The full complement of Winter league baseball is now under way and there are young Orioles and Oriole-affiliated minor leaguers playing in Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Australia.
Though technically no longer an Oriole, the first friend of CC to truly distinguish himself has been Zelous Wheeler. Since spending most of 2013 with the Bowie Baysox, Wheeler has moved south of the border to log some time with the Guasave Algodoneros of La Liga Mexicana del Pacifico. Wheeler earned Player of the Week honors on the strength of a three home run start that pushed the Cotton Pickers to five wins in their first eight games (for what it's worth, Wheeler has done it again). Wheeler has posted a .299/.412/.557 slash line in 28 games.
Also logging time in the Mexican league is knuckleballing curiosity Eddie Gamboa. The UC Davis product has performed well in five starts with Los Mayos de Navojoa allowing 10 walks, 25 hits and only one homer in 31 innings. In his most recent starts, Gamboa has shown a knack for inducing groundballs, including 6.1 innings of shutout ball against Los Venados de Mazatlan in which he pitched to a 2.20 GO/AO. He also pitched five shutout innings in his last start
Thus far, the greatest number of Orioles farmhands to log time in Winter ball have done so in La Liga Venezuela Profesional. Newly minted Eastern League Player of the Year and Topps AA All Star Caleb Joseph has played in 13 games for Los Bravos de Margarita. Joseph has slashed .275/.321/.451 with two homers and three doubles. He has appeared to play strictly first base.
There are also three Orioles playing for Los Caribes de Anzoategui, including two lefties from the big club's 40 man roster, Chris Jones and T.J. McFarland. Jones has logged 7.2 innings over 13 games and posted a less than impressive 2.35 WHIP. Opponents are hitting .421 against him, but he's averaging over two groundouts for every fly out. McFarland has made a considerably better go of things. Pitching primarily as a starter, McFarland has averaged about five groundouts for every fly out and has held opponents to a .184 batting average. He's also allowed only four earned runs in 24 innings. Buck Britton and Marcel Prado have also seen action in the Venezuelan League.
The only Orioles currently playing in the Dominican Winter League are Garabez Rosa (.167 BA in seven games) and Miguel Chalas (one scoreless IP).
In the Australian Baseball League, former indy leaguer Tucker Nathans has gotten off to a quick, BABIP-fueled start hitting .361 in eight games with no walks. Nathans is tied for the league lead in doubles with 4. New Zealander Pita Rona has not had the same luck. He's struck out 12 times in his first seven games and is hitting .091. Pitchers Kevin Grendell and Zach Staniewicz saw limited action in the first week.