Pirates Winter Leagues: Duane Underwood Jr. and Gustavo Armas Debut

The last few days in winter ball have been light for the Pirates. Tuesday night was a little busier, including the winter debuts of a current big league pitcher, and a Pittsburgh Pirates prospect from the lowest level of the minors. There were also two Pirates vs Pirates match-ups.


Fabricio Macias played on Christmas night and had an 0-for-5 game. His team played a doubleheader on Monday. He went 1-for-2 with a triple and a run scored in the first game. He was 0-for-2 with a walk in the second game. On Tuesday, he went 0-for-3. He has a .253 average, with 14 doubles, three triples and a homer in 59 games.

Denny Roman started on Tuesday night against Macias and his Mazatlan teammates. He came into the night with an 0.66 ERA in 13.2 innings. He allowed one run on three hits, a walk and two strikeouts. That gave him a 1.02 ERA in 17.2 innings. He got Macias to ground out in their lone match-up. 


Gustavo Armas made his winter debut during the final day of his team’s season. He got to play both games of a doubleheader, going 0-for-2 with a walk in the first game, and 0-for-2 with an outfield assist in the second game.

Armas is a 19-year-old outfielder with plenty of tools, but he hasn’t put things together as far as stats. This is a case where you shouldn’t overlook him just because he had a .586 OPS during his second season in the DSL. Maybe he doesn’t make it, but the tools are what matters more than the stats.

Playing two winter games in Venezuela won’t help his development other than building confidence, as they were a reward for his strong performance this winter in the minor league version of winter ball.

Puerto Rico

Josh Palacios went 0-for-3 with a run scored in game one of a doubleheader. He went 1-for-4 with a single and three strikeouts in game two. He’s hitting .255 in 15 games, with three doubles, a triple, a homer and six walks.

Tsung-Che Cheng went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and a walk. He has a .189 average in 15 games, with two doubles, a triple and five walks.

Duane Underwood Jr. made his winter debut. The first batter he faced was Tsung-Che Cheng and he recorded a strikeout. Underwood ended up striking out the side in his lone inning of work.


Andres Alvarez went 1-for-5 with a single. He has a .360 average and a 1.042 OPS in 33 games.

Rodolfo Nolasco went 0-for-3. He has a .212 average and a .696 OPS in 29 games.

Francisco Acuna went 3-for-4 with two runs, a triple, a walk and a stolen base. He’s hitting .240 with a .734 OPS in 31 games.

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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I would be mildly surprised if Underwood is DFA. Eats innings in games lost and can come back the next day to do it again.


The Pirates have to DFA 2 players soon, given they have to make room for two players that will be added to the 40 man, since Underwood is 28 and is out of options, I think he might be one of those 2. I would think they may be able to trade him for a single-A pitcher, similar to Castillo

Wilbur Miller

Well, one was Bryse Wilson. They finally added Garcia.

Makes sense. I kept wondering what they were going to do with Wilson and Zach Thompson when they’re adding FAs who are definitely going to be in the rotation.

Last edited 1 month ago by Wilbur Miller

How long does the season run in Puerto Rico? Will Underwood get a decent amount of time?


Hopefully there will be no more Underwood updates because he is the next DFA.


That is also the argument to keep them rostered and see which if any emerge. If they acquire an outfielder that is clearly better then that will be time to move on from Vilade and/or Swaggerty.

Last edited 1 month ago by BonDrone

Good for Underwood to get some work in before spring training.

Wilbur Miller

Underwood is the quintessential Pirate “success story.” He’s not horrible. He’s going to put up an ERA not too much over 4.00. He’s perfect for a team whose ultimate goal is mediocrity.

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