First some news, then a recap of action around the five winter leagues currently in action. We mentioned in yesterday’s winter article that Starling Marte left Friday’s game early. It turns out that it was actually injury related, although it had nothing to do with his hit-by-pitch earlier in the game. While stealing third base, Marte had his hand stepped on and he received a spike wound. He’s only scheduled to play winter ball until December 21st, so unless that plan changes, we might not see him again this off-season. Marte’s Dominican team said his status is day-to-day.

In Venezuela, Jose Osuna faced former Pirate Wilfredo Boscan on Saturday night. Osuna didn’t have any luck against Boscan, going 0-for-3 with two fly outs and a grounder to shortstop. He picked up a single and a stolen base after Boscan was removed from the game. That single gave him a 16-game hit streak, which is a new team record for the Bravos de Margarita. On defense, Osuna once again had a slow day at third base, fielding just one grounder, which resulted in a force out at third base. He’s hitting .320/.370/.507 through 21 games.

Elvis Escobar went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He is now hitting .273/.330/.335 through 52 games.

Engelb Vielma moved to the top of the lineup on Saturday. He usually bats ninth in the order. He went 2-for-4 with a single and his second double. Vielma is hitting .253/.322/.329 in 28 games, and he currently has an eight-game hit streak.

Danny Ortiz went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. He’s had a rough first ten games, hitting .067/.176/.100 in 30 at-bats.

In the Dominican, Richard Rodriguez kept his ERA at 0.00 over his last ten outings, but it was not a good game for him. He came into the game in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and a 3-2 lead. He gave up a bases clearing double, then struck out the next batter to end the frame and his night. In those last ten games, he has allowed five hits and one walk, with 12 strikeouts in nine innings.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz singled as a pinch-hitter to raise his average to .275 through 54 games.

In Colombia from Friday night, Francisco Acuna went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. He’s now hitting .224/.359/.306 through 28 games.

In Australia on Sunday, we saw a match-up of two Pirates. Michael Suchy got to bat against Sam Street, which I believe is the first pitcher-batter meeting between two current Pirates this winter. Suchy won the battle with a single up the middle, but Street won the war with 3.1 scoreless innings on two hits, no walks and two strikeouts. He also stranded two inherited runners. It was his winter debut. Suchy finished the game 2-for-4 with two singles, a walk, a run scored and a stolen base. He’s now hitting .254 through 19 games, with four doubles, three homers and ten walks.

Sydney manager Tony Harris, who is a long-time international scout for the Pirates, was ejected in the third inning after a close play at the plate.

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  1. I feel like Suchy is breaking out albeit just a little this winter and the end of last minor league season. It’s good to see his power showing up in games.

    • Still free agents. Ortiz really has had much chance to show off this winter. The league in Puerto Rico canceled the regular season due to the hurricane. He has played just ten games this winter and had a bad stomach bug, so he got a late start and now he’s probably not full strength.

      Munoz should be able to get a job somewhere because he can hit, but his conditioning could keep teams away. He’s having a very nice winter considering his experience and the level of competition in Mexico. Pirates just don’t have a spot for a DH who can play an average first base.

      For future reference, you’ll know when a free agent in winter balls signs somewhere. If he re-signs with the Pirates, then we will have a separate article. Also they will get expanded coverage in the winter articles, not just quick updates each day. If he signs with another team, then we will announce it in a winter article and he won’t be mentioned anymore after that day (like Edwin Espinal this winter).

    • Would be nice for the Pirates if he could hit, because the defense is valuable. He’s sort of like Gift Ngoepe overall, but they are very different hitters. Vielma looks to make contact and he has no power. Ngoepe looks to swing hard and he has power.

      The other difference between the two is that Vielma is 4 1/2 years younger and he’s still filling out. You get him stronger and then pitchers can’t knock the bat out of his hands. If he can get on base enough, then he will have value. We will see how that works. You should have doubts though because his Triple-A stats were very poor.

        • He’s a lot more like Vielma, where he needs to fill out some to help him make harder contact. He has a decent approach, but will need some time

          • In the category of SSDD, is Vielma better than Alen Hanson, who became a FA 12/01. When given a chance with the White Sox he got 160 AB, 9 doubles/1 triple/4 HR and stole 9 bases with a slash of .231/.276/.375/.651. Josh Harrison at age 24 slash was .233/.279/.345/.624. Moroff at age 24 in 120 AB had a slash of .200/.302/.325/.627

            No, I would not wish another year with CH on Hanson.

            • No, there really isn’t a comparison between the two of them. Vielma would be better defensively at shortstop, but he has average speed, while Hanson is a plus runner. Hanson has some pop in his bat and Vielma does not at all. I’d be surprised if Vielma’s final big league totals match the current career totals in the majors for Hanson, but to do it, he needs to get more strength, otherwise MLB pitchers would just knock the bat out of his hands. Right now if you see him in the big leagues, it will be due to his glove and the playing time would be limited to a defensive replacement.

      • Thanks for the follow up John, I know he isn’t known for his bat and he has a long way to go in that department. I was just noticing he was hitting around .200 and then came over and had a 8 game hitting streak go. Just saw that and smiled thinking someone happy to go to a new team and started hitting. Sure would be nice if he did fill out and start hitting more though with his defense.

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