The Puerto Rico Baseball League kicked off on Thursday, featuring a handful of top prospects from Puerto Rico that include the 1st overall pick in the 2012 draft, Carlos Correa. The 18 year-old went 0-for-4 in his debut, but here are a few players who had notable performances from the various leagues that were in action.
- Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Twins (Aragua-VWL): 4-for-5, HR (3), RBI. If Josh Willingham is traded this winter, it's for a few good reasons. He's one of the more productive hitters in the game and signed for the next two seasons at a very team-friendly $7M per season, giving him a ton of value. Plus, the Twins are desperate for starting pitching and could probably land at least one very good young pitcher in a trade. And if they did pull the trigger on a deal for Willingham, having a near major league ready prospect like Arcia would lessen the blow of losing their cleanup hitter. The 21 year-old, coming off of an outstanding season between Double-A New Britain (.955 OPS in 69 games) and Hi-A Fort Myers (.893 OPS in 55 games), can flat out hit. Expect him to compete for the starting right field job in Spring Training whether Willingham is on the team or not.
- Wilmer Flores, 3B, Mets (Margarita-VWL): 2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB. Still only 21 years old, Flores bounced back from a disappointing 2011 season by hitting .300 with 18 HR and 75 RBI between Double-A Binghamton and Hi-A St. Lucie last season. He hasn't slowed down a bit in Venezuela, where he has a .921 OPS in 19 games. Flores' days as a SS are behind him, as he played every other infield spot but SS in 2012 and is most likely to stick at the hot corner. If the Mets can sign David Wright to a contract extension, however, there could be a change in plans.
- Grant Green, IF/OF, Athletics (Phoenix): 2-for-3, HR (2), 3 RBI, BB, K, SB (1). If Green was a good enough defender to play SS regularly, there would be no question that he'd go into 2013 as the A's starter at that spot, which is vacant at the moment. Well, he's not. So, can you say super-utility man? Drafted in the 1st round as a SS out of USC in 2010, Green moved to CF in 2011 and then, in addition to SS and CF, he played 2B, 3B, and LF in 2012. The 25 year-old, who is 5 for his last 11 with 2 homers and a triple, has some pop in his bat and he's versatile enough where he could get 3-4 starts per week playing all around the diamond for Oakland in 2013.
- Alex Monsalve, C, Indians (Scottsdale): 4-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI. The 20 year-old out of Venezuela has 11 hits in his last 17 at-bats with four doubles to raise his batting average to .359. He'll return to the Hi-A Carolina League in 2013, where he posted a .573 OPS in 34 games after a 2nd half promotion. In a system stacked with very good middle infield prospects, the 6'2" Monsalve gives the Indians a potential stand out at catcher.
- Angel Morales, OF, Twins (Ponce-PRWL): 2-for-3, HR (1), 2B, 2 RBI, BB. Arcia, Byron Buxton, and Aaron Hicks top the list of very good outfield prospects in the Twins' farm system and Morales isn't that far behind, at least in terms of speed and power potential. The 22 year-old, who homered and reached base three times in his Puerto Rican League debut, has been stuck in Hi-A for the last three seasons and didn't show enough in 2012 to think he's ready to shine at the upper levels of the minors. He'll need to have a big 2013 or his days as a prospect could be numbered.
- Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Red Sox (Caguas-PRWL): 3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, BB, 3 K. Regardless of the competition — he faced the likes of former big leaguers Ruben Gotay and Ramon Vazquez — it's a great sign to see Ranaudo shut down an opponent for a few innings. The 23 year-old, who was the 39th pick in the 2010 draft, struggled in nine Double-A starts (6.69 ERA, 27 BB, 27 K in 37.2 IP) before he was shut down with shoulder fatigue. He'll likely return to Portland in 2013, where he'll try and do a better job of living up to expectations this time around.
- Jeudy Valdez, SS, Padres (Peoria): 3-for-4, 2B, RBI, 2 BB. Coming off of a disappointing season in Double-A (.637 OPS), the 23 year-old Valdez is doing what he can to put himself back in the good graces of the organization. In 15 games, he has 18 hits in 56 at-bats with 9 2B, 8 BB, and 11 K.
- Tony Zych, RHP, Cubs (Mesa): 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 K. Chosen as one of the 'Factors on the Farm' (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2013) in the recently-released Cubs Prospect Rankings, the 22 year-old Zych has a mid-90's fastball and good control. He's allowed three earned runs and walked just one batter with four strikeouts in 12 AFL innings. Lacking a secondary pitch that can miss bats is what limits his strikeouts, and ultimately, could keep him from becoming a big league closer someday.