Blue Jays - Caribbean Winter Leagues Update

Thursday, January 09 2003 @ 12:15 PM EST

Contributed by: Craig B

The team's Official Site has an update on the play of several Blue Jay farmhands in the Domincan, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan winter leagues. Apparently, and unsurprisingly, the Venezuelan season shut down on Dec. 2 due to the unrest there. Hopefully the team is in touch with all its players (nine Toronto minor leaguers were playing in the Venezuelan Witner League) and they can be brought out soon, or at least before the season starts.

Aquilino Lopez (in the Dominican) and Gustavo Chacin (in Venezuela) both look to have had excellent Winter League seasons. But Guillermo Quiroz really struggled in the few games he played in Venezuela, and Miguel Negron struggled in Puerto Rico.

Remember, though, that these seasons are very short and don't really have a lot of evidentiary value about a player's development.

Aside from the danger from political violence, what is most worrying (from a baseball perspective) about the political situation in Venezuela is that if the disruption to baseball there continues, players who are unable to obtain visas to play in the U.S. will be left without an option for summer play. Only a limited number of visas are granted to MLB teams, and those players who don't qualify for a visa to play in a U.S.-based minor league will normally play in a summer league in their home country. Hopefully, if the Venezuelan unrest continues, provisions can be made for signed players there to come to the U.S. or Canada or to another country, to continue their development as players. Juan Altuve and Arnoldo Ponce, for example, both played in the Venezuelan Summer League last year.