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Oakland A's winter leagues: Rangel Ravelo is destroying the Venezuelan League

Start penciling Ravelo into your 2016 Cactus League lineups.
Start penciling Ravelo into your 2016 Cactus League lineups.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Rangel Ravelo es en fuego. The 23-year-old first baseman is eviscerating the Venezuelan Winter League, and on Saturday he continued right along by slugging his league-leading fifth homer and reaching base in all four of his plate appearances.

Ravelo seemed like a candidate to reach Oakland in 2015, but he hurt his wrist during spring training and didn't return to the field until late June. Perhaps he would have gotten some of Max Muncy's reps as the A's backup first baseman if he hadn't gotten hurt, but instead he headed back to Double-A to reprove himself. He quickly passed that test, with a 139 wRC+ in 22 games (98 PAs) for the Midland RockHounds, but he didn't do much in Triple-A the rest of the way -- just an 86 wRC+ in 28 games (112 PAs), without showing anything special in terms of power or plate discipline. It was something of a lost year for the youngster.

Well, you can forget about that. The Venezuelan League is considered to be somewhere around a Triple-A level*, and Ravelo is currently its Babe Ruth. He reached base twice on Sunday, three times on Monday (then got two days off), four times on Thursday, five times on Friday, and then capped it off with a homer, a single, a walk, and a HBP on Saturday. He has more or less stopped getting out -- he's been retired just once in his last 14 plate appearances, and twice in his last 18. His overall numbers for the Cardenales de Lara, in 19 games and 77 plate appearances:

Ravelo: .510/.636/.902 (1.538 OPS), 5 HR, 21 BB, 8 Ks, 3 SB

Most of those numbers lead the entire eight-team league, including the average, OBP, SLG, homers (tied), and walks. He's even among the top seven in steals (leader has 5). To put those percentages into words, he gets a hit half of the time that he doesn't walk, he gets on base in nearly two-thirds of his trips to the plate, and he averages nearly a full base per at-bat. Those are peak Bonds numbers, in the context of the league he's playing in.

Ravelo's first taste of real Triple-A didn't go well this year, but he's making up for it in a Triple-A equivalent. I don't know about you, but I'm already getting excited to see this guy in the Cactus League next spring. And if you like some fire in your players, here's what happens when the rest of the league gets tired of watching him crush them (Ravelo is the batter, No. 44):

Elsewhere in the Venezuelan League, Franklin Barreto is showing signs of life for Aguilas del Zulia. He singled on Thursday and then went 2-for-4 with a homer on Friday, but he followed that up with an 0-for-5 on Saturday to remind us that he is a 19-year-old playing against Triple-A talent. Here are the rest of the notable A's prospects in the league:

Barreto: 8-for-47, 1 HR, 1 2B, 3 BB, 11 Ks, 2 SB, .471 OPS

Jose Torres: 4 ip, 3 runs, 5 Ks, 5 BB (6 games)
Carlos Navas: 1 ip, 3 runs, 4 hits (1 game)
Jesus Zambrano: 2 ip, 2 runs, 1 K, 1 HR (1 game)
Victor Veliz: 5 ip, 5 ER, 2 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HR, 5 hits (10 games)

Torres and Navas each excelled at Single-A Beloit in 2015 and reached High-A Stockton late in the year, so they are a bit above their experience level here. Zambrano and Veliz both made a couple odd appearances for Triple-A Nashville this year but have mostly pitched in Rookie League ball to this point in their careers.

Here is the best summary I could find of foreign league equivalents. Feedback is welcome in the comments.

Arizona Fall League

The Mesa LOLar Sox are a joke, with a 4-12 record that ranks last in the 6-team league by several games. But don't worry too much about that -- Renato Nunez is still hitting well, Chad Pinder hasn't played since Oct. 21 while away on a personal issue (should be returning Monday), and Sean Manaea has 13 Ks and 3 walks in 12 innings in a hitter's league. Two of the important prospects are playing reasonably well, and the other was away but not injured. If the rest of the club sucks, then whatever. It's 80% other teams' prospects anyway.

The big day for the A's was Tuesday, as most of their players got action. Manaea started but put up his first stinker in three tries, going 4 innings and allowing 5 runs on 6 hits and a pair of walks. On the bright side, he still struck out five batters and he didn't allow a homer.

The relievers didn't do a whole lot better. Brendan McCurry recorded five outs but allowed a run, Kris Hall got four outs but also issued his first walk, and Aaron Kurcz got lit up for three runs in his inning (on four hits and a walk, albeit w/ 2 Ks). In the lineup, Nunez and Jaycob Brugman each went 1-for-5. The Solar Sox lost, and the A's didn't do much to avoid that fate.

On the bright side, Nunez homered the next day, in a one-run victory! (11-10, but that's still one run!)

On Friday, McCurry was the only Mesa pitcher (out of five) to hold Scottsdale scoreless in a 12-1 loss. He went two frames and struck out a pair. Unfortunately, one of the other pitchers was Hall, who allowed another walk in a three-run inning (but also got all three outs on Ks!). The overall stats:

Nunez: 14-for-54, 4 HR, 3 BB, 15 Ks, .259/.298/.519 (.817 OPS)
Pinder: 6-for-17, 2 HR, 2 2B, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 1.212 OPS
Brugman: 7-for-37, 4 BB, 10 Ks, .526 OPS

Manaea: 3 starts, 12 ip, 13 Ks, 3 BB, 0 HR, 6.75 ERA
Kurcz: 4 games, 4 ip, 6 Ks, 4 BB, 1 HR, 11.25 ERA
McCurry: 6 games, 7 ip, 6 Ks, 1 BB, 0 HR, 5.14 ERA
Hall: 6 games, 6⅓ ip, 8 Ks, 2 BB, 2 HR, 9.95 ERA

Again, context time. The AFL is a hitter's league made up of mostly Double-A and Triple-A players. For Manaea, who just came from Double-A himself, it's sort of like pitching in an All-Star Game every time out. McCurry and Hall both spent most of 2015 in Double-A as well, so this is steep competition for them too. I would like to see a better performance out of Kurcz, though, since I figure he is challenging for a spot in Oakland's bullpen next spring. I'd also like to see more from Brugman, the recent Texas League playoff hero, but it's hard to complain about his 2015 as a whole.


The only other player of note is Max Muncy, who is with Charros de Jalisco in the Mexican Pacific League. Unfortunately, he appears to be injured at the moment, as he hasn't played since Oct. 17. This report indicates a 10-day timetable, but I'm not sure if that's from the date of the tweet (Oct. 31) or the date of the injury (we're 14 days past his last appearance). (Note: Earlier in the conversation, when asked what was wrong with Muncy, the reporter cited what Twitter translated as "a problem at the waist.")

We'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, here he is hitting a home run for Charros (.850 OPS in seven games):

Note that instead of a giant Coke bottle (like at AT&T Park), they have a giant Tecate bottle in left field. Winning.

Here are the full stats for all the A's winter league players.