Julio closes strong season in Venezuela

Julio closes strong season in Venezuela

With Luis Vizcaino potentially on his way to the Yankees as part of the trade for Randy Johnson, Jorge Julio becomes an even more important member of the Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen for the 2007 season. The hard-throwing right-hander looks to be the club's top middle reliever and will be in the mix for the closer's job should Jose Valverde falter.

Julio joined the Leones del Caracas in mid-November and has given the club a dependable closer. He finished the season with a 3-1 record, 2.33 ERA and 12 saves. In 19 1/3 innings, he recorded 18 strikeouts and 12 walks. The veteran right-hander also pitched two scoreless innings in the first game of the playoffs.

Julio and 11 other D-backs prospects are playing in Venezuela, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Here's how they've fared:

Mexican Pacific League

3B Brian Barden -- Barden last played on Dec. 3, when he went 2-for-4 with a run scored. That was part of a four-game stretch that saw him go 9-for-18 and raise his batting average to .291. He has not played for Naranjeros de Hermosillo in the postseason.

1B Jesus Cota -- Cota had a season-high six-game hitting streak near the end of the campaign and finished with a .260 average, nine home runs and 28 RBIs in 61 games. He has yet to make a playoff appearance for the Naranjeros de Hermosillo.

IF Agustin Murillo -- Murillo went 2-for-7 with a double and an RBI as the Yaquis de Obregon split their first two playoff games. He finished the regular season with a .321 average, four home runs and 18 RBIs in 49 games. Murillo also stole 12 bases and scored 25 runs.

Venezuelan Winter League

IF Javier Brito -- Brito went 1-for-3 on Dec. 28 in his final game of the season for the Caribes de Oriente. He ended with a .262 batting average, two home runs and four RBIs in 25 games. He also struck out 19 times in 61 at-bats.

2B Alberto Callaspo -- Callaspo, whom the D-backs refused to include in trade talks with the Yankees, overcame an 0-for-16 slump by finishing the regular season with a six-game hitting streak that saw him go 12-for-31 and raise his average to .276. He has continued his hot hitting in the playoffs, going 5-for-9 with an RBI in two games for the Aguilas del Zulia.

SS Alberto Gonzalez -- One of three Minor Leaguers the D-backs will send to the Yankees if the Johnson trade goes through, Gonzalez went 2-for-6 with two runs scored in the final game of the regular season for the Pastora de los Llanos on Dec. 16. Gonzalez finished the season with a .253 average, one home run, 14 RBIs and 24 runs scored in 51 games.

OF Carlos Gonzalez -- Gonzalez went 0-for-8 in the first two playoff games for the Aguilas del Zulia. He finished the regular season with a .318 batting average, nine home runs and 41 RBIs in 53 games.

RHP Enrique Gonzalez -- Gonzalez made his last start of the regular season on Dec. 17 and tossed five shutout innings in a no-decision. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out four. The right-hander went 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA in seven appearances for the Tiburones de La Guaira.

C Miguel Montero -- Montero finished the regular season with a five-game hitting streak, including a 3-for-5 performance on Dec. 23, to raise his batting average to .247. He did not play in the postseason for the Azucareros del Este.

OF Gerardo Parra -- In a part-time role for the Aguilas del Zulia, Parra batted .322 with five RBIs and 10 runs scored in 18 games. He went 0-for-3 in his lone postseason appearance.

Tim Leonard is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.