Winter Leagues: Kennelly Reaches Base Four Times in 4-2 Win

Not a lot going on in winter ball over the weekend, but there might not be anymore news today, so this at least gives you a chance to discuss any topic in the comments. Before I get into the recap, I’ll mention that the MVP voting will be announced today in Venezuela. Jose Osuna won the Rookie of the Year award earlier this week. He isn’t expected to win, but Osuna is expected to receive some support. I’ll update this post after the votes are announced later this morning.ย Update 12:55pm: Osuna finished fourth in the voting, receiving six first place votes, four second place and four third place out of 50 ballots.

On Saturday in the Dominican, Mel Rojas Jr. went 0-for-1 off the bench, leaving him 2-for-25 in the playoffs.

Wilkin Castillo had an RBI single and a run scored in his only at-bat. He’s hitting .310 in the playoffs. Castillo was the starting catcher for the early part of the playoffs, but he’s been backing up Sebastian Valle, who moved over from the league in Mexico. Castillo is still a free agent, while Valle signed with the Yankees about a month ago.

Gustavo Nunez has signed with the Detroit Tigers, ending his run in our winter updates. It looked like he still had a chance to return until the Pirates signed infielder Juan Diaz a couple weeks ago. This will be Nunez’s third stint with the Tigers, meaning his third stint with the Pirates will probably happen sometime in 2017-18.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz went 1-for-4 with a run scored, as his team won 7-1. He is hitting .231 in ten playoff games, after batting .217 in 42 regular season games. It’s been a disappointing winter for Ortiz, who has put up big numbers in the past during the winter in his home country of Puerto Rico.

In Australia on Sunday, Sam Street threw a scoreless inning, but it wasn’t easy. He gave up a hit, a walk and threw a wild pitch. Street has allowed eight runs over 14.2 innings this winter, though six of those runs came during one outing in which he went just 1.1 innings.

Sam Kennelly had a strong game, going 2-for-2 with a single, double, HBP and a walk. Both times he got the swing the bat, he came up with nice line drives. He started his day with the two hits, then the hit-by-pitch came on the first pitch of his next plate appearance, though it was just a slow breaking ball he may have been able to get out of the way of if he tried. The walk came on four pitches, so he didn’t have a chance to swing the bat after his double.

Kennelly is hitting .203/.275/.297 through 35 games, with eight doubles and a home run. While those numbers aren’t impressive, he is still one of the youngest players in the league, they are a big improvement over his previous numbers and his team OPS is only .648 this season. So with some context, they look a little better.

I was able to talk to him earlier this week about the improved play and added power. Kennelly said “Being on the team a few years now, this year I felt like I wanted to do more. Drive in runs and be an important player for the team’s success. More playing and more AB’s are a huge plus, and more opportunities to push the team to where we want to be at the end of the season.” He added “I’m looking to do some damage every pitch thrown to me. Still working in the cages everyday and trying to get better, but definitely feeling more comfortable this year.”


    Interesting convo happening on John Sickels’ site regarding that USA Today article on the diminishing role of scouts…

    Just throwing another plug for that possible scouting article(s) Tim may or may not be working on.

    • Cameras everywhere now. Not saying they can show you everything, but the coverage in college is light years ahead of where it was even 10 years ago. In some of the best FL HS leagues, they have televised games. Again, not saying it’ll show you everything, but it might help weed out certain players and areas.

      Good chance down the road, your prospect guide will be delivered by a drone. Or T-1000. Baseball scouts aren’t the only ones who are feeling the squeeze.

    • Damn NMR, you made me lose about an hour today at work ๐Ÿ™‚
      I just looked at the Pirate’s front office staff, and they have 15 people listed as a scout, ranging from Major League Scout to Pro Scout to Scout. What the hell the difference is I have no idea! Interesting, the scout who brought Holdzkom to the Pirates isn’t listed. So maybe they have other scouts that aren’t listed. So it looks like scouts are alive and living for Pittsburgh anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

      And we still don’t have a Head Groundskeeper!

  • Love the Kennelly updates!

    Rojas? After ’14 it seemed like he was on the way to 4th outfielder or trade bait…now it looks like the window’s 84% closed on him. Thoughts on his ’16? I’m assuming open the year at Indy and hope for things to click?…

    • Rojas did not post a high batting average in the Winter League but his power display of 6 HR’s in only 123 AB’s was impressive. He also finished with a decent OPS and should still be in the mix as the 4th OF.

      • He was also stealing some bases and playing strong defense, but he really finished slow during the season, then his playoffs have been a disaster. I think he might be more likely to be Indy’s fourth outfielder this year than he is to make it to Pittsburgh at any point. Garcia will start everyday, Ortiz has put up better AAA numbers than Rojas and they also have Antoan Richardson, Jake Goebbert and Adam Frazier. The Altoona outfield will probably be Barnes/Meadows/Ramirez, with Osuna seeing some time out there as well, so Rojas and probably Stetson Allie seem like the odd men out.

        • Has Stetson Allie given up pitching altogether? Sometimes maturity makes a difference, especially when your choices are very limited. I do not recall him being injured physically in any way, and it has been 4 years since he was switched to a position player. As I recall he had a plus FB and a plus Slider, but had a hard time finding the plate. He will turn 25 in 2016 and has little if any future in baseball as a position player. Is it time to go back to square one, and try again?

          • I don’t think he ever really enjoyed pitching, but it might be time to give it a try. When you repeat AA at his age and your stats drop, that’s not a good sign. He had the makings of two plus pitches, but didn’t have the control for them to be called plus pitches at the time. Basically he was a raw pitcher with a ton of upside, who took a step back in his second season. The arm is still there though. He unleashed some great shows from the outfield this last season.

            It will be interesting to see what they do with him. I don’t see a spot for him at Altoona, at least not as a starter. That could change if they don’t promote Espinal, or Osuna goes to Indianapolis. I wouldn’t bet on either at this time, but injuries occur, things happen during Spring Training, so who knows.