This winter, a number of Yankees players and prospects have found a place to hone their craft in the various winter leagues taking place. Leagues in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico are all in process. Let’s check in on the Yankees who are playing in these leagues and see how they have done this winter.
LIDOM – Dominican Republic
The regular season for LIDOM has wrapped up, with playoff action to begin on December 27th. This league was chocked full of major leaguers and top-prospects. The Yankees have been well represented across the league this winter
The most prominent Yankee to play in LIDOM this winter was Gary Sánchez, who was looking to rebound from a dreadful 2020 campaign and find his form. For most of his 15 games, it looked like Sánchez had done just that, as he was hitting over .300, with good power. A two-for-20 slump to end the regular season dragged down his numbers to their final .245/.355/.434 line. Most concerning are the 19 strikeouts that he racked up in just 62 plate appearances.
Playing alongside Sánchez with Toros del Este was Miguel Andújar. Andújar missed a few weeks of the season with muscle stiffness, but he looked sharp when he returned to the team, finishing with a .308/.333/.410 line. He remained the Andújar that Yankees fans have come to know, only walking twice and pounding out four doubles on the season.
After being out of action for over 13 months following his suspension for violating the league’s domestic violence policy, Domingo Germán returned to the mound for Toros del Este this winter. After a strong start in his first game back (4 IP, 0 H, 7 K), Germán faltered as the season went along, failing to get out of the first inning in his next appearances. He finished with a 7.16 ERA in 16.1 innings. He struck out 18, but walked nine and hit four batters.
Deivi García entered winter ball in early December for Tigres del Licey, but never seemed to find his rhythm. Pitching in three games, he tossed just six innings, finishing with a 7.50 ERA and just three strikeouts against five walks.
Perhaps the most promising performance by a Yankee in LIDOM action belongs to centerfielder Estevan Florial, playing for Leones del Escogido. Florial, who has played one game above the High-A level (it was with the Yankees this summer), held his own alongside major leaguers and those on the cusp of playing in the majors. In 18 games, he slashed .280/.373/.420. His 27% strikeout rate was still high, but he hit the ball much harder as the season went on.
After making his MLB debut in 2020, Albert Abreu entered winter ball playing for Tigres del Licey with plenty to prove to the Yankees. He will enter 2021 with no minor-league options, but he put up some very strong performances this winter. Still walking too many batters, he made up for it by limiting hitters for a .151 batting average against. In five games he tossed 19.1 innings with a 2.79 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.
Starting the LIDOM season as a free agent, Nestor Cortes found himself with the Yankees again after agreeing to a minor league deal earlier this month. In five starts, he pitched 18.1 innings, recording an impressive 27 strikeouts against five walks. He finishes with a 4.91 ERA and is heading to playoffs with Estrellas Orientales.
One of the Yankees’ top-ranked prospects in right-hander Luis Gil began the season with Tigres del Licey and pitched two games for the team. In those two appearances, Gil recorded 5.2 innings pitched, a 6.35 ERA, with four strikeouts and three walks.
Liga de Béisbal Profesional Roberto Clemente
The most impressive Yankees prospect so far in winter ball is Luis Medina who has been nearly unhittable. Pitching for Indios de Mayagüez he has been in complete control of his opponents through his first three games, tossing 11.2 innings and recording 25 strikeouts. Medina has allowed just four hits, four walks, and zero runs. He will likely have one more regular season start before the playoffs begin just after New Years.
Also pitching in the LBPRC is Harold Cortijo for Atenienses de Manati. His second outing of the season was a disaster, as he walked the only three hitters he faced, giving him a stat line that will be hard to overcome quickly, three games, 5.2 innings pitched, a 4.76 ERA, and a 1.59 WHIP.
Venezuelan Winter League
The Yankees’ fifth-ranked prospect per MLB.com, Oswald Peraza, got some early reps with Cardenales de Lara. Over six games and 20 plate appearances he slashed .250/.400/.313 with a lone double. After inconsistent playing time, Peraza finished up his winter ball campaign early in December.
Three Yankees prospects have struggled while knocking off the rust and playing with Aguilas del Zulia. In eight games, Pablo Olivares was unable to get his bat going, hitting just .077/.143/.077 with 12 strikeouts. He has not played since December 9th. Raimfer Salinas, whose highest level played with the Yankees was Rookie-Advanced Pulaski, has hit .176/.263/.235 in 10 games. Right-handed pitcher Anderson Munoz has a 7.36 ERA in four games. His last outing of 4.2 innings, three hits, six strikeouts, and no runs was his best of the winter.
Middle infielder Eduardo Torrealba has seen some spot playing time for Tiburones de La Auaira, hitting .278/.278/.333 in 10 games.
Winter ball provides a very small sample size compared to the grind of a 162-game schedule, but it can give a small glimpse into the year-round work that these players are putting in. At the very least, the players have been able to return to game action after a year that severely limited those opportunities.