Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thing 2

Here, I profiled Thing 1 - Jerry Sands - who came to Pittsburgh via the Joel Hanrahan trade.  Sands was one of four players - three that have largely played their careers in at the minor league level thus far.  Thing 2 is Stolmy Pimentel.  Thing 3 is Ivan DeJesus.  This article profiles Thing 2, pitcher Stolmy Pimentel.

Pimentel was an under-the-radar prospect out of the Dominican Republic.  Born February 1st, 1990, Pimentel received a small $25,000 bonus to sign with the Boston Red Sox back in 2006.  Pimentel's pitched one year in the DSL, before being promoted stateside to start the 2008 season.  That year he enjoyed a breakout season for Boston's short-season affiliate in the New York-Penn League, the Lowell Spinners.  There he struck out 61 batters in 63 innings, while only giving up 51 hits and 17 walks.

The following two years, Pimentel was promoted methodically up the minor-league ladder, pitching in Low-A in 2009 and High-A in 2010.  Both years Pimentel was solid, but not spectacular.  He featured a potentially lethal fastball-changeup combination.  Pimentel's heater touched the mid 90's and his changeup flashed plus at time.  At the time, the Red Sox pitcher also threw a fringy curveball.

Pimentel finally found significant hardship in 2011.  He started the year back in High-A, where he pitched adequately.  However, a promotion to Double-A led to disaster.  In 50.1 innings pitching in Double-A, Pimentel posted only 30 strikeouts to 23 walks.  He also gave up 75 hits and 51 earned runs for a ERA of 9.12.  That said, major problems were evident.  Pimentel lost his ability to strikeout batters - his lowest career K/9 in a season had been 7.13; it dropped to 5.36 in Double-A - and also saw his command erode.  In addition, Pimentel was forced to rework his pitch repertoire as he scrapped his curveball and replaced it with a slider.  Part of the saving grace was Pimentel had started the year after turning 21 in February and still featured a solid fastabll-changeup combination in his arsenal. The other part was Pimentel was very unlucky with BABIP, which was .370 against him, although his 5.92 FIP was still far from impressive. 

Pimentel was again sent to Double-A to start the 2012 campaign, where he moderately improved across the board. He pitched 115.2 innings, posting a 4.59 ERA.  His FIP was a bit better, coming in at 3.87 thanks to improvements in Pimentel's strikeout and walk rates.  Pimentel bumped his K rate up to 6.69 K/9 from 5.36 and his walk rate down to 3.27 BB/9 from 4.11.  Overall, however, Pimentel's numbers weren't awe-inspiring, even if finished the year at the young age of 22.

Moving forward, Pimentel's arsenal still features an above-average to plus fastball that he commands in a below-average fashion.  He compliments it with a changeup that can be devastating at times, a true swing-and-miss pitch.  However, looking at Pimentel's numbers, that hasn't been the case as much as a scouting report suggests.  Finally, Pimentel rounds off his three-pitch mix with a slider that needs work.  Pimentel at times struggles with inconsistent mechanics that lead to his control struggles.

Another issue with Pimentel is the fact that this is his last year with an option, despite the fact that he will open the season at 23.  Next season, he will most likely open at Triple-A, but will have to progress rapidly to be ready to join the big league squad in 2014.  A move to the bullpen might be prudent, where his fastball-changeup combination could play up in shorter spurts and his control problems could be masked.  Long-term, if Pimentel could improve his slider and fix his mechanics to the point of adequate or even above-average command and control, he could be a mid-rotation starter.  At this point, that's a long shot.  A late-inning reliever is a back-up plan, but even that's not a guarantee.  Overall, Pimentel is a true lottery ticket with solid upside who's relatively close to the majors, a nice addition to the farm system and a decent inclusion into the Hanrahan-Holt trade from the Pirates perspective.