We have winter league news from the last four days, including an update on a recent minor league signing.

On Monday in Venezuela, Elvis Escobar went 1-for-3 with a double, walk, RBI and run scored in his team’s 11-9 victory. Lara swept their second round playoff series and moved on to the finals. Escobar went 3-for-14 with two walks in the second round. He batted .333 (6-for-18) with four walks in five games during the first round.

Escobar’s team will begin the finals on Saturday night. If they win, then they will go on to the Caribbean Series, where they will play the best teams from Pueto Rico, Cuba the Dominican and Mexico. The Caribbean Series begins on February 2nd and ends on the 8th, wrapping up winter ball for everywhere except Australia, which finishes up a few days later.

On Tuesday, we announced the minor league signing of Connor MacDonald, who is playing winter ball in Australia.¬†Through 29 games, he is hitting .282/.336/.591 with nine homers, though he does have 45 strikeouts in 110 at-bats. On Thursday, we found out that the Pirates signed MacDonald as a pitcher. Between six years of winter ball in Australia and four years of pro ball, he has pitched one inning and that one inning was the ninth inning of a 14-1 loss two weeks ago. He apparently threw hard that day and pitched a shutout inning, but that’s all we can go on right now.

It’s going to be odd for the next two weeks, because I don’t think he’s going to be doing any pitching, but he will still be playing winter ball. So you’ll be getting hitting stats, though they don’t mean anything now. Maybe if he keeps hitting homers the Pirates will change their mind.

On Wednesday in the Dominican, Richard Rodriguez gave up two runs on three hits in his only inning of work. He pitched the eighth inning and the runs he allowed proved to be the difference in the 10-8 game. Rodriguez also allowed two runs in his previous game, which snapped a streak of 18 straight appearances without an earned run.

From Thursday in Australia, Robbie Glendinning went 1-for-4 with his fourth double. He also had three strikeouts, though his team struck out 15 times in the game, so no one was making much contact. Glendinning is hitting .345/.441/.517 through 14 games and he has two errors in 70 chances at shortstop.

Sam Street picked up his first save of the winter, though he had a bit of a rough outing. In two innings, he allowed two runs on three hits and a walk, striking out four batters. In five appearances this winter, Street has allowed four runs over nine innings, with 11 strikeouts and a 1.11 WHIP.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe the Pirates could draft John Van Broshen again. He was hitter that they made into a pitcher with a high number one draft choice that failed terribly. Bet this works out the same way but at least it didn’t cost them anything.

    • John Van Benschoten? I saw him pitch against the Frederick Keys when he played for the Lynchburg Hillcats. Very impressive! Injuries derailed his career as was the case with Bobby Bradley.

  2. I was wondering about him having 45 strikeouts in 110 at bats (that’s worse than Brad Eldred), but I guess I should now be rooting to get as many strikeouts as he can in every so many at bats. Is there any explanation why they think he can be a pitcher?

    • Just that he threw hard in his only inning and threw strikes. You get a young player who can do that with no coaching and it’s intriguing enough to give him a shot. Big frame helps too.

      • This must take dumpster diving to a new low. There has to be a “rest of the story” somewhere in all of this.

        • I’m not sure you can associate dumpster diving to something this low level. You’re talking about a young guy, throws hard, big frame, costs them nothing. Why would you not want to see if you can make something from that? It’s not like he’s competing for a bullpen job with the Pirates this spring, he will be in Extended Spring Training for three months and if he shows progress, he will play for one of the low level teams. If he doesn’t, no harm, no foul.

          I don’t see a need for a “rest of the story” because it’s fairly self-explanatory. Big, young, throws hard, threw strikes with no prior experience, cost nothing. That’s a scout’s dream find because there is no downside.

          • probably not by what the average fan means by “dumpster diving” but this is actually probably a more accurate case of true dumpster diving……costs nothing, probably get nothing, but you never know……. that’s exactly what dumpster diving is truly

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