Several Nationals players and prospects are playing winter baseball in the Caribbean and Latin America. The regular seasons are over for all leagues, from the Dominican Republic to Venezuela, and the postseason is in full swing. Of the Nationals players, a few notable names stand out: left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno and catcher Wilson Ramos had strong winters, as did prospects Michael Taylor and Sandy Leon.
Cedeno, 27, who is expected to be one of the Nationals’ left-handed relievers in the bullpen next season, posted a 2.49 ERA in 21 2/3 innings with the Cangrejeros de Santurce in the Puerto Rican winter league. Cedeno, a native of Puerto Rico, has allowed only 11 hits in those 19 games, two of them home runs. His numbers are encouraging for the Nationals: he has struck out 36 in 21 2/3 innings while walking seven. His team didn’t qualify for the playoffs.
Also in Puerto Rico, right-handed reliever Tyler Herron had a strong showing for the Indios de Mayaguez. He has a 0.84 ERA in 21 1/3 innings with 21 strikeouts and 11 walks. Herron punched up a 2.70 ERA over 66 2/3 innings in 2013, including a 3.11 ERA at Class AA Harrisburg, where he finished the season. On the same team, outfielder Taylor, who was added to the Nationals’ 40-man roster this offseason, is having a tremendous winter. The 22-year-old hit .365/.428/.511 with seven doubles, two triples and three home runs for the Indios. He struck out 38 times and drew only 13 walks in 137 at-bats and stole three bases in seven tries, but he notched a bunch of hits (50 in 137 at-bats).
In Venezuela, Ramos hit .309/.368/.463 with four home runs and 18 RBI in 30 games for the Tigres de Aragua. Ramos was expected to rest this winter in his native Venezuela only to later change his mind but only as a designated hitter. Ramos posted a strong .831 OPS for the Tigres, who didn’t qualify for the playoffs.
Also in Venezuela, catcher Leon had a strong winter after a dismal 2013 season in the minors. He hit .177 in 95 games for Harrisburg but is now hitting .353/.451/.487 with two home runs and 15 RBI in 38 games for the Aguilas del Zulia. On the Bravos de Margarita, infield prospect Zach Walters, who may battle for a backup infield position on the major league roster, hit .240/.321/.440 in 15 games earlier this winter before returning to the U.S. Left-handed minor league starter Danny Rosenbaum posted a 4.28 ERA in 27 1/3 innings for the same team. Only Leon’s team advanced to the playoffs.
In the Dominican winter league, Eury Perez, one of the Nationals’ better outfield prospects, is hitting .204./.291/.265 with one home run, four walks, eight strikeouts and five stolen bases for the Leones del Escogido. But in the playoffs, the 23-year-old is hitting .444 so far. He went 2 for 4 with a home run and two RBI in Escogido’s 4-2 win over the Gigantes del Cibao on Sunday. Perez hit .300 with a .336 on-base percentage and stole 64 bases at Class AAA Syracuse last season and is expected to begin next season there, too, with a backlog of outfielders on the major league roster.
Also in the Dominican, Manny Delcarmen, signed this winter by the Nationals to a minor league deal with a big league camp invite, posted a 1.88 ERA and 0-2 record in 14 1/3 innings with 18 strikeouts and four walks for the Tigres del Licey.
In the Mexican winter league, Christian Garcia, who spent most of the season battling injuries, posted a 2.16 ERA in 8 1/3 innings for the Naranjeros de Hermosillo. He is listed as a reserve on the team’s playoff roster. If Garcia proves he is healthy in spring training and next season, he could be an interesting bullpen arm to watch.