A's Nunez among prospects making waves in winter leagues

A's Nunez among prospects making waves in winter leagues

After finishing the 2016 season in the big leagues with the Athletics, Renato Nunez is making a strong case for an extended look next spring with his impressive offseason campaign in the Venezuela Winter League.

The A's' No. 5 prospect is currently tied for the league lead with eight home runs after reaching the total in his first 20 games for Tigres de Aragua. Five of those homers came in consecutive games for the 22-year-old third baseman, from Nov. 15 to Nov. 22, and have helped to fuel his ongoing 10-game hitting streak.

Overall, Nunez is hitting .342/.414/.684 with 15 runs scored and 20 RBIs.

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

Australia

Kevin Padlo, 3B, Rays -- Padlo batted just .229 but showed plenty of promise during his 2016 full-season debut -- also his first as a member of the Rays -- at Class A Bowling Green. The 20-year-old third baseman posted a .771 OPS thanks to a Midwest League-leading 79 walks and finished tied for third with 16 home runs. Now playing in the ABL for a second straight offseason, Padlo, the Rays' No. 20 prospect, owns a .368/.429/.737 battling line, with four extra-base hits and five RBIs, in his first five games for the Brisbane Bandits.

Dominican Republic

Manny Margot, OF, Padres -- The Padres' No. 2 prospect (No. 26 overall) has fared well so far this offseason, hitting .277/.315/.396 in 25 games for Torres del Este. Margot has swung the bat particularly well of late, collecting multiple hits -- highlighted by his second home run -- in three of his last four games. On top of that, Margot, 22, owns a share of the league lead with his 28 hits and eight stolen bases.

Rafael Bautista, OF, Nationals -- The Nationals' No. 17 prospect has seen his battling line climb to .300/.345/.313 in 23 games for Leones del Esocgido after going 7-for-14 at the plate in his past five contests. After a strong age-23 campaign in Double-A, Bautista is tied for first in the circuit in steals (eight) with Margot, ranks second in runs scored (15) and is fifth in hits (24).

Mexico

Joey Wendle, 2B, Athletics -- After logging 153 regular-season games between the Minors and Majors, Wendle, the A's No. 28 prospect, is getting even more work this offseason with Yaquis de Obregon in Mexico, for whom he's hit .307/.345/.511 with 18 extra-base hits -- including three home runs -- and 25 RBIs in 34 games. The 26-year-old second baseman has hit safely in six straight games and nine of his last 10.

Puerto Rico

Jorge Lopez, RHP, Brewers -- Lopez, Milwaukee's No. 13 prospect, reached the big leagues as a 22-year-old in 2015 but took considerable step back this season as he received a midseason demotion to Double-A Biloxi after going 1-7 with a 6.81 ERA and a 66-55 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 16 starts for Triple-A Colorado Springs. But the right-hander was able to finish his year on a positive note, posting a 2.49 ERA with 24 strikeouts and five walks over his final four starts in the Southern League, and he's built on that success in Puerto Rico by allowing just three earned runs on seven hits in his four starts for Indios de Mayaguez.

Venezuela

Carlos Tocci, OF, Phillies -- A Venezuela native, Tocci received his first taste of winter ball last offseason, when he hit .333 in 11 games for Tigres de Aragua. After a full season in the Class A Advanced Florida State League (.284/.331/.362) in 2016, the Phillies' No. 22 prospect has hit .371/.476/.371 over his last 10 games to lift his overall average to .313 through 34 games.

Yandy Diaz, 3B/OF, Indians -- The Indians' No. 10 prospect turned in another strong campaign in the high Minors as showed an advanced bat, excellent on-base skills and an uptick in power. Overall, Diaz hit .318/.408/.446 with 35 extra-base hits and a 71-86 walk-to-strikeout rate in 121 games between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. That kind of production has continued for Diaz in Venezuela, where the 25-year-old third baseman/outfielder owns a .360/.442/.547 batting line with nine extra-base hits in 20 games for Leones del Caracas.

Raudel Lazo, LHP, Marlins -- Miami's No. 28 prospect recorded a 2.68 ERA in 42 appearances across three Minor League levels only to be designated for assignment when rosters expanded on Sept. 1. However, the Marlins clearly have liked what they've seen from the 27-year-old lefty in Venezuela, where he has yet to allow an earned run in 11 appearances for Aragua, as they added him to their 40-man roster last week to protect him from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

*All stats reflect games through Nov. 23

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