Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Dominican Summer League Preview
The 2012 Dominican Summer League rosters have been released as the teams kick off their 72 game season this weekend. This year the Pirates will have two affiliates in the league for the first time, as they decided to end their association with the Venezuelan Summer League after last season. New players will likely join this team as the season goes on and because the two teams are playing at the same complex, we will likely see players getting time for both teams as injuries and promotions will necessitate roster changes.
Here is a brief summary of what to look forward to while following the two Summer League teams:
The New Players
The Pirates signed five players from Colombia as reported here. Three of the players showed up on the team known as the DSL Pirates1 while the other two are on the Pirates2. Just a note on Jesus Mena, he is listed on the roster as Jesus Ronco.
We also reported the signing of three players out of Mexico in early March. All three of those players will be on the Pirates1 team.
Dennis Hurtarte, the first player the Pirates ever signed out of Guatemala, will make his pro debut on Pirates1. The switch-hitting 19 year old first baseman is listed at 6′ 2″, 221 on the roster sheet.
Right-handed pitcher Richard Mitchell will be one to watch on the Pirates1 team. He signed with Pittsburgh on his 16th birthday (born: 7/29/95) for $170,000. The Pirates had the 6′ 1″ right hander clocked at 91 MPH at the age of 15. He is still raw on the mound, and lacks a breaking pitch.
Carlos Ozuna is an 18 year old switching hitting shortstop, that signed for $115 K. He has good speed, makes strong contact, although he lacks power and he can throw well. He will be on the Pirates1 roster, which seems to be filled with middle infielders, so playing time for some might be hard to come by.
Returning players include Carlos Esqueda, a small middle infielder, who hit .342 as a rookie in the VSL in 2010. He was playing well to start last year, but fractured his ankle in a play at the plate and missed the rest of the year. If healthy, the twenty year old should see plenty of time for the Pirates1 at either 2B, SS or 3B, all positions he’s played during his first two years.
Adrian Grullon is a hard-throwing righty with limited experience, pitching just five innings last year after signing for $120 K. He is already nearing twenty years of age, so he should get plenty of work this year and be a player to watch.
Mervin Del Rosario is a 6′ 3″ twenty year old left-handed pitcher, who got plenty of work last year in the DSL as a rookie. In 51 innings, he had a 3.53 ERA and .253 BAA, but he struck out just 19 batters. He throws 88-93 MPH with a good sink to his fastball. He also has an above-average slider. He signed a six figure contract during the 2010 July 2nd signing period.
Christian Henriquez is another twenty year old lefty from that July 2nd, 2010 signing class. He pitched 37 innings last year in the DSL, being used in relief for 14 of his 15 outings. He had a 4.62 ERA, with 26 strikeouts and no homers allowed.
Leandro Rodriguez, who signed out of the Dominican Prospect League for $80 K last February, will make his pro debut this year for the Pirates1 team. He is one of those pitchers referred to as having a loose arm and potential. He should be a player to watch this year.
Danny Arribas, who signed last year for $110 K, will return to the DSL after hitting .200 in 125 at-bats last year. He has played nearly every position on the field, although he is currently listed as a catcher.
Ramses Pena ($150 K) and Maximo Rivera ($165 K) are two high priced 19 year old players returning for their third season in the DSL. Neither has lived up to their scouting reports yet, although Rivera began to show some power late last year. Both should see plenty of time in the infield for the Pirates1 team.
Two players in the outfield for the Pirates1 team are worth following, Yunior Aquiles and Miguel de Aza. Aquiles is an 18 year old, 6′ 3″ right handed hitter, who saw very little playing time last year after signing a six figure deal during the 2010 July 2nd signing period. He was said to be raw but very projectable. He is a fast runner, has power potential and the ability to play center field in the future. De Aza signed a $150 K deal out of the Dominican Prospect League in July of 2010. He also saw very little time last and missed a month of the season, but he is supposed to have five tool potential with two of those tools, arm and speed, being well above average. The 19 year old, 6′ 0″ left handed hitter should see plenty of playing time this season.
Luis Rico is a high-priced ($280 K) 18 year old lefty, who spent last season in the VSL and moves over to the Pirates2 this year. He had a 3.76 ERA in eight starts and one relief appearance last year, pitching a total of 26.1 innings with 23 strikeouts.
Another high bonus lefty from that same team is Cecilio Pimental. The 19 year old, who throws a fastball/slider combo, struck out 31 batters in 23.1 innings last year for the DSL team.
Wildcards to watch on the Pirates2 staff, with emphasis on wild, are pitchers Brayan Almonte and Angel Sanchez. Both of them stand 6′ 7″ and weigh just shy of 200 lbs. Almonte (who pitched poorly in the GCL last year) is a righty, while Sanchez is a southpaw. If either is a prospect, it is likely to be Sanchez, who is 17 months younger, a lefty (always helps) and he pitched well enough in 2010 to make the DSL All-Star team. Both had major control issues last year.
Christopher De Leon signed for $150 K in 2009 and has pitched well in two seasons in the DSL so his inclusion on the roster for a third season is a surprise. The twenty year old righty had a 2.44 ERA in 48 innings last year with 38 strikeouts.
Oderman Rocha returns as a 19 year old after a strong season in the VSL. The 6′ 3″ righty had a 3.29 ERA in 54.2 innings with 52 strikeouts and a strong groundball rate for a second straight year.
Ramon Rodriguez will also be on the Pirates2 team. The 19 year old, 6′ 4″ righty, returns after striking out 22 batters in 22.1 innings. He had a 4.43 ERA, which was inflated by two poor outings. At one point he allowed just two earned runs in a 17 inning stretch.
Jordan Galvez will be back in the Summer Leagues for a third season after batting over .300 in each of his first two years. The twenty year old infielder lacks power and a competent running game, but he’s shown he can hit for average. Rodney Polonia, the son of longtime major leaguer Luis, will see some time in the infield. He was a July 2nd signing in 2010, although he struggled in his limited time in the DSL last year. Carlos Munoz is a 5′ 11″, 225 lb, left-handed hitting first baseman, just 17 years old, who made his debut last year. He saw limited time as the second youngest player on the team.
Ulises Montilla is another name on this roster that surprises me. He hit .364 last year, showed some power, showed patience at the plate, didn’t strike out and plays second base, plus he is now twenty years old
Finally we get to Jose Salazar, a 17 year old shortstop who spent last year in the VSL. He was the youngest player on either Summer League roster last year and he got playing time at shortstop over Dilson Herrera, who was a high profile signing in 2010. For his age, he held his own at the plate and in the field last year. He should be one to watch closely this season.