Winter Leagues: A Look at the Upcoming Coverage

I expect that the winter league coverage will be busy this off-season because the Pittsburgh Pirates have given the green light to many of their hitting prospects to play winter ball. There’s a natural limit to that because foreign leagues have limited roster spaces for foreign players. There might be a lot of prospects who want to play in the Dominican because it’s the highest level of play in winter ball, but players from the Dominican Republic will make up a large portion of those rosters, while non-Dominican players from all 30 teams compete for the limited spots available. Of course, players from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela (for the most part), Colombia, Nicaragua, Panama and Australia will play in their home country, but all of those countries have roster spot limits too. The one thing about the Dominican is that lower level prospects from the Dominican won’t be able to crack the rosters because of the high level of play. You could see players from the DSL/FCL teams in 2021 get playing time in Colombia/Nicaragua/Panama because of the level of play, but it’s rare in the other leagues.

Right now there isn’t much to talk about. The only league going on right now is Mexico, and through Saturday night the only Pirates player seeing action is Randy Romero (pictured), who played in the FCL this year. He’s 22 years old and has two years as a bench player in winter ball. He’s extremely fast and strong on defense, so he has been able to get time in winter ball as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement, with limited at-bats until this season. He has batted lead-off in all four games this year and he has hits in all four games, going 6-for-14 with a double, along with a walk and three RBIs.

This article is mostly to tell you about the upcoming schedule when things kick into full gear and we should have 5-7 winter articles per week, depending on how much content we have each night. I usually go with an article if we have at least four players to mention. I’ll go with fewer players if a big name player does something of note. As an example, I won’t post if Oneil Cruz goes 0-for-4 and two marginal prospects see bench time, but if Cruz homers, then it doesn’t matter what else happens and I’ll have a post, especially if I can find a video to go along with the homer. As a somewhat side note, there will be daily recaps for all 30 Arizona Fall League games as soon as those games are completed.

Here are the league Opening Days:

Venezuela – October 23rd

Dominican – October 27th

Nicaragua – November 4th

Puerto Rico – November 6th

Colombia – November 11th

Panama – December 9th

Australia – mid-December (date not set yet)

Judging by those dates, expect winter league articles to pick up around October 28th, since the league in Venezuela probably won’t have much to talk about right away. If it does, then the date will move up a few days.

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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