Screening for Pitching Prospects - Part Two
On the heels of yesterday's article, I continue my efforts to identify some of the top pitching prospects in the minors by screening the Class-A Leagues. In order to qualify, the pitchers, who are ranked by K/9, need to have thrown at least 50 innings with a HR/9 rate of less than 0.9 (or one home run per ten innings pitched).
The stats have not been adjusted to normalize league and home ballpark context. I have also not attempted to combine MiLB totals for those pitchers who have appeared at more than one level.
As noted in the comments section on Monday, these screens are not intended to identify "the top 5 pitching prospects" in each league. Importantly, I don't think you can do that without establishing a more comprehensive statistical formula, taking into consideration scouting reports, and paying attention to age relative to the level of competition. Instead, I am simply trying to uncover pitchers who have high K/9 and relatively low HR/9 rates. I am pleased with the results as the lists yesterday and today include several high-profile prospects as well as some lesser-known pitchers.
PITCHER TEAM W-L ERA WHIP K/9 Jose Arredondo RCQ/LAA 5-6 2.30 1.08 11.50 Samuel Deduno MOD/COL 5-7 4.13 1.38 10.76 Franklin Morales MOD/COL 8-9 3.81 1.41 10.51 John Bannister BAK/TEX 5-8 5.87 1.68 10.20 Edwin Vera BAK/TEX 0-8 5.65 1.79 9.81
As good as Jose Arredondo was at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, he has been just as bad at Double-A Arkansas (2-2, 7.03 ERA, 1.73 WHIP). His hit and home run rates have skyrocketed at the higher level. The RHP out of the Dominican Republic has gone from unknown position player in 2004 to a project with a good arm in 2005 to a top-flight prospect in May 2006 to a head scratcher in August 2006. At 22, he is still young and has time to regroup. Arredondo may be one level ahead of Nick Adenhart, but the latter still ranks as the Angels #1 pitching prospect.
A special nod goes to Jesse Ingram (BAK/TEX), a relief pitcher with a 6-0 record, a 2.43 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and an eye-opening 14.47 K/9 rate (95 Ks/22 BB in 59.1 IP). At 24, he was a bit old for "A" ball. However, Ingram has since been promoted to Double-A Frisco of the Texas League (3-0, 4.40 ERA with 4 SV in 14.1 IP).
PITCHER TEAM W-L ERA WHIP K/9 Radhames Liz FRD/BAL 6-5 2.82 1.22 10.30 Scott Lewis KIN/CLE 3-2 1.59 0.97 10.06 Troy Patton SAL/HOU 7-7 2.93 1.27 9.08 Garrett Olson FRD/BAL 4-4 2.77 1.23 8.55 Charles Lofgren KIN/CLE 15-5 2.46 1.17 8.23
The story of Radhames Liz isn't all that different from Arredondo's. The 23-year-old right-hander had his way at Single-A Frederick before getting knocked around at Double-A Bowie (2-1, 5.60 ERA, 1.58 WHIP). His season is somewhat reminiscent of last year when he dominated the NYPL (A-), then found his match in the South Atlantic League (A). Liz pitched for the World in the Futures Game in July, striking out one of the two batters he faced. He has a live arm but needs to command the strike zone better as evidenced by his BB/9 rates (44 BB/83 IP in "A" and 19/35.1 in "AA").
Florida State League
PITCHER TEAM W-L ERA WHIP K/9 Mark Rogers BRE/MIL 1-2 5.07 1.70 12.17 Yovani Gallarado BRE/MIL 6-3 2.09 0.99 12.01 Scott Elbert VER/LAD 5-5 2.37 1.17 10.49 Manuel Parra BRE/MIL 1-3 2.96 1.45 10.13 Homer Bailey SAR/CIN 3-5 3.31 1.00 10.13
Mark Rogers was a first-round draft pick (5th overall) in 2004 out of Mount Ararat HS (Orr's Island, ME). His MiL career numbers tell you everything you need to know: 200.1 IP, 139 BB, and 245 SO. The 6-foot-2 right-hander has electric stuff but lacks command and control. Rogers has had stretches of greatness (such as earlier this season when he allowed only five hits and eight walks while striking out 29 over 20 2/3 innings covering three starts). He went on the DL in July with tendinitis in his shoulder and has made three rehab appearances for the AZL Brewers (Rookie League). At 20, Rogers has a huge ceiling but still needs a few coats of polish in order to reach his potential.
PITCHER TEAM W-L ERA WHIP K/9 Alexander Smit BEL/MIN 7-1 3.15 1.24 11.48 Jacob McGee SWM/TAM 7-9 3.07 1.28 11.21 Mark McCormick QC/STL 2-4 3.78 1.45 10.88 Eduardo Morlan BEL/MIN 5-5 2.52 1.12 10.68 Donald Veal PEO/CHC 5-3 2.69 1.15 10.57
Since joining the rotation in late June, Alexander Smit is 5-0 with a 2.55 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in 11 starts and 60 innings. The 6-foot-4 southpaw has allowed only 38 hits during this stretch and has struck out 77 batters against 26 walks. A native of the Netherlands, Smit had back-to-back starts earlier this month with 12 Ks in 6 IP and 11 Ks in 7 IP. He turns 21 in October and is just one of many outstanding pitching prospects in the Minnesota Twins organization.
South Atlantic League
PITCHER TEAM W-L ERA WHIP K/9 Brent Leach COL/LAD 4-2 3.27 1.38 11.57 Noe Rodriguez KAN/CWS 0-6 3.48 1.40 10.81 William Inman WVA/MIL 9-1 1.38 0.90 10.78 Brandon Erbe DEL/BAL 5-9 3.53 1.18 10.62 Clay Buchholz GRE/BOS 9-4 2.62 1.04 10.22
Brent Leach started 10 times at Columbus and was promoted to Vero Beach where he has pitched 27 games--all in relief. The 6-foot-5 lefty's combined numbers include 119 Ks and only 2 HR in 96 2/3 IP.
Given that the focus here is on starting pitchers, I would be remiss in not highlighting Will Inman. The 6-foot RHP has not allowed a home run all season in 91 innings of work. The third-round draft pick in 2005 has punched out 109 batters while giving up only 22 free passes. Unlike a lot of MiL pitchers, Inman's run average (1.48) is almost identical to his earned run average (1.38). Oh yes, the kid doesn't turn 20 until February 2007.