DSL Pirates Season Recap Part One: Pitchers

The DSL Pirates had their best season since 2007 when they were led by two 23 year old pitchers who combined for a 15-3 record and really had no business being in the DSL at that point due to their advanced age. This year the Pirates were forced to go to some more over age pitchers to help fill out the roster while they waited for younger signees to have their contracts approved and ages verified by MLB. The process was slower this year than normal so you will see some names on this list of pitchers that were just short term roster fillers,only with the team based on the need to cover innings.

The team finished with a  41-30 record and the pitching was near the middle of the league all season. They used 31 pitchers, but for the most part I will save you the details on the short-term roster fillers as they are either already gone or won’t be around next year. From last year’s team two pitchers made the jump to the states for good: Porfirio Lopez, who has pitched as high as High-A Bradenton this year and Yhonatan Herrand, a highly touted arm, although he missed the first half of the GCL season. Six of the pitchers were released and as you will see below, some guys who made it to the GCL stopped back by for a brief visit during the season.

The list of this year’s pitchers is in order of innings pitched from top to bottom.

Starting off with the player who put in the most time on the mound, Clario Perez led the team in both games started with 13 and innings pitched with 68. He is an 18 year old (turns 19 August 30th) 6′ 1″ RHP who pitched mostly in relief his first two seasons. He has a low strikeout rate but has always displayed excellent control and in the last two years combined he allowed just one home run. He finished the season with 8 straight starts in which he allowed one earned run or less. I would expect him to make the jump to the states next year.

First year player Mervin Del Rosario pitched an impressive 51 innings and led the team in wins with six. He was signed during last year’s July 2nd signing period for a six figure bonus and easily got the most innings of any first year player. While he posted a 3.53 ERA over those 51 innings, he had just a 20/19 BB/K ratio and a low groundball rate so I could see him returning for another season. The 6′ 3″ LHP does turn 20 during next spring training so a promotion wouldn’t be out of the question.

Christopher De Leon pitched well last year in his brief debut posting a 2.21 ERA in 19.2 innings although he had some control issues walking 12 batters. The 19 year old 6′ 0″ RHP was hard to hit last year and he continued that this season posting a .205 BAA. This year however he greatly improved his command walking just 19 in 48  innings. He doesn’t have a great groundball rate but he has yet to allow a home run since turning pro. He looks like he is ready to make the jump to the states.

Martires Cadet had an impressive season posting a 1.22 ERA in 37 innings, not enough to qualify for the league ERA title but he did have a better mark than the league leader. He held batters to a .196 BAA and didn’t allow a home run or hit a batter all season. His control was a little spotty with 23 walks but he had games of 8 and 9 strikeouts late in the year. He missed almost all of June, getting in just 1.2 innings. Cadet has now pitched three seasons in the DSL and should move up next year. The 20 year old 6′ 2″ LHP has been tough to hit all three seasons and his return this year was a little bit of a surprise due to the fact he was invited to the Fall Instructional League last October

Christian Henriquez is another first year player signed during last year’s July 2nd signing period. He struggled at times but had some nice outings recently including back-to-back outings in which he allowed just 2 hits, no walks over 6.1 innings with 8 strikeouts. The 19 year old 6′ 0″ LHP would seem like he is bound to return to the DSL next year as a starter. He was too hittable and had the worst groundball rate on the team at 0.46 GO/AO.

Aneudy Merejo was the team’s closer this year and he posted some impressive stats earning him a trip to the DSL all-star game. He was strong across the board posting a nice ERA (1.80), WHIP (1.06), GO/AO (2.24) and K rate (37 in 35 innings) while walking just 11 batters. The problem with him seems to be the size at just 5′ 10″ and 155 from the right-hand side and the fact that he is a 20 year old who has pitched only in relief which really limits his potential.

Francisco Vilchez was covered in the VSL report. He came over to the DSL to help fill innings and was very impressive, posting better numbers in the DSL which is recognized as the better league between the two foreign summer leagues. He struck out 36 batters in 33.1 innings while posting a 2.16 ERA and a .205 BAA. He is in his 4th season in the VSL/DSL which means he must move up to the states next year or be released.

Raul Batis was the most used of the roster fillers. At age 22 he has already pitched in short-season A ball back in 2008 and had not pitched anywhere else since then until signing with the Pirates in late June. He actually pitched one year in the DSL back in 2006.

Juan Mendoza looked like a roster filler signing at age 25 but we were told when he signed he was just a very late bloomer. His stats did not back that up and he showed no signs of being a prospect with a 5.12 ERA and a 22/21 BB/K ratio strictly as a reliever. He must’ve impressed them at some point for the team to actually announce his signing and being a first year player I guess it is possible he could be around next year.

Javier Berroa put up some nice stats 1.52 ERA and 32 K’s in 29.1 innings so it is sad for me to say that he is also a roster filler. At 24 years old he really shouldn’t be in this league. He had already put in two seasons as a member of the Nationals organization in the DSL and did not pitch in 2010.

Cesilio Pimentel was one of those kids they had to wait for so he could start playing. He made his debut on July 15th and he immediately impressed. The 18 year old 6′ 2″ LHP posted a 2.31 ERA in 7 appearances, 3 as a starter and he struck out 31 in just 23.1 innings. He showed good control and got great results so I wouldn’t count him out from moving to the states next year despite the limited DSL time.

Luis Santos is a tricky player to figure out. He was 20 when signed but had not pitched anywhere else prior so I’m not so sure he was a roster filler. The 6′ 0″ RHP did well with a 2.70 ERA, nice groundball rate and 23 strikeouts in 23.1 innings. As far as DSL players go, he fits more into the possible prospect who was a late bloomer category than the 25 year old Mendoza does.

Ramon Rodriguez is an 18 year old 6′ 4″ RHP who had a decent season cut short by missing a month of it just when he was starting to do well. In mid-June he put together two starts in which he allowed just 1 earned run in 9 innings with 9 strikeouts. He didn’t pitch again until July 28th when he came back and threw 4 shutout innings. His bad games were his first and last games, in between them he allowed just 2 earned runs over 17 innings. He should be a regular starter for next year’s team.

Ricky Perez has had troubles staying healthy the last two years and it will likely spell the end for him. He has good size at 6′ 3″ and 205 but the 21 year old RHP has missed almost two months this season after throwing just 17.2 innings last year and the results weren’t getting any better before he got hurt.

Angel Sanchez had a very disappointing season. The 6′ 7″ LHP had a decent rookie season posting a great 2.04 GO/AO rate, a 4.02 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 31.1 innings which earned him an all-star berth in 2010. His problem was control and at 6′ 7″and 190 lbs and just 17 years old last year that wasn’t a complete surprise. This year however the control was even worse (22 BB in 12.2 IP) and he struck out just 4 batters in 12 appearances. His struggles also limited the amount of work he got. He posted a 13.50 ERA and couldn’t get through 3 innings of work in any of his appearances. He is still young so he still has time to turn things around.

Next up is Rinku Singh, the pitcher from India. He was here just to get work and help with innings. He has played with 4 teams in the organization this year. He was in the DSL early in the year and pitched three games before joining the GCL team when their season started. He was 1-0 2.45 in 11 innings.

Arquimedes Lorenzo missed the first 50 games of the year due to suspension for a PED that was in violation of the minor league drug program. His stats weren’t great last year but the team was very high on him when they signed him back in 2009. Unfortunately the suspension cut his season down to just 4 appearances and he was very rusty allowing 22 base runners in just 9 innings. Since they kept him around at age 20 now, they must really like him so I would expect him to be around next year, possibly in the GCL since he will be 21 by the time that season starts in 2012.

Christopher Richardson joined Singh as a pitcher from the states coming to the DSL before the GCL season started to get some extra work and fill in some innings. He was 0-1 3.24 in 8.1 innings over 3 games. As soon as the GCL season started he left the DSL, where he had pitched all last season.

Luis Baez is a 21 year old who was signed to fill innings. He had previously pitched one game last year for the DSL Rangers and did not do well. This year for the Pirates he pitched 6 games in relief, 8.1 innings and he hasn’t pitched since July 15 when he allowed 3 runs in 2/3 of an inning. That likely spelled the end of his Pirates career.

Jim Hernandez was likely on the same planes that took Singh and Richardson back and forth from Bradenton to the Dominican. He pitched 8.1 innings and got hit pretty hard before returning to the GCL when their season started. Hernandez was a starting pitcher on the 2010 DSL team and he has pitched a good amount of innings in the GCL this year.

Diomedes Mateo was likely on the same plane, stop me if you heard this one before. He has a different story though. Back in 2008 the Pirates signed Mateo when he was known as 16 year old Yoldi Sierra and he was supposed to be pretty good for his age. Unfortunately he wasn’t very good for his real age, and at 21 now, the 6′ 2″ LHP has struggled this year. He hasn’t pitched since early 2009 so the struggles shouldn’t have been unexpected. In 7.1 DSL innings he gave up 4 runs and allowed 14 base runners. He has pitched regularly in the GCL with mixed results since returning.

Jose Garcia was the ultimate roster filler. He has been around baseball so long that he played for West Virginia when it was still a Brewers affiliate. He was around for 2 weeks and pitched 4 games in relief before being released in mid-July. Just skipping ahead a little to include Joaquin Santamaria, who pitched for his 4th organization in the DSL, likely a record. He was a roster filler who was around even less time than Garcia. He pitched just 2 games and got just one out before being released a week after signing.

Brayan Almonte is the RHP version of Angel Sanchez, a 6′ 7″ twig with no control. He was also on the same plane with half the GCL roster. He got beat around in three games before returning to the GCL where he has pitched even worse. In his career the 19 year old has walked 56 batters in 46.1 innings.

Yunior Montero was signed last year during the July 2nd signing period for $185 K but it was the 2nd time the Pirates had signed him. He originally signed in 2009 for just $45 K and was working out at the Pirates training facility but he failed the background check done by MLB so the contract was voided. It looked like he was going to be something special this year after he pitched 5 shutout innings in his debut on May 29th but that was his last appearance of the season. More age/ identity issues ended his season this year but the team is trying to work through it with MLB.

Jose Regalado is a 19 year old 6′ 3″ RHP who just started his career in late July. He only pitched in relief and just 5 innings over 4 appearances allowing one earned run on 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out five. I would expect him to return to the team next year in a bigger role.

Jovany Lopez is a VSL veteran who came over to the DSL to help with innings just like Vilchez. He also returned to the VSL after a brief stay in which he threw just 4 innings over two appearances. The 20 year old LHP is on the small side and has pitched strictly in relief in his three seasons of pro ball so despite decent results he would be low end on the prospect scale.

Antonio Jimenez was another roster filler. He had spent two years in the DSL in Yankees system prior to signing in late June. The 20 year old lasted just three games before being released

Adrian Grullon is an 18 year old 6′ 0″ RHP and one of the pitchers the Pirates were waiting on for contract approval. He has been around since well before the DSL season started but only made his first appearance on August 11th when he debuted with two shutout innings. Four days later he struck out two in a scoreless inning. He started the last game of the year and got hit around pretty good in his two innings of work. He will likely get a lot of innings for next year’s DSL team.

Isaac Sanchez at age 18 was a surprise addition to the GCL team this year, after all, he had pitched just 8.2 innings in his pro career, last year in the DSL. This year he actually pitched a game in the DSL before going back to the states (he obviously wasn’t alone in this). He gave up 2 hits, 2 walks and 3 runs in 1.2 innings, never to return to the DSL mound. He has pitched fairly well in the GCL for such a young age and lack of experience, posting a 4-0 3.86 record in 13 games with a huge groundball rate.

Finally we have Axel Diaz, another pitcher who was around for awhile before he actually got a chance to pitch. The 20 year old 6′ 2″ RHP made just two appearances in mid-July. The first one he threw a scoreless inning. He followed that up with an appearance where he faced just two batters before leaving the game, presumably with an injury since he has not pitched again.

Continue to Part Two: The Hitters