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January 14, 2014

Minor League Update

International Winter League Games of January 13

by Jeff Moore

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There were only two games in the Caribbean on Monday night, and neither of them involved Bobby Abreu, so this isn’t the deepest update of 2014. Still, there’s always something worth noting.

  • Eduardo Escobar, SS, Twins (Caribes de Anzoategui, VWL): 1-4, BB, 2 K. There’s not enough bat here to play regularly, despite his .880 OPS in Triple-A last season. His struggles in the majors are more indicative, although his glove is strong enough to justify a bench role.
  • Mario Lisson, 1B, Free Agent (Navegantes del Magallanes, VWL): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, K. I haven’t talked about Lisson all winter because he’s not a prospect at all; he actually played in the Mexican League in 2013. Still, two more home runs on Monday give him 16 for the winter, which is impressive no matter a player’s age or affiliation.
  • Ender Inciarte, CF, Diamondbacks (Aguilas del Zuila, VWL): 2-4. Inciarte is a favorite of mine simply because I have an affinity for the leadoff/speed profile and root for those guys to get on base enough to have value. Inciarte is on the fringe of being able to pull that off.
  • Jose Pirela, 2B, Yankees (Aguilas del Zuila, VWL): 2-3, 2 R, BB. Kelly Johnson, the second baseman the Yankees signed to help replace Robinson Cano, may now have to play some third base in the wake of Alex Rodriguez’s suspension. Pirela is by no means a long-term answer, but if the Yankees attempt to piece together their 2B/3B options with part-time/platoon players, he could be a piece to use. Pirela hits lefties quite well and spent the majority of 2013 in Double-A. He hit .332/.415/.514 in the Venezuelan regular season and could be a guy who fits into the puzzle. He can back up at shortstop as well as play second base. The Yankees haven’t announced their non-roster invites yet, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Pirela get one.

A Note on Bobby Abreu
I’ve had some fun with Abreu’s ridiculously hot winter over the past few weeks and intend to continue to do so as long as he wants to take us on this wild ride. There’s not much stock to be put into winter league numbers, but considering that teams like the Orioles are bringing in players like Delmon Young to compete for a spot as a platoon DH, it’s hard to believe Abreu won’t at least get an invite to spring training if he wants one. I didn’t get to see Abreu play in Venezuela this winter and have no idea what kind of shape he’s in, but I’ll bet he can get on base more often than Young.

Jeff Moore is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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