Winter League Recap: Two More Hits For DeJesus

In Winter League action from down in Puerto Rico last night, Ivan DeJesus went 2-for-4, with his 24th RBI. He raised his batting average to .358, giving him a six point lead in the batting race with two games left on the regular season schedule. DeJesus has 49 hits, four more than anyone else in the league and his .910 OPS ranks him third overall. His RBI total ranks him first on his team and fourth in the league. It’s an impressive total from him due to the fact that he bats lead-off. DeJesus has hit .463 in 54 AB’s with runners on base. If he can finish as the league leader in hits, he will be the second middle infielder in the Pirates system to accomplish that feat this Winter. Anderson Hernandez led the Dominican Winter League in hits as well.

In other action from Puerto Rico, Benji Gonzalez went 0-for-2, with a walk and a stolen base. He reached base in the eighth inning via hit by pitch and ended up scoring his team’s only run in a 2-1 loss.

In Venezuela, Nate Baker threw a scoreless inning of relief. He came in during the bottom of the sixth inning with his team down 9-3 and retired the side in order on two groundouts and a strike out. Baker’s team ended up staging a comeback, winning 10-9 by scoring runs in each of the last three innings.

Darren Ford went 1-for-5 yesterday. He has gone 3-for-14 at the plate since returning to Winter ball, collecting a single in all three games.

In the Dominican League playoffs, Alex Valdez went 2-for-4, with a two-run home run and two runs scored. The home run came in the seventh inning off former Pirates pitcher Nelson Figueroa. Felix Pie went 0-for-5, with a strikeout, leaving him 1-for-9 in the first two games of the playoffs.

In Australian League action from today, Stefan Welch went 0-for-4, with a strikeout, in Adelaide’s 2-1 loss. He was the only Pirates player to take the field in the ABL today. Quincy Latimore is scheduled to join the team tomorrow. Since playing in the All-Star game earlier this month, Welch has gone 4-for-26 at the plate, dropping his average down to it’s current .207 mark.

  • Why do we continue to keep AAA infielders on the 40-man for years and years? It would seem better, I think, to bail on those guys after a couple of years to keep the younger guys. After all, is anybody going to shed a tear if they outright d’Arnaud and he goes on to hit .260 and steal a pile of bases in 400 AB for the Twins or someone? And the same for Mercer (minus the SB)? I’d be very concerned if they’re both on the 40-man by the end of the season unless they’ve produced at the ML level.

    • Not exactly sure who you mean by that? Technically guys like d’Arnaud and Mercer are the younger guys. Anyone else younger than them in the minors isn’t going anywhere because they haven’t reached minor league free agency, and some don’t need to be on the 40 man roster yet due to limited years in the minors. The only young infielder they have lost anytime recently was Elevys Gonzalez in the minor league portion of the Rule V draft and he was well down the depth chart and far from the majors.
      Actual infield prospects like Alen Hanson and Gift Ngoepe don’t need to be on the 40 man roster, they are protected in the Pirates system.
      No one of note has been lost by keeping Mercer and d’Arnaud on the 40 man and if someone better came around, it is a very easy process to remove them to make room. In a perfect world, whenever you acquire someone to help, you drop the 40th best player to make room for them.
      Doesn’t always happen due to depth at that position, but after the way d’Arnaud played last year and the players now in the system at the same positions, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was off the 40 man before Opening Day.
      I also wouldn’t be surprised if he bounced back this year and competed for that 25th roster spot. He had some injury issues early on in 2012 and really struggled through them

  • Thanks that is great info and shows me we have some options for utility guys at least in future as I expect that to be Harrison and mercer this year

    • I think Mercer/Harrison will be the backup infielders this year as well. Mercer primarily at shortstop, while Harrison will take 3B/2B, occasionally play SS/corner OF and PH a lot. I expect better numbers at the plate from him too.
      The Bucs also have d’Arnaud too, though he is probably behind DeJesus in their mind right now. Chase is still on the 40-man roster for now, so that gives him a slight edge over DeJesus, but if they think the new guy is better, those two could change roster spots…or d’Arnaud could be the one in trouble when Liriano is officially signed and needs a spot. They have a good fallback option just in case he is lost on waivers.
      Another name at Indy to watch is Alex Valdez mentioned above. He has some power and he can play all four infield positions

      • I’m in the minority that thinks that DeJesus has an outside shot at making the team out of ST.

        Seems like he can play all three positions, which might buy the Bucs a little roster flexibility. I honestly don’t think they got him from the Sox for AAA depth – they have enough Quad-A middle infielders already.

        Remember, GM’s gonna lean towards making the Hanny trade look good, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see IDeJ sneak in there with a good ST.

      • And remember that the other guys have either 2 options (D’Arnaud, Mercer) or 3 (Harrison) remaining. Time for those boys to step up or be sent down.

        • The only reason right now I don’t think he has the inside track is because the others are on the 40 man roster, while he isn’t. Also, Mercer is the best defensive shortstop and I could see that being a selling point with Hurdle.
          It may come down to who they think has a brighter future. I would expect Alvarez/Walker/Barmes to be in the lineup all the time, so if they think Mercer is the best player of the reserve group, then he may go to AAA to play shortstop everyday.
          For now, I’m sticking with the frontrunners being Mercer due to SS defense and Harrison due to experience/versatility.

  • Do either of these seasons, DeJesus or Hernandez change their prospect status at all, or is the competition not good enough to really change that?

    • The Dominican League is better than the competition in Puerto Rico, but Hernandez is already 30 years old, so he wouldn’t be a prospect anymore. It is good to see him hit well though, with his major league experience, he is good depth to have just in case. He also provides solid defense and veteran experience behind young AAA pitchers.
      For DeJesus, it is just a good sign that he is hitting the ball well and will come to Spring Training with a strong Winter League behind him. The competition in PR is equal to AA/AAA, while the DR is more like AAAA overall

      • i dont agree with you, the caribbean series who the champs play each other, dr, pr, mexico and venezuela all beat each other in competition, and in the 2 baseball classics puerto rico have finished better than dominican republic. also this year players like yadier molina, mike aviles, yasiel puig, jonathan sanchez, jc romero, is a AA league???? are u kidding. dont underrate ivan de jesus numbers, this kid is a 2nd round pick, and if it wasnt for his brutal injury he should have been a regular mlb player. imo he is better than mercer and i would like to have him and harrison as utilities. the kid is hitting .363 dont undervalue him

        • Apparently I can’t win with these rankings, you think I’m being harsh although you did misquote my ranking(AA All-Star and AA/AAA are both higher than just saying AA). Down below someone thinks I’m being too generous, so with that in mind, I like where I’m at.
          Based on every player in the PR, I see a ton of non-major league names with a handful of major league players as you have named. For example with the Pirates, Benji Gonzalez plays everyday, he is a mediocre high-A player. Mix that with DeJesus being one of the better players in the league and that is where I got my ranking.
          I didn’t just throw those rankings out there, I checked every roster in all three leagues before answering, although the Dominican ranking was done for someone who had previously asked about Kris Johnson.
          There are definitely better players playing in the DR, no question. Venezuela and PR are about the same, though I saw more major league quality in the Venezuelan League so I rank it a little higher.
          Wasn’t meant as any disrespect, just an honest ranking based on the current level of players there.

          • i respect your opinion im just defending the great season de jesus is having, but the example of benji gonzalez is also wrong, benji is a bench player for the leones de ponce, the last place team, he has been playing lately beacuse their regular ss leaved the team and was an import and as they already are eliminated they are using bench and non regular players, but benji is not a regular in the league and he will never be a mlb player. but de jesus is playing for a playoff contender team, bats first in the lineup and its the league leader in avg. secong in doubles, top 5 in sb and a great glove. this guy is a pro level player, and was a second round pick of the dodgers, he hits .298 asa triple aaa player for his carrer. i dont like mercer over him in the majors, he has no bat is not the fastest player, he is a good fielder and even you think puertorrican baseball is AA de jesus is a better player than mercer. jody had the chance to overtake barmes when he was hitting .200 and he failed and i dont see him hitting mlb pitching. de jesus can earn a utility role with the pirates.

    • Keep in mind that Jose Castillo once dominated winter ball getting everyone excited only to immediately return to being terrible. These stats are as meaningless as spring training.

      • Small sample sizes are always tough to judge players on, even if it is Winter ball, Spring Training, September call-ups or a good month of April/May/June/July or August. I wouldn’t relegate it to one particular time frame, no matter when it happens. A small sample size will always be a small sample size.
        Everything I said remains true keeping that in mind. It’s always a good sign to see someone lead a league in hitting and Hernandez is good minor league depth because of strong major league experience, versatility and defense.

        • John – where would you rank Venezuela in terms of league strength (versus PR and DR)? Yurendell DeCaster was MVP of the Venezuelan league IIRC five or six years ago.

          • The Dominican is easily the best of the three. The other day, Kris Johnson faced a lineup with 5 major leaguers, two former ML players and a top prospect. It would be equal to a AAA All-Star game in terms of level of play.
            The Venezuelan League looks weaker than normal, just now looking over the players that have played the most. I would say that league is slightly better than the league in Puerto Rico, but not much, and above I guessed that league is equal to a AA All-Star game level of play. Very few established major league players in either league

        • Come on John, this isn’t close to even Spring Training level competition. They are facing guys that haven’t even played stateside in some cases. In others its wash outs and has beens. The starting pitching is terrible in winter ball. This is as meaningless as can be, its not small sample size against MLB competition like your examples.

          I appreciate your effort, but there is nothing useful here.

          • Your top 10 hitters in the DWL

            Hector Luna Phillies 32 3B
            Mauro Gomez Red Sox 27 1B
            Nelson Perez Cubs 24 OF
            Jordany Valdespin Mets 24 2B
            Ricardo Nanita Blue Jays 31 OF
            Donell Linares MEX 28 3B
            Oscar Taveras Cardinals 20 OF
            Miguel Tejada Orioles 38 SS
            Todd Linden Giants 32 OF
            Moises Sierra Blue Jays 23 OF

            Top 10 SP
            Kyler Newby Orioles 27
            Samuel Deduno Twins 28
            Jose De Paula Padres 22
            Fabio Castro Athletics 27
            Danny Salazar Indians 22
            Esmil Rogers Indians 26
            Josh Outman Rockies 27
            Aneury Rodriguez Astros 24
            Randall Delgado Braves 22
            Stolmy Pimentel Red Sox 22

            Not even close to MLB ST talent, let alone regular season MLB. Its not even AAA quality.

            • The problem with quoting a top ten is most of the better players aren’t there all year, so they won’t qualify for batting titles, Marte being the perfect example.
              As far as the competition level and it being meaningless, I strongly disagree. These games being played are their major league games in these countries. The games are events each and every night. They are nothing like the crowds at minor league games at any level.
              Comparing it to Spring Training games isn’t a good comp, most ST games go to minor leaguers after 4-5 innings, while the atmosphere is laid back. Night and day difference. Guys who don’t go to the Winter Leagues to play hard, get sent home. In the Dominican, they even have minor league games going on.

  • Other notes on DeJesus. He is hitting .410 off LHP with seven XBH in 39 AB’s.
    He has a .936 OPS at home, .888 on the road, which is fairly even based on the small sample size at each spot(17 home/18 away)
    His 11 doubles are one behind the league leader