Wednesday, December 16th
Fresh of his selection by the Orioles as the eighth pick in the Rule 5 draft, Rickard has built off an excellent three-level 2015 campaign by continuing to rake in the Dominican, including an out-of-nowhere power explosion (he’s tied for second in the league with six homers after knocking just two over a wall all season long). Ezra provided an excellent write-up of Rickard’s skills yesterday, and he’ll enter spring training with an obvious incentive to make the trip north with the big club.
Yadiel Rivera, SS, Brewers (PRWL Cangrejeros de Santurce): 3-3, R, 2B
On to his second stop of the off-season after a solid showing in the Arizona Fall League, Rivera’s showing in Venezuela had been fairly disastrous until Wednesday’s perfect performance at the dish. A strong defender at short, Rivera’s soft hands, range, and left side arm give him the total package to be an above-average glove man at the highest level. Unfortunately the bat hasn’t ever done enough to distinguish him as a starting-caliber player, and especially given the organizational depth at the position, he profiles as more of a utility infielder if the offense allows it.
Acquired last year from Arizona for Jeremy Hellickson, the former second-rounder remains extremely athletic and extremely raw at the dish. The borderline double-plus raw power he flashed in the Australian League all-star game two days ago started to creep ever-so-subtly into his game in the Midwest League last summer, but he made minimal strides in toning down his hyper-aggressive approach and was promptly exposed in a brief cameo at High-A. It’s far too early to give up on the 20-year-old, but the road is likely to be quite long if it ever leads to the major leagues.
Rodriguez briefly burst onto the prospect scene after clubbing 19 homers in High-A in 2012, but after consecutive ugly campaigns at Double-A he was quickly relegated to just-another-dude status. His third try at the level this past summer proved something of a charm—certainly relative to the first two—and he’s continued to hit this winter in the Dominican. That’s good, because the power bat and potential for fringy defensive reps at second is pretty much the only thing keeping his big league dreams alive. He’ll likely head to Triple-A to try his hand there in the spring while serving as emergency infield depth on a crowded Cleveland depth chart.
Logan Moore, C, Phillies (DWL Tigres del Licey): 2-3, BB, 2 R, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI
Moore has never shown much with the stick throughout his time in the Phillies’ organization, but he’d done well to work himself into one of the better defensive backstops in the organization. After a decent showing at Triple-A in the second half, however, Philadelphia challenged him with an assignment to the Arizona Fall League this year. Unfortunately he flopped rather spectacularly on both sides of the ball, hitting under .200 and struggling with his receiving and running game control. It’s been a different story since he hit the Dominican, however, as he’s now raked to the tune of a .900 OPS in almost 60 plate appearances. He’ll likely head back to Triple-A in the spring and be at or near the top of the pile for a big league trial should injury strike either big club catcher.
Jordany Valdespin, OF, Marlins (DWL Estrellas de Oriente): 4-5, R, 4 RBI, K
After logging all of four at-bats last year for the hapless Marlins it’s an open question as to whether the recently-turned-28-year-old Valdespin will ever log significant big league playing time again, but he’s continued to do his part in attempting to force the issue by playing all over the diamond and cobbling together respectable numbers at Triple-A. He’s had a solid campaign in the Dominican this winter, highlighted by Wednesday’s four-hit outburst to raise his line to .273/.377/.328 with 10 bags in 10 attempts.
Thursday, December 17th
Tomas Telis, C, Marlins (VWL Navegantes del Magallanes): 1-3, K
Telis finagled his way to the big leagues with a second-consecutive September call-up, this time on the back end of a deadline deal that shipped him to Miami. The switch-hitter has always been able to hit a little bit, thanks to a smooth lin- drive stroke from both sides of the plate. Behind the dish, however, he has basically willed his way to competency, dramatically improving his once-sloppy receiving fundamentals and footwork. The investment paid off to the tune of a 43 percent caught-stealing rate at Triple-A last season, and he’ll enter 2016 with an inside track to the Marlins’ backup catching gig.
Querecuto was a J2 signing for the Rays in 2009 who progressed slowly through the lower rungs of the minors before missing all of 2013 to injury. Since returning in 2014 he’s posted consecutive seasons of first-half success while repeating a level followed by post-promotion struggles. He makes contact with a compact stroke that barely utilizes his lower half and leaves him devoid of much power at all. His calling card is at shortstop though, where he shows the footwork and arm strength to hold down the position if the contact rates hold. He’ll be in line for another crack at Double-A next year, and if he’s able to make enough adjustments to continue his recent pattern, there’s a possible future utility player here.
Levi Michael, 2B, Twins (VWL Aguilas del Zulia): 1-2, 2 BB, 2 R
A forgotten man in the Twins organization, the former first rounder has quietly posted solid offensive numbers in each of the past two (injury-riddled) years after converting fulltime to second base. The swing still had a bunch of chop in it and a steep angle into the zone, but this year he incorporated notably more leverage off his backside. That helped him generate more pop, but the gains came at the expense of his contact rate, which tumbled precipitously. The Twins left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, but the 24-year-old went unselected; if he can manage to stay on the field next year it’s entirely possible he plays himself into the conversation for a call-up at some point.
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