The 2010 GCL Pirates season started on Monday, but due to the lack of rosters, I was unable to do the preview for the start of the season. Now that the rosters are official, we can take a look at some of the top prospects at the level, plus what to watch for later in the season.
The 2010 season can be divided up in to two parts: the present and the future. Most of the prospects at the level right now will move up the ranks, probably by the end of July. That doesn’t mean the level will be bare, as we should see a wave of new players from the 2010 draft coming through, specifically the high school players from the draft. For now, let’s start with the guys to watch at the start of the season.
The opening day roster features a few pitchers who are rehabbing from injury. It’s unlikely that these guys will be at the level for more than a few starts.
Brett Lorin - Lorin is coming back from hip surgery, and after dominating all year at the low-A level in 2009, he is expected to end up in high-A this year in Bradenton. Lorin was my favorite part of the Jack Wilson trade, so I’m looking forward to seeing him the most.
Jeffrey Inman - Inman fell to the Pirates in the 12th round of the 2009 draft after a year full of injuries. Prior to his junior year in college, Inman was considered a potential top round talent. Inman pitched a few innings in State College last year, and was expected to start the 2010 season with West Virginia before being held back with more injury issues. My guess is that he ends up in West Virginia once healthy.
Colton Cain - The Pirates drafted Cain in the 8th round of the 2009 draft, and gave him $1.125 M to break his commitment from Texas. Cain had minor back surgery to start the season. He is healthy now, and will likely make a few starts with the short season teams. My guess is that he will eventually end up in West Virginia.
Trent Stevenson - Stevenson spent some time in the GCL last year, with a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings, and an 8:0 K/BB ratio during that stretch. He’s probably back at the level this year due to a minor injury which held him back in Extended Spring Training. I’d expect Stevenson to be on the same path as Cain, which means State College for a few starts, then West Virginia for the rest of the season.
The team will also see a few guys from the international leagues make the jump to the United States.
Fraylin Campos - Campos pitched the last two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, breaking out with a big season in 2009. In 71.1 innings, Campos posted a 2.27 ERA, an 11.6 K/9 ratio, and a 3.0 BB/9 ratio. He turned 20 in January.
Yomar Pacheco - Pacheco pitched the last two years in the Venezuelan Summer League. In 2009 he put up 1.97 ERA in 45.2 innings, with a 5.3 K/9 and a 2.2 BB/9. The strikeouts could use some improvement, but the walk rate was much better than the 6.4 BB/9 ratio Pacheco posted the year before.
Oscar Verdugo - Like Pacheco, Verdugo also spent the last two years in the VSL. Last year, in 58 innings, Verdugo put up an 8.2 K/9 ratio and a 2.2 BB/9 ratio, leading to a 2.95 ERA. Verdugo throws in the low-90s, with a solid curveball.
The hitting class in the GCL is mostly made up of graduates from the international leagues. The one exception is 2009 10th round pick Joey Schoenfeld, a prep catcher who the Pirates signed for $195,000.
Exicardo Cayonez - Cayonez currently holds the record for the biggest announced bonus given to a Latin American prospect by the Pirates. He was signed for $400 K in 2008, and was impressive in his first season in pro ball, hitting for a .302/.396/.424 line in 205 at-bats in the VSL in 2009. Cayonez is easily the top hitting prospect at the level, and could be something special, as he’s only 18 years old this year.
Jorge Bishop - Bishop was a surprise last year, breaking out with a .308/.367/.470 line in 253 at-bats in the VSL. Bishop signed for $35,000, and has drawn comparisons to Ray Durham and Jimmy Rollins due to his build, although no comparisons have been made matching his ability to those two players. Bishop received some time with the high-A team before the GCL season started.
Jonathan Barrios - Barrios signed for $250 K in 2008, but has yet to live up to his potential. Barrios was a top 25 international prospect in 2008, signed as a 16-year old shortstop. He hit for just a .241/.309/.346 line in 162 VSL at-bats last year. Barrios was obviously moved to the US for his potential, and at the age of 18, he has a lot of time for improvements.
Eric Avila - Avila played the last three years in the DSL, breaking out in 2009 with a .315/.358/.494 line in 267 at-bats, with nine homers. Avila is 20 years old, and has played second base, shortstop, and third base, although he’s mostly stuck to second and third. He will likely be the third baseman for the GCL Pirates, and is a guy to watch for the pop in his bat. Not only did he have those nine homers last year, but he also had 21 doubles.
Junior Sosa - Sosa is an interesting prospect. In 2009, his second year in the VSL, Sosa hit for a .303 average and a .400 OBP, although he only put up a .382 slugging percentage. Sosa did steal 25 bases, although it was in 40 attempts. He played mostly center field, and could be a top of the order prospect.
Michael Trinidad - Trinidad had been at the VSL level since 2006, missing the 2008 season, but returning in 2009 with some big numbers. Trinidad put up a .318/.412/.604 line, with 14 homers in 192 at-bats. The numbers might not mean anything, since Trinidad was old for the level, and had a few years of experience. This will be a make or break year for Trinidad, as he is 21 and still in rookie ball. He needs to make it to a full season A-ball team by the start of next year to be a legit prospect.
More International Prospects
Finally, if there’s something the GCL Pirates have been famous for the last two years, it’s the various nationalities on the team. Outside of the US and Latin American prospects, here are the nations represented by the GCL roster.
Lithuania - Dovydas Neverauskas (RHP)
Taiwan - Sheng-Cin Hong (RHP), Chih-Wei Hsu (3B), Ping-Hung Chi (OF)
Netherlands - Daan Cornelissen (OF)
India - Dinesh Patel (RHP) and Rinku Singh (LHP)
Australia - Dylan Child (C)
Looking toward the future, the 2010 draft will probably make this team an interesting one to follow in late-July and the month of August. Prep pitchers like fourth round pick Nick Kingham will likely make their debuts in the Gulf Coast League, assuming they sign. The same could be said for any prep hitters that sign, although there weren’t as many opportunities for that to happen, since the draft heavily focused on pitching.