Lefthander Antonio Bastardo pitched 6 1-3 no-hit innings Tuesday, lowering his Dominican Winter League ERA to 2.01 in five starts.
Along with Walter Tejeda, a 23-year-old lefthander who pitched in the Sally League last season, Bastardo, also 23, is the Phillies’ lone representative in the six-team Dominican Winter League. Bastardo was the hottest hand in the minors for a short time and was fast tracked from Clearwater to Reading to mixed results, struggling with his command before suffering an arm injury. Easily a top 20 prospect within the organization, Bastardo's good stuff/bad command tale is a cautionary one, echoed in the careers of many of his compatriots currently pitching in the Dominican Winter League. A couple of hot months in the Dominican often translates into a marginal showing in Double or Triple-A the following season.
Nevertheless, the league, which includes players of all ages and levels of experience, is worthy of light scouting. Two winters ago, the Phils followed the advice of a scout and took a flier on Antonio Alfonseca, who became a serviceable late-inning option during the first half of the 2007 season. Alfonseca, allegedly 36, has appeared in four games this fall, and has been hit hard.
The list is actually quite long with ex-Philadelphia flameouts currently pitching in the Dominican: Francisco Rosario, who the Phils cut ties with after the season; Fabio Castro, traded to the Jays for Matt Stairs, Anderson Garcia, Pedro Liriano, Ezequiel Astacio, Eude Brito, Robinson Tejeda, Alfredo Simon, Aquilino Lopez, Julio Mateo, Elizardo Ramirez, among many others, have participated this winter.
There's value out there if you can find the right guy to resurrect. Aquilino Lopez gave the Tigers 78 2-3 pretty good relief innings in 2008. His resume isn't all that different from many of the players awaiting their next assignment in the DR.
For a full list of the Dominican League pitching leaders, click here.