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It's been a long, cold winter for Angels01/19/2012 12:46 PM ET
By Dave Barr
Isn't it always supposed to be paradise in the Caribbean during the winter? Tell that to the Angels players playing in winter leagues this off season. With a few exceptions, Halo bats and arms have been as cold as a nor'easter on the east coast.
There are however exceptions. After a season lost to injury Jean Segura bounced back and outside of a major leaguers like Alexi Amarista and Alberto Callaspo, had one of the best offensive winters of any Angel. The top five Angels prospect hit .302 in 96 at bats between the Arizona Fall League's Scottsdale Scorpions and Gigantes de Cibas in the Dominican Republic. Segura, who could see time with the Travelers this season has made a nice transition to shortstop, also drove in eight with two triples and six doubles.
Along with Segura, a newcomer to the Halos is Robinzon Diaz. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Toronto in 2000 - the Monta Playa, Dominican Republic native is a career .281 hitter and inked a deal with the Angels the day after Christmas and immediately began to torch pitching in his home country to the tune of a .338 average, two- homeruns and nine runs driven in over a 24-game period for Gigantes de Cibas. The 27-year old catcher has reached the major leagues on three different occasions and could start the 2012 season at either Arkansas or in triple-A Salt Lake City.
That's the good news.
Now the bad- of the 14 Los Angeles Angels playing this winter in either the Caribbean, Mexico or in the Arizona Fall League no one, other than Segura and Diaz hit higher than .264 with several highly thought of prospects struggling like Mike Trout (.245), Andrew Romine (Travs in 2010, Salt Lake in 2011) at .238, former Trav Hank Conger (.217), Darwin Perez at .233 and Kole Calhoun who spent 2011 at Inland Empire slugging just .216 in 31-games for one of the best teams in Venezuela Navegantes de Magallanes.
Pitching hasn't fared much better. Six current or former Travelers threw this winter from Arizona to Venezuela to Mexico. The most effective was Matt Meyer who split time in 2011 between Arkansas and the Bees of Salt Lake. The lefty went 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 17-games with Licey in the Dominican Republic fanning 15 in 12-innings of work out of the Tigres bullpen.
Only Christian Scholl (4-3 2.32 ERA with the Travs last season) started games this winter. In six outings, the eighth round selection of the Angels in 2008 was 0-3 with a robust 9.90 ERA, striking out 15 in 20-innings and surrendering 22-earned runs for Scottsdale in the AFL. Scholl's teammates with the Scorpions, Daniel Tillman (1-1, 5.23 ERA with one save), David Carpenter (0-0, 6.00 ERA) and Andrew Taylor (0-1, 8.75 ERA, 12-earned runs in 12.1-innings) also saw action in the Arizona Fall League.
When you think winter baseball you think of Venezuela, Mexcio, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Arizona. But a growing winter league experience is coming from down under. Right-handed pitcher Aaron Sookee took the long way home and after spending 2011 between the Rookie League Angels and Orem in the Pioneer League, the Auburn, Australia native donned the uniform of the Sydney Blue Sox and in 24-games struck out 28-hitters in 25-innings.