Winter Leagues: Oneil Cruz and Jerrick Suiter Make Their Winter Debuts

The regular season in the Dominican wrapped up on Thursday night and Oneil Cruz made his winter debut. Cruz was the main piece acquired in the Tony Watson trade. He only has Low-A experience and he just turned 19 in October, so it’s no surprised that he couldn’t break into the lineup of one of the best teams in the Dominican, where the level of play is what you would see in Triple-A. Cruz was added to the roster on Tuesday after Starling Marte was shut down for the winter. He pinch-hit for the DH in the ninth and grounded out in his only at-bat.

The Dominican playoffs start next week and Cruz will at least be eligible to play, though it seems unlikely he gets into any games. Teams that make the playoffs in the Dominican, can draft players from the teams that didn’t make the playoffs, which makes the competition even better and usually eliminates lower level players like Cruz from possible playoff time.

Pablo Reyes started on Thursday night and went 1-for-4 with a run scored. He finished the regular season with a .247/.317/.312 slash line in 29 games. He’s more likely to take part in the playoffs than Cruz due to his experience and position versatility.

Anderson Feliz went 0-for-4 with a run scored. He finished with a .298/.356/.430 slash line in 40 games. His team did not make the playoffs, but he could be drafted by a team that made the four-team round robin tournament.

In Venezuela, Engelb Vielma went 1-for-4 with a run scored. He’s now hitting .239/.314/.304 in 33 games. The season in Venezuela still has a few games left.

Elvis Escobar came off the bench and went 0-for-1 with an RBI and a run scored. He’s hitting .266/.324/.325 in 57 games.

Danny Ortiz signed a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, so his coverage here is done. He was actually cut from his team in Venezuela on Wednesday due to poor performance, but he plans to play in Puerto Rico once they begin play next month.

In Mexico, Jerrick Suiter made his winter debut, playing first base and hitting sixth in the lineup for Mazatlan. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. His team has six more regular season games left and they have a playoff spot clinched already, so he should play at least ten more games and it could be upwards of 25, depending on how far they go this winter.

Carlos Munoz lined out to left field as a pinch-hitter, which ended the game. He now has a .275 average through 58 games, with 13 extra-base hits and a 24:21 BB/SO ratio.

In Colombia from Wednesday night, Francisco Acuna went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. He also picked up a stolen base in his third straight game after not attempting a steal in his first 28 games. Acuna was 19-for-21 in steals during the DSL season. He is now hitting .237/.372/.312 in 31 games this winter.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Michael Sanders

Do you think 2018 will be the break out year for Jerrick Suiter? With his swing he could have 30-35 home run potential.

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