Thursday, June 28, 2012

Minor League Breakdown: The Hitting Prospects

Overall state of the farm

Excellent times for prospect followers with 7 state-side teams and 2 foreign teams playing (nearly) every day. With data for all 7 state-side teams now available, one major weakness in the Rays minor league system can be identified. This weakness has been THE STRENGTH of the system over the last couple of years. This year, though, the upper-level pitching is more than mediocre. Each of the 4 full-season ball affiliates have seen bad pitching performances over the last week. And while the Hot Rods still are 4th in pitching, all other three full season affiliates remain LAST in their respective leagues. Short-season ball pitching, though, looks much better. Now we all know why the Rays hung on to their pitching depth.
OPS-CH and ERA-CH stands for the OPS and ERA change since the last minor league breakdown.

Prospects stats overview

For the first time, I've included the stats from short season ball. They especially - due to small sample sizes - dominate the upper and lower parts of the following list. On the hot and cold lists after the table, I've not included them, though, as I only start talking about performances when at least 50 PA's have been taken.
Here is the data:

Prospects on the rise
  1. Mikie Mahtook ... He was the best hitting prospect in the system over the last 2 weeks with a .550 wOBA and 1.249 OPS over 33 PA's. And while this sample is very, very small, he is (despite still very limited power) trending upwards: April: .688 OPS, May: .775, June: .803.
  2. Matt (or is it James) Rice ... .438 OBP and .926 OPS in June and even better in the last two weeks (1.183 OPS in 20 PA's).
  3. Cameron Seitzer ... He finally shows what I was hoping for from the start: Advanced plate discipline and hittability. The power - only 1 HR on the season - still has to come, though.
  4. Stephen Vogt ... He continues to crush AAA-pitching. How long does it take for him to get the next chance at the MLB level?
  5. Reid Brignac ... Two weeks ago he was #1 on the falling-prospects-list. Since then: 48 PA's, 1.036 OPS, .464 wOBA.
  6. Hak Yu Lee and Tyler Bortnick ... The Biscuits every-day MIF are improving. Especially Tyler Bortnick has an excellent June (.909 OPS, 11:12 BB:K-rate; Lee: .796 OPS, .375 OBP).
  7. Brandon Allen and Ryan Garko ... The major league insurance first basemen are hitting very well in the minors. Brandon Allen might simply be a AAAA-guy as he seams to strike out too much for the major league level. 
Honorable mentions: Jake Hager, Robby Price, Omar Luna, Cody Rogers and Jeff Malm.
Encouraging signs from short-season ball: Ryan Dunn, Johnny Eierman and Jake DePew.

Prospects to be falling
  1. Jesus Feliciano ... Not good enough for a veteran in AAA. His last 43 PA's: .448 OPS, .205 wOBA.
  2. Juniel Querecuto ... He is young for full-season ball, but a .316 OPS and .166 wOBA over 31 PA's has to put your name on this list.
  3. Taylor Motter ... While Cameron Seitzer shows improvements, Motter is not. He is stuck with an OPS below .600 and no power showings to speak of.
  4. Joshua Sale ... We never imagined for him to hit for a 1.250 OPS (as he did in May) all season long. Nevertheless, he seems to be on a bit of a cold streak with a .573 OPS over his last 28 PA's. The still good plate discipline doesn't make me worry, though.
  5. Tyler Goeddel ... Excellent games are way-too-often followed up by nights where he can't hit anything. Inconsistency is nothing that we can't forgive him with his young age, though.
Discouraging signs from short-season ball: Yoel Araujo, Deshun Dixon, John Alexander (homered last night, though).


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. One guy for possible on the rise is Drew Vettleson and one guy on the fall at least in my opinion is James Harris.

    Nice work- I love Thursdays.

    1. Thanks Bob,

      I like Thursdays' too! ;-)

      Regarding Vettleson: His June is excellent (.875 OPS), over the last 2 weeks, though: 39 PA's, .725 OPS, .348 wOBA. Those numbers still are okay, but not for the "on the rise" list! ;-)

      Regarding Harris: Not knocking on SS-ball players yet, but he doesn't look that bad (according to stats): 2:1 BB:K-rate, .717 OPS, .359 wOBA.

  2. I also love this, the chart has so much information. Only thing I think it's lacking, which I know BurGi takes into consideration on his prospects list, is age-to-level. For example in BG, I don't see Seitzer ever developing much power because he's a college pick who is 22.4 years old. Anything can happen of course, but we're looking at probabilities, and it's not likely. Compare that to the guys who are young like Hager and Goeddel (as BurGi mentions), both still 19, where they are being challenged against more advanced competition and more time to develop.

    Or maybe I just harp on age too much. I'm sure there is also only so much you can fit on one chart and have it fit on the page :). Plus, how do you account for catchers, who take longer to develop and move up. And do you compare each player to the Rays average for that level or to the league average. The Rays move players more slowly (in general), other teams are more aggressive but not necessarily better at it than the Rays.

    But other than that, love it. Pretty colors too!

    1. I actually have dismissed the age-column today in order to make it fit to the page. Maybe I can have it on next time (shrinking every column maybe).

  3. Doug & Burgi,

    Just for fun can you give me a projected 2014 or 2015 starting lineup factoring in all the current player's contract situations?