A month into the Rookie leagues and it seems like a good time to look at a few of the pitchers from the Dominican Summer League making their 2013 United States debuts. Many of these pitchers made Ben Badler's Top 20 DSL/VSL players list from 2012, while a few others were pitching leaders in some capacity last season. If there's any players you feel I missed, then make sure to add their names in the comments below.
Yankees prospect Rafael DePaula-- if that's his real name-- has endured many controversies in his short baseball career, including a change in birth certificates and a constant shuffling of trainers. One thing that hasn't been questioned is DePaula's tools, the 22 year old was selected to the All-Star Futures Game where he demonstrated the ability to touch high 90's on his fastball and sits around 95-96. He utilizes a strong curve as his out pitch and is still working on a changeup.
The Dominican dominated in 13 starts for Low-A Charleston with a 2.94 ERA and an eye popping 13.4 K/9. The numbers were similar to what he had put up in the DSL with a low ERA (1.46) and a high strikeout rate (12.4). DePaula has been so strong, the Yankees have already promoted him to their High-A team in Tampa. So far in three starts the right-handed DePaula has struggled to adapt to better hitters, where he's allowing twice as many hits as before and walking too many people. With his abundance of tools, look for DePaula to settle down and perhaps repeat High-A next year in preparation for a run through the Yankees farm system.
San Francisco's Keury Mella is making a successful transition to the United States after posting a solid ERA (2.47) and strikeout rate (9.74) in the DSL last season, this year he's improved his strikeouts (10.88) and maintained a solid ERA (2.82) in the process.
The right-handed Giants prospect was signed for $275,000 as an 18-year-old and has the ability to touch mid-90's on his fastball. Typically however, the now 19-year-old sits in the low-90's with a solid curveball and a developing changeup. Mella has reverted to a groundball pitcher in the Arizona league with a 60% rate. Look for Mella to possibly get a shot at Low-A Augusta in the near future if he continues at this pace.
The Royals acquired pitcher Luis Santos in a November deal with the Pirates last year for veteran reliever Vin Mazzaro that included other prospects. Santos split time between both Pirates teams in the DSL last season, where the right-hander posted double digit strikeout rates (10.6).
This season Santos has moved up to Burlington in the Rookie-level Appalachian league and has maintained a low ERA (2.62), but has also experienced a drop in strikeouts (6.0). A little bit older for a Dominican making his stateside debut, the 22 year old has shown maturity by cutting his walks in half since moving to the States.
The Braves have two pitching prospects named Michael Flores, but only one was named the 2012 DSL Pitcher of the Year. The 6-foot-3 Dominican dominated the DSL with a 1.71 ERA last season while striking out a batter per inning. In this season's Appalachian league, the 20 year old has increased his strikeouts, but walks have hurt the young hurler's performance and elevated his ERA to 3.92.
The left-hander should settle down and see both his strikeouts and walks normalize by the end of the season, he's already limiting the number of hits where he's allowing a mere .162 average against. Flores is in line for a promotion to Low-A Rome next season, but could move faster in the Braves system if he can get a handle on that walk rate while maintaining his high level of strikeouts.
The Rockies signed Joel Payamps in 2010 for $465,000 as one of the highest international bonuses ever paid by Colorado. The six-foot-two right-hander spent two seasons in the Dominican before debuting with the Grand Junction Rockies in the Rookie-level Pioneer league this summer. Payamps is having a solid, if not spectacular showing in Grand Junction with a 4.18 ERA and a 7.5 K/9.
The 19-year-old has shown the ability to work 93-94 on his fastball with a change that he can spot down in the zone. Joel shows his curveball at times, but hasn't developed it enough to use with regularity. The Rockies tend to show patience with their young pitchers, so look for Payamps to pitch in Short-season Tri-City next year, with Low-A Asheville being a longshot.
The Los Angeles Angels pitcher Victor Alcantara was ranked No. 18 in the Angels organization by Baseball America. Alcantara demonstrated wildness with a high walk rate, but also a strong ability to create strikeouts. Pitching for the Orem Owlz in the Pioneer league, the 20 year old Dominican has been walking even more batters which has ballooned his ERA to 8.51 in six starts.
Alcantara has a lively fastball that touches triple digits which allows him to follow with a slider that sits in the high 80's. Reports say he's still developing his changeup and working on a consistent delivery. Alcantara relied on a fairly heavy groundball rate in the DSL (56%), but has reverted to more flyball tendencies in his first few games in the the States.
Chicago Cubs pitcher Daury Torrez has pitched in five games for the Arizona rookie league, posting a solid ERA (3.86) and an impressive strikeout-to-walk rate (11.00) . The pitcher who demonstrated good control and a low ERA (1.21) in the DSL has been converted to a closer in the United States and has shown a corresponding strikeout increase since doing so.
Torrez signed with the Cubs for $25,000 when he was 17 and pitched two solid seasons in the DSL before moving to America. The 20-year-old Dominican has a fastball that sits in the low 90's and has yet to develop an out pitch, demonstrated by the low strikeout rate when he was starting in the Dominican. Being moved to the bullpen has certainly put a damper on his prospect status, but if he can maintain that level of strikeouts he could provide some value for the Cubs organization.