Dominican Winter League Players to Watch

The major league season is over. With that comes the winter leagues in Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, where prospects go to improve their craft. The Dominican Republic usually gets the bulk of the prospects. Below are the top prospects to watch from each winter league team.

Leones del Escogido (11-4)

Josh Naylor - Josh is a slugger for the Padres whose best position may be designated hitter. It appears he’s playing outfield for the Leones. His bat is working for a .341 average, but for a slugger only one of his 14 hits has gone for extra bases. That was a homerun. He is making excellent contact with just five whiffs in 13 games.

Daniel Johnson - An outfielder with the Nationals who fell under the shadow of Victor Robles and Juan Soto. He is with the Indians now. He leads the Leones in RBIs with 10 but is only hitting .240. He is showing a lack of plate discipline with a 3/17 walk to whiff ratio and only a .276 OBA.

Frankie Montas - After his drug suspension last year denied him an opportunity to pitch in the post season Frankie is getting in some innings in the Dominican. He is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in his four starts with 22 whiffs in just 20 innings. He has pitched five innings in each of his four starts, three of those starts he has not given up a run. In his opening start he had not given up a hit after five innings.

Toros del Este (9-6)

Jorge Mateo - His time is now. In the past he has struggled in the winter leagues. A .214 average and .277 OBA smells of more struggles. It is still early. He is 3 for 3 in stolen bases and has scored seven runs, third on the team.

Darion Blanco - His less heralded ex-teammate is tearing up the league. Blanco was the fastest player in Cuba when he defected in 2017. He will turn 27 in April so he is an older prospect. For Toros he is hitting .373, but only one of his 19 hits has gone for extra bases, a double. He is 5 for 7 in stolen bases with ten runs scored but needs to improve on his contact ability after a 37/137 walk to whiff ratio in AA. The Royals traded for him mid-season.

Aguilas Cibaenas (8-7)

Leody Taveras - A gold glove centerfielder is whacking the ball in the Dominican to the tune of a .370 average. None of his ten hits have gone for extra bases and he has only stolen one base in three attempts. The centerfield job with the Rangers is his if he can continue to hit.

Edmundo Sosa - Edmundo Sosa showed a little pop last year with 17 homeruns in AAA. For Aguilas he is hitting .367 with three homeruns. His 10 RBIs are second on the team and his 14 runs scored leads the team. Sosa will be looking for a utility role with the Cardinals in 2020.

Robel Garcia - Robel is an interesting player because the Cubs grabbed him from the Italian national team. He made his major league debut last year. He has hit two homeruns but is only hitting .174.

Tigres del Licey (7-8)

David Paulino - Once a top prospect with the Astros, he was released by the Blue Jays mid-season. He is trying to get his mojo back in the Dominican. In two relief appearances he has yet to give up a run. Of course, it has been a week since he last pitched.

Gigantes del Cibao (6-9)

Wander Franco - Perhaps the top prospect in baseball. He is only hitting .192 but one of his five hits carried over the fence. At 18 years of age he may be a little over matched in this veteran league. Richard Urena will see most of the shortstop duties but he will get his at bats.

Greg Bird - If he could have stayed healthy the first base job for the Yankees would be his. Now he is trying to make up for lost time, getting some at bats to prepare for spring training. If he continues to hit .125 he won’t last long in this league.

Rogelio Armenteros - The Astros will be losing Gerritt Cole so someone has to eat up those innings. Rogelio is hoping it will be him. In four starts the Cuban defector has only given up two runs for a 1.00 ERA. His best starts were his first two starts. Last year he made his major league debut with five appearances and two starts.

Estrellas Orientales (4-11)

Lewin Diaz - Diaz got on the Twins now Marlins prospect radar with his 27 homeruns last year at two different levels. He has added two more homeruns for Estrellas, driving in ten runs. For a power hitter he makes solid contact. Six of his 15 hits have gone for extra bases.

Domingo Leyba - A good season from him in the winter league could earn him a utility spot for the Diamondbacks. His 9 RBIs are second on the team with four of his 13 hits going for extra bases. His .232 average is low but he has a 7/8 walk to whiff ratio, making solid contact.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.