Only two Pirates’ players saw action on Monday, so we combine the last two days into one article. The schedule is very light for the next few days, so there might not be another Winter Leagues article until the weekend, possibly on Monday morning.
As for Monday’s action, both were players in the Dominican. Mel Rojas Jr. went 1-for-4 with a run scored and his sixth stolen base. He is hitting .236 this winter, with six homers and seven doubles.
Andy Vasquez got his second start and went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts. He has played just four games, last appearing in mid-November before Monday. Vasquez has played nine seasons in the Pirates’ system, twice re-signing after he reached minor league free agency. He is currently a free agent, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Pirates bring him back.
On Tuesday in Venezuela, Elias Diaz continued two trends. His offense has been sputtering, while his defense has been highly praised all winter. The question with Diaz is, will he hit enough to be a starter in the majors, or is he a glove-first back-up, albeit with Gold Glove caliber defense? He hasn’t helped answer that question this winter, at least not in a positive way. Diaz went 0-for-3 on Tuesday with three strikeouts. He also threw out the only runner who attempted to steal, while also picking off another runner. He is hitting .242/.318/.379 in 27 games, with 21 strikeouts in 95 at-bats, which is a high strikeout rate for him. Diaz has thrown out well over 50% of runners attempting to steal this winter, plus he has picked-off numerous others. So the defense has been as strong as ever, but he hasn’t hit at all since a strong start to his winter back in November.
Jorge Rondon threw 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and picking up one strikeout. He has thrown four shutout innings over his four appearances.
In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz had his recent hot streak snapped, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He is hitting .228/.309/.293 in 37 games.
In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. Munoz has slumped for the last five weeks, seeing his average drop more than 80 points during the stretch. He has just two extra-base hits in his last 25 games, both coming in the same game. With the fast start he had to the season, he still has a .743 OPS, which ranks him just outside the top 20 in the league. Munoz has had trouble against left-handed pitchers this winter, with a .558 OPS in 45 at-bats. That wasn’t an issue during the regular season, when he posted a .993 OPS in 63 plate appearances versus lefties.