DETROIT—For some players, the winter months are about more than just getting ready for spring training. They use winter ball as a chance to open eyes and create opportunities to make the jump to Detroit in 2010.
One player who made that jump last year is catcher Alex Avila. Avila did more than just jump from Double-A Erie to the majors; he batted .279/.375/.590 once he got there. But Avila struggled with Escogido in the Dominican League this winter, hitting just .140/.228/.160 in 15 games.
One of Avila's teammates at Escogido was right fielder Brennan Boesch, who will get a chance to make the big league club after slugging 28 homers and hitting .275/.318/.510 with the SeaWolves last season. Boesch did not fare well in winter ball, either, batting .212/.270/.394 in 18 games.
Among the more interesting moves this winter is one made by Wilkin Ramirez, who played center field regularly for the first time in his career. Ramirez played 21 games in center for Licey in the Dominican League, where he batted .297/.360/.366.
Success has been fleeting for Tiger pitching prospects this winter. Righthander Alfredo Figaro, who made several starts for Detroit after going 6-3, 3.60 with 69 strikeouts in 80 innings for Erie, had a 15.43 ERA in two starts for Oriente in the Dominican League.
Righthander Zach Simons had a 4.50 ERA in eight appearances for Margarita in the Venezuelan League after pitching well for both Erie and Toledo last year.
Also pitching in the Venezuelan League was righthander Brayan Villarreal, who was 0-1, 4.50 in three appearances for Anzoategui. Villarreal was 5-5, 2.87 with 118 whiffs in 103 innings for low Class A West Michigan.
One young pitcher who had success this winter was righthander Josh Rainwater, who had a 2.80 ERA in 13 appearances for Ponce in the Puerto Rican League. Last season Rainwater went 3-4, 3.93 with five saves in a season split between Toledo and Erie.
• The Tigers signed lefty Hua-Wei Lo, an 18-year-old from Taiwan. Lo is considered raw but is young and throws 87-90 mph while flashing a potentially above-average curveball.
• Among the Tigers' minor league free-agent signings this offseason is third baseman Kory Casto, once considered one of the Nationals' top prospects.