Winter Leagues: Diaz and Osuna Lead Team to Tenth Straight Victory

In Venezuela on Saturday night, Elias Diaz and Jose Osuna helped lead their team to a tenth straight win. That was after they started the season with a 9-24 record. Diaz went 2-for-4 with his third homer(shown below) and his third double. Osuna went 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored, and three singles, which extended his hitting streak to nine games. Diaz caught his 13th game of the winter and he has still allowed just one stolen base in five attempts. He is hitting .271 in 48 at-bats.

In that same game, there was a couple batter/pitcher match-ups of note. Julio Vivas returned to his team after the Pirates shut him down because they didn’t want him pitching in the Parallel League(Venezuelan  minor league), but Vivas was struggling, so his team wanted him to get some innings in non-league games. After two weeks, he returned to Aguilas del Zulia and threw 1.1 scoreless innings on Friday. Vivas allowed a single, hit a batter, issued a walk, threw a wild pitch and made an error on a pick-off throw, so it wasn’t a pretty scoreless outing. The hit he allowed was a single by Jose Osuna and the hit batter was Elias Diaz.

A.J. Morris recorded one out in relief, while giving up two runs on two hits and a walk. He has a 3.80 ERA in 23.2 innings.

Gorkys Hernandez went 1-for-4 with a single, giving him a .313/.392/.369 slash line through 42 games.

In the Dominican, Mel Rojas Jr. went 0-for-5 in his team’s 3-2 loss in 11 innings. His average is down to .231 now, but he still leads the league with six homers.

Josh Wall won for the second day in a row and he didn’t do much either day. On Friday he won after he blew a save and on Saturday he recorded just two outs. He allowed a single and struck out a batter last night. He has 21 strikeouts in 15.2 innings.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 1-for-4 with a single and a strikeout. He is hitting .292/.397/.475 in 38 games.

Sebastian Valle didn’t play on Saturday due to a rain out, but there was a bit of news. He told the local papers that he had talks with the Pirates about returning for 2016, but his agent advised him not to agree with what they offered him to come back. He has had talks with others teams, but as of Saturday, no deal was imminent. It’s possible that it was related to his chance of making the majors with the Pirates and not contract value, as Valle said that he is looking for the club that offers him the best route to the big leagues.

In Colombia on Friday, Tito Polo had a single and a walk to raise his slash line to .308/.424/.385 through 26 at-bats.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz continued his poor hitting, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He is batting .147 through 22 games, with a .430 OPS, which is the second worst in the league among qualified batters.

  • John, his is 25. I have the guide coming so I am sure you will touch on it there but will he hit? It sounds like he will be the next Molina behind the plate, but will his bat playin your opinion?

    • I don’t think he will be a star, but Diaz should hit enough to stick around the majors for awhile. He has a little bit of pop in his bat and he doesn’t strikeout often, so that should lead to someone who can at least hold his own. If Reese McGuire develops like they hope, you could see the two of them together behind the plate for awhile in Pittsburgh. Sort of like the Slaught/Lavalliere days, since McGuire has had trouble with lefties the last two years. It would definitely be a great defensive combo

  • Hey John, ,a request. Is it possible to include info on the pitchers that our hitters have success against?

    • In the past I have broken down the level of pitchers the batters have faced for Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte during their big seasons. The problem with only mentioning the pitchers they have success against is you’re leaving out the other 2/3 or more of the ones they fail against, so you’re not even getting half the story. That’s why I like saying that the level of play is about AAA in the Dominican, because you get a sense of how these players are doing against AAA quality pitching. Some pitchers are worse and there are plenty of pitchers with MLB experience as well, so it’s much easier to just say AAA-quality games being played and look at their season as a whole rather than focusing on some isolated at-bats.

      The Dominican League is the best, followed by Venezuela and Mexico(strong AA), then Puerto Rico and Australia are about the same(AA at best). Colombia is about the same as high-A ball and the other leagues(Veracruz, Panama, Nicaragua) are probably the same as Bristol, not as bad as the GCL, but not as good as the NYPL.

      If you keep the league in perspective and breakdown the player’s age and performance, you get a sense of how they are doing. Carlos Munoz has slumped lately and his strikeout rate is much higher than normal for him, but that’s likely due to the league getting stronger as the year goes along. Jose Osuna is doing well which gives you a sense that he is probably ready to make the jump to AAA(he may not though due to space). What he has done in Venezuela is more than a small sample size as well and it’s a huge step up from last year when he barely played and went 3-for-26 at the plate.

  • Be real interested what PBC does with Elias if he hits in ST. I am wondering if they think he is ready and are not really interested in an extension for Cervelli! or looking at trading Cervelli and going with Diaz and Stewart this year.

    • I can’t see them getting rid of Cervelli, but absolutely think they should go with Diaz as the backup over Stewart.

      It’s been so long since the Pirates developed a catcher that it’s hard to remember, but clubs very rarely just hand the starting job over to a rookie cold. They’re almost always brought into a backup role, learning under the starter. That means you’re biting the bullet in ’16 with Cervelli, or delaying the inevitable until ’17 *and* forcing yourself to find a starting caliber catcher to split time with Diaz.

      The club should bring in a minor league FA that would serve as AAA depth and allow Diaz to back up Cervelli in ’16. No less depth, and greater use of resources.

      • No less depth, but less quality depth almost for sure. Unless there are many minor league FA types roughly as good as Diaz.

        Diaz as the backup is a fine idea, but it absolutely does mean worse depth this year. Cervelli going down means Diaz starting and random minor league FA as a backup.

        • You’re worried about the marginal difference in 3rd string catcher quality. I’m worried about the proper development of a player that *should* be expected to be the starting catcher in 2017.

          We’ll have to agree on wildly different priorities.

          • I dont think his development gets greatly harmed by reps in AAA. Its more playing time vs getting partial playing time in the majors, along with learning from guys like Cervelli.

            Where we largely differ is how much it hampers a young catcher to not have a years worth of backup experience before getting the starting job. With his defensive skills where they are, I think majority reps in AAA vs partial reps in MLB is not such a large development difference that is stop him from being fine value once he does take over full time. Valid points can be made against both ways.

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