Monday, November 23rd
Alen Hanson, 2B/SS, Pirates (DWL Toros del Este): 0-3, K
After shifting to second base full time at Triple-A Indianapolis in 2015, Hanson is continuing to get reps at the keystone in the Dominican. Yesterday’s 0-fer puts him at a .289/.316/.342 line through his first 79 plate appearances. That’s more or less an extension of his full year to date at the dish, the new normal for a player who broke out in A-ball back in 2012. The switch-hitter continues to struggle right-handed—an ongoing issue for him all season—though he still shows as a player who maximizes his below-average raw power. His reads and releases have improved enough as he’s climbed the ladder to where he now profiles as a solid if unspectacular second-sacker who can steal some bags, flash occasional pop, and man his position. It’s not a sexy profile, unless you’re the Pirates’ accountant.
Cristhian Adames, SS/2B, Rockies (DWL Toros del Este): 1-3
Adames hit well again at Triple-A in 2015, and again he struggled in a brief look at big-league pitching. He has the smooth actions and plus arm strength to profile as an above-average defender at short, and he continued to get reps at second and third his year in the hopes of grooming him into a serviceable utility man in Colorado. He’s always shown solid bat-to-ball skills from both sides of the dish, though he has increasingly traded some contact for more pop from the left side – an evolution that may just allow him to stick on a big league roster. The contact skills have shown up in the Dominican, but not much elsein his offensive game has. Still, he should be squarely in the mix for a 25-man role with the rebuilding Rockies out of spring training,
It’s not often you see even a marginally interesting starting pitching prospect toe the rubber in Venezuela, but Devenski qualifies after showing impressively this season at Double-A. Devenski’s fastball is saddled with below-average velocity, but he locates the pitch well and it can play up on account of a devastating changeup that keeps hitters honest. His vulnerability to right-handed hitters and shallow arsenal probably leave him on more of a swingman/spot-starter track, but if he can find any consistency with his curveball there may be enough to stick at the back end of a rotation for a few years, and that ain’t bad for a 25th-rounder.
Tuesday, November 24th
After an outstanding season in which he cemented his status as one of the best shortstop prospects in the game Arcia has picked up right where he left off when the Southern League closed shop for the year, racking up 11 hits in his first 27 at-bats in Venezuela.
I wrote up Brito in some detail at the beginning of the month, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t note yesterday’s monster game. The approach caught a later flight down to the Dominican, but after a lethargic start to his fall campaign he’s turned things around with a strong run over his last seven games now.
Ji-Man Choi, 1B, Orioles (DWL Estrellas de Oriente): 0-3, 3 BB, R, 2 K
Choi was juuuust starting to become an interesting (if somewhat curious) prospect in the Seattle organization when he got popped for putting bad things into his body in 2014. He followed that up with a gnarly broken leg in the first game of spring training this past season, which ultimately cost him nearly the entire season and his place on the Mariners’ 40-man. The O’s snatched him up a few days ago on a minor league deal with an invite, but it remains to be seen if or how he fits on a big league roster. He’s gotten on base at an outstanding clip wherever he’s been, but the power’s well short for a first base profile, and the leg issue put the kibosh on last winter’s efforts to try him in the outfield. He’s also taken to dabbling in switch-hitting since last winter, so…that’s a thing he does now, too. Fall ball hasn’t been particularly kind to him thus far, but he’ll be an interesting fringe guy to keep an eye on in the spring.
Speaking of fringy first base prospects, there’s that man again! Aguilar’s return engagement with International League pitching this year didn’t go quite as well as his inaugural campaign in 2014, but he’s up to his old tricks again in the Venezuelan winter. Aguilar’s limited big league time has proven a cautionary tale to date about raw power derived solely from brute strength as opposed to bat speed, but at 25 he should have another opportunity to get hot in Cleveland awaiting him next season.
Yermin Mercedes, C, Orioles (DWL Tigres del Licey): 2-4, BB, R, HR, 5 RBI
Mercedes is a fun story, as he was originally by the Nationals but never made it out of the DSL and was released in 2013. He went on to destroy the independent Pecos League and earn a shot with the Orioles. After managing to hold his own at Delmarva this summer he’s now 12 for his first 25 in winter ball. The 22-year-old has outsized power for his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame, and while the defensive profile is still very much a work in progress there’s enough here offensively to file the name away.
Antonio Senzatela, RHP, Rockies (VWL Navegantes del Magallanes): 3.1 IP, 3 ER, 8 H
Remember what I said earlier about pitching prospects in fall ball? That goes double for Senzatela, who emerged this year as one of the better arms in the Colorado system after conquering the Cal League with a full-season assignment. His fastball is already a big -eague pitch, and standard command refinement can get it to a true plus or better pitch at the highest level. He’s tenacious in pounding the zone with it, generating good leverage off his uphill motion to create a strong angle to the bottom of the zone. His secondary development has a ways to go, but the raw material here is highly enticing.