Prior to 2009, Diego Moreno was one of a number of players the Pirates held the rights to that was putting up silly numbers in one of the foreign summer leagues (Venezuela, in his case), but because of his age it seemed uncertain that he was a real prospect. Moreno promptly showed up in the States this year and blew the doors off of the Sally League, posting 57 strikeouts and just 14 walks in 45 relief innings with the West Virginia Power. That strikeout rate was much higher than anything he posted in the VSL, but hey, never look a gift horse in the mouth. We’ll see what he can do at a higher level in 2010.
As an aside to Moreno, I think he’s the sort of player that Rene Gayo seems to be well-known for unearthing. When the Pirates signed a couple guys during the 2009 signing period one of the Latin American talent watchers commented that though he knew very little about those players, Gayo’s known for finding talent in places people aren’t looking.
July 2010 update: Moreno put up silly numbers with FSL Bradenton in the early part of this season (13.3 K/9, 0.7 BB/9, 0.494 WHIP) and got his promotion to Altoona a couple weeks ago. Since then, he’s still striking out a ton of batters but is getting hit pretty hard in his first six appearances there. He’s easily the best relief prospect in the organization right now and at 23, he could conceivably be in Pittsburgh sooner rather than later if he gets his act together in Altoona. July 2010 rank: 12
January 2011 update: Not much’s changed since that update above; Moreno pitched a fit in Altoona shortly after arriving and was actually demoted back to Bradenton. He’s still got great stuff and could move through the upper reaches of the system quickly if he matures a bit, since he’s a reliever. January 2011 rank: 13