First Pitch: What’s a Good Graduation Rate from the Dominican Summer League to the Majors?

We often talk about the recent failures of the Pittsburgh Pirates when it comes to developing international signings. I looked over the last ten international signing classes for the Pirates back in January and the two best classes were the two most recent ones. The 2011 class was a decent group compared to the rest, but it was far from a strong group of players. Those players made up a good portion of the 2012 DSL Pirates.

The 2012 Pirates had two teams in the Dominican Summer League and it looked to be a decent group of prospects back then. They’re the perfect team for this morning’s article. I wanted to compare them to the other 29 MLB clubs to see how many players have made the majors from the 2012 DSL season. It’s been seven seasons since many of those players debuted in pro ball, which is a decent amount of time to get to the majors. I’m 100% certain this won’t be the final totals if we checked again ten years from now, but it will be close. Checking now means that a player had at least eight seasons to make it to the majors.

I’ll start with the Pirates, then list the rest in order by how many players have reached the majors. I’m going to list the names only because this is a time consuming exercise to go through that many teams. If you see a “(2)” next to the team name, it means that they had two affiliates in the league:

Pirates (2): Pablo Reyes, Luis Santos

Rockies: Yonathan Daza, Raimel Tapia, Jayson Aquino, Carlos Estavez, Joel Payamps, Antonio Senzatela

Nationals: Rafael Bautista, Raudy Read, Reynaldo Lopez, Jefry Rodriguez, Wander Suero, Phillips Valdez

Rangers: Jose Leclerc, Yohander Mendez, Pedro Payano, Ricardo Rodriguez

Blue Jays: Miguel Castro, Jimmy Cordero, Jose Fernandez, Jesus Tinoco

Diamondbacks: Silvino Bracho, Gabriel Moya, Yefry Ramirez

Padres: Franchy Cordero, Franmil Reyes, Jose Ruiz

Athletics: Yairo Munoz, Ronald Herrera, Jose Torres

Giants: Miguel Gomez, Luis Castillo, Keury Mella

Brewers: Miguel Diaz, Jorge Lopez

Twins: Engelb Vielma, Fernando Romero

Mariners: Gabriel Guerrero, Erick Mejia

Royals: Miguel Almonte, Andres Machado

Angels: Victor Alcantara, Eduardo Paredes

Braves: John Camargo, Victor Reyes

Yankees (2): Luis Severino, Abiatal Avelino

Cubs (2): Pedro Araujo

Phillies: Seranthony Domingues

Tigers: Sandy Baez

Reds: Aristides Aquino

Red Sox: Manuel Margot

Astros: Elieser Hernandez

Cardinals: Luis Perdomo

Mets (2): None

Orioles: None

White Sox: None

Marlins: None

Dodgers: None

Indians: None

Rays: None

I should also include the Venezuelan Summer League, which was dwindling down at this point, after the Pirates decided to leave the league. They had just four teams in the league by 2012, but all four had at least one future MLB player.

Mariners: Osmer Morales, Thyago Vieira

Phillies: Severino Gonzalez, Ricardo Pinto, Ranger Suarez

Tigers: Eduardo Jimenez

Rays: Jose Alvarado, German Marquez

With those players added in to the DSL totals, we have six clubs (20%) who didn’t get a single player to the majors from the 2012 DSL/VSL season.

Five teams got one player to the majors, meaning just over 1/3 of the league had a worse graduation rate than the Pirates.

Another eight teams only got two players to the majors, which means (with the Pirates included) that 2/3 of the MLB teams got 0-2 players to the majors from their 2012 DSL/VSL teams.

Four teams got three players and another four got four players to the majors. Two teams got six players, which was the high. Those top ten clubs got 40 players to the majors, while the other 20 clubs got 23 players total. That gives you 63 players from the 2012 DSL/VSL season who have made the majors, or two per MLB team on average. With approximately 1,600 players between the two leagues that year, you’re talking about a 4% chance of making it to the majors from the league.




Enjoy the ride


By John Dreker

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.

Babe Adams, pitcher for the 1907, 1909-16 and 1918-26 Pirates. In Pirates franchise history, he ranks tied for second with Sam Leever in wins with 194, trailing only Wilbur Cooper. He is third in innings pitched (2991.1) behind Cooper and Bob Friend. He ranks sixth in strikeouts, fourth in games started, sixth in complete games and first in shutouts with forty-four. Adams walked just 430 batters in his career, four times leading the league in lowest walks per inning.

Adams is best known for his exploits during the 1909 season. He went 12-3, 1.11 in 130 regular season innings, then won all three starts during the World Series. He is the only player who was a member of the 1909 and 1925 World Series champs. He won 22 games during the 1911 season and 21 games in 1913, when he set a career high with 313.1 innings pitched. He had an 18-9, 2.24 record in 245 innings during the 1910 season.

Adams led the NL in WHIP (not a stat during his time obviously) five times. His 0.85 WHIP in 1909 is a Pirates team record. His 1.11 ERA in 1909 is also a Pirates single season record. His only big league game without the Pirates was one start for the 1906 St Louis Cardinals.

Joakim Soria, pitcher for the 2015 Pirates. He is current in his 13th seasons in the majors, signing with the Oakland A’s for the 2020 season. In 710 big league appearances (one start), he has a 33-39, 3.02 record, with 221 saves and 703.1 innings pitched. Soria joined the Pirates late in the 2015 season in a trade with the Detroit Tigers for minor leaguer JaCoby Jones. He posted a 2.03 ERA over 29 appearances and tossed a scoreless inning in the playoffs. He was let go via free agency after the season. He was a two-time All-Star with the Kansas City Royals early in his career, twice collecting over 40 saves in a season.

Nelson Figueroa, pitcher for the Pirates during the 2003-04 seasons. He was originally drafted by the Mets in the 30th round of the 1995 draft. Figueroa made his Major League debut in 2000, pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He went on to play for the Phillies in 2001, then the Brewers the following season. Milwaukee released him in October of 2002 and he signed with the Pirates three months later. Figueroa spent most of the year at Triple-A Nashville, where he went 12-5, 2.97 in 23 starts. He was called up by the Pirates in August and went 2-1, 3.31 in 12 outings, the first three as a starter. His 2004 season was very similar to the previous one. He won 12 games for Nashville again, while making 23 starts. He was again called up by the Pirates in August and made three starts. The results were not as good in 2004 during his limited big league time. He went 0-3, 5.72 in 28.1 innings. Figueroa was released by the Pirates, then underwent off-season rotator cuff surgery, which caused him to miss all of the 2005 season. He later pitched in the majors for the Mets, Phillies and Astros, then spent three seasons in the minors/foreign leagues before retiring in 2014. Figueroa had a 20-35 career record with a 4.55 ERA in 499 innings.

Ken Hamlin, shortstop for the 1957 and 1959 Pirates. He signed with the Pirates as an amateur free agent in June of 1957 and went right to the majors. On June 17, 1957, he made his Major League debut as a pinch-runner. Three days later he got his first at-bat as a pinch-hitter. Hamlin was then sent to the minors, playing for Lincoln of the Western League, where he hit .254 in 84 games. He spent all of 1958 in the minors and didn’t return to the Pirates until September of 1959, after he hit .251 with ten homers and 69 RBIs in 148 games for the Columbus Jets of the International League. Hamlin pinch-ran in his first appearance, then started the last two games of the season at shortstop. He batted lead-off in his first start, collected a ninth inning single off of former Pirate Bob Purkey for his first base hit and he turned a double play with Bill Mazeroski. Hamlin was traded on December 9, 1959 to the Kansas City A’s, along with two other players, in exchange for catcher Hal Smith. He would play five seasons in the majors after the deal, with his last year coming in 1966. Hamlin finished with a .241 average in 468 career games.

Bill Batsch, pinch-hitter for the Pirates on September 9, 1916. He was a graduate of Bethany College in West Virginia, one of just three Major League players who attended that school. He reported to the Pirates in September of 1916, with no prior pro experience. In the first game of a doubleheader on September 9, 1916, the Pirates were losing to the Cubs 2-0 in the 8th inning. The lead-off batter reached base, bringing up the pitcher’s spot in the order. The Pirates pulled Erv Kantlehner and sent up Bill Batsch (spelled Batch in the papers) to make his Major League debut. He drew a walk off of Hippo Vaughn. He moved to second on a bunt play, with the out being recorded at third base. Hall of Fame center fielder Max Carey then came to the plate and hit one back to Vaughn, who bobbled the ball. His throw to first base was also bobbled and Batsch rounded third, then was sent home by the third base coach. He was out at the plate, keeping the Pirates off the board, in what ended as a 3-0 loss.

Those chain of events were the entire extent of Batsch’s pro baseball career. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1917 and didn’t make the team. He signed with a team from Akron, but when they tried to transfer his rights to the Joplin Miners of the Western League, he asked for his unconditional release. He declared he would rather play semi-pro ball than accept his transfer to the WL.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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