Winter Leagues: Escobar Homers, Polanco Leaves Game Early

In the Dominican from Saturday night, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco played their second straight game in the outfield together. Their Escogido team won 6-1 in their second playoff game, moving to 1-1 after losing the opener. Polanco went 1-for-2 with a single, run scored and hit-by-pitch, which came in his first plate appearance. The pitch was a 99 MPH fastball from 22-year-old St Louis Cardinals reliever Carlos Martinez and hit Polanco on the knee. He left the game with his team up 6-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. According to his team, he was removed as a precaution due to the hit-by-pitch. After the game, he was checked out by team doctors and they issued another statement that said he was fine. Marte went 0-for-4 with a walk, stolen base and RBI.

Elvis Escobar's first hit of the Winter was a home run

Elvis Escobar’s first hit of the Winter was a home run

In Venezuela, Elvis Escobar got his first start of the season and he led off the game with a home run. He finished the game 2-for-5 with one RBI and one run scored. Escobar had played seven games off the bench prior to Saturday night, going 0-for-3 at the plate. He has been used mostly as a pinch-runner and a late-inning defensive replacement. The 19-year-old center fielder is one of the youngest players in the Venezuelan League, which is made up mostly of players that range in experience from AA to the majors.

In the first game of a doubleheader, Junior Sosa went 0-for-3 in his team’s 4-0 loss. Jhonathan Ramos pitched the last inning and retired the side in order, striking out one batter. In his last 12 outings combined, he has thrown a total 9.2 scoreless innings. Ramos has a 2.30 ERA in 22 outings.

In game two, three Pittsburgh Pirates players were in the Bravos de Margarita lineup. Catcher Francisco Diaz made his season debut. He was a free agent this Winter, but he has resigned with the Pirates. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and gave up two stolen bases in two attempts.  Junior Sosa went 1-for-3 with a triple and run scored. He is hitting .351 and the triple was his fourth of the season. Elias Diaz was the designated hitter and he went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts before being pinch-hit for in the seventh inning.

Luis Sanz pitched for the first time in six weeks. He threw a shutout inning, giving up one hit. Sanz is still a free agent. He has pitched eight times this year, giving up three runs over 7.2 innings.

In Colombia from Friday night, Harold Ramirez went 1-for-4 with a single. He is hitting .308 through 29 games, with a .402 slugging percentage.

In Puerto Rico, Mel Rojas Jr has made the switch over from the Dominican League after his team’s season ended. He made his debut on Friday as a pinch-runner and scored a run, then stayed in the game on defense, though he didn’t get a chance to hit. On Saturday night, Rojas went 1-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and three strikeouts. In nine games in the Dominican, he went 5-for-21 with a .558 OPS.

In Australia from Sunday, Danny Arribas went 1-for-3 with a single for the second straight day. He was the designated hitter. Arribas is hitting .183 through 23 games with a .480 OPS.

Sam Kennelly didn’t start for the second straight game, but he did get into action in the eighth inning, when he pinch ran for his brother and he scored the game-tying run. He stayed in the game as the designated hitter and struck out in his only at-bat.

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.

Share This Post On