Rockies' Adames headlines busy week in winter ball
Colorado's No. 13 prospect leads Dominican in batting average, hits first homer
By Teddy Cahill
Thanksgiving meant a relatively slow week in baseball in the United States. But winter ball was in full swing in several Latin American countries, with many Minor Leaguers playing key roles for their teams.
Below is a look at how some of the top prospects playing in winter leagues are faring.
• Shortstop Cristhian Adames, the Rockies' No. 13 prospect, is having one of the best seasons of any prospect playing winter ball. After making his Major League debut this summer, the 23-year old is back playing in his native Dominican Republic for Toros del Este. In 33 games, he is hitting .351/.417/.482 and has scored 15 runs. He leads the league in batting average and ranks fourth in OPS. Adames hit his first home run of the winter Sunday to extend his hitting streak to five games and help Este to a 5-0 victory at Escogido.
• Earlier in the week, Escogido got another strong start from right-hander Rafael Montero, the Mets' No. 6 prospect. In a pitchers' duel Friday against Licey and D-backs right-hander Randall Delgado, Montero threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He struck out four batters, walked one and scattered three hits. Delgado matched him with seven scoreless innings of his own and Licey won the game with a walk-off single in the ninth inning. Montero, ranked No. 95 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, is 0-2 with a 3.68 ERA this winter. The 24-year old Dominican native has struck out 17 batters and walked seven in 22 innings.
• In that same game Friday, first baseman Hunter Morris, the Brewers' No. 18 prospect, made his winter ball debut for Licey. The 26-year old went 0-for-3, before collecting two hits and an RBI on Sunday. Morris is in the Dominican in part to make up for time he missed during the regular season when a broken arm forced him onto the disabled list for several weeks at the end of June. He was able to return to action in August and finished the season hitting .279/.323/.448 with 11 home runs in 91 games for Triple-A Nashville.
• Also just getting started in winter ball last week was second baseman Breyvic Valera, the Cardinals' No. 19 prospect. After playing for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League, Valera is continuing his offseason work in his native Venezuela with Bravos de Margarita. He debuted Wednesday and had an impressive first week, going 8-for-23 and collecting at least one hit in all five games he played. Valera began the regular season with Class A Advanced Palm Beach and earned a second-half promotion to Double-A Springfield. In 132 games between the two levels, the 22-year old hit .313/.361/.367.
• Outfielder Reymond Fuentes will have to wait until Spring Training to play for his new Major League team after the Padres dealt him to the Royals last month. In the meantime, he's playing for Cangrejeros de Santurce in his native Puerto Rico. He went 5-for-19 last week to raise his slash line to .213/.304/.344 in 17 games this winter. Fuentes, the Royals' No. 14 prospect was limited to 88 games during the regular season by a leg injury and didn't play after July 26. But he's now healthy again and patrolling the outfield for Santurce.
• Right-hander Jorge Lopez, the Brewers' No. 8 prospect, continued his strong performance in winter ball when he took the mound Friday for Indios de Mayaguez in Puerto Rico. He struck out five batters in five innings and earned his first victory of the winter when he held San Juan to one run on two hits and a walk. Building on a breakout season for Class A Advanced Brevard County, Lopez is 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA in five starts for Mayaguez. The 21-year old ranks second in the league in ERA and has struck out 19 batters and walked seven in 21 1/3 innings.
Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.