Gregory Polanco played center field on Friday night

Winter Leagues: Big Last Game For Rojas, Polanco Returns to Field

From Friday night in the Dominican, Gregory Polanco made just his second start since December 30th and it was his first start in the field since returning. Polanco was back in center field in Escogido’s 6-1 loss. He went 1-for-4 with a double and he drove in his team’s only run. Polanco hit .174 with three RBIs in the playoffs, but his team still advanced to the finals with an 11-7 record in the round robin tournament. The Dominican Winter League finals begin on Sunday.

Gregory Polanco played center field on Friday night

Gregory Polanco played center field on Friday night

Graham Godfrey started the game for Escogido and took the loss, lasting just 1.1 innings before being knocked out. He gave up four runs on seven hits. Godfrey is still a free agent.

From Puerto Rico, Benji Gonzalez went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored in his team’s last playoff game. He batted .317 during the regular season and .220 in 12 playoff games.

Mel Rojas Jr. finished his Winter season strong. In brief playing time during the Dominican League regular season and then four games in Puerto Rico, Rojas went 7-for-34 at the plate with 13 strikeouts. In the playoffs prior to last night, he was 1-for-13 in five games. On Friday, he went 3-for-4 with a double, walk, stolen base, run scored and an RBI.

Eliecer Navarro started and pitched three innings, giving up one run on a first inning solo home run. That hit turned out to be the only hit his team allowed the entire game. Navarro gave up one earned run in 14.1 playoff innings. He also finished the regular season with three shutout innings in his last start.

The Puerto Rico League season is over for all Pirates players involved. None of them made the finals.

The Colombian League playoffs start tonight. A short preview of the series and Pirates players in it can be found here.

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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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  • IC Bob

    John how good is Navarro? Every time I see he pitches the numbers seem to be always good.

    • John Dreker

      At this point, I think he gets by more with smarts and pitching ability as opposed to stuff. Early on in his career, he looked like a prospect on paper, but he is a lefty with good secondary stuff and that combination always plays well in the lower minors. It probably won’t ever get him to the majors though, unless it’s a cup of coffee based on need, such as a bunch of injuries and they need a fill in.

      The Winter League numbers are encouraging and it was good to see him play in Puerto Rico instead of Panama, like he did last year. The PR league is definitely a much better level of competition and he pitched well. I’d expect him to be a starter for Altoona this year.

      • IC Bob

        Thanks John. For some reason I find myself rooting for the kid (maybe its because every time he seemed to pitch last year the teams he played on would score 1 or zero runs and he would lose).

        • John Dreker

          He definitely had some tough luck with Bradenton last year, but the Pirates saw past the W/L record and called him up to Altoona, where he was a regular in the rotation. I’m not saying he won’t make the majors, just saying it’s unlikely, but it helps that he is a lefty. You could always look back on Kris Johnson from last year and see how he pitched great in Winter ball and turned that into leading the International League in ERA and making his first trip to the majors. There were plenty of Pirates fans who said he had no chance at the majors going into the season and he proved them all wrong.

          You have to be a decent pitcher to dominate in Winter ball, especially later in the season when the level of competition goes up and Navarro looked pretty good.

          • buster09

            Navarro = Zach Duke. I saw him often,and he doesn’t really have Duke’s AA FB either.

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