RINKU SINGH, LEFT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: August 8, 1988
Height: 6′ 2″
Signed: Int. FA, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2008
How Acquired: Int. FA
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Not long after signing South African shortstop Gift Ngoepe, the Pirates signed the 20-year-old Singh and 19-year-old RHP Dinesh Kumar Patel, making them the first persons born in India to sign professional baseball contracts. The signings arose out of a Million Dollar Arm contest in India, which awarded prizes to the contestants who could throw the most pitches above 85 mph in the strike zone. Singh and Patel were both javelin throwers with no knowledge of baseball, but part of the prize was a year of training at USC and they supposedly advanced markedly there. The Pirates said from the start that they considered Singh the real prospect of the two and Patel was eventually released. Singh throws mainly in the mid-80s but, surprisingly, has good offspeed stuff. As you’d expect, his instincts for the game are limited, something that becomes clear in drills, although he is a good athlete.
Singh made 11 appearances in the GCL and held his own. His ERA was high, but his other numbers, while not good, weren’t terrible. That by itself is remarkable considering the circumstances. Every year dozens of pitchers who’ve played baseball all their lives in the US and Latin America do considerably worse at that level.
Singh returned to the GCL and pitched well, fanning about a batter an inning. The team was impressed enough to promote him at the end of the GCL season and he got in two scoreless innings at State College.
Singh opened the season in the DSL. The Pirates assigned him and several other pitchers slated for the US leagues to the DSL because MLB’s age verification procedures held up approval of a number of their contracts with Dominican prospects, creating a need for extra players. Singh pitched well in eight games spread over the DSL, GCL and New York-Penn League, then joined West Virginia in mid-July. He pitched respectably there, allowing more baserunners than ideal.
Singh spent the season at West Virginia. He pitched mainly two-inning outings, which got his innings total up to a pretty good level. He did well without dominating, with a low walk total and decent K rate, but a few too many hits allowed. He was a little better against right-handed hitters, so he doesn’t fit the LOOGY profile. He was an extreme flyball pitcher, which wasn’t true in the past.
Singh had shoulder problems in camp and ended up missing the entire 2013 season. He then had Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2014 season. He attempted to pitch in fall instructionals, but broke his elbow, which kept him out for all of 2015.
Singh finally returned to action, throwing one inning in a GCL game on July 1. It was his first game in four years and the only one he appeared in during 2016.
Singh is 28 now and it’s hard to imagine the Pirates continuing the experiment much longer. As it is, Singh appeared to be getting close to his maximum level before 2013. He doesn’t have outstanding stuff and the sharp increase in his flyball rate in 2012 may show hitters were getting better at driving his pitches. He’ll be a free agent after the season unless the Pirates re-sign him first, which is what happened in 2015. It was a great story, but it’s hard to see it running much longer.
|2016: Minor League Contract|
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2009
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2015
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|November 24, 2008: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent.|