Winter leagues roundup: Marlins' Garrett mashes Down Under
By Mike Rosenbaum
After missing much of 2016 due to injury, Stone Garrett is finally back on track and opening eyes this offseason in the Australian Baseball League.
The Marlins' No. 7 prospect homered in three of his previous five contests for the Sydney Blue Sox to increase his total to six and grab a share of the league lead. He's done more than just hit for power, posting a .277/.320/.470 slash line over 30 games.
An eighth-round Draft pick in 2014, Garrett made a name for himself the following year by pacing the New York-Penn League in home runs (11), RBIs (46) and OPS (.933) in just his second professional season. The performance set the stage for what many thought would be a strong full-season debut the in 2016.
However, a botched knife prank by former teammate Josh Naylor in early June resulted in a right thumb laceration and required surgery, ultimately sidelining Garrett for more than two-plus months during the season. As a result, Garrett is using this offseason to make up for that lost developmental time, preparing for a likely return to full-season ball in 2017.
Here's a look at some of the top prospects currently making waves in the offseason winter leagues.
• Rafael Bautista, OF, Nationals -- The Nationals' No. 14 prospect has spent much of the offseason coming off the bench for Leones del Esocgido after he produced a .250/.292/.286 clip with 12 steals in 40 regular-season contests. That being said, Bautista, 23, did find his way into the starting lineup three times last week and made the most of each opportunity, combining to go 4-for-12 with three steals.
• Erik Gonzalez, SS, Indians -- Gonzalez has been Escogido's hottest hitter of late, as the Indians' No. 8 prospect recorded at least one knock all five games last week en route to going 7-for-21 with two doubles, one triple and two RBIs. Originally signed by the Indians in 2008, the 25-year-old shortstop held his own last season in his first taste of the big leagues, hitting .313 over 21 plate appearances with the Indians following a strong showing with Triple-A Columbus.
• Chesny Young, 2B/3B, Cubs -- Young, the Cubs' No. 28 prospect, has gone 6-for-22 in the past week to improve his postseason slash line to .304/.407/.326 through 13 contests. He also tallied three RBIs in that span, giving him a league-best 12 RBIs in the playoffs. The 24-year-old infielder's successful winter should not come as a surprise, as he won the Carolina League batting title (.321 average) in 2015 and hit .303 last season in his first taste of Double-A.
• Jorge Lopez, RHP, Brewers -- Lopez's offseason campaign in Puerto Rico came to an end Wednesday when Indios de Mayaguez fell to Criollos de Caguas, 1-0, in Game 6 of the best-of-seven semifinals series. The Brewers' No. 14 prospect was hugely instrumental in Mayaguez's successful regular season, as he finished first in the circuit in WHIP (0.87) and second in ERA (1.56). He also posted a 32-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 34 2/3 innings (nine starts), during which he held hitters to a paltry .145 average. The 23-year-old right-hander was equally dominant in his two postseason starts, allowing one unearned run on five hits with 10 strikeouts and two walks in 10 innings.
• Tomas Telis, C, Marlins -- A switch-hitter who makes a lot of line-drive contact from both sides of the plate, Telis owns a .294 average over parts of eight seasons in the Minors. After a strong 2016 regular season at Triple-A New Orleans that concluded with callup in September, the Marlins' No. 12 prospect produced a .325/.385/.410 slash line in 35 games for Caribes de Anzoategui. Meanwhile, the 25-year-old backstop has been red hot at the plate of late following a slow start in postseason play, going 6-for-11 with two doubles, two runs scored and six RBIs in his past three contests.
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.