Crew's Arcia among those thriving in Winter Leagues

Crew's Arcia among those thriving in Winter Leagues

It can be argued that Orlando Arcia's impressive showing in last year's Venezuelan Winter League opened the door for his breakthrough 2015 campaign.

The Brewers' No. 1 prospect (No. 12 overall) batted .265/.335/.445 in 55 games for Caribes de Anzoategui, and his seven home runs in that span marked an uptick in power compared to the four home runs he had hit in 127 games during the regular season at Class A Advanced Brevard County.

This past season, Arcia emerged as one of the top prospects in baseball as his bat continued to catch up to his advanced defense. The 21-year-old shortstop spent the entire season at Double-A Biloxi, setting career highs in most offensive categories with a .307/.347/.453 batting line, eight home runs, 37 doubles, eight triples, 69 RBIs and 70 runs scored. He also stole 25 bases in 33 attempts, giving him at least 20 steals in each of the last three seasons.

Now in his second tour of the VWL, Arcia has picked up where he left off during the regular season, batting .417 with 10 hits and six runs through his first six games for Caribes de Anzoategui.

Here's a look at some of the other top prospects currently making waves in the offseason winter leagues.

Dominican Republic

Alen Hanson, 2B/SS, Pirates - Pittsburgh's No. 5 prospect has picked up the pace offensively after a slow start, hitting .375 in his last 10 games for Toros del Este. The hot streak, which includes six hits in his last five games, has improved his offseason average to .300. During the regular season, the 23-year-old switch-hitter batted .263/.313/.387 with 35 extra-base hits and 35 steals in 117 games for Triple-A Indianapolis.

Erik Gonzalez, SS, Indians - The Indians' No. 10 prospect has been hot of late, batting .480 (12-for-25) during his current seven-game hitting streak for Leones del Escogido. Overall, the 24-year-old middle infielder is batting .319/.373/.447 through 15 games in the Dominican Winter League. Gonzalez held his own during the first half of the season at Double-A Akron, posting a .725 OPS with 28 extra-base hits in 72 games, but struggled after moving up to Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he batted just .223 with a .588 OPS over 65 games in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

Steven Moya, OF, Tigers - After hitting 35 home runs and reaching the Major Leagues in 2014, Moya, the Tigers' No. 2 prospect, failed to take a step forward in '15, posting a .703 OPS with 20 home runs in 126 games for Triple-A Toledo. He also scuffled in his return to the big leagues, collecting four hits in 22 at-bats (.182 average). But the 24-year-old outfielder has shown more consistency this offseason in the Dominican Republic, where he owns a .315 average and seven extra-base hits (two home runs) through 15 games for Toros del Este.


Christian Villanueva, 3B, Cubs - Villanueva, the Cubs' No. 22 prospect, fared much better this past season in his second tour of the Pacific Coast League, batting .259/.313/.437 with 18 home run and 88 RBIs in 123 games for Triple-A Iowa. The 24-year-old still lacks a path to the big leagues but provides the Cubs with organizational depth in the event of an injury to one of its young corner players. This offseason, Villanueva is hitting .368/.466/.526 with five home runs, six doubles and 17 RBIs in 38 games for Yaquis de Obregon.


Franklin Barreto, SS/CF, Athletics - The A's No. 1 prospect (No. 18 overall) isn't appearing on this list for his performance; he's batting just .174 through 29 games for Aguilas del Zulia. What is worth noting, however, is that the 19-year-old has seen time in center field as well as shortstop this offseason, although it's likely due to the Aguilas' positional needs as opposed to Barreto preparing to play a new position in 2016.

Puerto Rico

Pat Light, RHP, Red Sox - Selected by Boston with the No. 37 overall Draft pick in 2012, Light finally made strides this season after moving to the bullpen from the starting rotation, posting a 3.88 ERA with five saves and 67 strikeouts (against 37 walks) in 62 2/3 innings between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. The Red Sox' No. 19 prospect is continuing to refine his command this offseason in Puerto Rico, were he owns a 2.57 ERA with eight strikeouts through his first seven appearances for Criollos de Caguas.


Alex Balog, RHP, Rockies - Selected by the Rockies with the No. 70 overall pick in the 2013 Draft, Balog, the club's No. 25 prospect, held his own this past season in the hitter-friendly California League, pitching to a 3.71 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 72 strikeouts in 97 innings (16 starts) for Class A Advanced Modesto. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound right-hander has been excellent for the Sydney Blue Sox of the Australian Baseball League, going 3-1 with a 1.09 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings across his first four starts.

Justin Williams, OF, Rays - The Rays' No. 21 prospect is coming off a strong 2015 campaign in which he tallied a career-best seven home runs and 30 doubles in 122 games between Class A Bowling Green and Class A Advanced Charlotte. Playing this offseason in the ABL, Williams, 20, has reached base safely in each of his 19 games for the Brisbane Bandits, and he's batting .400/.481/.586 with two home runs, seven doubles and 11 RBIs in that span.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.