Well, okay, A.J. Burnett isn’t a prospect, but he was pitching against them today as the Yankees’ AAA and AA squads visited Pirate City. Burnett struggled throughout his outing, a lot of it due to control issues, and didn’t manage to complete all his innings due to per-inning pitch limitations. Odd things like that happen in spring training games, so there’s no point getting stressed about it.
By contrast, Stolmy Pimentel tore through the Yankees’ AA team, throwing five shutout innings while allowing one hit and no walks. He fanned six and required only 53 pitches, 31 going for strikes. His fastball ranged from 92-95 throughout the outing and he showed a nasty upper-80s slider. He also threw a change that, Pimentel says, cuts sometimes. He went with that and the slider more in innings 3-5.
“The first inning I used my fastball a lot,” Pimentel said. “The last inning I was throwing a little bit more of my changeup and my slider. I was trying to change the view for the hitter. Show them all my pitches. All of my pitches were working really well today.”
Pimentel represented a challenge for the Pirates from the time they acquired him from Boston in the Joel Hanrahan trade. He’s always been highly regarded for his arm, but he’s out of options and has yet to pitch well above class A. It appears the Pirates will go with him as a starter, possibly in AA (although his assignment today doesn’t necessarily mean as much, because the team no doubt wanted Burnett facing the AAA hitters). Pimentel needs to get off to a fast start or the Pirates could fact a tough decision with him a year from now.
Rookie Level Action
Sometimes you get bonus action out at Pirate City, like today. Along with the scheduled AAA and AA games, the teams threw in a third game featuring rookie-level players. The position players seeing action for the Pirates were a mixture of players who could either head to Jamestown when the season opens or stay in the GCL. Among the players likely slated for the New York-Penn League were outfielders Harold Ramirez and Elvis Escobar. Outfielder Luis Urena, shortstop Maximo Rivera, third baseman Kevin Ross and second baseman Ulises Montilla could all move to Jamestown as well. Unlike Urena and Ross, Rivera and Montilla have yet to play in the US, but both have spent three years in the Latin American summer leagues and the Pirates often skip more experienced players over the GCL. Rivera has bounced all around the diamond defensively, playing mainly the outfield last year, but in camp he’s been playing short and third. The catcher for this game was Jin-De Jhang, who’s mainly been playing with the low A squad. This could indicate he’s slated for Jamestown, but it also could simply be that the low A team, which was on the road, had other catchers with them today.
The pitchers, by contrast, were mostly players who are just up from the Dominican Summer League and likely headed for the GCL. One notable exception was Zack Dodson, who will be featured in an article by Tim later tonight. More on the pitchers below.
Position Player Notes
Mel Rojas, Jr. — Rojas has been having a good spring and today was no exception, as he hit an opposite-field triple and at least two singles.
Carlos Mesa — Mesa has also been having a good spring, possibly helped by the fact that he’s slimmed down. He also had a triple and at least one single today.
Matt Curry — Curry played first in the AA game. With Indianapolis likely to be overloaded with corner infielders, including Clint Robinson, Matt Hague and Jared Goedert, Curry appears headed back to Altoona. He’ll have to share first and DH with Alex Dickerson.
Adalberto Santos — Santos is still with the AAA team, which is good to see considering that he hit .340 for Altoona last year. He played second today. He’ll probably also get forced down to Altoona once all the cuts take place.
Vic Black — Black threw inning in the AAA game and struggled with his control. He failed to get three outs in the inning before he hit his pitch limit. His stuff was the same as ever, with a fastball ranging from 95-98 and a sharp slider.
Jon Sandfort — Last year’s third round pick threw two innings. His first went fine, but he failed to get three outs in his second inning as he hit his pitch limit. He was sitting around 89 with his fastball.
The remaining pitchers all threw in the rookie-level game. They each threw one inning and, for the most part, stuck with fastballs. This was probably the first time throwing to hitters in games for each of these pitchers, so radar gun readings at this stage may not mean much.
Adrian Grullon — Probably the most notable of the pitchers up from the DSL, along with Cesilio Pimentel, Grullon has thrown only 33 innings as a pro. His fastball ranged from 89-92, mostly at the upper end of that range.
Miguel Rosario — Rosario is a short (6’0″) righty who’s thrown just 6.2 IP as a pro, but his fastball sat at 92 today.
Melvin Del Rosario — A lefty with good size, Del Rosario reportedly could throw 93 mph when the Pirates signed him, but he was throwing only 83-84 today. He did show a promising curve.
Angel Sanchez — A 6′ 7″ lefty, Sanchez has struggled with sometimes-severe control problems over three years in the DSL. He was sitting in the mid-80s today.
Christian Santiago — Santiago was nearly 22 when the Pirates signed him a little over a year ago. He was hitting 89-91 today.