Astros' White among prospects impressing in Winter Leagues
The race for the top record in the Dominican Winter League is coming down to the wire.
Currently separated by one game atop the standings, Estrellas de Oriente (29-20) and Tigres del Licey (28-21) are set for a decisive matchup Monday on the final day of the regular season. Both teams have already qualified for the postseason, which is scheduled to begin Sunday.
Astros No. 28 prospect Tyler White has been the driving force for Estrellas, pacing all qualified hitters in the league with a .918 OPS, seven home runs, 30 RBIs, 76 total bases and 32 walks. The team also has received strong performances from Twins slugger Miguel Sano (.770 OPS, 2 HR) and Diamondbacks No. 13 prospect Socrates Brito (.699 OPS, 4 HR).
The Tigres, meanwhile, have been led by Astros No. 22 prospect Andrew Aplin (.818 OPS) and third baseman Kyle Kubitza (.782 OPS, 3 HR), the Angels' No. 6 prospect, while outfielders Rymer Liriano (Padres No. 13) and Roman Quinn (Phillies No. 7) have stolen six and nine bases this offseason, respectively, despite struggling at the plate.
Here's a look at some of the other top prospects currently making waves in the offseason winter leagues.
• Justin Williams, OF, Rays -- The No. 22 prospect is coming off a strong 2015 campaign in which he tallied a career-best seven home runs and 30 doubles in 122 games between Class A Bowling Green and Class A Advanced Charlotte. Williams, 20, has continued to rake this offseason in the ABL, hitting .351/.400/.575 with six home runs, 10 doubles and 22 RBIs through 35 games for the Brisbane Bandits.
• Patrick Kivlehan, OF/1B/3B, Rangers -- Kivlehan, 25, was sent to Texas in early December as the PTBNL to complete the November trade between the two teams. Now ranked as the Rangers' No. 18 prospect, Kivlehan has impressed this offseason in the Dominican Republic, where he's hitting .301 with three home runs, nine doubles and 13 RBIs through 20 games for Leones del Escogido.
• Steven Moya, OF, Tigers -- After hitting 35 home runs and reaching the Major Leagues in 2014, Moya, the Tigers' No. 2 prospect, failed to take a step forward in '15, posting a .703 OPS with 20 home runs in 126 games for Triple-A Toledo and scuffling during his return to the big leagues. But the 24-year-old outfielder has shown more consistency this offseason with a .298 average and four home runs through 34 games for Toros del Este. On Sunday, Moya went 3-for-3 with a home run and six RBIs in a win over Estrellas.
• Christian Villanueva, 3B, Cubs -- Villanueva, the Cubs' No. 22 prospect, is enjoying a monstrous offseason for Yaquis de Obregon, hitting .337/.442/.507 with 17 extra-base hits and more walks (35) than strikeouts (26) through 58 games. The 24-year-old third baseman showed improvement in 2015 during his second tour of the Pacific Coast League, batting .259/.313/.437 with 18 home runs and 88 RBIs in 123 games for Triple-A Iowa.
• Reymond Fuentes, OF, Royals -- Kansas City's No. 20 prospect reached the Major Leagues with the Padres back in 2013 but was dealt to the Royals after the 2014 season. The 24-year-old continued to show an intriguing blend of hitting ability and speed in '15, hitting .308 with 29 steals in 107 games for Triple-A Omaha, and he now has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games for Cangrejeros de Santurce, posting a .333 average and six steals in that span.
• Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers -- The Brewers' No. 1 prospect (No. 12 overall) excelled last offseason playing for Caribes de Anzoategui, setting the stage for a breakthrough 2015 campaign in which he batted .307/.347/.453 with eight home runs, 37 doubles, eight triples and 25 stolen bases for Double-A Biloxi. It's been more of the same this offseason for the 21-year-old shortstop, who's hitting .311 with an .841 OPS and 28 hits through 26 games for Caribes de Anzoategui.
• Rangel Ravelo, 1B, Athletics -- Ravelo, 23, suffered a wrist injury during Spring Training and subsequently underwent surgery, costing him all but 59 games during the 2015 season. However, the A's No. 17 prospect has looked plenty healthy this offseason in Venezuela, batting .329/.458/.513 with six home runs, 11 doubles and 33 RBIs in 49 games for Cardenales de Lara. On top of that, Ravelo has 37 walks against 27 strikeouts in that span.