DOMINICAN LEAGUE 2007: First-month Report
The first month of 2007 winter league play in the Dominican Republic wrapped up with the Tigres del Licey -celebrating their 100th anniversary- alone in first place. Here is a team-by-team look at this year’s Dominican league clubs.
Tigres del Licey (12-9) – Their .301 team on-base percentage is worst in the league.
HOT HITTER: Elijah Dukes – Despite 19 strikeouts in 48 at bats, Dukes managed to put up a .271/.426/.500 batting line in the 16 games he’s appeared in.
TOP PITCHER: Oneli Perez – A 24-year-old reliever in the White Sox chain, Perez has a league-leading 8 saves, with 8 2/3 scoreless innings in which he’s allowed only 2 hits.
COLDEST HITTER: Mets infielder Anderson Hernandez is batting a mere .118 (6-51) so far.
STRUGGLING PITCHER: Carlos Perez, ex-big leaguer & brother of Pascual & Melido, lives on as a 36-year-old LOOGY, but the league is hitting .357 off him.
TOP PROSPECT: Cubs outfielder Felix Pie is off to a slow start, batting .212 in fifteen games with 4 doubles and 4 stolen bases.
HE’S STILL AROUND?: Pitcher Jose Mercedes, 36, who’s been out of the big leagues since 2003, is 2-1 with a 2.38 through four starts.
Gigantes del Cibao (11-10) – 16 home runs are easily the most in the circuit
HOT HITTER: Cuban catcher Brayan Pena, of the Atlanta Braves, leads the league with a .342 batting average. He’s recorded an .896 OPS while striking out only 4 times in 19 games.
TOP PITCHER: Ex-big leaguer Francisco Cruceta, who spent 2007 in Triple-A for the Rangers, has appeared in ten games with an 18:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 13 innings.
COLDEST HITTER: Former Yankees shortstop Erick Almonte has somehow managed 10 RBI in 16 games, but his .172 batting average and 22 strikeouts in 58 at bats won’t get him back to the show anytime soon.
STRUGGLING PITCHER: Aquilino Lopez, most recently of the Tigers, has decent peripherals, but his 1-2 record with a 5.94 ERA in 5 appearances stands out for the wrong reasons.
TOP PROSPECT: Twins infielder Alexi Casilla is tied for the league lead in steals with 5, with a .300 batting average and .372 OBP.
HE’S STILL AROUND?: Dario Veras, last seen in the majors in 1998, leads the club with 3 saves and has posted a 1.80 ERA in 10 appearances.
Aguilas Cibaenas (11-10) – Leading league in ERA, OBP & stolen bases
HOT HITTER: Hector Luna, an infielder who spent time with the Blue Jays in 2007, has a .328/.394/.453 line so far.
TOP PITCHER: Though Australian lefty Craig Anderson is listed as the league ERA leader, veteran Jose Lima has pitched many more innings (29 to 18) while compiling a 1.55 mark in five starts to go with his 2-1 record.
COLDEST HITTER: Rangers outfielder Victor Diaz has 3 home runs in 41 at bats, but only one other hit for an .098 batting average.
STRUGGLING PITCHER: Ex-minor leaguer Matt Hammons, 30, has been pounded at a .372 clip in 10 appearances en route to a 5.58 ERA.
TOP PROSPECT: Johnny Cueto, a 21-year-old Reds pitcher, has lived up to the hype with a 3-0 record & 2.86 ERA in 4 starts. He’s tied for second in the league in strikeouts.
HE’S STILL AROUND?: Luis Polonia, at 44, still plays every day and is hitting .276 with 11 runs scored and 11 RBI. Last week, he broke the league’s record for career triples.
Azucareros del Este (11-11) – Angel Berroa has the club’s only home run in 22 games!
HOT HITTER: Brewers catcher Vinny Rottino is batting only .268 with one extra-base hit, but a league-leading 19 walks give him a .429 OBP.
TOP PITCHER: Joselo Diaz, 27, got signed by the Mets in part due to his league best 26 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings. He’s 1-0 with a 1.85 ERA.
COLDEST HITTER: Marlins outfielder Alejandro D’Aza is off to a miserable .075 (3-40) start at the plate.
STRUGGLING PITCHER: Felix Heredia has been out of the majors since 2005, and allowing 27 hits in his first 22 innings isn’t going to help him get back.
TOP PROSPECT: Royals 2003 number one pick Billy Butler hit .292 as a major league rookie this year, but his .234/.308/.299 line in 13 games is unimpressive.
HE’S STILL AROUND?: Actually, 38-year-old Hector Carrasco was a big leaguer as recently as June, but he’s busy trying to earn his way back with a 2.70 ERA in his first 13 1/3 innings.
Estrellas Orientales (10-11) – They’ve already used a league high 53 players – including 30 pitchers
HOT HITTER: Switch-hitting shortstop Michael Martinez, from the Nationals chain, has recorded a .353/.389/.451 line.
TOP PITCHER: Shouji Nagmine, a 23-year-old from Japan, is 3-0 with a 2.19 ERA in 5 starts. The league is batting .221 against him.
COLDEST HITTER: Veteran Cuban catcher Michel Hernandez has just 5 hits in his first 32 trips for a .156 average.
STRUGGLING PITCHER: Six-foot-six southpaw Luis Martinez has been hammered for 10 earned runs and two losses in 9 innings.
TOP PROSPECT: Another six-foot-six Dominican, Joel Guzman, has lost some of his luster as a future superstar, but he’s hit a homer and two doubles in 21 at bats trying to win a job next year with the Rays. He’ll turn 23 a week from today.
HE’S STILL AROUND?: Mr. two grand slams in a single inning, Fernando Tatis, is still playing everyday in the DR, hitting .247 with a homer and 6 RBI so far.
Leones del Escogido (9-13) – highest scoring team (4.5 rpg), but tied with Estrellas for worst ERA (3.65)
HOTTEST HITTER: Padres outfielder Vince Sinisi‘s 5 home runs and 19 RBI lead the league, highlighting his impressive .333/.369/.564 performance so far.
TOP PITCHER: Tiny (5’8″, 158 lbs) Japanese lefty Susumu Kawai, 27, is 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in 5 starts. He’s walked only 3 in 23 1/3 innings, with just 9 strikeouts as well.
COLDEST HITTER: Rangers outfielder Freddy Guzman is tied for league lead in steals with 5, but he’s only batting .177 (14-79).
STRUGGLING PITCHER: Ex-Yankee Jorge DePaula is 0-4 with a 6.87 ERA.
TOP PROSPECT: Young Mets outfielder Carlos Gomez started slowly, but five hits in his last two games have his average up to .289. He’s also tied for the league lead in steals.
HE’S STILL AROUND?: Jose Paniagua, 34, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2003, but he’s recorded a 2.87 ERA in 10 appearances despite allowing opponents to bat .328.
Compiled by MALCOLM ALLEN