Detroit Tigers in winter leagues: Victor Reyes alters schedule for playoff run

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers outfielder Victor Reyes wants to be a part of something special in Venezuela.

The 27-year-old was supposed to play for Caribes de Anzoategui in the Venezuelan Winter League from Dec. 8 until Dec. 22, the end of the regular season, but he has decided to stay active on the roster as his team seeks a championship.

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Reyes hit .295 (13-for-44) with two doubles, one triple, four home runs, 18 RBIs, seven walks and six strikeouts in 12 games during the season, making 10 starts in right field, one start in center and one start in left.

Caribes de Anzoategui began their postseason efforts Monday as part of a five-team round-robin competition from Sunday through Jan. 16 with Navegantes del Magallanes, Cardenales de Lara, Tigres de Aragua and Leones del Caracas.

Reyes went 1-for-4 with two RBIs in Monday’s 9-6 loss to Navegantes del Magallanes. He hit a home run in the sixth inning off 36-year-old right-hander Junior Guerra, who pitched 41 games for the Los Angeles Angels in 2021 and has appeared in 213 games (61 starts) over seven MLB seasons.

For Detroit in 2021, Reyes hit .258 with 10 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 22 RBIs, eight walks and 55 strikeouts in 76 games. He had a .325 batting average with four homers in his final 49 games. His season ended Sept. 26, when he landed on the injured list with a right groin strain.

The Tigers tendered the outfielder a contract Nov. 30, meaning he will return for the 2022 season. He is set to compete for an outfield job on the Opening Day roster.

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Isaac Paredes joins Hermosillo

Before the Mexican Pacific Winter League postseason started Christmas Day, the first of three reinforcement drafts — which allows playoff teams to add players from eliminated teams — took place Christmas Eve and involved Tigers infielder Isaac Paredes.

Paredes, from Venados de Mazatlan, was picked by Naranjeros de Hermosillo for the second year in a row and second time in his career. Hermosillo, where Paredes grew up, is facing Sultanes de Monterrey in the first round of the playoffs.

In Sunday’s 10-4 win, Paredes went 3-for-4 with three RBIs to help even the series at 1-1.

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The 22-year-old hit .282 (40-for-142) with six doubles, four home runs, 23 RBIs, 37 walks and 20 strikeouts in 42 games for Venados de Mazatlan in the regular season. He is hitting .500 (4-for-8) with four RBIs, two walks and one strikeout for Hermosillo in two playoff games. He hasn’t homered since Dec. 4.

Paredes in Mexico last winter hit .379 (batting champion) with four homers, 26 RBIs, 27 walks and 12 strikeouts in 42 regular season games, then .227 (5-for-22) with four RBIs, three walks and one strikeout in six playoff games.

In 2021, Paredes played 23 games for the Tigers and 72 games for Triple-A Toledo. He hit .208 in the majors with one home run, five RBIs, 10 walks and 11 strikeouts. For the Mud Hens, he hit .265 with 11 homers, 42 RBIs, 56 walks and 47 strikeouts.

Paredes will compete for a utility infielder role in spring training.

Rony Garcia tabbed for playoff start

Right-hander Rony Garcia made his first start for Estrellas de Oriente on Dec. 17 in the Dominican Winter League, marking his return from a season-ending left knee injury in June.

Next, Garcia is scheduled to pitch in the playoffs.

The 24-year-old will start Thursday against Gigantes del Cibao in the fourth game of a round-robin competition to determine the championship series matchup. The four remaining teams — Oriente, Cibao, Aguilas Cibaenas and Tigres del Licey — each play 18 games in the round robin. The championship is a best-of-nine series.

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Gigantes del Cibao — Garcia’s opponent — has Tigers left-hander Miguel Del Pozo on the roster. He posted a 1.50 ERA with six walks and seven strikeouts over six innings in seven relief appearances during the regular season.

Cibao’s offense is filled with current and former big leaguers, including catcher Webster Rivas (San Diego Padres), first baseman Wilin Rosario (MLB from 2011-15), infielder Jordany Valdespin (MLB from 2012-15), second baseman Richard Urena (MLB from 2017-19), third baseman Luis Marte (MLB in 2021), center fielder Jose Siri (Houston Astros), shortstop Hanser Alberto (MLB from 2015-16, 2018-21) and left fielder Marcell Ozuna (Atlanta Braves).

Garcia, a 2019 Rule 5 draft pick from the New York Yankees, has a career 7.30 ERA with 11 walks and 16 strikeouts over 24⅔ innings in 17 games (two starts) for the Tigers over parts of two MLB seasons.

He posted a 3.20 ERA with 10 walks and 24 strikeouts in 19⅔ innings (four starts) for Toledo in 2021, then a 2.45 ERA with two walks and two strikeouts in 3⅔ innings out of the bullpen for the Tigers before his injury. Garcia should start 2022 in Toledo and eventually return to the majors.

Tigers right-hander Elvin Rodriguez pitches for Tigres del Licey, but it’s unclear if he will participate in the postseason. The 23-year-old, added to Detroit’s 40-man roster in November, had a 3.86 ERA with one walk and six strikeouts across 4⅔ innings in two games (one start) in the Dominican Republic’s regular season.

No walks for Joe Jimenez

Right-handed reliever Joe Jimenez made his most recent appearance Monday, tossing another scoreless inning for Gigantes de Carolina in the Puerto Rican Winter League. The 26-year-old has pitched 5⅓ scoreless innings with zero walks, eight strikeouts and four saves in five games.

Jimenez picked up his fourth save in Monday’s 5-2 win against RA12. Gigantes de Carolina has four regular season games remaining until the playoffs start Jan. 7. Carolina has a 11-16 record and sits in fourth place among the five teams in the league. The top four squads advance.

The fifth-place team, RA12, is 8-19.

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On Monday, Jimenez struck out 22-year-old Joshua Rivera (Kansas City Royals prospect) and 21-year-old Kenen Irizarry (Texas Rangers prospect) for the first and third outs, respectively, in the ninth inning. He also retired 23-year-old Onix Vega (Washington Nationals prospect).

Jimenez posted a 5.96 ERA last season with 35 walks and 57 strikeouts in 45⅓ innings over 52 games out of the Tigers’ bullpen. The former All-Star (in 2018) had a 6.35 ERA with 41 walks and 79 strikeouts in 68 innings in the 2020-21 seasons.

The Tigers tendered a contract, so Jimenez will return to the Tigers for 2022. He isn’t a lock to make the Opening Day roster but will boost his stock if his improved strike-throwing in Puerto Rico translates to spring training.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldRead more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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