The Dominican winter league held their 2016 draft on Thursday night and seven players from the Pirates were eligible to be drafted among a pool of 149 players. That list of Pirates includes shortstop Alfredo Reyes and six pitchers, Delvin Hiciano, Julio Eusebio, Cesilio Pimentel, Edgar Santana, Yunior Montero and Pedro Vasquez.

Reyes, Eusebio, Montero and Pimentel played for West Virginia this season. Hiciano was in the GCL, where he made two appearances after returning from Tommy John surgery. Edgar Santana is the big prospect among this group, as he went from Bradenton to Indianapolis and pitched well in long relief at each level. Vasquez was acquired in the Arquimedes Caminero trade and never appeared in a regular season game after the trade.

Santana was the first Pirate selected, taken with the first pick of the fourth round (19th overall) by Gigantes del Cibao. Over three levels, Santana had a 2.71 ERA in 79.2 innings, with 71 strikeouts and a 1.08 WHIP. He will be attending the Arizona Fall League in October.

Pedro Vasquez was selected 39th overall by Toros del Este, a team that also has Alen Hanson. Vasquez made eight starts in Low-A for Seattle before the trade. He pitched yesterday in the Fall Instructional League, where Tim Williams had a brief report of his day.

Cesilio Pimentel was taken 74th overall by Aguilas Cibaenas. I previously said he wasn’t picked, not realizing that Aguilas stopped announcing their picks after the tenth round, while everyone else kept going. Pimentel had a 2.65 ERA in 51 innings for West Virginia, posting a .210 BAA, 1.04 WHIP, 1.33 GO/AO ratio and 48 strikeouts. He is just one year away from reaching minor league free agency, making his debut with the Pirates back in 2011. Willy Garcia plays for Aguilas.

Alfredo Reyes was taken with the 102nd pick. He played shortstop this season for West Virginia after the Pirates took him in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft last December. Reyes hit .199/.262/.263 in 97 games, though he played excellent defense and went 28-for-30 in stolen base attempts.

Yunior Montero was the next Pirate picked at 106th overall, taken by Leones del Escogido. That’s a team that holds the rights to both Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. Montero had a 3.65 ERA in 44.1 innings this season, splitting his time between West Virginia and Morgantown. He made three starts and 14 relief appearances. Montero had 52 strikeouts, a 1.11 WHIP and a 1.86 GO/AO ratio.

Julio Eusebio was taken two picks after Montero. Eusebio had a 1.62 ERA for the Power, throwing 50 innings over 40 relief appearances. He had a .165 BAA. He was taken by Estrellas de Oriente. Exactly seven rounds later, Estrellas took Delvin Hiciano, who made two appearances this season, both for one inning of work. Due to a suspension and Tommy John surgery, he has thrown just 24.2 innings since signing prior to the 2013 season.

Back in 2012, the Pirates had three players taken within the first 12 picks, with Alen Hanson, Gregory Polanco and Willy Garcia all being selected. The quality of players selected since then has dropped. Back in 2014, Edwin Espinal was the highest pick from the Pirates, going 53rd overall. He was followed by Isaac Sanchez, Maximo Rivera and Chris Diaz, giving them four picks that season. Sanchez and Rivera are no longer in the organization, while Diaz hasn’t played in the Dominican yet.

Last year, five players from the Pirates were selected. Yeudy Garcia was the best prospect taken, though Pablo Reyes was taken before him. That’s probably due to the fact the Pirates are more willing to allow position players to play winter ball than they are for pitchers, so a team wouldn’t use a high pick on a player who might not play for them. Junior Lopez, Miguel Rosario and Jose Regalado were also selected. None of those five played in the Dominican last year, though the league does have a minor league as well, so it’s possible for a player to play months of winter ball without showing up in the boxscore.

It usually takes two seasons before we see these players show up in winter ball, and possibly a third season before they play regularly. Most players taken in the draft are in High-A or lower, and the level of play in the Dominican is the highest for any winter ball league. It’s about the same as what you see in Triple-A for most of the year, but by January, some teams will have numerous Major League players in their lineup, so you’re talking about a weak MLB team (weaker than Pirates this season..I know you were thinking it)

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14 COMMENTS

  1. John, What happened with the J2 outfielder that the Pirates were rumored to be signing? I believe that he had to wait until mid-August to sign but I have not heard anything or missed the coverage on the site.

  2. Our first player taken is in the 4th round…..is that a reflection of our International strategy for pursuing quantity over quality?

      • Is there a list of the entire draft? I’d like to see what teams had prospects taken ahead of our first player taken?

        • The list is still being updated now, but for many of the names, you’ll have to look up their team http://www.ligadom.com/drafts/2016-2/

          There are only certain players eligible for the draft, so it’s not exactly a good indication of anything other than the eligible players for the one year. Last year only 126 players were eligible, other years it’s been over 150. Once a player is picked, that’s his team, and it’s obviously just players with Dominican heritage.

            • You become eligible after your first season in full-season ball, but it seems like it only counts if you start the season there and not just make an appearance, otherwise Edgar Santana definitely would have been taken last year. I’m sure some team would have taken Sandy Santos this year if he was eligible

    • Yes, he only throws a fastball and a slider. He also isn’t stretched out enough to be a starter, though he’s adding more innings to his 79.2 already by going to the AFL. So if they wanted to try to stretch him out more, he’s got a good base now. He threw more innings this year than his first two years combined

  3. Well, this coming year, the Pirates should be able to spend more on the draft and international players where the ability to spend is dependent on how well or badly the Pirates do. Unless, of course, MLB decides to change the rules again for the betterment of baseball.

    It looks like we may be picking around 13 in the first round this coming year. Something good may come out of this disappointing team afterall, a team that reminds me of the 1967, 1968, and 1973 Pirate teams that were all wonderful on paper, but like a good puppy, left it all on the paper.

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