It is well known that under the previous management the international market was largely ignored. The budget for both the VSL and DSL in 2007, was at the maximum of just $750,000, a very low figure for a team that didn’t compete in the free agent market in the majors. The budget amount has been increased four times that amount and they showed last season they were willing to go well over budget to sign a player like Luis Heredia. Just to prove how important the international market is, I thought I would go back to 2006 and examine what the team had then, and still has left just five years later. It’s also a good amount of time for these players to come stateside and establish themselves as prospects since most of those players would be 22-25 now.
Both Latin American teams were typical of the Dave Littelfield era teams. They were older than the league average age and of course, they were put together on a shoestring budget, so a lot of them were either of their way to becoming a DSL/VSL veteran or they already were. They had a total of 68 players between the two teams. The age breakdown of the players were as follows:
18 of them were 20 years old or older
26 of them were 19
18 of them were 18
6 of them were 17 with no 16 years old
Out of the 68 players, only 27 made it to the states. Thats not a horrible percentage, but out of those 27 players, just six are still in the system.
The following players from the VSL team made the states:
Gabriel Alvarado – 23-year-old who has spent the last two seasons at West Virginia, switching to the bullpen after previously starting his whole career. He is still in the organization and should be in the Bradenton bullpen this year.
Carlos Amaro – Played at four different levels over two seasons, 2007-08. Got into only 34 games before being released. Was already twenty-one when he made his pro debut in the VSL in 2006.
Edgar Gutierrez – Pitched three seasons in the VSL before making his debut in the GCL at age twenty-one. He got into 11 games, starting three and posting a 2.65 ERA.
Wilson Ortiz – Pitched poorly in two seasons in the states 2008-09. Topped out at low-A ,where he posted a 7.43 ERA in 41 games.
Nelson Pereira – Surprise release prior to the 2010 season, as he was a young lefty who dominated in the GCL in 2008 and pitched well in his two VSL seasons. Pitched in the Mets system in 2010, doing well out the pen in the NYPL. Still just 22 years old, but doesn’t throw hard and is on the small side.
Carlos Teller – Pitched one season in the GCL in 2008, posting a 4.37 ERA in 13 relief appearances at the age of twenty-one.
Ronald Uviedo – Was added to the 40 man roster at one point before being traded away for Dana Eveland. Some rated him as a top prospect, but he was a two-pitch pitcher who struggled as a starter and also with his new team. Twenty-four year old, who has already put in six years in the minors. He has the best chance of any active players to make the majors, but only as a reliever.
Adenson Chourio – Played three seasons in the VSL before making the states and has now played three seasons here topping out at Bradenton in 2010 as the backup infielder. He is twenty-four and still in the organization.
Henry Henry – Had a great name but not much else. Played one season in the GCL, hitting .220 in 29 games in 2009 before being released.
Joe Munoz – Outfielder who played in the GCL in 2007-08. Played 23 games in Hickory to end the 2008 season, but only hit .195 before being released.
Freizer Pedron – Played just 19 games over two season(2008-09) before being released. Spent three season in the VSL and was 21 years old before making the GCL.
Ciro Rosero – Spent three season in the states, topping out at high-A and playing just 109 games total.
Victor Sanchez – Played one season in the GCL as a 21-year-old in 2008. Hit .284 in 34 games.
Carlos Silva – Lasted three season in the states topping out at State College. He hit well over .300 but was twenty-two and had played just 51 games total in those three seasons.
Michaelangel Trinidad – Still in the organization. Has conditioning troubles, but has a power bat which is rare in this system so he may be given every opportunity to succeed. He’s 22 years old now.
From the DSL team the following players made it to the states:
Ramon Aguero – He is the only player from the two Latin teams who is on the 40 man roster, but his spot can not be safe. He is already twenty-six and he got hit hard in AA last year. He was also one of those age/name change players that got old in a hurry. Back in 2006 he was Samuel Vasquez, a 17-year-old.
Jose Diaz – He made the GCL team in 2007 and made it all the way to high-A. He then pitched two games, throwing 11 scoreless innings in 2008 with Hickory before disappearing with an unknown injury that apparently ended his career.
Wilson Eusebio – The Pirates released him in 2006, but he has actually spent the last two seasons in rookie ball in the Nationals organization. He is 22 years old now.
Papiro Juan – Made it to the GCL in 2009, but lasted just 11 games before being released.
Eddy Nunez – Pitched 14 games in the GCL and NYPL combined in 2007 before being released. He was already twenty-two before being brought to the states.
Ricardo Paulino – Lasted three years in the states, topping out at State College in 2009. He had good results but he was already 23 years old when he was released.
Edwin Garcia – Lasted two seasons(2008-2009) hitting under .200 over 108 total games. Topped out at low-A.
Miguel Mendez – Has spent three season in the states, playing at State College every year. He hit .407 with 5 homers in 15 GCL games in 2008 before being promoted to State College. He is 23 years old and still in the system.
Ronald Pena – Made it to the states in 2007 as a 20-year-old, hitting .296 in 18 games. Catcher, who played 84 games at Hickory in 2008, hitting .248. Played just four games in 2009 before being released.
Silvio Pena – Played 55 games in 2008 between State College and Hickory, hitting .270 before being released.
Gerlis Rodriguez – The 22-year-old first baseman has spent two years in short season ball in the states. He’s hanging on by a thread in the organization, as he hit .201 with one homer at State College this past year.
Alex Vargas – Played 64 games over two seasons in the GCL. He was twenty-two at the time he was released and despite hitting .290, he was a first baseman with no power and he was too old for the league.
So to sum it up, they have just two relievers, a backup catcher, a backup infielder, a very poor hitting first baseman and a first baseman who has some power potential, but he’s out of shape and at age twenty-two he’s played just 27 games in the GCL with mixed results. Also, three players are still active in other organizations, but they all project to be relievers and none of them are sure things for even a cup of coffee in the majors. This upcoming season will be the first that all of the players in both the VSL and DSL are players signed under the current front office. Despite the fact a large portion of this front office’s previous bonus spending will be on players who have already made the states, the future of the current projected rosters looks to be much more promising than the group from five years ago.+ posts
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.