Winter Leagues: Andres Alvarez Drives in Five Runs; Rodolfo Castro Brings Home Three Runs

A recap of Tuesday’s action around winter ball for members of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In the Dominican, Rodolfo Castro went 2-for-3 with two singles, a walk, two runs and three RBIs (see video below). He’s hitting .217 with a .658 OPS in 22 games.

Miguel Andujar went 2-for-4 with two singles and two runs. He has a .296 average and a .784 OPS in 13 games.

Yohan Ramirez allowed his first run of the winter and it came at a bad time, as it cost his team the game in a 2-1 loss. He gave up two hits and a walk, while recording two outs. He had 7.1 shutout innings prior to this game.

Oneil Cruz missed last night’s game due to the flu. His team has a few players currently out.

In Puerto Rico, Tsung-Che Cheng started at shortstop and he went 1-for-4 with a double in his third game. He went 1-for-4 during his first two games.

Will Matthiessen debuted as a pinch-hitter and he struck out in his only at-bat. He was injured for a large majority of the 2022 season, so this winter action will help him make up for lost time.

Jeffrey Passantino tossed a scoreless inning on one hit, no walks and no strikeouts. He has allowed one run in 10.2 innings this winter.

Shawn Ross went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts before leaving for a pinch-hitter. He has a .106 average and a .395 OPS in 22 games, with 32 strikeouts in 75 plate appearances.

In Mexico, Jared Oliva went 0-for-4 with a run scored. He’s hitting .269 with a .717 OPS in 45 games.

Fabricio Macias went 0-for-3 with an RBI on a sacrifice fly. He’s hitting .255 with a .663 OPS in 43 games.

In Colombia, Andres Alvarez went 3-for-5 with a home run (his fifth) and five RBIs. He had a .364 average and a 1.106 OPS in 19 games. He is fourth in the league in hitting, second in homers and first in RBIs (21). He has also handled all 51 chances in the field, while playing four different positions.

Here’s the Castro video. It’s not that exciting, but it’s something.

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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while Nunez was a Cardinal he played almost exclusively at 3B. He only switched to 1B this year. Could the move to 1B be a Rule 5 ploy? If he was a competent 3B it probably means he probably could play RF. A 3B/1B/RF would be much more likely to get picked than a 1B only.


Nah, the Cards are just a competently-run organization and made the positional switch at the exact time you’d expect to see from an org with a track record of maximizing talent.

You don’t f*ck around once a player gets to AA. Nunez had no realistic shot at providing any defensive value outside of maybe 1B, so they made the switch to 1B and began working to make him into a viable one.

Last edited 1 month ago by NMR

When do I have permission to get excited about Alvarez?


Sleepers are no longer some 18 yo kid in short season ball, they’re the 24 yo who’s just flat-out performed without the fanfare of being tagged as “high upside”.

Last edited 1 month ago by NMR
Wilbur Miller

Stranger things have happened. When I saw him way back in the GCL, I figured he’d top out in A-ball.


When he shows he can handle AAA.

Last edited 1 month ago by john_fluharty
Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)



Rodolfo Castro has struggled a little this Winter, but not in the area of concern the Pirates wanted him to improve – OBP. At present he has 12 Walks, and although his BA is only .217, his OBP of .368 ranks as the 9th best in the DWL.

He hit for a .233 BA and a .427 Slugging for the Pirates in 2022, but the OBP was only .299. If he can transition the improvement to MLB, he could be a top of the order candidate, or probably more as the bottom of the order hitter who flips the lineup.


Nice to see that good OBP.


Yeah, I think with his recent success he’s actually had a pretty decent winter league season. The OBP is impressive and even when you add in SLG to get his OPS, he ranks 30th out of 80 players listed on BR. And he’s about five years younger than the average age in the league. So, not great but I see more positive than negative at this point.


John: Traded for Malcom Nunez, and he did even better for the Pirates at Altoona than he did for St Louis in the AA Texas League. And, he will not turn 22 until ST and plays a position of need – 1B. Yet, he is left out there in the R5.

What am I missing? He is too young and all of the numbers are too good through AA. Nothing has been written or rumored that I am aware of but this just does not make baseball sense at all.


probably 16 teams are way to invested in winning a division or making the playoffs that they are going to draft Nunez and have him play first base, DH, or a questionable third base. Plus, he is a few inches short to play first base. And like the Reds who are in disarray, still have Votto at first and/or DH. So, he could be drafted, but much more likely a team that is even interested in a postional player as a rule 5 pick will take a 21 year old outfielder or someone with good positional flexibility.


Are the A’s one of those teams? He seems like a player the A’s would draft and they’re at a stage of rebuilding that it makes sense. However, the 1B the Yankees left unprotected might be even more attractive to them.

I also worry about the Orioles because they’re supposedly in the market for a RH first baseman and while their competitive window has opened, they don’t seem to be to the point where they wouldn’t use a roster spot on a Rule 5 position player.


If someone thinks he can move to the OF he might get taken.


If it could happen anywhere, it would be to the Pirates. It is his bat and control of the strike zone that sets him apart, but also the number of RP “dogs” we left on the 40 at that time.



guess we find out tonight


It seems like all Alvarez does is ball; 2023 looks like a huge “put me in the game, Coach” year for him


The numbers are good, but I’m not sure Colombia Winter League Baseball is any better or even close to equal to what he saw at AA Altoona this Summer. He hit for power at AA but the 220 BA jumps out. If he clears R5, which he should, will the Pirates promote him to AAA?


If he isn’t a rule 5 casualty


Unlikely in my opinion. Indianapolis is going to be a HUGE opportunity. I think he would be trade bait at that time for pitching (although that was what I was saying about Bae 2 years ago…)

Last edited 1 month ago by JimEastTennessee

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