Winter Leagues: Ramirez Debuts Today, Polanco Update

Gregory Polanco has missed the last couple games, plus his team has had two days off this week, so fans were getting a little anxious about his absence. Finally got word that he has been out with the flu, which has knocked a handful of his teammates out of action as well. Polanco is also dealing with some personal family issues, but he should be back in the lineup soon.

UPDATE: That soon came very soon. Polanco will be in the lineup tonight.

In Venezuela, David Bromberg made his fifth start. He was unable to get through five innings in three of his four prior starts. Bromberg went 5.1 innings on Thursday night, allowing two runs(one earned) on four hits and three walks. He had six strikeouts and six ground ball outs. Bromberg ranks seventh in the VWL with a 2.66 ERA in 23.2 innings.

Ramirez was named best prospect in the NYPL

Ramirez was named best prospect in the NYPL

On the opposite side, Elias Diaz got a rare start and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He threw out the only runner attempting to steal against him. In two AB’s against Bromberg, he grounded out to third base and struck out. Diaz is 2-for-13 at the plate with three walks.

In Australia, Sam Kennelly went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts. The 17-year-old was back at second base for the second time, one day after reaching base three times in the season opener.

Danny Arribas went 0-for-4 today, striking out twice. He has played two games at catcher and two at first base. Arribas is 1-for-14 so far with three walks and three runs scored.

In Mexico, Ali Solis went 0-for-2 before being removed for a pinch-hitter. His team was down 9-2 at the time.

In Nicaragua, Adolfo Flores recorded an out against the only batter he faced. In four appearances, he has allowed no runs and three hits in 2.2 innings.

No Pirates played in the Dominican on Thursday night. Felix Pie, who was removed from the 40 man roster recently, is hitting .524 in six games. Pie is 11-for-21 and he homered on Thursday.

In Puerto Rico, where only two games are scheduled each day, the league has had one game rained out on six of the seven days since Opening Day. The teams of Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Jerry Sands were able to play just two games during the first week of the season.

Colombian League Starts Today For Harold Ramirez

Harold Ramirez had an impressive season for the Jamestown Jammers this year. He was named to the All-Star game and then after the season, Baseball America tabbed him as the top prospect in the NYPL. Ramirez now will play Winter ball in his home country of Colombia.

The Colombian Winter League is a step below the other Winter leagues as far as competition level. That can be seen as a good thing for Ramirez though. If the talent was as good as the Dominican League, he wouldn’t see much playing time this season. ┬áThe league is still better than what he saw this season in the NYPL, so it will be a good test for him.

Last season, Dilson Herrera played in the league and was the MVP of the All-Star game. He struggled against the older competition, hitting .204 in 113 AB’s, though he did hit six doubles and five homers. It was a good experience for Herrera, who went out and had a strong season for the West Virginia Power before being included in the Marlon Byrd trade.

Ramirez also saw a decent amount of playing time during the regular season and hit .221 in 113 AB’s, but when the playoffs started, he only saw action in three games off the bench, two as a defensive replacement late in the game. This season, Ramirez comes in as one of the more highly touted players in the league, thanks in part to his recognition as being the best prospect in the NYPL.

It will be interesting to see if he can carry over that regular season success into the Winter. The 42 game season starts tonight for his team and Ramirez is going to be one of the key figures on offense for a team that looks to be the best in the league, boasting numerous major leaguers on the pitching staff.

The Tigres de Cartagena team that Ramirez is on, also has Tito Polo on it. He is a prospect that spent the season in the DSL for the Pirates this year. Polo was named to the All-Star team, then got an invitation to the Fall Instructional League. He is a well-rounded player, who saw his stats suffer in the second half of this season due to a nagging hamstring injury. Polo played in the Colombian Winter League last year and went 6-for-24 in 20 games. During the playoffs, he played in just two of the six games, both times as a pinch-runner. With more experience this year, he should see some extra playing time, although the Tigres have a deep outfield ahead of him. Either way, the league is a good experience for Polo, who should see regular playing time with the GCL Pirates next year.

Two other roster updates have come in today. The Leones de Monteria roster has Oderman Rocha and Yhonathan Barrios. Rocha pitched well in the league last year, while Barrios was a position player last Winter. He made the transition to pitcher during the season and was hitting 99 MPH during the Fall Instructional League, so it will be interesting to see how he does against tougher competition than he saw in the GCL this year.

John Dreker

Author: John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • leadoff

    John, I was curious about how good the fields are in the latin countries for winter ball. Have you been to any of these games and/or do you know about the field conditions? I have been to a mexican field and it reminded me of a playground field, course this was years ago.

    • John Dreker

      I have not been to any of these fields, but I would think they are well taken care of because these games are the regular season games down in the Dominican, Venezuela, etc. They are all legit teams with MLB backing and from the games I’ve watched on tv/computer over the years, I haven’t noticed anything wrong with the fields. The lighting seems to be more like minor league games, but then again, they aren’t building huge expensive stadiums. Some of the lower leagues have lower budgets, so they probably don’t have the top notch field conditions, but there isn’t anything like a run of the mill field at a park you would play softball on, the leagues are well organized.

  • johndw28

    John thanks for these updates once again!

  • http://www.deanmanifest.blogspot.com Dean Manifest

    Two questions:

    1. Roughly what tier would you place Ramirez in among Pirate prospects (and does he have a comparable, on our system or another)?

    2. Roughly where would Dilson land if he were still n the system (feel free to answer the same question for Black & Welker too if you wish)?

    Tier One: Taillon, Polanco, Hanson, Glasnow (guys who will badly disappoint us if they never amount to anything at the big league level)

    Tier Two: Kingham, Heredia, Bell, Meadows, McGuire (guys who we expect to become big leaguers someday)

    Tier Three: Barnes, Matheison, Dickerson, Wily Garcia, etc. (guys who have a shot at a big league career)

    Tier Four: Jhang, Ngoepe, etc. (guys who won’t stand out regardless of how far they make it)

    Thanks. I think a lot of us have been waiting for that next Latin American to emerge to follow in the footsteps of Greg and Alen. Osuna and Garia don’t quite appear to have the talent, and now Herrera is gone as part of a trade that I still don’t understand*. “Harold Ramirez” at least *sounds* like a candidate to be that next guy (standard Latino surname; middle-aged white guy first name)

    * it remains unclear to me why we had to part with two top 10-20 prospects to get a guy whom we were the lone buyer. what leverage did NYM have? pull him back? then what? when we claimed him I expected to get him for Chase d’Arnaud or some A-ball pitcher.

    • John Dreker

      I would have Herrera right around 10th if he were still around. I think he will be a regular 2B in the majors someday, providing strong defense, hitting .280 with a little pop and some speed.

      Ramirez, being conservative, would be right around 15th, but he has major potential to break out this season. I could see a .300 hitting CF with 15 homers/30+ steal potential. He definitely has a huge upside, just he is further away from the majors than the top tier players, so the floor is also lower.

      I’m not big on relievers and ranking them high. Black has had control and injury issues, plus a delivery that is funky, so he profiles as a middle reliever on a good team. If he closes, which the Mets hinted at, you’re going to have some blow ups and sweat out a lot of games. At least in middle relief, you can pull him quick. Welker is the same, middle relief material, a step below Black. They both throw hard, but can go from bad to good and vice versa, quickly.

      As for Garcia and Osuna, both were very young for the league they played in. Garcia has tools for days, just needs some patience and pitch recognition. Osuna disappointed a little this year, but that was based on his performance last year. He is a good hitter with a solid approach and has some power. If both of them were with the Power this season and had decent years, they would be considered good prospects. Because of their age, you can’t totally rule them out for what they did in a pitcher’s league.