Winter Leagues: Mel Rojas Jr. Gets Drafted For Playoffs, Treanor Picks Up Award

The Dominican League wrapped up play on Sunday, so action in winter ball was very light on Monday, but there was some news related to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dean Treanor was named the Manager of the Year for guiding Estrellas de Oriente to a 32-18 record and first place in the league. It is his third time winning the award. Treanor has managed the Pirates AAA club in Indianapolis the last four years.

On the field on Monday in Venezuela, Deolis Guerra threw a scoreless inning of relief, striking out one and giving up one hit. In his last eight appearances, he has thrown a total of 7.2 scoreless innings.

In Colombia, where they are slow to update stats, Tito Polo hit his second triple of the season on Monday.

In Panama, Edgar Munoz went 1-for-4 with a walk, RBI and run scored.

Tuesday’s Action

We mentioned on Monday that the Dominican league playoffs are set, but the rosters could have some changes before the round robin tournament starts on Saturday. On Tuesday night, the four teams in the playoffs, held a draft in which they could select eligible players from the two teams that didn’t make the playoffs. Mel Rojas Jr. was selected by Gigantes del Cibao, so he will get a chance to continue his off-season. Rojas hit .254/.342/.346 in 41 games during the regular season.

In Puerto Rico, Yhonathan Barrios pitched a scoreless inning, allowing two walks and picking up one strikeout. In eight appearances, he has throwing 8.1 innings, allowing ten earned runs on 15 hits and six walks, with 11 strikeouts.

In Colombia, Tito Polo scored a run during his team’s three-run output in the second inning. Without boxscores or stat updates, it’s hard to tell exactly how well he is doing, just we know he is part of the offense and seeing regular time. As of December 7th, he was 11-for-50 on the season, but he has played a handful of times since then. What you can gather is that he is seeing more playing time than he did last year and that is what you like to see from a younger player in these winter leagues. He spent the season in the GCL this year, so the talent he is facing is a few steps up in winter. The fact he is seeing regular playing time is a good sign, even if the numbers aren’t standing out.

In Panama, 17-year-old Brian Sousa made his third appearance and threw 3.2 innings. He gave up two runs on three hits, two walks and one strikeout. Sousa has thrown six innings total, allowing three runs on five hits, two walks and he has three strikeouts. He signed with the Pirates on July 2nd for $160,000, the second highest total they paid for an international pitcher this year.

Edgar Munoz went 1-for-4 with a triple, run scored and an RBI. He is hitting .353/.450/529 through nine games, with eight runs scored, four doubles and a triple.

The schedule is very light now. The Dominican league is off until Saturday. Venezuela has one game scheduled for Friday, then back to a regular schedule on Saturday. In Puerto Rico, they start back up on Friday. Mexico has off Wednesday, but actually has a full schedule on Christmas. Colombia has off Wednesday and Thursday, as does the league in Panama. Australia normally plays their schedule Friday through Monday(or Thur-Sun), so they are on their normal Friday schedule.

  • Not making any projections for him, but I compared him to Moises Alou. About a year behind in development, but similar numbers. I have a feeling he’s just in a bad spot though. He’s blocked by Polanco and Snider. I see him, most likely, trading uniforms in a deadline trade.

  • Rojas’ OBP 100 points higher than his average in a good league. Gotta love that. The SLG doesn’t bother me much at this point.

    • freddy…

      I get the feeling that Rojas is one of those slow boil guys who kind of quietly creeps up on you. Seems competent in all phases but not blow you away caliber in any of them. My hunch is that if his work ethic is solid he’ll pass a few guys up on the way to getting his foot in the door one day…

      JHay once got his foot in the door, you know, and he worked it. Can happen. I see in the current guide, Junior is plopped at 25 with a good shot at being an impact bench player. He’s listed in the All-Tools team only on the All-Defense team as an outfielder.

      His career numbers to me show some sign of promise if you look. His OBP is up around .360-.370 and his average is around .270. He looks like he gets doubles and triples and a homer here and there sufficient to say he’s got a tiny bit of bop in the bat but not, you know, “power.”

      But. Like the guys at P2 are saying, there sure are a lot of good players ahead of him right now.


      • lets not for get his bloodline, not to shabby.

      • Agreed. What impresses me is that his patience and contact rates keep improving. I feel like he and Tabata are pretty close as players already with Rojas having some upside and maybe better on base ability…at least the upside to get on base more. Their power is really similar. It is fortunate that no one took him because at worse he will be a trade piece. Rojas, Tabata, Lambo, Broxton, Decker, Gorkys, Willy Garcia at AAA is a nice luxury. The Pirates look to have a team at Indy that could win 50 or so games in the majors with that staff, a packed OF of fringe to average mlb players, Florimon, Nunez, and Sellers at MI, 2 solid catchers…throw in Hanson, Ngoepe, Gamache and I feel like they might have to make a deal because they have too many players at Indy. Allie and Romero at the corners too…and Tony Sanchez. That is a ton of good young ballplayers and I haven’t even talked about how good the staff could be.

  • I think Tabata will be a Pirate until next year when the fo can ditch him and eat most of his salary and hopefully at least get some mediocre low prospect for him or he could maybe end up as a throw in at the deadline this year with the Pirates picking up 3-5 mil of what he is owed. Tabata has always been at least average so he is not a bad guy to have at AAA in limbo…they can keep passing him through waivers and if someone grabs him it is a bonus…and you hope if he gets the call when he is hot and hits about .290 with a .700+ OPS. He is excellent AAA depth.

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  • My Pirates Prospects book just arrived in the mail!!!!
    To Tim W, I wrote:

    It came upon a Christmas Eve….
    That glorious boooooook of yours.
    The writeups therrrrrrre I soon will read.
    Because Bucs Blood I bleed.

    Sorry….too much eggnog I guess. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • MERRY CHRISTMAS AND MAY GOD BLESS ALL OF US ! If you are not of a christian nature may your holidays be just as blessed. Now on to the baseball version of christmas, the opening of spring training!

  • Maybe Rojas will be our 5th OFer this year?

    • If he doesn’t get traded, then we will probably see him sometime during the 2015 season, but right now they bench seems pretty set and there are other options on the 40-man roster, so I’d rule out(right now) that he is there Opening Day.

    • The fact that Jose Tabata is still in the organization leads me to believe they see him as valuable depth as that 5th outfielder, so to speak.

      The market has spoken, and it doesn’t want that contract. It is what it is. But let’s not pretend that Tabata is so toxic that it wouldn’t be possible for the Pirates to package him in a deal for another bad contract, or eat half of what he has remaining and send him on his way. A serviceable corner outfielder who is a career league-average hitter over 1700 PA is worth $2m or so as a reserve in 2015 Major League Baseball.

      • William Wallace
        December 24, 2014 10:34 am

        NMR- What exactly is the story with Tabata. I never could clarify his rumors of toxicity. If it is the contract PBC has eaten them in the past. I truly believe Tabata could be a 4 outfielder for a lot of clubs. I am baffled.

        • I think it’s fair to say that, generally speaking, he doesn’t have the greatest make-up. He’s not a Josh Harrison, so to speak. He’s not a guy that’s going to be viewed as having extra value due to “intangibles”, and that’s probably fair.

          However, there’s never been any actual truth to rumors of the team not wanting him around certain players, or that his demotion last year over Travis Snider was based on anything other than talent. The Pirates thought Snider was better, and were pretty much proven correct.

          I do agree with you, thought, that many teams could consider him an upgrade in that 4th outfielder role. Think back to how he filled in for an injured Starling Marte down the stretch in 2013. You’re not going to be able to expect that from a Rojas Jr. or other generic marginal prospect.

          • I think it’s obvious that Tabata has zero trade value, any team in baseball could have picked him up for $4,000 during the AA portion of the Rule 5 draft and stashed him in the minors, which would have been a better option than picking him up off waivers and giving him a 40-man roster spot(plus there is a waiver fee involved). It doesn’t cost the Pirates anymore to leave him in AAA and hope he gets trade value of some sort, or he serves as depth.

            So that means to get rid of him, they would have to eat a bad contract, but how many bad contracts are available for less than 8.5 M over two years and are actually considered bad. Chances are, you would just be taking on someone else’s Tabata. You have to find a player like that who you would want, then hope the team is willing to take back Tabata.

            It could be better for them to just hold on to him as depth and hope as his owed money gets lower, some team will want him over the next two years. Maybe they can deal him at the trade deadline for minor league roster filler and put out a small amount of cash. Right now though, his trade value is negative, so it can’t get any lower. They would probably have to cover upwards of half his contract and take a minor league filler back just to unload him right now, so what’s the motivation to do that when he is at his lowest point.

            • “But let’s not pretend that Tabata is so toxic that it wouldn’t be possible for the Pirates to package him in a deal for another bad contract, or eat half of what he has remaining and send him on his way.”

              So we’re on the same page, right?

            • “So that means to get rid of him, they would have to eat a bad contract, but how many bad contracts are available for less than 8.5 M over two years and are actually considered bad.”

              As to this question, there’s plenty of bad reliever contracts floating around the game. The Pirates are an organization that’s been able to improve pitchers. Is the Pirates bullpen really so good that they couldn’t take a chance on a guy like Brandon League or Brian Wilson (not that the Dodgers, specifically match up) instead of keeping Tabata as somewhat redundant OF depth?

            • William Wallace
              December 24, 2014 1:50 pm

              That makes sense but what is so terribly bad that no one wants any part of him. If I am team A and need outfield depth why can’t they go to PBC and say eat 50% of the contract- Tabata at $2 million a year in my option is not a bad option.

              • Seems teams see Tabata as a very low power, at best average defensive OFer. I’d guess teams see someone in their system as equal to Tabata and thus arent going out of their way to eat a chunk of money to acquire him. At this point, Tabata comes off as a singles type hitter who relies on walks to maintain any value. Good bench OFer, but so are a ton of cheaper options teams already own.

                • I think you make a good point.

                  As of right now, I count six NL teams that can’t even say they have three STARTING outfielders who’ve matched Tabata’s offensive production over a reasonable sample size. However, as you say, he’s a corner outfielder with the hitting profile of an up-the-middle talent. It wouldn’t surprise if you were correct that teams believe they have guys in their org who could do just as well, whether that’s right or wrong.

              • I don’t know…$2M?

                Tabata last year:
                174 AB, 0HR, .647 OPS, -0.1 WAR

                Delmon Young:
                242 AB, 7 HR, .779 OPS, 0.8 WAR

                Young just signed with an OF hungry team for $2.25M + $0.75M in incentives. If you subscribe to 1 WAR = $5M, and there’s 0.9 WAR difference between Young and Tabata…not only would the Bucs have to eat the contract, they’d have to throw in money as well.

                • 1 WAR is no longer worth $5M; it’s closer to $7.5M

                  • I can live with that number too…either way, it still makes a negative WAR producer worth far less than $2M.

                    But I think both numbers are inflated. Going with $7.5… Cutch, Martin, Harrison, and Marte? All awesome last year, but were their combined values really $167M?

    • Yeah I think Rojas might get more MLB time than Tabata or Decker this year.

    • Tabata is the 5th outfielder and he is not likely to get traded. The Pirates will use proven major league talent before they experiment with a minor league player.

      • Tabata isn’t on the 40-man roster and if the Pirates sign Kang, you would assume the bench would be Snider, Kang, Hart, Rodriguez and Stewart. Decker and Lambo are on the 40-man as well, so that leaves Rojas and Tabata behind them right now

        • Tabata being off the 40-man absolutely does not mean he’s behind Jaff Decker and Andrew Lambo.

          The Pirates have no incentive to put Tabata on the 40-man because of his contract, and can essentially move him back and forth as they please.

          Lambo may have a legitimate argument for getting at-bats over Tabata, but there’s no possible way Decker can say the same.

          • They would have to remove someone to put Tabata on, so it’s not just Decker being on, it’s the value of Tabata over Decker and whoever they need to remove. That being said, Decker is a 7th outfielder at best, so he too is behind a lot of people. I don’t even think keeping a fifth outfielder is a huge option, so for example if Snider or Rodriguez got hurt, you might see someone like Florimon replace them because Harrison could always shift to the outfield.

      • You, obviously, have not seen some of the trade scenarios in the comment sections. Tabata is on his way to Philly, straight up for Hamels, and the Phils are going to eat both contracts!