The Arizona Fall League isn’t the only baseball outlet for minor league baseball these days. Various Braves prospects and minor leaguers have also begun winter league play in the Dominican, Venezuela and Mexico. While the organization doesn’t have quite the same level of talent, or excitement, in these leagues as last year (Teheran, Delgado, Bethancourt, Gattis), there are still a couple of interesting pieces to keep an eye on.
Obviously, the purpose is for many players is to use this time to make adjustments and get some extra at-bats (or innings) following their minor league season. Aside from the obvious small sample sizes, players working on pitching and swing mechanics is one reason all the stats below should be taken with a large grain of salt. Also, it is tough to find an equivalent minor league level to compare to because the talent level ranges from top young players like Jurickson Profar to washed up veterans like Fernando Tatis.
With all that said, below are the players in the system I’ve been able to find playing in the various winter leagues with a couple of notes for each. It is a little harder to keep track of these guys because, unlike the Arizona Fall League, players are scattered around on different teams in different leagues.
Dominican Winter League
- Christian Bethancourt: 2-10, 1BB/4K – Bethancourt returned to the DWL this season after putting up a relatively impressive season in Mississippi. So far, he has knocked one double and worked a walk in limited playing time with Licey. If you have the time or interest, Licey games are broadcast here.
- Edward Salcedo: 2-6, BB/K – Salcedo went 2-6 in his first two games of the DWL season. After playing a full season as a 22-year-old in Mississippi this year, Salcedo still hasn’t been able to max out his toolsy skillset just yet. However, you can’t really complain about his consistency; he’s put up wRC+s of 95, 94 and 96 over the past three seasons. He is currently splitting time with three other third basemen, including the aforementioned Tatis.
- Wifrin Obispo: 2.2IP, 3H, 3ER, 3BB, K – The 29-year-old threw 63.2 innings for Gwinnett this season, posting a 3.53 ERA with a FIP to match. Control has always been an issue for the righty and has prevented him from making an impact at the big league level, despite above average strikeout numbers.
- Yohan Flande: IP, 2H, 0ER, 0BB, 0K – Flande made 19 starts and 12 relief appearances for Gwinnett this season. The 27-year-old posted a 4.18 ERA with twice as many K’s as BB’s. The lefty has spent the past three seasons in Gwinnett and chances are he won’t make a foreseeable impact in Atlanta.
- Juan Cedeno: 2.1IP, 2H, ER, 0BB, 0K - Cedeno is a 30-year-old who spent time with the Yankees and Braves this past season. In 50 innings he gave up 24 earned runs with a 29:25 strikeout-to-walk.
DNP: Jose Constanza, Omar Luna
Venezuelan Winter League
- Ernesto Mejia: 9G, .200/.317/.400, 6BB/14K – The soon to be 28-year-old returned to the VWL after being named the league's MVP last season. The slugger hit 28 bombs posting a .249/.323/.497 slash in his second season with Gwinnett.
- Jose Martinez: 13G, .273/.360/.477, 6BB/5K – So far in the VWL, the 25-year-old RF has gone 12-44 with a double, triple and two homers. He spent the entire season in Mississippi, posting a .285/.342/.371 slash in 123 games. Playing for the Tiburones de La Guaria, Martinez has seen regular playing time since their season started in early October.
- Jose Yepez: 8G, .150/.261/.350, 2BB/3K – 32-year-old catcher in Triple-A with a .261 on-base…
- Omar Poveda: 11IP, 9H, 6ER, 4BB, 10K – The 26-year-old posted a 3.62 ERA 164 innings for Gwinnett. With his third organization in the past five years, it will be a struggle for him to make an impact with the big club.
DNP: Emerson Landoni, Williams Perez
Mexican Winter League
- Daniel Castro: 10G, .150/.190/.300 – Castro, signed three years ago as an international free agent, got his first taste of baseball in the US after spending time in the Dominican and Mexican leagues. The 20-year-old put up a .284/.337/.318 triple-slash with Lynchburg this season. Castro is an intriguing prospect to watch next year now that he’s made his way into Braves system.
- Ryan Buchter: 3IP, 3H, ER, BB, 5K – Buchter had an interesting season in 62.0 Triple-A innings, putting up a league leading 37.6 K% and a 18.6 BB%, both jaw dropping numbers. The lefty sits mid-90 and possesses an absolutely disgusting slider (courtesy of The Hard Ball Times). Who knows, maybe he can cut down on the walks and continue a trend of "random reliever turned shutdown reliever" like we’ve seen with some of the Braves' recent bullpen arms.
- Ryan Hinson: 17.1IP, 7H, 3ER, 11B, 14K – Hinson is another 26-year-old lefty but has yet to crack the high-A level. He posted a 2.48 ERA in 58 innings with rather pedestrian strikeout and walk numbers.
- Mark Lamm: 3.1IP, 4H, 3ER, 5BB, 3K – Splitting time between AA and AAA posted a 70/36 strikeout to walk in 68 innings. The flyball pitcher was touched up in his most recent outing and hasn’t pitched in over a week.
- Andrew Russell: 3.2IP, 2H, 3ER, BB, 2K - Russell also split time in AA and AA, appearing in 28 games at each level. At 29, the side-arming reliever posted a pedestrian strikeout rate with an above average walk rate.
If there are any players you believe I missed, feel free to make note of it in the comment section.