xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Winter leagues update -- Greg Aquino

As many die-hard baseball fans know, the season didn't end when the Boston Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies to win their second World Series in four years. In fact, thanks to the Arizona Fall League, Hawaii Winter League and various leagues in the Caribbean, professional baseball is played for the majority of the year.

To my knowledge, there aren't any places where you can play fantasy baseball for these winter leagues. If you know of a place, let me know because I would like to meet the person who has Luis Polonia on his Dominican Winter League fantasy team. Yes, Polonia is still playing at the age of 44 for Aguilas Cibaenas.

Advertisement

There are many other former major leaguers who are still playing competitively in the Caribbean leagues. Many will continue to play in the winter leagues as long as they physically can, driven by the pride they feel for their countries and a desire to give back to the hometown fans.

A lot of current major leaguers and prospects participate in these leagues as well. Their performance can give us a glimpse at how they will play in the upcoming MLB season.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Much like spring training, players work on the little things that will make them better. For example, as The Sun's Roch Kubatko mentioned in his blog last week, Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera has been working on his changeup. Sometimes a player's improvement isn't evident immediately, but it's important to weigh the possibility of year-over-year improvement as your draft creeps closer.

In an effort to provide you with some help in this regard, I'll update you on the winter league statistics of Orioles players and prospects over the next couple of weeks. Today, I'll start with one of the most recent additions to the team -- veteran right-handed reliever Greg Aquino.

For those of you who were following the end of the Brian Billick era and haven't kept up with baseball's hot stove season, the Orioles claimed Aquino off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers on Dec. 14.

Aquino is currently pitching in the Dominican Winter League playoffs for Estrellas, which is also Cabrera's team. In the regular season, Aquino compiled a 2.08 ERA with 10 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings pitched.

His most dominant performance was on Dec. 17, when he retired all six hitters he faced, including two by strikeout. Do you think it's just a coincidence that this was his first appearance after the Orioles acquired him? Probably, but maybe he was trying to show Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and the team that he is ready for a prominent role in the bullpen.

His worst performance came on Dec. 5, when he entered in the ninth inning with a 2-1 lead and one out. There were runners on second and third, so Aquino intentionally walked former Orioles catcher Alberto Castillo to load the bases and set up the double play. However, after giving up a two-run double and an RBI single, Aquino's day was done without retiring a hitter. Officially, he was charged with one earned run, but he also allowed both inherited runners to score.

Last year, the Orioles bullpen allowed too many inherited runners to score, so they can't afford to be keeping guys in the 'pen this year who can't get out of tight spots when entering the game with runners on base.

Through Friday's game, Aquino was 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in the playoffs. In that game, he struck out three hitters, walked one and hit a batter in 2.0 IP.

Fantasy spin: Overall, I wouldn't expect Aquino to have much fantasy value this year. If he makes the team out of spring training, he'll be a middle reliever who could get you some holds in leagues that keep track of that statistic, but there will be better options. Maybe one day the Orioles will find those options as well.

-- Dean Jones Jr.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement