For a season preview of the Pittsburgh Pirates two Dominican Summer League teams, check out our article here. Throughout the year, we will provide the recaps of both teams, as well as highlight one player each day.
Result: Rockies 5, Pirates 2
Starting Pitcher: Ramon Rodriguez, RHP (0-3, 4.15) – 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 0 HR
Top Hitter: Reggie Cerda, C (.067) – 1-for-3, BB, RBI
Other Notable Performers:
Julio de la Cruz, 3B (.191) – 0-for-4
Christian Henriquez, LHP (1.93) – 2.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0 HR
Tito Polo, LF (.365) – 1-for-3, BB
Johan De Jesus, SS (.190) – 0-for-3, 2 K
Game Notes: Starter Ramon Rodriguez pitched well today, but still picked up his third straight loss to start the season. Rodriguez pitched five innings without allowing a walk, the third straight starter for Pirates1 to accomplish that feat. Catcher Reggie Cerda collected his first hit of the season and had the only RBI for the Pirates, but he also made three throwing errors, allowing six steals on seven attempts. Luis Benitez was the only Pirates player to have a multi-hit game, hitting two singles. Both he and Tito Polo, stole their seventh base of the season. Shortstop prospect Johan De Jesus has had a very rough three game stretch recently. He struck out twice today in three AB’s, giving him eight strikeouts in his last nine plate appearances. He also committed two errors today, giving him nine on the year.
Result: Orioles2 3, Pirates 2
Starting Pitcher: Omar Basulto, LHP (0-1, 2.25) – 5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 0 HR
Top Hitter: Michael de la Cruz, CF (.311) – 1-for-3, 2 BB
Other Notable Performers:
Jhoan Herrera, DH (.275) – 0-for-4, BB
Yoel Gonzalez, C (.103) – DNP
Carlos Munoz, 1B (.386) – 2-for-5
Richard Mitchell, RHP (0.90) – 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0 HR
Game Notes: Starter Omar Basulto gave up three runs to pick up the loss, as the Orioles2 won the first of a two game series against the Pirates. Basulto started the season with seven shutout innings over two starts. He was followed by top pitching prospect Richard Mitchell, who threw two scoreless innings. He has allowed one run in ten innings this year, covering four relief outings. Mitchell has given up just four hits. Jesus Paredes finished up the game for the Pirates, throwing a scoreless eighth. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in seven innings this year. The three pitchers combined for eight strikeouts and no walks. Michael de la Cruz reached base three times today, making it 27 times on base this year in 13 games. Third baseman Jesus Ronco had the only extra base hit(double) and the only RBI for the Pirates. The double was his first hit of the season.
Player Of The Day
This past July 2nd signing period, the Pirates signed two players with the last name de la Cruz, though they are not related. They each got $700,000 bonuses to sign. I picked Julio de la Cruz as the top player to watch this year because we were told that he was the Pirates main target during this signing period. It is still entirely possible he is the better of the two, but Michael de la Cruz is sure making a good argument for himself to be the better prospect.
Michael was called a possible five tool center fielder, who still needs to add power to his game. As mentioned above, the bat is sure playing well early, with a .311 average and 13 walks in 13 games, reaching base in all but one game. He has been batting lead-off and playing center field, which is a good sign at his age. The 6’1″ lefty/lefty is still just 16-years-old, now three weeks shy of his next birthday. The power hasn’t surfaced at all yet, as all 14 hits he has have been singles. There is also the baserunning that needs work. He has been successful on one of three steal attempts, not the numbers you’d expect from someone who has speed as a tool, though just the fact he’s playing everyday at his age is impressive.
There was word over the Winter that he, along with Julio, could open the season in the Gulf Coast League. I wouldn’t count him playing in the DSL instead as a setback because very few players make that jump as his age. For now, I’m considering him the top prospect among Pirates players in the DSL.
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.