Winter Leagues: Alen Hanson Returns Again, Sebastian Valle Continues to Hit

In the Dominican on Sunday night, Alen Hanson went 2-for-4 with two singles and a strikeout. He didn’t play in the playoff opener. Hanson played second base on Sunday and made a throwing error. He played just seven regular season games, missing significant time with a hand injury, and just recently he missed a week with a stomach virus.

Mel Rojas Jr. went 1-for-2 with a single and he was hit by a pitch. Rojas played left field and picked up an outfield assist. He also had an outfield assist on Saturday. Rojas went 0-for-5 on Saturday night in the first game of the playoffs. Each team has 16 games left in the round robin tournament.

Gustavo Nunez went 2-for-5 with two singles and a strikeout.

In Venezuela, Elias Diaz went 0-for-3 with a walk. He committed his third error on a pickoff throw, but threw out 2-of-3 attempted base stealers. Diaz is hitting .163 through 14 games, with a .577 OPS.

Gorkys Hernandez went 1-for-5 with a run scored. This was his second game back after missing five weeks with a finger injury on his right hand.

Junior Sosa went 1-for-3 with a triple, walk and run scored. The triple is his third of the season.

Jhonathan Ramos picked up his first loss, giving up a run on one hit. He recorded two outs before being removed and the run scored after he left the game.

In Mexico, Sebastian Valle went 3-for-4 with two doubles and he drove in two runs. In 43 games, he has an .875 OPS. While he doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify for the league leaders, his OPS ranks behind just two players that do have enough to qualify.

Felipe Gonzalez retired both batters he faced, lowering his ERA to 2.81 through 25.2 innings over 23 appearances.

In Puerto Rico, Yhonathan Barrios faced three batters, striking out one, getting a ground ball out and he hit a batter. In nine appearances, he has given up ten runs on 15 hits, six walks and 12 strikeouts in nine innings.

In Panama, Edgar Munoz went 0-for-4 with a walk. He was hitting the ball well the first week of the season, but his stats have really dropped off. Through 12 games, he has a .277/.370/.404 slash line.

Ashley Ponce went 3-for-5 with a doubles and an RBI. He has a .650 OPS through ten games.

In Australia on Monday, Sam Kennelly started at third base again and went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. He didn’t have one play in the field the entire game. He is hitting .294 through seven games.

  • Remember that Hanson was one of the youngest players in AA this year.

    He has options for ’15 and ’16. If comes up as a 24 year old in June of ’16 he could be our 2B for 6.5 years… and could be a switch-hitting Josh Harrison.

    I’m not snoozing on him.

  • I was talking about this on another post but I am excited about how good the Indy team looks. The Pirates’ depth could be incredible. They almost have too many players and need to make a deal. Indy has to be the best fielding team in all of the minors. It is better than some mlb teams I’m sure with Florimon, Sellers, Nunez, Rojas, Tabata, Gorkys, Broxton, Valle & Diaz, Romero, Ngoepe….there are some questionable fielders like Allie & Hanson and Sanchez but who knows how much they will play with all the talent their. I feel like Willy Garcia could be held at AA because there is no room for him!

    • Indy is the key to the success of the Pirates, they have to be able to fill holes in Pirates lineup for short periods of time and the last two years they have been able to do it. It does appear that Indy will be loaded again this year. It is a whole lot easier to win with 40 players than it is with 25.

  • Valle’s at bats are getting to the point where it is a decent sample to look at. It’s been a really promising winter for him. I feel like he gives the Pirates the luxury to let Diaz take another full year to develop. I think it’s time to give Tony Sanchez a 1B glove and hope not having to worry about catching lets him become a slightly better hitter.

    • I’m sure this has been covered but where does Valle go this spring? AAA? AA?

      • My first guess was starter at Altoona, just so he plays everyday and Diaz does as well. After Sanchez bombed in the Dominican, there was talk again of him playing first base, so I’m not sure if that would open up enough room for Valle to move up to Indy. I still think you want Diaz and Valle playing everyday at this point, so while he might deserve to be in AAA, it’s probably better to have him in AA at least to start.

        • IMO, Valle is ahead of Diaz on the depth chart, ahead on the depth chart usually means playing above the other guy. They have Sanchez, Diaz and Valle and I doubt that they are giving up on Sanchez and I don’t think he is in their plans for 1st base. All are AAA level players.
          This is truly a logjam and one would have to think a trade might be in the future, but none of them would bring much in return. Huntington was taught a real lesson the year he had to use 7-8 catchers just to get through the season.

          • Diaz is ahead of Valle on the Pirates depth chart and he will be the regular starter at Indy this year. As I said, Valle deserves to be in AAA, but I could definitely see him playing everyday at Altoona to get reps. Huntington said Sanchez will play some first base, which I take as being backup catcher and splitting time between DH/1B. Early in the season, he will be the first option for the majors should the need arise, then depending on how Diaz progresses vs Sanchez, later in the year the better player will be the option. Since the Pirates prefer defense, I’ll assume it will be Diaz, unless Sanchez is the much better hitter.

            There is nothing wrong with Valle playing everyday at Altoona, ready to step in to an opening at Indy. Right now, the catching spot at Altoona is wide open. Jin-De Jhang isn’t ready to move up, Jacob Stallings isn’t a prospect. There isn’t anyone else good enough to play there everyday in the system.

            • If Jhang isn’t going to Altoona, but McGuire is ready for Bradenton….

              …you see where I’m going with this?

              • If you are going in this direction,yes,Valle will be starting in Altoona in April with Cabrera gone.

                • Actually, what I was getting at was that, if Jhang isn’t going to Altoona, then he must be staying at Bradenton. McGuire spent 2014 at WV and seems to have earned a promotion to Bradenton. Seems like a bit of a logjam at A+.

                  By my recollection, the reason Jhang was over-promoted last year was so that he and Reese could be primary catchers and not have to split time. So, unless McGuire is held back, it’s seem like there are two clogs. Valle and Diaz who both should be at AAA and Jhang and McGuire who both should be at A+.

                  …and holding McGuire back doesn’t seem to make sense, after all, at the very least there would just be another glut at A- with Gushue.

                  It seems the Bucs have some good prospects, it’s just that they’re not adequately spaced in terms of progression.

                  • Have you considered that one or the other catchers in the lower minors offensively hasn’t progressed quickly enough to move to AA ?

              • McGuire might not be ready for Bradenton. I could see him returning to WV for half a season because of his age and the fact his hitting was nothing special. Even if he did move up, it doesn’t hurt to have two catchers at the same level. Catchers usually play about 90 games behind the plate in the minors which leaves 50 for the backup, who can also DH. You wouldn’t rush a prospect to AA though, especially at his age. Until they sign more catchers, the logical spots would be Valle/Stallings at AA, Diaz/Sanchez at AAA and you have about six catchers for A+/A…Jhang, Krause, F.Diaz, Emsley-Pai, McGuire, Gushue

      • I think since he has 220 games at AA and 60 at AAA, plus all this winter playing well in the good Dominican league there is no point him going back to AA. Really I feel like he is their 3rd C right now barring a total collapse. I think his experience at higher levels and how he threw out runners last year puts makes him really valuable to them…especially with Martin gone and the two current catchers not being great throwers.

        • There is not one stat in Valle’s career that says he is ready to be any more than an organizational catcher. If you dpn’t want to be believe me, take a walk through Fangraphs and then get back to me.

          • The way guys have started to react to Winter League stats is hilarious.

            • I’ll say NMR ! The last I had seen, Maikel Franko was leading the league in HRs. That should tell a person all they need to know.

          • Well he is 24 and was a top prospect not long ago. Prospects improve and that is what I am hoping is happening here with him. He threw out 48% of base runners last year and 30% career and has shown 15-20HR power throughout his minor league career. Yes, terrible plate discipline which could easily ruin any chance of him being anything long term useful. To be honest he reminds me statistically of Humberto Cota…a 3rd catcher…which is exactly what I said he was…and what the Pirates need until Diaz is ready. But in Leo’s defense, Valle has a ways to go before he is even Cota at the plate. But he is better defensively…I am using Cota as an example here because he was a Pirate most decent fans remember and he was the definition of a third Catcher playing 7 straight season and not amassing 200 games.

            • And as someone who saw Cota play a lot, he wasn’t very good,and that is being kind.

              • Cota’s WAR over 196 games: -0.2. Pretty much a dead scratch player on offense and defense. He was in a way a statue of what Littlefield’s tenure was, an inability to get talent and liking unspectacular untoolsy players…although there are about 50 pitchers that threw strikes at 89 mph that would be a better monument…may Cota is the best guy for it though because he had to bear the displeasure of catching them all. Oh…what we have to talk about 6 weeks before p’s & c’s. This is the doldrums of the offseason!

  • Hanson is a real mystery, his errors are plays that he can make easily and he looks like he could play in the majors right now, you would think he would know that and concentrate more on his defensive lapse’s. His talent says he should be a very good player, but he never will be if he can’t make simple plays. Wonder if the Pirates ever had him in a trade somewhere that fell through?

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