Winter Leagues: Carlos Munoz Homers, Rivera Released by Pirates

In Venezuela on Tuesday, Elias Diaz went 0-for-2 with two walks. He has played five games this winter, collecting four hits over his first two games, and he has gone 0-for-9 since then.

Jose Osuna went 1-for-3 with a walk. He is hitting .351/.400/.474 in 32 games. His .874 OPS ranks ninth in the league and first on his team.

Elvis Escobar played for the first time since October 30th, though his appearances wasn’t much. He was used as a defensive replacement in left field, coming in for the ninth inning. In 12 games this winter, he is 1-for-7, with a walk, run scored and two stolen bases.

Junior Sosa grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning, then finished the game in left field. He is hitting .176 over 19 gmes.

Gorkys Hernandez went 1-for-4 with a single and two strikeouts. He’s hitting .317 in 33 games.

In the Dominican on Tuesday night, Willy Garcia went 1-for-2 with a single in a rain-shortened game. He is batting .163 and he has struck out 14 times in 43 at-bats.

Mel Rojas Jr. went 2-for-3 with a walk, run scored and an RBI. He is batting .253 through 20 games.

Gustavo Nunez went 0-for-3 to continue his November slump. He is 1-for-18 this month, dropping him to a .183 average.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz had a big game, going 3-for-4, with two singles and a three-run homer in his team’s 5-3 victory. The homer is his fourth of the season and his first in two weeks. He is now hitting  .319 through 30 games.

Felipe Gonzalez retired both batters he faced in the seventh inning. He has a 5.40 ERA in 8.1 innings over 12 appearances.

The Veracruz winter league in Mexico begins play on December 1st. No rosters have been released yet, but some players from the Pirates have been in the league in the past. The league in Nicaragua has started play, but no Pirates are in the league this year. Play in Panama will start soon, though no date has been announced and no rosters are set. Along with the Colombian League, the winners of these four leagues meet in the Latin American Series.

Maximo Rivera, who was drafted by the Dominican winter league prior to last season, has been released by the Pirates. He was originally signed in 2009 for $165,000, which put him fifth highest among bonuses handed out by the Pirates to an international amateur at the time. The Pirates believed he had excellent power potential, some speed and could play defense, getting signed as a shortstop, but he projected to be a third baseman.

Rivera had one big season back in 2012 when he hit .367 with 34 steals in his third season in the DSL. He made it as far as West Virginia in 2014 and spent 2015 on the bench for Morgantown. Rivera has never appeared in a Dominican league game, though many of the lower level players end up playing that league’s version of minor league games until they get to higher levels.

  • Everybody do yourself a favor and check out the link John posted on twitter of Munoz yoking another one out to right field. Kid sure knows how to drop the bat head on a mistake pitch in the lefty sweet spot. Mercy.

  • There was a recent valuation of what Melancon “should” be worth in trade after the Kimbrel deal, however the opposite side of that perhaps occurred with the trade of Francisco Rodriguez to the Tigers. Much more similar to Melancon in terms of results and stuff – he was worth an A ball ss basically. That sounds about what I’d expect if the team is able to unload Melancon. Again – for that value I’d keep him.

    • And there’s *still*, what, Chapman/Papelbon/Boxberger/McGee/O’Day and probably more on the market.

  • What is going to happen with Gorkys Hernandez?

    Is he just not quite good enough to be someone’s
    4th/5th outfielder at the MLB level?

    Where will he end up next spring?

    • Defensively, he’s good enough to be the best outfielder on many teams, but it seems like no one really trusts the offense. Maybe the Cubs can use him as a late-inning caddie for Kyle Schwarber. Hernandez is a lot faster, so he can pinch-run too. He would be great in San Diego too with that big outfield and a team that had almost no range

      If you look at his stats last year, you have to figure a few other organizations would have given him a better shot than the Pirates did. He has Gold Glove defense, a strong/accurate arm, he went 17-for-20 in steals and had the eighth best OPS in the International League. As far as AAA stats go, he had a great season. Based off that, he should have no trouble finding a team to sign with, and he will receive a low six-figure salary with a Spring Training invite

      • I think his one boneheaded play last year banished him from future Pirate opportunities.

        • Pirates are not a good fit for him. He is better defensively than McCutchen, but that defensive switch late would never happen unless it was a blowout. Hernandez is fast, but not faster than Marte, McCutchen or Polanco, so his best value as a PR/Defensive replacement has no place in Pittsburgh. I think he will find a spot elsewhere and get more than eight games and five at-bats, but he is no more than a 4/5 OF anywhere.

      • He would be a great fit in Philly as a platoon / defensive replacement for Herrera in CF. Philly tends to pick up a lot of our ML FA’s anyway.

  • Maximo………..I loved the name. He shudda been a star!

    • There were definitely high hopes for him when he signed. I’ve seen the original scouting report on him written up by Rene Gayo when he signed and Rivera would be considered a huge bust. He was considered raw as a 16-year-old, but his ceiling was Major League regular.

      On a sad side note about another player from that 2009 international class in case people missed the tweet yesterday: