Winter Leagues Recap: Johnson Brings Home Title, Marte Wins MVP

In playoff action from the Dominican tonight, Kris Johnson once again pitched his team to a huge victory, throwing six shutout innings last night, as Escogido swept Aguilas Cibaenas in the DWL championship series.

Last week, Johnson pitched the clinching game of the round-robin series that got his team to the finals and almost four weeks ago, he also won the game that sent his team to the playoffs. Tonight, he allowed four hits on the night, all singles and walked one batter while striking out five. Between the regular season and post-season, Johnson allowed just 37 hits over 59.1 innings, posting a 1.06 ERA.

Overshadowed in this game by his teammate, but not in the series, Starling Marte went 2-for-4, with a double. He finished the five game series, going 11-for-21, and he collected at least two hits in every single game. Marte batted .422 in 11 post-season games, after hitting .304 in 29 games during the DWL regular season. During the round-robin playoffs, Marte homered in four of the six games he played.

Marte was named the MVP of the playoffs adding to the awards he already won this off-season. During the regular season, he was named player of the week twice, then he won the same award again in the round-robin portion of the playoffs. It was also announced afterwards that he will not accompany the team to the Caribbean World Series next month.

Update from Colombia

While posting stats from the Colombian Baseball League last week, I missed one Pirates player. Gustavo Barrios, a 19-year-old second baseman, played six games for the Leones club. He went 0-for-6 at the plate, with two walks, a HBP and a sacrifice fly. Barrios also pinch-hit once during the playoffs. During the regular season, Barrios split the year between the Pirates two teams in the DSL, hitting .327 in 42 games, though just four of his 35 hits went for extra bases. He finished second to Maximo Rivera in batting among all Pirates players in the league.

The championship series in Colombia began last night. The Tigres team, featuring Harold Ramirez and Tito Polo of the Pirates, lost 3-2 in the opener. The boxscore hasn’t been posted yet(I’ll update this post when it posts).

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John: Good stuff. Kris Johnson is fighting for another chance in AAA, but IMO, the Pirate Farm System will be on display in 2013 to see if they can continue to add young talent to the team that plays at PNC Park. I look forward to seeing Starling Marte – he has shown all except the ability to bring the K/W ratio down from 4 or 5/1 to a more respectable 2/1. I think he will show everyone in baseball that he is a ‘Cutch clone – just a lot bigger and possibly faster – imagine that! I also need to see Locke in the Rotation coming out of ST, and Morris, Leroux, and Wilson in the bullpen. The year that Hughes had in 2012 is proof enough that the Pirates can develop bullpen strength – now we need to see a SP.

Ian Rothermund

Yeah, I’m not sure if he’ll ever hit for the average that Cutch has the potential to hit for. However, with the other tools; defense, arm, being a better base stealer, I think he could become an equally valued player, just with some different skill sets. Personally, I don’t see many similarities in the both of their games, aside from both being fast and playing in the outfield.

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