With MLB Pipeline releasing their Top 30 Prospects last week , some people got their first glimpse into the “channel” from the Dominican Republic that the Pittsburgh Pirates have been trying to create over many years. Two members from the 2019 Dominican Summer League Pirates2 team that was so dominant found their way onto the list, landing at #24 (Alexander Mojica-3B) and #25 (Rodolfo Nolasco-OF) respectfully. However, these are not the only players to look out for from a team that posted a 56-16 record for the season; winning the Northeast Division by a full 21 games. I have previously described this team as completely “stacked” on recent episode of Bucs in The Basement while talking with guest, Gary Morgan and as we take a deeper dive into the team as a whole I am sure you will all agree.
For the season neither Mojica (.351) nor Nolasco (.302) led the DSL Pirates2 in batting average, although they were two of ten regulars that hit over .300 for the year. That honor went to outfielder, Randy Romero who batted an unbelievable .376 in a team leading 218 at bats. So, not a small sample size. In his second full season in the DSL, 19 year-old Romero also collected 19 extra base hits, a .418 OBP (on base percentage) and 36 stolen bases; only being caught on the base paths once. Mojica did lead the team in home runs (8), doubles (14), walks (37), OBP (.468) and SLG (.580); which is probably the reason he was the highest ranked player from this team on the new MLB Pipeline list.
Some other notable players on the offensive side of the game would have to be the Catcher Trio of 17 year-old Geovanny Planchart (.368/.433/.406), 19 year-old Jommer Hernandez (.317/.406/.423) and 18 year-old Fabian Urbina (.296/.397/.426); as well as Short Stop Dariel Lopez (.341/.404/.485), OutfielderJauri Custodio (.324/.358/.448) and Second Basemen Rayber Romero (.314/.438/.400). With all of this offensive output, many of you maybe thinking that the DSL Pirates2 just “out-slugged” every team they played. After you look at the slew of Pitcher for this team, it might just change your mind.
The DSL Pirates2 had 6 pitchers that combined for almost 60% of the team’s 56 wins, led by the 19 year-old lefty reliever from Panama, Jose Amaya. Pitching in 18 games and 39.1 innings Amaya was able to accumulate 10 wins, along with 35 strikeouts and a 2.97 ERA. Second on the team in wins with 9 was 19year-old right handed starter Sergio Umana from Nicaragua. Umana had a 59K/8BB ratio and a 2.39 ERA in 13 games and 64 innings. One of the most dominant pitchers on the team that was not apart of that 60% was right-handed reliever/“closer”Enmanuel Mejia from the Dominican Republic. In 20.2 innings and 18 games Mejia struck out 37 and recorded a team high 7 saves, while posting a 1.74 ERA and a .823 WHIP.
Unfortunately for the DSL Pirates2 their regular season dominance did not lead to a championship as they were knocked out of the playoffs in the semifinals by the DSL Diamondbacks2 in two games. The DSL Diamondbacks2 would go on to lose to the DSL Royals1 in a full 5 game Championship Series. Now as most of us know, Minor League Championships are a nice bonus, but they are not the ultimate factor in determining success. Success is found by measuring individual development and growth, which is often hard to quantify using just one years worth of statistics. This is something that will have to be re-evaluated over and over again as each of these players move upward through the Pirates Farm System. For some this journey will continue with another year in the DSL, mostly dependent on age and experience; while others will move on to the GCLPirates, the Bristol Pirates, the West Virginia Black Bears, the Greensboro Grasshoppers or maybe even the Bradenton Marauders. Wherever each of these young men end up, the 2019 DSL season will be in the back of my mind, but my main focus will be on the future.