Through three weeks in Altoona, the biggest story coming out of the AA affiliate is Stolmy Pimentel’s remarkable success. While some of us predicted he would be effective in AA this season, the results so far are beyond all expectations:
2 W, 0 L, 1 ER, 19 H, 14 BB, 28 K in 30.1 innings pitched
As Tim Williams reported last week, Pirates Director of Minor League Operations Larry Broadway has been impressed with the 23-year old’s stuff, and the organization is once again instilling the importance of fastball command with another pitching prospect.
Although I’ve only seen the right-hander on video so far this season, I had a chance to finally talk with him face-to-face to get his own thoughts on the hot start to the season.
“I’ve been trying to attack hitters and that’s been working pretty good,” said Pimentel.
He added, “The organization has wanted me to pitch inside, so that’s something I’ve been working on a lot.”
For as good as Pimentel has been this season, he was at times that bad throwing for the Portland Seadogs in the Eastern League in 2011 and 2012, to the tune of a 9.12 and 4.59 ERA respectively. So what changed?
“The experience—I’ve been learning from the struggles I’ve had the past couple years. This year I feel more comfortable with my pitches, more aggressive, more focused. That combination is putting me in better positions with hitters,” said Pimentel.
Some people have asked me if Pimentel’s success is a result of being back in AA for at least part of a third season. As he said in his own words, the experience has certainly helped him grow, but the remarkable changes witnessed so far cannot easily be chalked up to “repeat level” success. Fastball command, aggressiveness on the inside part of the plate, and continued development of his slider have put Pimentel back on the prospect map.
Luck has also been on Pimentel’s side so far in the early going. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is only .244, suggesting that when hitters have been making contact, he’s been getting them out at a rate that will be hard to maintain. Once batters do get on base, he’s kept them there, an effect of some good pitching, but also a sign that regression could be coming as the opposition has been spreading their hits out against the right-hander.
Sooner or later, Pimentel will give up a few runs, but that is just fine. Even when his results do come back to human-level again, his early performance in the Pirates organization has already launched him back into discussions about a future in a big-league rotation. Plain and simple, he has the stuff, and is finally starting to harness it and learn how to pitch.
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