Winter Leagues: Jung-Ho Kang Continues to Slump at the Plate

In the Dominican on Sunday night, Jung-Ho Kang went 0-for-4, driving in a run with a sacrifice fly. He struck out twice, giving him 15 strikeouts and a .128 average through 11 games. It will be interesting to see how often he plays if he continues to struggle. Winter leagues are notorious for giving up on foreign-born players quickly if they don’t immediately perform. We have seen players dropped after just 3-4 bad games. The Dominican League has a 50-game regular season, so when a team loses four straight like Kang’s team did tonight, they tend to make changes. He hasn’t been dropped in the order yet, plus he has recent Major League success, so he probably has time to try to get his bat on track.

Edwin Espinal went 0-for-4, ending his season-long on base streak at seven games. He is 9-for-25 (.360) with five walks so far this winter. If you missed it for yesterday, we mentioned why every game is big at this point for Espinal.

Pablo Reyes went 1-for-4 with a single, giving him a .231/.323/.231 slash line through nine games.

Montana DuRapau pitched a scoreless inning of relief, allowing two hits while striking out two batters. In four appearances this winter, he has allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks, with two strikeouts in three innings.

In Venezuela, Elvis Escobar went 1-for-5 with a single and a run scored. He struck out in each of his first three plate appearances.

In Mexico, Yoandy Fernandez made his fourth start. After posting two quality outings in a row, he got roughed up on Sunday. His team still ended up winning the game, but Fernandez allowed seven runs on six hits and two walks, with one strikeout in 2.1 innings. He served up three homers. He now has an 8.66 ERA in 17.2 innings.

Carlos Munoz went 1-for-4 with a single and an RBI on a sacrifice fly. He is hitting .302/.397/.396 in 16 games.

Christian Navarro played his fifth game on Sunday, and for the fourth time, all he did was pinch-run. He struck out as a pinch-hitter in his only other game. Navarro has yet to attempt a steal or score a run, so it’s been a rather uneventful winter so far, though any playing time for someone who hasn’t played their first pro game yet is still impressive.

  • Kang’s got some moving parts and complication in his swing. I’m more worried about him getting back into America than his performance.

  • I put chances are less than 1 percent kang gets a visa… but regardless this isn’t very encouraging

  • Sometime after the World Series ends, teams need to activate players on the all DL lists including those on the 60 day DL. Players on the 60 day Dl don’t count against the 40 man, so some teams will need to make space.

    As Kang is on the restricted list, he, too, doesn’t count against the 40 man DL. Will he, like those on the 60 day DL, need to be activated at some point during the offseason?

    I see no way he makes it back to The US in the current political climate. It would be a shame to have to waste a 40 man spot on him, even if just for a couple of weeks. Is there a way they can release him and still not have to pay him because he can’t enter the country?

    • He can remain on the restricted list and unless something changed in the last CBA, which I doubt, he won’t count against the 40-man roster.

  • What should fans be looking for from the players’ participation in these winter leagues? What does good or bad performance mean or how much weight should be given? It would be helpful to have a tracker — or chart — of the players and their stats. Thx.

    • Good idea, Mike, on the tracker.

    • In the winter preview, I noted the talent level for each league. So expectations for each player would be compared to the talent level of the league they are in. For example, Espinal is in the Dominican, which is a league equal to Triple-A baseball. If he struggled in the league, that’s a bad sign. If he keeps hitting, it’s a good sign. Pablo Reyes doesn’t have Triple-A experience, so if his stats are just average in the Dominican, that’s what you should expect.

      As for stats, I mentioned them for all but one player above and usually give updates every 1-2 articles for each player. I didn’t mention Escobar’s stats because they have been mentioned quite often recently. So basically, these articles are a tracker everyday.

      Here’s the winter preview link:

  • I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that Kang is off to a sluggish start. If he gets dropped from the roster that will put him deeper in the hole.

    • I guess you could expect some rust, but there are things to remember here. One is that he was staying in game shape all year in case he received his visa. Two is that he did get some exhibition games in before the regular season started, so he didn’t just jump into game action. He had an abbreviated Spring Training (21 days) and at least a month’s notice that he was playing there, giving him time to get ready on his own.

      The other would be that this isn’t the same level of competition as the majors. While the Dominican league is the most competitive, it’s still closer to what you see in Triple-A. So this is really a rough start for him.

      • rickmontgomery
        October 30, 2017 11:04 am

        Maybe he can’t play when he’s sober. I know, cheap shot. Sue me. I once was a Kang fan. No longer. I hope he gets his poop together as a man, but I don’t want him back in a Pirate uni.