Once again, it’s time for the Winter League Report, letting you all know what the Blue Jays have been up to in offseason leagues in Australia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
In the Australian Baseball League, Jon Berti has been on a little bit of a slide, dropping his numbers to .256/.396/.410 in 78 at bats. Berti has only one hit in the latest slew of games but has 12 stolen bases in 14 attempts. Mike Crouse is hitting .328/.395/.453 in 64 at bats, adding a home run and a double since our last update. It looks like Crouse is starting to find his groove down under. Catcher Jack Murphy has also been on the downside but his overall numbers are quite nice at .296/.360/.407 with a home run and six doubles. Finally, Shane Opitz continues to struggle, hitting .250/.302/.325 but he’s gone on a bit of a hot streak with five hits (all singles) in his last four games.
Anthony Gose has begun to play in the Venezuelan League and is off to a good start, with a single, a double, two walks and just one strikeout in his first seven at bats. We’ll also note here that Adam Loewen has gone down to Venezuela to play ball and is 5 for 14 with three walks, five strikeouts and a stolen base in 14 at bats. Loewen is still a free agent.
Pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx, last seen with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats is also in Venezuela and has made two appearances, throwing 5 2/3 innings and has given up two runs on seven hits and three walks with two strikeouts. 18-year-old Jonathan Torres pitched another two-thirds of an inning since the last update, giving up a hit and now has a 1.93 ERA in 9 1/3 innings with six hits, seven walks and three strikeouts.
In the Puerto Rican league, Arik Sikula continues to shine but gave up two runs on December 10 and has had his ERA spike to a still-respectable 3.46 in 13 innings. He’s got five saves and has given up 15 hits and five walks with 12 strikeouts. Also in Puerto Rico, Efrain Nieves made another start, going 4 2/3 innings with two runs against on four hits and four walks with three strikeouts. Overall, Nieves has a 3.96 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 15 walks and 25 strikeouts in 25 innings.
The Blue Jays only have one farm-hand playing in Mexico, Jorge Flores isn’t playing much but went one for one on December 12 which was his first hit in 6 at bats. Flores is probably being used as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement.
The Blue Jays have the most young players in the Dominican Winter League. Jonathan Diaz is still going strong, getting on base a ton with a .280/.452/.352 line in 125 at bats. Ricardo Nanita, technically a free agent, is having a poor season, hitting .237/.285/.280 with 118 at bats. Kevin Pillar is starting to get on a roll, bringing his batting average up to .220 since our last update (after which he only had one hit in 13 at bats). He’s now nine for 41 with two doubles and three stolen bases (without getting caught). The most worrisome part of his line right now is the fact that he’s only walked once and has struck out nine times.
Moises Sierra continues to hit well in the Dominican, with a .331/.401/.441 line in 136 at bats but the bad news is that Sierra continues to lack power, hitting only one extra-base hit, a double, in the last 10 games and nothing since December 6. He did go three for five yesterday with an RBI. Something that is nice to see from Sierra is the fact that he has a solid walk to strikeout ratio with 14 walks and 26 Ks.
On the pitching side, Tony Davis has made two appearances since our last update but has only amassed one-third of an inning. He’s given up a hit and has struck out one. He hasn’t give up a run in three and a third innings and has surrendered two hits and two walks with one strikeout. Ramon Ortiz has added a start since we last caught up with him: he gave up one run in five innings on six hits but struck out just one. Overall, Ortiz has a 3.38 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 16 innings with just five strikeouts.
Esmil Rogers had a much better start his latest time out, going four shutout innings and giving up four hits and two walks with four strikeouts. That balances his first start nicely and has a 3.68 ERA in 7 1/3 innings with three walks and six strikeouts. Finally, Juan Perez threw a shutout innings since we last saw him, bringing his ERA down to 9.00. In four innings, he has given up five hits and four walks with just one strikeout.