VSL Season Wrap-up Part Two: The Pitchers

VSL Season Wrap-up Part One: The Position Players

Continuing with the VSL season wrap-up, on the pitching side of things the Pirates finished 2nd in the league in ERA, just 0.04 behind the 2nd place Mariners. They allowed the fewest walks (202) and had the best WHIP in the VSL, but finished next to last in strikeouts. They used 19 different pitchers (as opposed to just 16 position players) and 9 pitchers made starts. Even though they had a pretty steady five man rotation, they had a lot of rainouts, hence a lot of doubleheaders, and they needed fill-ins every so often.

The teams best starter was Orlando Castro. A first year player from Honduras who came with a record of dominating the subpar competition in his home country, Castro led all the regular starters in ERA (1.17) and WHIP (0.91) while finishing with a perfect 6-0 record. The 18 year old lefty is a little on the small side for a pitcher at just 5′ 11″, but for a first year player his stats were eye-popping. He finished literally just a couple innings short of qualifying for the league lead but it should be noted the VSL leader in ERA finished with a 2.49 mark, more than double that of Castro. His WHIP also would’ve led the league.

Nineteen year old Francisco Vilchez was the teams second best starter. He is a 3rd year righty who posted a 2.52 ERA, 2nd in the VSL. He had impressive numbers across the board and improved in many categories. His groundball rate was spectacular at 1.81 GO/AO and he held opposing batters to a .224 BAA. His 1.07 WHIP was 2nd on the team among starters and he led the Pirates in IP (64.1) and strikeouts (39). He will probably be a regular starter for the GCL next year.

The other three starters included 18 year old righty Roberto Espinoza who had a decent season, but his numbers fell across the board from his impressive rookie season last year. Luis Ortiz, another 18 year old righty, had a 4.35 ERA in 51.2 IP. A first year player, he finished the season strong posting a 1.75 ERA in five July starts. Rafael Rodriguez was the 5th starter. He’s already 20, only 5′ 9″ and his stats were not impressive. One interesting thing about him is he had a poor groundout ratio his first season back in 2008, last year he had a great number (1.91), then this year he dropped back down to more air outs than groundouts, which is very odd. At any rate, I can’t see him being a prospect or either of the other two making the move to the GCL next year but stranger promotions have happened.

Luis Campos is a 19 year old righty and a first year VSL player who showed good stuff in limited action pitching just 29 IP in 9 games, five of them as a starter. His BAA and WHIP were very impressive at .178 and 0.83 respectively. He also had a good groundball rate, and a very impressive 1.24 ERA which was even better as a starter (0.78). Due to his age he could possibly move to the GCL but 29 IP would be a very low number before being moved.

Jose Marrujo pitched 35.2 innings in relief as a 17 year old rookie, and pitched decent posting a 3.79 ERA which was skewed by a 6 earned run outing which lasted just 2/3rds of an inning. A 5′ 10″ righty from Mexico, he should be returning to the VSL next year. Jesus Barraza is a 19 year old clone of Marrujo at 5′ 10″, a righty, and also from Mexcio, but his stats were much more impressive. His WHIP was a minuscule 0.75 and his 0.54 ERA was even lower. He showed great control, walking just 5 batters in his 33.1 IP over 15 games, with all 5 walks coming in a 3 game stretch. While those stats greatly improved over his 2009 rookie season, his K rate and his groundball rate both dropped. Still, he should move to the GCL next year.

The team used two primary closers and both were experienced guys who had good success last year. Luis Figuera is a 19 year old 3rd year righty who posted a 1.12 ERA last year,following it up with a 1.78 mark this year and 8 saves. For a 3rd straight season he had a good VSL K rate (not a big strikeout league) and a good groundball rate which makes you wonder why he’s been there for three years. Raul Ruiz was the lefty closer, and is also a 3rd year player.  He is also 19 and put up very nice numbers as well. He had 15 saves and for the 2nd straight year held the opposition to a sub .200 BAA. He also had a good groundball rate for the 3rd straight year. If I had to guess, I’d say both are soft tossers with great breaking stuff who don’t have much projection, otherwise one or both would’ve been in the GCL this year.

Oscar Calderin is a 19 year old first year lefty with good size at 6′ 4″. Unfortunately he got bombed in his 7 appearances to the tune of a 14.73 ERA. Those seven games were also spread out over the whole season, so I’m guessing he is a very raw pitcher, but with that size from the left side I’m sure they will be more patient with him. Oderman Rocha, a RHP is just 17 and also has good size for a foreign league player at 6′ 3″, but like Calderin he was used sparingly and didn’t pitch well when he did get a chance. It should be interesting to see how these guys progress towards next year. Might give a good indication of how well the teaching is at the Venezuelan academy because at first glance of their stats neither seem like much.

Remberto Romo is a little righty from Mexico.  As a 2nd year player he struggled again, although he slightly improved from last season. He should return to the VSL next year although there probably isn’t any potential there due to age, size and struggles. Jovany Lopez, also a 2nd year player from Mexico, probably has slightly more potential than Romo based on the facts he’s a lefty and he’s shown excellent control each of his two seasons. He’s also on the small side and his overall stats aren’t anything great which doesn’t say much for a guy used strictly as a reliever

Richard Montilla and Ericdavis Marquez both struggled pretty badly, but the team kept going to them to give them chances. Montilla is a 19 year old righty with horrible control and Marquez is a 2nd year small lefty who got hit hard. Wouldn’t be surprised to see both of them gone before next season starts because its hard to see potential in either of those stat lines, and neither was a high profile signing. Deivis Goatache is a 22 year old fourth year player with a 6.21 ERA, enough said.

Finally we end with two 6′ 2″ first year righties who had much different seasons despite the fact they both pitched just 2.1 IP. Carlos Ruiz made just two appearances, a month apart from each other and both in blowout games while Jose Acosta pitched one game then got suspended for 50 games for a failed drug test. Neither was a high profile signing and I wouldn’t expect much from either of them in the future.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

Series Preview: Pirates vs. Astros

Next Story »

WV Power Game Notes- 8/13/10

Latest Analysis

  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    13 hours ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    1 day ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    3 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    5 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    6 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    6 days ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    1 week ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    1 week ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Third Base Mathisen Luplow Joe

    Who’s on Third? In the Pirates’ Farm System, It Could Be Anyone

    2 weeks ago

    If you have ever played third base in your life — professional, college, high school, slow pitch softball — then the Pittsburgh Pirates might be contacting you ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles