Being fairly quiet in the minor league free agent market so far, the Cleveland Indians didn’t have a huge contingent of players playing in the Caribbean leagues this year. A few of their higher ranked prospects did get some playing time in this winter including a couple of players who ranked on our Top 15 list.
We start off with 23-year-old third baseman Jesus Aguilar who ranks at #13 in the Grading on the Curve Indians Top 15 prospects. The big Venezuelan had a great season in his home country playing for Caracas, hitting .317/.403/.597 with a monstrous 18 home runs in 226 at bats. This follows up a season in Double-A Akron in which he hit a very solid .275/.349/.427 with 28 doubles and 16 home runs. Aguilar takes a lot of walks and strikes out a lot but the power is clearly there.
Playing down under in Australia, catcher Ryan Battaglia, 21, is hitting .228/.384/.544 with seven doubles and six home runs in 79 at bats for the Brisbane Bandits. The Aussie native hasn’t really seen that power shine through in affiliated baseball, hitting only six career home runs in 255 plate appearances . He apent 2013 in Mahoning Valley (Short-Season A) and Carolina (High-A) and looks like a backup catcher at this point in time.
22-year-old A-ball shortstop Erik Gonzalez had a great season in his native Dominican Republic with a .325/.341/.454 line, hitting six doubles and six triples. There’s an old saying that “you don’t walk off the Island” and it is certainly true in Gonzalez’s case. He walked just three times and struck out 47 times in 163 at bats.
Carlos Moncrief, a 25-year-old outfielder, went down to Puerto Rico and hit .230/.274/.280 with two doubles and one home run in 100 at bats. After a very strong season in Double-A Akron in which he hit .284/.354/.470 with 17 home runs, Moncrief only walked five times and struck out 34 times in the winter league after a much more competitive 55 walks and 98 strikeouts in Double-A.
Jose Ramirez, our #6 prospect in the Indians organization, went back to his native Dominican Republic and followed up a solid season with some decent numbers on the island. He hit .287/.321/.386 but also showed much less plate discipline in the Caribbean than in Akron, taking just three walks to 17 strikeouts in 101 at bats.
Ronny Rodriguez, 21, only played a few games in the Dominican with only one hit in 21 at bats. He did take three walks with three strikeouts to show a big improvement on his numbers in Double-A Akron where he only walked 16 times to 76 strikeouts but beware of small sample sizes.
Major league catcher and first baseman Carlos Santana (who is listed, for some reason as a third baseman) had a smattering of at bats in his native Dominican, going 10 for 32 with a double and a home run. As a major league veteran should, he posed a much better walk to strikeout ratio than some others we’ve talked about with four walks and five strikeouts in 32 at bats.
22-year-old Venezuelan Elvis Araujo only had 9 2/3 innings of pitching in affiliated ball this year and got a further 22 2/3 innings in Venezuela. He ended up with a 2.78 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, eight walks and 14 strikeouts.
Left-handed reliever/swingman Eric Berger, 27, went to work in Venezuela this offseason, starting 11 games and throwing 56 1/3 innings. He put up a very respectable 3.04 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP while walking 27 and striking out 30. Berger spent most of the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City, pitching effectively with a 3.06 ERA in 70 2/3 innings.
25-year-old Brett Brach went down to Puerto Rico, pitching out of the bullpen with a 4.98 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, just three walks and eight strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. Brach spent most of 2013 starting for Akron and posted a 4.79 ERA with 34 walks, 135 hits and 72 strikeouts in 129 2/3 innings there.
Puerto Rican righty Joseph Colon made seven starts at home this winter, logging 32 2/3 innings with a 1.93 ERA and very impressive peripherals, walking just eight and striking out 22. Colon, 23, spent much of 2013 in Carolina and had a 3.13 ERA with 73 hits, 25 walks and 67 strikeouts in 83 1/3 innings.
Japanese righty Toru Murata headed down to Venezuela and pitched 22 2/3 innings with a 2.38 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 3 walks and 15 strikeouts. That followed a season split (unevenly) between Triple-A Columbus and Double-A Akron. Murata, 28, threw 158 innings overall with a 4.44 ERA, 180 hits against, 29 walks and 119 strikeouts.
Righty reliever Bryan Price threw 19 innings in Venezuela with a 1.89 ERA, eight hits, six walks and 19 strikeouts. The 27 year old split 2013 between Akron and Columbus and with outstanding results, striking out 92 in 75 innings and walking just 16.
Newly signed minor league free agent J.C. Ramirez only threw four and a third innings in Venezuela, getting shelled to tune of an 8.31 ERA and giving up four earned runs (and two unearned runs) on seven hits and six walks with four strikeouts in four and a third innings. Ramirez, 25, pitched for the Phillies’s big league club as well as their minor league affiliates with solid numbers in the minors but having trouble at the big league level.