Thursday, June 21, 2012

Minor League Breakdown: The Pitching Prospects

I do want to point out that I'm not considering the stats of players from short season ball this week. The sample size simply is WAY too small. I'll start considering them with the hitting prospects next week.

Overall state of the farm

Thanks to the Louisville Bats and to a strong week (pitching wise), the Durham Bulls finally are out of last place regarding their pitching performance. This leaves the Montgomery Biscuits and Charlotte Stone Crabs as the "only" two full-season affiliates with the worst pitching staff in their league. On the other side, with the Montgomery Biscuits and the Bowling Green Hot Rods, two hitting staffs are best in their respective league.

 OPS-CH and ERA-CH stands for the OPS and ERA change since the last minor league breakdown. Overall ERA and OPS are from ALL affiliates (including DSL, VSL and short season ball affiliates)

Looking at the pitching trend per affiliate over the season, we can see that the Biscuits' pitching staff has been improving all year long. Nevertheless, they still are worts in their league. The results of the Stone Crabs' pitching staff on the other side - while also being worst in their league - declined all year long.

ERA change since the start of the season

Prospects stats overview

The cells with grey background show you the position players who have taken the mound so far this season. And while the sample size is more than small (8 IP combined), they did very well! Here is the data:
(click on the image for a better view)

Prospects on the rise
  1. Jason McEachern ... Thriving in a (long) relief role. He only has 21 Hagainst in 40 IP. Except for his control, everything looks excellent.
  2. Kirby Yates ... Last 9.2 IP: 0 ERA, 0.92 FIP, 15.8 K/9. Also overall, all of his numbers except the BB/9-rate are excellent (12.33 K/9, 2.55 FIP, 2.64 ERA, .167 AVGagainst).
  3. Bryan Augenstein ... He continues to rise on prospect lists (31st on mine) with his stellar performances: 1.04 FIP, 0 ERA and 12 K/9 over the last 12 IP as well as 1.06 FIP in 21 IP overall.
  4. Alex Colome ... He has been coming back very strong from injury: 3 starts, 17.2 IP, 12.2 K/9, 2.75 FIP. 
  5. Ryan Carpenter ... Inconsistent, but overall very successful since the start of the season. Especially his last outing (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K) had to land him on this list.
  6. Jacob Partridge ... While a low BABIP and high LOB% suggest that he has been a bit lucky so far, the results - as with Jason McEachern - definitely are there.
  7. Other relievers of note: Chris Rearick, Theron Geith

Prospects to be falling
  1. Alex Koronis ... While lots of other relievers are flourishing in the system, Koronis lacks a bit behind. While he generates a respectable amount of whiffs, his BB/9-rate of 15.5% is the 3rd highest in the system (only considering pitchers with >20IP) behind Scott Shuman (25.2%!!!) and Alex Torres (19.6%).  
  2. C.J. Riefenhauser ... Shaky control makes him fall a bit, compared to other prospects. A 6.5 BB/9-rate over the last 15.1 IP was the major reason for the 6.31 FIP. 
  3. Jake Thompson ... While he is doing better than I expected as a starter this season, his peripherals went backwards over the last starts. 6.6 BB/9 and 3.9 K/9 in 13.2 IP are not what makes you succeed in the long run.
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. RP staff,
    I love the prospects on the rise and fall breakdown. It reminds me of BA's hot sheet. It would be really cool if you could copy them with a picture of the player and the breakdown below it just like BA does. Also, if you did the break down say every Thursday so we have something to look forward to. Then maybe on Friday you guys can do a Hot Sheet chat were we ask questions and you answer. Just a thought.

    1. What a great idea. Not sure how the logistics of a chat would work, but love the hot sheet.

    2. I like the idea as well, Bob ... and I try to do it every Thursday, but life simply happens way too often in order to make it a regular. But, I'll try and Thursday should be the regular date.

  2. You guys should adopt Carpenter or at least buy him a gift! He is doing ok but still is getting squared up a little too much! BA and Homers tell a story. Last game was his best! Great control and K ratio is good but like I guys have a man crush on this kid! To me he is the 4th best starter on BG Floethe, Rivero and Gomez are better and Markel has the best stuff of anyone but has not learned how to use it. When the Rays finally move a few of these pitchers up to Port Charlotte, we shall see who maintains success!

    1. Fair point on Carpenter, at least as to me. 4 of the 5 BG starters made my top 30 which will post this afternoon, the 5th was one my last 2 cuts.

  3. Once again I reiterate that FIP BABIP and LOB are the dumbest stats in baseball and this is coming from a college stats professor.

    1. No stat is useless, some are just better than others, but each is a part of the picture. I don't use babip very much, or LOB at all, but I like FIP. Minor league defense just isn't very good, and it gets worse as you go down towards the lower levels. Pick any year and look at the fielding percentages for the 10 teams in the Rays org. I've shown it before, and it's almost comical, but it always goes down from MLB > AAA > AA > A+ > A. Even in the short-season leagues, Hudson Valley is always higher than Princeton, which is higher than GCL, which is higher than VSL, and DSL is last. And that's just with actual scored errors, there are plenty of non-errors that hurt a pitcher at the lower levels that would have been turned into outs at higher levels. Basically the really bad defenders move to easier positions as they move up, or they are released.

      FIP just helps show how a pitcher has done when you remove that variance in defense. It isn't perfect, and there are other systems that account for defense, but it's helpful.

    2. My problem with FIP I guess, is that it's trying to take the human factor out of the game. Which I know in the minors plays a big role due to poor defense. However, I feel like it's unfair to the people that have low ERA's. You can't take luck out of the game. Its going to happen and there is no way to predict it. But thats just my opinion.