Winter Leagues: Edwin Espinal Homers; Pablo Reyes Makes Winter Debut

Four days worth of winter league action here from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Nicaragua and the U23 World Cup tournament. Plus the league in Colombia started up on Friday night, though it’s disappointing compared to the last few years of coverage.


In Venezuela, Elvis Escobar went 0-for-5, reaching base once on a fielder’s choice before getting picked off.

John Kuchno pitched a scoreless inning of relief. He gave up two hits, though all five batters he faced hit weak grounders.

Julio Vivas threw a scoreless inning of relief, retiring all three batters he faced.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz drove in two runs despite an 0-for-4 night. He also drew a walk and scored a run.

In the U23 World Cup tournament, Sam Kennelly broke his 0-for-12 slump with a 2-for-3 day. He drove in both of his team’s runs in an 11-2 loss. Kennelly also drew a walk.

Victor Ngoepe went 0-for-1 with a walk. His team was defeated 15-0 by Mexico in a game ended after six innings due to the mercy rule.


In Venezuela, Jose Osuna had a tough doubleheader, going 0-for-5 in the first game, then 1-for-4 with a single and a strikeout in the second game.

In the Dominican, Edwin Espinal hit his second home run of the winter. He went 2-for-4, also adding a double, a run and an RBI. He is 5-for-33 through nine games, with a .637 OPS.

Pablo Reyes made his winter league debut and singled as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning, then remained in the game at shortstop. He was selected in the Dominican league draft last year, taken ahead of Yeudy Garcia, but never appeared in a game.

Willy Garcia played left field in the ninth inning, handling the only ball hit to him.

Miguel Rosario faced one batter and walked him on four pitches.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 1-for-4 with a single, walk and strikeout.


In Venezuela, Elvis Escobar went 1-for-4 with his fifth double in game one of a doubleheader. In the second game, he was 1-for-3 with a single. He is hitting .333/.351/.500 through 23 games played.

Jose Osuna went 1-for-3 with a single, a walk, and two strikeouts.

In the Dominican, Miguel Rosario pitched for a second straight day and did a little bit better this time. He went 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a walk and hitting a batter.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 0-for-3 before leaving for a pinch-hitter. He is hitting .148/.258/.167 through 18 games.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz went 2-for-4 with two singles.

In the U23 World Cup tournament, Victor Ngoepe went 0-for-1, reaching base on a walk and a HBP. He was thrown out stealing in his only attempt. Ngoepe played second base and handled all six plays he had in the field.

Sam Kennelly had a tough game as his team lost 15-8 to Mexico. He went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and committed an error.


In the U23 World Cup tournament, Nick Hutchings got the start against a tough team from Korea and looked great in the first two innings before struggling in the third. This game had a rain delay of almost three hours before the start, and Hutchings sat in the dugout through two long innings of offense by Australia, so this wasn’t a normal outing. In the first two innings, he had four strikeouts and three grounders that didn’t even reach the infield dirt, with one going for a hit. Things fell apart in the third when he allowed four runs on three hits and three walks, ending his day. Hutchings was sitting 89-91 with his fastball and his curve was getting a lot of swing and misses.

Sam Kennelly continued a very tough tournament, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, which leaves him 2-for-24 through seven games. He had a great at-bat in the first inning of this game, getting the count to 3-2, before fouling off at least five pitches. Australia beat Korea by a 9-7 score.

In Venezuela, Jose Osuna went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, before leaving for a pinch-hitter. He team was losing a one-sided game and they cleared the bench to get the backups some at-bats. After winning the Player of the Week award last week, he is 1-for-15 this week.

In the Dominican, Willy Garcia walked as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, then stayed in the right field for the last three innings. He did not come to the plate again. Garcia is receiving sporadic playing time, hitting .250/.333/.250 in 15 plate appearances over eight games.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, dropping him to a .145 average.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He is hitting .240/.296/.240 through his first six games.

In Nicaragua, Anderson Feliz is hitting .500/.615/.550 in 26 plate appearances over his first five games.

The league in Colombia started on Friday night and gone are the days of following Harold Ramirez and Tito Polo in the league. The only Pirate in the league is Henrry Rosario, who put up strong stats in the GCL this season, but he did it at age 23, and it was a level lower than he played last year.

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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