Winter Leagues: Mel Rojas Jr. Leads the Dominican League in Homers

Just one game in the Dominican on Thursday night, but it produced one of the strangest stats of the off-season. Mel Rojas Jr. hit his sixth homer(shown below), which leads the Dominican winter league. He has done that while playing 21 of his team’s 28 games, with a few of them coming off the bench. In his six seasons of pro ball, Rojas has hit 28 homers in 2709 plate appearances. He hit just two during the 2015 regular season. He also played two seasons of winter ball prior to this year and had no homer in 54 games. Basically, he isn’t the player you would expect to lead the league in homers at this point.

In Venezuela, Jose Osuna connected on his third home run of the season in his team’s 3-2 win in 11 innings. He went 1-for-4 with a walk, a run scored and he drove in two runs. Just like in Wednesday’s game, Osuna started in left field and finished on defense at first base. He was again replaced by Junior Sosa in left field. Sosa came in as a pinch-runner in the 11th inning and played the bottom of the inning on defense without getting a chance to bat.

Elias Diaz went 1-for-4 with a single. He is 6-for-24 in seven games, posting a .696 OPS.

Elvis Escobar had two hits off the bench on Wednesday and that could open up more playing time for him. He got to pinch-hit on Thursday and doubled in his only at-bat. Escobar stayed in the game in left field for the last two innings. He is 4-for-10 in 14 games this winter.

Wilfredo Boscan got hit around in his third start. He allowed six runs(five earned) on ten hits and a walk in four innings. In his first two starts combined, he allowed one run over seven innings.

Gorkys Hernandez drove in two runs, going 1-for-5 with a run scored. He has a .735 OPS in 35 games.

In Mexico, Luis Heredia got the quick hook after walking two of the three batters he faced. He retired the other one on a ground ball. Neither runner scored. Heredia threw 16 pitches, six for strikes. He was coming off his best appearance of the winter, one in which he threw three shutout innings.

Carlos Munoz went 0-for-3 in his team’s 2-0 loss. Mazatlan had three singles and a hit batter in the game, never advancing a runner to third base.

Felipe Gonzalez threw a shutout inning, retiring the side in order.

In Australia, Sam Kennelly started at shortstop and went 1-for-4 with a single. It’s the third different position he has started at, seeing time at second base and third base. During the regular season in the GCL, Kennelly spent most of his time at first base. Kennelly is 5-for-23 through seven games.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Glad to see Kennerly- in year 3 of the Aussie league- still can’t hit


On a totally unrelated topic, Mariners just released Danny Hultzen. Do you take a flier on him and hope to get him healthy enough to live up to his potential?


With the seemingly inevitable trade of Mark Melancon, the Pirates will have just three relievers returning from last year’s 25-man.

They’re going to be throwing some form of excrement against the wall and hoping it sticks, so I honestly don’t see the harm in betting on Hultzen’s upside. The Pirates will have just one starter who’s a good bet to go six innings every time out, Gerrit Cole. Using Hultzen as a multi-inning guy while he works under Searage would be far from the worst thing they could do with a roster spot.


Thats about what I thought as well.


Wow……I know he was in the discussion but I wonder if or how seriously they considered in taking him at 1. I always thought it was between him and Rendon.

Brian Bernard

I thought Rojas may be primed for a breakout last year, maybe that was a year early. I’m also thinking by the looks of him that he’s beefed up quite a bit?
Could be a strong candidate for the 4th outfielder spot?


Rojas has seemed to me to be like the hot chick who teases you a lot, then sadly disappoints 🙂

Bill W

John: Based upon my total lack of knowledge about “RULE 5”. Since he was eligible last year and not protected does that mean he 1) Needs Protected this year or 2) Because he was not taken he is not in the available pool?


There isn’t much upside to someone taking him, he pretty much gave up any chance of being protected by that awful 2015 he had


Remember that one time when Houston released JD Martinez so that they could roster LJ Hoes?

Now there’s like a 0.01% chance that Rojas is the next Martinez, but a hot winter and swing change can do crazy things.


sure. anything can happen, tis true

Bill W

I think he has to get thrown back in. So if a team needs a spare outfield part then he could be snatched and LEE FOO will need to find another player to develop a man crush.


If Lambo and Rojas both leave, I’m not sure Foo will even keep following the Pittsburgh Baseball Club. 😉

Bill W

I heard he was a troll anyway. I think he is from Norway.


Foo? That’s one hell of a ruse if true. Guy has been around forever. Always entertaining.

Bill W

I wonder if anyone answered their own question on PP before?


It looks to me like his stance in that video is vastly different than the stance he had earlier this year. Any additional insight to that? (Tried to copy image below – 1st time trying ) Looks to me like the left image from his front leg is much more open, allowing more of his raw power to translate into the swing. Looks like the pitch is in similar location as well. I’d love to hear someone with more insight look into this.


Thought the same thing, and went to his MiLB page for video.

To my eye, there’s definitely a noticeable difference in his stance and also a bit of a difference in swing plane.


****FREE MEL ROJAS!!!!!******



Always has been a talent who could play all of the OF positions, hits and runs well, but his power never came even though it has been expected by most. Could this be our 4th OF as a switchhitter with the ability to steal bases.


Cookie has a better chance of breaking camp as Hurdles 4th outfielder. I saw him at dinner with Inge the other night and Clint gave him a new uniform. He loves him some salty veterans who think old School.

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