Winter Hot Stove Report: Playing in Puerto Rico

Before we get started in this week’s edition of the Winter Hot Stove, all of us at “Quack of the Bat” and the Long Island Ducks would like to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving! We are very thankful and appreciative of everyone who has followed the blog over the past year, and we hope that you all have enjoyed our features and game posts. We are excited for what is to come in the future and are always looking for new ideas and stories to add to the blog. If you have any suggestions, please let us know!

So far, we have covered two of the four main countries down in the Caribbean that play host to premiere winter baseball leagues. Two weeks ago, we focused on Venezuela, and last week, we took a look at the baseball scene in Mexico. Today, we are checking in on some Ducks and Atlantic League alumni that are spending time this winter in Puerto Rico.

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The Puerto Rican Winter League, otherwise known as the Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente, is comprised of five different teams. Leading the pack right now is Indios de Mayaguez, who has jumped out to a 12-6 record. Currently, the roster features two members of the 2014 Long Island Ducks. Outfielder Fehlandt Lentini just recently joined the team in mid-November after putting together an outstanding season for the Ducks. He earned Second-Team All-Star honors, set an Atlantic League record with 593 at-bats and was a perfect 46-for-46 on the basepaths. In six games thus far with Mayaguez, he is 5-for-20 at the plate with two doubles, four RBI and three runs.

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Lentini is also teammates with infielder Randy Ruiz, who played in 45 games with the Ducks in 2014 before being signed by the Mexican League. While with the Flock, he batted .298 with nine home runs, 40 RBI and 11 doubles, providing a powerful bat in the middle of the lineup. The former big leaguer went on to hit .308 in 30 games with Veracruz and is now batting .326 through 13 games with Mayaguez. In that time, he has compiled, one homer, six RBI, nine runs and five doubles.

Lentini and Ruiz are also playing with a pair of Atlantic League alumni in Luis Montanez (Somerset) and Kanekoa Texeira (Bridgeport). In addition, Long Island native and Major Leaguer Marcus Stroman is a teammate of theirs. Another connection comes at the Manager position, which is manned by Carlos Baerga, a former big leaguer and former Duck (2001). Last year, Baerga led the team to a Puerto Rican Winter League championship and an appearance in the Caribbean Series final.

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Two games behind Mayaguez in the standings is Crillos de Caguas, who is 10-8 in the winter league season. This year, three members of the 2013 Atlantic League champion Ducks are playing with Caguas. Catcher Ramon Castro, a native of Puerto Rico, is batting a whopping .361 through 10 games with four RBI, five runs and five doubles. Castro also played with Caguas last year in the offseason and was named a Postseason All-Star.

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Joining Castro on the team this offseason are pitchers Derek Blacksher and Eddy Ramos. Both spent brief amounts of time with the Flock in their run to the 2013 title and have both been reunited in the Caribbean. Blacksher has pitched in nine games out of the bullpen and is 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA. He has struck out 15 batters and walked only three in 16 and one-third innings.  Ramos is 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA through three games, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk over three innings. Both pitchers are joined by a pair of 2014 Atlantic League pitchers Michael Nix (Sugar Land) and Logan Williamson (York).

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A third team in the league that features Atlantic League connections is Senadores de San Juan. The team has returned to the league after having folded following the 2010-11 offseason. So far though, they have struggled out of the gate, posting a 4-13 record which ranks last in the league. One of the pitchers on their squad is Nelson Figueroa, who suited up with the Flock in 2006. However, the former big leaguer has not yet appeared in a game and currently is on the team’s Reserve List. Another pitcher on the roster is Pete Parise, who pitched with both the Barnstormers and Blue Crabs this year. He too is on the team’s Reserve List.

That’ll wrap up our look at the winter league scene down in Puerto Rico for this week. Next week, we’ll explore what’s going on in the Dominican Republic and then head down to Australia before we reach the holiday break. Also, do not forget that the Waddle In Shop will be re-opening for the holiday shopping season beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 6. There will be a wide variety of merchandise to purchase, including new winter items for this year, as well as visits from QuackerJack, Santa Claus and Buddy Harrelson. In addition, the Ducks will be collecting donations of new, unwrapped toys as part of their annual toy drive. The team will then be giving the toys to children spending the holidays in local hospitals here on Long Island. We hope to see you on December 6 and encourage you to make a toy donation this year!

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Posted on November 26, 2014, in Winter Hot Stove and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. All of these posts have been very quality updates and would be hard to follow on our own.

    Great work, thanks.

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