Former top prospect Lastings Milledge is putting together a formidable season with the Aragua Tigres in an effort to parlay his performance into a spring training invite.
Through 27 games this winter, Milledge is batting .324 with 10 doubles in 105 at-bats and a .387 on-base percentage and is among the league leaders in total bases and slugging.
Milledge arrived in Venezuela early to join Aragua’s workouts and has since been the cornerstone of the Tigres’ offense and the go-to guy for Aragua manager Buddy Bailey, who manages Daytona -- the Chicago Cubs’ Class A affiliate in the Florida State League.
Noesi shining in the Dominican Republic
One of the main reasons why the New York Yankees are backing off the C.J. Wilson sweepstakes this offseason could be Hector Noesi, who is off to a wonderful winter league season with the Licey Tigres and poised to take over the long-relief slot in the Yankees' bullpen.
Noesi, who the Yankees like a lot, is 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA in four starts for Licey in the offense-driven Dominican league. In his last outing, Noesi held the Cibao Gigantes to three hits over six innings with four strikeouts. This goes with his complete-game shutout over Escogido on his wedding night two weeks ago.
Another milestone for Pudge
Veteran free-agent catcher Ivan Rodriguez reached another milestone this week as he and his son Dereck Rodriguez became the first father-son tandem in history to play for the same team in the Puerto Rico Winter League.
Ivan, looking to latch on with a major league club for a 22nd season and continue the quest for his 3,000th hit, began the winter season as the Caguas Criollos’ starting catcher while son Dereck, a 19-year-old outfielder and sixth-round pick by the Minnesota Twins, mulls the possibility of converting to pitcher.
For the time being, however, Dereck is on Caguas’ bench.
Keisler making a case
It has been four full seasons since he pitched in the majors, but 35-year-old veteran Randy Keisler is off to a flying start in the Mexican Pacific League, which this season seems chock-full of veterans looking like they still have some big league innings left in their arms.
Keisler, a lefty, is off to a 4-1 start with an ERA of 2.03 and 33 strikeouts over 44.1 innings with the Ciudad Obregón Yaquis.
Other veterans off to good starts in Mexico include Esteban Loaiza, who is off to a 2-1 start with Mexicali, along with teammate, and former Rockies prospect, Marco Duarte. Duarte is leading all pitchers in the MPL with a 4-0 record and a 1.60 ERA over 33.1 innings.