Two Up, Two, Down: Dominican Winter League Update

beisboldominicano

Written by Ben Wilson  Photos by MiLB.com

Two Up, Two Down is a new feature here at Real McCoy Minors that takes a look around the minor leagues to identify prospects outside of the biggest names and highest rankings whose recent play on the field warrants our attention. We all know someone like Braves OF prospect Ronald Acuña has done other-worldly things this year in the minor leagues, so this feature instead brings other names from the edges and into the spotlight. This is not a deep dive by any means, but quick hits on guys who should see some change in their rankings industry-wide based on their performance.

Two Up

Franchy Cordero, OF, San Diego Padres

Current Winter League Team: Leones del Escogido

FranchyCan’t spell Franchise without Franchy! Ok…not quite, but Franchy is playing great in the DR these days. He’s putting up offense to the tune of .318/.389/.470, and he’s second in the league in hits (42), and total bases (62). Franchy played 30 MLB games this past season with San Diego and the K rate was a little high, but I attribute that to a small sample. Franchy does have some swing-and-miss to his game, but he also has some sneaky pop and can be a 15 HR, high doubles and triples hitter at the MLB level. He also greatly improved his SB percentage this year at AAA, and he’s trending in the right direction in many ways during a critical period of his development. While many think Franchy has 4th OF potential, I think he can be better than that: a good starting LF with game-changing athleticism, albeit with a lower AVG and serviceable OBP.

Jorge Yabiel Lopez, SP, Milwakee Brewers

Current Winter League Team: Aguilas Cibaenas

Jorge LopezThrough 9 Dominican League starts, Lopez has put together a solid 2.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, with 36 K and 12 BB in 50 IP. The Puerto Rican right-hander has compiled a respectable minor league career since being picked in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft. Entering 2016, he appeared on Baseball America, MLB, and Baseball Prospectus’ Top 100 prospect lists. Now entering his age 25 season, Lopez began transitioning to a bullpen role last season, where he put up 7 SV while still making 13 starts at AA. Given the new trend of multiple-inning middle relievers cropping up around baseball, Lopez could be an interesting name moving forward for the Brew Crew in a starter/reliever mold. He has demonstrated enough control and strikeout ability to be a valuable commodity, and may reward the Brewers for being patient with him like they were with Jimmy Nelson.

Two Down

Jose Leclerc, RP, Texas Rangers

Current Winter League Team: Gigantes del Cibao

Jose LeclercA pure reliever, Leclerc’s bugaboo has been the free pass throughout his professional career. With a four-seam fastball that tops out at 97mph, Leclerc generates plenty of swing-and-miss stuff, while mixing in a diverse arsenal of a splitter, changeup, sinker, curve, and cutter. Leclerc’s 2017 K rate of 11.8/9 IP at the MLB level was impressive, albeit at the expense of 40 BB in 45.2 IP. Leclerc has 11 BB in 13 IP so far for the Gigantes, while allowing only 3 hits and 3 ER. If Leclerc can figure out how to throw a higher percentage of strikes, he can be a clear part of the Rangers late inning mix. Otherwise, it is hard to envision a role beyond middle relief if he can’t wrangle in some of the erratic tendencies. He will be 24 years old on Opening Day, and will look to have a strong Spring Training with the control to break camp with the big club again this year.

Miguel Andujar, 3B, New York Yankees

Current Winter League Team: Gigantes del Cibao

Miguel AndujarAndujar currently does not have an extra base hit in 57 at bats for the Gigantes, but playing in 130 games between AA and MLB is a reasonable explanation for the lower offensive output. That being said, Andujar is coming off of a strong 2017 that has seen his stock rise considerably. A good contact, low K hitter at a premium position, Andujar looks destined for a bright future under the bright lights in the Bronx. Given the Yankees glut of talent on the infield, and with super-prospect Gleyber Torres with the clearest path to 3B time in New York, I wonder if Andujar has a future in the outfield: his plus arm would play very well there. While there are some that are currently placing Andujar in the top 25 prospects in all of baseball, I think his position uncertainty, and reliance on the hit tool given his overall offensive profile, leaves some questions about his ultimate future. I saw a “Hank Aaron wrists” comparison for Andujar on Twitter, which again, makes me stop and process the hyperbole of that statement. I most certainly like Andujar as a top 100 prospect, but wonder if the strength of the New York Yankees farm system should cause us to take pause on the quick ascent through top 100 lists across the industry.

Other Notables:

Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox

Current Winter League Team: Gigantes del Cibao

Top prospect Eloy is doing very Eloy things in the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano. He’s among the league leaders in HR despite playing in about half as many games as everyone else, and hitting at a robust .368/.443/.676 overall. Look out light towers in the South Side of Chicago circa late 2018.

Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Detroit Tigers

Current Winter League Team: Toros del Este

Jeimer has been slighted a bit in prospect circles by having many above average tools with none that project as elite, but I think that’s an unfair assessment of this talented young man. Candelario has consistently demonstrated a good ability to get on base, and play solid defense at the hot corner. As a switch hitter, I am a big fan of Candelario and project that he will be among the better 3B in all of baseball. The Tigers picked up a great guy for their rebuild.

Julio Borbon, OF, Mexican League

Current Winter League Team: Tigres del Licey

Remember Julio? The former first round pick of the Texas Rangers last played in the majors with Baltimore in 2016, and has 9 XBH in 63 AB in the DR. Borbon played very well in the Mexican League this past year, putting together .365/.426/.469 in 90 games to go along with 20/27 SB. At 31 years old, Borbon can help out a MLB team putting together that kind of production as a LF/CF backup, and I hope he signs on with a club this winter.

Please follow Ben Wilson on Twitter @TBDubbs11 for more MLB prospect news and updates.

 

Author:

Collector of Minor League Baseball cards and all around MiLB enthusiast. Check out my blog and my new social media marketing website at marknikolov.com!

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