Boys Among Men: The Spokane Kids
The pitchers Spokane is running out there include 17 year old lefty Martin Perez, 18 year old righty Carlos Pimentel (pictured, courtesy of Scott Lucas), and 18 year old righty Wilfredo Boscan. They’re good. Really good. And it hasn’t taken them long to start to prove it.
Pimentel has made two NWL appearances so far — one relief appearance and one start — spanning six innings and he’s allowed one run on three hits and a walk while striking out one hitter per frame and posting an outstanding ground out / fly out ratio of 2.33.
Last year, Pimentel posted a 5.53 ERA in the Arizona Rookie League, but he went into his final two starts with a 3.50 ERA and he averaged an incredible 12.54 strikeouts per nine innings.
The loose-armed 6’3″ Pimentel pitches downhill from a high three-quarters slot, and gets good late movement on a low-to-mid 90’s fastball. He throttled the AZL’s right-handed hitters last year, holding them to a .227 average, but was lit up by lefties who posted a .358 average.
Studying Boscan over the winter, I discovered a rare bird: He’s capable of averaging well over a strikeout per inning while also inducing ground ball outs in bunches. In just over a week of NWL play, Boscan now has seven innings under his belt and he’s yielded two earned runs on seven hits and a walk, fanning seven while posting a gaudy 2.67 grounder / fly ratio.
The 6’2″, 165 lb. Venezuelan scorched the DSL last summer, posting a 1.75 ERA and fanning 61 while walking just 13 in 56.2 innings of work. Along with all of that, Boscan put up another stat one rarely sees in a pitcher who averages better than 10 K’s per 9 IP: his 4.00 grounder-to-fly ratio.
Boscan, who earned an assignment to instructional league last fall, held the DSL to a .210 batting average and allowed fewer than one baserunner per inning pitched. He was especially ruthless against right handed hitters whom he held to a .155 / .225 / .194 line.
The Venezuelan Perez (pictured right, courtesy of Jason Cole), who turned 17 in April, is the youngest player
in the league by a nearly a year and a half (Pimentel is the second youngest), and he looks about two years younger than he is.
The last time a pitcher who had just turned 17 in April made his professional debut not in the DSL or the AZL or the GCL, but in the NWL was probably 2003 when the Mariners assigned a big Venezuelan kid named Felix to their affilliate in Everett, Washington.
Two years and two months later, he was pitching in the big leagues.
Perez whips off an 88-90 mph fastball with incredible life, a tantalizing curve and a change. I had the chance to see him pitch in Surprise this spring and I was knocked out by his stuff, but I could never have imagined that he would throw his first pitch in a professional game for Spokane.
Clearly, he’s up to the challenge. In five innings — 15 outs — Perez fanned five, and got one out in the air. The other nine came on ground balls. He surrendered just one run on three hits…and no walks.
In just about any other system in baseball, these three would represent the future but in Texas, they are relatively anonymous — nearly footnotes. In a system that boasts the likes of Michael Main, Blake Beavan, Wilmer Font and Neil Ramirez among their teenaged pitching prospects, these three kids make it clear that nobody in the game has more elite pitching brewing at the lower levels than your Texas Rangers.