International Prospect Trends: July 2012

Back in early July, I did an in-depth look at the two Dominican Summer League teams of the Pittsburgh Pirates, with early season notes on the players to watch. We now take a look at how some of those players have performed over the month of July, as well as a couple new names to watch.

Maximo Rivera has seen his numbers drop off slightly over the last month, but this is still a breakout season for the highly touted 19-year-old, who has seen time at six different positions this year. He is hitting .369 with a .910 OPS and 26 stolen bases. He has also seen a great improvement in his contact, going from 47 strikeouts last year in 200 AB’s, down to 18 this season in 157 AB’s.

Second baseman Gustavo Barrios wasn’t even mentioned in either of my previous articles. The 18-year-old from Colombia is hitting .333 in 30 games. He is on the small side, and doesn’t have a strong OPS to go along with that average, but he is a first year player and he hasn’t made an error yet, so the good start makes him a player to keep an eye on for now.

Ulises Montilla missed some time in July, finishing the month with a .289 average in 13 games. He started off strong, and has since rebounded in August, going 6-12 so far, to put his season numbers at .329 with an .877 OPS. He also has more walks than strikeouts, something he did during both seasons in the VSL.

What a difference a month makes for Danny Arribas, the 19-year-old catcher/corner infielder from Miami. He hit .213 in 21 June games. In July he batted .338 with an .833 OPS and he has continued his hot hitting into August, collecting six hits in 11 AB’s. He has shown improvements across the board in every category, especially over last year’s stats.

Pablo Reyes, an 18-year-old shortstop in his first year of pro ball, is off to a solid start. He is hitting .292 with 15 stolen bases, 12 doubles and a 16/7 BB/K ratio in 44 games. It’s a good sign with him that he is playing shortstop everyday over some bigger names or players that have been around longer.

Outfielder Tito Polo hit .308 in July after a strong finish to the month of June. He is just 17 years old, a first year player out of Colombia. His strikeout total is high for the DSL, but it is still a strong start for one of the younger players on the team. He has 13 stolen bases and has played more than half of his games in centerfield.

Fredis Padilla hit .321 in July with seven extra base hits, after hitting .125 in June with no extra base hits. The 18-year-old infielder in his first season, has played solid defense at second base, and has recently seen more playing time.

The move to the DSL for Carlos Esqueda has not been kind. He hit .342 as a rookie in the VSL in 2010, then showed improvements in his overall game early in 2011, before an ankle injury during a home plate collision ended his season. This year he is hitting .264, with a .241 average in July and he has yet to bat during the month of August.

Highly touted 19-year-old shortstop Carlos Ozuna has had a rough time recently, hitting .225 in July with a high strikeout rate and a low .572 OPS. He was successful on all seven stolen bases attempts in June, only to see that drop to six out of 11 in July.

Dennis Hurtarte, the 19-year-old switch-hitting first baseman from Guatemala, has hit well recently, batting .284 in his last 18 games, after a .191 start to his career. He has yet to show power, despite his good size (6′ 2″, 221) and he has had trouble vs the few left-handed pitchers he has seen, going 0-11 with 4 strikeouts.

Yunior Aquiles was one of the better signings of the 2010 July 2nd signing period but he has yet to show any potential. He was described as raw when he signed, and saw very few AB’s last year. This season he is hitting .229 in 105 AB’s with a high strikeout rate and not much else. He is still just 18 and a perfect candidate to be next year’s Maximo Rivera.

Ramses Pena looks to be a bust. The 19-year-old was signed in 2009 to a six figure bonus, and had not shown much during his first two seasons besides good speed and a decent walk rate. He has continued both of those trends, but his bat has not come around, especially lately, hitting .114 with 15 strikeouts in 14 games since the All-Star break.

Miguel “Adrian” de Aza has also struggled this year. Another highly touted signing, he played in the Dominican Prospect League last year and has had trouble since moving to the DSL. He was a potential five tool player, but he has shown none of that in the stats so far, not a good sign from the 19-year-old right fielder. He hit .225 in June with a poor BB/K  rate.

Jose Salazar impressed many by playing shortstop last year as a 16-year-old over highly touted signing Dilson Herrera, who is now in the GCL. Salazar made the move to the DSL and started off slow, while playing third base instead of shortstop this year. He has recently begun to hit and made the move back to shortstop. He’s batting .286 in 14 games since the All-Star break, albeit, with no walks.

Rodney Polonia, the 19-year-old son of major leaguer Luis Polonia, has not fared well in his second season of pro ball. He is hitting .221 in 40 games, with a low walk rate to go along with the low average and no power. His July/August has been slightly better than his weak June.

Jordan Galvez hit .308 and .309 in the VSL the last two years. His move to the DSL has been disastrous and he hasn’t played in the last week, after going 0-for-14 in his last four games.

Omar Basulto is a soon-to-be 19-year-old, 6′ 3″ lefty in his first season. He made the All-Star team and has been the best pitcher this year in the Pirates DSL system. In 33 innings, he has a 1.64 ERA with nine walks, 27 strikeouts and a 0.91 WHIP.

Another 6′ 3″ lefty pitching well recently is Mervin Del Rosario. He’s showing a great groundball rate, low walk totals and a decent 3.43 ERA in ten starts. In his last three starts, he has allowed six hits over 14 innings. His strikeout rate (17 in 42 innings) is alarmingly low. He was a highly touted signing two years ago.

Sticking with lefty pitchers, Cesilio Pimentel was very good during his brief time last year, with a high strikeout rate. He started off strong this season, but his July was pretty bad, a 2.00 WHIP and 6.75 ERA in just 12 innings of work over the entire month. He rebounded with 4.1 scoreless innings in his first August appearance.

Leandro Rodriguez, another DPL signing from last year, has been on fire recently in his first year of pro ball. He had a decent month of June, but since July 1st, he has a 1.23 ERA in five starts, with 20 strikeouts in 22 innings. He allowed five homers in June, none since.

Oderman Rocha disappointed a few fans with his return to the DSL (he was in the VSL last year) and he has shown some strong reasons why he should have been in the GCL this year. The 19-year-old 6′ 3″ righty has a terrific 2.47 GO/AO ratio, to go along with a .226 BAA and 33 strikeouts in 29.2 innings. He is one of just a handful of recent players to attend the Pirates Fall Instructional League on year, then return to the DSL/VSL the next.

Dan Urbina has shown strong improvements over his rookie season in the VSL last year. His last start (yesterday) was poor, but prior to that he had a 3.43 ERA and had cut down greatly on base runners allowed over last year, while also pitching much more often.

Just like Urbina, Jesus Paredes pitched poorly in his first year, last season in the VSL. This year he has totally turned things around, striking out 35 batters in 30 innings, with a 2.70 ERA and .204 BAA. He is a 19-year-old, 6′ 2″ lefty.

Christian Henriquez, a July 2nd signing from 2010, has pitched well recently, going 13 innings in his last three outings without allowing an earned run. He started the year off real slow, but has shown excellent command (9 BB in 41.2 IP) and a strong groundball rate.

The Pirates really liked Arquimedes Lorenzo when they signed him, but a failed drug test cost him most of last year. Now 21 years old, he seems to be rebounding after a slow start this year. He has shown a great groundball rate, been tough to hit, and hasn’t allowed a homer all season, while also striking out more batters recently.

Richard Mitchell just turned 17 days ago and is highly touted by the Pirates. The results aren’t there, especially recently, but he is one to watch as he matures and works on his off-speed stuff. He moved from one Pirates DSL team to the other in July, and has seen very little action, pitching three times in the last three weeks. He’s a work in progress, with high upside.

Christopher De Leon had one very bad outing in July that skews his numbers for the month. Otherwise, he has pitched great recently, getting a high groundball rate, with 36 strikeouts in 33 innings this year. He is 20 years old, in his third season in the DSL, coming off two decent years already.

Finally, 19-year-old, 6′ 7″ lefty, Angel Sanchez has had good results despite some command issues. The 18 walks in 33.2 innings don’t look good, but it’s actually a huge improvement over last year, when he averaged nearly two walks per inning. He gets a ton of groundballs, has a decent strikeout rate, and batters are hitting just .225 against him. Sanchez had a 2.84 ERA in July, though he did just have a rough outing three days ago.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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