In Mexico on Saturday, Sebastian Valle went 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI. When the Pirates signed him three weeks ago, he had a .534 OPS through his first 20 games. Valle has now played 18 games since signing and he has raised his season OPS 330 points during that time. While his plate appearances fall short of qualifying for league leaders, his OPS would rank him eighth best in the league.
Valle actually played well in winter ball last year in Mexico, posting a .784 OPS in 46 games, but there is a big difference between this year and last year. One of his biggest issues during his minor league career has been a lack of walks and a slightly high strikeout rate. Because these guys are playing winter ball for three months, it’s not a small sample size and allows you to see improvements from one year to the next. In 138 at-bats last year, Valle had nine walks and 30 strikeouts. This year in 108 at-bats, he has 12 walks and 19 strikeouts, showing obvious improvements in both areas.
The ratios from last year are more in line with his career stats, so it’s possible that this 24-year-old catcher, who was once a top prospect in the Phillies system, is now making an adjustment and turning a corner in his career.
In action from Venezuela, Junior Sosa went 1-for-3 with a single. He has a .269/.355/.403 slash line in 23 games.
Matt Nevarez was charged with a blown save in his team’s 3-2 loss. He came into the game in the eighth inning with a man on first and one out. Nevarez faced four batters, allowing a double and two walks(one was intentional). The inherited runner he allowed to score was charged to Jhonathan Ramos, who retired the first three batters he faced before the fourth reached on an error. The run was unearned. Ramos remains a free agent, but he has pitched well this winter. In 19 appearances, he has an 0.66 ERA and a .180 BAA.
In the Dominican, Mel Rojas Jr. was the only Pirates player to see action and he was used as a pinch-hitter. He popped out to third base in the ninth inning of his team’s 6-3 loss. Rojas has struggled during winter and while that may have helped keep him with the Pirates during the Rule 5 draft, it’s also not a good sign. In 35 games, he is hitting .237/.326/.322. He’s been dropped to the bottom of the batting order and he’s seeing less playing time recently.
In Colombia, they held their All-Star weekend on Friday and Saturday. Harold Ramirez has only played a handful of games, but he was the lone representative of the Pirates in the game. On the season, he is 4-for-14 with four walks and he’s been hit four times. He has a .902 OPS.
Andy Vasquez took part in the Home Run Derby, losing in the first round after he was one of four players to hit just one homer. Vasquez is a free agent after spending eight seasons in the Pirates system.