Winter Leagues: Rodolfo Castro Homers; Oneil Cruz Reaches Base Four Times in a Doubleheader

Friday was a busy day for winter ball and the Pittsburgh Pirates. We start the recap with Australia, where six Pirates were in the starting lineup. Before we get into that, our winter coverage took a huge hit on Friday with Miguel Yajure, Lewin Diaz and Ali Sanchez all getting claimed off of waivers, so they won’t be included in our articles anymore. On the flip side, we added a player too (see link below).

In Australia, Sydney had six Pirates play in their 7-5 loss. Jesus Castillo batted second and played shortstop. He went 0-for-4 with a walk and run scored. He has a .107 average and a .349 OPS in eight games.

Jase Bowen batted third and played center field. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored. He’s hitting .345 with a .781 OPS this winter in nine games.

Ernny Ordonez batted cleanup and played first base. He went 1-for-4 with a run scored. He’s hitting .262 with a .636 OPS in 13 games.

Dylan Shockley batted fifth and caught. He was 1-for-3 with his third double, a walk, RBI and a run scored. He has a .212 average and a .636 OPS in 12 games.

Sammy Siani batted sixth and played right field. He went 0-for-4 with an RBI. He’s hitting .262 with a .700 OPS in 13 games.

Solomon Maguire batted eighth and played left field, giving the team an entire outfield of Pirates prospects. He went 0-for-4, giving him a .200 average and a .431 OPS in nine games.

In the Dominican, Oneil Cruz went 1-for-2 with a double, walk, sacrifice fly, stolen base and two RBIs, in the first game of a doubleheader. It was his first double and second steal. In game two, he went 1-for-3 with a single, RBI, stolen base and a HBP. He has a .261 average and an .835 OPS in seven games.

Miguel Andujar went 1-for-4 with a single. He has a .280 average and a .768 OPS in 12 games.

Rodolfo Castro went 1-for-2 with a home run, a sacrifice bunt and a hit-by-pitch. It was his first homer of the winter (see video below). He has a .197 average and a .622 OPS in 21 games. 

In Puerto Rico, the Pirates signed shortstop Shawn Ross as a minor league free agent. He graduated college this year and played independent ball, combining to hit 42 homers and steal 31 bases between both leagues. However, the winter league in Puerto Rico is a huge step up in competition and it’s showing in his stats so far. He played his 18th game of the season on Friday night, going 0-for-2 with two walks. He has a .113 average and a .450 OPS.

In Mexico, Jared Oliva went 1-for-3 with a single, walk and HBP. He has a .284 average and a .751 OPS in 42 games.

Fabricio Macias went 0-for-3 with an RBI on a sacrifice fly. He is now hitting .256 with a .669 OPS in 41 games.

In Colombia, Andres Alvarez went 2-for-5 with a double, triple, two runs, an RBI and a walk. He has a .356 average and a 1.096 OPS in 15 games.

Rodolfo Nolasco went 0-for-3 with a walk. He has a .260 average and an .890 OPS in 16 games

Francisco Acuna went 1-for-2 with a walk. He’s hitting .204 with .619 OPS in 16 games.

Diego Chiquillo tossed a scoreless inning on one hit, one walk and one strikeout. He has a 2.70 ERA in 6.2 innings, with nine walks and seven strikeouts.

Cristian Charle threw a shutout frame on one hit and one strikeout. He has a 6.75 ERA in 6.2 innings, with 11 strikeouts.

Here’s Castro’s homer (warning: the last 50+ seconds are just a very slow trot around the bases and a celebration, so you don’t need to watch the entire clip).

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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Andres Alvarez is still raking. He’s putting his name in the hat for one of those MI and utility bench jobs.


Maybe we see a SS platoon of Cruz and Castro next year, that has the potential to be a 5-6 WAR position. Just a thought 🤔.


Decent thought, but Castro has been primarily used at 3B and 2B the past few years. I remember when he and Cruz were at A+ in 2019. Cruz was fielding .957 at SS, and Castro was at 2B where he was fielding .973. Earlier that same year, Castro was the SS at A fielding .947 before being promoted to A+, and Bae was the 2B fielding .994 in 44 games.

These three kids know each other and we need to see Cruz at SS, Bae at 2B, and Castro as the Ut IF. Cruz could get a rest when a tough LHP is on the mound, but he needs to keep seeing LHP’s for the long term benefit of the team.


I don’t know the answer but has Cruz ever been able to hit LHP?


The combine defense would be hard to watch. Castro is a good bench piece, and that’s not bad.


Agreed on the macro evaluation of Castro, just brainstorming ways to maximize each players strengths and concurrent value to the team. Limiting Cruz’s ABs against lefties and maximizing Castro’s ABs on the right side creates an opportunistic synergy.


It’s been hard to watch other Pirate MI’s also. We are the Pirates and we are not going to spend on FA’s, therefore we need to play the IFA’s and work hard to get extensions on their basic 6 years. The Pirates have had success in that area in the past.

Cruz and Castro will achieve their first year of MLB Service in 2023; Bae will probably not do so until 2024.


Throwing some shade towards Castro? The trot and celebration are the best parts!


Do you have links to the box scores of these games? A search led to past years or just scores but not any details.


Always good to see players we will be depending upon do well in the Winter Leagues. Cruz is on fire and Castro, although still under the Mendoza in BA, is 14th overall in OBP at .349, and has that RH power bat. I just hope all of our guys leave the Winter Leagues healthy and ready to change things in Pittsburgh.

Question for John: I visited ST last year and was let down because of the restricted entry to Pirate City. I realize it had to do with Covid precautions, and I am wondering if they will return to the type of access of previous years?


Call me old school, his thigh would likely be wearing a bruise next time I saw him.


You’re old school 🙂

But this is also the Dominican–note how many of his teammates come out of the dugout dancing and celebrating, despite this just being a HR in the 2nd inning!


And he was running faster than the runner who was on base. It was a no-doubter right off the bat

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