Winter Leagues: Polanco Homers, Marte Leaves After Getting Hit By Pitch

In the Dominican on Thursday night, Escogido fans saw something very good and something that looked possibly very bad from their two Pittsburgh Pirates players. Gregory Polanco hit a solo homer in the third, his fifth of the season, but Starling Marte was the big news. He was hit by a pitch on his left hand in the first inning, and while he stayed in the game to run the bases, he was taken out of the game at the end of the inning. Marte looked to be in pain after being hit and was seen by the trainer before running down to first base. Marte was also hit by a pitch in his debut.

After the game, reports were that Marte was okay and could possibly play in Friday night’s game. There was no damage on the hand and he was removed as a precaution, so they could get a look at it.

Andrew Lambo reached base four times on Thursday (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Andrew Lambo reached base four times on Thursday (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Gregory Polanco didn’t last the entire game either, getting thrown out by the umpire after striking out in the seventh inning. He finished 1-for-4 with the solo homer and a strikeout.

Mel Rojas Jr. struck out as a pinch-hitter in his only at-bat. He is 5-for-18 at the plate in eight games.

Michael Martinez went 1-for-4 with a double. He is hitting .237 through 16 games.

Andy Vasquez went 0-for-2 after coming into the game as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning. He remained in the game in right field.

Carlos Paulino came into the game on defense in the tenth inning and caught the last two innings. He did not get to bat.

In Venezuela, Andrew Lambo went 2-for-3 with two walks. In his four previous games, which included a make-up game from early November, Lambo went 0-for-12.

Junior Sosa went 4-for-5 with two runs scored, two RBIs and a walk. He is hitting .386 through his first 14 games.

Elias Diaz came in as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning and stayed in the game on defense behind the plate. He went 0-for-1 and is now hitting .286 in 35 at-bats.

From Puerto Rico, Benji Gonzalez went 0-for-5. He is hitting .325 with an .841 OPS in 13 games. He has not made an error this Winter.

Ivan De Jesus Jr. went 0-for-3 with a walk. He is hitting .277 through 33 games.  De Jesus led the league last Winter with a .364 average. De Jesus signed with the Orioles yesterday, so he will no longer be part of the Winter updates.

From Friday in Australia, Sam Kennelly had a game he would like to forget, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and two errors. The 17-year-old prospect came into the game without an error.

Nick Hutchings made his season debut and threw a scoreless inning, getting two ground outs and a strikeout from the three batters he faced. He is one of the few players in the league younger than Sam Kennelly. Hutchings pitched five times in the ABL last year, giving up one run over six innings, with ten strikeouts. While playing at the MLB Australian Baseball Academy earlier in the year, Hutchings was the best pitcher in the league, leading the circuit with an 0.70 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 25.2 innings

Danny Arribas went 1-for-4 with an RBI in his team’s 6-2 loss. He is hitting .186 through 19 games, with three doubles, five RBIs and eight walks.

From Colombia on Wednesday night, Harold Ramirez went 1-for-5 in his team’s 2-0 win. He is hitting .330 through 24 games, with seven extra base hits and seven stolen bases. Tito Polo made his first start in weeks. He went 0-for-4 and is now hitting .235 through 15 games.

Oderman Rocha pitched for the first time in over a month and struggled. He faced just two batters, walking one and hitting the other. Both runners scored after he was removed.

One final note on a Pirates free agent, Felix Pie recently signed to play in Korea.

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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  • elgaupo

    I know Ramirez is young but any chance he jumps to Bradenton? Be nice to keep him and Meadows separated.

    • John Dreker

      They like younger players getting a full season in at West Virginia. I don’t think skipping him to Bradenton would get him to Pittsburgh quicker if he is a legit prospect. The Pirates have shown a willingness recently to move big prospects in their second full season, see Taillon, Polanco, Kingham and Hanson all going from Bradenton to Altoona in the same season. If Ramirez started at Bradenton, there is no chance he would move up this year and you’re risking that he could be over-matched in a league that favors pitchers. I think you will see the same pace as all the other legit prospects, full year at WV in 2014, Bradenton to start 2015 and if he plays well, he will see Altoona sometime during the year. That goes for Meadows too and possibly McGuire, though catchers usually move slower, he is good enough defensively that he could be on that faster pace(as long as the bat looks good).

  • leadoff

    I wonder what the Pirate think of Marte taking pitches on the hand when it does not count. You would think that he could wear a little protection over the back of his hand, now might be a good time to experiment.

  • https://www.facebook.com/scott.skink Scott Skink

    So Marte’s plan to improve his OBP for next year is to get hit even more? Great.

  • buster09

    One of my Rangers rooting friends Says Jamie Newberg is reporting the Rs are asking for Kingham for Moreland. I would hope NH says no on that one!

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

      Buster….I hear the Mariners (Smoak) and Mets (Davis) are asking for Kingham. I think NH is too smart for that.

      • emjayinTN

        foo/Buster: Kingham was 6-8, 4.39 ERA at Lo A in 2012 as a 20 year old with 27 Starts, 127 IP, and a K/W of 117/36. Last year as a 21 year old he was 6-3, 3.09 ERA in 13 Starts at Hi A, 70 IP, 75K/14W. Promoted to AA for 12 more Starts where he was 3-3, 2.70, 73 IP, 69K/30W. Taillon at AA was 4-7, 3.67 ERA in 19 Starts, 110 IP, 106K/36W. This kid just turned 22 in November and is getting better as he moves up the ladder. There is not any one of that group that I would trade a future #3 or better SP who is less than a year from the majors. Our No. 5 Prospect for leftovers that are rotting and losing value as the days go by? Lets end this BS and just get Lyle Overbay to be the other half of the 1B tandem. He was not worth the $5 mil we paid him in 2011, but he would definitely be worth $1.3 mil and has a VG glove. My bottom line for Moreland is Tabata. Davis may be younger, but will carry a $4 mil price tag – Tabata and possibly a RP in the Jared Hughes category. Smoak did not do enough in 2013 to blow off the stink from the previous years – he has trouble hitting; definitely has a VG glove, but not worth anywhere near a kid like Kingham. We have SP’s and RP’s we can make available, but I sure hope we do not give up a talent like Kingham who is still only 22 and may be in the majors in 2014 or 2015 at the latest.

        • John Dreker

          Kingham would definitely be off the table for any of those returns. The progress I saw from him in 2012 with West Virginia, to seeing him a year later in Trenton, was amazing for one season. Compare the two reports I put out on his live starts I saw:

          WV June 25, 2012: http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/06/west-virginia-power-game-report-62512.html

          He was throwing 90-91 all night. Then I saw him a tick higher later in the year.

          Altoona July 23, 2013: http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/07/nick-kingham-overcomes-slow-start-in-trenton.html

          He’s throwing 93-95 and hitting 96 and we have heard higher readings for him as well. The big difference besides the velocity in one year, the stamina. Going 99 pitches and holding that velocity is impressive.

          • michaelbro8

            The Rangers, Mariners, and Mets should at least be offering to throw in a bridge and a swamp

          • emjayinTN

            John: Thanks for that info – this kid has an upside that keeps increasing because of his increase in velocity and the fact his stats are better as he matures, and he is still a year or 2 years younger than most in the levels he has pitched. On the 1B front, John Hart on MLB thinks Moreland is the best option for the Pirates. What does that mean? NH worked for Hart at Cleveland, and Hart has been the Senior Advisor to Jon Daniels, GM of Texas, for the past 5 years or more. He also mentioned that Hurdle and Moreland have a good relationship and that in his opinion, Moreland can be a better hitter in Pittsburgh than what he has shown so far in Texas.

    • Y2JGQ2

      NH’s response was quoted as “HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! No really, stop, you are killing me…… HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA”

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

    ” De Jesus signed with the Orioles yesterday, so he will no longer be part of the Winter updates.”

    Well….It’s about frikkin time, John!!!! Sheesh!!!

    :) :) :) :) :)

    • John Dreker

      I tried to get the deal signed sooner, but you know how things are around the holidays. It took me so long to look under Benji Gonzalez in the boxscore each day to find what De Jesus did, then write it out. Gives me an extra two minutes each day now to spend how I so choose. No comment on Felix Pie signing?

      • piratemike

        Just a question, is it north or south?

        • John Dreker

          He’s playing for the Hanwha Eagles of the KBO, who play their games in Daejeon, South Korea

          • piratemike

            I was joking but who knows ……after Dennis Rodmen anything can happen.

            • John Dreker

              I didn’t think it was serious, but I actually didn’t know the team name until looking it up. Only read on Baseball America that he signed to play in Korea. Strange part was that they updated that, but did not have the De Jesus signing, which I added about 30 minutes after posting the article, after I saw it on Twitter

      • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

        John…I’m old…I can only focus on one ex-prospect at a time.

        Besides, outside of pumpkin, I was never much of a pie guy.

  • piraterican21

    Kingham seems the name that team are asking about, I’m here to say that it will be a mistake to include him in any trade, especially one that brings a platoon split player. Before the Glasnow explosion Kingham was our best prospect behind Cole and Tallion (pitching). Projected to be a workhorse with the upside of a number 3, he’s a prospect that you keep. There was a podcast over a BD with Todd and Keith Law that I haven’t been able to shake, in it Law propose a trade of Marte for Brandon Belt and pitching prospect Clayton Blackburn…….I think I will do that trade!

    • csnumber23

      Ahhh Noooo! No way do I trade Marte, period! The kid is going to be a super start! He already almost and should have won the gold glove and stolen base crown in his first full year. While I like Belt, NO WAY do I give Marte for him.

  • piratemike

    pirate21, What is Belt’s contract status, years of control etc.

    • stickyweb

      Mike, he’s a super 2 in 2014 so 4 total years of control (through arb) and then a free agent heading into 2018, so one less year of control than Marte, but costing more because of the extra year of arb.

      I’d probably do that trade for 2 reasons. First OF is a position of depth so why not trade one for an area of weakness? Second, Belt’s number have been very consistent with almost no platoon split, so he could be an everyday 1B and maybe have Gaby spell Pedro against LHP. Plus there are questions of whether Marte can maintain his development with his undisciplined approach at the plate. He could turn out way better than Belt, but there’s also a higher risk his numbers level off or decline.

      Regardless, I think it’s more of a trade fans are throwing out there than something the Giants would actually do.

      • Pie Rat

        The Giants sites don’t like it because, it would mean Posey would likely move to 1st. For them it would mean a downgrade at def at first and catcher for a net loss of WAR on the deal.

        • stickyweb

          But they’re gonna move Posey eventually anyway so why not now instead of in a year or 2? Also, where do you see a net loss of WAR? Belt was 4.4 last year (8.0 in 358 career games) and Marte was 5.4 last year (6.6 in almost exactly half as many career games, 182). Plus Marte’s a CF for any other team, not a corner OF, increasing his value.

          • Pie Rat

            On the the SF they were showing even with the increase Marte gives them in the OF, they lose it by moving Posey to 1st base. Posey loses more WAR than they gain with Marte.

      • piratemike

        Giants signed Morse, not sure where they are going to play him but it would free them up to trade Belt for somebody like Marte.
        I understand that this is just fan speculation and not an actual discussion but it beats talking about Ike Davis.:)

        • stickyweb

          I like Ike and still think he’ll get traded for less than a Kingham, but maybe not to the Bucs. But it never hurts to dream a little about getting Belt, especially since the winter meetings are over and we’re no longer getting hourly updates that the Bucs are THIS close to signing/trading for one of 5 available 1B.

  • Jeff

    I wonder the level of care for players in winter league….send Marte home and tell him see you in spring training.

    • John Dreker

      The league is legitimate, funded by MLB and this is their Major League season, even though we call it Winter ball. Their head trainer is Jose Gomez, who spent five years with the Dodgers, three with the Phillies and this is his 12th year in the Dominican League. He is basically as good or better than most major league trainers. The team doctor, no relation, is Bladimir Marte. He worked nine years for the Diamondbacks and is in his fifth season in the Dominican League. I’d say the medical staff is top notch.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    I like Kingham a lot, and actually think he may have caught Taillon last year – as I think Kingham had an overall better season than Taillon. If it wasn’t for the fact of when they were drafted (as far as round number and pick), I think a lot of people would agree with that. Right now, I would rank them Glasnow, Kingham, Taillon.

    With all that being said…since we do have Cole, plus the three listed above, and Heredia coming on – would you trade any of them (not including Cole) straight up for Dominic Brown?

  • pnight14

    Whoever proposed trading Marte is a complete moron. There’s a reason he wasn’t thrown to Arizona for J. Upton 2 seasons ago. This guy is a complete player, who can steal 40 bases, and hit 20 HR’s a year.

    I’m not the biggest Brandon Belt fan, so I really can’t comment on that notion; not to mention it won’t happen anyway.

    It would be borderline criminal to not add a 1B before the season. We have not made a single improvement to the current roster, and really haven’t spent a single dime on any new talent. I trust Neal’s ability by now to piece together a decent bullpen; he’s proven that over the years. However, bestowing this much faith in current organizational players is extremely risky as many forget this team probably wouldn’t have made the playoffs or won 90 games without the addition of Morneau (albeit he was moderate at best) and Marly. Simply put, we cannot drive in runs. We need someone in the middle of the lineup with pop, and past Cutch / Alvarez / Martin, who is the power threat? Conceivably, one injury to any of those guys seriously hurts and would be deadly. I like Lambo but he hasn’t proven anything. There is still so many 1B options out there… at the very least we need insurance, and if one of our ML 1B guys get hurt Matt Hague is next in line.

    • Pie Rat

      You’re not going to get an impact 1st baseman for 3 (b prospects) during the off season. Especially if they have a few years of control. Arizona wanted Marte and Cole for Upton. Belt by himself is a better hitter than Marte and if SF adds a pitcher to the deal it would be good for us.

  • IC Bob

    Well stated! There are a lot of posters here who just can’t get past Marte’s free swinging history. I think he would have to get 60 walks plus get beaned 30 times before they would maybbe be satisfied.

    • piratemike

      Calm down guys, nobody’s taking a Marte trade seriously. Just throwing crap around because there is really nothing happening and the Ike talk is getting stale.

  • mpep86

    Back to first bad, I’d like to see a Harrison/Cumpton for Lind deal.