Winter Leagues: Big Game From Tito Polo, Nate Baker Headed to Dominican

In Colombia on Wednesday night, Tito Polo had a huge hand in his team’s 8-7 victory. In the first inning, he walked and scored a run. In the second, Polo hit an RBI single. In the bottom of the eighth, he drove home two runs with a double. He finished off his big game with an outstanding catch in center field in the ninth inning, which got him a standing ovation from the home crowd. Polo started the winter season off by going 5-for-30, with no walks and 12 strikeouts. Those numbers shouldn’t be too concerning because it is a small sample size and the league is more advanced than what he saw this year in the Gulf Coast League.

On Thursday night in Venezuela, Elias Diaz went 1-for-3 with a double and HBP in his third game. After being hit, he was picked off first base. Diaz is 2-for-11 so far.

Junior Sosa went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. He is hitting .295 through 44 at-bats.

Elvis Escobar played his third game for Cardenales de Lara. He came in as a pinch-runner in the seventh inning. He remained in the game as a DH and singled in the ninth inning. He then stole second base off Elias Diaz.

Matt Nevarez started the seventh inning and walked the first two batters. He then made a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt, loading the bases with no outs. Nevarez was pulled, but got some help from the next reliever, who stranded all three runners.

Deolis Guerra pitched a scoreless inning, retiring the side in order. He has pitched eight times this year and thrown a scoreless inning in each of the last seven outings. Guerra gave up three runs on three hits and a walk in his first game, while recording just one out. Since then, he has allowed just two hits and a walk in seven innings.

Pitcher Nate Baker has joined the Dominican Winter League. He will play for Aguilas Cibeanos. Baker pitched for Altoona this season, where he had a 1.71 ERA and a .233 BAA in 17 relief appearances. He missed nearly three months with a left teres major injury, an upper back muscle that extends to the arm area. The 26-year-old lefty was taken in the fifth round of the 2009 draft and has spent the last three seasons at Altoona.

  • John: Thanks for the update. The Pirates seem to have another outfielder logjam building in the lower levels. Michael De La Cruz was supposed to be the big catch, but he really struggled at the GCL Rookie League. However, this was his first year in the US and he came over as a 17 year old. He will play almost all of 2015 as an 18 year old, and has all the tools to break out. The two others who did very well were Henrry Rosario and Tito Polo. Rosario, 21, is a LH hitter who plays CF and was in his 2nd year at the GCL level, but I think he finished in the Top 15 hitters in that league with a lot of Extra Base Hits. Polo, a RH hitter, was the true star, IMO, because this was his first year in the US and it did not seem to bother him at all. He batted .291 in the GCL and was around .850 for an OPS. He will play almost all of 2015 as a 20 year old. Throw Meadows into that group and the outlook for OF talent is truly excellent.

    • Rosario isn’t really a prospect, too old for the league, no standout tools. Polo has five-tool potential and MDLC was very young for the league and he too is a toolsy player, though he is going to need to fill out a little before power is a legit tool, but you don’t see plate patience like his often. The other outfielder from the GCL to watch for is Alexis Bastardo. He had a shoulder injury this year, so his time was limited, but he has all the tools too.

      • John: I hear you about Rosario, but nobody told him he was not supposed to put up Prospect-like numbers. He was more than a year older than the average player in the GCL, but his overall body of work was very impressive. He will be worth keeping an eye on in 2015.

        First take from the experts is that Billy Beane stepped in it by trading Donaldson, but the prospects he received back from Toronto are all strong, especially the Shortstop who may have another year or two before getting to the majors. The other two guys – a LHSP and a RHSP, may be good enough to add some help in the Rotation in 2015.

        • Rosario is the type that needs to prove it much higher before we even consider ranking him. Besides being too old for the league, he is very small and has no speed, plus I’ve never heard anything special about the defense. An older player like that can usually handle the GCL, but if he was any good, he wouldn’t have been there this season. They also have Edgar Figueroa, who I was told was a poor man’s version of Polo and Bastardo. Figueroa was slightly older than those two, so he went to Bristol to play everyday because he has a better chance at being a prospect. Rosario is definitely behind him as well.

          • I think the way he was used last year is a good indicator of what the Pirates think of him. They needed an outfielder, so they moved him from the DSL to the States and he wasn’t even playing everyday. He went five days between playing in the DSL and GCL, then played 13 of 23 games. You wouldn’t do that with a prospect. This year he only got a chance to play early because MDLC was having issues and Bastardo was injured, otherwise Rosario was going to be a backup.