Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Once a Brave, Always a Brave - International Edition

One more look around the world as this series takes us to the players who are playing in either Japan, Korea, or Mexico. For a previous look at this list from way back in May, click here. As usual, these lists cannot be considered exhaustive and with more research, I probably could find more.

Japan / Nippon Professional Baseball
Barbaro Canizares (Fukoda)...A Cuban refugee, Canizares joined the Braves in 2006 and made his major league debut three years later when he had four hits in 21 PA. A trade sent him back down to Gwinnett at the trading deadline. He would spend 2010 with Gwinnett before playing three years in Mexico plus a stop in the American Association. He's trying his luck in Japan and recently hit his first homerun.

Deunte Heath (Hiroshima)...We often think of the hitters that enjoy a move to Japan, but Heath has been solid since moving to Hiroshima last season. The Atlanta-born righty was cut in 2010 and later appeared for the Chicago White Sox, but didn't stick. In 36 total games since last season, Heath has a 2.13 ERA and 1.17 WHIP to go along with over a K an inning.

Ernesto Mejia (Saitama)...Like Canizares, Mejia was blocked at Gwinnett and last year, in his third year with them, the Braves allowed him to seek an opportunity in Japan. He hit great last year (.950 OPS, 34 homers), but has struggled this season though he has continue to hit homers at a nice rate (18 in 101 games).

Ken Ray (Tohoku)...The Atlanta native, who pitched in 69 games with the Braves in 2006, didn't play last year. That hasn't stopped the now 40-year old from pitching in 17 games this season, including 14 starts. He's been a solid pitcher for the Golden Eagles and leads them in ERA among starters (3.10). Crazy that he's still around.

Korean Baseball Organization
Jung Bong (LG/Seoul)...I feel bad for missing this guy last time I did this. Bong is in his ninth year with the LG Twins and his fourth year since moving from starter-to-closer. His first three years were solid, but he has been homer-prone this year. Bong appeared in 45 games with the Braves and three with the Reds after being dealt for Chris Reitsma.

Andy Marte (KT/Suwon)...He's hitting about like you might think he ought to considering he's never had much of a problem hitting pitching that grades below major league (.361/.426/.614). Marte, who hit his first MLB homer in four years with the D'Backs last season, but that just shined light on what Marte never became all those years ago when he seemed like a sure bet.

Yunesky Maya (Doosan/Seoul)...Formerly a Cuban defector the Nats signed, Maya appeared in 16 games between 2010-13 with Washington and sucked in nearly everyone of them. The Braves tried their luck last season with Maya and he was decent enough with Gwinnett, though gave up well over a hit an inning by the time they moved on in July and he went to Korea. While okayish last year, he stunk this season and was later cut.

Mexican League
Luis Ayala (Tabasco)...As much as I cringed when he came into games during 2013, Ayala stayed out of trouble and got groundballs. He spent some of last year with Buffalo for the Jays and then a stop in Tabasco. His 2015 season was a more extended stay with the Olmecas and he was very solid with a 2.04 ERA and 17 saves in 51 games. Gotta wonder if this is it for Ayala, who turns 38 in January.

Kyle Farnsworth (Puebla)...Yep. Farny is still around. A little more than a month ago, he began his return to life action by appearing in middle relief for the Pericos. Before that, Farnsworth was last seen getting cut by the Astros last June.

Freddy Garcia (Monterrey)...A recent addition to the Random Ex-Braves collection, Garcia started the year with the Dodgers organization, but after being cut, he headed to Tabasco. He wasn't much better there, but has gotten on a nice run with Monterrey since July.

Diory Hernandez (Veracruz)...Signed back in 2002, Hernandez spent portions of three seasons with the Braves between 2009-11 and hit .157. I'd like to say that was unfair, but Hernandez was known for his glove and not much else. The Braves released him and after a 2012 spent with the Cubs and Astros organizations, Hernandez headed south of the border.

Wil Ledezma (Puebla)...I hated the trade to get Ledezma. I hated the deal that sent Ledezma away. After failing to make the Twins roster this spring, Ledezma headed back south to play with Puebla, an eventual playoff team.

Donell Linares (Saltillo)...Another Cuban defector, Linares first played with the Braves in 2008 and after a solid year with Myrtle Beach the following year, he spent two years at Mississippi hitting .259 with a .689 OPS. Atlanta cut him and he headed to Mexico where he has played since. He's been a .333 hitter in the Mexican League...for whatever that's worth.

Michael Nix (Saltillo)...Still living the dream. Nix was a 2005 11th rounder out of Auburn who made it to Richmond in 2008 before being cut. He's bounced around since with stops in the Rockies, White Sox, and most recently, Padres organization. He's also spent parts of six seasons in the Atlantic League. Seeking to increase his jersey collection, he's in Mexico this year where he's been a sturdy starter for the Saraperos, which, if Wikipedia is to believed, means serape user. Okay...

Max Ramirez (Tabasco)...I hated the trade to acquired Bob Wickman in 2006, but only because I loved Ramirez. However, the young catching prospect never developed into a hitter, batting .217 over 45 games with the Rangers during 2008 and 2010. He did show plate discipline and still does. After playing in eight different organizations, Ramirez has spent this year in Mexico for two different teams and posted a near-.900 OPS. He'll only be 31 this October so you have to think someone will give him a chance this offseason.

Atahualpa Severino (Monterrey)...The 5'10" southpaw spent last year with Gwinnett as he tried to get back into the majors, but never got much of a look. He tried the Angels this offseason, but the PCL didn't agree with him and he was cut. His control has been awful since heading to Mexico.

Oscar Villarreal (Monterrey)...Yep, El Vulture is still around. Few Braves deserved more disdain than Villarreal in 2006. He seemed to come in just to give up a run so that the starter lost a chance at the win. The offense would take the lead back and magically, Villarreal was 9-1 on the season with a FIP of 4.83. He even started four games because we couldn't have nice things in 2006. Villy has spent the bulk of the last three years with Monterrey both as a middle reliever and closer and has been pretty decent, but as a Braves fan, I still get flashbacks of Bobby Cox going to him and holding on for dear life.

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