from this past season Aaron Bates (SugarLand), Andy Gonzalez (York) and Luis Montanez (Somerset)
Gigantes de Carolina
Ducks: Robinson Cancel
Cangrejeros de Santurce
Ducks: Eric Niesen, James Houser, Ivan Maldonado, Benny Cepeda
Other Atlantic Leaguers: David Harden (Somerset), Miguel Martinez (Bridgeport/Camden) and Jon Velasquez (Camden)
Leones del Ponce
Ducks: Ian Snell
Other Atlantic Leaguers: Jose Julio-Ruiz (Southern Maryland) and Logan Williamson (Southern Maryland)
Indios de Mayaguez
Ducks: Carlos Baerga (manager)
Other Atlantic Leaguers: Josh Walter (Camden) and Angel Sanchez (Somerset)
The Venezuelan Winter League got underway on October 10 and has already seen some former Ducks making an impact on the play and shooting their teams toward the top of the standings.
Lew Ford, a member of Navegantes de Magallanes, has picked up where he left off in the 2013 Atlantic League playoffs offensively. He’s batting .286 in 16 games so far this winter, compiling two doubles, two triples, two homers, nine RBI and 11 runs. He’s joined on the team by 2012 Ducks teammates Randy Keisler and Gustavo Chacin. Keisler, who pitched well in a pair of Game Ones during the 2012 championship run, has struggled so far, allowing four runs in one inning of work (two games, one start). Chacin, a former Major Leaguer, is 1-0 with a 4.70 ERA in four starts with Magallanes.
One of the 14 Ducks to have made it back to the Major Leagues after playing on Long Island, Justin Hampson, is currently pitching for Tigres de Aragua. The New York Mets farmhand has made six relief appearances so far, yielding just one run in four and one-third innings while striking out five. Hampson pitched for the Flock during the 2010 season, making four appearances.
A big reliever who went from being a favorite on Long Island to a foe with the Patriots this past year was closer Jon Hunton. While the Ducks had the last laugh in this year’s Championship Series, Hunton is currently playing for Caribes de Anzoategui. The righty is 1-0 with two saves in eight games but has given up six runs (five earned) in just five and one-third innings.
Aside from those four Ducks, there are several other former members of Atlantic League teams that are playing in Venezuela:
Aguilas de Zulia: Roy Merritt (Somerset), Dwayne Pollok (Lancaster), Cyle Hankerd (Southern Maryland), Virgil Vasquez (Southern Maryland)
Cardenales de Lara: Brodie Downs (Lancaster), Joe Thurston (York), Carlos Vasquez (Camden)
Caribes de Anzoategui: Jim Hoey (Somerset), Cory Aldridge (Somerset), Gustavo Molina (Lancaster)
Leones del Caracas: Aharon Eggleston (Somerset), Raul Padron (Camden), Daniel Mayora (Bridgeport), Wladimir Sutil (Southern Maryland)
Navegantes del Magallanes: Juan Rincon (York/Bridgeport), Jesus Merchan (Lancaster)
Tiburones de La Guaira: Renny Osuna (Southern Maryland)
Tigres de Aragua: Erik Arnesen (Somerset), Ramon Castro (York), Jonel Pacheco (Road Warriors)
The Mexican Winter League is underway as well, but surprisingly, it features just one former Duck. Hicksville native and two-time Atlantic League champion Kraig Binick is once again playing for Mayos de Navojoa, the same team he played for last offseason. The outfielder, who joined the Ducks midseason in 2013 and once again had key at-bats during the playoff run, has gotten off to a slow start in Mexico. Through 14 games, Binick is batting .172 with one double, six runs and two stolen bases. The speedster hit .259 in 64 games at the beginning of the Mexican League season last spring before returning to the Ducks in July.
Aside from Binick, there are several other former members of Atlantic League teams that are playing in Mexico:
Aguilas de Mexicali: Jason Lowey (Somerset)
Algodoneros de Guasave: Yoslan Herrera (Lancaster)
Caneros de los Mochis: Jake Fox (Somerset), Brian Burgamy (York/Camden), Ben Kozlowski (Sugar Land/Somerset)
Mayos de Navajoa: Wes Bankston (Bridgeport)
Naranjeros de Hermosillo: Yunesky Sanchez (Somerset), Jason Urquidez (Lancaster), Jerry Owens (Lancaster)
Venados de Mazatlan: Michael Wuertz (York), Ryan Mulhern (Southern Maryland/Lancaster)
Yaquis de Obregon: Cesar Carrillo (Sugar Land/Lancaster)
Finally, we head to the Dominican Republic where four former Ducks are currently playing winter ball. The most recent of which is a member of Toros del Este where Willis Otanez is currently on the roster. Otanez is a prominent figure in the Mexican League during the spring but has decided to spend the winter in the Dominican. The slugger struggled after coming to Long Island this past season and has played just four games so far with Toros, going 2-for-9 with a run batted in.
Next up is a member of the 2012 Ducks championship team and that is former Major Leaguer Timo Perez. He is playing with Tigres del Licey and is 1-for-1 thus far with a run batted in. As the season continues, he will likely continue to get more opportunities.
Finally, two former Ducks are playing with Aguilas Cibaenas. Ricardo Gomez, who pitched for the Flock in 2010 and has appeared with York and Lancaster as well, is continuing to throw the ball well. He is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in four games of relief. He has given up seven runs total, but just one of those has been earned. Erick Almonte, another one of the 14 Ducks to have made it back to the big leagues after playing on Long Island, is also with Aguilas Cibaenas. He has only appeared in two games though so far and is 0-for-2 at the plate.
Aside from those four, there are several other former members of Atlantic League teams that are playing in the Dominican Republic:
Aguilas Cibaenas: Chris Cody (York), Andy Marte (York), Alexis Gomez (Bridgeport), Gary Majewski (Sugar Land), Edward Paredes (York), Kelvin Villa (Bridgeport/Sugar Land/Road Warriors/Newark), Lorenzo Barcelo (York)
Estrellas de Oriente: Bobby Kielty (York), Felix Pie (Camden)
Tigres del Licey: Greg Aquino (SugarLand), Francisco Hernandez (Lancaster), Salvador Paniagua (York), D’Angelo Jimenez (Camden), Wilson Valdez (Camden)
Toros del Este: Winston Abreu (Bridgeport), Ruddy Yan (Camden/York)
Keep it here all offseason for our weekly Wednesday Winter Hot Stove to get you updated on all of the former Ducks/Atlantic Leaguers playing in Winter Leagues this offseason. You can also follow news and stats from the Caribbean Winter Leagues by CLICKING HERE. If you happen to know other former Ducks or Atlantic Leaguers that are playing winter ball but have been left off this list, please leave us a comment or send us a contact form and let us know who. Before you know it, we may see many of these names back at Atlantic League ballparks for the 2014 regular season.
Posted on October 30, 2013, in Winter Hot Stove and tagged Atlantic League, Caribbean Winter Leagues, Derek Blacksher, Dominican Republic, Eddy Ramos, Eric Niesen, Gustavo Chacin, Hot Stove, Ian Snell, James Houser, John Brownell, Kraig Binick, Lew Ford, Long Island Ducks, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Ramon Castro, Randy Keisler, Shaun Garceau, Venezuela, Willis Otanez, Winter. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.