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Touch’em All: Carolina League Top MLB Pitching Prospects

Welcome to another edition of Touch’em All!  We are going through the minor league with one goal in mind:  Give you the fan, or fantasy player the info and analysis that you need.  This time we are reviewing some of the top pitching performances in the Carolina League.  Players were selected for this list with age appropriate-ness to level, draft position, performance and physical tools in mind.  So let’s get started!

Robbie Ross, LHP Texas Rangers

Texas RangersRobert (Robbie) Ross LHP TEX (22) – Signed away from the University of Kentucky in 2008, the Texas Rangers grabbed Ross in the 2nd round. The 5’11” 185 lbs lefty doesn’t have a prototypical pitcher’s frame, but he takes care of business with quality stuff and movement as proven by his 2.26 ERA giving up 102 hits, 31 earned runs, 98 strikeouts and only 1 homerun in 123.1 innings pitched. He does this with a low 90s fastball that touches 94, a potential plus slider, and a decent change-up. He is able to throw all his pitches for strikes. It’s the great movement he gets on the ball that confounds hitters trying to square up and drive his pitches, scoring a very cool 57% groundball rate. Command within the strike zone remains his biggest issue for improvement. Right now, Ross is already 5 starts into this promotion to Double-A Texas League and he seems to have picked up where he left off in Advanced-A.

Washington NationalsDaniel Rosenbaum LHP WAS (23) – You may have never heard about Rosenbaum. He doesn’t blow anyone away with a mid-90s heater or 3 plus pitches. He isn’t’ a physical specimen that towers over hitters and intimidates them. He was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2009 season and it has been said that if he weren’t a southpaw, he may not have been drafted at all. Still, in the Carolina League, Rosenbaum has a 2.59 ERA, giving up 113 hits, 38 earned runs, walking 41 batters, and striking out 108 in 132 innings. He does it with a four pitch mix: 88-92 mph fastball, a slider, curve, and change-up. All four pitches are reported to be major league average. Command and late movement are his calling cards. Scouts say his fastball plays a few ticks faster and sneaks up on the hitter because of his ability to repeat his delivery and hide his pitches, creating an excellent amount of deception because he throws everything from the same arm slot. Already promoted to Double-A Eastern, Rosenbaum, if he can maintain these kind of numbers there, could sneak his way onto more top prospect lists.

Giovanni Soto, LHP Cleveland Indians

Cleveland IndiansGiovanni L. Soto LHP CLE (20) – Gio is a player we’ve had our eyes on since he showed up in the Midwest League in 2010 with the Tigers West Michigan Whitecaps. Check out a Prospect Instinct article we did on him here. Since being traded to Cleveland ( The Tigers scored a revitalized Jhonny Peralta in the return), Soto had simply gone about his business in Kinston, showing a 3.37 ERA allowing 53 hits, 22 earned runs, 19 walks, and racking up 58 strikeouts in 58.2 innings pitched. Still waiting for more velocity on his fastball (he sits at about 90 mph), he’s still a lefty arm who, at each previous level, has struck out nearly a batter per inning. Not all that common. If the velocity jumps, he could be special, especially since he clearly knows how to pitch. If it doesn’t, then he still has the talent to round out the back half of a major league rotation at some point. Once he makes it to Double-A, it will be interesting to see how this stuff plays.

Baltimore OriolesRobert (Bobby) Bundy RHP BAL (21) – The older brother to 2011 1st round pick Dylan Bundy was drafted in the 8th round of the 2008 draft. A knee injury reportedly caused a drop in velocity and in effect, sent this kid, with what some say was first round talent, falling down the draft boards. With his 2.75 ERA, allowing 102 hits, 37 earned runs, 8 homers, 31 walks, and striking out 100 hitters in 121 innings, Bundy has since been promoted to Double-A Bowie. Bundy throws a nice fastball clocked at 91-94 mph with good command and movement. He has a curve that is said to be on it’s way to plus pitch status. And a change-up that is a work in progress. The development of the change will be essential in keeping Bundy in the rotation and out of the bullpen. If the bullpen is indeed in his future, his stuff would warrant consideration for late innings work.

Atlanta BravesZeke Spruill RHP ATL (21) – Let me just say that this 2nd round pick from 2008 has a cool name. You may only remember it though because it’s always notable when the Atlanta Braves take a pitcher near that top of the draft. But Spruill doesn’t light up radar guns or rack up K’s in mass quantities, that said, his strikeout rates haven’t been bad either. This year in Lynchburg, he’s maintained a 3.19 ERA giving up 108 hits, 7 homers, 46 earned runs, and 23 walks while striking out 92 in 129.1 innings. Since being drafted, there were hopes that with filling out his 6’4” 190lb frame would add some velocity to his 90s sinking fastball, but no luck on that yet. His curveball is still good. And his change-up has improved enough for him to stay in the conversation for a future rotation spot. He might have a tendency to stay around the plate too much, which helps his stellar 4.4 BB%, but could lead to serving up too many extra base hits, even though he scores a nice 55% ground ball rate. If the fastball velocity never spikes, he could, in the future, he move to be more of a “pitch to contact” guy and eat plenty of innings at the back of a rotation.

Chicago White SoxAndre Rienzo RHP CWS (23) – Signed as a free agent in 2006 out of Brazil, Rienzo has almost completed his second full season of baseball in the states. Before that, he spent more of his career in the DSL, where he’s been a strikeout machine. This season in Winston-Salem Dash, he scores a 3.27 ERA, allowing 105 hits, 41 earned runs, 114 strikeouts in 113 innings. The Thrill from Brazil (someone actually hung that on him) uses a overpowering mid- to late-90s fastball to maintain an exciting 22.9 strikeout rate. Then all the excitement dies down what you see that he walked 63 batters this year, posting an ugly 12.7 walk rate from last year’s more manageable 7.4 rate. There are some whispers about an elbow injury that may have affected those numbers, so there is hope. But with his secondary pitches just coming along, he currently has bullpen written all over him. It’s also encouraging that he has a FIP of 3.42, showing that his current ERA is real with that ugly walk rate and that cutting down those walks will do wonders. We’ll keep an eye on the development of the secondary pitches too.

Kansas City RoyalsElisaul Pimentel RHP KC (23) – Signed by the Dodgers in as a free agent in 2008, Elisaul was traded with catcher Lucas May to the Royals for Scott Podsednik in 2010, where he landed in Midwest League-Burlington. For the first three seasons of his career, the Dodgers kept him in Rookie Leagues for development, in no hurry to rush him through the system. Looks like KC want to see what they have in him so they are speeding up his time-table. He’s already been pushed to Double-A Texas. This season, Pimentel keeps a 3.59 ERA giving up 129 hits, 53 earned runs, only 31 walks, and has struck out 105 hitters in 133 innings. He’s been doing it all with a 89-93 mph heater, an average change-up and a curveball that, reportedly, doesn’t curve all that much. Historically, he’s had trouble with walks, but this year, he’s cut his percentage down from 9.4 last season to 5.7 now, while trading away a few K’s, going from 26.1 % in to a still nice 18.9%. With pitchers like Duffy, Montgomery, Lamb, and Odorizzi way ahead of him for Kansas City, Pimentel’s future may not be in the rotation or with the Royals at all.

Thanks so much for you readership and loyalty to www.baseballinstinct.com.

Check back soon as we profile many more Top MLB Prospects and also get our baseball geek on and take a look at some of the later draft picks from the 2011 draft that we think could be big names on the prospect radars in the near future. Anyone can tell you that Mike Trout is going to be a stud now, but who told you that when he was drafted? So take a look at Jose Campos right now, right here and be a step ahead of the game. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at Tom@baseballinstinct.com.

I live in Wyoming, Michigan. I have a wife and 3 kids. Been part of the Baseball Tonight league since 2004. An aspiring writer, I enjoy writing short stories, mostly horror/suspense. Anyone can check out my stuff at www.writing.com/authors/daver.


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