Monday, October 28, 2013

Stolmy Pimentel

Stolmy Pimentel, a righty from San Cristobal in the DR, was signed by the Red Sox in 2006 as a 16 year old for $25,000. He was just a skinny kid then, throwing in the high eighties. After a year in the Dominican League, he opened some eyes with his off speed stuff, becoming a Dominican All-Star and the Red Sox Latin Program Pitcher of the Year.

He made the trip to El Norte in 2008, joining short season Lowell, and put up a 5-2 slate with a 3.14 ERA in 11 starts. His velocity was increasing as he grew, and he was a NY-PA League All Star.

The Red Sox thought enough of him to threaten to torpedo the Manny Ramirez trade (known in these quarters as the Jason Bay giveaway ) if the Pirates insisted on Pimentel. They eventually reached a compromise by sending RHP Craig Hansen to Pittsburgh with Brandon Moss and the Bosox kept the youngster that they thought was on track to reach the big club by 2012.

Stolmy was workmanlike the next two seasons, not spectacular, as he was plagued by inconsistent performance. He played with Single-A Greenville in 2009, going 10-7 with a 3.82 ERA in 23 starts. He pitched for High-A Salem in 2010 with a 9-11 slate and a 4.06 ERA in 26 starts. Despite the numbers, he earned a spot in the All-Star Futures Game, retiring the only two hitters he faced, Logan Morrison and Danny Espinosa.

In the offseason, Pimentel signed a one-year, $414K deal and was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. But the upcoming season wasn't a segue to the show. It was a train wreck.

He opened the 2011 season with Class AA Portland, and became a highly touted BP pitcher. He went 0-9 with a 9.12 ERA in 15 starts and was shipped back to Salem. Oddly, he was throwing harder than ever, often touching 97, but his mechanics were a mess.

He was no longer a deal-breaker in the Red Sox eyes, and on December 26th, 2012, Beantown traded him with Mark Melancon, Jerry Sands and Iván DeJesús, Jr. to the Pirates for Brock Holt and Joel Hanrahan. He was the poster child for a change of scenery.

The Pirates dragged him into their Dr. Frankenstein mechanics lab and began to redo his delivery. After all, he was young, and even with his woes had never dropped out of the Red Sox Top 30 Prospects list. His stuff still played when he could get it near the dish.

They worked to get him to come out of the same arm slot; he often overthrew and dropped down. They made his delivery a little quieter and more compact so he didn't have quite as many points to ponder when tossing the horsehide. They threw in the usual focus on fastball command, preached a little trust in your stuff and hey, so far, so good.

He was one of those rare guys who went through three levels in a year, and did better by the counting numbers the higher he rose. His ERA at Altoona was a 3.61 ERA with a 1.409 WHIP and a 7:4 K-to-walk ratio. At Indy, the numbers were 3.13, 1.054 and 3:1. He was called up to the show at the end of August, and in a small sample of 9-1/3IP, his numbers were 1.93, 0.857 and 4.5:1.

Pimentel has four pitches: a four-seam fastball (95.4 MPH) that's his bread and butter, a plus change up, a slider that he began throwing in 2011 instead of his curve and a two-seamer. He's still a power arm and 2/3's of his pitches were the four seamer, mixed in with a healthy dose of changeups and sinkers; he didn't show the slider much in Pittsburgh. As a result, he's kind of an anomaly among Pirate pitchers, showing a ground ball/fly ball rate that's even at 41%.

Where he'll end up is still a debate. Scouts are all over the board; some believe he could be a mid-to-backend starter, while others think that he's destined to be a back end closer with his power arm. His question will be consistency; if he can stay sound mechanically, he's a big league pitcher.

Stolmy has grown into a pretty big kid . We've seen him listed between 6'3"-4" and at 225-230 pounds, so he has the frame to eat some innings. He'll be 24 in February and is out of options, so this will be a big camp for him. He and Jeanmar Gomez will vie for a back-end starting/relief role, and if Pimentel is going to stick as a Bucco, he'll have to break camp with the team.

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