Two days of action from winter ball in this article. The Dominican league had off on Thursday and Jung-Ho Kang was a healthy scratch on Wednesday, so there isn’t much to report. Kang was replaced in the lineup by Diego Goris, who spent his first four seasons with the Pirates in pro ball, before being traded to the Kansas City Royals in the Yamaico Navarro deal that worked out for neither team.
In the Dominican on Wednesday, Edwin Espinal went 1-for-3 with a walk. He is 5-for-13, with four walks in five games.
In Venezuela on Wednesday, Elvis Escobar went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt. It was the first game this season in which he didn’t reach base. On Thursday, Escobar went 0-for-4, giving him two games in a row without reaching base. He has a .304/.375/.357 slash line through 14 games this winter.
In Mexico on Wednesday, Christian Navarro struck out as a pinch-hitter in his first winter at-bat. He was used as a pinch-runner three days earlier, which was his winter debut. Navarro probably isn’t a familiar name to most. He was signed by the Pirates back in July as an international amateur free agent. He took part in the Fall Instructional League in Bradenton back in September/early October, but he still hasn’t made his pro debut. We mentioned back then that it’s rare that an international free agent sees time in instructs in Bradenton before he plays his first pro game. It’s also rare for someone to make their winter debut before their pro debut.
Last winter, we saw 16-year-old shortstop Francisco Acuna play regularly and do well in the Colombian league before he played his first pro game. While he is older than Acuna, I wouldn’t expect much from Navarro this winter. The league in Colombia doesn’t have the talent you see in Mexico, where you get a lot of veterans of Mexican ball, players in Double-A, Triple-A and even the occasional Major League player. It’s a great experience for Navarro, but anything we see from him as far as game time is just an added bonus.