Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
When the name Molina comes up in baseball the natural thought is of a catcher as in brothers Bengie, Jose and Yadier, the latter still a standout with the St. Louis Cardinals. Those are the Puerto Rican Molinas.
San Francisco Giants fans may one day before long start hearing about the pitching Molina, as in 27-year-old right-hander Nestor, a native Venezuelan and currently one of the strong starters in the Venezuelan Winter League.
American Association faithful will remember that Nestor Molina had a solid 2015 season putting together a 7-5, 3.12 campaign for the Joplin Blasters. San Francisco signed the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Molina that December, and every appearance is he is continuing his climb toward the majors, spending a little of last season at Double-A Richmond and the rest for two teams in the Mexican League where he was a combined 7-4 in what is considered Triple-A level competition.
And, he is back in Venezuela this winter, starting for the Cardenales de Lara and with the league’s eighth best earned run average of 3.05 plus a 2-3 record. He has been even better in the last six of his eight starts, allowing two earned runs or less each time out while posting a 2.16 ERA. Molina has only given up one home run all fall in 41.1 innings.
He is not the same pitcher as in 2010 and 2011 when he went a combined 20-5 in the Toronto farm system, especially with the breakout performance as a 22-year-old in the second of those seasons when he struck out 148 batters in only 130.1 innings between Class A and AA work. But the more polished Molina of two years ago in the American Association and now in Venezuela may well earn his first regular-season major league opportunity before long the way he is going.
Fuenmayor, Retherford at Top
The best offensive numbers we have seen from among the many former American Association players in various winter leagues are from Fargo’s C. J. Retherford and from newly-signed Atlanta minor league free agent Balbino Fuenmayor.
Fuenmayor is hitting .315 with a .375 on-base percentage and 20 RBI in 19 games in Venezuela and free agent third baseman Retherford’s .288 with six homers and 26 RBI in 41 contests in Mexico.
Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and his book, “The Passion of Baseball”, was introduced October 5 .