Here's how prospects are doing in winter ball
The start of the winter leagues in both Venezuela and Puerto Rico means that even more prospects have begun their offseason campaigns since MLB Pipeline’s last winter leagues update, which focused on prospects playing in either Mexico or the Dominican Republic.
With four different leagues now in full swing, and the Australian Baseball League getting underway this week, we thought we’d check in on how some top prospects are performing in winter ball:
Miguel Amaya, C (Cubs No. 3/MLB No. 91)
Amaya has made an immediate impact since joining the Criollos de Caguas lineup (Puerto Rico). After going 0-for-2 in his season debut, the 21-year-old backstop bounced back two days later with a 1-for-3 performance in which he recorded two RBIs and runs scored apiece. On Sunday, Amaya capped his weekend with his first home run, connecting on a seventh-inning solo shot in Caguas’ 3-1 win over Manati.
Vidal Bruján, SS/2B (Rays No. 3/MLB No. 41)
Bruján, 22, has been a standout for LIDOM’s (Dominican Republic) Toros del Este this offseason, ranking among the league leaders in multiple offensive categories. A combined 0-for-8 showing in the past two games has the speedy switch-hitter’s average down to .259, but still he’s pacing the circuit in both stolen bases (8) and runs scored (12) -- the latter a product of his .394 OBP and 11 walks, the fourth-best marks in LIDOM.
Seuly Matías, OF (Royals No. 14)
It wasn’t long ago -- 2018, to be exact -- that Matías put himself on the map with a 31-homer full-season debut at Class A Lexington. But a penchant for whiffing coupled with separate injuries to his hand and wrist have hindered his development in recent years, so much so that the Royals left him exposed to being taken in the Rule 5 Draft in consecutive offseasons. However, the 22-year-old slugger did make improvements with his swing and approach this past season, and his early results with Gigantes Del Cibao (LIDOM) have been encouraging. Matías went deep in back-to-back games last week, and through his first six contests, he’s racked up more extra-base hits (four) than strikeouts (three).
Jose Miranda, INF (Twins No. 21)
Miranda has opened his offseason campaign in Puerto Rico on a tear by hitting safely in four of his first five games for Caguas. What’s more, in addition to his .455 average, the 22-year-old infielder has already piled up six walks -- he walked four times as part of a 1-for-1 performance on Friday -- and scored five runs. He’s also driven in four runs, three of which came on his first homer of the season.
Eguy Rosario, INF (Padres No. 28)
Though he’s an undersized player (he’s listed at 5-foot-9, 150 pounds), Rosario has always intrigued scouts with his bat-to-ball skills and showed signs of breaking out during a career-best offensive campaign in 2019, posting a .742 OPS with 40 extra-base hits and 21 steals in the Class A Advanced California League. Now playing in Venezuela, the 21-year-old infielder has hit safely in all six of his games for Bravos de Margarita after beginning his campaign with three straight multihit efforts.
Gabriel Moreno, C (Blue Jays No. 8)
Coming off a full-season debut in which he batted .280/.337/.485 with 12 homers in 82 games, Moreno was a standout at the Blue Jays’ alternate training site over the summer as he continued to make rapid developmental gains on both sides of the ball. The 20-year-old catcher’s hitting ability has been on full display in Venezuela, where he’s compiled a .317/.404/.439 line with 13 knocks, eight runs and seven RBIs in his first 12 games with Cardenales de Lara.
Jeremy Peña, SS/2B (Astros No. 4)
Peña has hit safely in 14 of his first 18 games for Estrellas Orientales (D.R.) and has posted seven multihit efforts in his last 13 contests. That all translates to a .288 average for the 2018 third-round pick, who also ranks among the LIDOM leaders in home runs (3, tied-2nd), total bases (32, 4th), runs scored (10, 3rd) and slugging (.438, 7th). In 2019, Peña’s first full-season campaign, the 23-year-old infielder batted .303/.385/.440 with 35 extra-base hits and 20 steals in 109 games between Class A Quad Cities and Class A Advanced Fayetteville.
Isaac Paredes, INF (Tigers No. 6)
One of many notable Tigers prospects to make his debut in 2020, Paredes posted a .220/.278/.290 line with 24 strikeouts in 34 big league games as Detroit’s regular third baseman. While it goes without saying that Paredes will need to produce more to retain his job, the 21-year-old is doing his part this offseason with a strong showing for Vanados de Mazatlán (Mexico). Paredes’ .351 average through 27 games is good for seventh in the circuit, and he’s hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games while racking up 15 hits in that span.
Yermin Mercedes, C (White Sox No. 21)
Mercedes, 27, is a LIDOM veteran at this point, having played for Tigres del Licey in seven straight offseason dating back to 2014-15. This year, however, he’s playing in the Dominican circuit coming off a 2020 season in which he reached the Majors for the first time, going hitless in his lone at-bat for the White Sox. That makes his solid start to the season (.269/.328/.385, 2 HR, 10 RBI) all the more notable – especially with the White Sox poised to audition several internal options for backup catcher duties to Yasmani Grandal in ’21.
Luis Medina, RHP (Yankees No. 11)
Making his Indios de Mayaguez (Puerto Rico) debut on Friday, the 21-year-old right-hander struck out six of the 11 batters he faced while posting three scoreless frames against RA12. He allowed one hit and two walks in the no-decision, throwing 21 of 30 pitches for strikes. Medina has electric stuff but struggled mightily to control it in 2019, when he recorded a 5.47 ERA with 127 strikeouts and 70 walks in 103 2/3 frames between Class A Charleston and Class A Advanced Tampa. However, a performance such as the one he turned in last week underscores exactly why the Yankees added Medina to their 40-man roster in November 2019.