Winter Leagues: Third Start for Nik Turley; First Game for Vielma with Pirates

In Venezuela, Jose Osuna went 1-for-4 with a single and two strikeouts. He played right field for the first time this winter. All of his other games have been at third base or as the DH. In his last four games, Osuna has played third base once and he didn’t have any defensive plays in that game. He is hitting .299/.356/.507 through 19 games.

Elvis Escobar was used as a defensive replacement on Tuesday, playing the eighth inning in right field and the ninth inning in left field. He did not get to bat. He is hitting .278/.333/.344 through 49 games.

Engelb Vielma played his first game since the Pirates picked him up on waivers on Monday. He went 1-for-3 with a walk. He’s hitting .217/.289/.261 through 25 games.

Danny Ortiz played for the first time since last Wednesday. He was used as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning. He has been out with a stomach bug.

In the Dominican, Nik Turley made his third start and gave up his first earned runs. In three innings, he allowed two runs on two hits and three walks, with four strikeouts. He threw 69 pitches, with 35 going for strikes. Turley had allowed just four base runners over his first eight innings of the winter.

Starling Marte went 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. He has been on a hot streak recently, although the Dominican league had the last three days off, so the break may have cooled him off. He’s hitting .255/.310/.396 in 28 games.

Anderson Feliz went 3-for-4 with three singles. He’s hitting .294 through 34 games, with five doubles, two triples and a home run.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 1-for-2 with a HBP. He is hitting .256/.365/.363 in 50 games.

In Colombia from Monday, Francisco Acuna went 0-for-2 with a walk, RBI and a sacrifice bunt. He had his worst defensive game in two years of winter ball, committing three errors. It’s the first time he’s had more than one error in winter ball, and he had just one game with two errors in the DSL this year. At the plate, he is hitting .244/.379/.333 in 26 games.


  • Tim, I haven’t heard anything more about the possibility of the Pirates trading Kang back to a Korean team. I understand that those teams might think the Pirates’ hands are tied behind their back and might not offer much. Are you hearing anything?

    • There are no trades between leagues. If you use Angel Sanchez as an example, the Pirates just released him so he can sign in Korea. The Korean team purchased his release so he was free to sign and the Pirates let it happen because they would have been stopping a marginal MLB player from making $1.1 M if they didn’t. Doing that wouldn’t look good for other potential free agent signings.

      The Pirates are likely to just keep Kang on the restricted list and see what happens with a possible visa. Costs them nothing to do that, not even a roster spot.

      • Key point about not losing a roster spot.

        John: Am I correct in saying the Pirates pretty much blew it regarding not using their $2.2 mil International Pool Money? Anything being whispered behind the scenes?

        • I’m not John but the whispers are deafining. Pirates will save the money by not spending it.

        • They still have time to use the money. I’m not sure what the deadline is, exactly, but I believe that have at least until the end of spring.

          • I think the deadline is July 1, 2018, but why not use some for the Atlanta prospects – Maitan got a $4 mil + bonus to sign in 2016 and is still in the BA and MLB Top 100. The Angels scooped him for $2 mil. Many of the others have signed for less than a mil. Unless they know of some hidden super talent who may turn 16 soon, they cannot possibly spend that much.

            • After I read Keith Law’s assessment of the available players, I’m actually happy they stayed away. Maitan, the best of the group, has a major flaw in his swing, I believe he said. And the rest have all lost value over time.

              So, while I get what you’re saying, I think the recently freed Atlanta prospects are not a good example of it.

              • Keith Law knows how to write. What he knows about baseball swings is questionable. Many of these man-childs from LA have unique swings, and almost every young hitter will have a flaw in their swings compared to what the swing has to be to hit MLB pitching.

                Maitan is a 6’2″ 190 Switchhitting SS with power. He is a Top 100 Prospect who hit .300 in a short stint in the GCL as a young 17 year old, and then the Braves tried to push him too fast – he did not do well in the Appy League. At age 17 he was more than 3 years younger than the player average in that league. He is still a highly tradeable resource for a team looking to make major trades.

            • Deadline is June 15, there are no international signings allowed from June 16-July 1. There are a few international players of note still available. I believe the MLB Pipeline list still had 10-12 of the top 50 unsigned

        • The international bonus pool is good until June 15th, so there is plenty of time to use it and still a few big names unsigned. I can’t see them not doing something with it, either through a signing and/or trade because it would be a big asset to waste. There is no rollover, spend it or trade it are the only options. There’s no way they do nothing though.

      • Why not sell Kang’s contract to the highest bidder in Korea though? At least they would get some value as opposed to none.

        • There isn’t much value in that, especially since his actions didn’t go over well there and he’s only signed for one more year in the US. The Pirates might see a lot more value in holding on to him for now and hoping he gets a visa. I don’t know the exact costs when teams get players released in Korea, but it’s nothing noteworthy. It’s not going to change
          the payroll outlook, so it isn’t something fans should be looking for.

      • Thanks John. Then the suggestion to trade him back was ill-founded.

  • I saw a writer from another site drawing attention to Osuna’s batting line. I appreciate that you guys always keep things in context. I would imagine that Osuna should be crushing pitching in Venezuela, correct?

    • I think he’s doing what was expected of him. OPS of .863 is pretty good and as John said in the previous article, if he had enough plate appearances he’d be 10th in the league.

      • Exactly. The league in Venezuela is about equivalent to weak Triple-A, so someone with his big league experience should be doing well. Basically, Osuna is doing what he is supposed to be doing in the league. Elvis Escobar doesn’t have any Triple-A experience, so his numbers are about what you should expect as well.

    • Osuna has been a winter ball monster pretty much his whole career. He always crushes the ball in Venezuela. Though I think his best fit in MLB is as a 1B/DH AL player and thus not very useful for the Pirates, I’m always gonna root for him. He’s made a couple winters go by a little faster and happier.