What you’ve missed…
Since we last spoke (well, I spoke—hopefully you listened), the fall and winter seasons have taken shape and begun to form a life of their own. Bryce Harper has had two successful games in the Arizona Fall League, roping a two-run ground-rule opposite field double in his first game, and going 2-for-4 in his second. He played right field (or rather stood in right field—he didn’t have a ball hit his way) in the first game and was the designated hitter in the second. He may only be eligible to play twice a week, but all reports indicate that he has had nothing but positive effects on his teammates despite his confidant reputation.
Tearing up the AFL is Giants second base prospect Charlie Culberson, who is leading the league in batting average, slugging percentage and extra-base hits. Dustin Ackley is hitting .333, but is sporting a .556 in-base percentage thanks to nine walks, five of which came in one game.
In the Venezuelan Winter League, Angels prospect Mark Trumbo has been among the most productive players, posting a line of .302/.400/.535 through 12 games, with four doubles and two home runs to his credit. Cubs prospect Austin Bibens-Dirkx may be sporting an 0-2 record, but he’s pitched well, as indicated by his 2.70 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 10-to-3 in three starts.
The Puerto Rican Winter League is under way, and prospects Dee Gordon and Chris Marrero are both off to hot starts at the plate. Gordon, the Dodgers top prospect, has four hits in his first nine at-bats while Marrero, a former first-round pick by the Nationals, is 3-for-9 with a double in the early going. The Dominican Winter League season is equally as young, but Mariners outfield prospect Carlos Peguero has five hits in his first 11 at-bats to put him among the early hitting leaders.
In injury and transaction news, Freddie Freeman has had his AFL season cut short due to a thumb injury, which the Braves will make him rest in order to have him ready to compete for a starting job this spring. Also coming home is Joe Mahoney, the Orioles minor league hitter of the year who injured his wrist in Venezuela and will have it examined by team doctors. The Royals were set to send Mike Moustakas to the Dominican League to get some more at-bats this winter, but after a strong season and extra games with Team USA in the Pan-Am qualifying tournament, the team may elect to withhold their top hitting prospect and let him rest this off-season.