Winter Leagues: Sam Kennelly Shows Versatility and Improvements This Winter

On Friday in Venezuela, Jose Osuna continued to play while awaiting his appeal hearing for his six game suspension. He went 1-for-5 with a walk and two strikeouts. He is hitting .333/.397/.515 in 56 games. Osuna ranks sixth in the league in average, third in slugging and fifth in OPS. He is fifth in the league in doubles and tied for second in homers.

Elias Diaz went 0-for-3 with two walks, before leaving for a pinch-runner in the 11th inning. He threw out both runners attempting to steal, continuing his impressive season on defense. The offense hasn’t been there, especially recently. Diaz is hitting .238/.323/.393 in 24 games, with a .558 OPS over his last ten games.

Elvis Escobar pinch-ran in the ninth inning and played the last two innings in right field without getting an at-bat. His team lost in the tenth on a walk-off grand slam. Escobar has played 25 games this winter, which is a significant amount for a player with only Low-A experience. Most have been off the bench though, as he has just 19 plate appearances.

In the Dominican, Pedro Florimon went 2-for-3 with a double and run scored. He also stole his fourth base.

Mel Rojas Jr. went 1-for-3 with a double, RBI, run scored and a walk. His .235 average is the second lowest among the 20 hitters with enough plate appearances to qualify for league leaders. Only Gustavo Nunez(.232) has a lower average. He has seven doubles and six homes, the latter ranking him second in the league. It’s been a very low offense year in the Dominican this season, with every team having less than a .700 OPS

On Friday in Australia, Sam Kennelly went 2-for-4 with an RBI. His team played a doubleheader on Saturday and Kennelly started both games at shortstop. He went 0-for-3 in the first game and went 1-for-5 with an RBI in the second game. He is having a breakout season of sorts, even though his stats are far from impressive. Not only is he getting more playing time than he has received before in three previous seasons in the ABL, but the 19-year-old is hitting better than before, posting a .219/.260/.260 slash line in 73 at-bats. His team’s OPS is .596, so he isn’t far off the production of his teammates.

The average age in the league is 24 and many of the players have upper level experience, so Kennelly is playing in a league well above his current progress in the minors. He is showing versatility by making multiple starts at third base, second base and shortstop, and this is after spending most of his time during the regular season in the GCL at first base. The Pirates liked Kennelly enough to give him a $225,000 bonus, so the potential is there for him to have a breakout season in 2016. He will likely begin the year with either Bristol or Morgantown, where his versatility will allow him to play any infield position.

In Mexico on Friday, Carlos Munoz went 1-for-4 with a single and an RBI. He is hitting .250/.347/.405 in 53 games, doing most of his damage in the first month of the season. Since November 19th, he is 12-for-74(.162) with two extra-base hits.

Sebastian Valle came into Friday’s game as a pinch-runner for the starting catcher and scored a run. He stayed behind the plate and caught the last two innings. Valle is hitting .204/.241/.340 in 30 games. It appears he could be signing with the Yankees soon, so this might be his last update.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz continues his recent stretch of strong hitting, going 2-for-4 with a double, triple and walk, driving in two runs. He has an .847 OPS in his last ten games.

In Colombia, Tito Polo played two games recently, and while the league still hasn’t posted boxscores regularly, we do have updated stats. He is hitting .279/.393/.471 in 68 at-bats, with three triples and two homers. Harold Ramirez didn’t play in either game. He is hitting .371/.432/.500 in 62 at-bats.

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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The Pirates have some decisions to make, like Ramirez, McGuire, Diaz, Hanson, and A. Meadows. AM may be the replacement for Cutch in the unlikely event that the Pirates fail to resign Cutch. COUGH COUGH !!!

Brian Bernard

I am a little surprised that there hasn’t been more info on the role for Rodgers? I heard him on radio that he said they’d get him at bats. I read that as bench guy who spot starts, I don’t think you break out that way you have to be given / earn the starting job, no?
For what he cost he should be the everyday 1b, period. Morse should be bench and pinch hitter.


Good news on Valle – Yankees can polish his game and then trade him to us to back up Diaz.


Diaz’s offensive struggles are starting to bother me a bit here. Granted he is great defensively, but you need to be able to have some offense. And he is struggling against the same pitchers that Osuna seems to be feasting on (for those that don’t know, they play on the same team). Hopefully he can get the bat back.

Bill W

Sebastian Valle is gone. This is turning into a disastrous off-season. Who will be our back-up to the back-up to the back-up?

Blaine Huff

Catcher is a place of ‘reasonable’ depth. Shame though, I liked Valle…thought he finally turned a corner last year. Hopefully he can get to the bigs one day as a reserve.


I think he was joking

Bill W

Thanks for the depth analysis. Unfortunately the last two weeks my sense of humor has been on overdrive with the moves.

Stephen Brooks

Let’s see if the Holiday cheer can backfill your sense of humor, Bill.


Yes, deck the halls with boughs of reallocated dollars.


Jason Rogers?

Bill W

I read some where he was a favorite of Brewer fans. Maybe he will get hot and turn into a Josh Harrison with power.

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