As the winter leagues kicked into high gear this week, a pair of players with aspirations for the big league club in Luis Valbuena and Dave Sappelt had huge showings in Venezuela.
Starting pitching had some encouraging signs with fine efforts by Michael Bowden, Eduardo Figueroa, Jay Jackson and Yoanner Negrin.
It was the final week for the Arizona Fall League, as the Mesa Solar Sox ended things up dismally despite the efforts of Logan Watkins and Rubi Silva.
For more, take a look inside this week’s report. Note: Coverage of the winter leagues will be by calendar week, Sunday through Saturday
Arizona Fall League
Mesa Solar Sox
The final week of the AFL kicked off last Monday with Mesa dropping an 8-4 contest to Salt River. Logan Watkins went 0-for-2 but continued working the count. Watkins walked three times and scored a run. Nick Struck allowed two runs, one earned, walked a batter, hit a batter and struck out one in an inning of work. Struck was ejected in the sixth inning. Tony Zych also tossed an inning and surrendered a run.
Despite the efforts of many of the Cubs’ prospects, the Solar Sox lost again on Tuesday, 10-4 to Surprise. Rubi Silva had one of his best games of the fall as he went 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI. Matt Szczur stole his ninth base and scored two runs while driving in another. Szczur went 1-for-4 with a walk and Logan Watkins (0-for-4) also walked and scored a run.
The losses continued to mount on Wednesday as Mesa lost 8-2 to Scottsdale. Tony Zych had his second straight poor showing. Zych allowed two earned runs and walked a batter in his inning of work. Both Rubi Silva and Logan Watkins flashed their defensive prowess as Silva gunned down a runner at home from right field. At the plate, Silva went 1-for-3 with a run scored. Watkins shifted over to shortstop and was flawless defensively as he went 1-for-4 with and RBI.
In the final game of the fall, Nick Struck notched a strikeout while giving up an earned run in two innings as the Solar Sox lost 8-3 to Phoenix. Matt Szczur was 0-for- 4 with an RBI, while Logan Watkins (0-for-3) worked a walk and scored a run.
Dominican Winter League
The Eagles received a fine effort form starter Michael Bowden on Tuesday. Bowden tossed five scoreless innings, walked two and struck out two in route to his first victory as Cibaenas shut out Este 9-0.
Leones de Escogido
Reliever Lendy Castillo was touched up for two earned runs in an inning of work. Castillo walked two and struck out two in the Lions 9-2 loss to Cibaenas on Friday.
Toros del Este
A long week for the Bulls started on positive note Sunday. The Bulls did not receive a day off this past week but was able to begin the stretch with a 10-4 victory over Oriente. Diory Hernandez went 0-for-3, but walked twice and drove in a run.
Este finished their weekend series with Estrellas on Monday and lost 15-6. Diory Hernandez went 0-for-1 with a walk. The Toros were shut out on Tuesday as they lost 6-0 to Cibaenas. Horacio Ramirez started and went 4.1 innings. Ramirez gave up five runs, one earned, walked four and struck out two batters. Coming on in relief, Alberto Cabrera made a relief appearance and issued three walks while notching two strikeouts and allowing an earned run in 1.2 innings.
The Herd returned to their winning ways on Wednesday by defeating Cibao 10-4. Jeffry Antigua notched his third win despite allowing an earned run in an inning of work. Diory Hernandez was 0-for-2 with a walk and an RBI.
Diory Hernandez continued his slump on Thursday. Hernandez (0-for-3) went hitless again in an 8-2 loss to Escogido. Jeffry Antigua struck out the only batter he faced in the game.
Diory Hernandez was able to knuckle down on Friday and went 2-for-4 with a run scored as the Bulls edged Cibao 7-6.
Despite pitching only 0.2 of an inning, Jeffry Antigua picked up his fourth win of the season as Este closed things out with a 6-4 victory over Licey on Saturday.
Tigres del Licey
It was a quiet week for Arismendy Alcantara as he made only one appearance. Alcantara did not have an official at bat in a 2-1 loss to Cibao on Tuesday.
Estrellas de Oriente
Oriente was on a roll this past week as they posted a 5-1 record. The only loss came last Sunday, a 10-4 defeat at the hands of Este. Nelson Perez (2-for-3) drove in two runs, while Junior Lake went 0-for-4.
It was Junior Lake’s turn to provide the fireworks for the Stars on Monday. Junior Lake went 2-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored as Estrellas jumped all over Este 15-6.
Nelson Perez went deep with his third home run on Tuesday. Perez finished the night 1-for-2 in a 3-1 win over Escogido. Junior Lake was 1-for-4 in the game.
Junior Lake went 2-for-5 with an RBI and his fourth stolen base as Oriente beat Licey 7-5 on Wednesday.
Junior Lake (0-for-4) and Nelson Perez (0-for-1) went hitless in Estrellas’ 3-2 victory over Licey on Friday.
Mexican Pacific League
Venados de Mazatlan
Iowa pitcher Jay Jackson earned his first victory of the winter by allowing two earned runs in five innings on Thursday as the Stags beat Guasava 4-2. Jackson walked two and struck out six and evened his record at 1-1.
Yaquis de Obregon
A long week for Obregon started off well on Sunday as the Yaquis took 13 innings to defeat Novajoa 3-2. Esmailin Caridad tossed a scoreless inning, while Alfredo Amezaga went 3-for-6 with his fourth stolen base.
The Tribe then started a tough series with Mexicali on Tuesday and dropped the opener 10-1. Christian Villanueva (2-for-3 with a RBI) had a good game. Villanueva belted his second home run of the season and doubled. Alfredo Amezaga was 0-for-3.
The results were the same on Wednesday, but the 3-1 final score was a little easier to swallow. Esmailin Caridad struck out two in a scoreless inning, while Alfredo Amezaga went 1-for-4.
Obregon took the series finale on Thursday as Alfredo Amezaga led the way in an 11-5 drubbing of the Eagles. Amezaga went 3-for-4 with a double, a triple, a walk and two RBI. Christian Villanueva went 0-for-1 while seeing a little action at shortstop.
The Yaquis opened their weekend series with Hermosillo on Friday … and started the weekend with an embarrassing 9-2 loss to the Orangemen. Alfredo Amezaga was 0-for-4, but Christian Villanueva (1-for-3) walked and scored a run.
Obregon bounced back on Saturday and defeated Hermosillo 8-3. Christian Villanueva came in as a pinch-hitter and stayed on as DH. Villanueva went 0-for-1 but walked and scored a run. The streaky Alfredo Amezaga ended up 0-for-5 in the victory.
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League
Atenienses de Manati
Inclement weather played havoc with the schedule in Puerto Rico this week. The Athenians started things out with a 7-3 loss to Ponce on Sunday. Shortstop Edwin Maysonet went 0-for-4 in the game.
Edwin Maysonet went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, a run scored and two RBI in the Warriors 9-4 victory over Ponce on Friday.
Edwin Maysonet ended the week by going 0-for-2 and committing an error at shortstop as Manati lost 7-3 to Mayaguez on Saturday.
Venezuelan Winter League
Bravos de Margarita
Outfielder Dave Sappelt made his contributions felt this week for the Braves. Sappelt started off the week by going 2-for-5 and scoring a run as Margarita lost 10-3 to Zulia on Sunday. Sapplet went 1-for-5 on Tuesday as the Braves dropped their second straight game, 9-1 to Lara.
Dave Sappelt (2-for-5) led the way for Margarita on Wednesday. Sappelt tripled, drove in a run and scored a run as the Bravos edged Lara 9-8.
Dave Sappelt recorded another extra base hit on Friday. Sappelt went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in a 1-0 loss to Magallanes.
Dave Sappelt displayed some of his other skills in a 3-1 loss to Magallanes on Saturday. Sappelt was 0-for-2 but walked, stole a base and plated a run with a sacrifice fly. Sappelt also gunned down a runner trying to stretch a single into a double.
Cardenales de Lara
Infielder Luis Valbuena stayed hot last week despite a rough start. Valbuena went 0-for-4 in a 3-2 loss to La Guaira on Sunday.
With the Cardinals back in action on Tuesday, Luis Valbuena went 2-for-4 with a walk, two doubles and a run scored in a 9-1 victory over Margarita.
The Braves returned the favor to Lara on Wednesday as Margarita edged the Redbirds 9-8. Luis Valbuena went 2-for-5 with a RBI and two runs scored. Valbuena recorded another RBI on Thursday as he walked and went 1-for-4 in the Cardinals’ 11-3 win over La Guaira.
Luis Valbuena continued being an RBI machine for Lara on Friday. Valbuena (2-for-4 with a triple) plated two runs and scored another in a 12-inning, 7-5 loss to La Guaira.
Luis Valbuena (2-for-4) concluded his monster week on Saturday. Valbuena launched a two-run homer and doubled. Valbuena recorded his 13th RBI of the winter as the Cards beat Aragua 9-5.
Tigres de Aragua
Outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha picked up the pace a little this week. Ha started the week with a 1-for-3 performance that included a RBI in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Magallanes in 14 innings.
Jae-Hoon Ha was 1-for-4 on Wednesday as the Tigers outslugged La Guaira 15-11.
Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-4) swiped his fifth base of the winter and drove in a run as the Cats shut out Caracas 8-0 on Friday.
However, the week ended on a down note for Jae-Hoon Ha as he went 0-for-2 with an error in Saturday’s 9-5 loss to Lara.
Leones de Caracas
It was an interesting week in Caracas as the Lions added a few new players from the Cubs’ organization.
Already a member of the team, catcher JC Boscan signed with the club later in the week. Boscan went 1-for-3 with a double in the Pride’s 5-4 victory over Magallanes on Sunday.
The Lions followed up Sunday’s victory with a 7-3 win over Zulia as starter Yoanner Negrin allowed an earned run while walking three and striking out three in five innings of work.
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Tony Campana and Josh Vitters joined the club at mid-week. Vitters started on Friday and went 0-for-3 as Caracas was shut out by Aragua 6-0.
JC Boscan made another start on Saturday and went 2-for-4 as the Lions ended up losing 3-1 to Anzoategui.
Caribes de Anzoategui
Nineteen-year old catcher Erick Castillo, who was part of the Dominican Summer League last season, made his first start for the Indians on Friday. Castillo went 1-for-4 while playing left field in a 3-1 loss to Zulia.
Tiburones de La Guaira
In an intense match-up on Tuesday starter Eduardo Figueroa helped the Sharks stay in the game against Anzoategui but the Sharks eventually lost 2-1. Figueroa threw five scoreless innings with a walk and two strikeouts.
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