July 5, 2012 at 6:00 PM
Line: 6.0 innings, 4 hits, 3 earned runs, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 home run, 88 pitches
Secondary offerings: Pimentel’s changeup was his best pitch in this outing. Working 82-84 mph, the offering showed strong depth and deception from the fastball. The change faded arm-side consistently, with a lot of drop towards the tail end of its approach to home plate to pick up swings and misses. Pimentel also displayed solid command and feel of the offering, throwing it for strikes throughout the start. He only made one mistake with the pitch in his sixth inning, but the opposing hitter was still out in front and fouled it off. There was not much contact against the changeup, with Pimentel confidently mixing it at any point during sequences. The pitch graded as solid-average-to-plus. He also utilized a slider from the onset of the outing, which ranged in look and velocity. It clocked in from 82-89 mph, with varying break. The harder version of the pitch had distinct, tight break to it at 86-89 mph, coming in like a hard cutter or power slider. Pimentel threw it in this range 10 times and picked up five swinging strikes, including three strikeouts swinging. The pitch was slurvier in the lower reaches of the velocity range and lacked the late break. The slider graded overall as an average offering in this start, with plus potential.
Take: When scouting Pimentel it always comes back to his fastball command. He experienced similar delivery inconsistencies in this outing as to when I saw his first outing this season. His velocity was stronger and more consistent in this look though. Pimentel struggles repeating his delivery, mainly with how he lands. His front foot comes down too early, which causes his arm slot to waver and makes it tough for him to finish the fastball. It results in the ball staying up and remaining on a very hittable plane for opposing hitters or missing outside of the strike zone. Pimentel’s heater does not typically miss a lot of bats when down in the zone, but it has more run and downward movement, and is harder to square up. I saw improvement keeping the delivery together, but I feel this is something that makes it difficult to project him as a starter. There is still a lot of cleanup work and also a pattern of inconsistency that I have seen since Pimentel got to Double-A last season. He will have a better chance of repeating his delivery in shorter outings out of the bullpen.
Pimentel has always felt his changeup. He usually shows the most consistency with that offering and this start was along those lines. If he is even somewhat consistent with his fastball, the change typically shows as a non-contact offering. The slider is intriguing to me and the piece that I feel can make him an effective late-inning reliever. I had not seen him throw it up in the 86-89 mph range previously. The late break made it deceiving from his fastball, with it looking like a hard cutter. Pimentel was a bit inconsistent snapping it off, but he threw more hard ones than with the slurvy break. Opposing batters were having a tougher time handling the slider as well. The progress with this pitch is where I am going to focus in on during follow-up looks. If this pitch continues to improve and show as a power slider or hard cutter, Pimentel will have an offering to compliment his fastball and make hitters respect it more. As a reliever, his fastball, slider, and changeup can play up well in shorter stints. While Pimentel will continue starting for the near future, I see his overall package as better suited for the bullpen and feel the stuff is capable of playing up much better there.
Chris Mellen is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisMellen