In the Dominican on Saturday night, Edwin Espinal collected his first home run of the winter (see video below). He homered 15 times for Altoona this year. He also singled, walked and had an RBI ground out. Espinal is making things very interesting for the Pittsburgh Pirates, especially after what we learned on Saturday and reported here. The Pirates signed two of their potential minor league free agents before they could hit free agency next month.

Espinal is clearly the biggest prize of their upcoming free agents, yet he wasn’t one of the first ones signed. There is no reason to sign early on Espinal’s part because he could market himself around if the Pirates won’t give him a 40-man roster spot. While it’s still early in the winter, a decision on whether to add him or not needs to be made soon, so every game is a showcase for Espinal. He’s batting .429 through seven games and has walked five times.

Jung-Ho Kang went 0-for-3 with a walk and a sacrifice fly. He committed his fourth error of the winter. Kang is hitting .143/.200/.229 through 35 at-bats.

Anderson Feliz got his first start of the winter, after being used as a pinch-runner in each of his four appearances. This was also the first time he got to bat. Feliz played third base and went 1-for-3 with a walk. While he isn’t in the same class as Espinal, Feliz reaches minor league free agency next month if he isn’t re-signed.

In Venezuela, Elvis Escobar had a strong game as part of his team’s 14-run attack. He went 3-for-6 and scored two runs. Escobar went three games in a row (one off the bench) without a hit after reaching base safely in each of his first 12 games. He now has a .317 average through 16 games.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 0-for-3 with an error, lowering his season average to .306 through 15 games.

Christian Navarro was used for the third time as a pinch-runner. He struck out as a pinch-hitter in his only other game. He’s an outfielder, but hasn’t played in the field yet.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. He is someone with allot of ifs about him. Not sure he will be lost in the rule 5 draft or be signed by another team.

  2. I can’t really compare the Pirates to other organizations (because I don’t follow the other orgs). But we often seem to be in the situation of needing one more season to really know what we’ve got but we have to make the decision this year.
    I think Espinal is going to prove what he is in 2018. And that could either be a decent but non-descript .275/15 HR guy below average plate discipline or a .290/30 HR guy with decent plate discipline.

    • He and Jose Osuna are bookends. Osuna, thanks to Marte’s stupidity and suspension, got a lot of exposure at the MLB Level and finished with 24 EBH (7 HR) in only 215 AB. Espinal is a year younger than Osuna, and finally got to double figure HR’s at AA (15) working with Kevin Riggs. If it is a tossup, I keep the 1B/OF of Jose Osuna.

      I also look to see Osuna get extended work at 3B. Jordan Luplow, who played 3B for his whole A season with the Pirates, and also played 3B in HS, is another who should get some extended work at 3B.

        • Osuna isn’t lousy at first base, wouldn’t even say he is slightly below average. When he started playing outfield again in 2015, the reason given to us from the front office was that they already knew he was a good first baseman, so they wanted to see how he could handle outfield to help make him more versatile.

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