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.

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.

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Agreed Mr Writtenhouse,

……..especially after re-studying and consulting with a consultant who consults in his real job in another field of work…..haha

Smoak and Franklin


Harold Ramirez
Clay Holmes
Stolmy Pimental
Chase d’Arnaud

How is that sir?



That would be trading away way to much future value in Ramirez and Holmes. Better to keep your trade baits at AAA or above.

Kerry Writtenhouse

LLOYD’S not trading enough value there. Mostly just spare parts. It will take a bigger piece to make that work.



LLOYD is torn on what to do with this first base position. Make a deal for one of the available Gaby platoon potentials or go with Lambo there. Not sure how solid on this opinion LLOYD is but these are his thoughts at this point.

1. LLOYD would seek a trade for Smoak and in the process he’d like to try to pry Nick Franklin away as well
2. Doubt they will trade Smoak unless they sign a corner righty like Nelson Cruz
3. Doubt they will deal Franklin unless he nets a good return
4. LLOYD thinks now is the right time for Smoak as he hit righty’s extremely well last season
5. Not against defensive metrics but also not sold on them as bible. Smoak has always been regarded as a good defender. Kinda like Cutch in 2012….he may not have been Gold Glove calibar but he was way better than the crappy metrics said about him
6. Franklin is a great young switch hitting MI but with Cano, Miller and Bloomquist in the fold, Seattle may trade him for now AND future help
7. Let Lambo. Decker and Snider battle for the RF platoon spot. Unless Decker or Lambo hammer the ball send them to AAA. As the 2013 Buccos and Pens have shown us, cannot win without great depth

How would this sound to NH and Seattle?




Or possible increase the OF prospect to Barrett Barnes or maybe even Harold Ramirez. Or add Clay Holmes if need be.



WOW! That headline : Polanco leaves early, gave me chills up my spine. Thank goodness it wasn’t serious.Definately don’t want to see him go down. Really enjoy the Pirate prospects site. Keep up the Good work….

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