Winter Leagues: News, Notes and Recaps From the Last Week

A recap of the past week for Pittsburgh Pirates in winter ball, plus some news and notes at the bottom.


In the Dominican, Mel Rojas Jr. went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz went 0-for-3 with a walk.


In Australia, Sam Kennelly went 0-for-4, ending his team’s season with a line out to right field. Kennelly hit .189/.255/.280 in 39 games, with nine doubles and a homer. He is going to play with his local junior club team before going to Spring Training in March.

In the Dominican, Mel Rojas Jr. went 0-for-1 with two walks and an RBI. He ended up hitting just .133 in the playoffs.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 1-for-1 with a single and two walks, leaving for a pinch-runner in the eighth inning of his team’s 2-0 victory.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz went 0-for-2 with a walk, as his team won 1-0.

In Venezuela, Jorge Rondon retired the only batter he faced, stranding an inherited runner in the ninth inning. His team won 5-4 in 12 innings.

There were no Pirates in action on Monday, though Carlos Munoz’s team did win their league title, so that means they will be going on to the Caribbean Series next month.


Danny Ortiz was the only Pirate to see action on Tuesday. He went 0-for-4 with a walk in his team’s 4-3 loss in 13 innings. Ortiz picked up his third stolen base of the playoffs and he also had an outfield assist.

Ortiz went 0-for-4 on Wednesday to drop his average to .175 in the playoffs. He was again the only player to see action.

There was no action on Thursday.

Ortiz went 0-for-3 and his team got eliminated, so he’s done for the winter and it was a tough season. He hit 17 homers during the regular season in AAA, then hit zero in the winter. Ortiz hit .167 in the playoffs and had a .591 OPS in 42 regular season games.

News and Notes

**The Caribbean Series is set and Carlos Munoz(Mexico), ┬áJorge Rondon and Robert Zarate(Venezuela), and Wilkin Castillo(Dominican) are the only players from the Pirates going to the series. That doesn’t mean someone else won’t show up, because it has happened before. Luis Heredia is still on the reserve roster, but he hasn’t pitched in almost a month, so we probably won’t see him.

**Jose Osuna gave an interview to his local paper earlier this week and said that the Pirates would like him to play outfield full-time and he was looking forward to concentrating on one position. It will be interesting to see where he ends up next year if they do in fact leave him in the outfield full-time. Altoona looks like they will have Barrett Barnes, Austin Meadows and Harold Ramirez in the outfield. They obviously won’t play 140 games each, but you would expect them all to play full-time if they are healthy. That could mean we could see either Barnes or Osuna go to Indianapolis to start the season. That outfield looks full too, but only Willy Garcia would be considered a prospect.

**We heard from Jon Morosi that Gift Ngoepe would be on the roster for South Africa in the World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament, but the rosters were released this week and there were no Pirates on any of the four teams.

**Speaking of Ngoepe, I was able to talk to Gift’s brother Victor briefly about signing with the Pirates. The Pirates were scouting him for about two months before he was signed by international scout Tom Gillespie. Victor said that he’s been playing baseball since he was four and his brother is his baseball role model. He noted that Gift helped mold him as a player. He’s also a pretty good soccer player, but it sounds like that sport been put in the past by the way he talked about it, even as just a recreational activity. Victor will be reporting to Pirate City in the next month with the minor league players. He said he has never been to the States, so he’s never seen his brother play live outside of South Africa. He sounds like a great kid, which is the feeling I got when I talked to his fellow South African Vince Deyzel, who the Pirates signed about a year ago(see link above for details).

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 30, 2016 2:36 pm

    Given his age and missed time due to injury, it would seem Barnes would be the guy pushed up to Indy – if indeed Osuna is going to play the OF full-time.

  • What would be interesting would be where the Pirates would have prospects in the 2nd hundred?

    • I assume this is for the top 100 rankings from yesterday? I’d say that Alen Hanson and Ke’Bryan Hayes probably just missed because their overall grade was the same as the last guy on the list. Elias Diaz and Harold Ramirez would probably be after them somewhere in the top 150. They liked Nick Kingham last year, so he’s still probably in the top 200. After that, it’s just what they see in certain players. For example, if they think Kevin Newman is a future shortstop who will get on base, he’s probably top 200.

  • There’s a baseball player named Vince Deyzel? Is he Fast and Furious?

  • Interesting that Osuna is going to be a fulltime OF’er now. I wonder what their plans are for him? In your book, you say he could be a solid bench piece.

    John….you may have posted this before, but what is his OF defense like?

    • He has a very strong arm. He’s not the fastest guy, so range is limited, but he has got better at reading the ball off the bat, so he could be a solid average fielder. We had some defensive highlights here from him during the winter. A couple diving catches coming in on balls and a game-ending catch in which he robbed a home run. Of course they didn’t show any lowlights during the season, but I heard from someone who saw him a few times that he looked good out there. He’s obviously limited to a corner spot

      • With the amount of OF vs. 1B we have in the system I’m really surprised to hear this. How is his defense at 1B?

        • He is a solid defensive 1B. Not flashy, but gets everything hit his way. His plus arm is obviously lost there. I’m guessing they have a lot of faith in Josh Bell.

          I think Edwin Espinal can be a sleeper prospect. Terrific raw power, doesn’t strikeout much, and at his size, he is stuck at first base. He turned 22 years old this week and has been young for each level, moving up a level every season. If Espinal goes to Altoona, I think you want him starting everyday. because his bat has a chance to be special.