Winter Leagues: Espinal Reaches Base Four Times; Feliz Hits First Home Run

In the Dominican on Tuesday night, Edwin Espinal continued to do everything he can to build his case for a 40-man roster spot with the Pittsburgh Pirates. As mentioned here on Sunday, Espinal will become a minor league free agent soon if the Pirates don’t re-sign him to a minor league deal or add him to the 40-man roster. He went out on Tuesday night and picked up three singles and a walk in four trips to the plate. Espinal is hitting .429/.529/.536 through his first nine games.

Jung-Ho Kang went 1-for-4 with an RBI double and a run scored. It was his first double of the winter. Kang is hitting .140/.184/.233 through 12 games and ranks 29th in OPS among the 31 players with enough plate appearances to qualify for the league leaders. He leads the league with 17 strikeouts.

Pablo Reyes went 1-for-3 with his first double of the winter. It was also his first extra-base hit. He has a .212 average through 11 games.

Anderson Feliz homered as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning during his team’s 5-2 loss. It was just his fourth at-bat of the winter through six games played.

Starling Marte will make his winter debut tonight. This will be his first appearance in the Dominican league since January 2014.

In Venezuela, Elvis Escobar went 1-for-4 with a single, giving him a .306/.363/.361 slash line through 18 games.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 1-for-2 with a walk, giving him a .309/.409/.400 slash line through 17 games. Just like Espinal, he will become a free agent later this month if he isn’t re-signed to a minor league deal. His return to the system seems unlikely at this point since his only position is first base. The Pirates shouldn’t have trouble filling that spot at Bradenton next year, but we will continue to follow Munoz this winter until he signs elsewhere. If he re-signs, then we will cover his entire winter.

  • John: First, thanks for the updates, and secondly, is there any reason that we would not find a way to include Espinal on the 40? .797 OPS with 40 EBH (25 doubles/15 HR) at AA and a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage at 1B in 81 games. Does he own a glove that could possibly be used at 3B?

    I glanced at our 40 and it may have changed lately, but names like Benoit, Jaso, Stewart, Barbato, Runzler, Leathersich, Ngoepe, Stallings, Rodriguez, Kang, and LeBlanc jump off the page as WHY are they on the 40 before a young kid who may just be turning the corner as a power hitter? We have too much deadwood on that list and many need to be gone.

    • They don’t have to make decisions, yet. Things will start to happen after the World Series. I Jaso and Stewart are sure to be gone. Lang will be on the restricted list. A number of the other guys may be gone as well or kept for awhile as minor trade chips. Espinal looks good, but, where does he play? I agree that we should keep him, but, he is probably a trade chip.

      • Jaso all but retired. But Stewart? There are scenarios I’ve read in which they trade Cervelli, Diaz becomes the started and Stewart his backup.

        Now, If I were a betting man, I’d bet against this, but it’s been floated.

    • If Espinal is added, that decision doesn’t need to be made until the deadline. It was the same as when they added Ngoepe, Neverauskas, Osuna the last three years. All were potential free agents, but since they never got the call to the majors, they weren’t added until the deadline to set rosters before the Rule 5 draft.

    • Kang not on the 40 man.

      And for you to list some of those pitchers and ask why vs. Espinal, well, you need some lessons in positioning. Unless you expect him to be the third string catcher. Or pitch the sixth out of the bullpen. đŸ˜‰

      Your point is well taken – he probably should get a spot on the roster. But keep in mind, with that .774 OPS last year, Including 0 HRs in Indy, he’s not exactly going to be a hot prospect in the Rule V draft.

      • Espinal will only be Rule 5 eligible if he signs a minor league deal before then. There shouldn’t be any rush for him to sign a minor league deal at this point with the Pirates or any other team. I’m not saying he won’t, but he’s in a position to look for something better.

        • Can they unilaterally add him to the 40 man at this point in time? Or is he a free agent and it’s too late?

          • I’m not sure of the exact date off-hand, but they can add him to the 40-man still. He isn’t a free agent yet, Pirates are the only team that can negotiate with him at this point.

  • I just hope he starts playing better soon. If there’s no or little chance of him receiving a visa then maybe the Pirates can trade him back to a Korean team for a decent prospect. I’d rather see him in a Pirates uniform in the spring but everything I read indicates there’s very little chance of that happening.

  • Just out of curiosity, does it seem like there’s much coverage of Kang in the Korean media? Do they have anyone following him in the Dominican?

    Sign of the times, I suppose, but it feels odd that a guy with so much celebrity can just be plying his trade off on an island somewhere in the year 2017 without really any interaction with the media.