Winter Leagues: Sebastian Valle Homers For Third Time in Four Games

Not much going on in winter ball on Thursday, but one player is on a significant streak worth mentioning.

In Venezuela, Elias Diaz went 1-for-2 with a walk in his team’s 4-1 loss. He is 3-for-16 through five games, with a .528 OPS. In the ninth inning, Junior Sosa pinch-hit for Diaz and struck out. Sosa is hitting .275/.362/.392 in 18 games.

Deolis Guerra pitched one inning, allowing one run on a solo homer. He walked one and struck out two batters. Guerra had a streak of seven straight scoreless appearances(each one inning long) before allowing three runs in his last appearance, one in which he failed to record an out. Despite those seven straight scoreless outings and a .226 BAA, he has a 7.56 ERA in ten games.

In Mexico, Sebastian Valle homered for the third time in his last four games. He has been on quite the hot streak lately. On Thursday, he went 2-for-4, scoring two runs and he also reached via HBP. In his last eight games, he is hitting .500/.606/.885 in 33 plate appearances, which is easily the best streak we have seen from a Pirates player this off-season. When he signed with the Pirates back on November 20th, Valle had a .534 OPS through his first 20 games. In the ten games since signing, he has posted a 1.349 OPS, raising his season total to .828, which would rank ninth best in Mexico this winter if he had enough plate appearances to qualify for the league leaders. That OPS is also the best mark of any Pirates player this off-season(including the AFL) with more than 20 at-bats.

In Puerto Rico, Yhonathan Barrios had another tough outing. He came into the 7th inning of his team’s 17-0 loss and only recorded two outs before being removed. He gave up five earned runs on five hits, one walk and a wild pitch. In four innings over four appearances, Barrios has allowed nine runs on 13 hits. He had a tough winter last year in Colombia, but ended up having a decent regular season in 2014, which looks even better when you consider that he only took up pitching during the middle of the 2013 season.

In a bit of non-news, the Veracruz League started this week and there isn’t a single Pirates player among the eight teams, including the reserve rosters for each club. While the leagues in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela and the Dominican make up the four main Caribbean winter leagues, there are also four other leagues that hold regular seasons, then compete in a tournament just like the Caribbean Series, only on a smaller scale. Three Pirates players are in the Colombian League(Tito Polo, Harold Ramirez and Oderman Rocha), while the leagues in Veracruz and Nicaragua don’t have any players from the Pirates organization.

The final league in Panama plays a shorter season than the rest and their schedule starts on December 15th. There should be at least 2-3 players to watch in that league. Last year, Ulises Montilla and Edgar Munoz took part in the league and a new international signing, Brian Sousa, is one of the best pitching prospects from the country. Montilla missed almost the entire 2014 season with a severe leg injury that happened during an on-field collision, so his health could keep him out of the league.

  • thanks john for the great coverage on a cold day.

  • John , am I crazy for wishfully thinking the Buc’s could and should package an offer Oakland would like for Jeff Samardzija ? A combination of a few good young arms that we aren’t terribly comfortable parting with , headlined by Alan Hansen.

    Does such an offer get consideration for Samardzija ? Does a one year rental make sense , at least considering our current circumstances? Hansen is an odd man out for the next two seasons , and we have Jones & Tucker who may be ready to supplant him by then .

    • I try to stay away from potential trade conversation unless there are actual rumors about it. I will say that I would rather they kept Hanson because there are no guarantees with Jones or Tucker. The latter is very far away from the majors and Jones has both SO/BB problems and his ability to play SS in the majors is also in question. I think Hanson could be the regular 2B for the Piratesin 2016 and Walker may end up at 3B, with Harrison back in the utility role playing everywhere. Hanson’s value also seems low, but when you consider his age, the level he is at and his power/speed combo, he should be rated higher. He’s younger than JaCoby Jones

      • I don’t ever speculate like this… It’s just Billy Beane seems to be like an estranged ex wife selling her husbands suits at an impromptu yard sale , out on the curb… We have the trade currency ,and I allow it to bother me seeing other clubs benefit from Billy boy’s decision to blow it up. Just wish we could get in on that. Whatever he gets for Samardzija is gonna look like a steal , and for once it feels reasonable we could be looking for the one year lease at the cost of long term responsibility.

        Thanks John. It is so easy to lose sight of the youth of the Latin guys , I guess when we hear their names from age 16. It gives some real perspective that Jones is Older. Jeesh !

  • William Wallace
    December 5, 2014 12:25 pm

    Remember he is playing in the Mexican League so let’s not get to excited.

    • That league is about the same he saw this season, figuring he split the year between AA and AAA and that league is the same as a weak AAA team. There are occasional MLB players in there and some A-ball players, but most are minor league veterans. Stetson Allie wasn’t really doing much there and Carlos Munoz, who has some of the best plate patience in the Pirates system, but only played GCL this year, looked lost in the league. The encouraging part is the walk total. Valle needs to show some more patience at the plate and he seems to be doing that now, which is leading to better results.

      • William Wallace
        December 5, 2014 1:41 pm

        Thanks John I heard that the league due to location has similar INFLATED offensive stats as the PCL.

        • Some of the teams do, which is why I put where he would be ranked as far as OPS if he had enough PA’s. Compared to other winter leagues, it usually has the most offense, but this year it seems light for some reason. The league OPS is around .709, averaging out the eight teams, so he is well above the league average now.

  • It looks like Valle wants to win a spot on the 25 man roster. Good for him. At 24 with a good glove, he might actually be a prospect again but it’s too early to tell.

    • Let’s hope he follows the Elias Diaz blueprint, where a very good Winter league performance carries over into a much improved AAA season.

      • Great comparison. Going into 2013, no one would have pegged Diaz as a MLB caliber bat but something clicked big time in Bradenton and it blossomed at Altoona. Valle has actually been the better hitter of the two 24 year olds until Diaz took off. SeaBass has always had the long ball so there is potential there if he can see the ball better and reportedly he has an awful hitch in his swing that might make for an easy fix.

  • Lee Foo Young
    December 5, 2014 9:48 am

    Nobody will be taking Barrios in the Rule V, that’s for sure!

    • Probably not at this point. There are a lot of pitchers that throw as hard as him and are available in the draft. Most have more experience and others are starters, so he likely isn’t a top option. The only player I think they lose is Mel Rojas Jr. It isn’t hard to hide a switch-hitting outfielder that can play three spots and can run. Anyone else is a stretch at this point.

      If some team really likes what they’ve seen with Valle, he could be taken. I think it’s doubtful, but he has the defense to be a backup catcher and he has two partial seasons of AAA experience. Might not hurt for a team to take a look at him if they have thin catching and a roster spot available. Guys who were minor league free agents are rarely taken(because teams could have signed them), but it’s happened before. I still think Rojas is the only one taken though.