Tribe Prospects Performing Well in Dominican Winter League Action

The Cleveland Indians’ season may be over and the World Series nearly half way complete, but competitive baseball continues to be played at spots across the globe.

Eight different Tribe prospects are in Glendale, Arizona, working in Arizona Fall League play. Four more have headed to South America to work in the Venezuelan Winter League, while nine more have taken up temporary residence in the Caribbean while participating in the Dominican Winter League.

Three different Tribe position prospects and six pitchers are scattered throughout the six-team Liga de Beisbol Dominicano.

Ronny Rodriguez and Joe Colon are on the roster of Aguilas de Mexicali.

The utility prospect Rodriguez has shown some nice pop through his first nine games of action in the Dominican Winter League. He is hitting .289 with a double, two homers, and four RBI. The 25-year-old spent the 2017 season at Triple-A Columbus, his second year with the Tribe’s top farm club. He appeared in 117 games, putting up career-bests in batting average (.291), on-base percentage (.324), and stolen bases (15) while hitting 18 doubles and 17 homers and driving in 64 in his seventh season in the Indians organization. He worked at six different positions for the Clippers for the second straight year (first, second, and third base; shortstop; center and right field). He is a player that the Indians will need to consider adding to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft in December.

Colon, 27, has worked in two games in relief in DWL action. He has given up a pair of earned runs on just one hit with two walks and two strikeouts in two and one-third innings of work (7.71 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .125 batting average against). His season was shortened again in 2017 due to suspension. After missing the start of the 2016 campaign due to a second positive test for a “drug of abuse”, he was suspended again on July 1, 2017, for the remainder of the season after testing positive for selective Androgen receptor modulator LDG-4022. He was quietly designated for assignment by the Indians on October 2 and outrighted several days later to the Clippers roster. He worked in 28 games for Columbus, posting no record with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.56 ERA. He was recalled by the Indians in May, but did not appear in a game. He made his big league debut in 2016, going 1-3 with a 7.20 ERA and a 1.90 WHIP in eleven relief appearances.

Former Indians pitcher Josh Judy is also on the team.

Willi Castro and three relievers are part of the Leones del Escogido club.

Castro has been one of the top performers in the league with a hot start at the plate. In eight games for Escogido, he is hitting .448 with a .586 slugging percentage, providing the club with a double, a homer, and six RBI while also drawing a pair of walks. After appearing in three games for Lynchburg in 2016, he returned to the High-A level with the Hillcats this season, appearing in 123 games while slashing a career-best .290/.337/.424 with 24 doubles, three triples, eleven homers, and 58 RBI. The 20-year-old just completed his fourth season in the Indians organization.

Pitchers Alsis Herrera, Henry Martinez, and Anderson Polanco are Castro’s teammates for Escogido.

Herrera has worked an inning and one-third of scoreless relief in a pair of appearances while taking home a win in one of those outings. A newer arrival to the farm system, the 25-year-old second-year pro joined the Indians organization when he was signed as an undrafted free agent in August of 2016. He appeared in eight games that season and pitched at three different levels in 2017, posting a combined 7-2 record with a 3.66 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 30 games. He made one relief appearance at Lynchburg and Akron and 28 with the Lake County Captains.

Martinez has pitched in four games and registered two wins while putting up seven and two-thirds innings of two-hit scoreless relief. He has struck out five and not walked a batter while holding opposing hitters to a .080 average. The 23-year-old right-hander spent the majority of his fourth season in the Indians organization at Class-A Lake County, going 5-3 with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 60 innings of work in 35 games (one start). He ended his season with Lynchburg, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits in two innings of work on September 4.

The left-hander Polanco, 25, has worked in just one game thus far. He pitched two-thirds of an inning and struggled some, giving up a hit and two walks, but he did not allow a run. The winter league activity in his native country gives him the opportunity to make up for missed time this season, as he appeared in just four games of minor league action late in the season after being shelved since the summer of 2016. He was 5-7 in 2016 between High-A Lynchburg and Double-A Akron with a 5.54 ERA and 1.60 WHIP prior to succumbing to injury.

Former big leaguer Michael Martinez and minor league pitcher Cole Sulser are part of the Estrellas de Oriente organization.

Martinez is hitting .308 in four games for the club with four singles and three runs batted in. The DWL action for the utility man brings him back home to the Dominican Republic. The Santo Domingo native, 35, spent 27 games in the Majors in 2017 (14 with Cleveland, 13 with Tampa Bay), but did the bulk of his work for Columbus, hitting .277 in 63 games.

Sulser has a win and a loss in three outings this offseason. He has given up just one run (on a solo home run) and two hits in total while striking out three. The 27-year-old fourth-year pro was a 25th round pick by the Indians in 2013 out of Dartmouth. He started his 2017 season with the Akron RubberDucks, going 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in ten games before being promoted to Columbus in mid-May. He pitched for the Clippers the rest of the season (outside of a few days at the beginning of June), going 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in 48 innings of 35 relief outings.

Dustin Molleken, who spent 2017 in the Detroit Tigers organization and pitched for the Indians at Triple-A Columbus during the 2015 season, is part of the pitching staff there.

Carlos Frias is in the bullpen of the Gigantes del Cibao. In four appearances, he has earned a pair of wins while firing four scoreless innings. The former member of the Los Angeles Dodgers was acquired by Cleveland last offseason. The 27-year-old Dominican spent the 2017 season at Triple-A Columbus, appearing in 30 games (all but one in relief) for the Clippers. He lost three weeks in the first half of the season to a groin injury and missed nearly all of August with another disabled list trip. He went 1-1 with an 8.05 ERA and a 1.79 WHIP.

Former Indians left-handed reliever Rafael Perez (“Raffy Left”) is his teammate in the Gigantes bullpen. He has not pitched professionally since 2015 in the Mexican League.

The Indians are not represented on the field with two clubs in the league. Former Indians big league pitchers Jairo Asencio and Esmil Rogers are with the Tigres del Licey. Left-hander Jayson Aquino and right-hander Paolo Espino, former Indians minor league pitchers, are with the Toros del Este.


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