A Player’s Look Into The Winter Leagues
Every year players from across Major League and Minor League baseball will travel to Venezuela and the Caribbean for Winter League baseball. It is a way for some of the younger players to keep playing and develop their game, and a chance for the major league players to do the same while also helping the younger guys. It’s also a chance for many of the players that go, to go back home and still play baseball.
We have a couple players that were willing to share their own insights into the life that they lived this past offseason in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
Venezuelan Winter League
Wilfredo Boscan played in the Venezulan Winter League this past off-season pitching for Aguilas del Zulia. The team is based out of Boscan’s hometown of Maracaibo, Venezuela. Last year was the first year Boscan played in the league and he said he enjoyed it.
“I got a lot of experience because there’s a lot of good players over there,” Boscan said. “In Venezuela, I worked a lot on my pitches. I know the hitters were good hitters so I worked on keeping the ball down and throwing good pitches.”
Boscan said the camaraderie between the players is the same, but the ballpark atmosphere is different, mainly due to noise level.
“I like it because there are a lot of fans and everyone is talking. It’s different because there is so much noise over there,” Boscan said.
Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was also playing the Venezuelan Winter League when he was abducted from his home worrying others in the baseball world about the safety of the players. However, Boscan said it was never a concern.
“Whenever the game was over or we needed to travel to another city, we always had security,” Boscan said.
Despite all the ups and downs, Boscan said he would like to play in the league again next off-season.
Dominican Winter League
Carlos Pimentel played in a different league, but similar situations. He played for the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican League. The team is based out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and has been the third most successful Dominican Winter League team since being established in 1921. It could be the success that has been a draw for some familiar names.
“Julio Borbon, Jorge Sosa, Jose Cabrera pitched, and Craig Gentry was over there too,” Pimentel said when asked about some of the players that he played with.
There were others such as the current American League saves leader, Fernando Rodney, and San Francisco Giant’s first baseman Brandon Belt.
It’s experienced players like that, that can help out the players who are making their ways through the minor leagues still and Pimentel agreed.
“Well there are more experienced players over there like big players who hit harder and I have to pitch better.”
The experience doesn’t come without it’s differences, for example the fan bases are one difference.
“Fans over there are crazy fans. There is usually a big crowd at every game. It’s a lot different,” Pimentel said when asked about the fans.
With the crazy fans and all, Carlos Pimentel still hopes to go back to the Winter League during this coming offseason.
“I had lots of fun. Everything over there was fun.”
We will keep you updated later this season as to which players from the Frisco RoughRiders will go to which leagues during the offseason. From the Arizona Fall League to the Winter Leagues, even the offseason can be a hectic time for some of the players.
Written By: Michael Damman and Jarah Wright