Plenty of Phillies players are staying in shape in the early going this off-season on the field and not just in the gym or in batting cages. Plenty of individuals contracted to the Phillies are playing ball down in the Caribbean winter leagues. Here's a run down of how various Philadelphia farm hands and a couple big leaguers are doing in the off-season leagues.
-Right-hander Julio Rodriguez has made two relief appearances for the Gigantes de Carolina in the Puerto Rican Winter League. In his first outing, the 21-year-old threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings, while he allowed 2 earned runs in 2/3 of an inning in his second appearance. Rodriguez had an outstanding regular season for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers in 2011, going 16-7 with a 2.76 ERA and a .186 batting average against in 27 starts.
-Shortstop Freddy Galvis hasn't looked too sharp lately for the Aguilas del Zulia in the Venezuelan league. In 10 games since returning from a right wrist injury, the 21-year-old has gone 6-for-32 (.188 average) with a double, a triple and 6 RBI.
-Second baseman Cesar Hernandez has posted a .266 average through 21 games with the Bravos de Margarita in Venezuela. The switch-hitting 21-year-old has just one extra base hit under his belt...a double. Hernandez posted a .268/.306/.333 line in 119 games with the High A level Clearwater Threshers during the 2011 regular season.
-Infielder Carlos Rivero is batting .256 with 5 doubles, a HR and 9 RBI through 13 games with the Leones del Caracas in Venezuela. That's quite an improvement following a 1-for-16 start. Rivero, who was claimed by the Phillies last off-season from Cleveland, is 23 years old. The Venezuelan born Rivero had a good 2011 regular season, posting a .270/.326/.440 line combined with Reading and Lehigh Valley.
-LHP Ervis Manzanillo has made one scoreless relief appearance for the Navegantes del Magallanes in Venezuela. No word on why Manzanillo has not pitched since October 13th. During the 2011 regular season, the 20-year-old Manzanillo had some ups and downs with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, posting an 8-7 record with a 5.02 ERA with a .257 batting average against in 26 games (25 starts).
-Reliever Justin Friend, a Rule 5 draft pick of the Phillies last off-season, has pitched in 4 games for the Tiburones de La Guaira in Venezuela. The 25-year-old has earned 2 saves, but has allowed 2 earned runs in 4 innings. In 55 combined games with Clearwater and Reading during the 2011 regular season, Friend went 3-7 with 28 saves and a 2.75 ERA while striking out 61 and walking 16 batters in 59 innings.
-Outfielder Rich Thompson, who was a key contributor throughout the 2011 season with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, has posted a .265 average with a double and a homerun through 9 games with the Estrellas de Oriente in the Dominican League.
-Scott Podsednik and Scott Mathieson are all assigned to rosters in the Venezuelan Winter League, however neither of them have seen game action just yet.
-Lefty pitcher Juan Perez has looked great in the Dominican Winter League with the Gigantes del Cibao. Through 11 games Perez has a 0-1 record with a save and has not allowed an earned run. In 14 innings, the 33-year-old has struck out 17 batters and walked 6 batters. The veteran reliever appeared in 8 games at the big league level with the Phillies in 2011.
-Another member of the Gigantes in the Dominican Republic, Wilson Valdez, has gotten off to a good start, going 5-for-17 (.294 avg) with a double and a homerun in 5 games. Valdez has been playing shortstop and batting second in the Gigantes batting order.
-19-year-old pitcher Fabian Cota, through 10 relief appearaces with the Caneros de los Mochis in the Mexican Winter League, has posted a 9.64 ERA with 1 save and a .412 batting average against. In 15 games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2011, the Mexican lefty recorded a 1-0 record with a 3.52 ERA.
-Also in the Mexican league, top Phillies offensive prospect Sebastian Valle played in his first game for his hometown Caneros de los Mochis on Tuesday. Valle, 21, went 1-for-4 in his debut. Last year, Valle, who is a catcher, played the outfield in the Mexican league to avoid additional wear and tear behind the plate.
-Utility man Michael Martinez made his Dominican League debut on Monday with the Estrellas del Oriente. The 29-year-old went 0-for-3 while batting 8th and playing shortstop. "Mini Mart" followed up his Dominican debut with another 0-for-3 spot on Tuesday, although he walked in that effort. Martinez batted .196 in 88 games with the Phillies in his rookie season this year.
-Another member of the Estrellas, outfielder Leandro Castro, who missed much of the 2011 regular season with an injury, has appeared in one Dominican League game, but did not have an official at bat. Castro was assigned to the High A level Thresher this year.
Check back here throughout the off-season for regular updates on all the winter leagues.
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