Morning Report: Checking the Progress of the 2012 DSL Top Ten Prospect List

Back in 2012, we posted a top ten prospect list for the Pirates players in the Dominican Summer League. With the DSL season ending last Saturday, it’s time to see how these players have progressed in the last two years. This list was based of a combination of scouting reports, stats, player’s size and age, as well as their signing bonus. Each of the last two seasons, we have been able to get a lot more first-hand scouting reports of the players during the season, so the 2013 and 2014 list should be better. The top ten list also depends on the overall talent of the team, so you can’t hit on all ten players because no minor league team will have ten legit prospects that actually pan out. The 2014 list will be posted later this week.

Julio de la Cruz was ranked first overall among DSL Pirates players in 2012

Julio de la Cruz was ranked first overall among DSL Pirates players in 2012

Rated tops overall in 2012 was Julio de la Cruz. He hadn’t played a game yet, but he got a $700,000 signing bonus and had a great scouting report. He is in the GCL this year as an 18-year-old, posting a .619 OPS. That’s not a strong OPS and his 6:30 BB/K ratio also doesn’t look good, but de la Cruz is putting up similar numbers as he did in the DSL last year, so he didn’t lose anything moving up a level. He plays third base, but likely won’t be able to stick there. If he starts to hit like the Pirates thought he could when he signed, they will find a spot for his bat.

Michael de la Cruz was ranked second and just like Julio(no relation) his ranking was based on his scouting report and bonus, because he had not played a game yet at that point. Michael de la Cruz was the Pirates best player in the DSL last year, a potential five-tool center fielder with excellent plate patience. He still has a decent walk rate this year, but he has not hit at all. MDLC has had some injury issues, as well as some problems adjusting to life in the U.S. as a 17-year-old. He still has the most potential of anyone on this list, but he has basically had a lost season this year.

Third-ranked Maximo Rivera was slightly old for the list, but he was coming off a huge season in the DSL. Rivera is now at West Virginia, where he has a .410 OPS in 20 games. Earlier in the year, he played well at Bristol and moved up when injuries opened up a couple roster spots. He doesn’t have much upside at this point, but he is still young enough to not totally write-off.

Catcher Yoel Gonzalez was the youngest player on the list. He just turned 18 earlier this month and he is catching full-time in the GCL. Gonzalez is strong defensively and he has shown slight improvements at the plate over his only season in the DSL. If the list was updated he would move up to third place.

The fifth place player is still in the DSL and finally broke through this season. Starter Richard Mitchell was one of the younger players in the league in 2012 and didn’t pitch much. He slowly worked his way up, seeing more time last year and he’s pitching terrific this season. Mitchell will likely end up right around the same place on the 2014 list and he should see starting time in the GCL next year. He may even move up to Bristol, because he has advanced fastball control and can throw his change-up for strikes.

Catcher Danny Arribas was ranked sixth and he has hit like a prospect each of the last three years. He has a .768 OPS with Bristol this season. He prospect status is questionable because he will be 22 next month and he’s still at a low level. If he can move up to West Virginia next year, that would help his case.

Oderman Rocha was a lot like Rivera, older than average for the DSL, but he put up great results. Rocha was used each of the last two years as an emergency filler in the Bradenton bullpen, coming over from Extended Spring Training and that usually isn’t a good sign. He has seen limited time each year, so his prospect status is in doubt.

Pitcher Leandro Rodriguez got an $80,000 bonus and pitched in the Dominican Prospect League prior to signing. He was held back by age verification and then pitched in 2012 and looked good. He has been injured all of the last two seasons(shoulder surgery), but he is still in the system.

Second baseman Pablo Reyes was ranked ninth, which was probably a good for spot for him at the time, though a revised list would have him much higher. Reyes is with Bristol now and he’s hitting well. He was called the best pure hitter in the DSL last year among Pirates players. The scouting reports were right, as he skipped right over the GCL and he has a .733 OPS as a 20-year-old this year.

The tenth ranked player was Adrian de Aza, who had a great scouting report when he signed for $150,000 in 2010. He struggled in his limited playing time and word was that he rarely gave a good effort on the field. Then he left the team on his own last year, truly wasting his potential.

Among the players missed, though mentioned on the “others to watch” list, was outfielder Tito Polo. Also unranked was Alexis Bastardo, another outfielder who is comparable to Polo. Both were ranked 5/6(Bastardo fifth) in last year’s rankings. Polo would rank #2 on a revised list and Bastardo would probably ranked fifth or sixth. See video of Polo below.

Pirates Game Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 3.5 games behind St. Louis for the first Wild Card spot. They are 1.5 games behind San Francisco for the second spot. They are currently five games back from the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

Indianapolis: The Indians are six games back in the International League West, and six games back in the Wild Card with eight games left in the season.

Bradenton: The Marauders are tied for second place with Fort Myers in the Florida State League South trailing Palm Beach by one game. They need to win the second half division to make the playoffs, unless Fort Myers wins the second half title. Fort Myers won the first half title, so if they also win the second half, then the team with the second best overall record would make the playoffs. In the overall standings, Bradenton is two games behind Palm Beach for the second best record. The Marauders have seven games left in their season, three against Fort Myers.

Today’s Schedule

Minor League Starter of the Day:  In Altoona tonight, Angel Sanchez will get his fifth start since being picked up off waivers from the Chicago White Sox. Prior to his last start, we took a look at his prospect status and where he would fit into the Pirates system. He didn’t do himself any favors in that game, giving up four runs on eight hits in six innings. Bradenton is in a fight for the playoffs(see playoff push above) and Jason Creasy will try to help them get to the postseason tonight. He will also try to bounce back from a recent rough streak. He has a 5.84 ERA in four August starts. Creasy has issued just 20 walks in 136.1 innings this season. He has thrown 28.1 innings more than last year. West Virginia is off today. The DSL season ended Saturday. You can read the final weekly recap here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (67-63) vs Cardinals (70-59) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (4.18 ERA, 127:57 K/BB, 118.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (68-68) @ Columbus (74-62) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jake Brigham (4.33 ERA, 69:26 K/BB, 89.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (56-77) vs Richmond (74-60) 7:00 PM
Probable starter: Angel Sanchez (4.91 ERA, 16:4 K/BB, 22 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (72-60, 37-26 2nd half) vs Ft Myers (78-54) 6:30 PM
Probable starter:  Jason Creasy (4.02 ERA, 89:20 K/BB, 136.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (51-78, 31-30 2nd half) @ Lexington (55-78) 7:05 PM 8/26
Probable starter: TBD

Short-Season A: Jamestown (31-35) @ Auburn (29-37) 5:05 PM DH
Probable Starter:  Frank Duncan (3.48 ERA, 41:9 K/BB, 54.1 IP) and Nick Neumann (4.40 ERA, 23:6 K/BB, 28.2 IP)

RK: Bristol (19-44) vs Elizabethton (36-27) 7:00 PM
Probable Starter:  TBD

GCL: Pirates (18-37) vs Blue Jays (17-37) 12:00 PM
Probable Starter: Gerardo Navarro (4.89 ERA, 15:11 K/BB, 46 IP)

DSL: Pirates (34-36)

Highlights

Andrew Lambo homered on Sunday, his ninth of the season with Indianapolis. He also hit one while on rehab in the GCL. Lambo homered twice on Monday, then again on Saturday, which is shown below.

Tito Polo has been one of the best hitters for the GCL Pirates this year. He is hitting .281/.363/.445 in 146 at-bats, with 15 extra-base hits and seven stolen bases.

Recent Transactions

8/24: Pirates claim Bobby LaFromboise. Designate Tommy Field for assignment.

8/21: Stolmy Pimentel assigned to Altoona on rehab.

8/21: Yunelky Adames released.

8/21: Oderman Rocha and Nathan Sopena promoted to Jamestown.

8/21: Julio Vivas promoted to Bristol.

8/21: Andrew Dennis placed on disabled list.

8/21: Indianapolis places Nevin Ashley and Blake Davis on disabled list.

8/21: Wirfin Obispo clears waivers. Outrighted to Indianapolis.

8/20: Gerrit Cole activated from disabled list. Brent Morel assigned to Indianapolis.

8/20: Jacoby Jones placed on disabled list. Francisco Diaz activated from DL.

8/20: Felipe Gonzalez promoted to Bradenton. Jake Burnette promoted to West Virginia.

8/20: Matt Curry assigned to Altoona. Drew Maggi placed on disabled list.

8/19: Andrew McCutchen activated from disabled list. Michael Martinez sent to Indianapolis.

8/19: Josh Bell placed on disabled list. Ralph Henriquez activated from DL.

8/19: Adam Wilk placed on disabled list.

This Date in Pirates History

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players were born on this date, plus there are two transactions of note. In 1959, the Pirates dealt away power-hitting first baseman Ted Kluszewski. The two players they received back played a total of nine games in a Pirates uniform, so it did not work out well, although the Pirates won the World Series the following season. On this date in 1912, the Pirates acquired Wilbur Cooper from the minor leagues. He would go on to win more games with the Pirates than any pitcher in franchise history. You can read a bio of Cooper here and the full article on this date here, which also includes a game recap from the 1979 season.

On this date in 1910, the Pirates defeated the Brooklyn Superbas by a 4-3 score in the 12th inning. Third baseman Bobby Byrne hit a double in the bottom of the 12th, then stole third base and stole home for the win.

John Dreker

Author: 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.

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  • Lee Young

    John…as always, good stuff.

    The ones we draft seem to get all the press. So, we need to get some good players from our DSL team. It is good to see how some progress.

  • piraddict

    John, I’d like to hear your assessment of the 2014 draft class now that we’ve had a summer to watch them. When first selected the consensus of the crowd was somewhere between disappointment and disbelief, with a collective “boo” towards Pirates management. It seems to me that a solid majority of the first 12 are off to decent starts to their pro career. I’d love to hear your perspectives on, and re-rating of, all of the first dozen 2014 draft selections based upon their Summer’s performance. If three members of a draft class eventually contribute to the MLB team you have had a strong class. Obviously this class has six years to go before you can close the book on them. But I see a lot of guys who could make the “final three”.

    • John Dreker

      I didn’t like the first two picks, Tucker and Joe and still don’t like them. I think they have MLB potential, but I saw a lot of better choices in both spots. After that, the picks were good. I picked Keller as the best draft pick they made and he certainly looks like it early. Supak has a ton of potential, as does Gage Hinsz. Jordan Luplow was a nice third round pick. As for 4-10, Jorge looks like the only bad one. He’s striking out at a crazy rate in the GCL. The rest are in Jamestown, so you can’t really take much from what they are doing. Eppler looks the best early and he looked like the best pick from 4-10, maybe Gushue, who is really struggling recently, but has a lot of potential.

      Basically, it just seems like the Pirates really overshot on the first two picks, but after that the draft was fine and Hinsz was a nice pick after the 10th round.

      • piraddict

        While I am more sanguine about the first two picks than you are (though we really have no data on Joe yet) I agree with you that in rounds 3 to 10 only Jorge looks like a potential bust so far. Even if you discount the first two picks entirely I think chances are good that three MLB contributors could emerge from the remaining nine guys. So I have good feelings about this draft class.

        • John Dreker

          I think the initial problem, which still exists in my mind, is they didn’t get the upside they could have. They got some potential, but they definitely could have done better. I wouldn’t judge Joe any harsher because he got injured, but it obviously doesn’t help. I heard good things about him and wouldn’t have minded him in the 3rd round and anywhere after would have been great, but the 39th pick? That was a huge stretch. I rated him as their sixth best pick behind Keller, Tucker, Hinsz, Supak and Luplow in that order(not far behind the last two on the list). I really think Hinsz could be the best pick, so that’s great to get where they got him.