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Prospects

Odubel Herrera, 2B, Phillies (Tiburones de La Guaira): .373/.429/.557, 13 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 17 BB/28 K in 185 AB.
Herrera hasn’t shown much power in the past, and I wrote just that in our Rule Five recap a few weeks ago. Naturally, he’s proved that to be false this winter in his native country. We can’t put a lot of stock in a month’s worth of winter league numbers, but if Herrera can add just a little bit of pop to his speed and defense, he could be a valuable asset to a suddenly shallow Phillies middle infield.

Danry Vasquez, OF, Astros (Leones del Caracas): .301/.366/.442, 4 2B, 6 3B, 2 HR, 17 BB/30 K in 156 AB.
Vasquez has held his own against older competition as a professional, both with the Tigers and after coming to the Astros organization in 2013. Despite some success, however, there are major questions about how it will translate against better pitching. There are also makeup concerns. He’s young and showed good doubles power this year, but those will have to mature into homers for him to be a viable left fielder, and he’ll have to put forth solid production somewhere other than Lancaster.

Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers (Caribes de Anzoategui): .268/.336/.449, 12 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 20 BB/31 K in 205 AB.
The top prospect in a weak but improving farm system, Arcia is showing off some unexpected power this winter, his one below-average tool. Arcia’s defensive skills are ahead of his offensive game right now, but he’s closing the gap. He’s not a high ceiling player, but in the Brewers system, guys with high floors like Arcia’s are valuable for their future.

Giovanny Urshela, 3B, Indians (Aguilas del Zulia): .398/.424/.556, 2 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 5 BB/13 K in 108 AB.
Urshela is a constantly overlooked prospect who the Indians finally protected this season by adding to their 40-man roster. He’s an over-aggressive hitter, but his natural bat-to-ball skills prevent him from racking up high strikeout totals. In fact, he puts the ball in play at a remarkable rate for a player with his approach. He’s also shown off some pop and profiles as a solid defensive third baseman. There are questions about whether his approach will work at the major-league level, but he does enough well to find a role with the Indians, likely sometime this year.

Renato Nunez, 3B, Athletics (Tigres de Aragua): .281/.368/.458, 5 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 11 BB/28 K in 96 AB.
The projection on Nunez is pretty simple: He has tons of power and to this point has had little trouble showing it off in game situations, but he has yet to face advanced pitching and has thus far taken advantage of some forgiving hitting environments. His approach is concerning, but he’s gotten away with it. Next year will be a huge test, as he heads to Double-A, leaving the hitter-friendly California League behind, for a level at which he’ll have to fend off breaking balls and pitchers who know how to set up a hitter. If he can handle that, then we can start to truly believe in the power.

Notable Youngsters

Wilmer Flores, INF, Mets (Bravos de Margarita): .338/.378/.584, 1 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 2 BB/12 K in 77 AB.
Despite designating specific infield positions for their other 13 infielders (not an exaggeration), the Bravos have Flores listed as an INF on their official roster because who in their right mind would list Flores as a SS? Oh. Well, we know he’s not a good shortstop but at least he got a full season’s worth of at-bats last year because the Mets didn’t have better option to block his path, right? No? Oh. So at this point, what we know for sure about Flores is that he’s not good enough to play shortstop every day, but he might have to for lack of a better option, and that he has a strong offensive track record in the minors but hasn’t gotten an adequate chance to prove himself in the majors. That’s exactly where we stood with Flores a year ago.

Freddy Galvis, SS, Phillies (Aguilas del Zuila): .257/.323/.342, 12 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 18 BB.43 K in 202 AB.
The Phillies might not have the questions surrounding their shortstop position that their division-mates have, but their situation isn’t much better. With the departure of all-time hits leader Jimmy Rollins, the position officially belongs to Galvis, who is a wizard with the glove but has never shown the ability to offer any kind of offensive production at any professional level. Galvis’ glove might be good enough to warrant playing time on a better team that can afford to get no offensive production from an up-the-middle position, but the Phillies aren’t that team. The best-case scenario might be what Adeiny Hechavarria gave the Marlins in Miami last year, but that’s assuming that a fractured back in 2012 and ankle and knee injuries last year haven’t sapped his elite range. Either way, shortstop in the bottom half of the NL East won’t be pretty in 2015.

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