The Dominican League became the third winter league to begin on Thursday night and Mel Rojas Jr. opened the season with a bang. He hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning, as his team won 9-3. Rojas started the game in left field and moved over the center field late in the game. He finished 1-for-5 at the plate. He homered twice during the entire regular season.
Wilkin Castillo came in as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning for Escogido. He struck out in his only at-bat.
Only two teams played on Opening Day in the Dominican. The rest of the league starts their season tonight.
In Venezuela, Jose Osuna went 1-for-4 with a single. He is 5-for-16 through five games.
Junior Sosa came in as a pinch-hitter and made the final out in his team’s 4-2 loss.
Jhondaniel Medina had a short outing on Thursday, walking the only batter he faced on four pitches. In his only other winter appearance, he walked three batters in 1.1 innings.
Elvis Escobar was a defensive substitution in the ninth, playing left field. He had no plays in the field and didn’t bat. He is now 1-for-5 in four games.
Gorkys Hernandez had a big day, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs. He also picked up an outfield assist. If you missed it yesterday, Hernandez declared free agency. We will continue to mention him until he signs elsewhere, or keep mentioning him all winter if he re-signs with the Pirates.
In Mexico, Harold Ramirez was once again batting ninth in the lineup. He came into the game 3-for-17 with no walks and five strikeouts. Ramirez singled in each of his first two at-bats, finishing the game 2-for-4 with a strikeout.
Carlos Munoz got the beginning of the night off after going 2-for-10 in his first four games, three times being replaced late in the game. He pinch-hit in the seventh and lined out to shortstop. Munoz stayed in the game at first base and drew a walk in the ninth.
Sebastian Valle went 1-for-4 with a single and a sacrifice fly.
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.
Munoz has not had big results yet but it seems like he is continuing to have solid ab’s. I think he will end up having a good Mexican League performance before it is all over. If he come into camp in 2016 in decent shape he could be a huge story.