Winter Leagues: A Couple Players See Time at Their Old Positions

Wednesday night in winter ball was busy for Pittsburgh Pirates players. Ten of them saw action and we start with play in the Dominican.

Alen Hanson went 0-for-4 with a walk. His team lost 4-1 in ten innings and Hanson split the game evenly between second base and shortstop, moving over after the fifth inning.

Rafael Perez threw a shutout inning of relief, retiring the side in order. It was his second relief appearance.

Willy Garcia went 1-for-3 with a single. He has hits in all three starts and hasn’t struck out in 13 plate appearances.

Mel Rojas Jr. was in left field Wednesday. His team got beat bad, losing 11-1, but he went 1-for-2 with two walks and an outfield assist. In that same game, Wirfin Obispo threw a scoreless inning of relief. He allowed one hit.

In Venezuela, Jose Osuna played his first game in left field. He played outfield in the lower levels of the Pirates system, but only played first base in 2014 and hasn’t played outfield regularly in three years. He played one game in left field in 2013 with Bradenton and didn’t play any outfield in 2012 with West Virginia. Osuna went 1-for-3 with an RBI double. It was just his second hit in 20 at-bats.

Junior Sosa was next to Osuna in center field. He went 2-for-3 and scored on Osuna’s RBI double.

In Mexico, Mazatlan ended up winning their game in the bottom of the 14th inning. Stetson Allie went 1-for-6 with a walk and three strikeouts, before being pinch-run for in the 13th inning. Felipe Gonzalez picked up the win with two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and he struck out one batter.

Dean Anna was on the opposing side of that 14 inning game. He finished 1-for-5, with two walks and he drove in two runs. Both Allie and Anna have reached base in all ten games they have played.

  • John, your opinion on two questions please? With the egg Lambo laid last winter and spring has he totally blown his chance of making the MLB roster this Spring? Does Allie have a future with the Pirates MLB team?

    • Lambo had a very good season in AAA this year when he was healthy. I wouldn’t rule him out as a bench player in 2015, but I don’t see him as a legit starting 1B option. He could be the 5th OF/1B option/Lefty bat off the bench. He’s 26 with a .933 and .952 OPS over the last two seasons at AAA, so I’m not sure he has much to prove. His low walk totals throughout his career, makes it hard to see a big future, but his power from the left side makes him a nice bench bat.
      As for Allie, I could see him developing into something for 2016, but you also have to think about Josh Bell at 1B by then. Bell has the higher upside and as a switch-hitter, he won’t need a platoon, so I’m not sure where that leaves Allie. I think Allie is going to see some major league time, but due to contact issues and the fact he can only play 1B, there isn’t huge upside. Of course, if he continues to improve then his upside will go up. He’s not your normal case, so it’s tough to guess where he will eventually end up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up with a Brad Eldred-type career.

  • John do you think Rojas Jr. has a chance at the MLB roster if they move Snyder.

    • I would say a small chance, but not likely. He still needs to do more at AAA, but he made nice improvements from 2013 to 2014, so if he can make a similar jump this winter, we could see him in Pittsburgh. I don’t think the Pirates are ready to move him to a bench role though, so you would probably see someone with MLB experience if Snider isn’t around and Rojas would be more of an in-season promotion. He profiles as a fourth outfielder, but the best route to that role is playing everyday at AAA and then breaking in with some time during September first.

  • Thanks John. What position player are you looking forward to seeing most in spring training, and would the rest of the staff share the same opinion or differ?

    • I’m looking forward to seeing Hanson. I believe he could be in the majors by June this year based on his bat/offense alone, but his glove might cause him to spend more time in AAA. I really want to see how he handles winter ball, because he is basically in the same position Polanco was in last year in winter and he really put on a show. If Hanson does the same, then it will be interesting to see how they handle him in spring training this year. I expect him to get plenty of at-bats early, but no real chance of making the team. I think the Pirates want to see how he performs, they also want to take a close look at Elias Diaz as well, depending on their catching situation of course.

      • thanks John.. It’s always interesting to hear opinions from folks who see the prospects as they develop.. I read as much as i can, but it seems I’m always behind cause prospects have such different growth curves and negative stats can be easily attributed to just trying something new

  • “Willy Garcia went 1-for-3 with a single. He has hits in all three starts and hasn’t struck out in 13 plate appearances”
    That is really nice to see .