Here's how prospects are faring in winter ball

January 12th, 2021

The field for this year’s championship round in the Dominican Republic has been finalized, with Gigantes del Cibao and Águilas Cibaeñas set to kick off the best-of-seven series Monday.

Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, Criollos of Caguas has already punched a ticket to the finals after their four-game sweep of RA12 in the semifinals. They await the winner of the other semifinal matchup between Mayaguez-Manati, which has been paused after one game due to COVID-19 concerns.

The regular season is winding down in Venezuela, where several notable prospects continue to get valuable reps ahead of the 2021 season, while other players are just hitting their strides in the Australian Baseball League, now nearly a month into its season.

Here’s a look at some prospects who have stood out in the past week across the various winter leagues:

Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B (Royals No. 24)
Gutierrez hit a home run and drove in four runs as he helped power Cibao past Estrellas, 5-3, in Game 6 of the semifinals and into the championship. He did most of his damage in the series’ final three games, going 6-for-13 with a pair of multihit efforts to improve his postseason average to .292. The 26-year-old third baseman put up solid numbers in 17 regular-season games for the Gigantes, batting .396/.492/.604 with seven extra-base hits, including two home runs.

Daniel Brito, 2B (Phillies No. 29)
Brito leads the Venezuelan circuit in triples after racking up three in a four-game span last week for Aguilas del Zulia. He also drove in two runs in each of the three games that he tripled, giving the 22-year-old infielder 22 RBIs in 38 games. Overall, Brito is batting .277/.329/.438 with 12 extra-base hits (3 homers) this offseason after compiling a .252/.319/.341 batting line with 16 homers across his first five Minor League seasons.

Oneil Cruz, SS (Pirates No. 3/MLB No. 59)
Cruz, 22, homered against Estrellas in Game 3 of the semifinals -- his first start for Cibao in the series -- and then was perfect at the plate in Game 4, going 3-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and an RBI. The 6-foot-7 shortstop went on to bat .357 with four runs and three RBIs in the series, also recording three walks and a stolen base.

Jeremy Peña, SS/2B (Astros No. 4)
The former third-round pick (2018) did his part offensively to keep Estrellas alive against Cibao in the semifinals. After failing to record a hit (0-for-12) in the first half of the series, Peña rebounded to go 5-for-14 with five runs scored over his next three games, highlighted by a two-run homer in Game 5 that brought Estrellas within one game of evening the series. The 23-year-old batted .235 with a pair of homers in the postseason after a regular season in which he finished among the circuit leaders in hits (37, 2nd), total bases (52, 2nd), runs scored (18, 3rd) and stolen bases (7, tied-3rd).

Miguel Amaya, C (Cubs No. 3/MLB No. 91)
Amaya and the rest of his Criollos de Caguas teammates are awaiting their opponent in the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League finals (Puerto Rico), where COVID-19 issues have caused a delay in the circuit’s postseason proceeding. The 21-year-old backstop went 2-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs in Game 4 of the semifinals as he led Caguas to a 4-2 victory over RA12, completing Criollos’ four-game sweep in the semifinals. Amaya produced a .261/.533/.609 batting line with two home runs in 10 games during the regular season and finished among the circuit leaders in on-base percentage (.553, 1st), OPS (1.161, second) and RBIs (11, 5th).

Nick Kahle, C (Brewers No. 18)
Kahle’s above-average defense behind the plate and long-term potential at the position earned him a selection by Milwaukee in the fourth round of the 2019 Draft. But the 22-year-old backstop has surprised even the Brewers with the pop he’s shown in the pro ranks, showing home-run power to the big parts of the ballpark and to the opposite field. Kahle did exactly that in his lone Australian Baseball League contest, hitting a solo home run in a 1-for-4 performance for Brisbane.

Eguy Rosario, INF (Padres No. 24)
Rosario, 21, had an up arrow next to his name going into the 2020 season after he posted a .742 OPS with 40 extra-base hits and 21 stolen bases at Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore in ’19. His development has continued this offseason for Bravos de Margarita in Venezuela, where he’s put together a .327/.393/.429 line with 18 runs and eight steals in 27 games. Rosario has been particularly hot of late, going 7-for-25 with five doubles and a triple over his last six games.

Osleivis Basabe, INF (Rays)
Basabe connected on his first home run of the Venezuelan season on Saturday, hitting a two-run shot in his second trip to the plate for Aguilas del Zulia. The hit was one of a season-high four in the game for Basabe, who finished 4-for-6, and he tacked on another four hits Sunday, going 4-for-8 with a pair RBIs in a doubleheader. Altogether, the 20-year-old infielder has upped his season average to .360 from .313 during his current four-game hit streak. One of three prospects acquired from the Rangers in the offseason Nate Lowe trade, Basabe is a plus runner who already demonstrates advanced contact skills from the right side of the plate.

Curtis Mead, INF (Rays)
Mead, 20, signed with the Phillies for $200,000 out of Australia in May 2018 and put up strong numbers the following season, batting .285/.351/.462 with 18 extra-base hits in the Rookie Gulf Coast League. The performance put him on Tampa Bay’s trade radar, and the Rays went on to acquire him in Nov. 2019 in exchange for left-hander Cristopher Sanchez. An athletic and physically strong player who projects to hit for both average and power, Mead has opened his Australian Baseball League season with a four-game hitting streak for Adelaide. He’s recorded one extra-base hit in every contest, including a home run in his season debut.