With spring training around the corner, I thought it would be nice to give an overview of Dutch and Netherlands Antillian players who play in the US at various levels. I will drag those players into the spotlight that play on MLB, AAA, AA, A Advanced, A Full Season, A Short Season and Rookie (Appalachian and Pioneer League).
Matt den Dekker: With a Dutch father (thank you honkbalsite.com) we can claim that Matt is a Dutchie as well. Matt started the season at AAA Las Vegas before he was called up in June. In 53 MLB games he sported a .250 batting average with seven runs batted in. In 45 games in the outfield, this Met committed four errors (.986 fielding percentage). In 2014 he has been used as fourth outfielder. I expect him to make the cut in 2015 but it remains to be seen if he will become an every day player.
Andrelton Simmons: Simmons had a great defensive year again, though his numbers were slightly worse than in 2013. But still they were good enough to win a consecutive Gold Glove Award at the position of shortstop. His fielding percentage was a bit lower than 2013 (.978 in 2014 compared with .981 in 2013). In his second full year with the Braves he struggled at bat but eventually he fought his way back from near .200 to .244. In his last seven games of 2014 he batted a respectable .286. No doubt that he will be the starting shortstop for the Braves again, barring injuries.
Xander Bogaerts: In his first full season with the Red Sox, Xander had a tough year. During the first half he was their starting shortstop and did a decent job. At bat he did a decent job as well, until Boston signed Stephen Drew to play shortstop again. Bogaerts moved to third base and from that moment on his numbers were on a downslide. Eventually the Red Sox traded drew to the Yankees (lame move by Cashman) and Bogaerts moved back to short. Eventually he fought his way back from a batting average around .200 to .244. His defensive numbers were a lot better than in 2013. In 2014 he had a .975 fielding percentage over .910 in the previous year. In his final month Bogaerts hit a respectable .313 and .333 in his last seven games. If the Red Sox stop moving him around, I think he can become a player that they can enjoy for a long time to come. In the final month of the season he has shown that he can hit.
Mariekson “Didi” Gregorius: On December 5, 2014 the news was spread around that the Yankees had traded for Didi Gregorius. This was the best gift that I could receive for Sinterklaas evening (a Dutch festivity that you can compare with Boxing Day). Gregorius had a tough season in 2014. After he went to Australia with the Diamondbacks he was sent down to AAA Reno. It looked like he had to deal with the disappointment because his numbers at AAA didn’t excel in the beginning. Later in the season he fought his way back and in June he was called up as an injury backup for Cliff Pennington. First the Diamondbacks platooned him with Chris Owings but when the season continued he got more playing time. Eventually he ended the season with a .226 batting average. On the defensive side he has shown that he is a good defensive shortstop with a fielding percentage of .983. New Yankees batting coach Jeff Pentland claims that he forsees a bright future for Gregorius. If only the Yankees will have some patience with the kid.
Kenley Jansen: In his third full season as the Dodgers’ closer, Kenley posted some great numbers again. Even though his ERA was considerably higher than in 2013 (2.76 vs 1.88 in 2013) he converted 44 games out of 49 opportunities. He kept the opposing batters at a batting average of .224. There is no doubt that he will be the closer for the Dodgers in 2015.
Jurrickson Profar: Jurrickson didn’t play the entire 2014 season because he was bothered by an array of injuries/setbacks. The Rangers expect him to start at AAA Round Rock.
Jonathan Schoop: Jonathan is another infielder from the island of Curacao. Jonathan had a tough year at the plate. For the biggest part of the season his batting average hovered around .200. He ended the year with an average of .209. His defense on the other hand was good. He played most games at second base where he posted a .987 fielding percentage. At third base his numbers were a bit on the downside (.902). It remains to be seen where he will start the season in 2015. His defensive skills will not be the problem but his batting skills may be. If he can improve his hitting he will be safe for 2015. According to Baseball America, there are no shorstops or second basemen in the Orioles’ prospects top ten. The only infielder who can make the jump to the bigs is Christian Walker. But he is a first baseman and it is very unlikely that the O’s will let him play second base.
Roger Bernadina: The gentle giant from Curacao had his best MLB season in 2012 when he hit .291 with five homeruns and a fielding percentage of 1.000. But ever since his numbers are declining. Last season he split the season between the Reds (who released him in August) and the Dodgers, who picked him up and sent him to AAA Albuquerque. Shortly before he would join the Dutch team for the 2014 European Cup, he was called up by the Dodgers to serve as a pinch runner mainly. With the Reds he collected 9 hits in 59 at bats, with 3 doubles and 5 RBI. When the Dodgers picked up his contract he hit .246 (14 hits out of 57 at bats). After his call up to LA, he collected 2 hits in 7 at bats with a homerun and 4 RBI. After the season the Dodgers released him. It took him a while but eventually he signed a minor league deal with the Rockies with an invitation for Spring Training Camp. Right now he is on the roster of the Rockies AAA team in Albuquerque. If Bernadina can regain his shape of 2012 he will earn a spot at the MLB roster for sure. Otherwise I fear that AAA will be the best possible option for him this season.
Jair Jurrjens: After a long absence due to some nagging injuries, Jair made his come back at the Majors this year. In the first years of his MLB career with the Braves he seemed to have a bright future. After the 2012 season Jair became a free agent and signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million deal with Baltimore. But after the O’s double checked his medical records they discovered some things that they didn’t like and eventually signed him to a minor league deal. During the 2013 season he was called up from and sent down to Norfolk several times before he was released by the O’s. He finished his season with the Tigers’ AAA affiliate in Toledo. During that year he posted a 4.57 ERA at AAA level. In 2014 he signed a minor league deal with the Reds who opted him to AAA Louisville. In six starts he posted a 2-3 record with a 4.54 ERA before they traded him to Colorado. The Rockies sent hims down to Colorado Springs (AAA) where he didn’t clinch a win in eight starts but was tabbed with the loss five times. In his sole MLB start of 2014 he pitched 4 2/3 innings in which he gave up eight runs on twelve hits. During this game he was bothered by altitude sickness and had breathing problems. After the season he became FA again but signed a minor league deal with the Rockies once more. They have placed him on the roster of their AAA affiliate in Albuqueruqe. Since Jurrjens was not able to turn his career around, I think that AAA will be the best possible level that he can reach in 2015 unless he can sign a deal in Japan or Korea.
Juan Carlos Sulbaran: Juan Carlos played at AA level most of the season in 2014. At the Royals AA affiliate Northwest Arkansas Naturals he had his ups and his downs. He finished the season in the Texas League with a 8-10 record and a 3.45 ERA. He struck out 116 batters in 127.1 innings pitched. The only thing that needs to improve is the batting average of his opponents. With .265 it is rather high. After the Texas League season he was called up to AAA Omaha where he joined the Stormchasers during the AAA playoffs. But he never saw any action there. Right now he is on the Stormchasers’ roster. After 1.5 seasons at AA level, I expect Juan Carlos to start the season at AAA.
Shawn Zarraga: After a solid season in which he split time between AA and AAA Shawn was traded from Milwaukee to the Dodgers. At AA Huntsville he hit a whopping .330. Those numbers earned him a promotion to AAA Memphis but the difference between AA and AAA seemed a bit too big. At Memphis he didn’t get an further than a .213 average. At AA level he threw out 35% of the potential base stealers. In the sixteen games he played at Memphis, he threw out four of the thirteen potential base stealers. After his trade to Los Angeles he received an invitation to Spring Training Camp. I expect Shawn to start the season at AAA.
Spencer Kieboom who spent the entire 2014 season at A Full Season level,has been promoted to the Nationals’ AA team Harrisburg. Spencer finished the 2014 campaign with a .309 batting average with 102 hits, 28 doubles, 4 triples, 9 homeruns and 61 runs batted in. On the defensive side he threw out 40% of the base stealers. In 86 games he committed only two errors. Apparently the Nationals were very impressed with his performance when they let him skip one level. It is like beating a dead horse when I say that I expect him to start the season in Harrisburg, but it will all depend on his performance at spring training. But the fact that the Nationals moved him up two levels will give him a reasonable shot to start at AA in 2015. It appears that the Nationals have some faith in Kieboom as they sent him down to Arizona to play in the Arizona Fall League in 2014.
Sharlon Schoop: Sharlon played all season at AA Bowie. He played a total of 76 games (47 at shortstop, 18 at third base and 11 and second base) in which he batted .217. In total he committed nine errors; seven at shortstop and two at third base. In total he combined for a .970 fielding percentage. It will be a surprise if Sharlon won’t start at AA this year.
Hainley Statia: Just like Shawn Zarraga, Hainley split time between AAA Nashville and AA Huntsville. In the first part of the season he was surging at bat. But as the season continued it slowly fell from above .300 to .260. At the end of the AA season he crawled back to a respectable .278. At AAA Nashville he collected eleven hits out of fourty-two at bats. As a fielder he was used everywhere in the infield and in left field. Since his batting average wasn’t all that bad at AAA, I will not be surprised if Hainley will start the season at AAA Colorado Springs
Christopher Garia: Christopher didn’t play the complete season due to an ankle injury. He finished the season with a .284 batting average with 113 hits, 7 doubles, 11 triples and 4 homeruns. Christopher stole 45 bases in 57 attempts. I think that due to the injury he may start at A Advanced but if he can keep putting up those numbers, I think that he will be promoted soon.
Lars Huijer: After a splendid season with the Everett AquaSox, Lars was promoted to the Clinton LumberKings of the A Full Season Midwest League. With the LumberKings Lars had twelve starts in sixteen games. He won four of them and lost five. This was no reason for the Mariners not to send him up to A Advanced. He joined the High Desert Mavericks of the California League. He was hit hard in the desert area. The dry air makes the hit balls travel further. He finished the season in the California League with a 2-4 record and a 6.54 ERA. Recently Huijer was traded to the Cubs. The expectation will be that he will start at the Cubs’ A Advanced team, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
Randolf Oduber: Randolf started the season at AA Harrisburg, but after one game he was sent down to Potomac of the A Advanced Carolina League, where he stayed the remainder of the season. In the beginning of the season his batting average was just below .300. He finished the season with an average of .266. Apparently not high, but in his last ten games he found back his groove as he hit a splendid .394. As an outfielder he committed 5 errors in 119 games, resulting in a fielding percentage of .979. Based on his numbers of his last ten games, I think that he may start the 2015 season at AA again.
A Full Season
Carlton Daal: This 21-year old shortstop played all season for the A Full Season farm team of the Cincinnati Reds, the Dayton Dragons. At bat he was certainly a force to be reckoned with. His batting averaged stalled at .296 with 102 singles, 10 doubles, 3 triples and a homerun. On the defensive side there is a lot to improve. He committed a league leading 39 errors, resulting in a .911 fielding percentage. Based on his offensive stats, I think he may start the season at A Advanced Daytona Tortugas.
Sherman Lacrus: After spending a short season at the Arizona Rangers, Sherman was placed on the Spokan Indians (A Short Season) Northwest League. This 21-year old catcher played 45 games in which he hit .266 with 40 hits of which 9 doubles, 2 triples and three homeruns. In 31 games he sat behind home plate and committed four errors. The remaining four games he played in the outfield where he did not commit an error.
Sicnarf Loopstok: After a short stint of five games with the Arizona Indians, Sicnarf (which is Francis spelled backward) was promoted to the Lake County Captains (A Full Season) of the Midwest League. He hit .278 with a .366 on base percentage. Behind the plate he committed one error in ten games (.990 fielding percentage). Since the number of games played at A Full Season was limited to only ten, I think that he will start the season with Lake County.
John Polonius: John played all season for the Augusta GreenJackets (A Full Season team of the San Francisco Giants). In 44 games he posted a .257 batting average. It seems to be rather low at this level but in his final ten games he managed to hit .484 so he raised his average from .214. John played split time at second base, third base and at shortstop. It is clear that his natural position is second base when you look at his fielding percentage of .983. I think that he has to mature a bit at the plate, so he probably will start the season at Augusta. If he can put up the same numbers as in his final ten games of 2014, a promotion to A Advanced will not take long.
Chadwick Tromp: After an impressive season with the Arizona Reds in which he batted .323 with a .859 OPS, Chadwick was promoted to the Midwest League’s Dayton Dragons. The difference between the leagues was rather big as he hit a modest .231. He caught only five games in Dayton and did not commit an error. He is still on the roster of the Dragons, so it is safe to say that he may very well start the season in Dayton.
A Short Season
Juremi Profar: Juremi’s season was a roller coaster ride. He started the season at Hickory (A Full Season), but he was called up rather soon to Round Rock (AAA). In two games with the Express, he collected two hits out of six at bats. He ended the season with the Spokane Indians (A Short Season) where he hit a rather disappointing .246. In 41 games at third base with the Indians he committed five errors, resulting in a .941 fielding percentage. Since he is still on the Indians roster, I think that he will start the 2015 campaign in the Northwest League.
Denzel Richardson: After spending 22 games in the Pioneer League (Rookie) with the Grand Junction Rockies, Denzel was promoted to the Tri-City Dust Devils of the Northwest League. In 18 games he collected 12 hits in 60 at bats (.200). As a rightfielder he did not commit any error in the Northwest League. After the Rockies changed affiliations in this league, he is now on the Boise Hawks roster.
Darren Seferina: Darren had a great season with the State College Spikes. Most of the season his battig average was above .300 but in the final weeks of the season he got in a slump. He finished the season with a respectable .294. He committed 8 errors in 47 games at second base (.961). With the Spikes Darren won the New York-Penn League championship by beating the Tri-City Valley Cats 2-1 in a best of three series. Unfortunately, Darren wasn’t the impact player that you expected him to be. In three games he went 1 for 11. Based on the numbers that he put up in the regular season, I think that he will be promoted to A Full Season.
Jiandido Tromp: Jiandido started the 2014 season with the Lakewood BlueClaws. But after a while and a .226 batting average he was sent down to the Williamsport CrossCutters of the New York-Penn League (A Short Season). At Williamsport he did much better with an average of .266. In 77 games he committed four errors (.974). Since he struggled at A Full Season level, I think that Jiandido will start the season with the CrossCutters.
Nick Urbanus: 2014 was a tough season for Nick. Not only was he bothered by a nagging wrist injury, he struggled at the plate as well. Nick split time between the Arizona Rangers and the Hickory Crawdads (South Atlantic League). In 48 for the Crawdads, he posted a .212 batting average. He played most games at second base where he did not commit an error. Despite having played at the level before, I think that the Rangers will let Urbanus start the season at A Short.
Ozhaino Albies: The shortstop of the Danville Braves (Appalachian League) was terrific at bat. In 135 at bats he collected 48 hits (.356) with 14 runs batted in. His defense needs some improvement though. In 37 games he committed 7 errors (.950). Based on his batting, I think that Ozhaino will start the season at A Full Season. According to MLBPipeline.com, Ozhaino is ranked 9th in the Braves top 100 of prospects.
Danny Arribas: This catcher in the Pirates’ organization played 44 games at Bristol (Appalachian League). He sported an average of .281. Behind the plate he committed five errors and at first base two. Even though his numbers aren’t spectacular, I think that Danny will be promoted to A Short Season.
Gianfranco Wawoe: During the short season of the Appalachian League, Gianfranco’s batting average came close to .300 but in the final weeks he got into a slump and ended the season with an average of .275. Despite being his natural position, he committed 9 errors in 28 games at shortstop. After the 2014 season, the Mariners left Pulaski without a team. Therefore I think that Gianfranco will start the 2015 campaign at Everett.