Friday, May 30, 2008

Fun in Venezuela

Every weekday, I go through box scores for all the Astros minor league teams to compile stats in my database. The other day, I clicked on the four Astros minor league teams that (I thought) hadn't started play yet. Turns out, of the four (Short Season, Rookie Ball, Dominican Summer League), the Venezuelan Summer League has actually started. In fact, they've been playing since May 16. So, being the intrepid minor league sleuth I am, I looked into the Astros team.

Baseball is much different in Venezuela apparently. The oldest player on the Astros team is 20. He also may be their best prospect, but it's just weird to see so many 17 and 18-year old kids on a team together. Then, I found a 16-year old kid playing professional baseball!! You hear about this all the time, kids signing when they turn 16 or 17 in Latin America, but I'd never seen it like this. Pedro Gomez, 16, is a pitcher who's made one start and four relief appearances. He's been okay, not spectacular, but is only 16! My cousin is 16 and he's a junior in high school. Of course, this used to be more common, signing players young and bringing them to the big leagues when they're 19 or 20. It still blows my mind sometimes, though.

At any rate, let's quickly discuss the three prospects on the team. The three best players on the team are second baseman Ricardo Garcia, 19, first baseman/catcher Luis Alvarez, 18, and pitcher Carlos Quevedo, 18. Garcia is hitting .429 in 35 at-bats this season, with a triple and four doubles to his credit. Alvarez leads the team with two home runs and has a batting average of .349. Quevedo has struck out 10 in 13 1/3 innings with an ERA of 0.66. Obviously, this isn't much to go on yet, but these names are at least interesting to keep in mind. I'll keep updating their stats as the season rumbles along.

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