Minor Leagues

Checking In- The Dominican Winter League

The top domestic baseball league in the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Winter Baseball League.  Baseball fans wait all year for the 6-team league that sends its annual champion to play in the Caribbean Series, a tournament that features the winners of the Mexican, Puerto Rican, Venezuelan and Dominican leagues.  Each team plays a 60-game schedule and features a star-laden roster.

The Dominican Winter Baseball League is peppered with Major League affiliated talent. All 30 clubs are represented on rosters of the league’s teams.  Many players around the DWBL should be familiar to Phillies phans.  Let’s take a look at how those players are performing.

Derrick Loop, who pitched in 16 combined games (5-1 record, 0.32 ERA) between high-A level Clearwater and triple-A Valley in the Phillies organization this year, has thrown 7 relief outings for the Cibao Aguilas. He has posted a 4.50 ERA and held opponents to a .250 batting average in DWBL action.

Minor League stalwart and occasional Phillie Andy Tracy is also on the Aguilas roster. Tracy, a 2010 International League all-star with the triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs has posted a disappointing .069 batting average in 8 DWBL games thus far.

Timo Perez, a former New York Met that played with the double-A Reading Phillies in 2010, is batting .348 in 16 games with the Licey Tigres. Perez batted .255 in 43 games after joining the R-Phils in July.

Ozzie Chavez, a 27-year-old Dominican native who played at Reading and Lehigh Valley the past two seasons, is an infielder for the Este Toros. Chavez is 2-for-10 (.200 avg) with 3 runs scored and5 walks in 7 DWBL games. At times, when playing in North America, Chavez fills the role of translator during mound visits and other instances, which increases his value to a team.

Phils lefty pitching prospect Yohan Flande has made 3 starts for the Toros and has posted a 3.75 ERA while going 1-1. Flande, 24, has struck out 9 and walked 5 in 12 innings. The Dominican native had a 10-8 record and a 4.38 ERA in 27 starts with Reading in 2010.

39-year-old former Phillie Pedro Martinez is training for a return. The owner of 219 Major League wins and three Cy Young Awards wanted to evaluate his own physical status before officially joining his team, the Licey Tigres.

The most impressive DWBL output from a former Phillie thus far in 2010 has come from left-handed pitcher Fabio Castro.  With the Cibao Gigantes, the 25-year-old Castro has been dominant, striking out 23 batters in 12 innings over his last 2 outings.  In 4 DWBL games, Castro is 2-1 with a 1.17 ERA and has held opponents to a .185 batting average.  Castro is best known for being traded for Matt Stairs in 2008.

Infielder Jonathan Villar, who was part of the bounty that landed the Phillies Roy Oswalt in a trade with Houston, is seeing minimal playing time with the Aguilas.  The switch hitting speedster is 0-for-5 with 5 strike outs, but has scored 3 runs as he’s been utilized as a pinch runner at times.  Villar was a 2010 mid-season South Atlantic League all-star as a member of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.

Former Phils pitching prospect Zack Segovia has allowed 2 hits in 8 innings of relief for the Oriente Estrellas. Segovia, now in the Yankees organization, has a 1.13 ERA in the DWBL.  The 27-year-old right-hander was the Phillies’ 2nd round pick in the 2002 amateur draft, but was released by the Phillies after an unimpressive start to the 2008 season at Reading and Clearwater.

Willy Taveras, who spent time with the IronPigs in 2010, is batting .182 with 5 steals, 6 runs scored and 4 RBI in 9 games with the Aguilas. Taveras’ .455 OPS in DWBL action is quite poor.

And lastly, set to report to the Escogido Leones on Monday is Phillies rookie outfielder Dominic Brown.  The 23-year-old is expected to play until Christmas, and will then take some time off before reporting to the Phillies’ spring training home in Clearwater, Florida.

Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor.  You can read more from Jay on his site, PhoulBallz.com.

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