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December 9, 2015

Minor League Update

Games of December 7-8

by Wilson Karaman

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Monday, December 7th

Jorge Alfaro, C, Phillies (VWL Tiburones de la Guaira) 3-4, K

Alfaro donned the tools of ignorance for the fourth time on Monday since his ankle surgery effectively ended his season in June (he did squeeze in three GCL games in August). The lost reps were of particular significance for a player like Alfaro, who continued to leave many scouts scratching their heads this year over a lack of progress refining his game. His true 80-grade arm remains a weapon behind the dish (he threw out the only runner to attempt a thievery in this game), but the rest of the defensive profile is notably lacking to the point where a shift to the outfield is increasingly a possibility. 2016 will be an important year for him in a new organization.

Andrew Aplin, OF, Astros (DWL Tigres del Licey): 1-5, R, HR, 3 RBI

Aplin announced his debut in the Dominican with authority, crushing a three-run shot to pull Licey to within one in the eighth inning on Monday. Despite the bomb, depositing balls over fences is not a skill at which Aplin will typically excel. He’s a hard-nosed player who plays above is fringe-average toolset to contribute defensively from all three outfield spots. He can hit a little bit too, showing pole-to-pole ability with strong contact skills despite length and movement in his swing. He profiles well enough as a valuable fourth outfielder that the Astros chose to protect him on the 40-man amid strong competition for the final couple spots. He should see time with the big club in 2016.

Marco Hernandez, SS, Red Sox (DWL Tigres del Licey): 3-5, 2 R, RBI, K

Acquired from the Cubs last winter as the PTBNL in the Felix Doubront trade, Hernandez offers an intriguing utility infield profile rooted in strong defense at shortstop. He shows excellent quickness and smooth hands, and a legitimate left side arm gives him the ability to handle duty anywhere on the dirt – something the Red Sox started exploring in earnest after a mid-season promotion to Pawtucket. His wide stance and minimal leverage limits his pop, and an aggressive approach raises questions about how much he’ll hit. He held his own in the high minors last year though, and projects to be in the big-league mix at some point next season.

Alex Cabrera, DH, N/A (VWL Tiburones de la Guaira): 2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, K

Outside of a brief stint in the Mexican League in 2014 Cabrera’s never so much as played in the minor leagues. But a brief and important note of appreciation is in order, as the soon-to-be 44-year-old has been absolutely laying waste to the Venezuelan League this off-season to the tune of a .376/.471/.645 line with 11 dingers and 25 walks to 17 whiffs in just north of 160 plate appearances. You see that, young whippersnapper? That’s how you do it.

Tuesday, December 8th

Matt Clark, 1B, Free Agent (DWL Toros del Este): 2-3, 2 BB, R, 2B

Clark has hung around the assorted upper rungs of various minor-league systems since 2010, save for a one-year jaunt to Japan in 2013. The Brewers picked him up in the second half of 2014, and he homered in three consecutive games amid 31 big league plate appearances as a September call-up. This year the about-to-be-29-year-old put together yet another solid campaign in the PCL, but this time…no invitation to Milwaukee. He’s a minor league free agent now, bobbing along with the rest of the guys trying to hit his way into another shot this winter. A good day for Clark, yesterday.

Christian Vazquez, C, Red Sox (PWL Cangrejeros de Santurce): 3-4, 2B, RBI

Now 16-for-his-first-51 in Puerto Rico, still DHing. This concludes your mandatory weekly Christian Vazquez update.

Javier Baez, 2B/SS, Cubs (PWL League Cangrejeros de Santurce): 0-3, BB, RBI

Amid rampant trade speculation, Baez took to the winter field for the third time yesterday. He’s logged time at both middle infield positions thus far. More importantly than any of that, or yesterday’s 0-for-3: he won the Yadier Molina Home Run Derby yesterday, with 15 bombs hit with softballs. It was a joyful occasion and a worthwhile watch.

Kennys Vargas, 1B, Twins (PWL Indios de Mayaguez): 1-4, BB, R, 2 RBI, K

Vargas is one of the more interesting slugging bats in the high minors, in that he acquitted himself well in an initial trial in 2014, but appeared overmatched in a second go at big league pitching this past season. There’s a lot of shoulder and wrist in his swing, and pitchers were able to get in-zone fastballs by him with too much frequency. He was too good for Double- and Triple-A pitching after a relatively quick hook off the big league roster, though, and figures to see additional opportunity with the big club next spring. After a slow start in Puerto Rico he’s now riding a seven-game hit streak.

Wilson Karaman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Wilson's other articles. You can contact Wilson by clicking here

Related Content:  Prospects,  Winter League

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2016 Prospects: San Fr... (12/08)
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