Winter Leagues: Kennelly and Hutchings Square Off In Australia

Neither Gregory Polanco nor Starling Marte played last night, and Marte may not return to play Winter ball this year, but their Escogido team clinched home field advantage for the finals. With two games left in the round robin tournament, any of the other three teams could pull out the second spot. Polanco played Tuesday night and went 0-for-5, though he scored once and drove in a run. He had not played since December 30th.

Mel Rojas had his first playoff hit on Wednesday
Mel Rojas had his first playoff hit on Wednesday

From Puerto Rico on Wednesday night, Benji Gonzalez went 1-for-3 with a walk, RBI and run scored in his team’s 7-2 win. For the second game in a row, he was involved in three double plays on defense. Gonzalez is hitting .229 in ten playoff games and the RBI was his second.

Mel Rojas Jr. finally got his first hit of the playoffs, collecting a pinch-hit double in the ninth inning. Rojas is 1-for-9 in five playoff games and he hasn’t started since game two. His team is 2-8 and has already been eliminated from the finals.

From Panama on Tuesday, Ulises Montilla went 0-for-2, though he drove in one run and drew three walks in his team’s 11-10 loss in extra innings. Montilla is hitting .227 through seven games, with an .855 OPS.

Edgardo Munoz went 1-for-6 in the same game, scoring three runs and stealing three bases. Munoz also drove in a run and had a walk. He is hitting .226 in seven games, with seven runs scored and five RBIs.

In Australia, Sam Kennelly has been competing in the U18 National Youth Championships. The tournament just wrapped up and Kennelly had a .268/.311/.439 in 11 games. He drove in a team high 13 runs and scored ten times. In the Australian Baseball League, Kennelly has been splitting his time between first base and second base. In the U18 tournament, he played nine games at shortstop, one at first base and one as the designated hitter.

Nick Hutchings also played in the tournament and did not do well in his two starts. He pitched a total of 8.2 innings, giving up eight runs on 11 hits and five walks. There was one highlight to his tournament, 16 of those 25 outs he recorded were strikeouts.

The two Pirates farmhands faced each other three times in game one of the tournament. Hutchings picked up a strikeout in the first meeting, then he got Kennelly to fly out to right field. In the third at-bat, Kennelly had an RBI double. Following a double from the batter after Kennelly, Hutchings was taken out of the game.

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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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When Sam Kennelly played against Adelaide earlier in the ABL season, he came across as focussed, committed and excited about being in the Pirates organisation. He played with hustle and smarts beyond his years.

Spoke with Nick Hutchings last night and while he has had limited innings, he has spent time around the Adelaide Bite squad and hopes to have a good run at Rookie Ball in the coming season.

Daniel Arribas is in Adelaide this weekend and didnt see action last night – although he performed first base coach duties. In a quick chat, he recognises that January’s been a tough month for him in the ABL. which he rates as a competition. The pitching velocity might be a bit down on the GCL but playing against older experienced guys has meant he has needed to adopt a different game style. The weather is also a factor with a first pitch (7:00pm) temperature last night of 43C (109F). He expects to start tonight in Sydney’s game versus Adelaide. Nice fellow, well spoken and keen to develop and succeed.


I’m still watching Kennelly…I hope he pans out.

Shawn Inlow

Kid looks like a gamer.

He’s going to have a lot of experience to draw on in the lower levels of the minors. Hope it serves him well.


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