Winter Leagues: Polo Goes Yard In 6-4 Win

From Colombia on Monday, Tito Polo hit a solo home run in his team’s 6-4 win. The homer was his first of the season. Harold Ramirez reached base three times, going 1-for-3 with a single, walk, hit-by-pitch and run scored. He is now hitting .323 with nine extra base hits in 37 games. Polo is hitting .237 in 24 games and he has a .699 OPS.

Tito Polo hit his first homer of the Winter
Tito Polo hit his first homer of the Winter

The league is a good measuring stick for how much each player has improved over last season. There are two games left in their regular season, so it is close enough to the end to compare how each of them did last year for the same team in the same league. We saw a huge jump this year from Gregory Polanco, who went from a seldom-used backup, to winning the Dominican Winter League’s MVP award.

Last year, Harold Ramirez saw regular playing time, but his stats were nowhere near the level they are at this year. In 113 at-bats last year, he hit .221 with a .319 slugging percentage. He has 17 more at-bats this year and besides the 102 point jump in batting average, he also has a .431 slugging percentage and an .861 OPS.

For Polo, he had just 24 at-bats last year in 20 games. This season, he has 68 plate appearances and has also been used numerous times as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement, while seeing most of his playing time in center field.

In Puerto Rico on Tuesday night, Benji Gonzalez went 1-for-4 in his team’s 3-0 loss. He is now 2-for-13 in the playoffs after hitting .317 during the regular season. His team is 2-2 so far in the 12 game round robin tournament.

Mel Rojas Jr. hasn’t played the last two games after going 1-for-9 in the first two games of the playoffs.

Starling Marte will return to action tonight according to his team. His Escogido team is 6-3 so far in the 18 game round robin tournament, this best record among the four teams.

The Pirates signed Robert Andino yesterday. He was on the roster of the Cangrejeros de Santurce team in the Puerto Rico Winter League, but he never played and Santurce was the only team that didn’t make the playoffs, so their season is over.

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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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