Winter Leagues: Jung-Ho Kang Makes His Winter Debut in the Dominican

Friday night marked the winter debut of Jung-Ho Kang, who is playing for Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican winter league. Kang batted fourth in the lineup and played third base.

In his first three plate appearances, Kang was facing Esmil Rogers, a 32-year-old right-hander, who has seen Major League action over the course of seven seasons. It was a fairly strong test for his first game in over a year, although they have been playing exhibition games leading up to the season opener.

Kang struck out in his first at-bat. He reached on an error his next time up, grounding to third base. Kang gave his team a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning with a sacrifice fly. He popped out to first base in the seventh inning against Jonathan Aro, who has had two brief appearances in the majors with the Red Sox and Mariners.

In the eighth inning, Kang batted with the bases loaded and his team up 5-2. He singled up the middle, driving in two runs off of pitcher Kevin Lenik, who is a big, hard-throwing righty. Lenik made the jump directly from Low-A to Triple-A this season and put up a 1.88 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

On defense, Kang had three grounders hit his way and committed one error. With the game well out of hand, he left in the ninth for a defensive substitution. He finished 1-for-4 and drove in three runs.

I’ll note that Aguilas Cibaenas tweeted out that Edwin Espinal came in as a defensive substitution at first base in the bottom of the ninth inning, but as of late last night, the boxscore doesn’t show that switch. Whether he played or not, the first baseman didn’t have any fielding chances in the ninth, so no big deal if they missed it.

In Venezuela, Elvis Escobar went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. After a strong start, he’s hitting .438 with hits in all four games this season.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 1-for-3 with an RBI double and a walk. He is 5-for-11 through three games.

  • I think it’s pretty simple. Grant him the work visa but have him on probation, he should not be allowed to drive at all or have the ability to drive in the US for at least 5 years. He’s hear strictly to work and the Pirates will need to assign him a personal driver.

  • I am not even remotely interested in how Kang did/does in the Dominican, since I would put his chances of getting a visa at less than 5%.

    • Not saying you’re wrong, but what are you basing this on?

      Even if you know how the law reads and how things typically go in cases like this, I’m assuming most visa applicants don’t have the Pirates’ lawyers working on their case. Given the fuzzy nature of this process, that alone must be worth more than 5 percent.

      I have no idea what his chances are, but I doubt the team thinks his chances are that bleak.

      • I base it on nothing but pure guesswork. He obviously lied on his first visa application as attested to by the fact that no one knew he had 2 prior DUI’s. That can not be looked favorably on by anyone in the process at all, even the team.

        • Unless you have access to his visa application, you’re jumping to a conclusion there by accusing him of lying.

          • Huntington himself said he was surprised to find out that Kang had 2 previous DUI’s so one of them is being less than completely honest. Who would you lay money on in this instance?

            • Just because Huntington didn’t know about the DUIs doesn’t mean Kang never disclosed it on his visa application. Maybe the Pirates never looked at his application, thinking the fact he got a visa is all they needed to know? Maybe the Pirates don’t even have access to the actual application? Now I’m just speculating, but it’s possible neither is lying. Who knows, but there’s no evidence Kang lied about it is what I’m saying.

              • The Pirates file the application on his behalf, that is how it works.if they didn’t look at it, shame on them.

  • Wonder if this Kang info is just a tease? Lets say he tears up the league and wins MVP and then doesn’t get back into the US next year. See what I mean by tease!

  • Did not see any note about physical conditioning.

    In shape? Out of shape? Weight?

  • is there an immigration lawyer who can explain the factors involved in the visa decision making process?

  • Things would look a good bit different if kang miraculously got a visa.

  • I’ll take one for four in his first game back after having been away from baseball for over a year. It also shouldn’t be surprising that he made an error.