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Winter League Roundup: Otto López looks healthy, Yosver Zulueta heads to the Dominican Winter League, and more!

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Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro - USA Today
Brennan Delaney
2 months ago
It’s no secret that Otto López could be the first player on the 40-man roster to be designated for assignment once the Blue Jays sign free agents.
The 25-year-old had a rough season with the Buffalo Bisons, slashing .258/.313/.343 with two home runs and a 6.6 BB% and 15.9 K% in 346 plate appearances. He showed a significant decline from his .297/.378/.415 slash line and three home runs in the 2022 season, before ultimately being placed on the 60-day injured list.
The utility player showed some encouraging signs during his brief rehab stint with the Bisons, slashing .400/.438/.600 with two extra-base hits and a walk, but all in all, it was a rough 2023 season. Well, that’s until his success in the Dominican Winter League.
López, who appears to be fully healthy, returned to LIDOM with the Leones del Escogido and has had a fantastic season. So far in 13 games, he’s slashing .326/.360/.478 with a home run and four extra-base hits in 50 plate appearances. López has been Escogido’s primary second baseman, playing 56 innings as they sit in fourth place in LIDOM.
If the speculation about the Jays trading Santiago Espinal is true, López could be one of several players that could replace Espinal. Other players include Orelvis Martinez, Addison Barger, and Rafael Lantigua. Furthermore, the Jays have been linked to Isiah Kiner-Falefa once again.
The Blue Jays will have to make some 40-man roster moves in the coming months, and López is one of several players who may get DFA’ed. If he is, let’s hope he clears, as I genuinely believe he can find his 2022 form in this upcoming season.

Elsewhere in Winter Leagues:

López isn’t the only Blue Jay prospect playing in the Dominican Winter League. Heck, he isn’t even the only prospect with Escogido, as several other players join him in the Jays organization.
Steward Berroa found his way into Triple-A this past season, and he’s slashing .182/.182/.182 in 11 plate appearances. Despite the lack of plate appearances, he’s appeared in 18 games, mainly as a defensive replacement in centre field or a pinch runner. He has a similar profile to Cam Eden.
Luis De Los Santos was also to Triple-A in 2023 but only had one plate appearance with Escogido. The 25-year-old Slashed .220/.337/.383 with seven homers in 255 plate appearances with the Buffalo Bisons.
Yosver Zulueta is the only Blue Jays pitcher in LIDOM, and he has a 0.00 ERA in two innings pitched. The hard-throwing righty had a 4.08 ERA and a 4.07 FIP in 64 innings pitched in Buffalo’s bullpen in 2023. Walks remain a problem as he had a 15.7 BB%, while his K% declined to 25.4%.
Rainer Nuñez is LIDOM’s reigning Rookie of the Year and 2022-23 home run king, but his 2023-24 season has been a rough one with Estrellas de Oriente. The first baseman is slashing .196/.211/.304 with a single home run (he had nine last season) in 57 plate appearances.
Orelvis Martinez started many of Tigres del Licey’s games early in the LIDOM season, but his job at second base has been taken over by former Baltimore Oriole, Domingo Leyba. I’m not sure if his LIDOM season is over, but he’s slashing .219/.316/.281 with two doubles in 38 plate appearances. He had 10 strikeouts as well.
Rafael Lantigua re-signed with the Jays in mid-November and has been playing for the Toros del Este. So far in eight games, he’s slashing .231/.333/.346 with a homer and four walks and strikeouts in 30 plate appearances.
Victor Arias’ tenure in the Venezuelan Winter League was brief, getting just a plate appearance and a hit. The 20-year-old outfielder has a career-high five home runs in 176 plate appearances between the FCL, Single-A, and Double-A. The 2024 season will be a big season for the outfielder.
Adrián Hernández had an interesting season with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, posting a 4.62 ERa and 5.41 FIP in 48.2 innings pitched. The 23-year-old changeup artist spent most of the 2022 season with the Buffalo Bisons, so it was quite surprising he spent 2023 with New Hampshire. Either way, his season with the Caneros de Los Mochis in Mexico has been a rough one, posting a 7.71 ERA in 7 innings pitched, while striking out seven batters and walking six.
Andres Sosa hits wherever he goes, and that remains true as he made his Mexican Pacific Winter League debut with the Naranjeros de Hermosillo. So far this season, he’s slashing .221/.362/.326 with two homers in 105 plate appearances, and has walked 18 times and struck out 19 times.
Julio Ortiz was signed by the Blue Jays organization on July 28, 2023 and pitched 5.2 innings with the Dominican Summer League team, posting a 7.94 ERA and 6.27 FIP with a higher BB% than K%. With RA12 in the Puerto Rican Winter League, the 22-year-old has a 2.70 ERA and a higher BB% than K% in 6.2 innings pitched.
Glenn Santiago spent time between High-A and Single-A in 2023, and returned to Indios de Mayagüez for the 2023-24 season, slashing .211/.286/.211 with four singles in 21 plate appearances. I’d imagine he’ll start the season in High-A.
Leam Mendez signed a contract with the Jays in late May and posted a 2.36 ERA in 34.1 innings pitched between Single-A and High-A. So far with Indios de Mayagüez, he has a 9 ERA in 5 innings pitched, along with a higher BB% than K%.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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