Winter Leagues: Sebastian Valle Hits a Grand Slam in Season Finale

In Mexico on Monday night, Sebastian Valle hit a first inning grand slam that helped his team to an 8-3 victory. The homer was his sixth of the winter, the most among Pittsburgh Pirates players. This was the last game of the regular season in Mexico. Valle finished with a .313/.378/.516 slash line in 44 games. The playoffs begin on Thursday.

After not playing for 22 days, Felipe Gonzalez pitched for the third straight day. He struck out the only batter he faced. In 24 appearances, he had a 2.77 ERA in 26 innings, posting a 15:22 BB/SO ratio, a 1.35 GO/AO ratio and a .226 BAA.

In the Dominican, Alen Hanson went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his second playoff game. He had two hits in the first game on Sunday.

Mel Rojas Jr. went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and a walk. He is 1-for-9 so far in the playoffs.

Gustavo Nunez went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. He didn’t have the best game though, committing an error, striking out and he was caught stealing.

Rafael Perez threw five shutout innings,  helping his team to a 2-1 win. He allowed five hits, two walks and struck out three batters. During the regular season(winter), he had a 2.31 ERA in 35 innings.

Josh Wall retired both batters he faced, stranding two inherited runners. Both Wall and Perez are still free agents.

In Venezuela, Gorkys Hernandez went 2-for-5 with a double and drove in two runs. He also threw out a runner at home plate in the sixth inning. Tuesday is the last day of the regular season in Venezuela.

Julio Vivas threw a perfect inning, retiring all three batters he faced. It was a nice rebound from his worst outing of the season, which happened Saturday night. In 16 appearances, the 21-year-old righty has a 1.80 ERA and a .176 BAA.

In Colombia, two Pirates helped their team to victory. Harold Ramirez reached on an error, then stole second base. Tito Polo then drove Ramirez home. Polo has gone 1-for-6 in his last two games and he has a .643 OPS in 74 at-bats. Ramirez has a .191/.356/.234 slash line in 47 at-bats.

Andy Vasquez is doing well in Colombia since moving over from the Dominican League. He has a .333/.378/.522 line in 69 at-bats.

In Panama, Edgar Munoz went 1-for-3 with a walk, run scored and two strikeouts.

Ashley Ponce went 0-for-4 with a walk and strikeout.

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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dr dng

I will say this… The guy as found a way to get our attention.

Now lets see what happens in spring training.

Can someone remind us again… What mlb experience
or other does the guy have?


If Valle is at minor league free agency when must the Pirates put him on the 40 man roster in order to retain him?


Valle at one time was more highly regarded than Cervelli and is much younger. There is hope that Valle turned the corner. It is only natural that he would get our attention because with Cervelli there are health, PED, and performance concerns.

Catcher is an important position and if it is going to be entrusted to Cervelli the Bucs have to have a safety net in case/when he gets hurt or fails.


I saw a lot of Valle at AA and AAA. He looked the part defensively. He had a strong arm and looked great blocking balls in the dirt and catching balls way off the plate. Scouts at the game always raved about his defensive abilities.

dr dng

So John, since it seems the Pirates have this “number of AAA at bats” a players needs before he is “ready” for the mlb level, does Valle have the required number of AAA at bats to “qualify” to move up?

Or is he just one of three options of AAA catchers we will have available?

(yes, I do remember a couple of years ago when even six catchers were not enough!)


I won’t speak for John, but Valle has to show he has the required skill to be called up before worrying about AAA at bats.

Read back through the prospect reports when he was considered a top prospect and you’ll almost certainly find a disclaimer about his plate discipline and approach having to improve. His rankings were based on projection, given his age and minor league level.

Not only has he failed to walk more and strike out less since then, he’s actually gotten worse. We’re talking about a guy who in two different stints wasn’t able to post an OBP over .290 in AA and .250 ~ two fifty ~ in AAA. Long, long way to go before being considered a legit big league option.


Seems like the Pirates have a lot of players that strikeout far too much. Maybe they should hire one of those Japanese coaches to teach them to get the bat on the ball and take small ball contact vs striking out.


6 of the Pirates 8 position player starters project to strike out less than Major League average in 2015.

William Wallace

I guess we will see in spring training what exactly is Sebastian Valle. The man or the myth.


He can catch, that is real. It used to be if a catcher hit over .200 that was considered okay. In the modern world they want the catcher to hit like everyone else.


leadoff: I cannot agree with that overall statement. I am one of the fossils on this board, but I have come to realize the last few years that the data now available to help evaluate players/pitchers found on sites like Fangraphs makes it easier to recognize mostly hidden or underappreciated qualities. For example, in 2013, Russell Martin posted a fairly poor .226 batting average, but still managed to post a 4.1 WAR almost entirely attributed to his defensive qualities. Twenty years ago I would never have had that type of insight, but in the modern world, it is much easier to identify qualities that do not ever make the headlines.


I don’t know what you don’t agree with? Catchers like David Ross had several teams looking to sign him with a .190 BA. last year. World series teams have had catchers on them hitting around .200. A 4.1 WAR does nothing for me, especially when it is attributed to his defensive qualities. I don’t think I need to have sabremetrics in front of me to determine if a player is any good or not. I realize WAR. means something to MLB teams, just not to me.
The post was about Valle and what I was trying to say is simply that he does not have to hit for a high average to be a good catcher in the MLB.


” In the modern world they want the catcher to hit like everyone else.”

Pretty sure this is what emjay was disagreeing with. Care to name who “they” are, or was that just a giant strawman?


Spot on.

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