Winter Leagues: Week in Review

We have nearly a week’s worth of action here, as the amount of players in winter ball continues to dwindle. Starting with Sunday’s action, where a total of five Pirates in four different countries saw action.

In Venezuela, Jose Osuna went 0-for-4 in his team’s 3-1 loss, which sent them to a one-game play-in game on Monday for the next round of the playoffs

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz went 1-for-4 with a single and three strikeouts.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz struck out as a pinch-hitter in his only at-bat.

In the Dominican, Gustavo Nunez came into the game as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning and went 0-for-2 with a run scored.

Wilkin Castillo went 2-for-3 with two singles.

Monday’s Action

In Venezuela, Elias Diaz returned from the Rookie Career Development Program so he could participate in the all-or-nothing play-in game for Bravos de Margarita. His team lost 1-0, as Diaz went 0-for-3 to give him a .235 average in the playoffs.

Jose Osuna went 1-for-4 with a single, collecting one of his team’s three hits. With his team being eliminated, there is a chance Osuna or Diaz could continue to play in the next round for another team. For that to happen, they would have to agree to play, possibly need the Pirates’ permission to continue to play, and they would have to be drafted by one of the four remaining teams.

In the Dominican, Mel Rojas Jr. got a rare playoff start and went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. That made him 1-for-17 in the playoffs.

Gustavo Nunez went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Tuesday’s Action

On Tuesday in Venezuela, things didn’t go so well for two Pirates’ pitchers on Tigres de Aragua. Robert Zarate started the game and went 3.2 innings, allowing four runs on four hits and two walks, with one strikeout. He was followed by Jorge Rondon, who lasted just 1.1 innings, giving up two runs on two hits, a walk and two wild pitches. He had two strikeouts. Zarate allowed four runs over 5.2 innings in his last start.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz went 1-for-4 with a single and a run scored.

Wednesday’s Action

If you missed it from Wednesday, Jose Osuna received 46 of the 50 first place votes for the Venezuelan league Rookie of the Year.

In the Dominican, Mel Rojas Jr. continued his playoff slump by going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He showed power, speed and defense during the regular season in the Dominican, but he has come up empty(1-for-21) in the postseason.

Gustavo Nunez went 2-for-3 with two singles, giving him a .211 average.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz went 2-for-6 with a walk in his team’s 7-5 win in 16 innings. In the 13th inning with the score 2–2, Ortiz drove in the go-ahead run, then scored an insurance run, but the other team came back with three runs in the bottom of the inning to tie the score again.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz played two innings on defense at first base without an at-bat. He is hitting .176 in the playoffs, going 3-for-3 in the second game and 0-for-14 in the other games.

Thursday’s Action

In Australia on Thursday, Sam Kennelly went 0-for-1 with a walk, an RBI on a sacrifice fly and a sacrifice bunt.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz singled as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, then left for a pinch-runner.

In the Dominican, Gustavo Nunez went 0-for-3. He has been getting more playing time with Pedro Florimon away at Pirates mini-camp.

Friday’s Action

In Australia, Sam Street had a nice outing, throwing two shutout inning, with one walk, no hits and three strikeouts. His winter looks strong when you take out his one poor game. In one appearance last week, he allowed six earned runs over 1.1 innings. In his other seven appearances combined, he has given up two runs over 12.1 innings.

Sam Kennelly went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz went 0-for-3, giving him a .229 average in nine games.

In Venezuela, Wilfredo Boscan went 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and three walks, with three strikeouts. In three playoff starts, he has allowed eight runs over 13.1 innings.

In Dominican, Mel Rojas Jr. went 1-for-3 with a double, RBI and walk. He came into the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth and put his team up by a run in the top of the ninth with his double. Rojas scored a run to give his team a two-run lead, but the score was tied again in the bottom of the inning. His team ended up losing 10-7 in 13 innings.

Gustavo Nunez went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, giving him a .178 average in the playoffs.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz came on as a pinch-hitter in the sixth and hit a two-run single to give his team a 2-1 lead. He was intentionally walked in the eighth inning. Munoz also had a ground out to first base and a sacrifice bunt in the 13-inning contest, which his team won 3-2.


More Australian Baseball League action will be televised this weekend, with Sam Kennelly and the Perth Heat taking on Adelaide. Live coverage starts tonight at midnight on MLB Network.

I mentioned last week that two Pirates players were in Panama. It is now down to one, as RHP Dan Urbina was released this week. He is the son of the Pirates’ DSL pitching coach by the same name. The younger Urbina spent five years in the system, topping out at Bristol. He had a good arm and looked strong at times in the DSL, but a couple injuries slowed him down. He struggled in two seasons with Bristol.

  • Who out there, this Winter, has raised their stock the most in your opinion?

    • Osuna is probably the one who took the biggest jump, by continuing what he did this regular season. Last year, he could barely get any time in Venezuela, but he has become a more selective hitter and ended up as one of the best players in the league. As an MLB comparison just for reference purposes only, it would be like Jaff Decker finishing 5th in the MVP voting this year after what he did the last two years for the Pirates. That’s the type of leap Osuna made in one season in Venezuela, which shows he should be able to handle AAA right now.

      Sam Kennelly started hitting for power in his league, driving the ball better. I talked to him the other day and he really set out to be more productive this winter. Almost embarrassed about his past performances, although that wasn’t warranted embarrassment due to his age. Just the fact he was in the league at 16-18 the last three years is an accomplishment.

      Harold Ramirez didn’t hit well in Mexico, but I saw some pics and video of him this week in Bradenton and he is in great shape, so that’s a stride in the right direction for someone who is already a top ranked prospect.

      Tito Polo also made huge strides in Colombia, easily putting up his best winter stats.

      Munoz was close to being a breakout because he was having a great season early against much better competition than he has faced in pro ball. The the second half happened and he was one of the worst players in the league for a long stretch, plus recent pictures show he is in the same shape as usual

      • This next round of Gayo’s players, it would be nice to get a legit hitter or two out of them. Thank you.

        • I really like the player they got from Curacao this year, Sherten Apostel. He’s still 16 right now, very athletic and a big 6’3″ frame. He has a strong arm and plus power. Also makes great contact at the plate. He is going to be raw due to his age and Curacao not exactly being a hotbed, so I wouldn’t expect huge numbers in 2016, but he could be a real nice signing down the line from the sounds of the reports we got.

          Kevin Sanchez was the top signing and I talked to some players who saw him, said he’s really athletic and can really run. Might be a shortstop, might be center field. Looking forward to see what he can do as well.

          They spent on bats this year, with all four of their top signings, so we will see how that ends up.

  • when do these guy’s gets some time off? the mind and body needs some time off to recharge for the 2016 minor league season.

    • Well it’s different for every league, but these winter leagues don’t have the same grind as the minor league season. For example, in Australia they don’t start until a month later than other leagues and they have 3-4 days per week with no games. There is also a lot less travel.

      Jose Osuna played a total of 67 winter games over 98 days. In 98 days, most minor league teams play about 90 games and travel more.

      If you take someone like Gustavo Nunez, who has played a lot, he probably needs the money. His only real payday was the Pirates keeping him on the DL all season in 2012. Other than that, he has been on non-40 man roster, minor league salaries the whole time. He likely needs to play winter ball so he can keep pursuing his dream of making the majors.

      I’d say Wilkin Castillo and Wilfredo Boscan are in the same boat, just with less time in the majors. Castillo has played ten years of winter ball, so it’s nothing new playing year round.

      The other part is that if they weren’t playing, they would likely be training harder than they are now. Doing more of the non-playing activities players do.

  • Osuna looks like he is taking care of his physique.

    • You’re the second person to mention his weight/shape in the last few days. We have pictures of him from every season dating back to 2011 and he’s in good shape in all of them. I’ve never heard anyone complain about his weight