The Oakland Athletics had a rather small contingent of winter ball players this offseason with very few players with recognizable names heading south.
26-year-old first baseman Anthony Aliotti played in eleven games in the Dominican winter league and managed only three hits in 27 at bats including a home run. Splitting the season between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento, Aliotti had a solid season, continuing his reputation as a high-average/high-OBP hitter. He hit a combined .324/.416/.480 although his numbers suffered after his promotion to Sacramento.
Catcher Dusty Brown didn’t play baseball (as far as we can tell) in 2013 but went down to the Dominican Republic and had one hit in 15 at bats there. Signing as a minor league free agent in January with Oakland, Brown will return to minor league action after getting into 24 major league games between the 2009 and 2011 seasons.
Major leaguer Alberto Callaspo had a solid big league season for the Angels and the A’s, hitting .258/.333/.369, playing mostly third base. At home in Venezuela, Callaspo hit .292/.485/.458 in 24 at bats and also has played in one game for Venezuela in the Caribbean Series, going two for four and scoring twice against Cuba.
Shortstop Antonio Lamas, 24, came off a fairly unimpressive first season in US affiliated baseball after several seasons posting all-star calibre numbers in the Mexican League. He hit .255/.304/.381 with 12 home runs in 517 at bats in the hitter-friendly California League before heading back to Mexico for some winter action where he hit only .157/.173/.176 in 51 at bats.
Jefry Marte, a 23-year-old third baseman had some good numbers in Double-A Midland this season but didn’t do much in the Dominican winter league, with just one hit in 16 at bats.
Jose Martinez, 28, a Venezuelan second baseman, had the most playing time of any of the A’s position players playing in the the Caribbean winter leagues. He hit .250 in 60 at bats, walking three times and striking out only six times while hitting two doubles and two home runs for Tigres de Aragua in Venezuela. He played in the Astros’ organization last season, hitting a solid .299/.316/.417 with most of that playing time in Oklahoma City, Houston’s Triple-A affiliate.
Darwin Perez, a 24-year-old shortstop played in 13 games in the Venezuelan winter league and went eight for 29 (.276) but walked 11 times and struck out only seven. His patience at the plate could be seen in Double-A Midland where he hit .237/.326/.333 but took 50 walks and struck out 103 times.
23-year-old Mexican righty Andres Avila saw a lot of action in the Mexican winter league, throwing 36 innings in relief and pitching to a 1.50 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with 10 walks and 31 strikeouts. Those numbers were much better than his 2013 totals, mostly spent in Class-A Beloit with an ERA over 5.00 and a 1.25 K/BB ratio.
Jesus Castillo, spent most of 2013 in the Mexican league pitching as an outstanding relief arm and earned himself another shot in affiliated baseball. He threw ten innings with Double-A Midland before the season ended. Castillo returned to Mexico for the winter league and threw another 37 innings with an excellent 0.73 ERA but a little more worrisome 1.30 WHIP with 15 walks and 17 strikeouts.
Fernando Nieve, with 185 2/3 innings of major league experience (in parts of four seasons) under his belt, re-signed a minor league deal with the Athletics at the age of 31 for the 2014 season. The Venezuelan righty was purchased by the Athletics from Cleveland and had an outstanding season in Triple-A between both organizations, with a 1.89 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 14 walks and 64 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched.
26-year-old right-hander Paul Smyth pitched 18 1/3 innings for Bravos de Margarita in the Venezuelan winter league and had a 2.95 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, five walks and 15 strikeouts. He reached Triple-A for the first time in 2013 and was very solid, putting up a 2.56 ERA, 1.17 WHIP with 20 walks and 55 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings combined between Midland and Sacramento.
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