Winter Leagues: Lambo and Sands Take Turns at First Base

In the Venezuelan League on Friday night, Andrew Lambo went 0-for-3 with a walk. The interesting part is that he got his third start of the VWL season at first base. During the seventh inning, Lambo switched on defense to right field. While at first base, he handled two ground balls, a pop up and had seven putouts.

Sands had a double and RBI on Friday
Sands had a double and RBI on Friday

Elvis Escobar came in as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning. It was the fifth appearance of the Winter for the 19-year-old outfielder. He did not score a run or bat.

Carlos Ruiz made his second appearance, getting a ground out from the only batter he has faced. Ruiz has pitched four years in the VSL/DSL for the Pirates. He has thrown one inning so far, allowing no runs and one hit.

In the Dominican, Carlos Paulino went 0-for-2 in his team’s 1-0 loss. He was pinch-hit for in the eighth inning by Oscar Tejeda, who was just signed by the Washington Nationals. Paulino is hitting .213 through 17 games.

Atahualpa Severino through a scoreless inning, his 13th straight shutout appearance, a streak that dates back to late October. Severino picked up two strikeouts. He has a 1.46 ERA this year in 12.1 innings.

It was announced on Friday that Gregory Polanco won’t play until Tuesday. He had a stomach virus earlier in the week and was given Friday night off to recover his strength. The Dominican League is off Saturday and Monday. The League’s All-Star game is this Sunday.

In Puerto Rico, Jerry Sands did the exact opposite on defense that Andrew Lambo did. He played right field for the first six innings, then moved to first base. At the plate, Sands went 1-for-4 with a double, run scored and RBI. He is hitting .238 through 25 games, with a .770 OPS.

Benji Gonzalez made his fifth appearance, coming in as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning. He is 4-for-10 at the plate this year.

Ivan De Jesus Jr. went 1-for-3 with a walk, stolen base and run scored. He leads the league in both runs and walks.

In Australia from Saturday, Sam Kennelly went 1-for-3 with a run scored and two strikeouts in game one of a doubleheader. He did not start game two, though he did finish the game on defense at second base. Kennelly also played second base in game one and he handled all five fielding chances on the day. He is hitting .171 through 13 games, though it is still important to point out that he is just 17-years-old, playing in a league filled with minor league veterans and a handful of guys with major league experience.

Danny Arribas went 0-for-4 with a walk and run scored. He had a little trouble on defense behind home plate. Arribas made two throwing errors, his first miscues of the season. He also allowed the opponents to go 4-for-4 in stolen bases.

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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Nick A. Capernicus

Don’t get why its still “interesting” that lambo is playing first. Its pretty obvious that they want to see what he can do there because rf is not an option with our system. He can’t hit either so he can field all he wants over there


no i know i agree with you i just think that its not interesting anymore and its expected that he would be playing first base because it makes sense that he is the pirates extreme option at first


I think you can discount Lambo’s hitting performance so far just from the distraction of being a “gringo” in Venezuela. He is likely hearing all kinds of verbal abuse. Because of the communist government there they have shortages of everything from medical supplies in hospitals to toilet paper. Can’t imagine what he’s eating. I just hope he survives the experience and is still in a good place by Spring Training. Shows his determination to advance to even go to Venezuala. It’s not like the Dominican or Puerto Rico!


Where do you get this information? Venezuela’s poverty rate is 28%, the Dominican Republic’s is 50.5%, Puerto Rico’s 44.9%.

Pie Rat

Not really on the topic, but there is a lot of talk of the extra money the Pirates have. There are less teams paying the luxury tax and the Pirates getting a lower percentage of that now. How much have they lost on these receipts?


Luxury tax funds go to the MLB central fund…they do not go to teams. This is a common misconception. Revenue sharing, distinct from luxury tax, is where the Pirates are given funding from other, richer, clubs. That revenue sharing is a percentage based on revenue over certain thresholds. Again, luxury tax goes dirtily to MLB central fund.


Yes, industry growth fund, not the central fund. My apologies.

John, maybe this is a little off topic, but I would love to know what your thoughts are on Nick Franklin, only 22. He won’t have a spot on the Mariners roster after the Cano signing and with the Mariners attempting to put a package together for David Price, I wonder if the Pirates would have a chance for Franklin. His minor league numbers were good and his major league numbers weren’t terrible considering it was his first go around. He’s still young and can play either 2B or SS…presumably SS with the Pirates.


They always say you can’t have too many middle-infield prospects…and I’ve liked Franklin’s minor league production for awhile. I take it that it’d probably take someone like Kingham to get Franklin, so it might not be the most productive trade. However, looking at what the Pirates have right now an injury to either Walker or Mercer means that D’Arnaud is the starter (barring a free agent pickup) and I am not sure how I feel about that either. Kingham is a little too much for a backup though, and I think that’s what Franklin would be here…do you agree?


Thanks for the discussion, John. I guess, for me, I was more thinking that Franklin could be the starting SS…he was a top 50 prospect pre-2013, or top 70 according to BA. That is a higher ranking than what Kingham will be, that is why I figured it would take someone like him to get a deal done.
I like Kingham a lot too…just was trying to think of a way to add some more elite talent to this club in an area where we are weak.

Pie Rat

What is the upside on Jerry Sands? I know the Dodgers where very high on him before he was traded to Boston. With the chances he has had in the majors though his batting average is less than many pitchers.


Didn’t Ivan DeJesus sign with another team (I hear tell it’s the Orioles)? Why do we care how he does? Get with it, Dreker!!! Sheesh!!

🙂 🙂 🙂


Get yourself down there and tell us how good of a defensive 1bman Lambo is.

Oh….and buy a gun first thing. 🙂 🙂 🙂


41 career games at 1B over 7 minor league seasons wouldn’t exactly qualify as “plenty” of first base experience, at least not in my book


It would be nice to see him hit…


With Snyder still around, I think Lambo is destined to return to AAA. I think the Pirates have some weird infatuation with Snyder and will give him the full benefit of the doubt. Maybe they just don’t want another situation where they get rid of a player and then he goes on to find good success elsewhere, but Snyder has not done anything to deserve being tendered a contract in my mind…Tabata should be starting in RF, just based on his success last season where he started to hit, again, like he did when he had early MLB success.

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