International Prospect Trends: June 2012
In early June, we did a Dominican Summer League preview, outlining some of the key players joining and returning to the DSL this season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The first month of the season is done, so it’s time to look back on how the aforementioned players have performed, as well as add some new names to the list of players to watch. Starting with the hitters for the team known as the DSL Pirates1, the more talented of the two teams.
Pirates1: The Hitters
Ulises Montilla was a surprise returnee to the DSL this year after hitting .364 last season in the VSL, with a good eye and great contact. He has spent most of his time this season at third base and is hitting .325 with an .844 OPS. At twenty years old now, he will be old for a first-timer in the states, assuming he makes it there next year.
Carlos Esqueda was showing great progress last year before an ankle injury during a home plate collision ended his season early. He hit .342 in 2010 in the VSL, but at 5′ 8″ 135lb, he was a singles hitter with very little plate patience. Last season he began to draw walks and hit more extra base hits. Unfortunately his size, along with his age (he’s 20 as well) really limits his future. He is batting .286, second behind Montilla in average, with seven extra base hits and more walks (6) than strikeouts (5). Esqueda is playing mostly at second base, taking turns at 3B.
The shortstop for the team is Carlos Osuna, who signed for $115 K last year. He’s an 18-year-old switch-hitter and he’s performing well in his rookie season in the DSL. Carlos is hitting .282 with seven extra base hits, although that average is mostly due to a fast start to the season. His stats heavily favor home games, posting a 1.003 OPS at home and .561 on the road. The scouting report on him is a good hitter, no power, strong arm at shortstop.
Ramses Pena was one of the better signings from the 2009 class. However, he bombed last year, hitting .174 with two extra base hits in 55 games. He is hitting better this year, batting .262 with 10 walks in 14 games. His power still remains non-existent, with 11 extra base hits (no homers) in 113 games. He is still just 19 and showing progress. He too has a large home/road split as well as split from each side of the plate. Batting lefty, he’s hitting .321 while from the right side, he has just one hit this year. After beginning as a shortstop, he has now been playing left field.
Tito Polo is a 17-year-old rookie out of Colombia, who is just now getting more playing time and hitting well recently. He began the season with the other Pirates affiliate in the league. Since coming over to Pirates1, he has hit .350 in 11 games, playing center field.
Last season Edgardo Munoz was getting regular time in the VSL, ending up with a .360 batting average. He is a small outfielder (5′ 8″ 150) with limited power and is already twenty years old. Playing all three outfield positions this year, he has not carried over last year’s success and seems to have a limited future now, with a .240 average and two extra base hits in 23 games.
Adrian de Aza (formerly went by Miguel de Aza) was signed out of the Dominican Prospect League last year, with the potential five tool player tag attached to his name. Playing everyday, the 19-year-old 6′ 0″ lefty/lefty has failed to show any of those tools in the box scores, with just a slight progress over his limited numbers from last season. Despite the lack of numbers so far, he should still be considered to be one of the top prospects for either DSL Pirates team.
Yunior Aquiles was a July 2nd class signing from 2010, who saw very limited time during his first season. He already has more at-bats than last year and is showing signs of progress, raising his average nearly 100 points and cutting his strikeout rate in half. He too is one of the better prospects to watch. He has good size at 18 years old at 6′ 3″ 185, with great speed and good power potential from the right side.
Danny Arribas was signed last year for $110 K and didn’t show well his first year, batting .200 with five doubles being his only extra base hits in 125 at-bats. His average is still low at .211 but in 49 fewer at-bats he has six doubles, a homer and cut down his strikeouts while improving his walk total. Slow progress for the 19-year-old, who is splitting his time between C/1B/3B this year.
Dennis Hurtarte was signed last year out of Guatemala and made his debut this season. The 19-year-old switch hitting first baseman has good size at 6′ 2″ 221 but so far hasn’t shown much with a high strikeout rate in limited time to go along with his .189 average. It’s still early for a player that came from a country that doesn’t produce many baseball players that sign pro contracts.
Going in order of innings pitched, we start with Jose Regalado, a 6′ 3″ righty, who is twenty years old with limited experience prior to this year. He has already thrown a team leading 23 innings, showing good results due to a decent ground ball rate, good strikeout totals (21) and excellent command.
Christian Henriquez is a twenty year old lefty, signed in 2010, who had a decent debut last year. This year he is getting bombed, allowing 34 hits in 19.2 innings, with a 7.32 ERA. If you like silver linings where they are hard to find, he has a great 2.00 GO/AO ratio and excellent control with just four walks. The results so far though, have to be very disappointing.
Leandro Rodriguez is an 18-year-old 6′ 3″ righty, signed out of the DPL last year for $80 K. He made his debut this season and the results have been so-so. He had two strong five inning outings to begin the year, but his last three starts have been bad. He has just three walks in 17 innings, but he has also allowed five homers already, a high total for the DSL.
The report on Adrian Grullon would’ve been much better this time last week. The 6′ 0″, 19-year-old righty, signed for $120 K last year, then saw limited action in 2011. He opened this season with two starts of five shutout innings, allowing a combined two hits. His third start was rough, then he came back with 4.2 scoreless innings. This week he allowed four runs and got just one out before being pulled from his start, likely due to his pitch count. The overall numbers are okay but he has been hit hard twice now.
Omar Basulto is a 6′ 3″, 18-year-old lefty recently signed out of Mexico. He is pitching well so far, getting plenty of innings in relief (2.45 ERA in 14.2 IP). Omar has a good ground ball rate, decent strikeout total and batters are hitting .214 against him.
Mervin Del Rosario signed for $55 K in 2010 during the July 2nd signing period. The twenty year old lefty saw a lot of action last year, pitching well, albeit with a low strikeout rate. This year he has having a repeat performance, although one of his starts resulted in four runs scored without him recording an out before he was pulled. He rebounded with a five inning, one run performance in his last start. He can reach 93 with a sinking fastball and throws an above average slider.
Oderman Rocha started as a reliever in 2010, became a starter and pitched strong last year, now he is back to a relief role. He had a strong strikeout rate as a starter last year and has improved it to 17 in 13.1 innings this season. He is a 6′ 3″, 19-year-old righty, who was a bit of a surprise that he didn’t make the jump to the states this year. He’s gone eight innings in his last three games, allowing no runs and three hits with 13 strikeouts.
Richard Mitchell is still just 16 years old until the end of this month. The 6′ 2″ righty, signed with the Pirates last year on his birthday for $170 K. A first year player as young as he is usually doesn’t see too much action, but he has pitched five times and except for his second outing (5 ER in 0.2 IP) he has pitched decent. At this point he may not be getting the best results, but he has to be considered for the top pitching prospect spot on either DSL Pirates team. He was throwing 91 MPH at age 15 just prior to signing. His off-speed pitches were considered raw, yet he shows tons of potential.
Cesilio Pimentel was a big strikeout kid for the DSL team last year during his impressive rookie season, cutting down 31 batters in 23.1 innings. He debuted just recently this season, beginning with a rough start, which was followed by a solid four inning, one run outing. He is a 19-year-old 6′ 2″ lefty, and is one to watch as he looks to get on track this season after missing the first three weeks.
Pirates2: The Hitters
After playing the first three games of the season with the other Pirates affiliate in the DSL, Maximo Rivera joined the Pirates2 and has played well. Signed in 2009 for $165 K, Rivera began to hit for power during the latter stages of last season, his first sign of progress in two seasons. This year, the 19-year-old has also added batting average and more speed to his game. He is hitting a combined .364 with three homers and 16 stolen bases. He was originally listed as a shortstop when signed, but thought to be better suited for third base. This season he has played all four infield positions as well as ten games in center field. The Pirates scouts called him raw when they first signed him, but they loved his power potential and he finally seems to be coming around in his third season in the league.
Pablo Reyes is a new name to watch. At 18 years old, he has supplanted the highly touted (and younger) Jose Salazar at shortstop. Reyes is showing a good glove and he is hitting .313 in 67 at-bats with a .779 OPS.
The 17-year-old Jose Salazar has moved over to third base this season and he is struggling at the plate. He was one of the youngest players last year in the VSL and didn’t hit much, but it was impressive that he started nearly everyday at shortstop over Dilson Herrera, a high profile signing in 2010, who is now hitting well in the GCL. Salazar is batting .173 with no extra base hits, though he is playing everyday and adapting well to his new defensive position.
Carlos Munoz is a stocky 5′ 11″ 225lb first baseman out of Mexico, who just turned 18 last week. He is getting regular time after playing just nine games in the VSL last year. Munoz is hitting .239 with 17 walks and four strikeouts. He is showing a great eye at the plate and has power potential from the left side.
Jordan Galvez seems to have fallen off the prospect watch with his performance this year. After batting .309 as a rookie in the VSL in 2010, he batted .308 last year, adding some power and plate patience to his game. The move to the DSL has not worked out well so far, although he has played better of recent. The twenty year old 2B/3B is hitting .214 overall with a .594 OPS.
Rodney Polonia, the son of former major leaguer Luis Polonia, was a July 2nd signing in 2010. He was one of the lower ceiling players from that group but got bunched in with the top guys due to his dad’s name. He was signed out of the same camp run by his father in the Dominican that produced recently signed Julio de la Cruz. Rodney is nearing twenty now and while he is getting much more playing time than last year, the results are nearly the same. His fielding at second base has been strong so far and he is getting the majority of the playing time there.
Outfielder Steven De La Mota is an unknown to me but has a few things working for him that at least make him interesting, despite his .145 average early on. He is younger than most players on the team at 18 (born 10/93), he is getting significant playing time for a first year player, and the lefty/lefty combo from a player with decent size 6′ 0″ 190lb is always intriguing.
Pirates2: The Pitchers
The best pitcher so far for the Pirates2 has been Luis Santos, though he is likely not considered a prospect due to his age (21). He put up strong numbers last year, with a low ERA, nearly a strikeout per inning, a strong groundball rate and an excellent BAA. This year he has slightly improved all of those numbers. In his last game, he struck out nine batters in five innings.
Angel Sanchez was a promising rookie in 2010, making the DSL All-Star team at age seventeen. The 6′ 7″ 190lb lefty returned to the league in 2011 and couldn’t find the plate, making it a lost season for him. He seems to have returned to previous form, already throwing nearly twice as many innings as last year with a much better walk rate than before, even better than during the 2010 season. With his age and size from the left side, he is one to watch.
Ramon Rodriguez is a 19-year-old 6′ 4″ righty, having an up and down season. He’s had three strong starts (15 IP, 3 ER) and two poor starts(4.2 IP, 8 ER). Last year he had a strong strikeout rate (22 in 22.1 IP) and held batters to a .195 BAA, though he also had problems with consistency, mixing in a couple poor outings with some great showings.
Luylli Miranda is a pitcher that came out of nowhere, although he is twenty years old and just 5′ 11″, so that takes some of the luster off his strong early start. With no prior pro experience, he has a 2.65 ERA and twenty strikeouts in 18.1 innings, allowing just 12 hits and four walks. Miranda has the outing of the year so far in the DSL, throwing five perfect innings on June 19th.
Christopher De Leon returned to the DSL this year after his second strong season, taking away from his prospect status. He will be twenty in a month, and doesn’t have great size for a pitcher (6′ 0″ 158) so his early bouts of wildness this season don’t bode well for his future. He does have 20 strikeouts in 17.2 innings.
A young pitcher showing a nice improvement over his numbers last year in the VSL is Julio Vivas, who has allowed just seven hits in 14.2 innings, while striking out 12 batters. He is a 6′ 2″ 227, eighteen year old righty with good ground ball numbers the last two years and he has yet to allow a home run in 50.1 combined innings.
Jesus Paredes has shown an even bigger improvement over his 2011 VSL numbers than Vivas. The 19-year-old lefty had a 7.02 ERA, with 14 walks and four strikeouts in 15.1 innings last year. This season in 14.2 innings, he has a 1.84 ERA with six walks and 14 strikeouts. His innings last year were limited due to his inability to throw strikes.
Finally, Eduardo Vera, a 17-year-old 6′ 3″ righty recently signed out of Mexico, has two scoreless relief appearances since joining the Pirates2 recently, after beginning the year with the other DSL affiliate. He has good size and age on his side.