SF Giants prospect Diego Rincones may not rank among the best prospects in the organization, but he sure is producing at the Venezuelan Winter League.
While Major League Baseball is currently on pause, many other baseball seasons around the globe are going strong. Many players in the SF Giants organization are participating. None, however, are doing better than outfielder Diego Rincones. The 21-year old is tearing up the competition in the Venezuelan Winter League (VWL).
In 13 games, Rincones has driven in 11 runs, walked as much as he’s struck out, and posted a .357/.438/.500 triple-slash. Furthermore, statistics tend to be delayed with winter leagues. Those numbers do not include his 3-4 performance in his team’s 13-6 victory on Saturday. Still, Rincones’ .938 OPS ranked as the 17th best in the league. He was also the only player in the top 20 under the age of 23. In fact, he is one of just four players under 22 with an OPS above .800.
If Rincones could finish the season with at least a .900 OPS, he would be in good company. In the 2018-19 VWL, Franklin Barreto and Harold Ramirez were the lone players 23 or younger to post a .900+ OPS. Both reached the major leagues the following season after posting massive numbers at Triple-A.
Rincones was signed out of Venezuela by the Giants in 2015. While he’s never projected to have any plus tools, he’s always had a propensity for solid contact and the potential to produce above-average power. Defensively, his limited range limits him to an outfield corner. Baseball America, however, graded his outfield arm as the best in the organization. That could give him a bit more flexibility, but given the size of right field at Oracle Park, he still will probably be limited to left field. Without big-time tools, he has found himself on the outside of most Giants prospect rankings but remained an intriguing player to watch.
Over his minor-league career, Rincones has been a solid .289/.355/.411 hitter. Most impressively, even though Rincones has consistently been younger than most of his competition, he has struck out in less than 13.6% of his plate appearances. In 2019, at just 20, he earned a late-season promotion to High-A following a solid campaign with the Augusta Greenjackets.
Finding an appropriate descriptor for winter league competition is a difficult proposition. The VWL is filled with players who played in the big leagues this season, but others who have been out of organized baseball after struggling in the lower minor leagues. Given the advanced age of the league though (average age is 27.5), the competition would seem close to Double-A or Triple-A.
Diego Rincones has an uphill battle to reaching the SF Giants roster given his limited defensive profile and the organization’s prospect depth in the outfield. However, his strong performance at the Venezuelan Winter League is a good sign for his future.