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carlos pimentelThat headline may be a jolt to some of you who follow Cubs prospecting closely, and wonder how the Cubs have an award-winning-caliber pitching prospect that you don’t know much about.

The rub is that calling Pimentel a “Cubs prospect” is a bit of a delicate dance. It’s not because of Pimentel’s age (he just turned 24 this month) or his performance throughout his minor league career (he’s got some intriguing numbers). Instead, it’s weird to call Pimentel a “Cubs prospect” because the Cubs actually just signed him earlier this offseason to a minor league deal after the Rangers let him leave in free agency. But the signing was among the better minor league deals you’ll see, as I noted at the time:

Pimentel has intermittently been a top 30 prospect in the Rangers’ system, but, having signed as a teenager, didn’t quite break through by the time he qualified for minor league free agency (he’s now 23, and turns 24 in December). He’s a tall, thinner guy (6’3″, 180 lbs), and tends to keep it in the low-90s.

The last three years, as Pimentel has reached the AA level (and mostly hung around there), the righty starter has seen his H/9 drop dramatically and his K/9 rise. But he’s also seen his BB/9 tick up to an unacceptably high level – until 2013, when it dropped back to a passable 3.1 per 9. Combine that with the uptick in strikeouts, and he sported an excellent 3.02 K/BB last year at AA. As I said, as far as minor league signings go, Pimentel is about as good as it gets for pitchers. At 24, you’d like to see him serving as depth at AAA next year, and maybe the Cubs’ coaching staff can get him over the hump that he couldn’t quite clear as a Ranger.

With the trading that the Cubs and Rangers did this Summer, you’ve got to figure that the Cubs had scouted Pimentel very, very closely. They knew there was a chance he would become a free agent after the year, and I bet they pounced the moment he filed.

Since signing, Pimentel headed to the competitive Dominican Winter League where he posted a 1.67 ERA over 37.2 innings (7 starts, 4 relief appearances). He struck out 32, walked 14, and gave up just 2 homers. And, as that tricky headline indicates, he took home the league’s top pitching honors.*

The Dominican Winter League wrapped up its regular season last week, hence the awards, but the playoffs begin today.

*(Hopefully the article’s indication that Pimentel is 25 is just a typo, and not an indication of any birthdate shenanigans – all major sources, including MiLB.com, Baseball America, Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, to name a handful, list Pimentel’s birthdate as December 1, 1989. That would make him 24, not 25.)

  • jsorensen

    The Cubs are going to hit on one of these under the radar guys really soon, imo. Pinyero, Pimentel, Ramirez, Hendricks, (of course can’t ignore Edwards), then there’s that Carreno we got from the Tigers who was hurt last year, Loux, who struggled for the first time last year. It’s based on nothing but my semi-informed opinion, but one of these guys is going to become a solid above average starter, maybe a semi-ace type. Stockpile, stockpile.

    • Jackson

      Hendricks is already gone for Marshall

      • Jason P

        Liam Hendriks is gone. Kyle Hendricks is still here.

  • jsorensen

    I guess I’m saying it’d be nice to find a Cub version of Carlos Quintana soon huh? Whomever found that guy at A-ball for the White Sox needs to pick my lottery numbers.

  • jsorensen

    I know I’m blah blahing all over this post, but reading all the complaining really makes me happy that Theo & Company are sticking with their plan and growing an new organization. Most fans know less than jack about anything, so let them whine. Sometimes the only rebuild is a complete rebuild and I for one am glad it is happening. To make up for all the babies who stay away from our current mediocre Cubs team I’ll go to a few more games this year and buy loads of souvenirs to make up for the absent whiners. The minor league talent hasn’t been this good since the late 70′s to mid 80′s that produced Joe Carter, Mel Hall, Davy Martinez, Darrin Jackson, Greg Maddux, Lee Smith, Rafael Palmiero, Mark Grace, Billy Hatcher, Doug Glanville, Carmelo Martinez. I know there’s more. This has been a long time coming. Drinking the kool aid labeled “Finally Common Sense”.

    • Rodrick

      You sound a lot like Rodrick!

      • jsorensen

        Leave me alone Woderwik.

    • Ree

      Hopefully the new minor league talent produces a few more postseason appearances for the Cubs than the guys you mentioned did.

    • http://pipitographer.tumblr.com Nick Pipitone

      Amen.

      • jsorensen

        True. The 1984 Cubs staff had some promise but was full of a lot of crazy career year seasons if I remember correctly. Some unfortunate injuries & dumb trades killed off that run of goodness for more than a decade. Once Larry Himes, then later Ed Lynch got in there, ick.

    • http://vdcinc.biz 70′scub

      jsorensen put me on the same waiting list! I might add…. I just want the Cub to dominate the Cardinal’s for several consecutive seasons.

  • hansman

    Jason Parks, apparently, has Baez as a top-7 prospect in baseball and the Cubs have 3 in the top-25.
    https://twitter.com/ProfessorParks/status/416617941459668993

    • CubFan Paul

      Baez
      Bryant
      Almora

      • hansman

        I’d put a lot of money on that being the three.

      • Voice of Reason

        Baez and Bryant, yes.

        Almora has to prove he can stay healthy. I don’t think he will.

        I’m thinking more:

        Baez
        Bryant
        Soler

        • Norm

          For Parks, it’s a 100% lock that its Almora.

        • Mat B

          Soler has been injured more than Almora.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Soler has missed more time due to injury, but it’s been because of one prolonged injury. Almora has had numerous more minor injuries.

    • MJ

      I checked out MLB Network Christmas Eve morning, and it appeared that they had a preview of the top 10 of the new top 100 prospects list for 2014. Javier Baez was listed at 7th and Kris Bryant was listed 9th.

      • Eric

        I saw that exact same program. It was called “inside baseball” and they didn’t announce it like “FOLKS THIS IS THE NEW 2014 LIST” they just casually talked about it like it wasn’t new. And yes when the new year hits their website should update it. Baez 7th Bryant 9th, pretty exciting.

    • Seth
      • Jason P

        Beat me to it :)

    • Jason P

      He later said Baez is actually in his top 5.

      • Kyle

        As he should be. After Buxton, there’s a small group of roughly equal guys that Baez is certainly in.

  • AdamAE24

    As always, I hope for at least a solid bullpen arm.

  • Senor Cub

    I love the fact that Pimental stands out in a very competitive league. Hopefully he doesn’t turn into another Rafael Dolis, who by the way I was really rooting for. Maybe the Cubs bring him back if no one else signs him and continue to work on his mechanics.

  • Jon

    I know he works for the Astros now but I wonder if Kevin Goldstein is still hating on Baez? He never liked him.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Articles like this are very refreshing during this lull of any other activity. This Tanaka thing should really show and tell alot about us.

  • X The Cubs Fan

    I bet he was one of the 2 PTBNL we would’ve gotten, had Neil Ramirez got injured.

  • Ryan

    Is Jimenez too young to play in the winter league? If so, any word on how he’s progressing?

    • Eric

      He’s currently 17. And slowly progressing into, still being 17.

      • Chad

        How do you know this? Or are you just being a smart***

        • TK

          The jig is up! Truth is he’s NOT 17. He’s actually 13 going on 30. See, he got locked in a closet a few years ago with an ugly girl, who was his best friend . . . then when he woke up, he had switched bodies with his mom and was making out with Lindsay Lohan. He (she?) isnt even really a baseball player. THIS I know.

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