Winter Leagues roundup: Crew's Lopez flourishes in Puerto Rico
By Mike Rosenbaum
After a tough 2016 regular season that included a mid-season demotion to Double-A from Triple-A, right-hander Jorge Lopez is back on track and firing on all cylinders this offseason in Puerto Rico.
The Brewers' No. 14 prospect turned in one of his finest performances for Indios de Mayaguez in his most recent start (Tuesday), tossing five scoreless frames of one-hit ball with six strikeouts and one walk against Criollos de Caguas. Even though he didn't earn a win, Lopez's fine outing would not be spoiled as Mayaguez managed to edge Caguas, 4-3, in 14 innings to notch a Game 1 victory in the circuit's best-of-seven semifinals.
Lopez, 23, was equally impressive during his nine regular-season starts for Mayaguez, as he ranked first among the league's qualified hurlers in WHIP (0.87) and second in ERA (1.56). He also limited opposing hitters to just 17 hits (.145 BAA) and posted a 32-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 34 2/3 innings.
Here's a look at some of the top prospects currently making waves in offseason leagues.
• Kevin Padlo, 3B, Rays -- The Rays' No. 20 prospect posted a .771 OPS thanks to a Midwest League-leading 79 walks and swatted 16 home runs last season at Class A Bowling Green. Now participating in the ABL for a second straight offseason, the 20-year-old third baseman owns a .272/.365/.519 batting line, with 15 extra-base hits and 17 RBIs, in his first 24 games for the Brisbane Bandits. He's swung the bat particularly well of late, too, going 6-for-14 with four walks in his last four contests.
• Stone Garrett, OF, Marlins -- Garrett is using this offseason to make up for the two-plus months he missed during the regular season due to a hand injury -- and he's making the most of the opportunity. The Marlins' No. 7 prospect connected on his fourth ABL homer on Friday, a three-run shot in the top of the second inning, and he's hitting .297/.339/.475 with 11 RBIs and five stolen bases through 26 games for the Sydney Blue Sox.
• Jorge Bonifacio, OF, Royals -- The Royals' No. 2 prospect had a solid 2016 campaign at Triple-A Omaha, hitting .277/.351/.461 with 19 home runs and 86 RBIs in 134 games. While he hasn't fared as well this offseason, posting a .634 OPS with one homer in 42 games, the 23-year-old outfielder did connect on a solo home run for Tigres del Licey in the first game of the circuit's round robin playoffs.
• Chesny Young, 2B/3B, Cubs -- Young, the Cubs' No. 28 prospect, has been hot of late for Leones del Escogido in postseason play, collecting four hits and three RBIs in the team's past two playoff games. After capturing the Carolina League batting title (.321 average) in 2015 and then hitting .303 last season in his Double-A debut, Young has continued to rake this winter, producing a .351 average in 22 regular-season games for Escogido.
• Yandy Diaz, 3B/OF, Indians -- The Indians' No. 10 prospect was one of the top hitters during regular-season play in Venezuela, where he finished second in the circuit in hitting (.371) and on-base percentage (.451) and ranked third in OPS (.961) while appearing in 40 games for Leones del Caracas. The performance is a continuation of Diaz's impressive 2016 campaign, when he hit .318/.408/.446 with 35 extra-base hits and a 71-86 walk-to-strikeout rate in 121 games between the Double- and Triple-A levels.
• Tomas Telis, C, Marlins -- Telis had another solid season at the plate in 2016 as he hit .310/.362/.429 over 91 games at Triple-A New Orleans. The Marlins' No. 12 prospect continued to hit in the big leagues following a September callup (.308 average in 13 at-bats), and then produced a .325/.385/.410 slash line in 35 games for Caribes de Anzoategui. He's 1-for-7 with an RBI in three postseason games.
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.