With so many new players in the system this year and two teams to follow, there is a lot to sort out on the international side. One of the best ways to get a good idea of the players right now is to see who is in the starting rotation, who is batting near the top of the lineup and who is getting the most playing time. In addition to the bonus information we know for a few players, we can start to piece things together with the team.
So while I had a season preview already, this is sort of like preview part two, what the first week told us about the team. Before I get into the players on the field, there are a few notes.
Linse Carvajal, an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher signed in January, was released earlier this week.
Also, Robinson Ramos, a 20-year-old catcher, was moved up to the U.S. due to a need for catchers at Pirate City. There’s a chance he is there for good, although we won’t know that for sure until the draft picks sign.
Finally, some of those 70 international players signed since last July, are waiting for their contracts to be approved. Apparently for the players from Mexico, it takes longer to work out due to some contract details that have to be sorted out. The list of players who aren’t available right now is: Fernando Villegas, Denny Roman, Xavier Concepcion, Luis Cadet, Elvis Contreras, Wander Romero, Raydel Valette, Eduar Ramirez and Omar Matos.
Now to the action on the field to help us try to sort out all of these players. I won’t break them into teams because multiple players have already switched teams and it will continue to happen. Also it’s too early to look at stats, so this article is just early observations. The first thing is the starting pitchers. I’ll list all 11, along with their bonus if available, followed by their age and either LHP/RHP.
Bryan Torres, ($180,000), 17, RHP
Miguel Peralta, ($110,000) 19, RHP
Luis Peralta, ($110,000) 17, LHP
Angel Suero, ($100,000 in 2016) 18, RHP
Willy Basil, 21, RHP
Jesus Valles, 20, RHP
Arlinthon De Dios, 18, RHP
Yandy Vega, 19, RHP
Mario Garcia, 19, RHP
Francisco Hodge, 18, LHP
Estalin Ortiz, 19, LHP
With so many pitchers who are 17 on the team, you would rather see more of them in the starting rotation. Ortiz doesn’t have a bonus listed, but he likely got a six-figure bonus because he was looking for a very high bonus, which at one time actually went up when he improved, but eventually came down. That’s why he is 19, but just now signing. He priced himself out of the market, then raised that price. Among known bonuses, those four pitchers listed above are all of the six-figure pitchers we know of right now in the DSL, so in that sense it’s good to see the high-priced players getting innings.
On the hitting side, the two obvious players to watch are outfielders Juan Pie and Angel Basabe. They were originally on the same team before being split up and now they have both been batting lead-off. Pie received a $500,000 bonus, while Basabe received $450,000 to sign. Basabe is playing center field and Pie is in left, so it seems like the split was based more on where they are hitting in the order.
After them, catcher Jommer Hernandez got a $250,000 bonus, Norkis Marcos ($250,000) and Emilson Rosado ($135,000) have all predictably seeing plenty of playing time. Returning outfielder Pedro Castillo received $170,000 and he’s hitting in the middle of the order. You would expect these six players to get playing time and they all are, so all is right with the world. Daniel Rivero didn’t have a bonus announced because he was from Venezuela and their bonuses have been kept secret to protect the players. He likely received a six-figure bonus and he’s playing regularly too, hitting in the middle of the order. We got a strong report on him shortly after he signed in July.
As for others, Tilsaimy Melfor, who was signed late out of Curacao, is crushing the ball early and leads in at-bats, partially due to not taking any walks yet. Infielder Carlos Arroyo was one of the best available players in Colombia back in July. He’s playing regularly and has a .903 OPS. Edgar Barrios was also a high profile player in Colombia before he signed. Not likely a six-figure bonus, but highly thought of as a prospect in that country. He’s playing a lot, as is Bryan Mateo, who is a 19-year-old lefty hitting outfielder, who has been at first base.
Matthew Mercedes, a returning player from last year, is getting regular at-bats and already has three homers. Ronaldo Paulino was splitting first base with Mercedes last year. This year they are on different teams and both playing regularly. Paulino hits the ball harder than anyone on the team, just a lot less often than you would like to see (he hits air a lot).
Catcher Darwin Baez, a late signing, has played in all seven games so far. He’s still just 17, so he may have had high bonus demands that originally kept him from signing, or possibly a good winter that got him more notice. Yeison Ceballo is also a catcher, and one with a better track record that most here. He’s seeing regular time and hitting well early on.
Joseivin Medina was a very interesting signing in July. A 6’4″, lefty bat, who turned 18 since signing. He is off to a decent start. The Pirates have two players with terrific raw power who aren’t playing everyday in Stiwatt Valerio and Shendrik Apostel. We will check back in after six more games are played next week and see if they get more time.