Winter Leagues: Playoffs Start in the Dominican, Gorkys Hernandez Returns to Action

The Dominican League playoffs began on Saturday night and three Pittsburgh Pirates players saw action. Mel Rojas Jr. went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and an outfield assist. His team didn’t make the playoffs, but Rojas was one of a handful of players that were drafted by the teams that did make it into the round robin tournament.

Willy Garcia struck out as a pinch-hitter in his only at-bat. He finished the regular season with a .269/.314/.462 slash line in 38 games, which was very similar to the .271/.311/.478 line he put up for Altoona this year.

Gustavo Nunez had a big first playoff game in his team’s 6-0 win. He had a double, two walks and he drove in two runs. He also helped turn three double plays at shortstop.

In Venezuela, Gorkys Hernandez went 1-for-4 with a walk, run scored and stolen base. It was his first game since November 21st, when he injured the middle finger on his right hand. On the season, he has a .242/.329/.281 slash line in 37 games.

Julio Vivas had his first poor outing of the winter, and even going back to the regular season in the GCL, this was his first bad outing of the year. He recorded two outs in relief, but not before giving up a run on two hits, two walks and a wild pitch. He got a little help from a reliever, who stranded all three runners he inherited from Vivas. On the winter, he has a 1.93 ERA and a .188 BAA in 14 innings over 15 appearances.

In Mexico, Felipe Gonzalez pitched for the first time since December 5th. He picked up the last two outs for his team in a 9-4 loss. He allowed a hit, a walk and had one strikeout. In 25 innings over 22 appearances, he has a 2.88 ERA, a .233 BAA and 21 strikeouts, while posting a 1.26 GO/AO ratio.

Sebastian Valle went 1-for-4 with his sixth double and he drove in his 18th run.

In Panama, 17-year-old Brian Sousa pitched two innings, allowing a run on a walk, with no hits and one strikeout. In four appearances this winter, he has allowed four runs on five hits and three walks in eight innings.

Edgar Munoz went 1-for-5 with a single and a strikeout.

Ashley Ponce went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.

In Australia on Sunday, Sam Kennelly started at third base again and went 2-for-4 with an RBI. He is hitting .357 in his first six games.

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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Lee Foo Young

Emjay…from yesterday…my money is also on Diaz, but I love the Valle signing. At worst, I think he can be a viable MLB backup or a trade chip.


Lee: Something happened to him last year where he became one of the best in SB %age in AA/AAA posting numbers which were right around 50% – he was decent before, but that’s about 20% higher than his best previous year. And now the bat starts to click – he is playing with a new found confidence. With both he and Diaz as young receivers, I wonder if the Pirates will try to bring aboard a catching assistant coach to work with both of them on the little things like calling the game, setting the D, etc.

One of the negatives I read about Valle had to do with him being the Catcher in a game being pitched by the Phils young LH pitching prospect Jesse Biddle, who has control issues – sort of on the order of Andy Oliver. As it went, Biddle was getting more and more frustrated with every pitch, rushing to the next pitch, and the writer of the comment could not understand why Valle or the pitching coach were not trying to settle Biddle. That is not an automatic to go to that strategy immediately, but sometimes, Catchers are instructed to stay right where they are at behind the plate and allow the pitcher to struggle. It usually begins with the Catcher looking into the dugout; what happens from there is the call of the Manager or the Pitching Coach. On that particular day, I would be absolutely sure they wanted to see if this No. 1 Draft Pick could think for himself out on the mound. BTW, Biddle is about a 10K per 9 inning guy, but does his best to offset that by Walking 6.5 per 9 innings. I will bet you that NH has Jesse Biddle’s name written in notebook somewhere.


catching assistant coach, maybe even a roving coach . . . capital idea!

Seriously, we have a stable full of Catcher prospects. Exploit the new market inefficiency and maximize their talents. What we don’t use, we trade as a premium position.


PP: Probably a Roving guy would be more cost effective, and be able to interact with more Catchers. Just a suggestion, but I wonder if there is another team in the MLB who have a roving guy for Catchers?


They already have position coaches, and a very fine Coach/ Manager with lots of MLB catching experience, Tom Prince.


leo: Prince is a solid guy but is the Manager at Bradenton or at least he was last year. He will be an impact during early reports in Feb and early at Spring Training, but I was looking at the possibility of having someone, even a recent retiree who wants to stay involved with the game, who could be of great value on a daily basis at AAA.

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