Friday, December 4th
Thanks to a thin minor-league system in Detroit, Jimenez is the rare relief prospect who appears on a team’s Top 10 Prospect list. That distinction doesn’t come without at least some merit, as Jimenez can run his fastball up near triple digits while complementing the heater with an above-average slider and fringy changeup—the type of arsenal that allows him to give up two hits in an inning without yielding a run or finding further trouble. Jimenez has the potential to develop into a quality closer, and if he demonstrates consistent control in 2016, he could breeze through High-A Lakeland and find himself in Double-A Erie before the season ends.
Sean Burroughs, 3B, Unaffiliated (VWL, Tiburones de La Guaira): 2-3
Yes, Burroughs is far from a prospect, but you have to admit it is pretty cool that he’s still kicking around and playing ball at highly competitive levels. Burroughs hasn’t played in affiliated ball since 2013, and at 35 years old, his time has come and gone, but when you can still muster a .269 batting average in seven games in the Venezuelan Winter League, why not stick around and keep swinging the bat?
Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers (VWL, Caribes de Anzoategui): 2-4, R, 2B, 2 K
As Arcia continues to skyrocket up prospect lists, he continues to find playing time in winter ball in spite of his standing as a prospect rather than a grizzled veteran. It’s easy to find playing time when you are hitting .350/.414/.450 in 17 games in Venezuela, including four doubles and a triple. Arcia is going to be the starting shortstop in Milwaukee during the 2016 season; it is just a matter of how early in the season the Brewers make such a move.
Saturday, December 5th
Recently dealt to the Ranges to complete the Leonys Martin trade, Kivlehan is a divisive prospect within industry circles. Some see him as a potential regular while other struggle to see a ceiling quite that high, pegging him as more of a bench or role player. After a solid season in the Pacific Coast League in 2015, Kivlehan has put together a nice run in the Dominican Winter League, compiling a .300/.349/.425 line in just 10 games. Kivlehan has a tough road ahead of him to carve out a lengthy MLB career, particularly considering he is about to turn 26 years old, but a change of scenery may give him the jolt necessary to make a run at a big-league job.
Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Cubs (DWL, Tigres del Licey): 4-4
The impressive outlook for Alcantara’s future has changed significantly after he struggled through the 2015 season, but he has put together a strong streak in the Dominican over his last 10 games. With a .342 average, including four singles on Saturday, Alcantara has improved his offseason average to .245 from a point below the Mendoza line a couple of weeks ago. Alcantara’s future will hinge on his ability to remain a versatile defender, giving him ample opportunity to find his way into the lineup. If he can successfully play second base, third base, outfield, and a passable shortstop on occasion, he could carve out a niche as a super-utility player.
Wuilmer Becerra, OF, Mets (VWL, Tigres de Aragua): 3-5, R, K
At just 21 years old, Becerra is younger than most players seeing action this time of the season, but that hasn’t stopped him from hitting during his brief cameo (four games in the last couple of weeks). Between Friday and Saturday, Becerra tallied five hits (all singles) in nine at-bats, with a run and a strikeout. Becerra had a strong showing in the South Atlantic League last summer and the Mets will be looking for him to take another step in his development with High-A St. Lucie in 2016.
Sunday, December 6th
As I discussed last week, Cozens has the size and strength to put a charge in the ball. Now hitting well over .300 in winter ball, Cozens needs to find similar success against more advanced arms in the minor leagues in order for his power to truly play to peak levels. When he connects, Cozens does just what he did Sunday afternoon, crush the ball out to right field.
Javier Baez, 2B, Cubs (PRWL, Cangrejeros de Santucre): 1-4, R, HR, RBI
Likely the subject of just about every trade discussion the Chicago Cubs have with other teams, at least from the opponent’s perspective, Baez slugged his first home run of the winter in just his second game in Puerto Rico. Nobody questions Baez’s power potential—or overall potential for that matter—but at some point he has to gain consistency at the plate. With that consistency, Baez could truly show the impact offensive potential he owns, rather than only flashing it for short stretches.