Winter Leagues: Elvis Escobar Has Made Nice Progress This Winter

On Wednesday morning, we posted most of the results from Tuesday’s games, but the league in Colombia was late to add their boxscores. So we have some late news from there, as well as Wednesday’s action in winter ball.

In Colombia on Tuesday, Francisco Acuna went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and an RBI. The 16-year-old Acuna played second base for the first time, after playing shortstop in his previous games. He is hitting .294 through his first eight games, with four walks and two stolen bases.

Sandy Santos started the game in center field, then left for a pinch-hitter in the fourth inning. He walked in his only plate appearance. While it’s unknown why he left the game early, his team did make some early changes after going down 9-0 in the first four innings. Santos has a .286 average through seven games.

Wednesday’s boxscore hasn’t been posted yet, but Acuna was back at shortstop and Santos wasn’t in the lineup, though he was listed as available for the game. We will have a recap in the next Winter Leagues article.


The playoffs began in the Dominican on Tuesday night, with Jason Rogers and Nefi Ogando seeing action for the Pirates. Each of the four playoff teams plays 18 games in a round robin style tournament, facing the other three clubs a total of six times each. Eury Perez had a strong start to his playoffs on Wednesday, going 2-for-3, with a single, a double, two walks and a run scored. He finished the regular season with a .203/.305/.246 slash line in 34 games. The other game in the Dominican was rained out.

In Venezuela, Jose Osuna went 1-for-3, with a single, a walk and an RBI in his team’s 3-1 victory. He is batting .277/.355/.386 through 59 games.

Elvis Escobar went 1-for-3, with a single, a walk and two runs scored. He is batting .268/.283/.394 through 47 games. While his numbers have slipped off since a fast start, he is doing much better than last winter. He would have played even more this winter if not for a lower left leg injury that kept him out almost three weeks. Escobar received just 21 plate appearances in 25 games last winter, seeing a lot of his time as a pinch-runner and a defensive replacement.

It’s strong progress for the 22-year-old, who was promoted to Altoona late during the 2016 season. He’s playing in a league where the average age is 27.5 years old, and many of the players have Major League experience. Most players don’t do well in Venezuela until they are a little older or have a little more upper level experience. The regular season in Venezuela ends today. Escobar’s team finished first, so he will have playoffs still.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 0-for-2, driving in a run on a sacrifice fly in his team’s 2-1 victory. On a side note, former Pirate prospect Drew Maggi made his debut in Mexico in this game and batted behind Munoz. Maggi played 11 games in the Dominican earlier this winter.

In Nicaragua, Anderson Feliz is hitting .297/.377/.462 through 43 games.

In Puerto Rico, Danny Ortiz had his 12-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-4 night. He’s still out there looking for a job despite leading the league with a .353 average.

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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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Acuna sounds like a player to watch….just 16…Osuna is just a good hitter….could be a backup option at first base behind Bell….



Bill W

I wonder who provides security for these players in Venezuela while playing this winter? I would be very cautious if I was playing.

joe s

From what I have read the country is in the toilet. Lacks, food and medical supplies for its people. If I was a player that did not come from that country I wouldn’t play there. I wonder since the country and its people are doing so poorly who has money to go these games?

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