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With another Dominican Winter League season in the books and the playoffs in full swing, now is a good time to look back at the players who made or broke our Dominican fantasy leagues.

Valuations assume a standard three-team league and the lineup positions we’re accustomed to. With a hearty tip of the lid to the invaluable Baseball-Reference for the stats, let’s get right down to business.

Catcher

Rank

Name

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

$

1

Austin Hedges

14

6

10

2

0.248

6.81

2

Wilin Rosario

10

2

12

0

0.361

2.20

3

Yermin Mercedes

4

1

11

4

0.483

2.16

Austin Hedges blew away the competition at backstop, thanks to the six long balls he launched for Leones del Escogido. That total was good for sixth most in the league. Following up a disastrous offensive showing in the majors, Hedges’ underwhelming .248/.280/.434 triple-slash in the Dominican is a signal that his bat continues to lag miles behind his glove. Is it normal for two thirds of a player’s extra base hits to be home runs?

Wilin Rosario won the batting crown (yes, that Wilin Rosario) and checks in as the second best catcher in the league, edging out Yermin Mercedes. Mercedes was able to turn in an above-replacement level performance despite only registering 31 plate appearances, thanks to four steals and some overall excellent hitting, especially in run-producing situations.

First Base

Rank

Name

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

$

1

Tyler White

31

8

31

0

0.290

26.96

2

Jason Rogers

22

4

24

0

0.282

13.70

3

Ronny Paulino

14

4

20

0

0.309

9.86

4

Ji-Man Choi

21

5

25

0

0.227

9.55

5

Diory Hernandez

21

0

17

0

0.291

5.50

Tyler White was a four-category stud and his $26.96 of earnings was third-highest among hitters. The relatively unknown Astros farmhand has done nothing but rake during his minor league career, owning a .311/.422/.489 line that includes a half-season of demolition in Triple-A in 2015. White is 25 years old and therefore subject to age-at-level skepticism, but it will be fascinating to see what happens when he gets a shot at major-league pitchers in 2016.

Rogers is a balanced hitter with a long track record of minor-league production. He looked to be in line for a good chunk of at-bats in Milwaukee before he was traded to Pittsburgh, where he’s somewhere between a bench bat and a Triple-A stud.

Choi missed most of 2015 after breaking his leg in spring training but hit in a small sample when he returned. He is an interesting name to know now because he was selected by the Angels in the Rule 5 draft. Hitting .227 against the quality of pitching in the Dominican is not encouraging but he did walk 16.5 percent of the time and added a top-10 home run total.

Second Base

Rank

Name

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

$

1

Garabez Rosa

23

2

20

1

0.333

11.93

2

Rafael Ynoa

20

1

5

7

0.291

8.23

3

Jorge Polanco

23

2

15

0

0.259

2.98

4

Alexi Casilla

16

0

5

5

0.291

1.78

Rosa played literally every position except catcher for Gigantes del Cibao and the league’s pitchers weren’t able to make him pay for his propensity to swing at everything.

Polanco’s .259 batting average is disappointing for someone with a potentially plus hit tool but more disappointing is the fact that he didn’t run. Even if Polanco’s stick eventually reaches its full potential, he won’t carry much fantasy value if he doesn’t steal bases.

If you drafted Alen Hanson or Arismendy Alcantara to man your keystone this winter, apologies. Both received a full complement of at-bats, at least by DWL standards, but neither was productive. Alcantara’s .286 OBP was a continuation of his dismal calendar year and even though he ran a little, he was thrown out almost as often as he was successful. Hanson slugged .298.

Shortstop

Rank

Name

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

$

1

Hanser Alberto

17

2

22

5

0.352

25.77

2

Marco Hernandez

14

2

11

3

0.259

9.88

3

Taylor Motter

14

2

21

1

0.205

6.58

4

Jonathan Villar

5

0

4

5

0.232

1.03

Hanser Alberto was an elite fantasy player this winter. The 23-year-old surprisingly made it all the way to Arlington in 2015, even starting a game in the ALDS. Alberto floundered after an aggressive promotion to Double-A in 2013, his age-20 season, but has held his own since. His tools won’t wow you and it’s difficult to find a path to regular playing time as long as he’s a Ranger, but the impressive showing this winter might just be a real developmental step for Alberto’s future as a useful major leaguer.

Hernandez is an interesting 23-year-old in the Red Sox system but isn’t likely to be more than utility player. He hit well in both Double-A and Triple-A in 2015 but his five walks in 140 Dominican plate appearances underscore the difficulty he’ll have hitting major-league pitching with his current approach.

My boy Motter shared Leones’ six spot with Wilson’s boy Erik Gonzalez. It was an interesting split, given that Gonzalez is an excellent defensive shortstop and Motter is primarily an outfielder. Motter did play all over the diamond at Triple-A Durham in 2015 though, and he hit .292 with 14 home runs and 26 steals in the process. I’m not about to sweat that .202 average or, gulp, .283 slugging this winter. I’m just excited to see my guy back in the Bull City in 2016.

Villar’s five steals in limited action made him a few pennies above replacement level in the Dominican. His playing time in uncertain in a crowded Milwaukee infield and I like his batting average to come in closer to 2014’s .2009 mark than 2015’s .284. Even if it does, there’s potential for 15+ steals in a part time role, with more on the come if he can earn regular at-bats.

Third Base

Rank

Name

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

$

1

Audy Ciriaco

19

3

21

1

0.298

20.05

2

Kyle Kubitza

23

4

9

4

0.220

14.72

3

Angelys Nina

14

2

14

0

0.319

14.51

4

Rafael Devers

13

0

18

0

0.279

2.10

Kubitza is the Angels fifth-best prospect and offered a little pop and a little speed this winter. He also offered up a .220 batting average, so unless you play in a very deep OBP league, I’d like to quote Bret Sayre when asked about Kubitza’s future fantasy impact and simply say “nope.”

Nina normally mans second base, but with Alen Hanson and Jose Ramirez as teammates on Toros del Este, he played almost exclusively at the hot corner. Nina has had several consecutive decent seasons in the high minors but if he was going to get a shot in the big leagues, it would’ve come already.

I’m surprised the 19-year-old Devers tallied 74 plate appearances in the Dominican after playing in 115 games in his first full season stateside. The power was missing on his home soil, which is not surprising given the grind, but he did hit when he was in there.

Outfield

Rank

Name

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

$

1

Joey Rickard

29

9

37

2

0.272

31.47

2

Matthew Joyce

31

7

24

2

0.301

26.33

3

Roman Quinn

29

4

13

13

0.235

25.37

4

Socrates Brito

24

7

22

6

0.252

23.61

5

Mel Rojas

24

10

24

2

0.242

22.41

6

Rymer Liriano

17

6

24

7

0.229

19.31

7

Rafael Bautista

22

0

10

7

0.348

17.24

8

Brian Bogusevic

18

3

11

8

0.259

13.98

9

Zoilo Almonte

19

3

21

0

0.283

10.62

10

Jordany Valdespin

20

0

8

7

0.288

10.09

11

Eugenio Velez

15

1

10

4

0.304

7.91

12

Zach Borenstein

13

4

15

1

0.282

7.36

13

Moises Sierra

17

4

16

3

0.198

5.11

14

Manuel Margot

8

4

18

3

0.220

4.08

15

Steven Moya

13

2

14

0

0.304

3.19

There are a pile of interesting names here and at the top of the list is Joey Rickard, the fantasy MVP of the Dominican winter league. Always more of a speed and defense guy than a thumper, Rickard banged out nine bombs in the Dominican, second most the league. His 37 RBI led the league and his 29 runs scored were third most. Rickard was plucked from the Rays by the Orioles in the Rule 5 draft and I believe he has a chance to stick primarily because of his base running and ability to play all three outfield positions, but also because of the major offensive strides he made in 2015, including those he made down south.

Matt Joyce was atrocious in 2015 but he made for a solid platoon bat as recently as 2014. He shouldn’t be unemployed much longer.

Roman Quinn tore his hip flexor in August and didn’t return. Any sort of leg injury is potentially problematic for a player with 80 grade speed, so it is encouraging that Quinn came back and led the league in stolen bases, swiping 13 while only being caught once. I would’ve liked to see him build on the pre-injury gains with the bat, but I’ll settle for full health.

Brito graduated to the big-league club in 2015 after a second consecutive monster season in the minors. He went .300/.339/.451 in Double-A before getting the call but what gets fantasy players excited is the power-speed combo he showed this winter. The ability to steal 15-20 bases with regular major-league at-bats is already there and he has the body and athleticism to add 15+ homers in time.

Like Brito, fantasy owners are intrigued by the double threat that Rymer Liriano brings to the table. Unlike Brito, it feels like we’ve been waiting forever to see Liriano get his shot. With the Padres in rebuild mode, it should finally arrive sometime in 2016. The .229 batting average this winter is a warning sign, but I like him as a deep-league sleeper with some upside.

Rafael Bautista has been a little old for his levels but has consistently posted gaudy stolen base numbers, including 69 in a full 2014 and 23 in an injury-shortened 2015. He stole seven in the Dominican, to go along with a .348 batting average that was good for third-highest in the league among regulars.

Starting Pitchers

Rank

Name

IP

W

K

ERA

WHIP

$

1

Jake Buchanan

44.33

5

42

1.83

0.79

31.31

2

Yunesky Maya

59.33

5

58

2.73

1.10

28.91

3

Evan MacLane

51.33

6

31

2.98

0.78

26.13

4

Edwar Cabrera

48.33

3

31

1.68

0.85

22.30

5

Bryan Evans

40

1

42

1.12

0.85

20.63

6

Chris Jones

42.33

4

26

1.70

1.02

16.92

7

Jordan Norberto

45.33

2

37

2.98

1.02

10.73

8

Adrian Salcedo

28.33

3

31

1.59

1.20

9.81

9

Rudy Owens

54

2

32

2.00

1.28

8.56

10

Richard Bleier

51

2

14

2.65

0.96

5.34

Suffice it to say that the pitchers in the DWL are much less interesting than the hitters. These guys are almost exclusively in their mid/late-20s with little or no major-league experience to their names, nor any prospect of it. However, every once in a while there’s a Collin McHugh (he played in Venezuela, but still). Is Jake Buchanan that guy? Probably not, but he’s only 25 years old and maybe those numbers reflect some kind of real change in what he’s doing. Crazier things have happened. (Richard Bleier and his 2.46 K/9 isn’t that guy.)

Perhaps the most interesting pitcher in the Dominican was Jandel Gustave, who earned $6.10 on the back of five wins. He still throws hard. Perhaps the least interesting pitcher was Phil Coke, who gave up 14 earned runs in 13 1/3 and struck out a pair.

Relief Pitchers

Rank

Name

IP

W

SV

K

ERA

WHIP

$

1

Jairo Asencio

27

0

15

31

3.00

1.22

20.45

2

Josh Lueke

21

0

14

17

1.29

0.91

20.03

3

Wirfin Obispo

19

1

8

32

1.89

0.95

17.13

4

Ramon Ramirez

19

2

7

27

2.37

1.11

13.69

5

Eduard Santos

26.33

0

2

29

1.37

0.76

10.10

6

Tony Pena

18.67

2

8

25

3.38

1.77

6.05

7

Rafael Soriano

18

0

9

12

2.00

1.22

4.69

8

Marcos Mateo

10

1

4

11

0.00

0.60

3.18

Nothing to see here. Just a bunch of old, Dominican dudes pitching the final inning for their hometown team.

**********

Bless you if you made it this far. You must be as hungry as I am for the deluge of content we’re set to bring you, starting next week.

The idea that any of you cares about what players earned in a non-existent fantasy baseball league is patently absurd, so I appreciate you indulging me. Despite the apparent uselessness of winter league stats and this whole process, the exercise isn’t without benefit. First off, going through the mechanics of plugging in the players and their statistics and ultimately arriving at valuations gives me another rep with my pricing model. It means another chance to revisit the assumptions that make the whole thing go: picking the correct player pool to price, figuring how and where to draw the lines for replacement level, seeing whether the results pass the eye test, etc. Like any tool, the more you use it, the more comfortable you are with it and the better questions you can ask of it. I know some successful fantasy players who play entirely by feel, but that’s not me. I like at least some science with my art. My valuation model is the foundational piece of my preparation for a new fantasy season, a starting point from which I add my personal opinion on players.

Secondly, this gave me the chance to explore. Few, if any, of the players I discussed above will have any bearing on the 2016 fantasy season but that doesn’t mean that investigating these players was worthless. As with any other subject, the more you read, the broader your frame of reference. Perhaps a scouting report I read or a stat line I dug in to while researching this piece will remind me of a comp that already worked or didn’t for me in a league. Or maybe a player here will be someone else’s comp in the future. Research doesn’t have to possess immediately obvious utility to be beneficial. I’m not really sure if I’ll be able to apply any of this down the road, but I do know that I learned some things just by going through the process.

So, thanks for coming along on this silly ride. It was fun and productive for me, and I hope it was for you too. With some thought exercises out of the way, it’s time to get to the real meat of our 2016 preparation, and I look forward to everything the great team here is going to bring in the weeks to come.