I’ve been featuring the Indians players that are participating in fall and winter baseball. I’ve already talked about the players in the Arizona Fall League and the Dominican Winter League. Next up is the Venezuelan Winter League, which started almost two weeks ago.
Venezuela, started October 14
Toru Murata, RHP, Navegantes del Magallanes – A Japanese free agent, the Indians signed the 27-year-old Murata to a minor league contract prior to the 2011 season. He started his Indians minor league career with the Kinston Indians in 2011, and in 2012 spent time with the Carolina Mudcats, Akron Aeros and Columbus Clippers. Across all three teams he was 3-2 with a 2.89 ERA, and 1.205 WHIP in 74.2 innings pitched. He spent most of the season (65.2 innings) with the Aeros, where he went 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.
Gregorio Petit, infielder, Leones del Caracas – Petit spent most of his career in the Oakland Athletics organization, the team that signed him as an international free agent in 2001. The A’s traded the 27-year-old in 2010, and he bounced around a bit until he signed with the Indians as a free agent in January of 2012. He had 54 major league at-bats with Oakland in 2008 and 2009, otherwise he has spent his entire career in the minors. Petit had a decent season with the Clippers in 2012, as he hit .260/.320/.403 with 10 home runs in 377 at-bats. I noticed that Petit got a lot of playing time during spring training earlier this year. It will be interesting to see if he somehow fits with the team as a utility infielder; at his age, and with his numbers, it’s hard to believe he’ll be anything more than a spare right-handed bat.
Jesus Aguilar, infielder, Leones del Caracas – Even though he’s been in the Indians system since 2008, Aguilar really started to draw attention during the 2012 season, most of which was spent with the Carolina Mudcats. Aguilar was named to the World team at the MLB Futures Game during the All Star break along with Francisco Lindor, and he could be the right-handed power bat that the Indians desperately need. In 368 at-bats with Carolina, Aguilar hit .277/.365/.454 with 12 home runs. When he moved to Akron, he hit .292/.402/.500 with 3 home runs in 72 at-bats. During the 2011 campaign, Aguilar hit 23 home runs split between Lake County and Kinston.
Hector Rondon, RHP, Leones del Caracas – Rondon was someone that I honestly thought may be in the Indians rotation by now. He was a promising minor league arm, but has struggled with injuries over the past several years. He had Tommy John surgery in August of 2010 and fractured the same elbow last winter in the Venezuelan league. The 24-year-old pitched just seven innings in 2012 and three in 2011. During his last full, healthy season (2009) Rondon went 11-10 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.175 WHIP in 146.1 innings pitched with the Akron Aeros and Columbus Clippers. The Indians hope to see how he does in winter ball and in spring training. If he’s not added to the 40-man roster, he can be a minor league free agent.
Eric Berger, LHP, Bravos de Margarita – The 26-year-old Berger spent time with Akron and Columbus last season, going 0-3 with a 4.37 ERA and 1.324 WHIP in 22.2 innings pitched, and 2-6 with a 5.50 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 88.1 innings with the Clippers. Drafted in the ninth round of the 2007 draft by the Oakland Athletics, Berger did not sign and was drafted by the Indians in the eighth round the next year. Berger spent 2010 and 2011 bouncing between Akron and Columbus, while his performance slipped when he moved to the higher level team. He pitched three scoreless innings as the starter for Team Israel in an early round game against South Africa in the qualifying round of the World Baseball Classic. Israel eventually won the game 7-3. Berger also pitched in Israel’s loss to Spain, 9-7 (he did not figure into the decision). That loss meant that Israel would not move on to the WBC tournament in March; they fell one win short of qualifying. Berger, often known for his Rollie Fingers-style mustache, was interviewed for this interesting in-depth piece during spring training earlier this year.