In the Dominican, Jung-Ho Kang continues to show rust from the time off this regular season. He went 0-for-3 on Thursday night with three strikeouts. It seems easy to blame the time off for his struggles, but he was keeping in shape during the season in case he got his visa, plus he had 22 days of preseason workouts with his Dominican team, which included some exhibition games. There is also the drop in talent between MLB and the Dominican to consider.

Kang is hitting .127/.205/.206 through 18 games. His OPS is the worst among players with enough plate appearances to qualify for league leaders, sitting 149 points below the second worst player. He also leads the league with 24 strikeouts.

Edwin Espinal had a rare off-day this winter, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. That gave him a .346/.443/.423 slash line through 17 games.

Starling Marte played center field for the second time and went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. He’s now hitting .107/.133/.214 through his first 30 plate appearances.

Pablo Reyes went 1-for-5 with a single, which gives him a .224 average through 49 at-bats.

Anderson Feliz went 1-for-4 with a run scored, giving him a .345 average through 29 at-bats.

In Mexico from late Wednesday night, Carlos Munoz went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. On Thursday night, he went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and an RBI single. He also scored a run. Munoz is hitting .303 through 24 games, with three doubles, a triple, a home run and nine walks.

If you missed it from yesterday, Jose Osuna should be playing in Venezuela in about a week and he has a plan for his playing time at third base. Elias Diaz is about two weeks away from playing.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. is there a rule of thumb for how good the pitching in the Fall League usually is? AA? AAA? something in between?

  2. Ha! Tim went off the deep end with this Charlie Morton / Chad Kuhl stuff on Twitter. Love it

    Come on man, bring that here! We want discussion!

    • Kuhl has a good slider(Morton had/has a very good curve). When Kuhl is able to throw a 4 seamer with a 12% swinging strike rate I’ll start believing he might be able to take the leap Morton did in 2017.

      Not to mention Morton also threw a splitter and a cutter and even if these pitches didn’t have great results I’m guessing they made his 4 seamer and curve play better. Don’t think he really threw a splitter or cutter for Pirates since 2012.

      But anyone who is arguing Morton isn’t a completely different pitcher with the Astros either has an agenda or is misinformed.

      18% K-BB percentage after never doing more than 10% as a Pirate with the pitch to contact fetish this organization has.

      • I thought Verducci’s article was interesting!

        I genuinely would like to see an article done by Tim fleshing out the comparison more, in terms of what Kuhl needs in order to overcome his remaining issues starting.

        Verducci’s article oddly credited curveball ussage – a pitch with known platoon splits – for Morton’s improvement against lefties while leaving out his cutter usage and also seemed to conflate curveball spin rate with curveball *quality*, but I think there’s something there worth looking into.

        Maybe Kuhl converts his hard slider into a cutter and takes some off the curveball and actually does look like the new Morton?

    • Read Tim’s Twitter comments. As far as Locke is concerned, I generally agree that from 2013-15 he was under appreciated as far as what he contributed even if he could be a frustrating pitcher for many fans.

      I strongly disagree that 2017 Charlie Morton is more of a “comeback” as opposed to a breakout. And Tim knows that simply comparing FIPs from 2013-14 is extremely misleading as the scoring environment was completely different. The only year Morton had a Fip better than league average was in 2013 when he was 2% better than league average. This year he was 21% better which was in elite territory. I would go as far as to say posting those 2013-14 FIPs and comparing them to 2017 is essentially intellectually dishonest as a lot of people who aren’t baseball fanatics aren’t going to understand how dramatically different the 2013-14 era is vs 2017 in terms of run scoring. There is no sense comparing the numbers without accounting for run scoring.

      Not the same pitcher, not even close. 18% K-BB ratio. The Astros took him places the Pirates never did and probably never would have.

      • My comment wasn’t a “let’s bash Tim thing”, first of all, but yes. This is the clear and obvious flaw in his argument.

        And Mike Pietrello, who’s judgement we’re supposed to trust enough to be the lead StatCast columnist, reinforced Tim’s take!

        I don’t get it, but it would be fun to hear Tim’s argument in long form.

        • I’d be interested in it because but I highly doubt anyone is going to make a logical and compelling argument that 2017 Charlie Morton isn’t distinctly better(and different) than any other iteration one saw with the Pirates.

            • Not sure if the “you” in the 2nd sentence is directed at me or more of a rhetorical reference to Tim’s assertion that Morton was basically just as good(but different) as a Pirate?

                • I suspect what would lead one to conflate distinctly different eras in baseball to argue Morton was just as good as a Pirate has something to do with giving credit to this organization/FO for what he is now.

                  And they clearly deserve SOME credit. The Pirates turned Morton into a average starting pitcher in MLB for a few years. The Astros took him to a a clearly different level.

        • Missed the part where he characterized that a previous version of Morton was just as good in a different way than the 2017 version is a “FACT”. Sorry, but there is no way to sugarcoat that. It’s lunacy and a ridiculously bad take.

  3. I’m assuming there is almost no chance Kang gets a visa. But IF he did, I still would be excited to get him back after this horrendous performance so far. I think it could just take quite awhile to shake the rust off. Maybe he really is a different player and age has caught up with him but I’m not ready to believe that yet. He was a special talent and I suspect there is still something left.

      • Iagree. I’m just saying I think he might still be able to get ontrack. Even if it would take him timid may. Or who knows, maybe he is done.

        • Gotta be some culture shock at play here as well.

          Excuse my ignorance, but I can’t imagine many familiar faces and languages around his Dominican team.

          • Kang was learning both Spanish and English while with the Pirates. He used it regularly when communicating with the many Spanish speaking players. Remember, he’s trying to overcome a lot in his personal life in addition to being away from competing baseball for so long. The bottom line is we won’t see him in USA or MLB again. Time to move on to our next 3B.

  4. With each whiff, Kang drives another nail in the coffin of his MLB career. What a wasted talent. I feel sorry for the guy even though he has no one to blame but himself.

    • The Fall lg is a bit different situation than these guys struggling. Kang and Marte were both healthy this year and the Dominican league level of play represents them going down in competition. Kramer and Hill both missed a lot of time and Tolman was in High-A until the last week of the season, so he is stepping up in competition.

      There are guys hitting well this winter season, it just seems to be the guys who may all end up not returning. Look at the stats for Espinal, Feliz and Munoz above. They are all hitting well. Unfortunately, those are the three minor league free agents, although the Pirates can still sign all of them if they want them back.

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