Monday, January 4th

Rusney Castillo, OF, Red Sox (PRWL Criollos de Caguas): 1-4, 3B, 2 RBI

Castillo came aboard for Caguas as a ringer for the Clemente playoffs, and he promptly keyed a game-changing rally by tying the series opener with a ringing triple in the sixth inning of his debut. The apparent heir to Hanley in the Monster’s lair, Castillo really hasn’t quite shown us what kind of a player he’ll be. He’s fast, but he’s been an inefficient base-stealer. He’s got raw pop, but the swing can get linear and rigid, and he’ll look overmatched at times by solid sequencing. The extra game reps are nice and all, but it’s unlikely we learn much of substance about what he is until April rolls around.

Rymer Liriano, OF, Padres (DWL Tigres del Licey): 2-4, BB, R, 3 RBI, K

After a year in which the Padres leapfrogged him on the organizational depth chart with just about anyone they could find off the street, Liriano has really struggled in the Dominican this winter to the tune of a .196/.317/.324 line in almost 120 plate appearances. The approach hasn’t taken the anticipated step forward, and while he posted solid numbers at Triple-A his bugaboo chase and whiff rates continued to cap the production. He’ll face a critical year ahead as he enters his Age 25 season.

Adrian Salcedo, RHP, Dodgers (DWL Estrellas de Oriente): 6 IP, 6 H, BB, 5 K

Formerly an intriguing projection arm from the Twins system (he checked in seventh in the 2012 organizational rankings), Salcedo signed with the Dodgers as a minor-league free agent last month on the heels of a second PED suspension in the waning days of the 2015 season. He’ll have to serve out another 95 games to start the season, and now sits on the cusp of a lifetime ban for the rest of his career. His once-strong command went out for a walk one day back and never quite managed to get back in the door amid injuries and, more recently, suspension. He can still work a hard sinker in the low-90s though, so it wasn’t particularly surprising to see someone take a flyer on him as (eventual) organizational depth.

Henry Ramos, OF, Red Sox (PRWL Ciollos de Caguas): 4-4, BB, R, 2 2B, RBI

I wrote nice things about Ramos last month, right before the Red Sox successfully hurtled him through unprotected Rule 5 waters, and he had himself a monster game out of the leadoff spot to help power Caguas to a Game One win.

Roberto Pena, C, Astros (PRWL Cangrejeros de Santurce): 3-4, R, HR, RBI

Pena showcased big league-quality defensive chops at Lancaster last year, and I saw him hit roughly 20 percent of his career homeruns in the span of about a half-dozen games while he called the Antelope Valley home. The bat is no better than a 30, with an ultra-aggressive approach and poor bat speed limiting him to a career liability in the box. But his quality receiving and outstanding catch-and-throw skills (true to form, he gunned down one of two base-stealers in this game) may just force the issue for a Jeff Mathis-style career.

Reinier Roibal, RHP, Phillies (PRWL Cangrejeros de Santurce): 5 IP, 5 H, 3 K

A 26-year-old Cuban, Roibal just re-signed with the Phillies as a minor league free agent. The production last year at Double-A was stellar, though it came overwhelmingly out of the pen. He can run his fastball up to 93-94 on his best days, but the secondaries fall short of bat-missing quality and he looks more like organization swingman depth than steady big-league contributor.

Tuesday, January 5th

Leury Garcia, everywhere, White Sox (DWL Leones del Escogido): 3-4, 2 BB, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI, SB

Have a day, lil’ Leury. Garcia has had ample opportunity to break into the regular rotation on the south side over the past couple seasons, but his suspect bat has wilted under the bright lights. He managed to make ample additional contact this year at Triple-A, however, and he’s carried over the production into a stellar winter campaign. At the very least the extreme versatility—he’s already appeared everywhere except first base and behind the dish in his 110 big-league games—and double-plus speed should keep him on the fringes of a big league roster spot for the foreseeable future.

Nestor Molina, RHP, Giants (VWL Leones del Caracas): 6 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, BB, 4 K, W

After a dominant 2011 campaign that saw him reach Double-A at 22, all systems appeared go for Molina. He checked in as the second-best prospect in the White Sox’ system following a trade from Toronto on the strength of potentially elite control and a decent splitter, and then… poof. Just like that, it was gone. He battled a couple injuries in 2012, his shallow arsenal ran into a staggering amount of barrels in the high minors, the command slipped a tick, and he was relegated to independent ball afterthought by last season. He pitched well in the American Association, however, leading the Giants to ink him on a minor league deal this fall. He’ll be 27 in a few days, and officially falls into the “root for this guy and his good story” category of hopeful big-league debuts.

Elias Diaz, C, Pirates (VWL Bravos de Margarita): 3-6, 2 R, 2 RBI, K

Diaz is the best prospect on a Margarita squad, so he gets some love for helping key a 12-run, 22-hit ambush of Freddy Garcia. The glove is just about ready for primetime, with a plus-or-better arm highlighting a strong overall defensive package that has shown steady improvement in the high minors. The power is fringe at best, but he works at-bats and shows the ability to barrel baseballs often enough to allow for at least the possibility of an everyday profile.

Juniel Querecuto, SS, Rays (VWL Bravos de Margarita): 3-5, BB, 2 R, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, K
Junior Sosa, CF, Marlins (VWL Bravos de Margarita): 5-7, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, K

I wrote about Querecuto’s slow climb up the ranks a couple of weeks ago, but I include him here again because that’s how you fill up a box score. And Sosa isn’t much of a prospect, but anyone who puts up five hits in a playoff game—especially leading off—deserves a shout out.

Thank you for reading

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