It has been confirmed that Jose Tabata will play Winter ball this season for Caribes de Anzoategui of the Venezuelan Winter League. He will join the team in mid-November. Last year, Tabata wanted to go to Winter ball but the Pittsburgh Pirates wouldn’t allow him to play, which got a negative response from Tabata and his agent, who felt he needed to play so he could mature as a player.
Major League Baseball and the Winter Leagues have an agreement in place called the “Extreme Fatigue” rule, which limits the playing time of players who surpassed 500 AB’s during the regular season. Last year, Tabata wouldn’t have been allowed to play until December 1st, but this season, due to his low AB total, he was eligible to play Opening Day. This will be the first season of Winter ball for Tabata since 2010, when he .317 over 14 games in the Venezuelan Winter League.
It was a light day of action for Pirates players in Winter ball on Thursday. In Venezuela, Luis Sanz and Jhonathan Ramos each got into action tonight on opposing teams. Sanz pitched one inning, allowing a hit, walk and a hit batter. He actually pitched one full inning, plus faced two batters in the following inning without recording an out. His bullpen teammate from Altoona this year gave up one run on one hit, while recording one out. Ramos also threw a wild pitch.
In Mexico, Ali Solis went 1-for-3 before being pinch hit for in the ninth inning. He was one of two in throwing out base runners attempting to steal.
The Dominican League had a scheduled day off, though one make-up game had to be played and it included an interesting match-up for Pirates fans. Rudy Owens took on Jose Contreras. Neither of them pitched well, with Contreras giving up four runs in four innings and Owens allowed six runs in 3.2 innings. In even more of a Pirates twist to the game, Contreras allowed a home run to Robinzon Diaz, while Owens gave up a grand slam to Yamaico Navarro. There were actual Pirates players in the game who are still in the organization. Oscar Tejeda was in at DH and went 0-for-4 with a run scored. Atahualpa Severino came in during the eighth inning and retired the only batter he faced.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.