Here's how prospects are faring in winter ball

December 28th, 2020

No pitching prospect has dominated in winter ball this offseason quite like Luis Medina.

The Yankees’ No. 11 prospect pitched superbly in both of his starts for Indios de Mayaguez last week, earning his first win of the Puerto Rico season on Sunday after racking up 10 strikeouts in just 4 2/3 innings on Tuesday. He fanned 17 batters in 9 2/3 frames across the two outings, allowing just four hits and walks apiece.

Medina had not given up a run in LBPRC action until his most recent turn -- a five-inning performance that was his longest in four starts for Indios. Altogether, the 21-year-old right-hander has compiled a 0.54 ERA and 0.78 WHIP while holding hitters to a paltry .125 average in 16 2/3 innings. He leads the LBPRC with 32 strikeouts, having fanned at least six batters in all four starts.

The Yankees added Medina to their 40-man roster in November 2019, after the 6-foot-1, 175-pound flame-thrower posted a 1.77 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 15 walks over his final 45 2/3 frames (eight starts) between Class A Charleston and Class A Advanced Tampa.

Here’s a look at how some other top prospects are performing in winter ball:

Isaac Paredes, INF (Tigers No. 6)
Paredes wrapped up his week with three straight two-hit performances for Vanados de Mazatlán and has now hit safely in 11 of his last 12 contests, continuing his torrid offseason campaign in the Mexico winter league. After an underwhelming showing offensively with the Tigers (.220/.278/.290 in 34 games) during his first Major League exposure, the 21-year-old infielder has been one of the Mexican circuit’s most consistent hitters this winter, ranking among the league leaders in average (.391, 4th), OPS (1.083, 3rd) and extra-base hits (21, tied-4th).

Lewin Díaz, 1B (Marlins No. 8)
Acquired from the Twins at the 2019 Trade Deadline as part of the Sergio Romo deal, Díaz slugged a career-high 27 home runs that year between the Twins’ and Marlins’ systems, spending most of the season in Double-A. He was overmatched in his first taste of the Major Leagues this year, batting .154 with 12 strikeouts in 41 plate appearances after making his debut on Aug. 15., but has fared better so far this offseason playing for Estrellas Orientales in the Dominican Republic. Specifically, the 24-year-old first baseman homered twice while racking up eight RBIs in six games last week to push his LIDOM totals to three homers and 12 RBIs through 24 games.

Jeremy Peña, SS/2B (Astros No. 4)
Peña, 23, pushed his hitting streak to six games last week by hitting safely in all four games for Estrellas Orientales (D.R.). He did most of his damage during a doubleheader against Gigantes Del Cibao on Dec. 22, going 6-for-9 with a triple, four runs scored, two RBIs and a pair of steals. The former third-round pick (2018) from Maine has put together a strong offseason campaign, batting .306/.349/.430 through 30 LIDOM games. What’s more, Peña ranks among the circuit leaders in numerous categories including hits (37, 2nd), total bases (52, 2nd), runs scored (18, 3rd) and stolen bases (7, tied-3rd).

Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B (Royals No. 24)
Though he has spent parts of the last two seasons with Kansas City’s big league club, Gutierrez has yet to make an impact at the highest level, producing a .244 average and .637 OPS over 91 plate appearances. Now playing for Gigantes Del Cibao in the Dominican Republic for a third straight offseason, the 26-year-old third baseman is coming off a big week in which he batted .692 (9-for-13) with a homer, two doubles and three RBIs over four games. Gutierrez's performance against Estrellas on Dec. 23 was particularly notable, as he combined to go 5-for-6 with a homer, a double and three RBIs between the two contests. He’s slashing .396/.492/.604 so far this offseason, with two homers, five doubles and 11 RBIs in 17 games.

Daniel Brito, INF (Phillies No. 29)
Brito has improved his season average in Venezuela from .255 to .300 thanks to an 11-game hitting streak during which he’s batting .359/.375/.564 with two homers and six RBIs. The 22-year-old infielder’s 15 RBIs through 25 games is good for a share of the Aguilas Del Zulia team lead, and he also ranks second on the squad with 41 total bases. Originally signed by Philadelphia for $650,000 in July 2014, Brito posted a .252/.319/.341 batting line with 16 homers during his first five Minor League seasons, albeit without ever reaching the Double-A level.

Gabriel Moreno, C (Blue Jays No. 8)
Moreno has been anything but overmatched in his career despite being a younger player in every level and league in which he’s played. That trend has continued this offseason in Venezuela, where the 20-year-old backstop has compiled a .373/.471/.508 line with more walks (11) than strikeouts (5) in 18 games for Cardenales de Lara. Moreno was a standout on both sides of the ball this summer at Toronto’s alternate training site after batting .280/.337/.485 with 12 homers during his 2019 full-season debut.

Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP (Reds No. 16)
Gutierrez spun a gem last Wednesday en route to his first LIDOM victory. Making his fifth start for Tigres del Licey, the 25-year-old right-hander struck out eight in five hitless innings against Estrellas, walking two batters while throwing 48 of 78 pitches for strikes. Gutierrez lowered his ERA from 5.25 to 3.71 with the scoreless performance, his first since his season debut on Nov. 30. Signed out of Cuba in 2016 for $4.75 million, Gutierrez struggled at the Triple-A level in ‘19 (6.04 ERA in 27 starts) and was slapped with an 80-game suspension last June after he tested positive for the performance-enhancing substance Stanozolol.

Luis Oviedo (Pirates No. 22)
Acquired by Pittsburgh immediately after the Mets had selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, Oviedo, 21, is expected to pitch out of the Pirates’ bullpen next season, provided he can stick on the Major League roster. His performance out of the Cardenales de Lara bullpen this offseason certainly shouldn’t hurt the right-hander’s chances next spring. After working a pair of scoreless outings last week in Venezuela, Oviedo now sports a 0.63 ERA and 0.91 WHIP through 14 1/3 innings (nine appearances), during which he’s limited the opposition to a .184 average