Pittsburgh Pirates: Early January Dominican Winter League Update
By Marty Leap
As the Dominican Winter League carries on, let’s check in on how players from the Pittsburgh Pirates are performing
The Dominican Winter League is continuing to carry on. While Gregory Polanco had his season cut short due to a broken wrist, there are still three potential key members of the 2021 Pittsburgh Pirates playing in the DR.
One of these Pittsburgh Pirates players is reliever Edgar Santana. Santana will be looking to bounce back in 2021 after missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery and 2020 due to a PED suspension, and so far this winter Santana has pitched well.
As of Wednesday evening, Santana had pitched 5.2 innings in six games in the DR. In these 5.2 innings Santana has allowed two earned runs on six hits, two walks and five strikeouts. He has hit a batter and has not allowed any home runs.
It is great to see Santana finding success in his first game action in over two calendar years. Santana can be a key cog out of the bullpen for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021. If he is able to do this then the work he got done in the Dominican this winter will likely be a big reason why.
Another Pirate reliever pitching in the Dominican this winter is potential 2021 closer Richard Rodriguez. Rich Rod was recently signed by Aguilas Cibaenas to help with their playoff run. Rodriguez made his first outing with the team on Monday. In his 1 innings of work he allowed a run on two hits, no walks and two strikeouts.
Oneil Cruz got off to a slow start in the DR Winter League. However, he has improved in recent weeks including his first home run of the winter.
Cruz’s home run was a thing of beauty. Hitting an opposite field home run with that much ease is an impressive feat that few human beings can do. There is a reason why Cruz, with Ke’Bryan Hayes now at the Major League level, has become the Pirates’ top hitting prospect, and one of the most highly touted in all of baseball.
Another noteworthy performer for Gigantes del Cibao, the same team Santana and Cruz play for, is Pirate prospect Yerry De Los Santos. One of the most underrated prospects in the Pirate system, De Los Santos allowed just two hits, he did not walk a batter and struck out seven in 6 scoreless innings to start his season in the Dominican.
Gigantes del Cibao played in game four of their semi-final round series on Wednesday night. While they lost 7-6, dropping their series lead to 3-1, it was a big night for Cruz. In the loss Cruz was 3-for-4 with a double, a walk and he drove in a run.
Unfortunately, it was a rough night for De Los Santos. The righty allowed three runs on two hits and a walk in his inning of work.