Winter Leagues: Playoff Preview From Puerto Rico

From Australia on Thursday, Danny Arribas was the only Pirates player in action and he went 0-for-4 with a run scored in his team’s 5-4 win. Arribas was the designated hitter. He is batting .172 this season through 25 games and .129 in his last ten games. It’s a more advanced league than Arribas is used to seeing in his young career, but he has batted over .300 in each of his last two seasons. He hit .308 in the Dominican Summer League in 2012 and he hit .307 in the GCL this past year.

The boxscores from Monday night in Colombia took awhile to upload to their site, so all we knew yesterday was that Harold Ramirez had homered in game one of a doubleheader. He ended up going 2-for-2 that game with a single, homer, walk, stolen base and two RBIs. Tito Polo batted lead-off and played center field, going 0-for-4 at the plate. In game two, Ramirez went 1-for-3 with a single. Polo pinch-ran and scored the walk-off run in the bottom of the seventh.

Oderman Rocha and Yhonathan Barrios each pitched for their Leones team in a 7-1 loss. Rocha faced one batter, allowing a double, which came around to score after he left the game. Barrios pitched the last inning, retiring the side in order. He struck out one batter.

The Winter schedule gets going again today after a break for the New Year’s holiday. Playoffs in the Dominican resume tonight, while they get started in Venezuela. If you missed it from yesterday, we posted a playoff preview and season recap from the Venezuelan Winter League season.

Mel Rojas Jr.  is the best Pirates prospect still playing in Puerto Rico
Mel Rojas Jr. is the best Pirates prospect still playing in Puerto Rico

 Playoffs In Puerto Rico

The Winter season in Puerto Rico wrapped up this Monday and by the end of the year, there were three Pittsburgh Pirates players in the league. When the season started, we covered Ivan De Jesus Jr., Jerry Sands and Dan Cevette, but Sands was put on waivers and picked up by the Tampa Bay Rays, De Jesus signed with the Baltimore Orioles and Cevette is still a free agent, though he hasn’t played in over a month. There are still three players in the Pirates system that are going to the playoffs.

Benji Gonzalez started playing full-time halfway through the season. He finished with a .317 average and .787 OPS, while playing flawless defense at shortstop. Gonzalez is on Leones de Ponce.

Mel Rojas Jr. joined the Puerto Rican League in the last week of the season. He moved over from the Dominican League when that season ended and his team didn’t make the playoffs. Rojas went 2-for-13 with two doubles and two RBIs in Puerto Rico. In the Dominican League, he went 5-for-21 in nine games, with two RBIs.

Eliecer Navarro made two late season starts, allowing a total of two runs on seven hits and no walks in eight innings. He is on the Gigantes de Carolina team along with Rojas.

The playoffs start on Friday night and Carolina and Ponce will face each other on day one. They will play a 12 game round robin tournament. The two best teams from the round robin will then meet in a best-of-seven playoff series. The winner of that series will then go on to the Caribbean World Series against the best teams from the Venezuelan, Dominican and Mexican Winter Leagues.