2013 In Review: DSL A's

A review of the 2013 season for the Oakland A's Dominican Summer League affiliate.

Team Overview

Playing in the Dominican Summer League's Santo Domingo North division, the DSL A's finished the year with a 31-41 record, 16 games out of first place. The A's featured one of the younger rosters in the DSL, with an average age of 17.8.

The Dominican Summer League is not known for its offense. With the humid climate in the Dominican Republic, the heavy air doesn't allow for the ball to carry well, which allows teams to play their outfielders shallow. The result is that not only is it hard for hitters to leave the yard, but it is also difficult for them to drop hits into the outfield. The league average slashline in the DSL this season was .236/.329/.317.

The DSL A's hit .230/.307/.317 as a team in 2013. Their 624 OPS was tied for 24th-best out of a 35-team league. They connected on 12 homeruns in 72 games and averaged 3.67 runs per game.

Pitching, as one would expect, dominates the DSL. The average ERA is 3.37 and pitchers average better than seven strike-outs per game, although they also walk four batters a game on average.

The DSL A's staff posted a 3.07 ERA and posted a 484:238 K:BB in 618 innings pitched. The strike-out total was 13th-worst in the league, while the walk total was the 12th-fewest. DSL A's pitchers allowed 19 homeruns and 546 hits.

DSL A's Batters

Note: Only players with at least 50 at-bats were considered for this article.

The DSL squad was led offensively by a sparkplug secondbaseman named Rodolfo Penalo. Penalo isn't new to the DSL. The native of Santiago Rodriguez was signed by the A's as a teenager before the 2010 season. After three years with minimal success at the plate in the DSL, Penalo had a breakthrough campaign in his age 20 season. In 151 at-bats, Penalo hit a team-best .311 with a .422 OBP and a .404 SLG. He stole 29 bases in 39 chances and collected four triples.

Penalo is 5'7'', 130 pounds. A switch-hitter, he makes consistent contact, striking out in just 11.4% of his at-bats. Primarily a groundball/line-drive hitter, Penalo took advantage of his speed to finish with the best batting average of his career. A late-season injury cost him the final three weeks of game action, but he is expected to be fine for fall baseball. He should get an opportunity to come stateside for the first time next season.

Newcomer Jean Carlo Rodriguez had an impressive professional debut season with the DSL squad. The native of Panama signed with the A's as an amateur free agent before the 2013 season. The 17-year-old hit .302/.373/.378 with a 19:20 BB:K and 12 stolen bases in 17 chances. A natural second baseman, Rodriguez played all over the infield (with the exception of first base). He should make his US debut next season.

"Jean Carlo really had a nice summer, one of the better first years I think we've had from a 17-year-old," Sam Geaney, the A's International Scouting Coordinator, said via e-mail. "He's a tremendous worker and kid who can really swing the bat. His overall tools have improved in the nine months since his signing and does a nice job at all three infield positions."

Outfielder Sandber Pimentel had a solid second season in the DSL. A high-profile international signing before the 2012 season, Pimentel hit .261/.430/.322 during his first season in the DSL. This year, Pimentel saw his average and on-base percentage dip, but he increased his slugging percentage by 100 points (his line was .255/.353/.422). Pimentel, who turned 19 earlier this month, had nine extra-base hits in 102 at-bats and a 15:22 BB:K. He has a solid approach at the plate and, at 6'3'', 215 pounds, is starting to tap into the power the A's expect him to have longterm. He should be ready for his US debut next year.

Although he had only 90 at-bats, catcher Robert Mullen made a positive first impression in his professional debut season. Signed to a six-figure bonus before the 2013 season, Mullen, 17, hit .267/.340/.367 in 30 games for the DSL A's. A native of Panama, Mullen has excellent defensive tools and a strong arm. He finished his season with an 894 OPS over his last 12 games.

Outfielders Luis Barrera and Jhonny Rodriguez also made their professional debuts in 2013 after signing six-figure deals during the 2012 July 2nd signing period. Barrera, the A's top bonus baby from the 2012 class (not counting Yoenis Cespedes, of course), had an unusual line during his first season. He hit only .190, but he posted a .302 OBP and a .389 SLG. Barrera finished first on the team in homeruns with four and was second to Rodriguez in triples with four. He also posted an 18:22 K:BB in 126 at-bats.

Rodriguez led the team in doubles (15) and triples (7). He also led the team in games played (67) and at-bats (251). Rodriguez struck-out a lot (46), but his overall line was better than league average in every category but OBP (.247/.283/.363).

Third baseman Miguel Mercedes was third on the team in at-bats behind the two Rodriguezes. Mercedes, who turned 18 last week, struggled during his first professional season. He posted a .169/.285/.230 line. Mercedes didn't hit a homer, although he did connect for nine doubles and two triples.

Outfielder Raymond Rivas, in his pro debut season, finished third on the team in batting with a .275 average. In 182 at-bats, he posted a .275/.313/.302 line. The native of Caracas, Venezuela, will turn 18 at the end of this month.

Although shortstop Eric Marinez led the team with 26 errors, he received praise for his defensive abilities. The switch-hitter batted .305/.354/.430 in 128 at-bats as a left-handed hitter, but he hit only .070/.091/.116 in 43 at-bats as a right-handed hitter. He didn't hit a homerun in his pro debut season, but he had 15 extra-base hits, including seven over his final 36 at-bats.

Catcher Jose Chavez also caught the eye of coaches this season with his work with the glove. The native of Mexico finished his second season in the DSL. His offensive numbers were down in 2013 (.223/.243/.259), but his glove may get him over to the States in the next year or two. Chavez turned 18 in May.

Sharing the work with Chavez and Mullen behind the plate this season were backstops Luis Hernandez and Miguel Guzman. Hernandez was the A's first amateur signing out of Colombia. He made his pro debut last season, appearing in 19 games for the DSL A's. This year, Hernandez hit .211/.318/.237 in 76 at-bats. He walked (12) more times than he struck-out (9) this season. Hernandez, 19, has yet to homer as a pro, but he showed impressive power as a member of the Colombian national team before signing. Guzman had 60 at-bats in his professional debut season. The 18-year-old hit .167/.265/.200 with two doubles in 23 games.

Centerfielder Robert Martinez was the A's 19th-round pick in 2012 out of a high school in Puerto Rico. He made his pro debut in the DSL last season and returned to the league for a second year in 2013. Martinez hit .235/.331/.361 in 36 games with the DSL A's this year, numbers that were a step back from his 2012 totals of .273/.442/.333 (albeit in very limited action).

Middle infielders Javier Godard and Andys Silva both clocked roughly 100 at-bats in their pro debut seasons. Godard, in 122 at-bats, hit .156/.248/.230, but he fielded his positions well. Silva hit .194/.314/.243 in 103 at-bats. He had a .371 OBP in 29 at-bats against left-handed pitching.

DSL A's Pitchers

Note: Only pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched were considered for this article.

The DSL A's rotation put together solid numbers. All but two of the team's starts were made by Jesus Zambrano, Ivan Andueza, Victor Veliz, Juan Mendoza and Angel Duno.

Duno led the team in innings pitched with 73.1. The 19-year-old right-hander from Venezuela posted a 3.19 ERA and a 52:15 K:BB. In his pro debut season last year, Duno walked the exact same number of batters, but in 33.2 fewer innings. Duno walked only one left-handed batter all year (he faced 100). In his final start of the year, Duno tossed six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and no walks.

Mendoza improved his command significantly as the season went on. Overall, he walked 21 batters in 71.2 innings pitched, but 11 of those walks came in his first 22.2 innings of the season. Mendoza posted a 1.88 ERA. He struck-out only 42, but he induced 1.61 groundouts for every flyout and allowed just two homeruns.

Veliz, a left-hander, had his best year in his third season in the DSL. In 71 innings, he posted a 1.39 ERA. Veliz held opposing batters to a .211 average and walked only 18. Over his final six starts, Veliz pitched at least five innings in each start and allowed only two earned runs in those six starts (28.2 innings). He is participating in the A's US Instructional League camp.

Andueza, another southpaw, had a 3.09 ERA in 67 innings in his pro debut season. The 18-year-old had a 49:22 K:BB. Left-handers hit only .235 against him.

Zambrano had the highest ERA in the rotation (4.40), but he was a bit unlucky. The right-hander, who didn't turn 17 until late August, walked only 12 in 61.1 innings and his FIP was 3.27. He struck-out 48 and allowed just four homeruns. His K/BB was 4.00 and he walked only one batter during the month of August (20 innings). Like Veliz, Zambrano is making his US debut at the A's fall Instructs in Phoenix.

There were several impressive performances out of the DSL A's bullpen this season. Left-hander Kevin Ferrera posted an 0.99 ERA and he struck-out 36 in 27.1 innings this season. The Santo Domingo native had five saves and he held opposing batters to a .130 average, despite the fact that he overwhelmingly faced right-handed hitters.

Veteran Jose Castillo had his best season in the DSL, striking out 42 in 32.1 innings and posting a 2.78 ERA. Castillo was wild at times (22 walks), but batters hit only .139 against the 22-year-old.

Another veteran of the DSL, Leonel Benzant had a 2.94 ERA in 33.2 innings this season. Benzant, a 6'6'' right-hander, got lucky to post that ERA, however. He had a mediocre 22:16 K:BB and opponents hit .266 against him.

Panamanian right-hander Alejandro Vargas had a 22:19 K:BB in 26.2 innings, but he was able to pitch around that number by holding opposing batters to a .138 average. He had a 2.56 GO/AO and a 2.03 ERA. Most of his command issues came during his final five appearances, during which he walked eight in only five innings pitched.

Reynaldo Hoyos (25.1 innings), Anderson Mata (24.2 innings), Wilfredo Magallanes (23.1 innings) and Jose Trejo (22.2 innings) tossed the majority of the remaining innings out of the bullpen for the DSL A's. Hoyos, a Colombian left-hander, struck-out 27, but he walked 11. Mata, a Venezuelan lefty, posted a 3.65 ERA in his second season in the DSL. Magallanes and Trejo each made their pro debuts in 2013. Magallanes a 6'2'' righty, walked more batters than he struck-out (14:17 K:BB), while Trejo, a 6'3'' righty, saw batters hit .301 against him and he had a 16:11 K:BB).

Former outfielder Jesus Rivas made his pitching debut and saved seven games despite pitching only 13.2 innings. He struck-out seven and walked one.