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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Winter Leagues: Grand Slam From Sebastian Valle, Willy Garcia Homers

In the Dominican on Saturday night, Willy Garcia went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, dropping his average down to .236 through 26 games. He did have two highlights in the game. He drew his first walk in over three weeks and he picked up his second straight outfield assist in a big spot. Garcia threw out Gustavo Nunez at second base in the sixth inning with his team up 2-0. Garcia had just switched from center to left field that inning. He had a better game on Sunday(see below). Nunez finished the game 1-for-2 with a single. He also committed his fourth error.

Mel Rojas Jr. went 0-for-2 with a walk. He came in as a pinch-hitter in the fourth inning and remained in the game on defense in left field.

In Venezuela, Julio Vivas pitched 1.2 innings and allowed his first run. He gave up one hit and stranded the runner he inherited. The runner Vivas allowed scored two batters after he left the game. He has pitched eight innings and has given up five hits and no walks.

Deolis Guerra has been on a streak of strong outings, but that came to an end on Saturday. He came into the game in the eighth inning with his team up 6-3. Guerra allowed a double and two walks before being pulled. All three runs scored during the next at-bat, which was Junior Sosa pinch-hitting. Sosa hit a bases loaded triple, then scored the go-ahead run one batter later. He stayed in the game on defense in left field.

Jhonathan Ramos faced three batters in the ninth and two reached base. He allowed a single and another batter reached on an error. He also got an out on a fly ball to right field. Neither runner scored and Ramos has an 0.75 ERA through 16 appearances.

Sunday’s Action

In Mexico on Sunday, Sebastian Valle hit an eighth inning grand slam in his team’s 6-0 win. Since signing with the Pirates, he is 10-for-26 with five walks in nine games.

In the Dominican, Nate Baker made his winter debut for Aguilas Cibaenas. He entered with one out in the third inning and gave up a double, then got a ground out to third base, before giving up an RBI single. That ended his day and the runner he left on base was stranded.

Tony Sanchez went 1-for-4 with a double, which was his first extra-base hit of the winter. He is 3-for-21 through seven games. Sanchez was charged with a passed ball, though he threw out the only runner attempting to steal.

Mel Rojas Jr. went 1-for-4 with a single. After hitting doubles in five straight games, Rojas has gone 3-for-20 with three singles, dropping his average down to .236 through 106 at-bats.

Willy Garcia went 1-for-2 with a solo homer and a sacrifice fly in his team’s 4-3 win. Garcia homered in the seventh inning to put his team up for good. The homer was his third of the winter.

Rafael Perez allowed one run on two hits and two walks, with four strikeouts in five innings. He has a 2.66 ERA in 23.2 innings and has allowed two runs over 15 innings as a starter. Carlos Paulino caught Perez and went 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. Both players are still free agents.

In Venezuela, Junior Sosa went 0-for-1 with a walk and sacrifice bunt. Matt Nevarez picked up his first save, retiring the side in order in the ninth, picking up one strikeout.

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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.


Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

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dr dng

I hope Rojas continues to not hit just for the next couple of weeks.
Don’t want teams getting any ideas.

We need to somehow slip him through the Rule 5 draft.

dr dng

John, for all of the reasons listed above, I think we would have been better to protect him and see in September (or maybe earlier) what he can do for the PIRATES and not someone else. John, don’t you think you could name at least 6 players we would not protect instead of Rojas. He just has so many things he can bring to the table as a bench player. Maybe that’s why we signed Gorkeys today because Rojas may be gone?!?!?

R Edwards

John – and take a look at some of the garbage on our current 40 man that we protected, while exposing Rojas. I sure hope the FO knows what they are doing, because on the surface it appears that they do not. On our current 40 man, we have AAAA players like Roe, Elmore, Pimentel, Scahill, Guilmet, Florimon, Decker, and Sellers. Why? What team would pick any of them??
Rojas would make a very nice 4th outfielder in Pittsburgh – a lot of versatility, can run, switch hitter, etc. But no, we think a guy like Decker is worth protecting. Unbelievable.


Rojas would make a very nice 4th outfielder in Pittsburgh – a lot of versatility, can run, switch hitter, etc. But no, we think a guy like Decker is worth protecting. Unbelievable.

Why would you be wringing your hands over losing a guy who projects as a 4th OF? Even if he’s a good 4th OF, it’s not like losing the next Babe Ruth or it’s not like you can’t replace him with some AAAA-guy or MLB retread.

R Edwards

Why, because it seems to defy logic and seems so unnecessary. We invested a fairly high draft pick in Rojas – and we’ve developed him, over a few years, to finally get him to the point of being a potential productive major leaguer. Do we demonstrate that we value that pick and investment? No, we dangle it out on the Rule 5 draft list – while we have 6-8 guys on the 40 man who are other team’s castoffs and seemingly have little or no value. Why? Does that seem to make sense?
Even if we used him as a trade chip as part of a larger trade, Rojas is a lot more trade piece than Jaff Decker or Chaz Roe. Really??
It just seems so absurd. I would love to hear NH explain the rationale. It just seems like the Pirates devalue some of their prospects, just when they are on the verge of getting to Pittsburgh – either by passing them over for some veteran castoff or exposing them to the Rule 5 draft. I just don’t get the point of spending the years and money developing players, and then make these kind of decisions.


The Pirates are demonstrating that they value Rojas and the investment in him according to reality: as much as you might like the guy, the market says that 3rd-round-pick-prospects that project as even good 4th OF’ers aren’t all that valuable. He can be replaced with some other re-tread (next season’s Chris Dickerson version 2.0) or AAAA guy (the 2015 edition of Chase d’Arnuad) without too much trouble.

The reason they spent the time coaching and developing him is because of the chance that he would develop into something better than a 4th OF. They did what they could and Rojas did what he could, but that chance seems to have passed. It happens– it happens quite a lot, if you think about it. The big risk is that something clicks later on with Rojas and he becomes something more than a 4th OF. That also happens from time-to-time.

R Edwards

….and the fact that they then conclude that guys like Elmore, Roe, Decker, etc. are more worthy to be protected than Rojas is what concerns me.


Comes down to you knowing more than the Pirates or the Pirates knowing more than you, I will take the Pirates even though I do not know all of their rationalization for each player. If I were to make a guess, I would have to say in Garcia’s case they are enamored with his power, many of his weaknesses possibly are maturation issues, like most power hitters he will strike out, the Cubs brought up one of their top prospects to play 2nd/SS and he was on course to break the all time MLB strikeout record, he also can’t hit a curve ball, most players in the majors can’t hit a curve ball.


I think Garcia is selected in the Rule 5 and buried on someone’s roster. He’s the perfect defensive RF and has big power. If you have an all LHH or switching starting OF it would be easy to hide him as a 4th OF.

S Brooks

He can’t be selected, he was added to the 40-man roster.

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