The Hottest Pitching Prospects in the Offseason Winter Leagues
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As I mentioned in last week’s installment, it’s become increasingly difficult to compose a list of the winter league’s best pitching prospects. While the Dominican league’s regular season ended last week, the Mexican and Venezuelan leagues will both play their last regular-season contests on Sunday.
Furthermore, most organizations have controlled their player’s workload and progress this offseason, establishing innings limits while allowing their starting pitching prospects to work in shorter stints out of the bullpen
However, there were still numerous impressive pitching performances during this past week, primarily in the Puerto Rican and Venezuelan leagues.
Efrain Nieves, LHP, New York Mets (Puerto Rican Winter League): 25.1 IP, 3.91 ERA, 2.44 GO/AO, 20/7 K/BB (11 G; 3 GS)
Left-hander worked exclusively as a reliever last season; moved back to the rotation in mid-December and has been dealing ever since: 15.2 IP, 0.57 ERA, 1.54 BAA, 3.25 GO/AO, 13/1 K/BB (3 GS)
Fernando Hernandez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (PWL): 42.1 IP, 3.83 ERA, .248 BAA, 29/14 K/BB (8 GS)
Hernandez has been especially sharp over his last two starts: 2-0, 14 IP, 4 H, ER, 9/4 K/BB.
Ty’Relle Harris, RHP, Chicago Cubs (PWL): 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 8/3 K/BB (4 G; 1 GS)
His first start of the winter season couldn’t have gone better: 4 IP, 2 H, 5/0 K/BB.
Kris Johnson, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Dominican Winter League): 27 IP, 0.67 ERA, .125 BAA, 22/6 K/BB (6 G; 4 GS)
After registering a 3.19 ERA last season between Double-A and Triple-A, Johnson has opened even more eyes this winter in the Dominican Republic; last start: 7.1 IP, 3 H, ER, 11/0 K/BB, 10.00 GO/AO.
Bruce Rondon, RHP, Detroit Tigers (Venezuelan Winter League): 8 SV, 16 IP, 4.50 ERA, 19/6 K/BB (17 G)
The Tigers’ future closer has been nearly untouchable in his last two appearances: 2 IP, SV, H, 4 K.
Julio Rodriguez, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (PWL): 24 IP, 3.75 ERA, .230 BAA, 25/12 K/BB (9 G; 3 GS)
Over his first two starts in the PWL, Rodriguez issued nine walks in six innings. Therefore, his start on Dec. 23 was a step in the right direction: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 6/1 K/BB.
Alex Torres, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays (VWL): 60.1 IP, 4.48 ERA, .250 BAA, 86/27 K/BB (14 GS)
Torres’ outings haven’t been pretty and he continues to register high pitch counts too early into starts. However, he certainly has no problems missing bats with regularity, striking out at least five batters in eight of his 10 starts.
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