Winter Leagues: Heredia Picks Up Extra Work, Munoz Homers

In the Dominican on Sunday, Alen Hanson went 1-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored. He committed his first error at second base. Hanson is 5-for-27 in six games with no walks.

Andrew Lambo played his third game and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He is 0-for-9 so far. Lambo was in right field and played his first full game on defense.

Willy Garcia went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He is 3-for-17 through five games.

Mel Rojas Jr. went 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. He is hitting .333 in 21 at-bats.

Gustavo Nunez went 0-for-3 with a walk. He had a rough game in the field, committing three errors.

In Venezuela, Jose Osuna extended his hit streak to nine games with two hits. He scored once, drove in a run and drew a walk. Osuna started the game at first base and finished in left field. In the fifth inning, he was part of a 5-4-3 triple play on defense. Osuna is hitting .348 in 13 games.

Elvis Escobar struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning. He is 1-for-7 in nine games.

Julio Vivas retired two of the three batters he faced, one by strikeout. He hit the other batter. Vivas threw 12 pitches, nine for strikes. This winter he has given up three earned runs over 6.1 innings in six appearances.

Junior Sosa had a strong game, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored. All three hits were singles.

Francisco Diaz came in as a defensive replacement behind the plate in the eighth inning and didn’t get a chance to hit.

Gorkys Hernandez went 1-for-4 with a single, getting picked-off his only time on base.

In Mexico, Harold Ramirez went 1-for-5 in his team’s 6-3 victory, picking up a single late in the game. He had a big outfield assist(see below). Ramirez is hitting .191 through 12 games. That is a bit surprising because Mexico is a high offense winter league, but the talent level is also at least equivalent to AA, so it’s a bit better than what he was seeing this season. It’s also too early in the year to be concerned over his winter stats.

Luis Heredia pitched 2.2 innings and ran into some trouble near the end of his outing. He walked a batter in his first inning, but faced the minimum when he got a ground ball double play. In his second frame, Heredia walked another batter and got another double play. He also picked up his first strikeout of the winter. When he came out for his last inning, it started off bad, with a single and a walk. The next batter singled as well, though Harold Ramirez threw the runner out at home. After a sacrifice fly, Heredia was pulled from the game. He allowed one run on two hits and three walks. He threw 39 pitches, 22 for strikes. Heredia has a 2.35 ERA in 7.2 innings, with four hits, five walks and one strikeout. His previous high for innings was two, which happened in his last outing, so they could be stretching him out to pitch more.

Carlos Munoz had a double and hit his second homer(video below). He also had an intentional walk and struck out in his only other plate appearance. He is hitting .351 so far, with seven extra-base hits. As mentioned for Ramirez, it is a high offense league(Munoz is third on his team in batting and well off the league lead), but it should be remembered that Munoz played in rookie ball this year. Part of that was due to his own ongoing conditioning issues and it showed at the end of the year, when he really struggled. The fact that he is hitting well early means he will get extra playing time even if he starts to slow down, and that can only help his off-season conditioning, which has been very poor in the past. Despite only playing rookie ball this season, Munoz is slightly older than both Heredia and Ramirez.

Felipe Gonzalez worked a quick scoreless inning, throwing eight pitches total to retire all three batters he faced, one by strikeout.

  • I am not sure it is a fair characterization to say that Munoz “really struggled”. He did slump at the end of the season but when he was promoted to Morgantown he ripped it up in the playoffs going 8-18 with extra-base hits. I know he needs to work on his conditioning but this narrative of the late season let down due to conditioning is not exactly what happened. He basically went into a slump that did not see him striking out very much and still putting the ball in play quite a bit, whereupon he kicked it back into gear during the playoffs. I hope he can slim down some and perhaps continue to gain strength, but this was, and with this winter league success, continues to be a breakout year for Munoz.

    • His slump lasted over a month and started in Bristol, that is really struggling

      • John,

        I wonder if the slump was from lack of motivation – he hit well early and could have moved up based on that – perhaps he was pouting a bit…

        Emotional maturity happens much later than 21 for most of us.

        Alan Hanson has had some issues like this if I recall…

        If he has a plus bat – why not push it up the system aggressively and see if he can adjust and meet the challenge. If he can’t then wish him well and send him home – use his ABs to develop someone else.

        Jack Welch had a great system – up or out – the Pirates seem to want to use some arbitrary formula – XXX ABs at each level – XXX innings at each level.

        If I recall correctly Mike Trout had 0 ABs in AAA.

        • If Munoz didn’t finish slow and we didn’t get previous reports of him slowing down/wearing out each year prior, maybe you could say he wasn’t giving it his all, but there is a distinct pattern with him and this year just reinforced it again. We talked about it multiple times when he started off strong in the GCL last year, basically taking the wait and see approach because we heard it from previous years.

          • John-I see what you are saying, but why not consider his playoff performance as well? During his slump he was still hitting the ball and walking. It is not like he started striking out and looking overmatched. How do we distinguish between a slump and a slump caused by fatigue? It would seem that his playoff performance at a higher level and his success thus far in the Winter Leagues may suggest it was just a slump and nothing more,

            • It’s something that has always happened with him at the end of the year. Five weeks is a fairly long slump during a ten-week season and he was in Bristol. A 21-year-old fifth year player in Bristol should be crushing the ball if he’s a legit prospect, so his four weeks of poor play there first is even worse than it looks from a prospect standpoint. That’s too old and too much pro experience for that league.

              • John-I think it is just a question of emphasis. I see what you are saying, but he was the Appy League player of the year. On Aug. 5th after a DH he was batting. .383. From Aug. 7-28th when he was promoted (3 weeks) he went 13-64 (.203) but only struck out 6 times. He was promoted to Morgantown where he only went 3-20 and struck out 7 times, while walking 7 times, BUT then he crushed the ball during the playoffs. Clearly I am putting more emphasis on the late season surge at the higher level than you are. He did slump at Bristol but the rest of the profile was unchanged, 10 walks to 6 k’s.
                Obviously his physique raises some questions, but it is not his fault that he was in Bristol. I really don’t understand why the Pirates didn’t have him in Morgantown-at least. He destroyed the ball in Bristol for a good part of the season, which tells me he should have been a level higher, and, I think, one could argue that his GCL numbers, very similar to Cole Tucker’s, warranted an aggressive push to WV.
                This guy has a beautiful swing and his statistical profile is quite unique. Get the guy a personal trainer and promote him aggressively next year. That swing-and the results- is the swing of a pure hitter.
                Thanks for all of your good work on the site. I enjoy it.

                • It actually sounds like it was his fault he was in Bristol and it had to do with not rewarding him for not getting into good shape like they emphasized with him. Not pointing to you specifically because A LOT of people have said it throughout the year, but Munoz’s conditioning has been a big issue for awhile and something we have talked about. It’s just that the average fan didn’t take notice until he started hitting above the GCL, so they aren’t getting the full effect of how long this process has gone with him.

                  They have wanted him to get in shape in 2011 and he still reported out of shape every year since then, so the fact he went to Bristol when we guessed last year due to his age and hitting that he could start 2015 with the WV Power, just shows that he is the reason and only reason he is being held back.

                  • John
                    Well this brings up a good question: What do the Pirates do with a guy like this to encourage him to make the changes he needs to? How much is hands on and how much is suggestion? I think this regime does a good job developing players so I am not criticizing them, perhaps Munoz isn’t doing what he needs to do.
                    I think this would make an interesting article in general. What happens after the season is over? Are the players left to their own devices? What kind of services are provided for them to grow as players/people?

                    • They are given workout programs and they’re expected to follow them, and 99% of the players do because they know it’s their job and just in general, they want to do whatever they can to get better. Not all players have that same desire though. I noted in the winter preview how interesting it was that Munoz, Heredia and Ramirez are all of the same team. We heard conditioning issues with four players, those three and a DSL player who was released right away. So those three are all together for winter ball, which gives the Pirates a chance to watch them all in one place and just stay on them. Hopefully being together is a good thing and doesn’t turn into a bad influence situation.

                    • Interesting! Seems like you would want to split them up.
                      That is a pretty talented trio, although I have never been that high on Heredia. Hopefully they are hitting the age where they start taking these things more seriously.

                    • Thanks Chris – and John,

                      Interesting back and forth…

                      I am still not sure I understand why they would not take a more aggressive approach with a young man who can hit – maybe he can’t hit for a full season. As Chris suggests maybe an article on what they can – and can’t do with these lower level players..

                      Seems to me they have significant investments in Pirate City – dorm – cafeteria etc. Why not put these guys in an environment that will help them with conditioning and diet.

                      Do they have coaches – mentors who can work with them to help them understand what a great opportunity they have to make a better life for themselves and their family

  • Munoz looks like a softball player…I really hope he can lose some weight and continues to impress. Until he gets to Bradenton, I will be concerned his weight will derail his career, before he maximizes his talent.

    • The Fielders – father and son had similar “profiles” and nice MLB careers. I would hope the Pirates give him a strong push – and focus on getting the best they can from his bat – and glove. We need first baseman who might hit 20 HRs – his power seemed to jump last year…

      He doesn’t turn 22 until next summer – would be nice to see if he can get to high A by the end of next summer and start 2017 in Altoona. The bat seems to be there.

  • My apologies if I came across as a “Eddie Haskell” type here (as Bill W mentioned yesterday). I never meant to convey that image and it bothers me that I did.

    I have been in communication with John and Tim since the early days. I have always been a huge supporter of their work and this site. I guess I over-did that familiarity in a misguided attempt to try to continue to ‘sell’ the site’ by joking with them (esp John) and ‘liking’ all of John and Tim’s replies. In MY head I was telling everyone that what they wrote was ‘spot on’ and that they were ‘great guys’.

    I seriously want to thank Bill W and John for bringing this to my attention. Oftentimes we’re the last to see what others see clearly (not unlike my first marriage….lol). On the plus side, I think this is the first time Bill W got any likes on any of his posts? (I kid, I kid).

    Sorry for the interruption…Now back to “The Epic Adventures of Gorkys”.

  • piraterican21
    October 26, 2015 9:22 am

    It has been a mildly disappointing winter season for our players so far for the exception of Osuna, and Munoz top dogs, Meadows, Hanson and Ramirez are hovering around below the .200 mark!
    If Munoz keeps it up and reports to camp in better shape where do you see him starting next year, would he start the season in Brandenton?

    • Munoz probably starts at West Virginia, since he only briefly played at Morgantown at the end of this year. Hanson is a slow starter all the time it seems, so I’d give him some time.

      • First time I’ve seen Munoz. I was picturing a much larger guy than that. Not that he’s small by any means but he’s not Cecil Fielder either.

        • He’s listed at 5’11, 225, but he weighs more than that. It’s his listed weight still from when he was signed at 17, which rarely gets updated in the minors.

          • Here’s from the GCL last year

            • He is a big, big boy…but he’s hitting well, continually. I know he’s a little on the older side and conditioning had been an issue, but the pure bat and hitting ability is there for sure.

      • John, do you see the staff at Morgantown starting on his weight/conditioning, or letting him develop as is?

        • His weight has been an issue since he signed and something they have constantly worked on. The first report I ever got on him back in 2012 was from another player who started with “He’s not in good shape” when I asked for any information on Munoz

  • Wilbur Miller
    October 26, 2015 9:19 am

    In the video they have purple bases!