TigsTown MLN: Things Quieting in Offseason

How's Wilkin handling his new challenge?

As the Arizona Fall League has wrapped up and some players are exiting their winter leagues, things have slowed considerably when it comes to offseason ball. But while things have slowed, there's still plenty of players getting work in. Who is stepping up? Plus, some scouting reports on some newly signed Latin American players.

Liga de Beisbol Dominicano

With the departure of catcher Alex Avila and outfielder Brennan Boesch, things have quieted significantly in the Dominican as far as the Tigers are concerned.

The Tigers do have some activity however, largely on the Licey roster, as Wilkin Ramirez continues to see plenty of action for the Tigres, and right-hander Freddy Dolsi has taken the mound two times in the last week.

Ramirez continues to see action in center field, and it has been confirmed by the organization that this was their idea.

"We've thought it would be a good idea for him to get some play in center field," said Tigers Director of Minor League Operations Dan Lunetta.

The long held belief among scouts has questioned Ramirez's ability to be a solid defensive outfielder at any position, let alone the most challenging of the three. Talking with scouts that have seen Ramirez in the Dominican this winter, it sounds as though he may be progressing.

"I thought I would be laughing, but he actually held his own," said one NL scout.

When told of that quote, another scout chimed in with the following, "It's definitely not laughable. He's still got some work to do out there, but I could see him being able to handle it in a pinch."

That's great news for both Ramirez and the Tigers, as he continues to try to solidify his stock as a Major League player.

Offensively, though the power has not come through, Ramirez has been working diligently on other pieces of his game. Long considered a player with a willingness to swing at just about anything, Ramirez is working to tighten his strike zone and work counts better.

"He looks like a man on a mission," said a veteran AL scout. "You can see him really working to reign himself in at the plate. He's never going to walk a ton, but I think he can get into better hitter's counts."

Wilkin's teammate in the Dominican, Freddy Dolsi has finally started taking the hill as he continues his off-season. Thus far, both of Dolsi's outings have been a bit rocky, with three hits allowed and three walks in just 1 2/3 innings of work; leading to a 10.80 ERA.

Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico

The Tigers had three veteran minor league pitchers on the ground in Puerto Rico for a matter of just a few days, but it was quickly back to only two; both on the Ponce roster.

After an up and down AFL season, right-hander Scot Drucker has headed to Puerto Rico to continue his drive toward a chance at the big league roster in 2010. Drucker has seen quick action in two games since reporting to the island; both in relief. His first outing was only one-third of an inning, while he came in for a clean inning of relief his second time out with only one hit allowed.

His lone Tiger teammate still hurling in Puerto Rico is recently re-signed right-hander Josh Rainwater. Rainwater is routinely working multiple innings for the Leones, having tossed two or more innings in four of his five outings. Through eleven total innings, the solid middle reliever has amassed a 2.45 ERA with ten hits allowed and eight strikeouts. One concerning number on his line is the seven walks he has allowed. Rainwater will need to limit his free passes if he hopes to put himself in contention for a big league gig next year.

Liga Colombiana de Beisbol Profesional

Ramon Lebron continues to pitch strongly for Caimanes in Colombia, with his most recent start spanning five innings of two-run ball, with just four hits and two walks allowed, while striking out three.

One coach that has seen him pitch on several occasions this fall thought very highly of Lebron, saying "He has some potential. Great arm, great makeup, he's got a chance to be good."

For the Colombian season, Lebron now stands with a 3.10 ERA over 29 innings. He has allowed just 23 hits over that span, with 12 walks and 28 strikeouts. Lebron's continued performance in Colombia lends further credence to speculation that he will likely head to West Michigan to start the 2010 season, and he could move quickly through the system if he continues to harness his power arsenal.

Liga Paralela

With just a few games left in the Liga Paralela season, the Tigers are pushing hard to get back to .500 for the year, and finish on a high note. After a four game winning streak was snapped in mid-November, the Tigers had an up and down stretch, before getting back on track to go 3-2-1 over their last six games.

The pitching continues to be hit or miss for the Tigers, as many young hurlers try to gain experience, but relievers Michael Torrealba and Julio Guilarte have been two consistent bright spots for the club.

Torrealba is coming off a strong season with Oneonta in his first year stateside, and over eleven outings, Torrealba has whiffed 14 and allowed just six hits in 13 1/3 innings. Just as with right-hander Josh Rainwater, Torrealba is having trouble consistently finding the zone, with 13 walks, but his ability to pitch around his mistakes continues to reinforce most scouts love of his makeup and poise on the hill.

Guilarte has been one of the workhorses of the Tigers roster, working 32 innings over ten outings. Mixing between both starting and relieving, Guilarte has a 2-2 record and 3.38 ERA. He backs that up with 32 hits and 13 walks allowed, with 29 strikeouts.

The two offensive stars mentioned most by scouts this fall have been Luis Salas and Hernan Perez, but outfielder/first baseman Gilbert Gomez has turned it on himself. Through 90 at-bats, Gomez is now up to a .311 average with 11 doubles, one triple, and two home runs, giving him an impressive .522 slugging percentage.

Catcher Gabriel Purroy has also picked up where he left off after a strong debut season in the VSL, hitting at a .307/.386/.466 clip through 88 at-bats. Giving further proof to the fact that he has some surprising pop in his bat, Purroy has ripped nine doubles and one home run, while knocking eleven runs and drawing nine walks.

Scouting Reports

Recently the Tigers signed four new pitchers, three with Dominican ties, and one more that has seen action with the Tigers' Liga Paralela squad in Venezuela.

Angel Carreno has had a solid debut that demonstrates his potential, with a 3.72 ERA to go with nine walks and ten strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings of work.

At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Carreno has a nice pitchers frame from the left side, and he has the stuff to match his size. He brings a heavy fastball that has average velocity, topping out at 88 with some scouts seeing more projection in his future. The 19-year old Carreno also features sharp curveball with plus potential, and a change-up with decent fade that has the potential to be an average pitch.

The three new arms that fans will see chucking the rock in the DSL next summer are all right-handers with solid stuff and some projection.

The biggest of the three with the most projection on his fastball is Benny Paulino. The 6-foot-4 Paulino only packs 170 pounds on his lanky frame at this time, but he is a diligent worker with the potential to add bulk to his frame and add velocity to a fastball that can get into the upper-80s now, as just a 16-year old. Paulino also features a curveball and change-up that both have some potential.

Luis Hidalgo is an athletic 6-foot-1 right-hander that can get his heater up to 90 at times, and most scouts see more in the tank down the line. He gets good movement on his fastball, particularly when he works it low in the zone. He has shown he can spin a curveball, but he lacks consistency. His best off-speed pitch is a change-up on which he keeps good arm speed and deception.

The last of the three right-handers is Francisco Contreras, another youngster with arm strength and a great frame for adding velocity and becoming a power pitcher. Most scouts see him in the bullpen, as his secondary pitches lack any consistency, and he will be lucky to develop into a two-pitch pitcher.

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