Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Kendry Morales Tearing It Up In Winter Ball
Kendry Morales admits there's a noticeable difference between professional baseball in the U.S. and winter ball in the Caribbean. The U.S. is "a lot colder," the Angels slugger says. But Morales' performance has been anything but chilly this season in the Dominican Republic, where he went 3 for 4 with a triple and four RBI on Sunday to raise his league-leading average to .418. Morales also has 26 RBI in 23 games. That's a marked difference from the .213 he hit in 27 games with the Angels last summer, a rough period he chalked up partly as a learning experience.Also: "Dodgers minor leaguer Ivan De Jesus Jr. upped his average to .338 with a four-hit game for last-place Carolina in a win over Santurce."
"I know a little bit more after another year in the big leagues," said Morales, who had 119 at-bats with the Angels in 2007. "I got more opportunities, I got to play more freely. And that's why you're seeing the results you're seeing now."
Although Morales made the Angels' postseason roster and played into October last summer, he took just 15 days before joining Gigantes del Cibao, his winter league team in the Dominican. And with Gigantes taking the league's best record into December, Morales figures to be playing deep into January in the Dominican playoffs.
Look for him to cool off a bit between now and then, however -- and for reasons that have nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with pitching. One National League executive, who didn't want to be quoted by name comparing the four Latin American winter leagues, said the Dominican League is always the most competitive because "they've got power arms out there every day. They roll that pitching over."
But most of that pitching hasn't shown up yet because most big-league teams hold back their top pitching prospects until January to limit workloads.
"He's not facing the big dogs yet," the executive said. "He's facing those guys that are in A ball, that are in the Midwest League. Those are the hard throwers who are just waiting for the veteran guys to come out."