The biggest news from winter ball happened in Bradenton, where Alen Hanson took batting practice and looked good as he recovers from a hand injury suffered during a game back in late October. Hanson was hit by a pitch on his right hand and immediately removed from a game six weeks ago. He needed to come back to Pittsburgh for an evaluation and while nothing was broken, Wednesday was the first real good test of the hand. If all goes well, he should return to winter ball soon and see some good action as his team fights for a playoff spot.
In action that took place on the field, Pedro Florimon went 0-for-4, breaking a recent streak of success that saw him hit .333 over his previous ten games. In that same game, Gustavo Nunez also went 0-for-4. He has still yet to collect an extra-base hit since signing with the Pirates. Nunez is hitting .194 in his last ten games, posting a 2:12 BB/SO ratio.
Willy Garcia continued a recent hot streak that followed a horrible slump. He went 2-for-4 on Wednesday, collecting his 12th double and driving in three runs. He has his average up to .281 through 34 games. The only downside is that the BB/SO issues continue, as he has walked seven times and struck out 31 times.
Two minor league free agents from the Pirates farm system saw time in the Dominican. Rafael Perez allowed one earned run over 5.1 innings in a loss. He also allowed one unearned run, giving up five hits and two walks, with three strikeouts. Perez had a 6:2 GO/AO ratio. He has a 2.40 ERA in 30 innings this winter. Carlos Paulino caught Perez and went 1-for-3 at the plate. He is batting .304 through 23 games.
In Venezuela, Elias Diaz came into the game as a defensive replacement behind the plate in the fifth inning. He led off the seventh inning with a solo homer, finishing the day 1-for-2 at the plate. The homer was his first of the off-season, including his time in the Arizona Fall League. Junior Sosa went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in that same game.
Deolis Guerra retired both batters he faced, one by strikeout. He now has a 7.20 ERA in ten innings over 12 appearances.
In Mexico, Sebastian Valle went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a walk. He has reached base 19 times in his last ten games and one of those games was just as a late-inning defensive replacement. He has raised his average to .296 through 35 games.
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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Does Valle have any shot at a career in the MLB? Is he now the fourth ranked Pirate catching prospect?
I think he does, he turned 24 during the regular season this year, so he is still young. His defense is good enough to get him there and his bat has looked very good in the past. If he regains that offense, then he is a legit major leaguer, otherwise he will probably just get a few at-bats sometime as an injury replacement or a September call-up.