RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: February 1, 1990
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2006 (Red Sox)
How Acquired: Trade from Red Sox
Country: Dominican Republic
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Pimentel established himself as a prospect in the Red Sox’ system while he was still a teenager. In fact, the Pirates reportedly were interested in him as part of the package when they traded Jason Bay to Boston in 2008. He originally threw in the upper 80s to lower 90s, with a strong change and a curve. His velocity has increased, often sitting in the mid-90s, but at the cost of some command. He’s ditched the curve for a slider, but it still needed work by the time he joined the Pirates. The Pirates acquired Pimentel, along with Jerry Sands, Mark Melancon and Ivan De Jesus, for Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt.
Pimentel got off to a strong pro start in the DSL.
The Red Sox skipped Pimentel over rookie ball and he pitched about the same in the New York-Penn League at age 18 as he had the previous year. Baseball America rated him the Sox’ 11th best prospect after the season. At that point he was throwing 88-92 with an excellent change.
Pimentel spent the year in the rotation in low A and got hit much harder than at lower levels, with opponents batting .290 against him.
Pimentel pitched a little better in high A, although his ERA didn’t reflect it. His fastball improved to the 90-95 range and BA ranked him the Sox’ 6th best prospect.
The Sox moved Pimentel up to AA and he came unglued. His fastball edged into the upper 90s, but it lost movement and his command fell apart. His change also deteriorated. Opponents hammered him for a .352 average in 15 starts before the Sox moved him down to high A, where he pitched much better, although he still didn’t dominate.
Pimentel returned to AA and pitched much better than in his previous visit, but he still was far from dominating. Among other things, his K rate was below average.
Pimentel opened the season in the Altoona rotation and dominated through his first five starts, allowing only one run and 19 hits in 37 innings. He hit a rough stretch in mid-May, a lot of it due to gopher balls (he gave up half of his season’s total of 14 during the month). His ERA for the month was 7.08, but after two strong starts in June the Pirates moved him up to Indianapolis. He pitched well there in 14 starts, with much-improved control. That earned him a September callup and he posted impressive numbers in five relief outings. In the majors he averaged nearly 95 mph with his fastball.
Due to his lack of options, Pimentel was close to a lock to get a bullpen spot out of spring training, and he did. He struggled early in the season, though, with his velocity down around 90. The Pirates put him on the disabled list in early May with shoulder inflammation. He returned in mid-June and his fastball returned to the mid-90s. From then until early August, Pimentel pitched well in most of his outings, but the Pirates used him very sparingly. He never went fewer than four days between outings and sometimes went as many as eight or ten. He finally pitched several times in the second week of August and did poorly. He went on the DL with a sprained ankle on August 14 and pitched only once more.
Pimentel made huge strides in 2013, making him one of a number of such cases in the last few years. Players like Pimentel and Kris Johnson show that, despite being heavily disparaged by certain elements of the local media (well, one element anyway), the Pirates’ development staff has been doing an exceptional job. The biggest issue for Pimentel seems to be his ability to throw strikes without having to take a lot off his excellent stuff. His 2014 was something of a loss, as he wasn’t healthy until mid-June and didn’t get regular work after that. Given his ceiling — including the possibility that he could return to starting — it’s hard to see the Pirates giving up on him, but if John Holdzkom turns out to be for real, the Pirates might be less inclined to carry Pimentel unless he starts realizing some of that potential.
2015: Major league minimum
|Signing Bonus: $25,000
MiLB Debut: 2007
MLB Debut: 9/4/2013
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2020
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/19/2010
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2011, 2012, 2013)
MLB Service Time: 1.030
|July 2, 2006: Signed as an international free agent by the Boston Red Sox.
November 19, 2010: Contract purchased by the Boston Red Sox.
December 26, 2012: Traded by the Boston Red Sox with Mark Melancon, Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt.