Las Vegas is currently the center of the baseball universe with the Winter Meetings taking place this week. However, that is not the only place to look for baseball news.
This time of year is not only for trade rumors and free agent signings. This is also a time for players, including some with Major League experience, to take their talents to the Dominican Republic, Venezuela or Mexico to sharpen their skill set and become a more impactful asset to their organizations.
There are currently four players that played for the Pittsburgh Pirates or are expected to be big parts of the Pirates’ major league roster playing in the Winter Leagues. Newly acquired Erik Gonzalez, September phenom Pablo Reyes, and Michael Feliz are all playing in the Dominican Winter League. While one of the Pirates’ main players off the bench, Jose Osuna, is playing in Venezuela.
Gonzalez is an interesting piece due to the fact that Pirate General Manager Neal Huntington came out and said the team was comfortable with Gonzalez, as well as Kevin Newman, manning the shortstop position on the MLB club. Whether that is true or not, it would still give a pretty solid reason to check in on what Gonzalez has done thus far in the Dominican.
The young shortstop has played 29 games and hit .246 in 118 at bats. Gonzalez had a similar sample size in the majors last season while playing for the Indians accumulating 136 at bats. Gonzalez batted .264 in those MLB at bats. It would be nice to see his on base percentage go up when he gets with the Pittsburgh Pirates since he is posting a .262 OBP in the Winter League.
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Reyes, another Pirate playing in the Dominican, had a surprising performance after being a September call up last season. Reyes batted .293 with three home runs in 18 games at the end of the season. Reyes is keeping his strong statistics going while playing winter ball. In 37 games he is batting .258 with 13 runs scored and 13 runs batted in in 128 at bats. He is also showing patience at the plate, drawing 18 walks. Reyes is boasting a .349 OBP in his 37 games.
Michael Feliz, a reliever that could play a big role for the club this season, has appeared in five game in the Dominican thus far. He has posted some good numbers for his club, pitching to the tune of a 1.69 ERA and five strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched. Feliz also has owns a 0.38 WHIP and a .111 opponents’ batting average.
Perhaps the most impressive stats come from Venezuela where Osuna is currently getting some game action. Even though the sample size is only four games and 15 at bats, Osuna has a batting average of .600 with three doubles and four RBIs.
His slash line is .625/.800/1.452. Osuna will look to transfer this to the majors where he will get more time off the bench as one of the main bats.
Continued coverage of the Winter Leaguers will be posted weekly here at Rum Bunter throughout the offseason.