Padres Players Preparing for a Postseason Push
By Tim Richer
There’s pretty high expectations for the Padres this upcoming season. It may be the best chance the team has had to reach the postseason in a long time, so some Padres are getting some postseason experience while they wait for the season to start. There are currently 8 players who are a part of the Padres organization who are still playing in a Latin American Winter League in hopes of reaching the Caribbean Series.
The Caribbean Series is a tournament between the winners of the Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan Winter Leagues and as of last year a team from the Cuban Serie Nacional. It’s held every year, usually in the first week of Feburary. Right now each league is begining their respective playoffs with every remaining team vying for a chance to star in the Caribbean Series.
The largest contingent of Padres players is in Venezuela. Alexi Amarista is the starting second baseman for the regular season champion Anzoategui. While Alex Torres and Leonel Campos are both pitching for Zulia. Adys Portillo is also with the team, but he is yet to appear in a postseason game.
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Amarista is hitting just .222 thus far in the postseason, but his strong regular season is a big part of why the team is there. His .446 OBP led the team and he was red hot down the stretch hitting .386 in the final three weeks. Torres has been a starter in Venezuela and in first postseason start he over came 6 walks to through 5 shutout innings while allowing just 2 hits. Campos has been dominant out of the bullpen, but his postseason ERA of 1.50 is up from his regular season one 0.50. He has also collected two postseason saves, but has also been saddled with a loss.
Other Padres in the Venezuelan League whose teams couldn’t quite reach the playoffs include Jason Lane, Chris Smith, Yangervis Solarte, Trayvon Robinson and Jose Rondon. Lane and Smith were both starters for Aragua while Solarte was the team’s third baseman. Robinson was the starting left fielder with Carolinas and Jose Rondon started at shortstop for Magallanes.
Rico Noel is a star in Mexico. The Padres former fifth round pick led his team, Culiacan, to the postseason by leading the league in steals robbing 11 more bags than anyone else while also finishing second in the league in walks and third in runs scored. His production has fallen in the postseason, going just 6 for 31 to start, but his team has still found a way to reach the semifinals. Tim Federowicz and Juan Carlos Gamboa also played in the Mexican Pacific League, but failed to reach the playoffs.
The other four Padres still in the postseason are in the Dominican League. Rymer Liriano with Licey, Frank Garces with Este, Diego Goris with Aguilas and Genison Reyes whose with Estrellas. Liriano and Gorris have struggled this postseason hitting just 0.91 and .176 respectively, while Garces and Reyes on the other hand have been dominant with neither of them not allowing a run so far. Cory Spangenberg and Franmil Reyes were also in the Dominican Republic playing for Escogido as well as Jerry Sullivan who pitched for Cibaenas.
It’s good to see so many Padres players getting seasoning in winter ball. While the ones who will competing for a big league job are playing against guys who aren’t quite up to the level of players their used to seeing, refining your skills can never be a bad thing. Hopefully at least one of them gets a chance to play in this Caribbean Series, which will be broadcast on ESPN Deportes and ESPN 3.