Monday, April 30, 2012

Minor League Breakdown: The Pitching Prospects

After looking at the hitting prospects in the last (and first) minor league breakdown of the season, I'm today researching the pitching prospects.  
First, I'm looking at the condition of each minor league affiliate. Well, that's not a pretty thing to look at. The Bulls have lost all of their 7 games last week and, overall, 13 in a row. The Biscuits have only won 2 of the last 8 while the Stone Crabs have at least gone 4-4 despite losing their last three games. Even the Hot Rods out of Bowling Green have lost 5 of their last 8. This means that the 4 minor league affiliates combined for a 29% winning percentage with 9 wins and 22 losses since the last minor league breakdown. Here are the numbers per affiliate:

OPS-CH and ERA-CH stands for the OPS and ERA change in the last week.

While the overall offensive outings - with above average offenses in Montgomery and especially Bowling Green - are solid, the pitching looks horrid. The Bulls and the Biscuits are last in their respective leagues according to ERA and the Stone Crabs are not much better (3rd to last).

Prospects stats overview
I've started with the hitting prospects last week in order to let most of the minor league starting pitchers throw in 4+ games. And while most starters now have had 4 or 5 starts, it's still pretty small sample sizes we analyze here. Please keep that in mind. Therefore, I'm only looking at pitchers with at least 15 IP. Here are some trends:
  • C.J. Riefenhauser (wow!), Felipe Rivero (VERY solid), Alex Cobb (control worse compared to last years), Ryan Carpenter (low K rate), Grayson Garvin (bad K/BB rate; unlucky so far) and Jake Floethe are the starters with solid starts to the season (and at least 15 IP).
  • No improvement upon their control problems: Enny Romero, Chris Archer and Alex Torres, early on, show no progress regarding control and command of their pitches.
  • Unlucky pitchers: Grayson Garvin, Chris Archer and Alex Torres are not liked by the luck dragon so far. 

(click on the image for a better view)
Prospects on the rise
  1. C.J. Riefenhauser ... Scouts wondered whether his stuff would play as a starter at higher levels. A+ doesn't seem to be a problem.
  2. Felipe Rivero ... He lives up to the promise, so far. His K% could be a bit higher, though. 
  3. Chris Rearick ... The only minor league pitcher with mind-blowing results, so far. And he was even a tad unlucky!

Prospects falling
  1. Alex Torres ... His strong '11 season seems far away. While it's only been 17.1 IP, his complete lack of control is not a good sign.
  2. Chris Archer ... Archer hasn't pitched well since a strong first outing of the season. 
  3. Scott Shuman ... While it's only 7.1 IP, his '09/'10 seasons look more and more like a fluke. His control is back to his collegiate ways. He has to find the batters box in order to utilize his 99mph heater.

All of the stats provided above are excluding the stats from the previous day. I preferrably use FanGraphs as source for the stats. Click on each stat for its explanation:


  1. Dumb question: What is the OPS you're using in the team table? Is it the same number sometimes called OBA? And is FanGraphs your source. Thanks.

  2. On Base plus slugging %

  3. @Chris: There is no dumb questions. As Anon05:46 said, OPS is On Base Percentage plus Slugging Percentage.

    And ... Fangraphs is my source for the individual player stats. The team stats are from

  4. If it's OPS, then what's that got to do with pitching, unless you're referring to the Opponent's OPS against the pitchers? Is that what you're using? Or am I missing something?

    I have seen Opponents OPS used to evaluate relievers. And for a couple of years I tracked OOPS for the Bulls over on my site and it was kinda nifty if plotted game by game over time, but not all that different from plotting cumulative ERAs or FIPs if you're looking for trends.

  5. At the beginning I'm always looking at the overall state of the minor league teams. Therefore I'm monitoring the pitching and offensive stats.

    But, you are right, opposing OPS is used in order to evaluate pitchers as well.

  6. OK. I understand.
    Last year I hand-computed each games' team wOBA and Opponents wOBA. Then I'd do a plot of both numbers for 10 or 15 games and strike a 5-game moving average across that. It showed trends in offense and defense. But I think I was the only person in the world who cared. So I'm not doing it this year. For an idea of what that looked like last year see;
    I thought maybe that was what you were up to and that maybe there were two people in the world who cared. Sigh. Guess not.
    Good work. Enjoy your stuff.

  7. Hi Chris,

    I remember. I read it. It was an excellent post and great work.

    I'm trying to do something similar. I can make charts for every stat of each player (and franchise) over time. I'm tracking player stats every 2 weeks (and team stats every week) and therefore will have 8-10 time points for every player. Then I can - for example - look at the development of Tyler Goeddel's K/BB ratio during time. So, it's kind of similar.

    Thanks for the complement, and I enjoy your stuff, too.