Name: Carlos Pimentel
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: December 1, 1989
Acquired: 2006 International Free Agent
Since the Texas Rangers began to make a renewed effort on the Latin American free agent market in the mid-2000s, Carlos Pimentel is one of the club's most prized signings.
Although Pimentel doesn't have the raw arm or upside of fellow 2006 international signee Wilmer Font, he does possess strong pitchability and more than an advanced feel for two offspeed pitches.
Approximately six months after signing as a 16-year-old, Pimentel reported to Arizona in March 2007 for his first Spring Training. The right-hander stayed in Surprise the entire season and pitched for the rookie-level AZL Rangers, where he posted a 5.53 earned-run average in 42.1 innings. Though the ERA was high, he showed the ability to miss bats, recording 59 strikeouts [12.5 per nine innings].
The 6-foot-3 hurler took a major step forward the following summer, when he pitched with the short-season Spokane Indians. Pimentel showed improved command of his entire repertoire, leading to a 3.31 ERA and just 48 hits allowed in 65.1 innings.
Pimentel continued his one-level-per-year progression in 2009, playing with Single-A Hickory. He finished the eventful year with a 2.93 ERA in 123 innings.
After beginning the season in the Crawdads' rotation, Pimentel was moved to the bullpen in late-June in an effort to limit innings and find room for all of the team's starting pitchers.
Still pitching between three-to-five innings per appearance out of the bullpen, Pimentel quickly became one of the Sally League's most dominant pitchers. In 25 August innings, Pimentel surrendered just one earned run [0.36 ERA] on 19 hits, walking seven and fanning 23.
Pimentel ran into trouble in '09 when he left his fastball up in the zone, leading to home runs. He surrendered eight round-trippers in 37 innings over June and July but yielded just one in August.
The 20-year-old can attack the strike zone with all three of his pitches, including two above-average secondary offerings. If he continues to throw quality strikes next season, he could finish the year in the Texas League.
Also See: Top Prospects, Top Tools (February 11, 2010)
Sizing up the right-handed starters (December 16, 2009)
Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
Fastball: Pimentel generally works in the 88-91 mph range, and he can top out a tick higher. With clean mechanics and a 6-foot-3, 180-plus pound frame, Pimentel may have room to add more velocity down the line. He works best in the upper-80s, where his fastball has a bit more natural movement and sink. Pimentel's heater tends to straighten out a bit at higher velocity, and he has a tendency to leave it up in the zone. Basically, Pimentel's formula for success with the fastball over the last two years has been simple–leave it up, and he gets hit; keep it down, and he excels. Because he doesn't have a plus fastball, his success relies on his ability to command the pitch down and around the corners.
Other Pitches: The Dominican Republic native's advanced curveball, changeup combination makes him one of the system's more intriguing prospects. Pimentel has the ability to throw both offspeed pitches for strikes in any count. His big-breaking curveball has excellent depth and tight spin, and it looks like a future above-average pitch. His changeup may be even more advanced right now. Pimentel's change is deceptive with good fade and sink, and it made him wildly successful against left-handers in '09. He held lefties to a .202 average last season [.290 vs. RHH], and they often rolled over the pitch, leading to a strong 1.53 ground ball rate [0.69 vs. RHH].
Projection: Pimentel has a chance to make it as a back-end starting pitcher because of his deep three-pitch arsenal and decent feel for pitching given his age. He is also an extremely hard worker with plus makeup. Still, a complete move to the bullpen isn't out of the question, although that likely wouldn't happen until he reaches the upper levels. Exactly 50% of Pimentel's appearances [28 games/14 starts] were out of the bullpen last season, but it was more a product of finding room for all the team's starting pitchers. He still worked between three and five innings in most relief outings.
2010 Outlook: Pimentel's outstanding second half in Hickory last year means he is almost assured a spot on High-A Bakersfield's opening day pitching staff. The hitter-friendly California League should be a particularly good challenge for Pimentel, who can be home run-prone at times, as he tends to leave his fastball up in the zone a bit too often. If Pimentel commands his stuff and works down in the zone enough to succeed in Bakersfield, he may see [and be able to handle] Double-A Frisco by late in the season.
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