Winter Leagues: Munoz is Battling Another Second Half Slump

Two days of recaps here because not much went on Wednesday or Thursday night of note, at least on the field. I’ll add extra notes in Thursday’s recap for any player who saw action both days.

On Wednesday in Venezuela, Jose Osuna went 2-for-5 with a run, RBI, and three strikeouts. He is hitting .333/.395/.508 through 51 games and has emerged as the top candidate for the league’s Rookie of the Year award. He has played parts of two seasons in the league before this year, but still qualifies due to limited playing time each year.

Elias Diaz went 0-for-3 with a walk and run scored. He has slumped recently at the plate, going 3-for-19 in his last six games. Diaz has a .239/.307/.433 slash line through 19 games. He has still allowed just two stolen bases this winter.

Elvis Escobar was used as a pinch-runner and scored a run. He has 14 at-bats in 20 games this winter.

Gorkys Hernadez had a tough game, going 0-for-5 with his first two errors.

In the Dominican, Gustavo Nunez was the only Pirates’ player to see action, and he’s currently a free agent. He went 2-for-4 with his first homer and drove in three runs.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk. He is hitting .194/.286/.224 in 30 games.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 0-for-4.

Sebastian Valle went 2-for-3 with two walks, a double and he drove in three runs. He had one walk in his first 22 games.

Thursday’s Action

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz continued to slump, going 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. He is on a 7-for-52 streak, and hasn’t had an extra-base hit in over three weeks. Munoz has seen his average drop to .253, though he started the season off strong, so his OPS is still a respectable .763, especially when you factor in his age/experience.

During the regular season in 2015, Munoz hit .193 over the last 28 games. In 2014, he saw his OPS drop from .934 in the first 27 games, down to .674 in the last 27 games. In 2013, his OPS dropped 100 points each month, after starting the season strong. In 2012, he batted .197 over a 23 game stretch, but hit over .300 during the other 22 games that season. So he has been a very streaky hitter throughout his career, usually wearing down in the second half.

Sebastian Valle went 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout. He may sign to play in Mexico during the regular season if nothing better comes up.

In the Dominican, Gustavo Nunez went 0-for-4. He is hitting .219 through 32 games, with three extra-base hits, all within the last week.

In Venezuela, Gorkys Hernandez went 1-for-3 with two walks and an outfield assist. He is hitting .332/.414/.420 in 51 games.

The winter coverage got a little lighter due to the Rule 5 draft. The Pirates lost Deolis Guerra and Patrick Johnson, both of whom were pitching in Venezuela. The Marlins also signed Felipe Gonzalez, so he was going to be dropped from the coverage anyway, but it was interesting to note that the Dodgers took him in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. So his stay with the Marlins was extremely short. Gonzalez was also traded in the Mexican league this week, which means he has moved around a lot this off-season.

Finally, Zack Dodson has signed with the Orioles. The 2009 fourth round pick of the Pirates was pitching in Venezuela earlier this off-season, getting off to a strong start before hitting a rough patch. Assuming the Pirates don’t re-sign Jeff Inman this off-season, that would leave Tony Sanchez as the only remaining member of the 2009 draft class. About the only good thing you could say about the 2009 class is that they were able to use five of them in trades, bringing back Marlon Byrd, Derrek Lee, Wandy Rodriguez and Mark Melancon in those deals.

  • Sebastian Valle really tears up Mexican league pitching. When they signed him as a FA last year I was curious about him and noticed he was doing well in winter ball. I’m assuming he has no legit shot at the Show or he would have been there by now.

  • Cubbies seem to be going after it with a vengeance!

    • Ain’t they, though?

      I think it’s fair to say they’re the odds on favorite for the division…

      I’d say the Pirates are the second place team in the Central now…the Cards seem to have lost too much to stay in the top two.

      • Hope you are right. Just can’t see the Cards taking a backseat to anyone.

        • They got Wainwright back. The lost Lynn. I’ll call that a net gain.

          They lost Lackey and Heyward…huge losses.

          As much as people want to complain of what the Pirates have or haven’t done this off-season, there’s no way they’ve lost what the Cards have.

          That said, they always seem to have a way to promote a two guys from AA who fight it out for ROY.

          • In addition to losing Lynn for 2016, they are unsure of Carlos Martinez who went down with a shoulder injury at the end of 2015, and the kid they were looking to for help, Reyes, will start the season on a 60 game drug suspension.

            Really surprised the Cardinals, with their new broadcasting rights contract signed for $1.5 Bil, were not more active in the market. We know the Pirates cannot compete at those dollar levels, but they did what they had to do with Walker/Niese, and non-tendering Pedro. Now, which team (with an extra SS Prospect laying around) is coming to Pittsburgh with a package for Melancon?

  • I remember the days when nobody wanted to trade Robbie Grossman.

  • John: Sorry if I missed it, but I have been traveling a lot lately. Since Hanson has not played since Dec 1, is it safe to think he is done for the Winter? I hope so – he has played 150 games already this year, and probably could do better with some off-season strength and conditioning work. And thank you for the updates. And, one for you or Tim – have the Pirates discussed any coaching changes, such as the hitting coach for example?

  • I think the most important thing for munoz is just being out there working, getting stronger, and more fit.

  • Tim, Book to come soon, but have to ask if Tony Montana Sanchez is in the top 50?
    I’ve proposed a “fresh start trade” of Tony for Seattle 1b, Jesus Montero – especially since they just acquired Lind, Montero should be available and Tony would be a good catching prospect for them with a decent bat.

    • Sanchez isn’t eligible for the top 50, wasn’t in last year’s book because he surpassed the eligibility requirements during the 2014 season by five at-bats

  • 2009 draft — Sanchez wow that’s all that’s left including Melancon. That is an eye opener.

    • And he isn’t long for this roster either…

    • every team has those types of drafts….at least we got some parts for them.

    • Don’t stop there…

      Tony Watson is all that remains from 2007
      Jordy Mercer is all that is left from 2008

      • 2007 was a Littlefield draft and as far as 2008 get used to it it will be tough for the Pirates to keep players more than 7-8 years beyond draft year. Prep picks will be around a little longer due to longer development time. It remains to be seen how many players will be willing to sign contracts similar to McCutchen and Marte in the future given how team friendly those seem to be with the crazy escalation of salaries.

        • Shouldn’t be difficult at all to keep them that long. If you assume a player will spend a hair over three years in the minors, then they debut in 2012 and would be second year arbitration eligible now.

          Pedro advanced quickly…he still had a year of control.

  • To Munoz: Eat. More. Chicken.

    • Don’t you mean eat less, chicken, beef, pork ….

      If ever a man needed a personal fitness trainer it sounds like he’s it. Potentially millions lost for love of food.