Dominican Winter League Recap

Luis Medina, Somerset Patriots, June 16, 2021. Photo credit Jeffrey Hyde, @jeffhyde on Twitter, and Jeffrey Hyde on Flickr

The Dominican Winter League (DOWL) recently wrapped up its season and, as always, some of baseball’s top prospects took part. More noteworthy prospects participated in 2020 because of the minor league season being canceled but there were still some great players to review here. Let’s take a team-by-team look at some of those players along with a name or two from the past. Please keep in mind the small sample sizes of the statistics and the league plays as a pitcher’s league with the batters having a cumulative .235/.311/.326 slash line this season.

To summarize the basics of the league, there are 6 teams comprising all different levels of players – from top prospects to journeymen to semi-retired players. Each team plays 50 games from October until January followed by their playoffs. The league’s champion then plays in a tournament against the tops teams from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela.

Estrellas de Oriente

Micker Adolfo, OF, Chicago White Sox – 46 AB, 2 HR, 1 SB, .261/.292/.413
Ranked #5 on our Chicago White Sox Top 50
Our White Sox correspondent, @slydanno70 says “Micker is out of options. If he doesn’t make the team out of spring training he’s going to be with another organization. I expect him to get a long look in spring training and the Sox to give him every opportunity to seize a spot on the roster that they take north.”  I think Adolfo is worth a flyer in redraft leagues and should already be owned in dynasty leagues for his power potential alone. He could struggle to hit for average but is someone to keep an eye on going into spring training.

Jeremy Pena, SS, Houston Astros – 117 AB, 2 HR, 7 SB, .291/.364/.410
Ranked #2 on our Houston Astros Top 50
Pena continued his successful 2021 until a great showing this winter in this league. He looks about ready for a shot at the majors and, with Carlos Correa all but gone, he should have the inside track on the starting role for the big league club. For a contending Houston team, they may sign a veteran stopgap to give Pena more time to grow in the minors. Monitor the situation and be ready to pick him up in redraft leagues if he’s given the opportunity. Our Astros correspondent @InsideFastball says: “Pena showed the ability to hit major league hitting while at Triple-A Sugar Land. The glove is already MLB-ready. The question now is if he’ll have loud enough offensive skills to make an impact for fantasy managers.”

George Valera, OF, Cleveland Guardians – 3 AB, 0 HR, 0 SB, .000/.250/.000
Ranked #1 on our Cleveland Guardians Top 50
The top-ranked Cleveland outfielder only appeared in one game in the league but mashed last season across two levels hitting 19 home runs with a .405 OBP. He would need to spend time in AAA but a late season call-up isn’t out of the question for a Cleveland team with questions in their outfield. Our Cleveland correspondent @ksledz1975 has this to say about Valera: “Valera is knocking on the door to Cleveland. His current ETA is 2023 but has a chance to make an appearance in late 2022. Valera is the most dynamic bat in the Guardians organization.”

Other notable players
Jeison Guzman, Reiver Sanmartin, Robinson Cano, Sam Hilliard, Francisco Mejia

Do you remember?
Michael Martinez, 2B/3B/OF – Martinez played seven years in the major leagues for five teams but is mostly known for his three years with the Philadelphia Phillies, where he hit .187/.234/.261 in 364 at bats. He hasn’t played in the majors since a 13 game stint in 2017 with Tampa Bay. He did well in the DOWL going .259/.375/.370 with one home run and one stolen base in 27 at bats but his time in the majors is probably over.

Aguilas Cibaenas

Julio Rodriguez, OF, Seattle Mariners – 10 AB, 0, 0 SB, .100/.182/.200
Ranked #1 on our Seattle Mariners Top 50
One of the top prospects in all of baseball struggled in his 10 at bats in the league but don’t let that scare you off. The man is going to be a monster when he’s given the opportunity on an improving Seattle team. He won’t help in redraft leagues this year unless it’s for a September call-up but if the team needs outfield help and he’s hitting like he normally does, there is a slim chance he could get promoted earlier.

Other notable players –
Joan Adon, Christopher Morel, Leody Taveras, John Nogowski, Carlos Martinez. Neftali Feliz

Do you remember?
Melky Cabrera – This was the outfielder’s last season as he announced his retirement last month. Cabrera is one of the country’s most popular players. He retires after playing 15 years in the majors winning a World Series with the Yankees in 2009. In 100 at bats in the league, he batted .260 which was 15 points below his career batting average but still solid for a 36-year-old retiree.  We wish him the best in his future endeavors.

Gigantes del Cibao

Noelvi Marte, SS, Seattle Mariners – 15 AB, 0 HR, 3 SB, .333/.375/.400
Ranked #2 on our Seattle Mariners Top 50
On almost any other team, Marte would be the top-ranked prospect but being second to Julio Rodriquez isn’t bad at all. Marte has a great blend of speed and power to go with an excellent hit tool. He probably won’t be up this year but should see time in the majors in 2023.

Other notable players
Dermis Garcia, Seuly Matias, Marcell Ozuna, Matt Joyce, Jose Siri

Do you remember?
Henry Urrutia  – Urrutia was a Cuban defector signed by the Orioles in July 2012 after hitting an impressive .350/.426/.517 during his 5 years for the Cuban National team. He never lived up to his promise in the major leagues but has done well in overseas leagues since he last played for Baltimore in 2015. While the odds of him playing for an MLB team are slim, he is still only 34 years old and should continue his career.

Leones del Escogido

Estevan Florial, OF, New York Yankees – 24 AB, 0 HR, 1 SB, .167/.344/.208
Ranked #17 on our New York Yankees Top 50
Florial struggled this past season and is already 24 years old but he has good tools. The Yankees have a crowded OF/DH situation, as always, but if Florial could put it all together they will make room for him or he would be trade bait to help another area of need. Our Yankees correspondent @PaulWoodin1 has this to say about the outfielder: “He had a strong September getting hits in 8 of 10 games at one point and hitting .254 in the month so maybe he figured something out at the end of the year? Injuries have always dogged Florial throughout his minor league career.”

Jhailyn Ortiz, OF, Philadelphia Phillies – 6 AB, 0 HR, 0 SB, .000/.000/.000
Ranked #8 on our Philadelphia Phillies Top 50
Ortiz only had 6 at-bats in the league but increased his stock after a solid showing this past season for AA. The team added him to their 40 man roster to protect him in the Rule V draft and he may get a chance in the majors later this summer. Ortiz usually needs time to adjust when moving up a level but the power will play anywhere.

Jose Barrero, SS, Cincinnati Reds – 8 AB, 0 HR, 1 SB, .000/.111/.000
Ranked #2 on our Cincinnati Reds Top 50
Barrero didn’t play much in the Dominican league only seeing 8 at bats. Our Reds correspondent, @AdamWilly5312 has this to say about the exciting shortstop: “After a short tease in the shortened 2020 season, Barrero is ready to make a splash this season. He hit .306 with 13 HR’s with only 44 K’s at AAA Louisville last season and looked ready to be promoted at the end of last season. His athleticism should see him in the lineup at either shortstop or centerfield/left field depending upon Cincinnati’s roster formation to start the season. If you haven’t already invested in Barrero, do so immediately if possible. This kid has everything to be a tremendous fantasy asset.”

Ethan Small, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers – 20 IP, 1.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 17 K
Ranked #6 on our Milwaukee Brewers Top 50
Small followed up a successful 2021 with a good showing in the Dominican Republic this winter. Our Milwaukee correspondent @dgasper24 says: “Ethan Small has a career 1.74 ERA in the minor leagues and has every ingredient to be a successful big league starter. It’s a matter of time before he finds his way into a crowded Milwaukee rotation” For those in dynasty leagues, Small should already be owned but if he isn’t, make sure you get in on him soon.

Other notable players
Albert Pujols, Franchy Cordero, Aaron Hicks,

Do you remember?
Fernando Rodney – 42 years old. 327 career saves. $50,000,000 career earnings. So why still play? For the love of the game. This is why players like Rodney are still doing their thing for their home country. The former closer did well, throwing in 16 innings to a 3.38 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP after a 16-save season for Tijuana in the Mexican League. With the volatility at the closer position, maybe a team will give Rodney a shot this year?

Toros del Este

Vidal Brujan, 2B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays – 63 AB, 0 HR, 8 SB, .206/.275/.270
Ranked #1 on our Tampa Bay Rays Top 50
Brujan showed, once again, his great speed stealing 8 bases in the league. He struggled during his first taste of major league action last year but is a big part of Tampa’s future as a speedy leadoff hitter who could develop more power as he matures.  Our Tampa correspondent, @GatorSosa says this of a potential call-up: “If Brujan can pick back up where he left off in AAA, he should be amongst the first promoted to the Rays if an infielder is needed on the roster. Given his proximity, it would be fair to assume that could be within the first couple months of the season.”

Robert Puason, SS, Oakland Athletics – 11 AB, 0 HR, 0 SB, .091/.167/.091
Ranked # 16 on our Oakland Athletics Top 50
Some of the prospect shine of Puason has worn off after struggling in A ball then again in this league. We have to remember he’s only 19 years old and was playing his first year stateside. He could be an intriguing buy-low candidate in your dynasty leagues. Our Oakland correspondent @JMahyfam has this to say about Puason’s ETA to the major leagues: ’24 more likely ’25. But I agree with you this could be a great buy low if you have the roster space and patience.”

Luis Medina, RHP, New York Yankees – 3.2 IP, 4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 6 K
Ranked #8 on our New York Yankees Top 50
Medina throws pure heat and racks up huge strikeout numbers the last few years.  Our Yankees correspondent, @PaulWoodin1 says this about his future: “Medina took a sizable step forward with his control and command, really helping his chances to stick in the rotation. I think Medina has an outside shot of being promoted in 2022 and being part of the staff in 2023 barring any setback. He could also see himself being dealt for MLB needs.”

Other notable players
Esteury Ruiz, Ronaldo Hernandez, Anthony Gose, Miguel Andujar, Josh Reddick, Jesus Sanchez

Do you remember?
Yasiel Puig – He hasn’t played in the majors since 2019 when he played for both Cincinnati and Cleveland after being traded from the Dodgers, where he originally signed too much hype. Puig never quite lived up to his promise but still carved out a solid major league career. Last month, he signed a one year deal with the Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO.

Tigres del Licey

Ronny Mauricio, SS, New York Mets – 90 AB, 2 HR, 1 SB, .244/.277/.367
Ranked #3 on our New York Mets Top 50
Mauricio struggles to get on base but has developed good power for a middle infielder and seems poised to take the next step in his development in 2022.

Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B, Kansas City Royals – 30 AB, 1 HR, 0 SB, .133/.161/.233
Ranked #6 on our Kansas City Royals Top 50
Pasquantino shot up the rankings this year showing power and an ability to get on base. He hits 24 home runs and slashed .300/.394/.563 in A and AA ball. His struggles in the Dominican Winter League won’t prevent him from looking at a mid-season call-up if he continues hitting this year. The Royals are forming a nice nucleus of young talent and Pasquantino could be their first baseman of the future.

Other notable players
Luis Barrera, Ryan Rolison, Aristides Aquino, Andrew Knizner, Nomar Mazara, Ramon Laureano

Do you remember?
Hanley Ramirez  – The 2006 Rookie of the Year winner last played in the majors with Cleveland in 2019. For some years, Ramirez was a top 3 pick due to the speed and power he had at the shortstop position.  He moved to the outfield when he signed with Boston in 2014 but still put up some great numbers in the latter stages of his career.

Tony Bps Spina is a lifelong baseball fan hailing from the City of Brotherly Love - Philadelphia! Tony has loved baseball since 1980 and has followed the Phillies through good and bad times. Tony is married with 3 kids and works for a financial institution but has enough free time to play in 20 fantasy baseball leagues with 75% of them being Dynasty Leagues. He lives a few blocks away from Citizens Bank Park and attends many Phillies games per year in addition to their minor league teams in Lehigh Valley and Reading. He can be reached on Twitter at @TonyBps1.

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