2011 Year In Review: DSL A's Pitchers

Our "2011 Year In Review" series begins with a look at the pitching staff for the Oakland A's Dominican Summer League affiliate.

DSL A's Pitching At A Glance
Team ERA: 3.74 (11th out of 33)
Strike-outs/Walks: 399/279 (fewest in the league/14th fewest in the league)
Team WHIP: 1.46 (7th worst in the league)

Note: this article covers all pitchers who threw at least 20 innings for the DSL A's this season.

It was a rough year from a win-loss perspective for the A's Dominican Summer League team. The squad finished dead last in the Santo Domingo North division with a 24-46 record. The pitchers on the DSL A's posted some solid ERA numbers, but they didn't miss many bats and they walked too many batters.

DSL A's pitchers combined on four shutouts but had no complete games. The bullpen converted 13 saves. As a staff, they allowed only 23 homeruns in 586.2 innings, although that total put them in the top half for the league in homers allowed. The DSL skews towards pitching.

The team's most effective pitcher was right-hander Victor Trinidad. The reliever posted a 2.70 ERA in 40 innings and struck-out a team-high 42 batters. The 20-year-old also allowed less than a hit per inning. He walked 18. This is the third year in a row that Trinidad has pitched for the DSL A's and he has struck-out more than a batter an inning each season while maintaining an ERA of 2.70 or lower. The Dominican native could make his US debut in 2012.

Right-hander Gregory Paulino also pitched well before jumping to the US to start for the A's Arizona Rookie League team. The 18-year-old Dominican native made eight appearances (seven starts) for the DSL A's and posted a 1.36 ERA in 33 innings. He struck-out 23 and walked nine, but did allow 30 hits and seven unearned runs. Paulino fared well in the AZL, as well, posting a 3.21 ERA in his first 28 innings in the States.

Edward Almonte led the DSL A's staff with 60 innings pitched, all in relief. The 21-year-old right-hander had a 3.75 ERA and a 33:21 K:BB ratio. This was his third season in the DSL and his second straight season of 60 innings pitched.

Cristhian Perez pitched well in his second professional season. The Venezuelan righty turned 20 last week. In 14 appearances (11 starts) as a 19-year-old, he had a 3.30 ERA. Although he didn't strike-out a lot of batters (32 in 57.1 innings), Perez showed good command, walking only 13. He also induced more than one groundout for every flyout.

Right-hander Fernando Cruzado saw an appreciable improvement with his command in his fourth season as a member of the DSL A's staff. The 21-year-old posted a career-best 3.83 ERA and he went from walking 25 in 43.2 innings in 2010 to walking 16 in 47 innings this year. He also lowered his homer rate and raised his groundout-to-flyout ratio.

Andres Astacio had the best command of any DSL A's hurler. In 41.2 innings, mostly in relief, Astacio walked only nine. He struck-out 29 and allowed two homeruns. The Dominican native turned 21 in August and completed his fourth season as a member of the A's DSL squad.

Jose Torres' numbers didn't jump off of the page, but the A's liked what they saw from the Venezuelan lefty in his first professional season. The 18-year-old signed with the team as an international amateur free agent last July 2nd and posted a 3.99 ERA in 49.2 innings during his pro debut campaign. He struck-out 33 and walked 24. Torres will be making his US debut this fall at the A's Instructional League and is a strong candidate to jump to the Arizona Rookie League next season. The A's believe he has the potential to develop into a hard-thrower as he fills out his 6'2'' frame.

Anderson Mata was another member of the A's 2010 July 2nd signing class. The A's were impressed with Mata's command when they inked him out of Venezuela, but he struggled with the strike-zone during his first professional season. The 5'11'' southpaw walked 38 in 36 innings. He did strike-out 30 and he was difficult to hit, holding batters to a .236 clip. Mata doesn't turn 18 until November, so the A's aren't likely to rush him to the States. He could challenge for a spot on the A's 2012 AZL squad if he shows dramatic improvements with his command during the A's Dominican Instructional League, however.

Southpaw Darwin Gonzalez also made his professional debut in 2011. The native of Venezuela made 19 relief appearances for the DSL A's, posting a 3.98 ERA. Gonzalez struck-out 30 in 40.2 innings, but he walked 31. The 18-year-old did hold opposing batters to a .245 average and he also allowed only two homeruns. He is likely to get another season in the DSL before coming to the States.

If it wasn't for Mata, Alex Nolasco would have taken home the honor of wildest DSL A's pitcher. The southpaw walked 32 in 34.1 innings, a big factor in his 4.46 ERA. He allowed only 25 hits and one homerun, but those numbers and his 25 strike-outs weren't enough to overcome his wildness. His command will need to improve before he gets a look in the States. Nolasco turned 21 in September.

The A's signed right-hander Elihoref Suniaga out of Venezuela when the pitcher was only 16-years-old in July 2008. He appeared in four games for the DSL A's in 2009 before being injured and he missed all of the 2010 campaign. Suniaga was able to get 20.1 innings under his belt in 2011 and put together a decent season. He posted a 3.98 ERA and held opposing batters to a .224 batting average. He also struck-out 16 and didn't allow a homer. The only real blip on Suniaga's ledger was his control, as he walked eight. The 19-year-old may get more time in the DSL next season before making his way to the States.

Luis Jose was a DSL mid-season All-Star in 2010. An injury that kept him off the field for the month of July kept him from repeating that honor in 2011, but he still put together a strong season while he was on the mound. He had the lowest WHIP of any A's DSL pitcher with a 1.17 mark. He also induced more than one groundout for every flyout and coughed up only one homerun in 23 innings. This was Jose's fifth season on the A's DSL squad. If the team is going to ever bring him over to the States, it will likely be next season. Otherwise, the 6'4'' right-hander and the A's are likely to part ways.

Leonel Benzant was also limited this season, although he missed time because of a suspension for violating MLB's performance enhancing drug policy, a suspension he incurred during the 2010 season. The 6'6'' right-hander made nine appearances (eight starts) and posted a 3.71 ERA. The hard-throwing starter had 20 strike-outs and nine walks in 34 innings. He did a good job of keeping the ball on the ground, allowing only two homeruns and posting a 1.74 groundout-to-flyout ratio.

Yordy Alejo was one of the youngest pitchers in the A's Dominican Academy this season. The right-hander won't turn 18 until the end of November. A native of Venezuela, Alejo appeared in 15 games in his professional debut season. He struggled for much of the season, posting a 6.68 ERA and allowing 18 walks and 36 hits in 31 innings. He also struck-out only 10 and allowed a team-high four homeruns.

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