Sorry to be a bit late today, but the winter storm knocked out my internet which didn't come back until after 9am.
We are all aware of the Twins moves this week, including the Hardy/Harris trade for Hoey/Jacobson and drafting lefty, Scot Diamond in the Rule 5 draft. Several sources recently mentioned that the Twins were likely to sign Duluth native Andrew Baldwin following the meetings. Baldwin is having a nice winter in Venezuela, where he is 4-2 with the league's third best ERA (1.92) for Caribes de Anzoategui.
It has been interesting watching the Australian Baseball League. Most of the Twins prospects are with the Perth Heat. If you take a look at a map of Australia, you will see that the Heat have some travel problems. The nearest team, the Adelaide Bite, is about 2,000 km away with the other four teams (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra) further away on Australia's east coast. The league has considered the logistical concerns by playing four game series every weekend, normally Thursday through Sunday.
One of the players the Twins received in the Hardy trade, Brett Jacobson, is playing with Perth. Jacobson, who will be returning home before Christmas, stated following the trade that friendships he developed with Luke Hughes, Liam Hendriks and Alan de San Miguel will help a lot when he joins the Twins organization in spring training. Jacobson has appeared in 6 games for the league leading Heat, pitching 9.1 innings with a 1.93 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, six strikeouts and four walks.
After a couple rough starts, the Liam Hendriks we have come to know was back in Thursday's 7-0 win over the Canberra Cavalry. He pitched 7.0 shutout innings with four hits, seven strikeouts and one walk. Hendriks has a 1-2 record with two saves in six games (four starts) with a 5.79 ERA, twenty strikeouts and only three walks in 18.2 innings. Alan de San Miguel is one of the Heat's leading hitters at .308/.444/.523 in 65 at bats with five doubles and three home runs.
Mayaguez remains in last place in the Puerto Rican League, 13.5 games out with a 10-26 record. Steve Hirschfield made two starts, getting the win on Sunday (2-0) when he pitched 6.1 shutout innings with three hits and six strikeouts. Hirschfield returned with another good start yesterday, a game that the bullpen would lose (7-2). Hirschfield pitched 5.2 innings with four hits, one run and six strikeouts. Hirschfield's 3.94 ERA is currently twelfth best in the league. Nelvin Fuentes made three appearances, pitching 3.0 innings with four hits, one run, four strikeouts and a walk. Fuentes has a 1.74 ERA in 10.1 innings with ten strikeouts.
Gigantes is in the thick of the race in the Dominican Winter League in fifth place, 4.0 games out. Alexi Casilla, who had two multi hit games this week, is hitting .281/.352/.352. He has stolen five bases while being thrown out five times.
Over in Venezuela, Aragua has been moving up while Magallanes has slipped with both now tied for fourth place, 3.0 games behind Margarita. Magallanes' Deolis Guerra has a 2-1 record with an excellent 2.92 ERA in six games (four starts) with 23 strikeouts and only three walks in 24.2 innings. Pedro Guerra made his first start earlier this week, allowing four hits and four runs in 1.2 innings.
Luke Hughes was hitting .323 Average in 31 at bats when he left his hometown Perth Heat for Venezuela. Hughes joined Aragua this week, playing third base in his first game before moving to second base for the next three. Hughes is hitting .267/.313/.467 in his first 15 at bats, including a home run in Wednesday's 6-4 win. With Hardy and Harris moving on to Baltimore, Hughes versatility and powerful right handed bat gives him a real chance of winning a spot with the Twins next spring.
One player who I was concerned may have been lost in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, Yangervis Solarte, is hitting .269/.367/.404 iin 52 at bats. Former Twin, Wilson Ramos, is the league's sixth best hitter at .315/.372/.523 with five home runs and 24 RBI.
Last winter Jose Mijares didn't pitch in winter ball and he wasn't at his best for much of the season. This winter he is back with Aragua and pitching very well with a 1-0 record, four saves, a 0.79 ERA, seven strikeouts and two walks in 11.1 innings. Recently signed Yorman Bazardo was very good in Thursday's 2-1 loss. Bazardo pitched 7.1 innings with four hits and two runs. Bazardo has a 5-2 record with a 2.59 ERA in 59.0 innings with 20 strikeouts and 15 walks. Anthony Swarzak hadn't pitched a lot recently before Wednesday's start in which he pitched 6.1 innings with five hits and one run. Swarzak has a 2-3 record with a 4.83 ERA, 13 strikeouts and 12 walks in 31.2 innings.