Today I received a copy of the Minor League Camp roster, listing every player who will be participating in the minor league portion of Spring Training. There could be some changes to this list in the future, and I already noticed a few of the numbers were wrong, for those of you who are coming down to Spring Training. Some notes below the rosters.
There are four players missing from the roster and no new names. Three players have retired since the end of last year and one player left as a free agent. Walker Gourley, D.J. Crumlich and Aaron Pribanic have all retired. Relief pitcher Carlos Ruiz has become a free agent.
Gourley was drafted in the 13th round in 2009 out of high school and he spent the 2014 season in Bradenton, where he served in a utility role. Gourley played all nine positions during his time in the system and hit .247/.296/.314 in 409 games.
Crumlich was drafted twice by the Pirates, going in the 38th round in 2011 and ninth round in 2012. In his three seasons, he played just 174 games, spending most of his time in the infield. Last year he hit .190 in 26 games for Bradenton.
Pribanic had his career derailed by multiple arm injuries and he hasn’t pitched since the 2012 season. He was part of the Jack Wilson trade in 2009 and he spent two seasons in Altoona, where he had a 4.12 ERA in 30 starts and one relief appearance.
Ruiz spent four years in the foreign leagues, two in Venezuela and two in the Dominican. He spent 2014 with the GCL Pirates, where he had a 4.15 ERA in 13 innings.
There are 16 players moving up from the Dominican Summer League team this year. All 16 of these players were invited to the Fall Instructional League, which is usually the case, although you usually have one or two players in camp that either weren’t invited to instructs or didn’t return to the US after instructs. You can read more on each player in the DSL season recap. Here is the complete list along with John Dreker’s brief write-up of each player below:
RHP Yeudy Garcia
RHP Richard Mitchell
RHP Luis Escobar
RHP Francis Rodriguez
RHP Alex Martinez
RHP Mister Luciano
RHP Edgar Santana
RHP Delvin Hiciano
LHP Nestor Oronel
2B Raul Siri
2B Luis Perez
SS Adrian Valerio
3B Jhoan Herrera
OF Edison Lantigua
OF Victor Fernandez
OF Sandy Santos
This list represents a good portion of the top players from the 2014 team. Eight of the players above were listed on our ten prospects to watch list that we posted back in August. Three of the others were listed as players that got strong consideration for the list, so you could say 11 of the top 13 players moved up this year.
The top hitting prospect is Edison Lantigua, though the early favorite to look the best from this group is Raul Siri. Lantigua is an 18-year-old left fielder with five-tool potential. He’s a line drive hitter, who should hit for more power as he fills out. Lantigua is a solid defender, with decent speed and an average arm.
Raul Siri is a polished hitter, who does everything well. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him skip the GCL and go to Bristol because of his overall skills and his age. He compares well to Pablo Reyes, who made the jump from the DSL to Bristol in 2014, except Siri seems to be a better all-around player. Siri had 34 extra-base hits and a .955 OPS last year.
Adrian Valerio is one to watch, especially for his outstanding defense at shortstop. He could be the best fielding shortstop in the system and he is a few days shy of his 18th birthday still. Valerio is a switch-hitter, who makes good contact, but his bat is nowhere near as advanced as his fielding.
Center fielder Victor Fernandez has game-changing speed on the bases and in the outfield. It is unlikely that there is a faster player in the entire Pirates system. We had footage of Fernandez from the FIL, one of which you can see here, that showed just how fast he is on the bases. Besides the plus speed and defense, he also put up an .867 OPS last year and did all that while dealing with a mid-season hamstring injury.
Jhoan Herrera is making his second trip to the States for Spring Training, so he only sort of qualifies as new. An ankle injury caused him to miss time last year and once he was healthy, he returned to the DSL. Luis Perez is a solid hitter for average and he runs well, plus plays strong defense at second base. The problem is that he is 21 already and behind Raul Siri at the same position. Sandy Santos is also older than most, but he is a toolsy outfielder that has good size and showed great improvements last year, so he could be a late bloomer.
On the pitching side, the entire starting rotation moved up to the States, which will leave the 2015 DSL team with a very inexperienced pitching staff. The best current pitcher of this group is Yeudy Garcia, who has a big frame and can hit mid-90s as a starter. He signed very late and is already 22 years old, so expect him to get a push. Garcia has a good strikeout rate and gets a lot of ground balls.
Richard Mitchell pitches to contact with a nice three-pitch mix that includes a low-90’s fastball, a solid change-up and a curve that is at least an average offering. He works down in the zone and pounds the inside corner of the plate. He too could see a push to Bristol due to his control and advanced feel for pitching.
Luis Escobar could have the highest upside of any of these pitchers, though he is younger and inexperienced. He played third base up until a few years ago and is still learning how to pitch. Escobar can hit 94 MPH, but he lacks polish and at this point doesn’t have a strong secondary pitch. After some early struggles in 2014, he put together a streak in which he allowed two earned runs or less in nine straight starts. A late season appendectomy shortened his season and kept him out of action in the Fall Instructional League.
The other two starters are totally different pitchers from the rest. Francis Rodriguez gets by with a lot of off-speed pitches and strong control. He is 22 already and has limited upside due to a below average fastball. Nestor Oronel is just 18 years old and the only left-handed pitcher that made the jump. He lacks polish or a strong secondary pitch, so his promotion to the States was a little bit of a surprise. He throws high 80’s and relies heavily on his sinker. Oronel did not have much success as a rookie, allowing 87 hits in 58.2 innings, with 31 strikeouts.
The rest of the pitchers include some hard-throwing relievers, with Alex Martinez, Delvin Hiciano and Edgar Santana all hitting mid-90s, though none of them put in a lot of work and all profile as relievers. The last one is Mister Luciano, who is already well-known for a DSL player due to his unique(and real) name. He throws low-90s with a hard-breaking curve. Luciano lacks experience, so expect him to see limited innings in the GCL bullpen this year.