Royals in the Caribbean: Part I


The Major League season may be winding down, but baseball rolls on.  In addition to the fall Instructional League and the Arizona Fall League, baseball is also underway in the Caribbean.  The Mexican Pacific League and Venezuelan Winter League played their opening games on October 9th.  The Dominican Winter League kicked off its season a week later on Friday, October 16th.  Finally, the Puerto Rican League will open its season in 25 days on November 12th.

Here is a rundown of the Royals’ players who are currently on rosters in the various leagues.  Since there aren’t any Royals’ players in the Mexican Pacific League and rosters have not been set for the Puerto Rican League the focus, for now, will be on the players from the Venezuelan and Dominican Winter Leagues.

Venezuelan Winter League:

  • 2B-Alberto Callaspo (26) [Aguilas de Zulia]:  Callaspo was acquired from the Diamondbacks for RHP-Billy Buckner on December 14th, 2007.  Bert established himself in the majors in 2009 by hitting 0.300/.356/.457 in 576 at bats.  Most encouraging for fans of the OBP challenged Royals is the fact that he walked more times (52) than he struck out (51).  Here’s hoping he works on his defense while in the VWL though he has not played in a game yet.
  • LHP-Michael O’Connor (29) [Bravos de Margarita]:  The Royals picked O’Connor up off the scrap heap this summer after he was released by the San Diego Padres.  He pitched 27.1 innings for Omaha.  The resulting 7.24 ERA and 1.683 WHIP pretty much sum things up.  He has a 0.00 ERA in 4.1 IP thus far in the VWL, but the nice ERA is accompanied by a 1.62 WHIP.
  • LHP-Carlos Rivas (24) [Cardenales de Lara]:  Rivas is a former member of the Braves organization.  Atlanta released him on May 17th, 2009 and he was quickly snapped up by Dayton Moore and the Royals despite his lackluster track record in the minors.  Perhaps Dayton knew something because Rivas went on to throw 20.2 innings for the Wilmington Blue Rocks with a stellar 1.74 ERA, 1.016 WHIP, and 8.3 SO/9.  He has been retained by the organization for 2010.
  • RHP-Chris Nicoll (25) [Caribes de Anzoategui]:  Nicoll was drafted by the Royals in the 3rd round of the 2005 draft and made it up to Triple-A this season.  In 61.2 IP for NW Arkansas he had a 3.50 ERA, 1.395 WHIP, 60 H, 26 BB and 58 SO.  He then got bumped up to Omaha where he had a 6.67 ERA, 1.444 WHIP, 30 H, 9 BB, and 18 SO in 27.0 IP.  With strong performances in the VWL and Spring Training he could find himself in the Royals bullpen for the 2010 season opener.  So far he’s doing his part in Venezuela posting a 2.25 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 4.0 IP.
  • C-Moises Gomez (17) [Caribes de Anzoategui]:  Gomez made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League this year and hit 0.190/.319/.230 with 17 BB and 18 SO in 100 AB.  The OBP is especially encouraging considering he’s just 17 years old.  He has not appeared in a VWL game as of yet, but his inclusion on the roster is in itself a positive sign as he is the youngest player on the Caribes roster.
  • 3B-Mario Lisson (25) [Leones del Caracas]:  Lisson was signed by the Royals out of Venezuela on April 1st 2002.  He has spent a majority of his career in the minors playing 3B, but has been playing more at SS the last two seasons.  He hit 0.206/.287/.279 in 136 AB for the Naturals, before moving up to Omaha.  His time in AAA produced similar slash stats with a better SLG, 0.236/.282/410, in 339 AB.  He has only 3 AB thus far in the VWL with a hitting line of 0.333/.600/.667.
  • CF-Jose Duarte (24) [Leones del Caracas]:  Duarte was signed by the Royals out of Venezuela on May 24th 2004.  He hit 0.248/.342/.347 with 4 HR, 18 SB, 47 BB and 67 SO in 326 AB for the NW Arkansas Naturals.  Duarte also had 55 AB with the Omaha Royals this season and hit 0.182/.250/.218 with 0 HR, 1 SB, 5 BB and 8 SO while in Triple-A.  So far in the VWL he has hit 0.345/.406/.379 with 1 SB, 2 BB, and 7 SO in 29 AB.
  • C-Manuel Pina (22) [Tiburones de La Guaira]:  Pina was one of the players acquired from the Rangers in exchange for RHP-Danny Gutierrez. In Double-A this season he hit 0.259/.313/.393 with 8 HR, 19 BB, and 58 SO in 321 AB.  He was also named a Texas League Mid-Season All-Star.  Pina has hit 0.400/.500/.700 in 10 at bats thus far in the VWL.
  • SS-Luis Hernandez (25) [Tiburones de La Guaira]:  Luis hit a very light 0.205/.256/.219 in 73 AB while with the Royals, but fared much better in Triple-A.  While in Omaha, he put up a solid line of 0.303/.356/.369 with 16 BB and 17 SO in 198 AB.  His stint with the O-Royals resulted in the best hitting line he has produced during 8 minor league seasons, so Hernandez may have some value to the big league team if his new found AAA plate discipline is for real.  He has not played yet in the VWL.

Check back tomorrow for a rundown of the Royals’ in the Dominican Winter League.