Winter Leagues: Diaz and Osuna Help Team to Win in Playoff Opener

In the opening game of the Venezuelan league playoffs, Elias Diaz and Jose Osuna each contributed late to help their team to a 7-5 win. With the scored tied 5-5 going into the ninth, Osuna broke the tie with an RBI ground out, then Diaz drew a bases loaded walk to bring home an insurance run. They each collected hits earlier in the game, including a double by Osuna in the sixth inning and a single by Diaz to lead-off the second inning.

There hasn’t been any mention of Osuna leaving the team, but Diaz will be leaving soon. He is scheduled to be gone January 6th through the 10th. That doesn’t line up with Pirates’ winter mini-camp, which begins on the 11th. That means he will be headed to the Rookie Career Development program held in Washington DC. All 30 teams send players there who are on the verge of breaking into the majors full-time, with the Pirates sending Nick Kingham there last year. The RCD program is usually right around the same time the Pirates hold their mini-camp.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz had a game like he hasn’t had in a long time. He went 3-for-3 with a double, an intentional walk and a run scored. Munoz slumped during the entire second half of the season in Mexico, watching his season OPS drop .301 points during that time. He recently went 12 games in which he had just three hits, and also had just two extra-base hits in the last seven weeks of the season, so Saturday was a pleasant surprise for him. Munoz went 0-for-3 in the first game of the playoffs on Friday.

In the Dominican, Mel Rojas Jr. came off the bench and went 0-for-2 with a run scored in his team’s 16-5 win. He has yet to collect his first playoff hit.

Gustavo Nunez went 2-for-5 with a run scored and two stolen bases before being ejected in the 11th inning for arguing an interference call. He was replaced on defense by Pedro Florimon, who struck out in his only at-bat.

Wilkin Castillo went 1-for-5 with a walk and a run scored, as he continues to catch everyday in the playoffs. He was the third string catcher during the regular season in the Dominican, getting a total of 25 at-bats. So far in five playoff games, he is 7-for-22 at the plate.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz went 1-for-4 and scored his team’s only run in a 2-1 loss in ten innings. This game was the opener of the playoffs in Puerto Rico. Three teams make the playoffs and they play one game a day in a round robin tournament.

In Australia, Sam Kennelly had his second big game of the week on Sunday. He went 2-for-3 with two walks, a double and two runs scored. On Thursday, he hit his first homer of the winter. Kennelly went 0-for-4 with a walk and run scored on Saturday. With 12 games remaining in the season, he has six doubles and a homer this winter, after collection just one extra-base hit in his first three seasons combined.

  • Osuna seems to have progressed fast. In Altoona he was 2.4 years younger than the average age. Would the Pirates try him at AAA once Bell moves up?

  • At what level will Sam Kennelly play this year?

    • I assume one of the short-season teams above the GCL, either Bristol or Morgantown. Since he can handle all four infield positions, they will probably fit him in wherever they have an opening on one of those teams. I normally wouldn’t rule out a jump to WV for someone like him, but there seems to be a very crowded infield already for that level.