Winter Leagues: Sam Kennelly Named to All-Star Game, Osuna Homers

Not much going on Monday in winter ball, so this is two days worth in one article. We start with Mel Rojas Jr., who was the only Pirate to see action outside of Colombia. He didn’t do much either, picking up an RBI on a ground out in his only at-bat.

In Colombia, Harold Ramirez picked up two hits, giving him a .388/.456/.531 slash line in 49 at-bats. Tito Polo went 0-for-3, drawing a walk and scoring a run. He is hitting .308/.406/.519 through 52 at-bats.

Sam Kennelly will represent Team Australia in the Australian Baseball League All-Star game on December 16th. He hasn’t hit much this year, but he has played solid defense, making multiple starts at second base, shortstop and third base. Kennelly has committed just two errors this winter.

The Pirates announced the signing of LHP Robert Zarate on Monday. He is starting in Venezuela, where he has 2.13 ERA in 38 innings, though his 15/22 BB/SO ratio leaves something to be desired. Zarate ranks sixth in the league in ERA, three spots behind Patrick Johnson, who was purchased by the Pirates out of independent ball last month.

As we mentioned in the past, we keep covering free agents until they sign elsewhere, because sometimes they return back to Pittsburgh. Last year we had three such instances, while on Monday both Deolis Guerra and Wilfredo Boscan returned to the Pirates as minor league free agents. If you’ve been following allowing with the winter articles, then you know Boscan has been shutting down Pirates’ prospects recently, throwing 12.2 shutout innings against Elias Diaz, Jose Osuna, Elvis Escobar and their teammates. Guerra has been pitching well in his limited time(late start), at least up until his last appearance when he gave up a hit and walk to the only two batters he faced.

Tuesday’s Action

In the Dominican, Mel Rojas Jr. went 1-for-4 with an RBI. He is batting .229 and hasn’t done much recently, but he still leads the league with six homers.

Pedro Florimon went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, dropping his average down to .200 through 22 games.

Gustavo Nunez went 2-for-3 with a walk, stolen base and two runs scored. He is known for being a solid defensive player, but on Tuesday he committed his ninth error in 30 games this winter.

In Venezuela, Jose Osuna hit his seventh home run of the winter(video below). If you’ve seen the home run videos we have posted from him this winter, he doesn’t hit cheap ones. Osuna is third in the league in home runs. He has a .331/.395/.511 slash line in 50 games. His .906 OPS ranks fifth in the league.

Gorkys Hernandez had a huge game, going 3-for-4, with a walk, two runs scored and a grand slam. He is hitting .341/.419/.432 in 49 games.

A.J. Morris had an odd outing, throwing 2.2 shutout innings with no walks and three strikeouts, but he did not pitch well. He gave up five hits, threw a wild pitch and allowed both runners he inherited to score.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz went 1-for-4 with a double and run scored. He has three extra-base hits this winter, all doubles. Ortiz has a .499 OPS in 29 games.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 0-for-2 with a walk and run scored. He is 7-for-46(.152) in his last 13 games, with no extra-base hits.

Sebastian Valle went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He is hitting .220 through 22 games, with one walk and 21 strikeouts.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    December 9, 2015 10:36 am

    Osuna is looking very legit. I know Bell is considered the better prospect, but again I will contend a lot of that has to do with being a very high draft pick vs. a relatively unknown International signing (like Meadows vs. Ramirez). Unless the Pirates do something dumb and short-sighted, first base appears to be in good hands in the very near future….

    • Enjoy – he will be gone by lunch time tomorrow – awful decision to leave him unprotected.

      Could step right in and start at first base for the Phillie or Rockies.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        December 9, 2015 12:12 pm

        Yeah it was better to protect studs like Florimon…

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        December 9, 2015 12:14 pm

        Is he eligible for Rule 5? If he is, Pirates management needs to be reevaluated. How do you justify protecting Florimon (among others) over a prospect like Osuna?

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    December 9, 2015 10:34 am

    Some of these all star game choices are really dubious – first Meadows in the AFL and now Kannelly….neither were hitting .200 when selected…

  • The announcer as he crosses home calls him el Novato del ano, which translate to rookie of the year? Is he a rookie?

    • They have different standards in each league, but it’s possible he could be despite playing a little winter ball the previous two seasons. Each season he saw limited action, mostly off the bench. Polanco won ROY in 2013 after 35 at-bats and 13 games the year before. That was the Dominican League though. Osuna played eight games in 2013, 11 last year, getting a total of 33 at-bats, so he could still be eligible.

  • I’ll ask this again, is Osuna starting to put it together enough to be considered a real prospect? Sometimes I think we get enamored with certain prospects because of hype and or pedigree ignoring lessor names that we had lower expectations for but is that the best option?

    Two examples would be Bell, a legitimate top tier prospect but not without questions, is it possible that Osuna could provide 90% of what Bell could, letting Bell be used as a trade chip for a very good SP? If so would that not be the better path for the Pirates to take? After all the Pirates have shown they can win for 3 years with very little production from first base.

    The other example would be Hansen who has done little recently to warrant the hype. Would the Pirates be better served trading him now while he still has some value and rely on Moroff or JHay to be the heir to Walker?

    • Always felt that he will be Bells platoon partner in a couple of years, as,well as playing the OF. An ideal bench piece that might see plenty of at bats if he keep producing

    • Bell and Osuna aren’t considered anywhere near the same type of prospects because they have totally different approaches at the plate. Osuna doesn’t strike out a lot for someone with power, but he is an aggressive hitter, which has led to low walk totals every season and his best home run year was three years ago. Bell makes better contact and has a much better understanding of the strike zone. The plate patience is what separates them. Both have power potential, but a guy with better plate patience, who makes more contact, has a much better chance to reach that potential.

      You look at the two and say, they’re the same age, but Osuna has 2427 plate appearances and finished the year with a .763 OPS in AA(plus a 2-for-18 in the playoffs), while Bell has 1622 plate appearances and finished with a .946 OPS in AAA, plus a great showing in the playoffs. Osuna has 50% more time in the minors, most of it in full-season ball and at the same age, he is well behind Bell. That’s where the plate patience and approach at the plate, plus ability to make contact, shows how different they are

      • I tend to agree with some points, not others that you make John. First, I think you are slanting Osuna’s numbers negatively because he started playing ball at 17 years old, compared to Bell at 19. So as not to mix apple and oranges with the plate appearances/ages, I went back to Osuna’s 19 year old stats and started from there and matched him up to Bell:

        Osuna: .276/.323/426/.701
        Bell: .305/.441/.450/.821

        While the numbers support Bell as the better of the two overall, what leaps out at you is how close the slg. numbers are to each other. You mentioned that Osuna’s best home run year was three years ago, but once again, comparing HR totals for the 4 years, Osuna has 46 compared to Bell’s 30 over the same time frame.

        Please note: All numbers are for minor league games only, and do not use off season games/leagues.

        In summation, I believe that Osuna has a definite future with somebody and has yet to hit his full stride, and he may be starting to show it now. I also hope that future is with the Pirate’s.