This is the third installment of my haphazardly put together "Flying Under the Radar" series.
In past installements, I've tried to shed some light on players who are more of an unknown, even among Pirates fans and prospect circles. While guys like Jameson Taillon and Robbie Grossman made the first installement, lesser known names like Edwin Espinal and Davydas Neverauskas popped up in the second one. This time, I want to try and go even deeper.
Now, to make sure I've went deep enough (cue the jokes), I made sure the three guys on this list met a few criteria. First, none of them play stateside. That's very important, mainly because, even though DSL and VSL games actually start in the A.M., stats for those games don't make it to milb.com for hours or even days. I personally imagine them arriving on carrier piegon, which adds substantially to the intrigue and coolness factor. Second, these three players don't even have a player profile on Piratesprospects.com. That, my friends, let's me know that I've gone deep enough (cue the jokes again if you must).
Remember, I'm mainly making this stuff up. There is very little in the way of scouting reports, so I'm looking at statistics, body size (height and weight), and age.
Ramon Rodriguez (Link)
Position - RHP
Age/DoB - 18, 03/23/1993
Height/Weight - 6'4", 196lb
Stats - 12.1IP, 7H, 5ER (3.65 ERA), 3BB, 14K
Level - DSL
On the upside, Rodriguez has put up great numbers in the DSL. He's also very young. In fact, he's the second youngest pitcher and fourth youngest player on the DSL squad. His stats are also stellar with a 14:3 K:BB ratio in 12.1 IP and only 7 hits given up. The "high" ERA (given the WHIP he has and the fact he hasn't given up a HR) suggest he's either giving up alot of extra-base hits, or his strand rate has been unkind in such a small sample size. I'm going to guess the latter.
Maybe the most exciting thing about Rodriguez is actually his size. Listed at 6'4" but under 200lb, he has plenty of room to fill out and add muscle.
However, there is a downside. Rodriguez hasn't pitched since June 25th, so he may not even be with the team anymore, although he could be injured, suspended, or simply receiving instruction without actually pitching in games. A google search provided nothing. Still, I'll be watching the DSL box scores for him to pitch because, with his size, age, and stats so far, Rodriguez might have the most upside of any of the guys on this list.
Jose Marrujo (Link)
Position - RHP
Age/DoB - 18, 09/21/1992
Height/Weight - 5'10", 189lb
Stats - 40IP, 29H, 6ER (1.35 ERA), 5BB, 39K
Level - VSL
Marrujo makes this list based almost entirely on statistics. That's because his 5'10", 189lb frame doesn't scream "prospect" neither does his age (although he's about middle of the pack in age). Marrujo, who will turn 19 in September, has put up excellent numbers. He currently has a 1.35 ERA, with 40 IP. In those 40 IP, he has only 29 hits, 5BB, and 39K. He also has 4 saves and hasn't started a game yet, so he may be a very under the radar bullpen option to watch. Take this all with a grain of salt; many pitchers put up video game numbers in the VSL and DSL, but do it by throwing "junk." Marrujo may be the same and his frame means he's really going to have to beat some steep odds. Still, those stats are pretty if nothing else and pretty stats are always better than ugly ones.
Luis Rico (Link)
Position - LHP
Age/DoB - 17, 11/29/1993
Height/Weight - 6'1", 180lb
Stats - 26IP, 28H, 11ER (3.76 ERA), 11BB, 23K
Level - VSL
Rico makes this list based on a combination of age, statistics, and handedness. Rico is the second youngest pitcher on the VSL squad. He's also left-handed, which is a bonus. His stats, while not spectacular, are solid. The strikeout rate is good (26IP:23K), and while he has walked 11 batters, meaning his control needs work, those numbers aren't atrocious or a red flag. In addition, Rico is 6'1", so he's somewhat projectable with a 180 lb frame and his size is less worrisome than say Jose Marrujo
Actually I lied. While all of those things are true, the main reason Rico is on this list is his recent performance. He hasn't pitched since July 18th (IP, 0H, BB), but in his two starts before that he had two very good outings. Over eleven innings pitched, he gave up seven hits resulting in only one earned run (a solo homerun). More impressively, he only walked two batters and struck out fourteen.