Winter League Report: Things Slowed Down Right Before They are Expected to Pick Up

This past week saw seven prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates in action during winter ball, but things certainly slowed down a bit as we got to the weekend.

In our Winter League recap from last night, it was noted that Endy Rodriguez, Liover Peguero and Dariel Lopez all didn’t play over the last three days, with one of those days being a league-wide day off. I’ve noted this here before, but it’s important to remember. We call this winter ball, but this is the regular season in these countries. The idea is to win, not groom prospects. Peguero hit .150/.191/.350 in 21 plate appearances during the first week of action. Clearly a small sample size, but he’s playing in a league with veteran players, so a prospect pretty much has to hit the ground running or they won’t see much time. Lopez did well in his smaller sample size, going 4-for-13 with a  triple and a walk, though he also committed three errors in his brief time. Rodriguez went 5-for-20 with a double and a walk, leading to a .586 OPS in five games. I’m not saying they have been benched, but it definitely helps to do better from the start because veteran players are joining teams throughout the year, making it harder to emerge from the bench.

Jeremy Beasley has pitched poorly in two games so far in the Dominican, which isn’t good for a foreign player. Young prospects from the Dominican have a short leash, but we have seen foreign players have really short leashes. He was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays on August 2nd. He pitched one late-season game with the Indianapolis Indians after getting hurt before he could make an appearance in the Pirates system. Beasley allowed three runs without recording an out in that game. He has allowed three runs on five hits in two innings in the Dominican.

Enmanuel Mejia has pitched one inning/one game, allowing an unearned run on a hit and two walks. He pitched nine times last winter in the Dominican, then spent the entire 2022 season with the Altoona Curve.

Oneil Cruz is slated to begin on November 1st and play shortstop daily for Tigres del Licey.

Mexico started first and had outfielders Jared Oliva and Fabricio Macias in action. Oliva finished the 2022 season with two strong months and he has continued that in the early stages of winter ball, hitting .359 with six steals in ten games. Macias started off strong, but his last four games saw him collect just one hit. He was dropped down the batting order last night.

Venezuela started last night and the only Pirates player I saw was Ali Sanchez, who was just picked up off of waivers from the Detroit Tigers. Diego Castillo is slated to start on November 1st.

Puerto Rico action begins in just under two weeks and last I heard, Gigantes de Carolina will have Nick Gonzales, Aaron Shackelford, Will Kobos, Brad Case and Jeffrey Passantino. That could change, but those are the early names scheduled to play.

Australia will have five Pirates on the Sydney Blue Sox, who are managed by Pirates scout Tony Harris. Dylan Shockley is the only player announced so far. The season there begins on November 10th, so we should hear the other names soon.

The league in Colombia begins on November 11th. Only Andres Alvarez has been announced for the league, but there should be more Pirates. The Caimanes de Barranquilla team is managed and coached by three coaches with the Pirates, so they are likely to have some Pirates players.

We had five daily winter league recaps in the last week, and that’s about how many we should see per week. They will keep us occupied this off-season into January, possibly even very early February.

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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Why would the Pirates allow Cruz to play winter ball? Is the risk of injury worth what little gain there is to be had, if there is any gain playing at a level below the majors? Frankly I’d have the same questions about many of their top prospects.


Why not play winter ball? I already mentioned risk of injury. You can’t simply discount the risk of injury. The Pirates seem to have some kind of scientific system for resting players, avoiding injury. It just seems totally inconsistent for them to allow these guys to play outside the bounds of that system. Plus whose to say what Cruz is working on or why he’s playing? He’s already shown that he can master minor league pitching. Maybe he’s working on pitch recognition. Maybe not. Frankly, couldn’t he get the same benefit from at bats at Pirate City in the off season where he can be monitored?


You make good points, but I suspect he really wanted to go home. I once asked Jack Wilson if he was excited about the start of spring training, and he basically said he would miss his family.

BTW working with Jack for a week might be a great learning experience for Cruz.

Wilbur Miller

Padres just pulled the mother of all stupid smallball tricks. First and second, one out, one run down in the top of the ninth in an elimination game. And they bunted. On deck was Austin Nola, who’s not exactly Mookie Betts, and he flies out on the first pitch. Tying run in scoring position and they concede an out.

Wilbur Miller

That sounds even worse than sacrificing. I guess the trend toward managers leaving their brains back in the clubhouse isn’t limited to the Pirates. Maybe it’s some new concussion protocol thing where the manager needs to go in the blue tent for a while before he can be cleared to think a little bit.

Beat em bucs

Also, would you have brought in Hader to face Harper? Don’t you want your best reliever, whom you traded for specifically to get the best opponents out, pitching there? I know the almighty “BOOK” says closers only in the bottom of 9th protecting lead but the bottom of the 9th never came and Hader left in BP.

Wilbur Miller

That’s been done repeatedly in the playoffs. Shouldn’t even require the manager to use his brain.


I almost “Hurdled”


Is Venezuela safe enough for Castillo to play there?


Who protects you from the government?

Wilbur Miller

I imagine ballplayers get themselves some sort of security, although I’m just guessing there.


A little surprising to see Endy struggling early on. Maybe a little bit of nerves playing in his home country?


BREAKING NEWS: Endy IS human and will struggle from time to time!!

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