The Rockies hosted one of the most dominant pitching staffs in the Dominican summer league for 2014. Standing in stark contrast to its lackluster offense, the team's pitching staff shined, ranking No. 2 among the 36 teams in the league with a 2.70 team ERA. The team relied on a group of four young pitchers signed during 2013, and judging by their results, the team may have hit the jackpot with their haul.
Erick Julio was one of the most highly sought after pitchers prior to signing with Colorado for $700,000 and the Colombian didn't disappoint, leading the team with 13 starts and finished the season with a 2.45 ERA. Relying on a sinking fastball and a sharp curveball with bite, Julio limited batters to a .217 average against. The right-hander hasn't demonstrated a strong ability to strikeout batters yet, but the 17-year-old was praised by Baseball America for his pitching arsenal in his debut season.
"His feel for pitching is advanced for a 17-year-old and his stuff is projectable across the board. He was throwing 85-89 mph at the MLB showcase but was up to 90-91 mph before signing, which is still where his currently velocity sits. He could have three above-average pitches, including a curveball with good depth and bite and a solid changeup for his age."
Colorado signed left-handed pitcher Jorge Oviedo out of Venezuela for $100,000 in 2013 and he showed early returns in his first season as a professional. The left-hander profiles as a flyball pitcher, but limited hitters to just a .212 average against, while maintaining a 2.49 ERA on the year. Matching pinpoint control with his ability to miss bats, Jorge averaged an astounding 7.63 strikeouts-per-walk ratio and struck out nearly a batter per inning on the year. Ben Badler provided the following profile of the 17-year-old Venezuelan.
"Oviedo is 6-foot-2, 180 pound and throws strikes with a good delivery. His fastball is 85-88 mph with a chance to add a few points to his velocity, but he will probably rely more on his control and a solid arsenal of secondary pitches rather than overpowering people. He has feel for throwing his curveball and changeup, both of which are potential average pitches."
Due to the timing of his birthday, Alexander "Adonis" Guillen was signed early in the 2013 signing period for $350,000. Adonis appeared in just one DSL game that season, but was quickly shutdown due to shoulder soreness. The right-hander returned to action in 2014 primarily as a reliever, closing out eight saves while maintaining a 2.72 ERA in 20 appearances. One are of concern for Guillen was how he struggled to hold runners and allowed 10 stolen bases in 26 appearances.
"Showed the potential to be a power arm before his injury, reaching 91-92 mph before he signed. He can throw strikes and showed some feel for a curveball and a changeup,"
The Rockies have reason to be excited about their Latin pitching staff and many of them will return to the DSL as 18-year-olds since the organization tends to be cautious with this level of players. That being said, watch for Hector Villarroel and Juan Pena to possibly make their debut in the United States next season. Villarroel started 11 games and posted a 2.22 ERA in his third season with the Dominican club.
Meanwhile, Pena had an impressive 1.16 ERA in 10 starts. The lone disappointment for the pitching staff was converted outfielder Julian Yan. The 22-year-old hit 16 home runs for Grand Junction back in 2012, but struggled in his new role, posting a 6.19 ERA in 14 appearances. Overall, it was a great year for the pitching staff of the Dominican Rockies, they debuted a solid group of young players who produced outstanding results for the lower tiered farm club.