Winter Leagues: Playoffs, Heredia, and Televised Games

We have multiple days in one article as the amount of players in winter ball continues to dwindle. On Wednesday in Venezuela, Jose Osuna went 1-for-5 with his third double of the playoffs. More on him below.

Robert Zarate started against Osuna’s team and went 5.2 innings, allowing four runs on five hits and four walks, with seven strikeouts. Zarate is one of the few lefty bullpen options in the upper levels for the Pirates, so he could have a chance to see Pittsburgh in the same type of role that Bobby LaFromboise saw the last two seasons. The lack of Major League experience will hurt Zarate’s chances, but he did pitch well in AAA in 2015, so he could be a strong depth option with a repeat performance.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts before being pinch-hit for in the eighth inning. He is 3-for-13 in the first five playoff games, with all three hits coming in the second game.

Luis Heredia has been moved to the reserve roster. That could mean a few things. He may be going to the Pirates mini-camp on Monday in Bradenton, as some of the lower minor league players will take part in a strength camp separate from the Major League players. He may be shutdown for the winter, although I haven’t seen that mentioned. Or, he just didn’t make the active roster for the playoffs, but is still there with the team. During the regular season in Mexico, he made 16 appearances, posting a 5.85 ERA in 20 innings, with a .254 BAA and a 14:11 BB/SO ratio.

In the Dominican, Gustavo Nunez and Wilkin Castillo were the only players of note on Wednesday. Nunez went 0-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt, while Castillo went 1-for-3 with a single. The Dominican league was off on Thursday night.

Thursday’s Action

On Thursday in Venezuela, Jose Osuna went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored during his team’s 7-1 win. He is batting .292 during the playoffs and has driven in two runs.

On the opposite side of that 7-1 game was Jorge Rondon, who allowed two runs(one earned) on three hits. He recorded two outs, including one by strikeout. Rondon allowed an RBI single to Jose Osuna.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz went 1-for-4 with a double, walk, RBI and two runs scored. After his team scored a total of three runs over the first three games, they scored 11 runs on Thursday.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 0-for-3 with an intentional walk. He is 0-for-10 in his last four games, getting pinch-hit for twice.

In Australia, Sam Kennelly went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt. On Saturday night at midnight, MLB Network will show live baseball from Australia. Kennelly’s team(Perth Heat) will be playing Canberra, so you can see Kennelly(and live baseball!) in action. Perth will also be televised on January 17th, and then Melbourne, with reliever Sam Street, will be on MLB Network on January 24th.

  • When it comes to the Australian Baseball League, I’ve really taken a liking to it this off season. All the games are streamed live on YouTube, so it’s a nice way to get a live baseball fix. My only complaint is that there aren’t more Pirate prospects down there, though I love baseball in any sense, so I can live with Sam (youngest of the Kennelly brothers that all play for the Heat) and Sam (Street, who took the loss in the only game I saw from him this season, against the team I take a liking to in Adelaide)

  • Zarate’s line looks even worse when you add a WP and HBP to it.
    Wild Thing part 2

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 8, 2016 11:07 am

    If wasn’t given such a huge signing bonus, would Heredia still be in the system based on his total body of work to date? It just seems like they are desperately trying to recoup something from him, that is just not going to come….maybe he needs a fresh start somewhere else?

    • Is he too old for Little League?

    • That’s a good question and I’d probably say he still would be, but could be in danger of being cut this spring if bonus wasn’t a factor. There was no doubt he was a huge prospect in 2012, scouts loved him and had no problem telling me so. In 2013, it was his first year in Low-A and he looked almost as good, had his moments and he was still a teenager the entire season, so he would obviously still be around going into 2014. He regressed even more than year, but he turned 20 in August, so I can’t imagine you give up on him then either. There will still signs of a mid-rotation potential. This season he had the issues with being in shape again and he really never looked good. Even the games where he had good results, it still seemed like he was always one batter away from self-destructing.

      We skip ahead to where he is now and he’s still only 21, which means he will be younger than some draft picks this year. He’s 6’7″ and can throw over 90 mph, which would get him drafted no matter what his stuff looked like. That size/speed doesn’t grow on trees.

      If the bonus wasn’t part of the deal though, I could picture him being cut if weight was an issue this spring and he just looked like he did for most of last year. I can’t imagine he will show up in bad shape though, since getting in shape was part of his off-season program. Playing winter ball for Mazatlan specifically, allowed the Pirates to have a more hands on approach, since they have a non-official working agreement with the team.

      • I don’t see a reason to give up on him until either he continues to fail when he’s a more typical age for the level or the team would have to go out of its way to keep him, whichever comes first. The size, arm, and youth are all still there to dream on, even if he looks bad right now, so as frustrating as he’s been, is there really a reason to cut him? Someone more important he’s taking too many innings from? I can’t imagine there is, and the team has organizational depth either way, so even if that’s the level he’s at, might as well hold onto him as organizational depth with latent upside.

        • They won’t cut him, but that wasn’t the scenario provided. A low bonus player would not have got the chances he did, especially with conditioning.

          If you want to talk reality, it’s simple. He has two years left in the system and they can find innings for him. He will continue to get chances.

          • I guess the point I’m making is that the bonus is not why he’s still around, but the reason for giving him the bonus in the first place (the size, the arm) is.

            • I’m not 100% sure they would keep someone like him around if he came to camp out of shape twice, plus he regressed three years in a row. It’s very possible that they would have made an example out of him. His bonus negated the chance of that happening.

              • I can’t imagine a business worth as much a professional baseball organization would allow a sunk cost to make that decision for them. I don’t ignore sunk costs because I’m poor, but it doesn’t make economic sense to me to let his bonus drive that decision.

                • It happens in baseball, what can I tell you. Definitely not a Pirates’ thing. Look at Zack Von Rosenberg sticking around at least two years too long. He was sitting mid-80’s more than half of his time in the system. If he didn’t get that bonus, he wouldn’t have lasted after 2011. I saw him that year a few times, never saw a pitcher give up so many line drives up the middle. I actually feared for his safety. He was still around this last spring training before being released and that was after sitting low-80’s.

    • It really is amazing that we (and i agree with your sentiment) are thinking fresh start for him…..and he’s 21. Feels like he’d have to be 25 by now.

    • I doubt it based on his current “stuff”