Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Minor League Breakdown: The Hitting Prospects

Overall state of the farm

The third minor league hitting prospects breakdown is up and recently things have been looking well in the minors. The four full-season ball teams have gone a combined 15:8 over the last 6 and 30:19 over the last 13 days. Especially the strong pitching over the last 6 days can be credited for this excellent spurt. The overall ERA decreased from a weak 4.37 to a better (while still not good) 4.14. The hitting prospects as a group have improved as well. They - led by Josh Sale and the Bowling Green Hot Rods - increased their OPS to .698.

OPS-CH and ERA-CH stands for the OPS and ERA change since the last minor league breakdown.

Prospects stats overview

All of a sudden, the rightfully criticized last three draft years are looking better. Just take a look at the prospects on the rise-section below. Keep in mind that I use FanGraphs as source and therefore all of yesterday's (in a lot of cases excellent) performances are not taken into account yet (e.g.: Ryan Brett going 5 for 5, Drew Vettleson 2 of 3 with 2 walks, Mahtook, Dietrich, Allen, Nommensen and Rogers rocking in Port Charlotte's victory, ...). Here is the data:
(click on the image for a better view)

Prospects on the rise
  1. Joshua Sale ... Who really expected such a jump?  And according to Sale himself, "only" some simple mind-approach changes have been the trigger for the jump in quality. See the result: 18.9 BB%, 15.1 K%, .536 wOBA, 1.266 OPS, .425 ISO and not even a really high BABIP (.321) are mind-blowing. Despite the small sample size, the improvement in his approach seems to be legit.
  2. Jeff Malm ... He continues to produce. He hits for some power and for a solid average, has an okay approach at the plate and is trending upwards. A 1.002 OPS and .427 wOBA over the last 50 PA's are very good. The BABIP is high, though.
  3. Mayobanex Acosta ... With an OPS of nearly .900 (.391 wOBA) between Port Charlotte and Durham on the season, he is one of the bright spots behind the plate in-between all those injuries.
  4. Mikie Mahtook ... Even without yesterday's performance (5 PA, 2H, 1st HR of the season, 1BB, 0K), things are trending upwards. A .411 wOBA and .911 OPS over his last 44 PA's are excellent.
  5. Derek Dietrich ... Dietrich is another of yesterday's top performers with 1 HR and 2 Doubles. But, even without yesterday, he consistently improves (.752 OPS after 59 PA's, .780 OPS after 128 PA's and .804 OPS after 173 PA's) during the season.

Prospects to be falling
  1. Reid Brignac ... Have we already seen the last AB of Reid Brignac in the majors? While his defense is good, he needs to not just tinker or adjust, but fully rearrange his approach.
  2. Taylor Motter ...  While his plate discipline is okay, much more was expected out of Motter after an exceptional '11 season in short season ball.
  3. Hak-Yu Lee ... While his MIF-partner Tyler Bortnick is slowly turning it around (.389 wOBA in his last 53 PA's), the consensus pre-season Top 100 MiL-Prospect Hak-Yu Lee doesn't get going. A wOBA below .300 is not what we expected out of him.
  4. Tyler Goeddel ... While still having solid numbers overall, he couldn't sustain his early season success streak. A .541 OPS and .281 wOBA since the last MiL-Hitting Breakdown are not good. Nevertheless, with such a young prospect, struggles are to be expected. His BB/K ratio - at least - is slowly but steadily improving.


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. VERY nice surprise from Sale! Hope he can keep up that level of play and show he was worth the pick. Also very nice to see Meathook hitting better, hopefully he gets that power going. Malm continues to be solid. What in the world happened to Reid Brignac? It is a little stressful when in order to fill injuries on the MLB roster, we have twice had to go outside the organization. There is a definite gap in our talent pool between MLB and A+.

    1. Don't understand the Sutton signing. Why did they sign Matt Mangini? Before some wisenheimer replies, "well, they had to play SOMEBODY at AAA" -- no, duh! Put another way, if Matt Mangini did not get called up when they needed a 3B at Tampa Bay, why did he get signed?

    2. I am very perplexed as well. We have guys in AAA, mostly just because we have to field a team. They obviously arent backups for injuries, and they arent prospects, so what is the reasoning for even having these guys? Why not move them for guys you would like as backups such as Thompson and Sutton, so they are in the organization? Then Garko gets signed to AA? I wish we had some insight in what the thinking is.

    3. Andrew Friedman would've definitely hoped that Matt Mangini and especially Juan Miranda or also Jeff Salazar play better in Durham. I think that they not just have signed them as a warm body but also as MLB Depth. All three haven't met the expectations, though. And while I only wait for Miranda's release, I think that AF and Co. have hope for Mangini and Salazar to turn it around.

      The Rays have been very solid over the last years to provide the MLB club with excellent AAA depth. I was a bit underwhelmed by this years' AAA depth signings (especially on the hitting side), but maybe excellent AAA depth would've cost too much? The Rays do field a relatively expensive roster already in the majors, and AAA fillers will cost less than AAAA/MLB guys.

      That said, for the start of the season I have hoped for one more bat-only type in AAA (now they have Matsui, who may or may not be done) as MLB depth and players like Kyeong Kang, Cole Figueroa and Henri Wrigley up in Durham. As you said before ... try to find 4-6 excellent fielders for MLB-depth and fill the roster with prospects and not AAA fillers.

  2. The Hot Rods are the worst in getting clutch hits. They lead the league in average, are second in hits and 10th in runs scored. This is what makes them an average team with very little chance to make the playoffs.

    1. You know better than anyone Tom, but they just don't do the little things to get runs in. As you said, despite being 1st in avg and 3rd in OBP and SLG, they are 10th in runs. So they have a ton of baserunners that they just can't score. Some of that is luck, they just aren't hitting when it counts.

      But some of it is Williams. He loves to run, but when you are only successful 67% of the time (and only 70% last year), you're turning too many baserunners into outs. I've always heard 75-80% success rate is break-even. They are dead last in moving runners along with sacrifice bunts too (and were 14th out of 16 last year). And this isn't Williams' fault, but they are 1st in the league in GIDPs, which of course kills innings. It all adds up to a lot of baserunners and not a lot of runs.

  3. Does anyone know why Sale was replaced in yesterday's game after his double? Did he get hurt trying to stretch for a triple, and if so, how badly?

    1. I sure hope not. He cant afford to be.

    2. He went back out in the field to start the next inning but was pulled after a few tosses. Doesn't sound like it would be anything too bad if they let him try it out. They were in Indiana yesterday and Michigan tomorrow and there isn't much info when BG is on the road, no media goes to away games, esp on a travel day. Should hear something before tomorrow's game.

  4. JESUS FELICIANO from the Mets was signed by the Rays this year and plays in AAA Durham. Why is he never mentioned? Batting 302...outfielder...MLB experience. Why isn't he called up? If he's not good enough, then why is he there?

    1. I get what you're saying about Feliciano, he's done fine in AAA and we're picking up guys from indy ball and trading for players who no one else wants. But you have to remember, he's really only insurance for center field. That's a good thing defensively that he can play CF, but his bat isn't good enough for a COF. He's a 33 year-old singles hitter, and he adds nothing in terms of SB's (15 steals and 13 CS the past 3 years 2010-12 in the minors).

      If you remember, Upton was out to begin the year, so Jennings was CF. Then Upton came back and Jennings went DL. But they were never both out at the same time, they've played every inning in CF. Counting tonight Upton has been CF for 29 games and Jennings 16.

      So I do think he's in AAA for a reason, as an emergency CF call up. So far there have just been bigger emergencies at other positions and CF has been covered well enough between Upton/Jennings with Zobrist/Guyer/Thompson as the emergency guys already on the MLB roster. If both Upton and Jennings were out at the same time then I think Feliciano gets the call. And he can be there the next day, so you really only have to finish out the game if Upton gets hurt.

      Again, I just think they've had other priorities and they've gotten by in CF, which is all Feliciano is really good for. If it wasn't for all the other moves they could have brought him up as a backup/5th OF at some point. But he's not on the 40-man, so you would need to create a spot on both the 25-man and 40-man to add him. I don't think they want to lose anyone else off the 40-man unless they absolutely need him in Tampa immediately, so they've held off.

      Anyway, that's my opinion.

    2. Thanks, Doug, for your explanation. I get confused with the 25 man, 40 man stuff. I just look at someone who I think would be good up there. Also, I didn't realize he can only play CF. So, maybe there are reasons for all this craziness???

    3. No problem, made me think about it some too. Physically he could play LF or RF, but his bat isn't really enough for a CF, so that's why I say he's limited to CF.

      Why do I say that about his bat? He's been in AAA since 2005 (after he left the Rays org the first time in 2004), and in all those years (for the Mets and Nationals) he's only made it to the majors once, for 54 games in 2010 for the Mets. So the Rays aren't the only ones who have looked at him as an emergency AAA guy.

      And this isn't the first time he's hit well:

      2007 - .315 in 235 ABs
      2008 - .308 in 509 ABs
      2009 - .311 in 495 ABs
      2010 - .339 in 336 ABs
      2011 - .268 in 425 ABs

      So his 2012 average of .303 in 155 ABs is actual down a little from previous years. Yet it's just not enough for him to make the majors, and he turns 33 on June 6th, so his chances are just about up.

  5. Doug,

    Can you rattle off some top prospects that haven't stated playing yet in our system. I know there's Guierrie and Jessie Hahn but what about some of the position players?


    1. I'm also very excited to see the debut of Mr. Oscar Hernandez.

    2. Some very interesting players:

      Pitchers: Jeff Ames, Blake Snell, Lenny Linsky, Jacob Faria, Andy Bass, Matt Ramsey (all '11 draftees), Jesse Hahn, Ian Kendall, Brandon Henderson, Matt Spann, Pedro Silvestre, Stepan Havlicek,

      Hitters: Granden Goetzman, Johnny Eierman, Brandon Martin, James Harris Jr., John Alexander, Matt Ramsey, Garret Smith (all '11 draftees), Justin O'Conner, Jake DePew, Oscar Hernandez, Leonardo Reginatto, Cesar Perez, Julian Morillo, Darryl George

    3. Andy Bass was released after only one pro-season at Hudson Valley. (Also, never given a chance at a second season,from the Hudson Valley were David Laufer, Raymond Church, and Brooks Belter.)The others released from HV were Biagini, Luis, Guillen, Holloway, Bryles, Kosco, Winder, Colon, and Jannis, Drew Leary retired and Olivares was traded to the Red Sox.

    4. Oops ... I meant Garret Smith and not Andy Bass up there. Sorry for the mixup. Thx for the correction.

    5. Garrett Smith had Tommy John this spring, won't be pitching this year.

      Back to what Bob asked, as always there aren't as many position players as pitchers, even this low. For position players there are a few catchers: O'Connor will only DH this year due the hip, that's the 3rd limb he's had serious trouble with, hard to see him at C longterm, and bat hasn't been great so far, but still worth watching. DePew hasn't had much of a chance so far but didn't hit well at Princeton. Narvaez was a good hitter in VSL but not in GCL last year, still watch. The 2 coming up from VSL and DSL this year are definite watches, you know Oscar Hernandez, but Jesus Araiza also did well in the DSL with a .791 OPS (2nd on the team and led team in HRs) and 54% CS. I'm really interested in Araiza, maybe more than Oscar.

      At 1B there is John Alexander from last years draft and Travis Flores from 2010. Flores didn't play last year after some trouble in spring training, looking forward to see what he does this year.

      At SS Brandon Martin and Johnny Eierman are well known.

      I'm not big on Darryl George and Cesar Perez at 3B, lots of hype elsewhere though so you should know the names. Hope I'm wrong.

      In the OF there are 3 speedy/no power types in Deshun Dixon, James Harris and Ismel Antunez out of Venezuela. I'm not excited about any of them, but we'll have some CFs for the next few years I guess. Granden Goetzman could be a top prospect, that much upside. Definitely follow him. The rest are guys up from DSL and VSL.

      So watch the catchers, the shortstops, and Goetzman, and maybe Alexander.

  6. There are also some new young players who may grab spots in the short seaon, I can't think of names (other than Matera who wears #96 but went deep twice the other day) off the top of my head, but it will be interesting to see how things fall into place.

    I still like Deshun Dixon as an "interesting player," he seems to have the skillset, but we'll see. Harris, Cesar Perez & Alexander all seem to have made some progress, but I have not seen more than a dozen XST games this year.

  7. How is Matt Spann looking n xst