Twenty-nine members of the Colorado Rockies' organization are playing winter ball at various warm-weather places around the world. Cameron Goeldner has been dutifully chronicling the prospects you should know every week, but we decided to give him this one off, so I'm here. 'Tis the season!
And since it's Christmas week, now's as good a time as any to look back at the winter as a whole, and call out some Rockies who have been doing well the last few months. To the stats we go!
Dominican Winter League
Six Rockies are currently playing in the Dominican Winter League, including four position players, led by Rafael Ynoa who is leading all players on this list with 131 at-bats. He's slashing .267/.309/.336 with six doubles, a homer, seven walks and five stolen bases.
Cristhian Adames is struggling at the plate this winter, slashing just .208/.258/.250 in 120 at-bats. He only has five extra base hits — all doubles — and eight walks despite striking out 19 times. The other two Rockies hitters in the Dominican, Dustin Garneau and Ryan Casteel, have combined on just three hits (all Casteel's) over 22 at-bats in nine games.
On the mound, former Rockies farmhand and current minor league free agent Rudy Owens is pitching for his affiliated life this winter, and doing well; he's started 11 games for Toros del Este, and is 2-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 50 innings. He's struck out 37 while walking just 19, and opponents are hitting .255 against him. His teammate for Toros del Este, Bryan Evans, is 1-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 10 starts (45⅓ innings). Evans, who pitched in Double-A New Britain in 2015, has struck out 39 while allowing just a .221 opponents' batting average.
Nelson Gonzalez threw four innings in the Dominican before moving on to a team in the Venezuelan Winter League. Gonzalez Germen, who recently re-signed with the Rockies on a minor league deal, has appeared in seven games for Toros del Este, allowing four runs in 7⅓ innings. Germen's one bugaboo in the 2015 season seems to be continuing into winter ball, though; he's walked six batters in those 7⅓ innings against just four strikeouts.
Venezuelan Winter League
Seven Rockies have seen playing time in Venezuela this winter, including two young hitters, Yonathan Daza and Luis Castro. Daza is slashing .254/.299/.317 in 63 at-bats for LaGuaira. He's hit two doubles and a triple, but has walked just twice while fanning thirteen times over 30 games. Castro, playing for Margarita, is slashing just .231/.286/.385 over 26 at-bats. Two of his six hits have been for extra bases — a double and a homer — but he does have eight strikeouts in nine games.
On the mound, Nelson Gonzalez, Helmis Rodriguez, and Javier Palacios have all each thrown less than three innings for their respective winter ball clubs; the other two — Antonio Senzatela and Jairo Diaz — are more noteworthy. Senzatela has started five games and is 1-0 with a 2.82 ERA and 1.30 WHIP across 22⅓ innings. Opposing batters are hitting .300 against Senzatela and he's only struck out eight hitters, numbers which are cause for concern, but he's also only walked two batters across those five starts.
Diaz has appeared in relief seven times for Caribes de Anzoategui, logging 6⅔ innings giving up just two runs on seven hits and — most importantly for the big righty's future — just two walks. He's struck out six hitters in those seven appearances for the club that is right now just a couple games out of the playoff race.
Puerto Rican Winter League
The Rockies have two organizational catchers playing in the PWL this winter: Wilfredo Rodriguez and Jan Vazquez. Neither one has seen too much playing time in the talented winter league, but both have done well enough in limited at-bats. Rodriguez is slashing .296/.367/.481 with two doubles, a home run, and three walks in just 27 at-bats. After hitting just .220/.256/.293 during summer ball in Modesto in 2015, it's likely Rodriguez may repeat that level in 2016.
Vazquez is slashing .238/.304/.381 in 21 at-bats with a homer, three RBIs, and two walks. Like Rodriguez, the light-hitting catcher will probably repeat levels in summer, 2016; Vazquez should be back at Double-A Hartford to catch what should be a nice group of pitching prospects this summer.
Mexican Pacific League
The Rockies have just one player in the LMP this winter, and it's the Rule 5 newcomer, Luis Niebla. The righty has started 12 games for Caneros de los Mochis, going 4-4 with a 4.12 ERA in 63⅓ innings. He's struck out 45 hitters and has a .255 batting average against, but has also walked 32 in those 12 starts. It'll be interesting to see how the Rockies use him from Spring Training on; he's thrown by far the most winter innings of any player within the organization.
Australian Baseball League
Correlle Prime continues to lead the way for Rockies hitters in the ABL, now slashing .263/.308/.406 over 133 at-bats in 36 games for the Perth Heat. He's slugged three homers and ten doubles, walked nine times, and even stolen a base. Other than Prime, the other two Rockies position players in the ABL — Michael Benjamin and Robbie Perkins — are each struggling mightily. Benjamin is slashing .183/.255/.262 across 126 at-bats, while Perkins is slashing just .174/.304/.185 in 92 at-bats for the Canberra Cavalry.
On the mound, Alex Balog has continued his dominant work for the Sydney Blue Sox. Over eight starts, Balog is 5-2 with a 1.35 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, and a .204 batting average against in 46⅔ innings. He's struck out 45 against just 13 walks, and he's thrown a complete game shutout.