Winter Leagues: Rough Debut for Oneil Cruz; Edgar Santana Makes an Appearance

I usually wait until we have more content before posting a Winter Leagues daily recap, but it was Opening Day in the Dominican and two players of note saw action.  In case you missed it, here was our early winter preview.

Here are some quick notes on what we do here. Anyone who is in the Pittsburgh Pirates system is covered here and that coverage usually includes 7-8 different countries, as long as there is a player of note in that country. We also cover guys who were with the Pirates at the end of 2020, but became free agents. Once they sign elsewhere, we stop covering them, though it seems like every year 1-2 of them re-sign with the Pirates. The winter coverage usually runs until early February with the Caribbean Series and Australia playing later in the winter, but we will see how it all plays out this year with shortened schedules everywhere. We usually have about five articles per week during the busy period and the slow time will get either articles when something of note happens, or a weekly wrap-up type of article.

The best quality of competition for winter ball is in the Dominican, where the average level of play is similar to Triple-A. There are plenty of players in the league with big league experience. After that, Mexico, Venezuela and Puerto Rico are about the same, with Double-A quality of play in an average year. It won’t be worse than that, but some years have been closer to Triple-A quality. Australia isn’t far behind those three countries, and in a good year it’s about the same as Double-A. Colombia is closer to Low-A, while Nicaragua and Panama are more like short-season ball, similar to what we saw in Bristol.

Action in the Dominican

As the title noted, it was a rough debut for Oneil Cruz in the Dominican. His team won 8-5 in ten innings and they had 23 base runners, but he was not one of those runners. He went 0-for-6 with three strikeouts and he committed an error.

Edgar Santana pitched for the first time since Spring Training, and also the first time since 2018 in a game that counted. He missed 2019 with Tommy John surgery and 2020 due to a PED suspension. Santana faced four batters and gave up two singles, while recording two outs. He had one strikeout. He inherited two runners from former Pirates minor leaguer Jesus Liranzo and both runners scored.

Pablo Reyes also missed all of 2020 due to suspension. He became a free agent after this past season, but he’s still available for now, so we will keep an eye on him. He went 1-for-5 with a double and an RBI in his team’s opener.

The league in Mexico is scheduled to start back up tomorrow night. There are four Pirates in that league, so that should help future articles for content until the other leagues start up.