Minor League Roster Notes

Garcia is one of the players who should be making the jump to the US this year.

Charlie Wilmoth has been good enough to post the Pirates’ minor league roster at Bucs Dugout (which means he had to type the whole thing in).  The bulk of it is comprised of the players who were already in the system.  Probably the most interesting item every year is the players the team has brought to minor league camp from the two Latin American leagues, and now also from the Australian academy.  Most or all of these players will be with the Gulf Coast League entry this summer.  The roster also sometimes has a few other interesting implications.  Here’s the list of noteworthy names/omissions.  Please note that the minor league roster often contains mistakes or accidental omissions, so none of this information can be taken as gospel.  Of course, we already knew Luis Heredia would be in the GCL, so I won’t list him.

New Arrivals

Francisco Aponte, 2B – Has played three years in the VSL. Hit well in 2009 but missed a good part of the season. Hit .311 in 2010 while leading the VSL in both walks and stolen bases. Plays a lot of positions but is very small, listed at 5′ 11″ and just 140 lbs and has never shown any power. He’s 20 years old.

Orlando Castro, LHP – Small lefty out of Honduras who signed in October 2009 for $90K. He was a dominant pitcher in his country before signing, playing against older competition. Posted a 1.17 ERA and .191 BAA in the VSL in 2010. Throws in the mid to high 80’s with decent secondary stuff and plenty of room to grow. Will be 19 when the GCL season starts.

Willy Garcia, OF – Signed with the Pirates for $280K in early 2010. Was considered top leftover from the previous July 2nd international class.  Potential five tool player who played in the Dominican Prospect League before signing. Hit .250 in the DSL last year. 18 years old

Samuel Gonzalez, C – 22 year old catcher who hit .349 in the DSL in 2010, second highest average in the league. Makes good contact, has some power and put up some nice defensive numbers behind the plate. Was a DSL all-star last year. Signed in 2009 at age 20.

Alen Hanson, 2B – Signed in July 2009 for $90 K. Line drive hitter with some speed and average defense. Hit .324 in the DSL last year. Switch hitter who hits well from both sides of the plate. 18 years old.

Jimmy Hernandez, RHP – Signed in July 2009 for $50 K. Struggled badly his first season but pitched much better in 2010 in the DSL. Moved to starter in July and posted a strong K rate. Turns 19 shortly before the start of the GCL season

Yhonathan Herrand, RHP – 19 year old who signed for $185 K in May 2010. Big 6′ 5″ 230 lb righty who throws the ball up to 97 mph. Pitched in the Dominican Prospect League before signing with the Pirates and went 2-3 5.40 in the DSL in 2010. Has a good change-up and strong curveball but also had control issues in the DSL.

Wilson Lee, LHP – Signed with the Pirates in April 2010 and spent last season at the Australian Baseball Academy, going 1-3 3.98 in 40 IP with 32 K’s.  He’s 19 years old.

Jackson Lodge, LHP – Signed in August 2010 after going  2-3 2.03 with 22 K’s  in 40 IP over 8 starts in the Australian Baseball Academy. He’s only 17 years old

Cesar Lopez, RHP – Signed for $600k out of Cuba late last year but his contract was finalized just recently once he got his visa. Throws 94 mph with a sinker/slider arsenal and has a great feel for pitching. 20 year old who pitched in Mexico last year

Porfirio Lopez, LHP – Small 21 year old lefty who has pitched great for the last two seasons in the DSL. Signed in 2008,pitched out of bullpen his first season but has started past two with 1.23 and 1.53 ERAs to show for it.

Alex Lukasevich, RHP – 16 year old is the first player out of Belarus to sign with a major league team. Was followed by at least 6 teams and signed with the Pirates in July 2010 for 90k.

Diomedes Mateo, LHP – 21 year old lefty who apparently recently signed with the Pirates. He was at the Dominican Academy in January and he didn’t play anywhere last year. Tall and lanky, 6’5″ 190. A basic unknown at this point.

Jose Ortiz, C – Signed for $70k in 2009 out of Puerto Rico. Advanced defensive catcher with a good arm but his bat is lagging behind. Took some walks but had a high K rate as well. 21 years old.

Jose Ozuna, OF – Led the VSL in homers with 10 and finished 3rd in the league in doubles in 2010,his first pro season.  6″2 215 lb 18 year old who signed in late 2009 out of the Latin American Prospect Academy. Rare hitter with power in the system.

Ricky Perez, RHP – 6″3 righty who turns 21 shortly before the start of the GCL season. Signed in April 2009 and went to the DSL as a reliever where he posted a 3.60 ERA with a very high groundball rate. Last year moved to starter and didn’t do as well missing the 2nd half of the season with an unknown injury.

David Pino, 3B – 20 year old infielder who has played three seasons in the VSL and shown improvements each year. Hit .313 in 2010 showing some power and decent speed while mostly playing 2B.

Ashley Ponce, SS – 20 year old infielder who signed in 2008 making his debut the following season in the VSL. Has hit .268 in both of his seasons,makes decent contact,takes walks and can steal some bases.

Christopher Richardson, LHP – Signed in 2010 for $80k. Can throw his fastball up to 91 mph. Pitched in the DSL in 2010 with poor overall results, 5.68 ERA but a very high K rate, 47 K’s in 38 IP. Was winner of a Dominican reality show called “El Rookie”. 6’0″ lefty who turns 19 in May.

Luis Urena, OF – Signed in November 2009 for $160k. 6’5″ outfielder with raw tools but potential to be an above average five tool player. Did not hit well in the DSL plus missed time with an injury but the scouting reports on him are through the roof in every category. 18 years old.

Players Not Listed

Adam Davis, 3B – Davis was a struggling Indians’ prospect brought in last year in the wake of the injury epidemic at Bradenton. He didn’t do much for the Pirates, either, so it’s no surprise to see him gone.

Jorge Julio, RHP – The one-time Orioles’ closer was trying to make it back from independent ball and signed with the Pirates over the winter, but he isn’t on the roster. He may have decided to retire.

Milver Reyes, C – The longtime organizational catcher’s at-bats dwindled to eleven last year. He may have become a full-time coach, which is mostly what he’d been doing anyway.

Other Notes

Shortstop Yhonathan Barrios, a high visibility signing out of Colombia in 2009, missed all of 2010 due to hamate surgery, but is in camp and apparently healthy.

Jesus Brito, up until now a thirdbaseman, is listed as a RHP. This could be an error, but Brito didn’t exactly light up the South Atlantic League last year. Position switches like this are often a last resort to make something of a player who does have some talent.

Catcher Jordan Newton is listed, but according to Baseball America he retired very recently, possibly after the roster was printed. Like Davis, he was brought in to help after all the injuries at Bradenton.

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Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.

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