Monday was a very slow day for winter league action. There were only two games on the schedule and one Pittsburgh Pirates player saw action. There was big news however from the Dominican. Tony Sanchez was sent home due to poor performance. That isn’t surprising as he was hitting .100, having issues on defense, and in his last game, he batted ninth and was pinch-hit for in the seventh inning. While we consider winter leagues as off-season leagues, this is the regular season in the Dominican, so if you don’t perform well, you don’t play. In his last game, Sanchez committed his second error and he allowed two stolen base in two attempts, leaving him 2-for-12 in throwing out runners.

Sunday’s winter recap got lost Monday morning with the news and rumors from the winter meetings. Joely Rodriguez made his third start, Sebastian Valle collected another extra-base hit and Willy Garcia had two doubles and a walk. In case you missed it, here’s the link. With the poor performance from Sanchez and Valle possibly regaining his prospect status(he’s two years younger than Sanchez), you have to wonder if Sanchez’s days in Pittsburgh are numbered. Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart will be on the Opening Day roster and Elias Diaz could be a mid-season option if he is able to carry over his 2014 success at the plate.

Julio Vivas was the only Pirates player that saw action Monday. He threw a scoreless inning, retiring the side in order on two ground balls and a strikeout. Considering that Vivas spent most of this year in GCL, making two late season appearances for Bristol, what he is doing in Venezuela is outstanding. Seeing sporadic work, he has allowed one run on five hits and no walks in nine innings. During the regular season, he posted a 1.01 ERA over 26.2 innings, so he is matching his regular season performance against much tougher competition.

One other bit of news. Andy Vasquez moved from the Dominican league to the Colombian league. So far, he is 4-for-20 with a double and triple. Vasquez is a minor league free agent after spending eight seasons in the Pirates system.

Tuesday’s Action

On Tuesday in the Dominican, Stolmy Pimentel gave up five runs on six hits in 1.2 innings. He walked none and picked up two strikeouts. Pimentel started the winter slow, then went on a three-game streak in which he allowed three earned runs over 15 innings. He now has a 6.23 ERA in 26 innings over eight starts.

Pedro Florimon went 1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and he drove in two runs. He is hitting .333 in his last ten games.

Willy Garcia went 2-for-4 with his 11th double and a run scored. He is hitting .333 in his last ten games, with four doubles and two homers.

Nate Baker made his third appearance and struck out the only batter he faced.

Carlos Paulino went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer. He is hitting .302 through 22 games.

In Venezuela, Elias Diaz went 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored. He is hitting .167 in seven games.

Junior Sosa went 2-for-3 with a double, triple, RBI, walk and two runs scored.  He is batting .293 through 20 games.

Matt Nevarez pitched a scoreless eighth inning, retiring the side in order. In 22 innings over 23 appearances, he has a 3.68 ERA, a .143 BAA and 24 strikeouts.

Deolis Guerra allowed one run on three hits and a walk in his only inning of work. He has a 7.71 ERA in 11 appearances.

In Colombia, Harold Ramirez went a combined 3-for-4 with a double, walk and HBP in his last two games. He is 4-for-14 with four walks and four HBP, giving him a .545 OBP.

In Mexico, Sebastian Valle went 2-for-4, raising his average to .287 through 34 games. He is hitting .419 in his last ten games.

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46 COMMENTS

  1. Just wondering. Could the real reason that Sanchez was sent home was because he is the PTBNL that could be announced after the rule 5 draft.

  2. I think it’s about time Sanchez is moved off catcher and gets some reps at 1B. He might be able to help the Pirates there at some point in 2015. Valle has a track record as a good defensive catcher at higher levels and so does Paulino. Just let Sanchez quit worrying about his catching shortcomings and give him one more year in the system to see if he can become a valuable bench/platoon power bat.

  3. John, not considering he was a top 5 pick , just in general , how often does this happen , that a guy gets sent home after 2 weeks ? They didn’t even wanna look at his face anymore? Is he an embarrassment ? Do the Buc’s consider cutting ties from him, or just allow him to linger in Indy ? If so , how do we reconcile he gets sent home from winter league , surrounded by a-ballers , but he is worthy of a AAA roster spot in the best farm system in the biz?

    • Billy Hamilton was sent home form the winter leagues last year. And the Dominic Winter League competition level is much higher than Single A.

      Not that any of this is good for Sanchez, Pirates should have taken Grant Greene, 3rd rank hitter, possible Gold Glover at short.

        • But clearly you can see the parallel right? You asked how often a guy gets sent home and Hamilton did so last year. Two different players in terms of skill, but both got booted.

          • I do see it. There was a great deal more crying and belly aching to my post tho. Billy Hamilton has such a unique and valuable skill set. He is a menace. He has actually matured into a better hitter than Sanchez as well. I guess he is the perfect example of why Sanchez is so bothersome. You tolerate the years of growing pains it took Hamilton to begin to come into his own. Tony Sanchez will never be anything but a counterweight to measure the over slot H.S arms we drafted in his class. His worth as a top 5 pick will be judged on how many of those pitchers pan out into some sort of major league value.

            • Agreed, but to be fair Hamilton really is only “superb and valuable” in one skill set, speed. His speed allows his defense to rate as above average, gives him his value on the bases, and inflates his value hitting enough to play. He isnt a great hitter, and doesnt have a great arm. He is very lucky he has freakish speed.

              • No doubt. I will argue he went from abysmal at the plate to surpassing Tony , for whatever thats worth. Plus , I see great improvement in his hitting. He was actually a thorn to us in 2014… Line drives up the middle ,to boot. That is what I saw that makes me think he could level off as maybe a .265 , .270 hitter…

                • I dont believe that is sustainable. He throws his hands at the ball to elicit line drives, but over time i dont see him being effective as pitcher realize the power isnt enough to keep them from throwing high. Oddly enough, he is one guy you want to elevate the ball for a fly ball.

        • Well of course not, Sanchez has been a more productive hitter in his 100 plus major league at bats than Hamilton has in his 600.

  4. I always hoped Tony was going to be the guy but he just has too much baggage now. It might be time to do him a favor for being a good organizational player and release him. Sometimes a clean start gets the motor running again. He has done pretty much everything they have asked of him but it didn’t work out.

  5. Good news? Garcia is really doing well this Winter – even though he still has K issues. If he really starts out strong in AAA this year, does it make sense to see if we could trade Marte for a top line pitcher, first baseman, or catcher who can hit and field?

    Bad news? We did draft Tony Sanchez in the first round, even though everyone at the time (except the Pirates FO) said he was a huge reach and a poor pick. Another horrible first round pick to add to the already long list over the past 20 years. Other than Walker, Cutch, and Cole, did we hit on any other first round picks in past 20 years?

    More bad news?? We kept Pimentel, and traded Morris in order to be able to keep Pimentel on the 25 man last year. Great move.

    • Go to baseball reference and check out the first round picks of many other clubs over the past 20 years. Cards? No better. Sox? Nope. Yanks? Huh-uh. Tampa? Heck no…they haven’t had a 1st round pick contribute in the Majors since 2008!!!!!!

      • They had no inflated fantasy about what Sanchez was… He was a guy they were sure would sign and allow them to stash funds to pay over slot to big RH power arms thru the later rounds… Which they did. Just cut Sanchez , and call that draft class a success anyway.

      • Good point Nathan, which goes to show how much of a crap shoot the MLB draft is. However, unlike the Yanks, Cards, and even Tampa over the past several years, the Pirates were almost always drafting in the top 10 – some years even higher. Just at a quick glance, the Nats and Giants have generally done pretty well in the draft over the past 10 years.

    • Are you serious ? Trade Marte and have Willy Garcia replace him ? There is no way that will ever happen, take THAT to the bank ! Even if it comes down to trading Marte for a TOR guy, it won’t be Garcia replacing him.

      • Well, we do have a lot of depth on the OF, yet are thin at first base, catcher, and in the bullpen. So, a guy like Marte could net a pretty good return. If such a trade was made, the inhouse candidates to take over in LF would seem to be Snider, Lambo, Rojas, and Garcia in no particular order. So genius, why would Garcia be such a stretch – especially if he did have a good start at AAA this coming year?

        • Why would you trade Marte at all? Cost controlled guy that may be coming into some serious good years that could be our CF if and when Cutch leaves. Trading Marte seems a shortsighted move that makes our OF “blah” in 3 years as opposed to still great even if Cutch leaves.

          • It all depends on what we got for him of course…I wasn’t saying we should trade him, but it appears to be a deep position in the organization while we are in desperate need for a first baseman….

            • Then trade Snider or Lambo, not Marte. Trade Marte now, and in 3-4 years we no longer have him or Cutch and the OF is an issue.

        • I would think the issue with Garcia is his plate discipline. Questions of plate approach dogged Marte through out the minors and he only struck out a 17.5% rate in AA, compared to Garcia’s 30.6%. If you strike out that much in AA, you better destroy the ball upon contact like Joey Gallo .292 ISO in AA or Javier Baez .344, Garcia’s .207 and paltry walk total don’t bode well.

          And I don’t get why people want to trade Marte.

        • Because doing well in AAA is no guarantee of success at the major league level. also, did anyone notice that Polanco struggled last year?

        • Read every other comment on here regarding Garcia, GENIUS. Maybe the fact that at this time Garcia has no clue as to the meaning of strike zone discipline would be a good reason not to anticipate his appearance in MLB for quite some time.

          • Another jerk on this board – are you and Lukas the same person?

            I could be wrong, but I suspect there are some pretty good major league players playing today, who struck out at very high rates at various levels of the minors.

            • The key words here are ” I could be wrong “. No star player has ever had a strikeout rate over 30% in AA – AAA. Not only that, if you do exceed that rate, you had better have an ISO well north of Garcia’s rate in AA last season to get an opportunity in MLB. Now, don’t ” suspect ” and then type. Try doing some homework.

              • So, you are saying that players like Soriano, Dunn, Mark Reynolds, Byrd, etc. did not have similar high strikeout numbers in AA?

                • Look it up. Remember, guys like Lukas,Andrew and myself are jerks. Because people like you come up with hairbrained ideas like replacing Marte with Willy Garcia. That’s a good one !

                  • No, you and Lukas have been jerks because of how you respond and your general arrogance. No other reason.

                    And, please re-READ my original post – I never said we should trade Marte and replace him with Garcia specifically. I was merely asking if we should CONSIDER trading Marte, since we seem to have a lot of depth with outfielders – Lambo, Rojas, Tabata, Garcia, and Snider – but we are VERY weak at first base unless Alvarez suddenly learns how to hit again. Marte would likely fetch a lot of value – like a top notch first baseman, or catcher, etc. And, I never said that Garcia should be and would be the one to fill his spot – but that he was a possibility.

                    So, do not mis-charactarize my original post – if necessary, go back and re-read it.

                    In the future, please feel free to ignore my posts and refrain from responding, if you cannot communicate like an adult.

      • I was in the trade Marte camp through the 1st half of this season. In hindsight, that had more to do with how he was being used than his now apparent talent level batting lower in the order. Now I’m not in favor of trading Marte for pretty much anything. IMO, keeping that outfield together for the next four seasons is key to everything else the Bucs might want to do. I don’t touch that OF until Meadows or someone else shows he’s ready to replace somebody, if indeed he does reach that point.

    • As Nathan Swartz points out, the Pirates success rate with first round picks is inline with the rest of the league. The difference between a good drafting team and a bad one is their ability to find at least decent talent in the 2nd round forward.
      After Alvarez in the 2008 1st round the Pirates drafted Scheppers (didn’t sign), Jordy Mercer, Justin Wilson (traded for Cervelli) and Robbie Grossman (traded for Wandy who has since been cut) so that is two decent relievers, a starting shortstop and a 4th outfielder.
      The 2009 draft in which Tony Sanchez was taken does look to be a very poor draft. Brock Holt has been okay at 2nd but he was traded away, Vic Black is a decent reliever I guess. There still might be hope for Phil Irwin. The Pirates did draft Matt den Dekker who has been a 4th/5th outfielder for the Mets after he didn’t sign with the Pirates.
      The 2010 draft looks to be the exact opposite of the 2009 draft. After Taillon, the Pirates also drafted Mel Rojas, Nick Kingham, Brandon Cumpton and Casey Sadler. And of course there is Allie as well for what that is worth.
      The 2011 draft might not produce as many decent players, but the few players that do make it from this draft might be star players. After Cole, the Pirates also drafted Josh Bell and Tyler Glasnow. There might still be hope for Clay Holmes as well.
      It might be too early to tell on the 2012 and later drafts, although the 2012 draft has interesting prospects Wyatt Mathisen and Adrian Sampson.
      Regarding Morris, yeah, I was slightly disappointed they traded him. I think they misused Pimentel, he barely got any playing time and it was really irregular playing time. Pimentel seemed to be doing well when he was starting in the Indy rotation getting regular playing time. Then again, a player has to take advantage of the opportunities given, and Pimentel failed to do that. Although, so did Morris, until at least he got to New York.

    • Yeah, we totally havent hit on Taillon or Pedro. And that Meadows kid is pretty bad at this point. The only way you can really say we only hit on the 3 guys you listed is if you assume a 1st rounder has to be an all star to be justified. Walker, Cutch, Alvarez and Cole are all ML regulars. Taillon is 3-4 months away from being in the rotation, and the recent guys have done nothing to show they arent high quality prospects.

      • Lukas – let me enlighten you…..
        Taillon hasn’t pitched an inning yet in MLB, and missed all of last season due to TJS. So, how do you assess him as anything but a big question mark? We certainly haven’t hit on him, because he hasn’t done anything yet. Ditto for Meadows. In regards to Taillon, if you think he will be pitching in the Pirates rotation in 3-4 months, you know a lot more about TJS than most. I doubt he will get to Pittsburgh in 2015 until a possible 9/1 call-up when rosters are expanded. He will spend most of the next year, just trying to get back to where he was before TJS.
        If you read my post, you will note that I mentioned Walker, Cutch, and Cole – reading comprehension is a good thing when applied. If you consider Alvarez’s performance to date as justification that the Pirates hit on him, I think most people would disagree. Especially since he was #1 overall. In the past 12 months, he has lost his starting spot at 3B to a utility player, has been moved to a new position, and lost his starting job in the lineup due to weak hitting (and fielding). Yeah, we drafted a HOFer there….

        • You can be insulting and lose credibility, or we can discuss the issue. Pedro has been a ML regular and all star, that justifies his pick unless you simply have absurdly high expectations. Most 1st rounders never make it period, so 5+ years of Pedro is a good pick. Not great, but good. Plenty of 1st picks have done less. Its placing unfair expectations on picks to say “#1 has to be a star, #2…”. Any 1st rounder that contributes in a meaningful way at the big league level is a solid pick.

          For Taillon, i guess i just see his clearly TOR stuff and solid AAA stats as proof that he will be a major league pitcher and thus, a good pick. Sure, anything can happen but when the guy has his stuff and already AAA experience, im confident saying we “hit” on Taillon.

          • Lukas – if you want to not be insulted, go back and re-read some of your responses to my posts. I don’t care if you disagree with me, but you frequently do it in a very condescending manner. So, lets both clean it up.

            Since Pedro was #1 overall, yes I do have higher expectations – much higher. He had 1-2 decent seasons – as far as HRs are concerned – but the strikeouts and poor defense have never improved. So, no I do not consider his body of work to be acceptable for a #1 overall pick. By the way, I share the same opinion of Bryce Harper who has been nothing but average. But, he was much younger than Pedro when he was brought up the majors, so he has time to mature and get better. Maybe the move to first base will be a good thing for Pedro – we will see. We do need his HR power.

            Taillon is pretty simple – he hasn’t done anything yet. When he does, we will be able to assess whether the Pirates made a good pick or not. Looks like we may have to wait until 2016 to see….

            • In 3 years, Harper has WARs of 3.8, 4.4 and 1.3. So apologies if i disagree that the seemingly 2.5+ WAR guy is more than average. If that is the measure of what a #1 pick “should” do, your standards will bring guys to “disappointing” levels about 90% of the time. Harper may have been overhyped into people thinking he was Ruth at 19, but he is a fantastic overall player. Pedro isnt Harper, but he is an above replacement level player with elite power at the highest level. #1 picks being consistent regulars isnt easy, and fails to happen enough that i find nothing wrong with drafting a kid #1 and “only” getting 6 years of 1-2 WAR play.

              • Yes, compared to the hype, Harper has been a huge disappointment to date. WAR stats are misleading and do not tell the entire story, as they put too much of their value on an individual player in a team sport. I look more at more important stats to evaluate an individual player – his BA, OPS, SLG, HRs, RBIs, runs scored, defense, etc. he has been disappointing in all of those measures. But, he is still very young so he could still end up being the super star player he was projected to be. Time will tell.

                • If you place any emphasis on batting average and RBIs to judge a player over WAR, my condolences. RBI is a good way to show almost nothing, and batting average is easily inflated and doesnt show a ton of what a hitter is. Saying RBIs are crucial is telling anyone who plays on a bad team “you are going to be considered less skilled than most Yankees”.

  6. Sanchez who was known for his defensive abilities coming out of college is now a head case. I truly believe he could hit, but as this point I’m not sure he’s going to be given the opportunity with the Pirates.

  7. I’ve been a pretty big Tony Sanchez fan, but dang it man! That’s poor play, but we have others not exactly lighting the world on fire down there too. I wonder if the boy done got himself into some trouble. Maybe poor play related to drinking too much. I don’t know that he has a drinking problem, just remembering his famous photo bomb. Is he tradable, or do they just cut ties and hope he doesn’t move on and put it all together elsewhere?

    • I doubt he has a ‘problem.’ Bumgarner chugged approximately 35 beers at once, might have helped his game if anything ha. Sanchez at least seems focused on his job, based on his tweets about needing to get better and whatnot. That being said, he’s simply not improving.

      Trading him at his lowest value isn’t normally the smart thing to do, but I wouldn’t be against it, with Diaz waiting in AAA. The other option is moving him to 1B full time with the same thinking as Pedro: less focus on defensive struggles = better results at the plate. That’s probably what I would do, but if they want to trade him, keeping him at C provides much better value.

      • Yeah, I didn’t mean that he should head to AA, just that maybe he did something dumb down there to piss someone off. Something other than the errors and not being able to hit.

    • He’s not very tradeable. Maybe as a throw-in in a multiple player deal. No one want a catcher that can’t throw and makes tons of errors ad that has never gotten any reps at another position.

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