Winter Leagues: Debut For Elias Diaz, Rojas Homers

In the Dominican on Wednesday night, Alen Hanson returned to the lineup for the first time since Halloween and went 1-for-4 with a single. He had played three times since his last start, twice as a pinch-runner and once as a pinch-hitter. Hanson is hitting .245 in 53 at-bats, with a double, two walks and two stolen bases.

Mel Rojas Jr. connected on his fifth homer of the winter, finishing his day 1-for-3 with a walk. His homer was a solo shot on the back-end of back-to-back homers in the ninth, as his team fell just short while trying to overcome an early 5-0 deficit. The homer by Rojas made the score 6-5 with no outs.

Pedro Florimon went 0-for-3 and he’s now 3-for-24 in his first six games, with one walk and ten strikeouts.

Wilkin Castillo went 0-for-4, as he too played for the first time since Halloween. He is 1-for-13 at the plate in five games. Castillo is one of the 19 minor league players from the Pirates, who became free agents back on Saturday.

In Venezuela, Elias Diaz stepped right into the lineup and went 2-for-4 with an RBI in his team’s 7-6 win. Diaz just joined his team this week, so he got into the lineup fairly quickly. Most players practice a few days before getting into a game, so he possibly played some games in the Parallel League, which is the Venezuelan League version of the minors. Bravos de Margarita now have two Pirates’ catchers, with Francisco Diaz serving as a backup. The two Diaz’s split the catcher duties for the West Virginia Power during the 2012 season.

Jose Osuna went 1-for-4 with a walk, giving him a .367 average in 27 games. He has been splitting his time fairly evenly between the outfield and first base.

Gorkys Hernandez went 1-for-3 with a walk. He’s hitting .305/.387/.352 in 27 games.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 0-for-3 and he’s now hitting .301 through 25 games. Munoz has been used strictly as a DH recently, after starting often at first base early in the year.

  • How is Munoz defensively at 1B? Adequate? And what do we make of Rojas’ recent power surge?

    • Adequate would best describe it. They have him on a strict conditioning program this year to not only slim him down, but make him more athletic, so hopefully that helps with his play at first base as well. Right now, DH is still his best position, but he won’t Pedro Alvarez you at first base either.

      For years, we have heard about Rojas being a potential five-tool player and all we really saw was the defensive part, along with some speed and glimpses of the hitting tool, but never the power. His career high for homers was ten in 2014 and he only coupled that with 19 doubles in 500 plate appearances, so even his best barely qualifies for power numbers. If you look at his career winter numbers, he had zero homers in 54 games over two seasons. So on one hand you can say the power display is shocking, but on the other hand, this is what we have been hearing about since he was drafted.

      • He’s also 25 (Rojas) and seemed to fall out of favor a little with the organization when they sent him back down to AA. Which, also, makes some of what he is doing fascinating to me. He seems like a 4th OF type to me with some upside…but he’s already 25 and should, at his age, be competing for 4th OF in the majors, not still in AA.

        Nice to hear that Munoz isn’t Pedro at 1B either. Haha. Let me ask you this, and this might be a little bit much to ask but I will anyways…IF Munoz offseason plan worked and he was able to “be himself” (conditioned) for a full season next year and did what he seems capable of doing…what would that mean for the following year in your eyes (at least from a rankings perspective)? I guess what I am asking is: if he achieved what the team wants from him conditioning-wise and he was able to be consistent throughout a whole year does he immediately JUMP up the prospect rankings and become someone really to watch?

        • Munoz would definitely move up, but we have a rule about first baseman and ranking them too high. They really need to prove it at AA and above to be ranked high, or at a lower level at a young age for the level. Munoz won’t be young whether he is at Bradenton or West Virginia next year, so he probably can’t go any higher than around 20th with a great season. If a lot of players graduate ahead of him, which is very possible in 2016, then he might go higher, but the system won’t be as strong either.

      • I don’t want to end up Pedro alvarezed in the middle of nowhere. He’s he new Roy Munson.