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Offseason Fish—2021-22 Marlins winter ball wrap-up

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Marlins stats and highlights from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Jesús Sánchez poses in Toros del Este gear during LIDOM preseason workouts @torosdeleste/Instagram

Compared to the typical year, this winter ball cycle was light on interesting Marlins connections. Nonetheless, I will bring you up to speed on how the organization’s active players performed in international competition.

Liga Dominicana (LIDOM)

  • OF Bryan De La Cruz (played from Nov. 9-Dec. 1)—69 PA, .226/.290/.339, 1 HR, 5 BB, 12 K
  • INF Joe Dunand (played from Nov. 3-28)—44 PA, .220/.273/.293, 0 HR, 2 BB, 8 K
  • INF Erik González (played from Oct. 27-Dec. 19)—123 PA, .265/.320/.301, 0 HR, 8 BB, 30 K
  • RHP Cody Mincey (played from Oct. 27-Nov. 6)—2.2 IP, 10.13 ERA, 0 HR, 2 BB, 3 K, 2.25 WHIP
  • OF Jesús Sánchez (played from Nov. 2-28)—84 PA, .324/.429/.465, 0 HR, 12 BB, 15 K

De La Cruz authored the Marlins’ proudest 2021-22 winter ball moment when, fresh off paternity leave, he mashed a grand slam for Toros del Este on November 10. But his bat was relatively quiet after that. As the Marlins contemplate how DLC could fit into their outfield alignment next season, keep in mind that he made 14 of his 16 LIDOM starts in center field.

Dunand was a star for Leones del Escogido during the previous season, hitting for power while providing Gold Glove-winning defense at third base. Much different story this time around, unfortunately. The 26-year-old Miami native didn’t have any multi-hit games.

Six-year MLB veteran Erik González was a teammate of Dunand’s. He used his LIDOM season to audition for a stateside job and showed enough promise to receive a spring training invite from the Marlins (his .621 OPS was actually close to the league’s .638 average). He was Escogido’s main shortstop for the bulk of the campaign, increasing his workload at the hot corner once Dunand left the roster.

I wouldn’t blame anybody for failing to notice that Mincey pitched for Beloit in late 2021. He thrived in long relief...with the caveat that he was among the oldest players in the High-A Central league (age 29). LIDOM was a more appropriate test for him.

Simply put, Sánchez took care of business. For a former top prospect who’s already an above-average major league hitter, his LIDOM stint was geared toward making up for lost time after a season that was bookended by leg injuries and interrupted by a long bout with COVID.

Magneuris Sierra (Toros del Este) and Matt Pobereyko (Estrellas Orientales) also participated in the league, but both of them elected free agency and are no longer part of the Marlins org.

Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional (LVBP)

  • INF Luis Avilés Jr. (played from Oct. 23-Nov. 28)—110 PA, .257/.291/.343, 2 HR, 4 BB, 28 K
  • RHP Cody Mincey (played from Dec. 8-21)—7.2 IP, 2.35 ERA, 0 HR, 4 BB, 5 K, 1.17 WHIP

Avilés had been a defensive nomad for the Angels Double-A affiliate, alternating between second base, third base, shortstop and left field. At least with Tiburones de La Guaira, he was able to settle in at third. Venezuela’s league presents more hitter-friendly conditions than LIDOM, so Avilés’ numbers were mediocre relative to his peers. His minor league deal with the Marlins was made official on Dec. 15.

Miguel Rojas intended to play alongside Avilés, but those plans fell through due to a combination of the MLB lockout and the team’s inability to qualify for the LVBP postseason. His winter involvement with Venezuelan baseball was limited to coaching clinics and organizing a home run derby.

Miguel Rojas wearing a blue and yellow “Miggy Ro Home Run Derby” t-shirt @miggyslocker/Instagram

Mincey resurfaced with Aguilas del Zulia in December, benefiting from better luck on balls in play than he had in the D.R.

Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (LBPRC)

  • C Jan Mercado (played from Nov. 9-Dec. 9)—73 PA, .193/.361/.281, 0 HR, 11 BB, 21 K

Mercado’s walk rate was up from what he’s done in the minors, but this performance for the most part tracks closely with his affiliate history. As catcher for the RA12 team, he threw out 34.8% of attempted base-stealers. He will vie for a spot on Beloit’s Opening Day roster, though it’ll be a tight squeeze.

Mexican Pacific Winter League (LMP)

  • C Santiago Chávez (played from Oct. 14-Dec. 21)—116 PA, .250/.304/.269, 0 HR, 5 BB, 21 K

Nice to see Chávez do something productive with the bat after posting a yucky .165 batting average in his 55 combined games with Pensacola and Jacksonville.