Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the best.
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing.
More from Rays Colored Glasses
- Tampa Bay Rays give richest contract in franchise history to Wander Franco
- Remembering Julio Lugo’s time with the Tampa Bay Rays
- Are you the 2021 FanSided Sports Fan of the Year?
- Rays: Just how good was Randy Arozarena’s rookie season?
- Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino stands out despite low batting average
Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
Of note is the fact that we’ve graduated Mikie Mahtook and Enny Romero based on their MLB playing time and expectations of being on the big club going forward.
The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The sixth player to be examined in detail is a 2013 international free agent acquisition….
#31: Rene Rafael (Escobar) Pinto, C, 19 years old
- Bats: Right Ht/Wt: 5’10” 180 lbs
- Signed: as an international free agent for $100,000 in October of 2013
- 2015 Affiliate: VSL Rays
- Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2020+
- Twitter: NA
Pinto’s 2015 Fielding Stats
Pinto’s 2015 Splits
- Although he just turned 19, he spent 2015 playing at 18 years old
- Joined fellow Rays prospects Moises Gomez and Santiago Rincon on the All-VSL team
- Caught in 51 of the VSL Rays 70 games in 2015
- Managed 28 extra base hits in only 201 AB in 2015
- Had an almost identical line vs LHP (.325/.372/.525) and vs RHP (.323/.380/.559) in 2015
- That was a significant improvement over 2014 (.225/.289/.300 vs LHP) and (.279/.330/.365 vs RHP)
- Hit 3rd or 4th in the lineup most of the season in 2015 and finished 2nd in the VSL in HR with 6
- Finished 2015 with a 6 games hitting streak that saw him manage 12 hits in 24 AB, including 4 doubles and 1 HR
- Struck out only 12.8% of the time while walking 7.5% of the time
- His ISO of .229, wOBA of .431 and wRC+ of 160 are not going to directly translate when he makes the jump to U.S. soil, but they do indicate how dominant he was in the VSL
- Hit an impressive .290/.405/.548 with RISP and 2 outs
Within the Rays organization, Pinto was named the VSL player of the year, with Marc Topkin stating:
"“Pinto, 18, returned to the Rays Venezuelan Summer League affiliate after playing 40 games there in 2014. In 51 contests this year, he ranked among league leaders in batting average (.323, 1st), slugging percentage (.552, 1st), extra-base hits (27, 1st), triples (7, 2nd), total bases (111, 2nd), home runs (6, T-2nd), runs (42, 3rd), RBI (38, 4th) and doubles (14, T-4th). He also led all VSL qualified catchers with a 47.9 eraser rate, throwing out 23 of 48 potential base stealers.”"
Best Tools & Abilities
- Strong and accurate arm
- Hand-eye coordination paired with power
Any time you try to evaluate prospects in the DSL or VSL you’re going to have to work extra hard to get the information you need to make a fair assessment. In Pinto’s case, we know a few concrete things that set him apart from the average prospect. First, we know the Rays like him well enough to name him MVP of their VSL squad. Next, we know he was among the leaders in most categories. And finally, we know that his defensive abilities are tremendous and above average, even for the VSL.
The great thing about looking at prospects is that you get to compare one group or one player to another. In the Rays case at the catcher position, we get to measure Pinto up to a pretty great prospect in David Rodriguez, a player who went through the VSL just 2 years ago.
Here’s a direct comparison of each player’s VSL stats, with one note that Rodriguez was actually a half-year younger than Pinto at the time:
- Rodriguez ’13: .329/.409/.540 | 14 Dbles | 0 triples | 12 HR | 24 BB | 62 SO | .988 fldg% | 28% CS | 7.63 RF/G
- Pinto ’15: .323/.379/.552 | 14 Dbls | 7 triples | 6 HR | 17 BB | 29 SO | .980 fldg% | 48% CS
The difference in HR can be pointed out but with 7 triples added, Pinto’s stats stack up very well against the those of Rodriguez. In fact, the lower strike out rate leads you to believe that he could have a better ability to keep the ball in play. Either way, both of these guys put up outstanding statistics in their time in the VSL and now we get to see how well Pinto makes the leap to the United States.
What I love most about the Rodriguez-Pinto comparison is that it provides the Rays with 2 outstanding catching prospects coming up and provides depth behind the likes of Justin O’Conner. There are so many examples of catchers who take a while longer than most to develop, sometimes shining brightest at the end of their 20s and into their early 30s. With that in mind, we need to keep a level head about how fast Pinto will climb the ranks.
What we do know is that he’s almost a guarantee to jump to U.S. soil in 2016 and that how he adjusts to better competition and a new environment will go a long way to getting his course. As a catcher, there’s a very good chance the Rays will take it slow and go one level at a time from there, as they did with Rodriguez.
With his compact frame, defensive abilities and good looking bat, there’s a good chance he’ll find a spot in The Show once he’s developed his overall game.
We have one catcher ranked in our top 10, one in the 11-20 range, and another in the 21-30 range. Pinto is joined in the 31-40 range by another catcher. Needless to say that the Rays are very deep at the position. They seem to have focused on hedging their bets to ensure they have a continuous stream of talent at the position.
We applaud the investment at the catcher position that the Rays have made and feel that Pinto has as good a chance as any to come out on top once 2020 rolls around. He’s got a lot of work to go through in order to get there, and he knows he’ll need to climb through fellow Venezuelan David Rodriguez to earn the majority of playing time in Tampa Bay if they both get there at some point. We wish him the best.