Before we get to this month’s rookie league All-Star team, there were three rookie league debuts this week that are worth mentioning. One debut was by 2022 19th round pick pitcher Wilson Cunningham. He threw an inning and struck out 2. He didn’t give up a hit or anything. And Koen Moreno came back and pitched into the second inning again this time. It’s gonna take a while for him to get a feel for things before he is ready for Myrtle Beach. That could take all summer or it could take a month. We will see.
In addition, one pitcher who I thought should have been in Arizona this spring finally debuted in the DSL a month into the season yesterday. Lefty Zhiorman Imbriano threw a scoreless inning and struck out 2. He was one of the better pitchers in the second half last year in the DSL. Good to see his name in the box score.
The All-Star Team
The first month of play in Arizona and the Dominican is finally in the books. In terms of wins and losses, it was not a great month for any of the three squads. The DSL Red team went 7-12 while the Blue Squad went 6-14. Mesa went 7-11. But in terms of development, we’re starting to see some interesting trends over time. Most of those trends come from the hitting side which was more than expected as Arizona is a hitter’s league. When it comes to the Dominican, most of the pitchers there lack game experience and are unproven and it takes a year or two to get their feet under them. Still, we’ve got quite a few names to drop on you this afternoon as to who had a good month in rookie league.
Disclaimer – Rookie league statistics are not predictive of current skills/tools nor are they predictive in terms of future success at their next level. They just show what they’ve done against competition that they have faced in June. Another thing to keep in mind is a lot of these kids are playing in platoons or rotations which is why there might be more of them than you would normally think. Enjoy!
Arizona – The Mesa Cubs had six guys that had a pretty good run this month. At the top of the list was none other than catcher Moises Ballesteros who led the system in home runs in rookie league and he also led the team in home runs and RBI with a wRC+ of 154.. He’s followed by Cristian Hernandez who seems to be thriving in the leadoff spot as he gets more opportunities to hit on a daily basis. Joining those two are outfielder Christian More, infielder Pedro Ramirez, outfielder Ismael Mena, and infielder Rafael Morel.
DSL – Once catcher Carlos Ramos started playing in the DSL, he started hitting and hasn’t stopped. In addition, the Cubs have been having him play all over the field. For the month, he hit .448 with a wRC+ over 200 and drove in 8 in 11 games. He is joined on the squad by fellow backstop Adan Sanchez and SS Jefferson Rojas, two of the Cubs top signees from this spring. The most improved player in the DSL is Oferman Hernandez who blew past the Mendoza line he couldn’t get above last year and he was at .321 for the month. IF Geuri Lubo lead the DSL squads in RBI with 12 and OF Raul Guzman hit .325 to make the team along with 2B Esmarly Tatis (who got promoted to Arizona this week which is vary rare in-season), C Carlos Altuve, 17-year-old Jose Escobar (who plays 3 infield spots), and C Dilver Gomez.
Mesa – Only one starting pitcher in Arizona made this month’s squad and that is Kenyi Perez who did not allow a run the entire month. In addition, he struck out 16 batters in nine innings over three starts. That’s the impressive swing and miss stuff.
DSL – The DSL had a little better luck with starting pitching than Mesa. Gabriel Agrazal and Freilyn Silverio both had the lowest DSL starter ERAs at 1.13 while Agrazal had 15 Ks in 16 IP. Both are joined by 18-year-old Melvin Amador who had a 1.80 ERA in 3 starts, and Diego Dugarte with his 2.40 ERA.
Mesa – While the starting pitching struggled in Arizona, the relievers did not as Mesa put six guys on the list with ERAs under two. 57. Oliver Roque did not allow a run the entire month and missed a lot of bats along the way. He is joined by Jose Romero, Wilfri Figuero, Rony Baez, Tomy Sanchez, and Gregori Montaro. All had ERAs under 3.00 while Figuero, Romero, and Montano struck out about 2 batters per inning.
DSL – Scarlyn Lebron appeared in 6 games with a 0.75 ERA and Leury Gomez was in 5 contests with a 0.84 ERA. 20-year-old Yohan Crispin and 18-year-old Luis Reyes both did well in relief to make the squad. Lebron also struck out 15 to tie Agrazal for the most in the DSL. Otherwise, June was quite the learning experience for the rest of the two bullpens.
The Awards Section
When I first had the idea of putting together All-Star team for rookie leagues, I wondered aloud whether I should have awards for the individual leagues or combine them. After thinking about it, I went with a combined awards for the three rookie league teams.
Hitter of the Month
This award goes out to Carlos Ramos from the Dominican who seemed to fall out of bed hitting. It doesn’t matter whether he was at catcher, first base, or DH. He even played a portion of a game at second last week. All he needs are just reps at the plate.
The runner-up was none other than Moises Ballesteros in Mesa. He is already off to a good start in July as he added two more dingers on July 1.
Starting Pitcher of the Month
This award is also pretty clear-cut as Kenyi Perez of Mesa takes it as he did not allow a run all month to go along with striking out 16. As well, opponents only hit .133 against him, which is really impressive. He did walk 10, but otherwise it was a pretty studly month. Just yesterday, he went 4 more scoreless with 4 more Ks. Yeah, he will be one to watch again in July.
Reliever of the Month
Oliver Roque of Mesa takes the nod as he struck out 15 in 8.2 IP with a 0.00 ERA. Opponents hit just nice .069 against him which is out of this world. His WHIP also reflects that at 0.58. Of course, as soon as July starts, he finally surrendered a run. Go figure!