It was a slightly abbreviated week for the DSL Pirates as the league takes the weekend off for the All-Star game. The Pirates have two representatives in the game, starting pitcher Yeudy Garcia and second baseman Raul Siri. We did a feature on Yeudy Garcia two weeks ago, he’s a hard-throwing righty that really keeps the ball on the ground, while picking up his share of strikeouts. More on him below in the weekly recap, but for now we focus on the second baseman.
I’ve been a little pessimistic about Siri up until now, highlighting how well he is doing, but always pointing out his flaws. It’s based on what we know from the past about players from the DSL, a collection of red flags to watch for with them. At 5’9″, 175 pounds, he is small for a baseball player. He signed last year with no fanfare, just part of a group announcement of seven players, with not even a mention of what skills he possesses. Usually, you will hear something/anything on a player that flashes potential, but he was just a name and a position. The final red flag is his age, he is already 19 years old and due to his birthday, he could have signed on July 2, 2011, which means he went unsigned for two full years before the Pirates finally gave him a chance. Then he went another ten months before he played his first game as a pro.
Following these players closely for the last seven years or so, you look for certain things when players sign and age/bonus/size are three pretty important factors. Basically, a player shouldn’t have strikes in all three categories. That brings us to Raul Siri, who was named to the DSL All-Star team on Thursday and deservedly so. He is fifth in the DSL with a .969 OPS and has a .325/.417/.552 triple slash line. He has crazy home/road splits that favor the road heavily, posting a .794 OPS at home, versus a 1.126 OPS away from home. Among regulars on the Pirates, he leads the team in almost every major offensive category, everything except walks(2nd), RBIs(2nd) and stolen bases. Siri has been hitting well all season too, his stats aren’t padded due to a hot streak.
With all this in mind, it was time to get a scouting report on him, so I elicited the opinions of four people close to the team and this is what I got. You’ll notice there is some variation in the reports.
The first person called him a very complete player. He hits for power and makes good contact. He is fast and plays great defense, giving it his all out in the field. He’s very impressive.
The second report said he is a very good hitter, two or three hits everyday. He’s small, but he can hit for power. He isn’t very fast(average) and his defense is good.
Report three said that he’s a very good player, good runner with average speed. His defense is what needs more work. He is a small player, but he has the power to hit home runs.
The final person said that he is the best hitter on the team. Average runner, who needs to work on his defense. He is an aggressive hitter, that uses the whole field and waits for his pitch. He’s a line drive hitter, who should be able to hit for power in the future.
Week In Review-The Hitters
Jeremias Portorreal is the best prospect on the Pirates, but another high bonus signing from 2013 is trying to replace him in that top spot. Edison Lantigua signed for $275,000 last year and has looked like he is worth every penny of that so far. The 17-year-old left fielder is hitting .292/.394/.451 in 32 games. He went 5-for-17 with a double and triple this week, giving him ten doubles and four triples on the season. Portorreal was rated higher because he is younger by seven months(which is significant at their age), has better size and the better scouting report/bonus(sound like familiar reasons?). He really hasn’t shown much with the bat so far, though he did have the same week Lantigua did, going 5-for-17 with a double and triple. Portorreal’s triple slash line on the year is .194/.320/.290, so there is obviously a big difference between the two players early on in their careers.
Shortstop Adrian Valerio had a pretty good week, going 8-for-20, though it was all singles and he didn’t draw a walk, so his slash line was .400 across the board. The important part is that he is hitting well this year, because his bat was in question when he signed for $400,000 last year. The Pirates felt so highly of his defense at shortstop, they gave him the biggest bonus among international players last year. He is hitting .260, with 14 extra-base hits in 150 at-bats and the best sign might be his 18 strikeouts, showing he makes consistent contact.
Infielder Luis Perez was the best player this week. He hasn’t got much mention here because he has seen limited playing time. Perez went 6-for-11 this week. He is hitting .309, with 11 walks in 55 at-bats.
Jhoan Herrera did well in his first week back in the DSL. The 19-year-old third baseman was returned to the DSL last week after spending the start of the season in the United States. He suffered an ankle injury that kept him out of action and when he was healthy, the Pirates sent him back to the DSL to get playing time. Herrera was 4-for-11, with two doubles and two walks. He signed for $300,000 in 2012.
Third baseman Johan De Jesus was another high-priced signing from 2012. He received a $200,000 bonus and was one of the youngest players on the team last year. Playing shortstop in his first season, he struggled badly on both offense and defense. He moved to third base this year and has seen a slight improvement to his batting. De Jesus has already drawn twice as many walks(14/28) as last year. He has six stolen bases in six attempts after going 6-for-10 last year. De Jesus has yet to show any power, with just five extra-base hits over two seasons, all doubles.
Catcher Mikell Granberry was featured here last week after he showed improvements on both offense and defense. He caught two games during this shortened week and had just one hit, though it was a big one. Granberry drove home two runs with a double on Thursday. He has a .769 OPS in 24 games this year.
Center fielder Victor Fernandez had a nice week, hitting .350, with four walks from the lead-off spot. He is the fastest player on the team(and I’m told it’s not even close), but he missed some time with a minor hamstring injury. That may be affecting him, because he reached base 11 times this week and didn’t attempt one stolen base. Young outfielder Eliezer Ramirez still isn’t seeing much playing time, but he did go 2-for-3 in one of his two starts this week. The 17-year-old from Venezuela, signed for $120,000 last year.
Week In Review-The Pitching
As usual with the DSL Pirates this season, there isn’t much pitching to talk about. The good part is that the best pitching prospect on the team had the best week. Right-hander Luis Escobar threw five shutout innings and has really bounced back from a horrible start to the year. In his second game, he allowed ten earned runs in 1.2 innings. In seven starts since then, he has allowed ten earned runs in 31.2 innings. He’s pitching like the potential player the Pirates saw when he signed for $150,000 last year and the slow start should have been expected. He was a third baseman two years ago, before moving to the mound when his coach realized his arm was his best asset. He can hit 94 MPH, but his secondary pitches needed work and his feel for pitching wasn’t there yet when he signed. It seems like he is reaching that potential rather quickly after the poor start.
All-Star Yeudy Garcia have up one run over four innings in his only start. In eight starts this year, he has a 2.39 ERA over 37.2 innings. Garcia hasn’t allowed a homer, has a .250 BAA and an incredible 3.33 GO/AO ratio. The hard-throwing righty has thrown shutout ball in half of his starts.
Richard Mitchell picked up his team-leading fifth win this week, allowing three runs over five innings. With pitchers limited to five innings in their starts, Mitchell has pitched a total of 38.1 innings in his eight outings, the highest total on the team. He has a 3.99 ERA and has shown good control, walking nine batters. Mitchell hasn’t walked more than two in any game this year and he has walked just two total in his last four starts.
The Pirates got decent relief pitching this week, which looks especially good compared to how bad it was earlier in the year. A total of 12 relievers combined to give up seven earned runs over 20 innings. The team no longer has the worst ERA in the DSL, though they still place just two spots from the bottom with their collective 5.08 ERA.
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.