The Dominican Winter League kicked off their 2021/2022 season on Wednesday night. All six teams in the league were on the schedule. Only four Cincinnati Reds players were on the opening night rosters, and only Francisco Urbaez got on the field. He started at second base and was hitting second in the Escogido lineup as they faced off against Licey.
A year ago at this time, Francisco Urbaez had not yet seen a single pitch as a professional baseball player. Undrafted in the 5-round 2020 draft, he signed on with the Reds as a free agent. He began the year in High-A Dayton, where he saw most of his 2021 game action, but also saw time in both Double-A and Triple-A in the second half where he played in 14 games for both the Chattanooga Lookouts and Louisville Bats. Between the three stops he hit .302/.390/.414 with 41 walks and 57 strikeouts in 95 games. Particularly with Dayton he was a hit machine.
On Opening Night he was a hit machine once again. The first pitch he saw was lined back up the middle for a single. In his second plate appearance of the night he would work a walk. In his third trip to the plate he lines a single over the 1st baseman and into right field for another single. For his final plate appearance of the night he would draw another walk. Escogido lost 4-1 on the night. Francisco Urbaez scored the only run of the game for the Lions, and he accounted for two of their six hits, and two of their three walks.
Narciso Crook and Michael De Leon were in the opposing dugout. They didn’t play on Wednesday night for Licey, but are on the Tigers roster again this season. Reliever Hector Perez is also on the Licey roster. Like Crook and De Leon, he did not participate in the game on Wednesday night. Starting pitcher Reiver Sanmartin is on the Eastern Stars.
Urbaez is listed as a shortstop, but played a lot of second base this year, had a great breakout season starting in A+ end in AAA but he is seldom mentioned in discussions of future potential big league infielders.
He’s got to be included with Johnson and McClain at AA. Utility guy with those two, but still.
At AAA, we’d have Hernandez and Lopez, then AlfRod and Rey as utility.
Hi-A Delacruz, Torres, Hinds at SS/2B and 3B.
Man, we are loaded with middle infield talent. Catching is solid, too.
Now, CF. I’d live to see Senzel grab it and hold it. But that’s a fool’s hope at this point. What, half his ML time burned?
Several of the middle infield guys can move to the OF. I see Hinds with his bat leading the way and put in RF
Wouldn’t you be surprised that Alf-Rod is still around in 2022. He is either on 50-man, which is unlikely, or a minor league free agent.
He had a very good year but he was probably a little old for high A (23) and didn’t do anything in AA or AAA. He’s going to have to hit for more power and get more position flex (outfield & third base) with solid defense to become a serious prospect.
In regards to “didn’t do anything in AA or AAA,” he was only there for 14 games each stop. What I see is his walks, 9, almost equal his Ks, 13. To me, that says that given more time he would have been fine.
But, with Barrero, India, McLain, Johnson, Lopez, not sure where he squeezes in, unless he forces the issue.
We’ll find out. He won’t be the first to prove himself at every level. Probably similar to Cedrola.
The Reds are so loaded with middle infielders I would love to see a separate rankings at least for an article as a topic. In no particular order here is how loaded the middle infield is:
De La Cruz
Cabrera rumored to sign
Valencia rumored to sign
Am I missing anyone? Can any play the corner inf or the of? Besides Hendrick, Confidan and Allen the OF seems thin
AAA: Lopez, Alf Rod, Hernandez, Rey (???)
AA: McLain, Urbaez, Rey (???)
A+: Johnson, Hinds, Callihan, Torres
A: De La Cruz, Minier,
AZ: Jorge, Balcazar, Ascaino (???)
DOSL: Ascaino (???), Cabrera, Valencia, Espinosa, Serrano
2. De La Cruz
6. Ivan Johnson
7. Carlos Jorge
19. Alf Rod
Nice ranking especially with Callahan being #10 and Cabrera #3 on the international list at #11.
I know little about high level baseball, but the novice in my anticipates it’s much easier for some of the listed MI prospects to transition to OF vs. OF prospects moving to the IF. I don’t think we should be too concerned about thin minor league OF talent. Just need a legit CF – the corners take care of themselves.
Hopefully Siani was not injured as he got one at bat before he was removed from the game on Friday.