Winter leagues roundup: Crew's Lopez back on track

Winter leagues roundup: Crew's Lopez back on track

Jorge Lopez reached the big leagues as a 22-year-old in 2015 but struggled mightily last season, receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A Biloxi after going 1-7 with a 6.81 ERA and a 66-to-55 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 16 starts for Triple-A Colorado Springs.

However, the Brewers' No. 13 prospect managed to end his campaign on a high note, posting a 2.49 ERA with 24 strikeouts and five walks over his final four starts in the Southern League. That success has followed Lopez into winter-ball action in Puerto Rico, where he's allowed just three earned runs on nine hits, with 20 strikeouts and eight walks, in five starts (23 2/3 innings) for Indios de Mayaguez. His latest turn was his best of the offseason, as he yielded just two hits with five strikeouts in five scoreless innings on Monday.

Winter league stats, standings, schedules and news

Overall, Lopez, Milwaukee's second-round Draft pick in 2011, ranks second in the circuit in both ERA (1.14) and WHIP (0.72).

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

Australia

Kevin Padlo, 3B, Rays -- The Rays' No. 20 prospect posted a .771 OPS thanks to a Midwest League-leading 79 walks and finished tied for third with 16 home runs last season at Class A Bowling Green. Now playing in the ABL for a second straight offseason, Padlo, 20, owns a .273/.368/.515 battling line, with five extra-base hits and seven RBIs, in his first nine games for the Brisbane Bandits.

Stone Garrett, OF, Marlins -- Garrett, Miami's No. 7 prospect, appeared in only 35 games for Class A Greensboro before a practical joke by then-teammate Josh Naylor resulted in right thumb laceration and subsequent surgery that kept the 21-year-old outfielder out of action until mid-August. Hoping to make up for the lost time in the ABL, Garrett has hit .324/.368/.500 with one home run in nine contests for the Sydney Blue Sox.

Dominican Republic

Rafael Bautista, OF, Nationals -- The Nationals' No. 17 prospect has produced at a solid .287/.327/.330 clip in 27 games for Leones del Esocgido after hitting .282 with 77 runs scored and 56 stolen bases in 136 Double-A contests during the regular season. On top of that, Bautista, 23, is tied for second in the circuit in runs scored (16) and ranks third in steals (eight).

Matt Koch, RHP, D-backs -- Acquired from the Mets in the August 2015 trade that sent Addison Reed to New York, Koch went 1-1 with one save across seven appearances (two starts) for Arizona as a September callup. More significantly, the D-backs' No. 16 prospect allowed nine hits in 18 innings in that span (.145 BAA) en route to a 2.00 ERA. Koch has been even tougher on opposing hitters this offseason with Tigres del Licey, for whom he's yielded just five hits in 16 2/3 innings (.091 BAA) to go along with a stellar 0.54 ERA in four outings (three starts).

Puerto Rico

Corey Black, RHP, Cubs -- Control problems plagued Black, the Cubs' No. 27 prospect, once again in 2016 as the hard-throwing righty issued 36 free passes against 62 strikeouts in 53 innings (48 appearances) between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs are hopeful that Black can get back on track this offseason in Puerto Rico, and, so far, the 25 year old has responded to the challenge by posting a 0.60 ERA with nine saves and a 13-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 15 innings (14 appearances) for Cangrejeros de Santurce.

Venezuela

Carlos Tocci, OF, Phillies -- The Venezuela native 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 .455/.561/.455 over his last 10 games to lift his overall average to .338 through 38 games.

Yandy Diaz, 3B/OF, Indians -- The Indians' No. 10 prospect turned in another strong campaign in the high Minors in 2016, hitting .318/.408/.446 with 35 extra-base hits and a 71-to-86 walk-to-strikeout rate in 121 games between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. The 25-year-old third baseman/outfielder has continued to produce this offseason in Venezuela, where he owns a .348/.420/.506 batting line with nine extra-base hits in 23 games for Leones del Caracas.

Renato Nunez, 3B/1B, Athletics -- After getting his first taste of the big leagues in September, the A's No. 5 prospect is currently tied for the league lead with nine home runs -- a total he amassed in just 23 games for Tigres de Aragua. Six of the 22-year-old's homers have come in his past 10 games, during which he owns a robust .300/.391/.775 slash line with 12 RBIs and 9 runs scored. Overall, Nunez is hitting .326/.406/.652 with 17 runs scored, 22 RBIs and a 11-20 walk-to-strikeout ratio.

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.