Org Pitching: The Rookies

As I said in a recent post, almost every player on a rookie league team is an unknown. Rather than listing every pitcher and his stats here, we’ll just highlight a handful of guys from the American (Arizona League) rookie team, as well as a few from the Dominican Summer League squad.

AZL Giants:

Keury Mella – R (20): 2.25 era, 36 ip, 10.5 h/9, 2.8 bb/9, 10.2 k/9 – Dominican righty has a good build, an above average fastball, and the highest upside on the staff. Very underrated prospect who should get the bump to full-season ball next year.

Luis Ysla – L (21): 2.65 era, 51 ip, 6.7 h/9, 2.3 bb/9, 9.2 k/9 – Arguably the staff ace for the juggernaut AZL Giants. First-year pro out of Venezuela, and very unknown. Moving up to Augusta next year?

Dylan Brooks – R (18): 6.14 era, 7.1 ip, 7.4 k/9, 13.5 bb/9, 9.8 k/9 – 6-foot-7, 230-pound Canadian was drafted in the 30th round out of high school this season. One of the youngest players on the team. Electric, but very raw stuff.

DJ Snelten – L (21): 1.57 era, 34.1 ip, 7.1 h/9, 3.4 bb/9, 10.2 k/9 – 9th round selection in this year’s draft. Was a top 150 prospect in BA’s pre-draft ranking, so the Giants may have gotten a nice steal. Throws mid-90’s from left side.

Nick Jones – L (21): 1.93 era, 18.2 ip, 4.3 h/9, 4.3 bb/9, 8.7 k/9 – 14th round pick this summer. 6-6, 220-pound juco lefty. Closed out a couple of games for the young Giants.

Luis Pino – R (18): 3.94 era, 29.2 ip, 9.1 h/9, 5.5 bb/9, 7.9 k/9 – Mexican righty spent last summer in DSL, this summer in AZL. BB rates climbed a bit, but he’s holding his own for a young kid.

Carlos Diaz – L (19): 4.99 era, 39.2 ip, 9.8 h/9, 4.8 bb/9, 11.6 k/9 – Colombian lefty posted very respectable numbers during 2 seasons in DSL. Impressive 51 K’s in 39 IP for AZL team this summer. Slender build, but another baby to keep an eye on.

Eury Sanchez – R (20): 1.12 era, 16 ip, 6.8 h/9, 2.2 bb/9, 14.6 k/9 – Between DSL (’12) and AZL (’13), he owns a 1.19 era and 14 saves in 45.1 ip. Smaller at 5-10, 175, but career 12.3 k/9 shows he’s got something hitters can’t handle.

Nick Gonzalez – L (21): 1.04 era, 17.1 ip, 3.1 h/9, 1.6 bb/9, 8.8 k/9 – USF (South Florida) lefty was a 24th round pick in June. Probably should have been in S-K, but the numbers are still very impressive in a small sample size. Another lefty with size.

Rayan Hernandez – R (17): 8.31 era, 8.2 ip, 14.5 h/9, 6.2 bb/9, 8.3 k/9 – Youngest pitcher on the staff, 34th round pick out of Puerto Rico. He’s a large kid (6-4, 230). Appeared in 9 contests without much success this summer.

Overview: This is only part of the crew that breezed through the AZL with ease this summer, en route to a shutout of the Dodgers for a championship. Performance-wise, Ysla was the rotation ace. Stuff-wise, Mella sounds like he has the highest upside. Those two should be in Augusta next year, but the Giants aren’t always the most aggressive with pitcher placement, so don’t be too shocked to see Ysla sitting out until summer ball. You can rank the rest of these guys how you see fit. There’s high school draft picks, college lefties, international babies… and a ton of height. Snelten could be a big sleeper if he continues to work as a starter next season. Hernandez is very young, and very large. Some of these kiddos won’t ever see AA, but maybe some make it to the show. You never know at this level.

DSL Giants

Michael Santos – R (18): 2.75 era, 19.2 ip, 8.2 h/9, 2.7 bb/9, 8.2 k/9 – 6-foot-4 with high upside signed for $250k in 2012. Made 4 starts this June before getting shut down the rest of the season. Scouts like his fastball/curve combination.

Jose Morel – R (19): 1.22 era, 59 ip, 7.3 h/9, 0.9 bb/9, 8.4 k/9 – Repeat performer in the DSL. Worked as a swing-man this year, pitching 3 or 4 innings at a time. Last appearance was only start of the year: 7 ip, 2 h, 0 er, 0 bb, 7 k. Hmmm…

Reymi Rodriguez – R (19): 1.36 era, 46.1 ip, 4.7 h/9, 4.5 bb/9, 9.5 k/9 – Pitched primarily out of the bullpen in debut season. Numbers seem to indicate he’s got electric stuff.

Luis Castillo – R (20): 20 sv, 0.64 era, 28.1 ip, 4.8 h/9, 1.0 bb/9, 10.8 k/9 – Oldest pitcher on the staff, and a repeat performer in the league. Impressive numbers nonetheless.

Eusebio Encarnacion – R (19): 1.72 era, 68 ip, 7.4 h/9, 1.6 bb/9, 6.5 k/9 – Debut season. Slender build, but put together a nice campaign as a starter. Impressive control numbers.

Jonathan Loaisiga – R (18): 2.75 era, 68.2 ip, 7.9 h/9, 2.1 bb/9, 5.2 k/9 – Unknown? His height and weight aren’t even listed on the roster! Don’t know how to pronounce the name, but a very good debut summer, albeit with very low strikeout totals.

Raffi Vizcaino – R (17): 3.80 era, 47.1 ip, 8.7 h/9, 3.2 bb/9, 7.8 k/9 – Youngest pitcher on the team. Saw his best (5 ip, 2 h, 0 er, 10 k) and worst (4.1 ip, 12 h, 8 er) performances in his last two outings of the season.

Overview: Other than the big-bonus righty Santos at the top, there’s really no way to rank these guys. Most of them have good enough numbers to earn a trip to Arizona next summer, I would think. Morel’s 2-hitter over 7 innings in his final appearance looks good. Castillo has the best numbers, by far, but he’s also one of the older guys on the team… how much that matters is up to you. If we’re going by physical attributes, I’ll take Rodriguez, whose numbers look very enticing. Remember, this team went 45-22 this year, so there’s definitely some talent overseas. Call me a year from now, and I’m sure a couple of these guys won’t even be making a dent. Maybe we get a couple of AZL breakouts in the group next summer, too?


Giants are Champs

Doesn’t that just roll off the tongue? The only thing is, these champs play in Scottsdale, not San Francisco, and they earned their crown of the Arizona Rookie League by shutting out the Dodgers… how sweet it is. The game story from MiLB is here, with a big picture of winning pitcher Keury Mella to boot. Mella, the 20 year-old righty with a big fastball, tossed 5 shutout innings. College lefty Nick Gonzalez struck out 6 over the final four innings, and the “juggernaut” Giants finished what they started back in June. Christian Arroyo, Ryder Jones and Christian Paulino were all 2-4 at the dish.

I’ll keep the rest of this pretty brief, but I thought the MiLB article was very interesting. You don’t get a lot of AZL coverage in general, and the quotes from skipper Nestor Rojas (Manager of the Year) about his 18 year-old league MVP Arroyo are promising. People are starting to throw the word “special” around with this kid… after initially scratching my head at the pick (and probably reading too much into pre-draft scouting reports), I’m very excited to see him move to full-season ball next year.

Yes, I realize that rookie ball titles are nothing to get worked up about, and most of the guys on this team won’t even make it to Fresno. But when the varsity team is in the tank, tell me you don’t at least take a longer look at the freshmen squad that’s blowing out the competition. And I think you get an idea about some of the talent the Giants pulled from the lower (and upper) rounds of the draft this year. This team was led by recent draft picks, and most of its top hitters (Arroyo, Jones, Joneswhy Fargas) aren’t even 20 years old.

All of these kids may be many years away from helping a big league club, but I’ll give this caveat: I moved from California to Billings, MT in 2009. Billings is a rookie league town, home to the Billings Mustangs of the Pioneer League (a Cincinnati affiliate). In my first four summers here, I watched defensive wizard Didi Gregorius (’09), burner Billy Hamilton (’10), strikeout artist Tony Cingrani (’11), and a Bay Area hurler named Robert Stephenson (’12). As of today, three of those four are in the show, and Stephenson has already moved to AA. So I won’t discount the performances of guys like Christian Arroyo and Luis Ysla this year, because you just never know.

Ryder  Jones