Checking in on Blue Jays players playing in the Dominican Winter League

Photo credit:Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 year ago
The great thing about baseball is that it’s a year round sport, even if Major League Baseball ends in a week.
The Dominican Winter League (LIDOM) and Mexican Pacific Winter League are in full swing now, so how are Jays players doing for their respective teams? Let’s look at a former top 100 prospect to begin.

Nate Pearson:

After pitching in the big leagues in 2020 and 2021, Nate Pearson missed all of the 2022 season. First by contracting mononucleosis, then suffering a lat strain in a rehab game. The story of his career thus far has been injuries, but unlucky injuries. No better example of this than getting hit with a comebacker at the start of the 2018 minor league season, which broke his ulna (forearm).
To get innings, Pearson headed to the Dominican Republic to play for the Tigres de Licey. In his five innings, he hasn’t allowed an earned run, while owning a 25 K% and a 6.25 BB%. Pearson has been used mainly as a high-leverage reliever which is a good sign.
I think as the years go by, his ceiling leans more toward a high-leverage reliever, rather than a starter or a bulk reliever. Although some may argue that Pearson becoming a reliever may “lessen” his value, having a guy throwing 100 mph out of the bullpen is super important.
It will be interesting to see the organization’s plan for the 26-year-old righty heading into his eighth season with the team.

Rainer Nunez:

Rainer Nunez is the only other Blue Jay currently getting significant time in LIDOM. The 21-year-old is slashing .273/.333/.409 with a homer in 24 plate appearances.
I’ve written about Nunez a lot in recent history, but here’s the small run down. Nunez was the only player that suited up for the Dunedin Blue Jays that had an exit velocity of 110 mph this season. He won the Florida State League’s batting title, where he slashed .299/.328/.482 with 19 homers in 384 plate appearances.
He didn’t regress upon joining the Vancouver Canadians, where he slashed .231/.379/.491 with six homers in 116 plate appearances. Nunez hits the ball hard, and I’d expect him to rise up on prospect lists heading into 2023.

Adrian Hernandez:

Hoping over to the Mexican Pacific Winter League (MPWL), we have reliever Adrian Hernandez. The Mexican native has pitched in 4.1 innings and has registered 5 strikeouts while facing 16 batters for a 31.25 K%.
Although he struggled upon returning from a shoulder injury, Hernandez’s screwball is a legitimate major league pitch. The question does remain whether or not he can avoid the long ball, which he had struggled with in stretches of the 2022 season.
The 22-year-old righty is Rule 5 eligible in December, so he’ll have to be added to the 40-man roster unless the Jays wish to expose him to other teams.

Back to LIDOM…

There are a few prospects who are on the expanded roster that have yet to make an appearance, such as pitcher Juan Nunez, first baseman Spencer Horwitz, pitcher Jol Concepcion, and pitcher Naswell Paulino. The latter appeared on Águilas’ week two roster, but is on the week three roster.
Catcher Jommer Hernandez (Licey) and infielder Rafael Lantigua (Gigantes) have appeared in games, but only as defensive replacements, and have yet to get at bats. Infielder Luis De Los Santos has started two games, but has struck out three times and appears to not have made the Escogido roster for week three.
As the winter league seasons continue, it’s expected that perhaps more players such as infielder Otto Lopez and pitcher Alejandro Melean will join their LIDOM teams. I’d also expect guys like Horwitz, Paulino, Juan Nunez, and Jol Concepcion to get some opportunities later in the season. 
Either way, if you need some baseball to watch after the World Series is completed, LIDOM is free on MLB . TV. All you need to do is log in to your MLB account.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. I’m planning an article on all the former Jays’ players playing in Mexico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic, so stay tuned for that!



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