Winter Leagues: Four Players Make Their Winter Debuts

Two days worth of action to cover and four new players have been added to the winter coverage.

On Friday night in the Dominican, Pablo Reyes started at shortstop and went 2-for-5, with a double, run scored and two RBIs. He moved over to third base on Saturday and went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt. He is batting .253/.349/.333 in 21 games. Those numbers don’t sound like he’s hitting well, but the league OPS has been hovering around .600 all season, and he actually ranks 13th among all qualified hitters with his .682 OPS.

Jesus Liranzo had his worst outing of the winter on Saturday. He faced six batters, recording two outs, while allowing two runs on three walks and an infield single. Liranzo now has a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings, with a .156 BAA and a 16:4 SO/BB ratio. One of the outs he recorded was on a sacrifice bunt by Pablo Reyes, which I believe was the first meeting between a pitcher and hitter for the Pirates this winter.

Joel Cesar faced two batters in his winter debut on Saturday, issuing a walk and picking up a strikeout. The hard-throwing right-handed reliever followed Liranzo, who is one of the few pitchers in the system who actually throws harder.

Tyler Eppler made his fifth start on Saturday night and gave up five runs (three earned) over five innings. He allowed six hits, a hit batter, a walk, and struck out four batters. Eppler now has a 3.97 ERA over 22.2 innings this winter.

Alfredo Reyes was used as a pinch-runner on Friday night, then finished the game at shortstop without recording a plate appearance. He started on Saturday and went 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored. Reyes committed his first error of the winter last night. He’s now hitting .240/.310/.240 in 16 games and 29 plate appearances.

The league in Colombia is up and running already. They were slow to get the boxscores up so there wasn’t anything to report from the first few days until now. One team in the league (Toros de Sincelejo) has two infielders for the Pirates playing regularly early on. Francisco Acuna (pictured above) is 3-for-13, with two walks, a run scored and an RBI. Edgar Barrios hasn’t started every game, but he has played in all six games. He is 1-for-10 with three runs scored and an RBI.

Barrios was signed by the Pirates earlier this year and during the recent draft for the Colombian league, he was the second overall selection. He was a Fall Instructional League invite, so he should spend 2019 in either the GCL or Bristol.

You don’t often see young pitchers in winter ball, but the Pirates are allowing 20-year-old right-hander Andres Arrieta to pitch in Colombia after he split the season between the DSL and GCL Pirates. He only pitched 18 innings total during the season, plus attended Fall Instructs, so there is room for him to add some innings. In two appearances this winter, he has thrown three shutout innings. He has given up four hits, with no walks or strikeouts.

Both the league in Australia and the one in Puerto Rico begin play on Thursday, which will add at least four more players to the winter coverage. Rosters will probably be released on Thursday.

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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