Terrero uses winter to move up
SANTO DOMINGOForget about the Diamondbacks being the youngest franchise to win a World Series with a senior citizens lineup. Here comes Luis Terrero, a young kid from the Dominican Republic destined to be a fixture on that club in the near future and for years to come.
Terrero, a center fielder with an impressive presence, hits both for power and average. The 21-year-old is an accomplished fly-chaser as well as having blazing speed and a cannon arm. He is playing for Azucareros del Este in the Dominican League and is displaying eye-popping ability.
He was hitting .382 (13-for-34) with a league-leading six doubles after being given the chance to play by Azucareros manager Andy Etchebarren.
"I project him to start the year at the Triple-A level, and he should be with the big club before the season is over," said Junior Noboa, the Diamondbacks Latin American coordinator who signed the native of Barahona. "He is a very intelligent kid, always willing to hear advice and learn from mistakes."
While Terrero looks raw at times, Noboa sees those flaws as part of a maturation process. Terrero, listed at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, played for four teams this summer, from short-season Yakima through two Class A teams and on to Double-A El Paso. After a slow start, he rebounded to hit .296-8-27 combined.
"This winter of full seasoning will be great for Luis, and his development as a player because of the experience he is going to get," Noboa said. "A lot of his doubles now will go over the fences as soon as he learns how to make some adjustments in his swing. That always happens with the young hitters who sometimes tend to be too aggressive at the plate."
Terrero drew seven walks and struck out 96 times in 348 at-bats during the regular season.
"But believe me, this kid has a high ceiling, and I am pretty confident that he will be a cornerstone player for the future," Noboa said.
Terrero, who hits with tremendous power to all fields, is starting to create comparisons with former Dominican players who starred in the local league.
Carlos Juan Bernhardt, the general manager for Azucareros and former coach with the Orioles, compares Terrero with a young Cesar Cedeno, who collected 2,089 hits during a 17-year big league career.
"Because of his size, the way he runs, his arm and hitting style, he reminds me a lot about Cedeno when we played together in the early 70s," Bernhardt said. "I think Luis has a bright future."
Terrero is all smiles when told about those accolades.
"I am enjoying this chance to compete with and against a lot of veteran players," he said. "I know that I am still very young and have a lot to learn about the game."
"We dont want to rush him," Noboa said, "but as fast as he is learning, it will be difficult to have him playing in the farm."
Lara Cardinales righthander Jeff Farns-worth (Mariners), who walked 47 batters in 155 innings with Double-A San Antonio in the Texas League this season, had not walked any batters in 37 innings in Venezuela.
In addition, the Seattle prospect had a league-best 1.45 ERA, and his four wins tied him for first in the league with his teammate Mike Porzio, Stephen Randolph (Aragua), Brett Laxton (Magallanes) and Roger Luque (Caracas).
Randolph was pitcher of the week in mid-November, winning two games and striking out 15 in 15 innings. The lefthander had the third best ERA in the league at 2.21.
Righthander Jeremi Gonzalez, who lost his spot in the Cubs rotation thanks to three years of arm surgeries, is trying to recover with Zulia in the Venezuelan League. However, the 26-year-old had not pitched well. In three starts his ERA was 9.75, and he had allowed 18 hits and 13 earned runs in 12 innings.
Outfielder Jason Lane (Astros), the MVP in the Double-A Texas League, was beginning to hit the ball well for Caracas. In 27 games, the Astros prospect was hitting .267-5-16.
Outfielder Jackson Melian, who got a $1.6 million bonus with the Yankees five years ago and has since been traded to the Reds, lost his place in the lineup with Oriente. The team went with lefthanded batters Randall Simon and Chris Wakeland (Tigers) once they arrived in Venezuela. Melian was hitting .250 (9-for-36) without any extra-base hits and five RBIs.
Shortstop Adam Everett (Astros) ended his contract with Caracas, which just received Marlins shortstop Alex Gonzalez. When Everett left Venezuela his average was .328 (22-for-67), eighth-best in the league.
After losing in his first outing, Aragua reliever Victor Zambrano (Devils Rays) had four saves and one win in five appearances.
Juan Melo, part of a multi-player Dominican League trade between Escogido and Azucareros, was leading the league in runs (13) and RBIs (24) after 16 games. He was playing third base for Azucareros, hitting .333 with five homers. Melo was key in a trade for Adrian Beltre, who did not play last winter.
Noboa announced that Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling will visit the Dominican Republic during the winter as special guests of President Hipolito Mejia, who is a baseball fan.
Felix Jose, who played in Korea, once again was off to a good start with Estrellas in the Dominican League. He was leading the league in average (.417), and stood tied in doubles (six) and homers (five) with Melo.
Eddy Garabito of Azucareros leads in hits (22) and is tied with Terrero and Jose in doubles.
Jose Rijo, pitching for Licey, was hit hard in three outings. In 11 innings he had allowed 24 hits and had a 9.28 ERA.
A throwing error in the 13th inning by second baseman Heriberto Garcia scored Daniel Fernandez for a 3-2 win for Mazatlan over Culiacan in the Mexican Pacific League. Thirteen pitchers were usedeight by Culiacan.
Mazatlan topped Los Mochis 9-2 with a five home run attack, including two homers by Lyle Overbay (Diamondbacks).
Contributing: Salo Otero.
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