Winter Leagues: Kang Showing Some Rust; Hellweg Makes His Debut in Mexico

In the Dominican on Sunday night, Jung-Ho Kang made his third start and he is still showing some rust. He went 0-for-4 with two fly outs, a grounder to shortstop and a strikeout. He is now 1-for-11 at the plate, although he drove in three runs during his season debut. Kang committed his second fielding error, this one leading to the first run in a 3-0 loss. He handled all five chances cleanly after that second inning miscue.

Pablo Reyes batted lead-off in his second start and went 1-for-3 with a single, walk and a sacrifice bunt. He went 1-for-5 in the season opener.

Montana DuRapau had a tough debut on Saturday night, lacking control in his brief outing. So it probably wasn’t a good idea to go back to him on Sunday. He took the loss, throwing 1.1 innings, while giving up four runs (three earned) on two hits, one walk and one hit batter.

Anderson Feliz made his second appearance this season and he’s still looking for his first at-bat. He has been used as a pinch-runner both times.

In Mexico, Johnny Hellweg debuted for Yaquis de Obregon. In case you missed his brief time with the Pirates this year, he was signed out of independent ball and assigned to Altoona with two weeks left in the season. He pitched four regular season games and one playoff contest. Hellweg had a tough winter debut, allowing three runs on one hit and two walks, while recording just two outs. He threw 27 pitches, with 11 going for strikes.

Carlos Munoz went 2-for-3 with two singles and a walk. For some reason he attempted a stolen base and predictably, he was thrown out. Munoz is 7-for-16 with two doubles and two walks through five games.

  • Low blow comment about Carlos Muñoz.

    • I’m sure he was just as shocked as I was that he got the steal signal. He knows how slow he is and it’s not for a lack of trying, he gives full effort. It was probably a hit-and-run play, which would make it more the batter’s fault than his lack of speed. If it was a straight steal, the manager should know better.

      He attempted 22 steals in seven seasons and was successful on only seven. That was almost all against lower level catchers too. For comparison sake, Logan Hill had 14 steals in 21 attempts last year and he was legitimately the slowest runner on Bradenton this season. They time runners throughout the year four different ways and he was dead last overall. Basically, Munoz is painfully slow and should not be attempting steals.

  • If we weren’t all Pirate fans, how many of us would feel he deserved to get the visa? My guess is not many.

    Time to move on. If it happens, it happens. There are other players far more deserving of attention than him.

    • Kang is the name right now that will get the most attention during winter coverage, so he will be the focus until late December. If someone else has a big night, then they will get the top spot, but when not much goes on during a particular night, you go with the attention grabber.

      Usually someone breaks out each winter (Osuna, Polanco and Marte in the past), so they start stealing the headlines. Could be Elvis Escobar or Pablo Reyes this year.

    • With an average of 4.2 WAR/162 ML games, I can’t think of a single guy in the winter leagues more deserving of attention than Kang. Yes, he’s an idiot…but he’s an idiot who can be an impact player on this team on Opening Day 2018.

      • Kang is a line drive machine, plain and simple. A stud hitter who we need badly. Give him 500 PAs and we’ll see 30 bombs.

    • That is a great take. I am a Pirates fan and I still don’t think he deserves a visa to play baseball in America.

  • Kang equals tease. NO way of knowing if he will be with the team or not next year. I hope so, but that won’t get him a visa.

  • Any clues on what we would view as a ‘success’ for Kang? Is just getting ABs and hitting some balls with authority enough to placate the masses, or has everyone just written him off entirely and anything we may get from him upside?

    • Visa issues aside, Kang should be able to put up solid stats in the Dominican, although it might take some time to get back into a rhythm. Most of the players in the league had less than a month off before they started playing again. He got just over two weeks of “spring training” and a handful of exhibition games before the season started. He was staying in shape this entire spring/summer, but it’s different once you start playing games. I expect him to put up some nice stats by the end of the 50-game season.

      • Also they’ll keep trotting him out if he’s slumping 10 games from now?

        • There is no guarantee of that in winter ball because winning is the number one goal. An MLB player will get a longer look though, but he will need to produce at some point. We are still talking about someone with a nice MLB track record of success, playing mostly against Triple-A talent, so I’d expect him to hit soon.

          • John, I posted this the other day and did not get a response.
            What is his physical condition? Is he in shape?
            Is he overweight?

            • He was working out the entire time to stay in game shape in case he got that visa, he would be ready right away for minor league “rehab” games