Winter Leagues: Finals Begin in Dominican League Without Some Top Pirates Prospects

Action is beginning to slow down in winter leagues for Pittsburgh Pirates players, so the articles will be spread out a little more. The action on the field in winter ball is heating up though, as we are nearing the Caribbean Series, where the best teams from Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican will face-off for the title. The teams are also being set for the Latin American Series, which will have the best teams from the Colombian, Nicaraguan and Panamanian leagues, as well as the  Veracruz League(Mexico).

In Venezuela on Friday night, both Wilfredo Boscan and Julio Vivas got into the game for their team, as a 7-0 deficit after two innings caused Zulia to go to the bullpen early. Boscan pitched well, allowing one run over 3.1 innings. He gave up one hit, one walk and had five strikeouts. Vivas threw 1.1 frames, allowing a run on one hit and one walk, with one strikeout.

On Saturday in the Dominican, the best-of-nine finals started with Gigantes del Cibao taking on the Estrellas de Oriente. They wrapped up the round robin tournament two days early due to two teams being eliminated from the finals after 16 games. Both Alen Hanson and Willy Garcia saw their season end on Thursday. During Saturday’s game, Gustavo Nunez helped his team to an 11-2 victory, going 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. Mel Rojas Jr. is on the Gigantes, although he didn’t see action.

On Saturday in Australia, Sam Kennelly started at third base and went 1-for-3 with a single. On Sunday, he grounded out to the pitcher as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, then remained in the game at second base. Kennelly started a 4-6-3 game-ending double play in the ninth.

In Puerto Rico, Robert Andino went 1-for-10 in his last two games, leaving him 7-for-28 in eight playoff games. He is still a free agent after spending 2014 with Indianapolis.

The season ended in Panama and the only regular from the Pirates didn’t make the finals. Edgar Munoz played 24 games during the regular season, hitting .245/.327/.319 in 94 at-bats. Ashley Ponce’s team made the finals, although he didn’t play at all during the last week of the season, so he may not see time during the finals. Also missing out on the playoffs is Brian Sousa, the 17-year-old pitcher, who signed for $160,000 back in July. He pitched four times this season, allowing four runs over eight innings.

The finals began in Colombia on Saturday, with Caimanes beating Leones by a 4-1 score. Andy Vasquez played center field and batted clean-up for Leones. He didn’t figure in the scoring. Oderman Rocha is also on Leones and he didn’t get into the game.

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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