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Phils in Winter Ball: Part One

With only a few weeks left until camps open in Florida and Arizona, the various winter leagues that run south of the U.S. border have completed their regular seasons, with the champions now preparing for the round-robin Caribbean Series to be held in February. A number of current and hopeful future Phillies took the field this winter, looking to raise their visibility and position themselves for big-league jobs in 2006. This piece looks at how Phils position players fared in the winter leagues; later this week, we'll examine how Gavin Floyd, Yoel Hernandez and other Phils pitchers fared south of the border.

Name (League) Pos AB R H HR RBI Avg OBP SLG
Abraham Nunez (Dom) INF 172 30 52 4 24 .302 .448 .412
Jorge Padilla (PR) OF 127 20 37 5 17 .291 .382 .465
Tomas Perez (Ven) INF 196 32 51 1 13 .261 .316 .311
Juan Richardson (DOM) 3B 41 6 9 0 4 .220 .293 .319
Chris Roberson (Mex) OF 192 32 59 4 19 .307 .361 .443
Carlos Ruiz (Dom) C 89 16 28 1 14 .315 .435 .416
Danny Sandoval (Ven) INF 101 12 32 3 11 .317 .349 .505

Among the position players, Chris Roberson and Carlos Ruiz bolstered their cases for bench jobs or early callup consideration.

Roberson's Mexican League season with the Hermosillo Orange Growers looks like a continuation of his strong 2005 campaign at Reading, where he set a franchise single-season record with 172 hits. The 26 year-old outfielder also was successful on 9 of 10 steal attempts for Hermosillo. For now, it looks like Roberson will begin 2006 in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outfield with fellow prospects Michael Bourn and Josh Kroeger, but a pending trade of Jason Michaels could create an opening for him.

Ruiz, also on the old side for a prospect at 27, won raves for his defense, on-base skills and leadership with Tigres del Licey  of the Dominican League, though his performance in the postseason has dropped a bit (9-for-40, .225). New Phillie Abraham Nunez hasn't exactly been hailed as a brilliant pickup on this site or elsewhere, but his winter ball performance might offer some hope: Nunez showed patience, power and durability with Estrellas Del Oriente in the Dominican League, and if he comes anywhere close to that performance with the 2006 Phils, he'll surely win some admirers and well-wishers. His performance stands in contrast to incumbent utility infielder Tomas Perez, who followed a lousy 2005 for the Phils with a lousy winter ball campaign for the Venezuelan League's Magallanes Navigators. In fact, Danny Sandoval, the AAA infielder who should have had Perez's job (if not David Bell's) last year, clearly outperformed his fellow Venezuelan this winter.

Other Phillies farmhands who played this winter included veteran minor leaguer Jim Rushford and infielder Peeter Ramos, picked up in the minor league portion of the December Rule V draft.