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.

  • 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.

    • Great information, thanks! I noticed that the temps over there were real high, meant to check the game time temp when I looked at the Sydney boxscore later. Kennelly is definitely a great kid, knows what he has to do to get better and puts in the time. Helps having three older brothers in pro ball

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

    • When I was checking the boxscores to see how many games Kennelly played at shortstop, one of the first things I though was that I hoped you saw he was playing shortstop, Foo. I have a feeling good things are in his future, the kid puts in baseball time like no one else. You have to remember that if he was in the States, this would be his draft year coming up.

      He has spent two seasons in the ABL already, he attended the Fall Instructional League this year, he played this tournament last year too and was named MVP. He also played high school ball this year, played for his local club team and has played International tournaments. Basically, he lives and breathes baseball and all those things I mentioned were after the Pirates thought enough of him to give him a $225k bonus. As soon as the ABL season is over, he will be on his way to Bradenton for Spring Training