If there’s one player who has surprised me this Spring, it’s been Stolmy Pimentel. When he came over from the Red Sox in the Joel Hanrahan trade, Pimentel looked like a fading prospect. He used to be one of the top arms in the Boston farm system. He’s still regarded as a prospect, but after struggling at the Double-A level the last two years, his hype has faded.
From what I’ve seen this Spring out of Pimentel, there’s little reason to be down on him. There’s also no reason why he should have struggled so much at the Double-A level the last two seasons with this stuff.
The right-hander didn’t have his best results of the Spring today, but it wasn’t bad. He went four innings, allowing two runs on five hits, with a walk and six strikeouts. His fastball ranged from 89-96 MPH, and he was throwing his slider in the 82-86 MPH range. He threw 73 pitches, with 48 for strikes against the Phillies’ Double-A squad.
One key to his success this Spring has been the slider. It has been an out pitch this Spring, although Pimentel hasn’t thrown it that often. He started throwing the pitch last year, and felt that the pitch improved as the year went on. His numbers definitely improved, as you can see by his ERA and K% on a month by month basis.
May – 25.1 IP, 5.33 ERA, 14.3% K/PA
June – 25.1 IP, 6.75 ERA, 11.0% K/PA
July – 26.2 IP, 4.05 ERA, 22.0% K/PA
August – 27.1 IP, 3.62 ERA, 17.7% K/PA
Pimentel will be used as a starter this year, and will begin the season in Altoona. It will be difficult to tell how he’s handling the level, since this will be his third trip through the Eastern League. Any success will come with an asterisk. He should move up to Indianapolis by mid-season, since he’s on his final option year. That will be a bigger test, but first he’s going to need the numbers in Altoona. If he pitches the way he has this Spring, that success won’t be hard to come by.
Gerrit Cole Gets Practice Bunting
I was watching the short-season games this afternoon when something threw me off. The Pirates don’t have names on the back of their jerseys in minor league camp, just numbers. They provide roster sheets with the names and numbers, but those sheets don’t include players who were sent down from major league camp. At this point in camp, it can be confusing, depending on the number.
After watching a one out single, I saw number 35 step into the box. I didn’t think much of it, since Jordan Steranka wears number 35, and was on the on-deck circle. Number 35 went to lay down a bunt, and was getting a lot of instruction from the coaching staff. That was strange that Steranka, a college player, needed the instruction. After number 35 laid down a bunt, I watched as Jordan Steranka stepped up to the plate.
It wasn’t Steranka who was bunting. Turns out it was Gerrit Cole, who was getting some experience sacrificing runners over. Cole stepped in almost every half inning, or when a runner would reach base. Unfortunately for the lower level pitchers, that seemed to be every half inning. The top pitching prospect went 3-for-3 in the bunts I saw, advancing two runners from first to second, and one from second to third. After the third bunt, Jameson Taillon grabbed a bat and a helmet, stepped into the box, and took a turn at advancing the runner.
Just some of the fun of Pirate City. You think you’re going to be watching Enyel Vallejo for the first time, and then you get to watch the two top pitching prospects working on their in-game bunting skills.
The Short Season Players
Most of my time was spent watching the short season players today, since I haven’t seen a lot of them playing this Spring. Some notes:
**Ulises Montilla, who had great numbers in the Dominican Summer League, ripped a line drive over the third baseman’s head for a single late in the game.
**Edwin Espinal, a big third baseman who played in the GCL last year, had a nice piece of hitting, going opposite field on a low and away curveball from Angel Sanchez.
**Enyel Vallejo started at shortstop today. He looks tall and athletic, but was very raw on the field. He displayed a good arm, but one of the throws I saw was a bit wild, pulling the first baseman off the bag. He also booted a routine grounder later in the game.
**To give an idea of how raw these players are, Francisco Aponte needed instruction on where to stand on the third base line when leading off the bag. It’s a totally different experience watching this level.
**Maximo Rivera showed off his speed on a ground out to first. I’ve seen Rivera earlier in camp, legging out a triple.
**Hayden Hurst pitched two shutout innings, striking out one and throwing 91-94 MPH.
**Adrian Grullon pitched two innings, allowing a run on one hit and three walks, with two strikeouts. He was 90-92 MPH.
**I haven’t seen Tim Alderson much this Spring, since he’s been on the travel roster to McKechnie. He’s still got the filthy curveball working for him, and was throwing 90-92 MPH. Some of those pitches were elevated, although his funky delivery adds some deception. He pitched two innings in relief.
**Vic Black came on to relieve Wandy Rodriguez in the seventh inning, getting work coming into a game mid inning. Black threw his fastball 95 MPH, and his slider 85 MPH to get the final batter.
**Duke Welker threw an inning in relief. He was 94-96 MPH with his fastball, and 84-86 with his slider. He did a good job pitching inside to right-handers. He struck out two, and had a good combination of pitches against the final batter. With one strike he went inside on the right-hander for strike two. He followed that up with a low and away slider to get the batter swinging at strike three.