As a group, there was a lot of good pitching from the Pirates’ two DSL teams this season. Part of it was due to high inning totals from older pitchers. It isn’t a strong group on the prospect front, with some of the higher price bonus guys getting up there in age for the league, but it isn’t totally barren of pitchers to watch. The strong pitching continued on to the postseason, as it led the Pirates to a DSL title, allowing 15 runs in the five game championship series.
Below are the stats from each pitcher in the DSL, broken down by age groups. The first age group is where you’ll find the majority of prospects. The second group can include prospects, but these guys are getting closer to being too old for the level. They need to make the jump to the US next year to preserve their prospect status, and ideally start to move quickly through the lower levels of the system. The final group is mostly organizational depth. A breakdown of each group can be found below.
Complete DSL Coverage
18 and Under
Richard Mitchell didn’t put up the best stats this season, but he is a hard-throwing righty (hit 91 MPH at age 15), who was just 16 years old when the season started. The Pirates signed him on his 16th birthday for $170,000. He was described as having raw secondary stuff, so he will be back in the DSL next year, likely in a bigger role.
Luis Rico did not transition well from a rookie in the VSL to a second year player in the DSL. He is still young, and a lefty, so there is time for him. He had much better control and a higher strikeout rate last year. He was a high priced ($280,000) pitcher so the Pirates must have seen something they really like with him.
Julio Vivas was the opposite of Rico. He showed big strides over his rookie season in the VSL last year. He could possibly move up, especially with the strong finish that saw him end the regular season with 22.2 scoreless innings.
Jorge Mendoza was one of the youngest players in the VSL last year, though he pitched just one inning. He showed improvements as this season went on, with a 2.65 ERA in 18.1 innings after the All-Star break.
Dan Urbina wasn’t used much last year in the VSL and didn’t pitch well when he did play. This year he was much stronger overall, throwing an extra 31.2 innings. His overall stats took a hit at the end of the season with a very poor finish, which could have been from tiring due to the extra work. It was still a strong improvement over last season.
Eduardo Vera signed out of Mexico in March and was the opposite of Urbina, with a slow start and very strong finish. One shaky outing in early July (1.2 IP, 6 ER) really skewed his overall ERA.
Remy De Aza showed very poor control and didn’t pitch during the last month of the season. He was an unknown coming into the season, but has good size and youth on his side.
Adrian Grullon is a hard-throwing righty, that signed for $120,000 and pitched just five innings last year. He was invited to the Fall Instructional league and it is very likely he moves up to the GCL due to his bonus and age, but he has very limited experience for someone who is just days short of his 20th birthday.
Alexander Gutierrez now has two seasons in which he has shown control issues and has posted a high ERA. He had a low BAA and he is a 19-year-old lefty with good size, so he could return for another season, but he has a lot of work to do.
After the 2010 season, Angel Sanchez looked like a legit prospect. A 6′ 7″, seventeen year old lefty, who was named to the DSL All-Star team that season, he had some control issues but was tough to hit and got a ton of ground balls. Then 2011 happened and he fell off the prospect map quick. He walked 22 batters and allowed 22 hits in 12.2 innings. Sanchez bounced back from that season, but the command issues are still there, just not as bad as his first two years. He was surprisingly invited to the Fall Instructional League and could be in the GCL next year.
Cesilio Pimentel had a big time strikeout rate (31 in 23.1 IP) his first year, last season. This year he pitched an extra 29 innings and saw a big drop in his strikeout rate, but still pitched well. He did not allow an earned run in his last 19 innings during the regular season.He had a strong start during the DSL finals, allowing one unearned run over four innings, with six strikeouts. Pimentel seems like a prime candidate to move to the states next year with his invitation to the Instructional League.
Francis Rodriguez was a bit old for a first year player this season. He showed huge home/road splits (2.55 ERA at home) and a good ground ball rate, but not much else.
Jesus Paredes pitched very poorly in the VSL last year (7.04 ERA/14 BB in 15.1 IP), then totally turned things around in the DSL. After just four strikeouts last year, he had 35 in 30 IP this season and he was hard to hit. His only drawback seemed to be a very poor ground ball rate.
Leandro Rodriguez was signed out of the Dominican Prospect League last February for $80,000, but didn’t make his debut until this season. He pitched well in July (1.23 ERA in five starts), though he didn’t start or finish the season strong. He is a possibility for a Fall Instructional League invite this year due to his age/bonus/workload.
When Oderman Rocha didn’t get promoted to the states for this season, it was a big surprise to me. He pitched like the decision to hold him back was a bad one. Last year in the VSL, he threw 54.2 innings, had 52 strikeouts, a 3.29 ERA, didn’t allow a home run and had a 1.44 GO/AO ratio. This year he was much better, showing improvements across the board. He was an invite the the Fall Instructional League and will likely stick in the GCL next season.
Omar Basulto was a first year player in the DSL, though he did pitch briefly in the Mexican League last season. He had a strong overall season, that was even better during the second half, when he recorded 26 strikeouts in 21.2 innings. He should move up to the GCL next season as well, though he wasn’t on the initial Fall Instructional League roster, so he may have things to work on in another season in the DSL.
Ramon Rodriguez pitched well as a rookie last season, with one bad outing skewing his final totals. This year, things didn’t go so well in his ten starts. He had a strong strikeout rate his first year and this season he showed good control and a nice ground ball rate, but his overall numbers were poor.
Andres Mendoza showed excellent improvements over his ERA from last year, getting similar work (same amount of appearances, one less IP) as last year in the VSL. His overall numbers besides ERA weren’t much different though, with near identical walk/strikeout totals and a better BAA, but worse GO/AO ratio. He was consistently good all year, but may remain in the DSL as an innings-eater out of the bullpen due to his age.
Christian Henriquez was a July 2nd signing in 2010. He had a decent first season last year, getting 37 innings as a rookie. This season he showed a big improvement in his ground ball rate (0.46 to 1.37) and his walk rate, which wasn’t that bad last year. With a strong finish to his season and a heavy workload, he could move up to the GCL next year.
Another July 2nd signing from 2010 was Mervin Del Rosario, who has pitched 112 innings over the last two seasons in the DSL. He signed for $55,000, and runs his sinker up to 93 MPH, while throwing an above average slider. He showed improved command over last season, which wasn’t bad to begin with, but he has yet to learn how to strike guys out. The results overall were good for the twenty year old 6′ 3″ lefty, who should move up to the GCL next season.
Christopher De Leon has been hard to hit for three seasons in the DSL. He did have some control issues as a rookie and he wasn’t as sharp this year, but he showed a higher strikeout rate and his ground ball rate has gone up slightly each year. At age twenty, he could move to the GCL, but doesn’t seem like he has much of a future since they didn’t think enough of him to move him up after last season. He signed for a $150,000 bonus in 2009.
Jose Regalado saw plenty of action in his second season, but unfortunately it was another older pitcher getting a lot of work for the DSL team. He will turn twenty-one before the year ends. He did a good job of keeping the ball on the ground, in the park and in the strike zone, but his overall numbers were average.
Jose Marrujo was strong in the VSL last year, then got hit hard this season and didn’t pitch after the middle of June. His time in the system might be done. Miguel Rosario pitched just three games in his first season of pro ball at age nineteen, but he was invited to the Fall Instructional League so there must be something good about him. Brayan Almonte pitched in the GCL last year, then was returned to the DSL after pitching very poorly. He didn’t do much better this season and at 21 years old next month, he could be done. Miguel Ferreras returned to the DSL after a very poor first season in 2010, followed by missing all of 2011. He has good size, showed a good strikeout rate and overall his results were good, but he is just shy of 21 years old, so he got lumped in the last paragraph. Marcus Beltrez was hard to hit his first season, but he didn’t pitch much and he was also old for a first year player. He was born in New York. Luylli Miranda is a twenty year old rookie, with a poor ground ball rate, but he was good-to-above average in all other aspects. Still, a rookie at that age usually isn’t a good sign.
Ages 21 and Up
Luis Santos seems to be the most likely (only?) of this group to have any shot of moving up with any success. He pitched in relief last year and showed a strong strikeout rate, which he improved on, pitching three times as many innings this year. He had a strong ground ball rate and was very hard to hit. He was invited to the Instructional League.
Jovany Lopez just completed his fourth season of foreign Summer league ball and received an invite to the Fall Instructional League, though his time in the DSL is up(four year limit) so they may just be taking a look at him before making a decision on whether to keep him or not. The Pirates didn’t promote the little lefty after last season, when he had a 1.64 ERA, with strong strikeout and ground ball rates.
Carlos Ruiz seems to be the king of ground balls, with his 4.71 GO/AO ratio last season and 5.55 this year. He pitched better though last season and didn’t get promoted to the states, so that isn’t a good sign for his future. He hasn’t allowed a home run in three seasons.
Arquimedes Lorenzo was highly thought of when he signed, but three years and one 50 game suspension later, he still has plenty of flaws, including a lack of control on his pitches.
It took Oscar Calderin three seasons (two in the VSL) before he had a decent season. He has always had a low strikeout/high groundball rate, but this year the GO/AO ratio was much lower and he was used sparingly all season.
Cristian Santiago, as the oldest pitcher, did not pitch well. He was in his first season in the DSL, which also isn’t a good sign. What is a good sign is a Fall Instructional League invite, which makes you wonder why it took so long for him to be signed in the first place and what the Pirates could actually see in a pitcher who was older than the competition and didn’t pitch well.
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.