Diamondbacks Minor League Review: Yakima Pitchers

Blake Perry is one of several Yakima pitchers with higher aspirations. - Arizona Diamondbacks

For the sake of expediency I decided to cover both the starters and relievers for Yakima in this article. This was a very strong pitching staff in Yakima, and while I don't see more than a couple of guys who have a chance to go all the way, there is some real depth here. The upper levels of our minor leagues will be populated with a number of these guys over the next 3-5 years.

This Yakima team had a very nice mix of quality starters and relievers. It was almost disappointing they didn't win the league title with the depth of this staff. Guys like Daniel Watts and Blake Perry led a strong group of starters, and R.J. Hively and Victor Acosta led a strong bullpen. Both South Bend and Visalia should roster a number of these guys next year.

SP Daniel Watts, 22, 76 IP, 2.23 ERA, 52 K, 16 BB
Plus Stat: 3.25 K/BB Minus Stat: .91/GO/AO
Acquired: 2012 Draft - 32nd Round
Daniel Watts really surprised in becoming Yakima's ace starter, especially for someone who was drafted in the 32nd round. His K/BB was outstanding, his H/IP was less than 1.0, and he consistently went 6 innings or more, even in high-leverage games. His 52 Ks in 76 innings was good, but doesn't suggest eliteness, and this is the glaring stat that projects he will eventually stall at some level on the way up. But this game left-hander proved himself a very good pitcher and earned a spot in either the South Bend or Visalia rotation next year.
2013 Projection: Low A South Bend
Ceiling: AAA

SP Blake Perry, 20, 81 IP, 3.31 ERA, 71 K, 36 BB
Plus Stat: .207 BAA in Yakima Minus Stat: 8.10 ERA in South Bend
Acquired: 2010 Draft - 6th Round
Perry has a lot going for him and still has an open road in front of him with a chance to become an impact pitcher. He didn't really pitch at all in 2010 and spent most of 2011 in the AZL with mixed results. But he was only 19 at the time. He started 2012 at an aggressive level in South Bend and couldn't handle it at all, mostly due to insane wildness as he walked 19 in 13 innings. He was sent down to Yakima and settled in nicely as one of the primary rotation starters and ended up posting a very good season line. This was his 20-year-old season so we have no problem allowing for the step back. He'll certainly be given the chance to tackle South Bend again next year which will determine if he has a promising future or not. He pitched every bit as good as Watts and is a good 2-1/2 years younger. He also has a tremendous build for a pitcher at 6-5, 190 with room to fill out. He's still worth watching.
2013 Projection: Low A South Bend
Ceiling: Major League

SP Alexander Carreras, 22, 94 IP, 3.90 ERA, 67 K, 42 BB
Plus Stat: .96 H/9 IP Minus Stat: 42 BB
Acquired: 2012 Cuban Free Agent
Carrerras was signed last off-season for a sizable $400,000 bonus and the initial results would suggest they probably aren't going to get their money's worth. For that kind of money the team thought they could send Carreras straight to Visalia to start 2012. Well, that really didn't work out as he was hammered up there. He was sent down to Yakima after 4 awful starts and did a very solid job taking the ball every 5th day going 8-5 with a 2.96 ERA in 15 starts. But the peripherals aren't very exciting and one has to wonder if Carreras can rise to the level of his signing bonus. He's already 22 and pitching in the Northwest League. He'll need to get his wildness under control and take a pretty good step forward next year or he'll start to be viewed as a bad signing.
2013 Projection: Low A South Bend
Ceiling: AAA

SP Cody Wheeler, 23, 43 IP, 1.87 ERA, 41 K, 14 BB
Plus Stat: 1.87 ERA Minus Stat: 43 IP
Acquired: 2010 Draft - 5th Round
Wheeler was highly thought of when he was drafted in the 5th round in 2010, but after just getting a taste of pro ball in 2010 Wheeler blew out his arm and missed all of 2011 to Tommy John surgery. The team brought him back slowly and was very conservative allowing him to throw just 43 innings and ultimately removing him from the rotation late in the season to limit his innings. Wheeler was outstanding in those 43 innings and I'm sure has re-introduced himself to the team's developmental brain trust and a legitimate prospect. He'll get a promotion for 2013 and the lefty will then be expected to increase his innings in the hopes of becoming that highly thought-of prospect again.
2013 Projection: High A Visalia
Ceiling: Major League

RP Enrique Burgos, 21, 38 IP, 2.35 ERA, 40 K, 19 BB
Plus Stat: .201 BAA Minus Stat: 19 BB
Acquired: 2008 Panamanian Free Agent
Burgos has been toiling in the Dbacks lower levels for five years now and finally put up a season worthy of promotional considerations. He's still only 21 years old so the slow career star wasn't totally unexpected after the Diamondbacks signed him as a 16-year-old. Burgos now looks ready to take a step forward into full-season ball to see if he can't become a reliable reliever against more advanced hitters than are found in the Northwest League. He's still just a low-level prospect at the moment and I'm not seeing him having much chance to go all the way.
2013 Projection: Low A South Bend
Ceiling: High A

SP Jose Martinez, 18, 84 IP, 2.04 ERA, 79 K, 28 BB
Plus Stat: 2.76 GO/AO in DSL Minus Stat: 6 BB in 10 IP in Yakima
Acquired: 2012 Dominican Free Agent
Martinez is a very young Dominican pitcher who dominated in the DSL and was sent to America late in the season and thrown into the fire of Yakima's playoff run, including starting the winner-take-all Game 3 playoff final. Considering the circumstances Martinez wasn't overpowering or anything, but he did at least hold his own, boding well for his future.Given his age he'll probably be given a chance to spend a full season in Yakima to see whether he should be advanced more aggressively or not. I have no idea how good this kid is, but I'm not going to limit his ceiling just yet. Somebody upstairs really likes him so we'll keep a close eye on him for now.
2013 Projection: Low A South Bend
Ceiling: Major League

RP Jose Jose, 22, 32 IP, 1.65 ERA, 37 K, 22 BB
Plus Stat: .135 BAA Minus Stat: 21 BB
Acquired: 2010 Dominican Free Agent
Jose spent two productive years pitching in relief in the DSL before coming to the U.S. this year and having an outstanding campaign for Yakima. He didn't pitch a lot in the back end of the bullpen, mainly because his control was questionable throughout the year. His sparkling 1.65 ERA and .135 BAA are somewhat surprising given his 21 walks in 32 innings. Jose is also left-handed and has a nice build at 6-2, 175, so he'll be given every chance to take advantage of his productive season and continue moving up the line. He's a long shot to go all the way, but you never know with lefties who can get guys out.
2013 Projection: Low A South Bend
Ceiling: Major League

RHP R.J. Hively, 23, 30 IP, 1.76 ERA, 28 K, 8 BB
Plus Stat: .189 BAA Minus Stat: None
Acquired: 2012 Draft - 19th Round
An experienced college pitcher out of Missisippi R.J. Hively pitched like an experienced pitcher, manning one of the primary back-end reliever spots for Yakima. Hively really showed no weakness to his game and probably could have performed at a level higher if asked, something he'll get the chance to do next year. He only allowed 21 hits on the year, was stellar during the playoffs, and has a nice pitcher's body. He has a chance to do more but for a seasoned college pitcher in short season A ball, he really did what he was supposed to do. There are plenty of recent college relievers in the Dbacks system that are more highly thought of than Hively and even they are not guaranteed of making it all the way, so Hively's odds are still long. But his first step was a good one.
2013 Projection: High A Visalia
Ceiling: AAA

RHP Victor Acosta, 22, 47 IP, 1.34 ERA, 30 K, 18 BB
Plus Stat: 1.34 ERA Minus Stat: 1.7 K/BB
Acquired: 2009 Dominican Free Agent
Acosta has been toiling at the lowest levels for four years now, so even though he had an excellent season for Yakima, let's not get too excited about his prospects. He's now 22 and while he probably earned a one-level promotion for next year, he's probably not too far from reaching his limited ceiling. 30 K and 18 BB in 47 innings isn't all that good, even though he posted a miniature ERA. He's also on the smallish side for a pitcher so he'll need to be extra special in the next year or two to command more serious consideration.
2013 Projection: Low A South Bend
Ceiling: High A

LHP Will Locante, 22, 24 IP, 4.81 ERA, 32 K, 12 BB
Plus Stat: .189 BAA in Yakima Minus Stat: .241 BAA in AZL
Acquired: 2011 Draft - 11th Round
Locante didn't pitch in 2011 after signing at the August deadline. He had a solid college career at Cumberland and finally got a chance to pitch professionally in 2012. He wasn't overwhelmingly good in the AZL or with Yakima. When he was good he was real good, and when he was bad he was pretty bad. So the Jekyll and Hyde issue will need to be resolved, but I'm pretty sure the club likes the potential of Locante, especially being left-handed and being a power-type pitcher. This coming year will be an important one to see if he's got upper-prospect ability or is just another hard-throwing lefty without a secondary pitch to keep advancing.
2013 Projection: High A Visalia
Ceiling: Major League

RHP Kyle Owings, 22, 62 IP, 4.19 ERA, 35 K, 18 BB
Plus Stat: 1 H/9 as a Starter Minus Stat: .283 BAA
Acquired: 2012 Undrafted Free Agent
Having gone undrafted the Diamondbacks signed Owings and gave him a chance in Yakima, He had his moments but is no lock to graduate after only a so-so performance as both a starter and a reliever. He has limited upside and didn't show enough ability to miss bats. A likely repeat candidate at best.
2013 Projection: Rookie Missoula
Ceiling: Low A

RHP Derrick Stultz, 23, 31 IP, 3.69 ERA, 17 K, 11 BB
Plus Stat: 1.50 GO/AO Minus Stat: 1.54 K/BB
Acquired: 2012 Draft - 14th Round
The club maybe expected a little bit more from Stultz than what they got. He wasn't awful, but for a college pitcher from a major conference, it was probably thought he should handle short season A ball with a little more authority. The fact that he didn't probably will prevent him from earning a rotation spot above his current level. The team will likely choose between a relief spot up above or a starting spot in Hillsboro or Missoula for Stultz.
2013 Projection: Rookie Missoula
Ceiling: High A

RHP Blake Forslund, 22, 31 IP, 7.18 ERA, 26 K, 22 BB
Plus Stat: 1 Save Minus Stat: .286 BAA
Acquired: 2012 Draft - 15th Round
The club took a flier on Forslund in the 15th round based mostly on his projectibility and a mid-90s fastball. Forslund had an awful senior season in college and didn't do much better in Yakima. He gives up too many hits and walks for a power pitcher, so he's obviously not fooling anyone. He might get a look for another year but it's not looking good for Forslund.
2013 Projection: Short Season A Hillsboro
Ceiling: Rookie

RHP Austin Platt, 20, 62 IP, 6.39 ERA, 51 K, 29 BB
Plus Stat: 2.39 GO/AO Minus Stat: .300 BAA
Acquired: 2011 Draft - 26th Round
The main thing Platt has going for him is he's young. Drafted out of high school in 2011 he didn't pitch very well in 2011 and he didn't pitch very well in 2012. He did show some signs of improvement but the numbers are still pretty bad. Platt is the poster child for not drafting fringe high school pitchers and sticking to college arms because it's really tough to find a place for them to pitch where they'll have any success while they develop. I'm not thinking too favorably of Platt going forward.
2013 Projection: Rookie Missoula
Ceiling: Low A

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