Tag Archives: 2012

Erasmo Ramirez is (Kind Of) Back

Erasmo

Erasmo Ramirez made his return to the big leagues on Thursday after an injury kept him out of the rotation at the start of the year and forced him to build his way back up and make 7 starts in Tacoma. However, the return was not triumphant. The Red Sox scored 7 runs off of him and his strike rate was way down from where it was last year (and really below a rate that is acceptable for a big league pitcher). In Spring Training, it was obvious that his velocity and release point was off, which turned out to be evidence that he was hurt. So, I think it is important to look at where he located the ball, along with his velocities and release point from Thursday, comparing it to his 2012 numbers, to see if Erasmo’s bad start was just a bad start, or whether there is something wrong with him, meaning he isn’t the pitcher he was last season.

First, here is his average release points from both 2012 and Thursday, along with the average locations of all pitches thrown

Erasmo Ramirez Release

Erasmo clearly has a lower release point, or at least did against the Red Sox. The difference is big enough that it is a Pitch F/X error or difference in measurement. Erasmo didn’t locate any differently when it came to height on average, though he did locate more glove side in his outing on Thursday. Breaking down his average locations by pitch type (just using the MLBAM tags) will be more helpful:

Erasmo Ramirez Against Red Sox

Change barely located in strike zone on average, and as his 2012 graph shows, his curve has moved from an arm side pitch to a glove side pitch:

Erasmo Ramirez 2012

Erasmo, even though he threw the slider harder against the Red Sox, got the pitch glove side less. On the other hand, the cutter (also thrown harder) was located lower and more glove side, and his 2-seam became a more traditional arm side pitch. The 4-seam fastball was thrown lower, more glove side, and the velocity was slightly down.

As far as pitch selection goes, Erasmo went to more curves instead of sliders, less changeups overall, and more cutters instead of 2-seam fastballs. This explains the difference in average locations on all pitches, as even though his changeup was more glove side, he threw less of them on Thursday. Relying on the cutter more makes him more of a glove side pitcher. The cutter was thrown rarely last year, but he didn’t give up a hit with it. The problem is, his changeup was his best pitch last year, so it is curious that he would just stop throwing it, or start throwing it less.

The Mariners sent Ramirez back to the minors so he can get another start during the All-Star Break, and while it isn’t set in stone, the reported plan is to bring him back up to the Majors the next time the spot in the rotation comes up. However, at least right now, it doesn’t appear that the Erasmo Ramirez of 2013 is the Erasmo Ramirez that emerged last season. Something still seems to be wrong.

Can We Quantify the “Marine Air Effect” at Safeco?

safeco_field_600

With the fences at Safeco Field moving in for the 2013 season, and the Mariners moving away from a defensive heavy approach to one that relies more on the home run, we expect to see more offense in Safeco, instead of the near unprecedented offensive black hole that Seattle was in 2012. Of course, while the Mariners have done their in-house studies as to how much this should improve offense, we also have to take into account the environment. A 400 foot fence in Colorado is not going to play the same as a 400 foot fence in Minnesota. In Seattle, there is the famous “marine air effect” that many people believe drives down offense, perhaps even more than the fences themselves. This is why some people don’t even trust the spray charts from previous teams when they come to Seattle, as they don’t believe the ball will travel as far. I wanted to see if we could quantify “the marine air affect”, using Baseball Heat Maps’ (.com) batted ball distances (on everything but bunts, which I removed).

Since Pitch F/X data started in 2007, I looked at the Mariners 2008-2012 rosters, looking for both pitchers and hitters that played significant time (I didn’t use a hard cut-off, but something like 200 plate appearances or 50 innings) for both the Mariners and some other MLB team in the Pitch F/X era. Since we can’t really break down home/road splits (we could manually, using game logs etc., but it would take an incredibly long amount of time for 51 players profiled below), we have to look at just the entire time they with the Mariners versus the other team. I split the data into pitchers and hitters (and before and after), but you should be able to click on the labelled sheets.

Hitters

[table id=17 /]

Pitchers

[table id=18 /]

As we can see, the variation between hitters does suggest that there is a slight effect on batted balls for hitters playing for the Mariners versus when they played for other teams. For pitchers, there was no real reason to think that they benefited from Safeco when it came to actual batted ball distance, meaning the ball seemed to travel normally. Of course, there are many variables that we didn’t account for, like aging curves, home/road splits, and there is a bias on ground-balls (since it doesn’t use Hit F/X, as that is not publicly available. My understanding is that ground-balls are measured when they are picked up, so a weak ground-ball that gets through may go 200 feet, even though it wasn’t hit as hard. Perhaps zeroing out ground-balls would be helpful in future study). With that said, this data doesn’t give us much reason to believe that the ball travels further (or obviously less) on average for the Mariners than any other team. How Safeco plays in 2013 may give us a better idea (especially since only two players played for the Mariners in 2012, which was the most extreme year).

Do the Mariners have a Defensive Problem in the Minors?

triunfel error

When thinking about the Mariners’ farm system as of late, it struck that they do not have a real elite defensive prospect, and all of their big position prospects seem to have major defensive/position questions. Also, the 3 2012 Mariner minor leaguers that came to my head when I was thinking about defense were Leury Bonilla, a free agent, Gabriel Noriega, who hasn’t hit at all and was demoted in 2012, and Darren Ford, who signed with the Pirates as a free agent this off-season (4th would have been catcher Jesus Sucre, who re-signed with the Mariners). Of course, this is all very subjective, so I wanted to see if there was any data to back up my suspicion.

So I looked at FRAA, Fielding Runs Above Average, which uses play by play data to determine how many plays a defender made versus how many an average defender would make. I had to manually input the data using Baseball Reference’s positional breakdown and obviously Baseball Prospectus.  I didn’t include pitchers, and didn’t include catchers because the ability to turn balls into outs is not a great way to determine catcher defensive value. I also didn’t include the Arizona or foreign affiliates (for one, I don’t watch those teams anyway)

Tacoma: -9.6 FRAA

Jackson: -3.6 FRAA

High Desert: -.7 FRAA

Clinton: -6.3 FRAA

Everett: -.1 FRAA

Pulaski: -.2 FRAA

So as we see, all the clubs in the organization were below average (though Everett and Pulaski were basically average). But how does this compare to other minor leaguers, as you would expect minor leaguers to not turn the same amount of balls into outs as minor leaguers? Also, since the minor leagues is not about winning (but instead about developing players into players that can help the Major League team), how did some of the Mariners top prospects fare?

First off, the best defender according to FRAA in 2012 in the Mariners’ minor league system was Darren Ford at 9.8. Ford left as a free agent (not to mention he missed a good chunk of the season for Tacoma) and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Here are some of the Mariners’ top position player prospects (in no particular order):

Nick Franklin: -2.1 FRAA

Brad Miller: .6 FRAA

Brad Miller

Vinnie Catricala: .7 FRAA

Stefen Romero: -.9 FRAA

Timmy Lopes: -1 FRAA

Julio Morban: .7 FRAA

Leon Landry: -2 (counting his time with the Dodgers in 2012) FRAA

Patrick Kivlehan: .2 FRAA

Let’s compare this to the Texas Rangers’ top 8 position prospects in John Sickel’s top 20:

Jurickson Profar: -3.2

Mike Olt: -.4

Leonys Martin: 2.8

Rougned Odor: -3.3

Luis Sardinas: -1.1

Jorge Alfaro: -.7

Joey Gallo: -3.5

Nomar Mazara: -1

The Rangers top 8 position players had a -10.4 FRAA, while the 8 prospects I picked out for the Mariners had a -3.8 FRAA, insinuating that the Mariners top prospects are better defenders than the Rangers top prospects. How about comparing the whole organization like we did with the Mariners? For this one, I chose the Angels, another division rival, specifically because they are considered to have the worst system in baseball.

Salt Lake: 14.3 FRAA

Arkansas: -1.4 FRAA

Inland Empire: 4.5

Cedar Rapids: 1.4

Orem: -5.8

So despite having a much lower rated farm system, it does seem that the Angels have a better fielding minor league system than the Mariners. Of course, FRAA isn’t perfect and is prone to inaccuracies. For example almost everyone (including me, as I have seen them play quite a bit. Olt is very solid, while Profar is a little rough around the edges defensively, but shows the ability to make the vast majority of plays) considers Olt and Profar good defenders and I don’t think Catricala is a good defender. Also, prospects, at least they are supposed to, grow. They get better as time goes on. Scouts are usually more worried about what a player will be like defensively than what the prospect is like defensively. This was just a snapshot anyway to give us an idea of what the defense looks like throughout the season. Just to come full circle throughout the AL West, I took a look at the Astros and Athletics’ AA teams (AA will have more prospect types than AAA):

Athletics AA: -.6

Astros AA: 9.7

I remarked during the season that the A’s AA team was really corner outfield/1st base/DH heavy, so it isn’t surprising that they were negative defensively. They were still better than the Mariners’ AA according to FRAA. The Astros, an improving farm system, on the hand, were excellent defensively at the AA level.

It does seem (with all the qualifications and caveats mentioned above) that the Mariners defense, especially in the upper minors, is leaving a lot to be desired. Perhaps not to the affect that it plagues the Rangers (who are known for taking very raw players anyway), but the Mariners do have some major defensive questions when it comes to their top position prospects. As an organization, Seattle has traditionally valued defense highly, but over the past two seasons, it is easy to point to a series of moves (Montero and Jaso trades, trading away Ichiro, acquiring the collection of Bay, Ibanez, and Morales this off-season) that shows the organization may be moving away from this style of thinking (although Brendan Ryan appears to be still manning shortstop).

Free Agent Watch: Oliver Perez

Oliver Perez

“..there isn’t any reason to expect anything from (Oliver) Perez in 2012”- Me, January 18th 2012.

Oops…

I don’t want to go into too much detail into the Oliver Perez story because I already have and Geoff Baker wrote a very good story on him earlier this week, but there really was no reason to believe that Perez would help the Mariners this year back in February. Yet, helping the team is exactly what the 30 year old left-hander has done. Since being promoted, Perez has a 50 ERA-/75 FIP- in 28.1 innings, which is very good (100 is league average).

However, his strikeout rate has only been about league average at 20.5%. His walk rate is a little bit high as well, at 8.6%. So what exactly Perez being effective at? I wanted to look at batted ball distance and see if Perez is doing a good job of limiting hard contact. For his career, the average ball off the bat (all of these are non bunts) is 263.316, which if you recall, is worse than Josh Kinney’s. This year, it is 253.301, 10 feet of difference on average. Of course, numbers usually mean very little without comparison, so how does he stack up against some other notable pitchers? Pretty well actually:

Tom Wilhelmsen: Pitcher Batted Ball Distance with and average distance of 251.751

R.A. Dickey (since 2010): Pitcher Batted Ball Distance with and average distance of 251.334

Matt Cain: 262.286

Cole Hamels: 257.705

So he is better (or at least has been this year) than Matt Cain (someone who has baffled defensive independent metrics) and Cole Hamels at limiting strong contact and slightly worse than Tom Wilhelmsen and R.A. Dickey (knuckleballers are somewhat known for being DIPs independent, and getting a lot of weak contact). I am not making the argument that Perez is a pitcher that will defy defensive metrics (there simply aren’t many, and most of them have to do with ballpark or defense), but he is doing a good job this year of not giving up hard contact and perhaps most importantly, homers. Perez’  average distance on balls in play (34 or more than half of the balls he has allowed in play) is in the 190-280 feet range. This shows how few grounders he has been getting, but the fly-balls he is giving up aren’t going very far.

Most of this seems to be because of velocity return. After his velocity absolutely disappeared with the Mets, he is averaging 94.50 MPH on his fastball (and 93.64 MPH on his sinker) this season. Only 12 lefties in the Majors (not counting Perez) have thrown at least 20 innings in 2012 with at least an average of 94 MPH on their fastball. That is less than 1 per half the teams in the Majors. So that is a valuable commodity.

Here is how much his fastball has improved:

It is not just his fastball that has seen improvement, his slider is harder as well.

He is almost a LOOGY as, in the small sample size we have him in the Majors so far this year, he has been much more effective against lefties than righties by the defensive independent metrics. While he has been adequate against righties (3.89 FIP), he has been pretty dominant against lefties (his slash line against them is very unimpressive and worse than his slash line against righties, but that is almost certainly because of BABIP and small sample size). His homer that he allowed was against a righty. In AAA, he was dominant against lefties (2.14 SIERA, 2.40 FIP) and downright terrible against right-handed hitters (5.28 FIP, 4.31 SIERA). He simply does not get ground-balls from right-handed hitters, and that will make his splits widen as the sample size gets larger.

One of the reasons for this is that his slider does a good job of clustering on the low and away corner against lefties. Against righties, for whatever reason (perhaps he is afraid that low and in to righties with the slider would not be a good idea. Maybe not), they are much more inconsistent. Instead, he is throwing a lot right down the middle, which is a problem obviously. It seems like (at least according to the 2008 heat map) that the slider was something he used to go to a lot to righties (but still had the same problem).

The problem of the slider staying in the middle of the plate against righties seems to always have been a problem.

For whatever reason, he doesn’t have the same problem against lefties. I have no idea why, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, but it’s there. The location is worse against righties, so it is just going to be worse against righties. This means he will have to rely on his fastball/sinker to get righties out, and the lack of an effective breaking pitch will cause his platoon splits to be pretty high most likely.

The lack of ground-balls (he has always been a fly-ball pitcher, but when things were going well he was racking up a ton of strikeouts) and a decent but not great strikeout rate (especially paired with the walks) is concerning. Even with the good strikeout rate, he didn’t have much success in the PCL this year because of the tendency for fly-balls to simply fly out of the park in a very hitter friendly league. The Mariners do play in Safeco, so if this is still a problem for Perez, the home park can mask that. He isn’t a junk baller that is only looking good because of the home park, so it isn’t that he has no value as a Safeco baby. Perez has an expected OPS of balls off the bat of .942, adjusted to .810 if you consider getting infield pop-ups a skill (since they are basically an automatic out unless the infielder drops it, which has nothing to do with the pitcher obviously). Once you factor in strikeouts and walks, Perez’ xOPS is this season is .754 without factoring in infield pop-ups and .660 xOPS with factoring in infield popups.

The only homer he allowed was on the road and he has actually been better on the road according to FIP (xFIP has him slightly better at home). Even with the decent strikeout rate versus bad ground-ball rate and slightly high walk rate, he seems to be a decent to solid reliever, hinging somewhat on how you view infield pop-up predictability. A quick look at the top 10-15 pitchers in infield pop-ups from each of the past years doesn’t look very promising in terms of correlation, but I would love to see more data in that department. It has been something that Perez has been pretty solid at in his career, but has been under this number his whole career excluding 2005 (which was his first terrible year).

Remember that all of the numbers are small sample size, this is why scouting is really important when looking at Perez. When I watch him pitch, I see an above average fastball from a left-hander that comes at a somewhat irregular angle. That fastball has been really effective, as just 13.79% (8 in all) of the fastballs/sinkers put in play off Perez have gone at least 280 feet and none of them have gone at least 370 feet. Basically all the numbers point to Perez being better than Kinney, and all of the scouting tools as well as just the eye test agree. Perez isn’t like Kinney, relying mainly a breaking pitch. He has a legitimate fastball coming from the left side.

So what is Perez worth? He is strictly a reliever, and not even one that is going to pitch in long spurts (less than an inning per appearance this season). He is on the wrong side of 30, even though not by much, and has a history of knee issues and serious control issues. While closers are usually overvalued, situational/platoon relievers are usually undervalued. However, the velocity that Perez has may up his value on the free agent market. As stated before, there is simply not a lot of lefties that throw as hard as he does. I see no way that he takes a minor league contract. He is going to get a guaranteed deal, most likely a 1 year deal, but some guaranteed money. If I were Perez (or his agent), I would be looking for at least a couple million dollars, heavily playing up the idea that I’m left-handed and throw hard. But how far should the Mariners go? First you have to look at the options the Mariners have in house. Of course, Charlie Furbush is better than Perez and will get the bulk of left-handed work. Lucas Luetge was also serviceable this year, but can start in the minors next year and I think Perez is better (96 FIP -, slightly worse than an average reliever). In the minors, Anthony Fernandez may get a fast track to the big leagues as a reliever, but I would much rather seem them wait and try him as a starter as he doesn’t throw very hard (perhaps he could be a cheaper Safeco baby than Jason Vargas). In Tacoma, Brian Moran and Bobby Lafromboise are interesting as LOOGY types with somewhat weird arm angles. Mauricio Robles is on the 40 man roster, but can’t throw a strike to save his life and I don’t think veteran Cesar Jimenez is an option. If one was perhaps really aggressive, they could think about a very fast track for Nate Koneski as he was already a college senior when drafted and impressed (if you look at strikeouts and walks) in short season ball this year, but even this would be a mid-season type solution and only if he dominated at least AA. So the actual substitutes for Perez in the Mariners system are not that good other than a couple of deceptive LOOGYs, one of them already 26 years old. It would seem that Perez could help this team if they bring him back simply because of lack of other options. I fully expect for the Mariners to bring in a couple of lefties on minor league deals, but it would be hard to count on to them to be as productive as Perez.

A lot of this depends on what the Mariners want to do with their payroll and what direction the team believes they are headed and how far they are on that journey. If the Mariners believe that they are somewhat close to be a competitor in the AL West after a season a few games under .500, they may be open to spending more money, and it would make sense to make sure you have as many bullpen options as possible and spend to keep Perez. If they believe they are still a couple of years away (which I believe they are) it may be wise to let Perez walk, and to give the limited options they have in the minors a chance to establish themselves.

I think a reasonable salary for Perez is somewhere between the 2-4 million dollar range. I would not go more than one year (although 1 year with an option/buyout is likely). Essentially, all you would be asking him to be is a 1 win player (for what it is worth, and probably not much, he has a .4 fWAR and .8 rWAR this year with a .5 WARP in his 28.1 innings. If you assume his 31 AAA innings would have been pitched at roughly the same effectiveness, he would be worth roughly 1 win according to these metrics. According to Fangraphs’ WAR dollars, he has already been worth 2 million dollars this year.). Other than the injury risk (with the knee), I don’t think it is fair to look at what Perez did in the Majors as a starter when evaluating him. His walk rate has never been lower, he is throwing a fewer pitches per plate appearance, and has a much higher strike percentage (68%, above league average) than he ever has before. This is a different pitcher, a different Oliver Perez, and he should be evaluated as such.

Arbitration: Josh Kinney

kinney

Josh Kinney is a rather interesting arbitration case for the Mariners this off-season. Because he was signed as a minor league free agent this off-season, I assumed he was a free agent at the end of the year. He actually is arbitration eligible (according to his contract status on Baseball Reference), so the team will have to decide if they want to come to terms on a new contract with him, non-tender him (meaning they release him), or go before arbitration to decide his 2013 salary (something that most teams like to avoid, the Mariners included, as they settled all their contracts before arbitration last year).

I was a big fan of Kinney in the off-season. Statistically, I liked the strikeouts and the ability to keep the ball in the park. This year, Josh Kinney has been solid (all data is prior to Tuesday night’s extra inning game, as I was basically done with this by the time that outing started) with a 100 ERA- and 96 FIP – (Baseball Reference’s neutralized ERA has him at 4.36 for the year, which is pretty forgettable) versus the league average for relievers of 91 ERA – and 94 FIP-. So Kinney has been a slightly below league average reliever this year in 26 innings. Not bad for a minor league free agent that began the year in Tacoma. He earned the promotion by being very good in Tacoma with a 2.19 FIP and 24.7 K% (perhaps more amazing, he had a 2.70 ERA despite a .363 BABIP). Since being promoted to Seattle, he has an even better strikeout percentage at 25.3%. He has been somewhat wild at times with the Mariners, while he had almost no control issues with Tacoma.

He has seen an uptick in his velocity this year, but is still a couple miles per hour below average for a right-handed reliever (the average reliever in the MLB throws 92.9 MPH, but you could probably bet that righties throw slightly harder). However, when talking about Josh Kinney, you have to talk about the slider. For his career, hitters are hitting .186/.253/.326 off the Kinney slider. This year, he is walking more batters and striking out less with it, but giving up a lot less power with it (when he is ahead in the count versus either lefties or righties, you can bet a significant amount of money with a lot of confidence that it will be a slider). He is also throwing it about 1 MPH harder than he has in previous seasons in the Majors and still getting a very good 16.8 swinging strike percentage. To give you an idea of how effective his slider has been, here ae=re the batter ball rates on his slider this year (courtesy of baseballheatmaps.com. I took out bunts, because of course bunts will stay in the infield):

Distance Max: 100
Min: 0
Distance Max: 190
Min: 100
Distance Max: 280
Min: 190
Distance Max: 370
Min: 280
Distance Max: 460
Min: 370
Distance Max: 550
Min: 460
Angle
Max: 50
Min: -50
29.17%
21
18.06%
13
33.33%
24
16.67%
12
2.78%
2
0%
0

For some comparison, here is the most dominating pitcher in baseball, Craig Kimbrel (all pitches):

Distance Max: 100
Min: 0
Distance Max: 190
Min: 100
Distance Max: 280
Min: 190
Distance Max: 370
Min: 280
Distance Max: 460
Min: 370
Distance Max: 550
Min: 460
Angle
Max: 50
Min: -50
27.57%
59
23.83%
51
34.58%
74
13.55%
29
0.47%
1
0%
0

Here is the most average pitcher in baseball (according to ERA-, FIP -, xFIP -), Jake Westbrook (all pitches):

Distance Max: 100
Min: 0
Distance Max: 190
Min: 100
Distance Max: 280
Min: 190
Distance Max: 370
Min: 280
Distance Max: 460
Min: 370
Distance Max: 550
Min: 460
Angle
Max: 50
Min: -50
26.7%
550
26.46%
545
33.5%
690
11.31%
233
2.04%
42
0%
0

So Kinney cannot only get swings and misses with his slider, he can get very weak contact with it and reasonably comparable rates to really good pitchers (Westbrook may not have been the best example to use since he is a ground-ball guy. His problem is not getting up long hits, it is not missing enough bats that makes him average).

Vertically, the closest comps as far as movement on his slider goes is Brandon League and Carlos Marmol (2 completely different pitchers). Horizontally (which is what the break on Kinney’s slider is more known for), his closest comparisons are Greg Holland and Dillon Gee. There is nothing wrong at all with being compared to those 4 pitchers. In all, the average ball hit off Kinney this year has gone 260 feet. For Brandon League, the average ball has gone 258.3 feet this season. So you might say that Kinney is not as good as League, but Kinney misses more bats than League does (and the Dodgers gave up two decent minor leaguers to have League pitch a half of season for them).

There have been issues with classification between his slider and curve. Fangraphs has him throwing a curve 26.8 percent of the time while Fangraphs has it at 15%. When you use the non-Pitch F/X “Pitch Type” from Fangraphs, it has him at 15.4% curve/52.2% slider with the rest some kind of fastball (with 2.9% of errors/unknown). Texas Leaguers is even more confusing when it comes to pitch classification, basically splitting the pitches (curve/sinker/slider) into 3rds. Brooks Baseball suggests he has thrown one cutter this year. I think it is just a misclassified slider as the velocity is about the same. Fangraphs says he has thrown a straight fastball .2% of the time and Brooks Baseball says he has thrown it 5 times (basically all he throws is a sinker, so if I say fastball in the rest of this post, I mean sinker).

Other than that, he may be the most sinker/slider guy ever. Depending on who you believe, he has thrown the slider 39.2% of the time to 50% of the time. The thing about Sinker/Slider guys is that they are normally not very good, or at least very low ceiling guys.  Qualified pitchers that have thrown sinkers this year according to Fangraphs’ Pitch F/X have a 99.04 FIP – on average with a 101.95 ERA -, so sinker pitchers have been about average. The 4 qualified pitchers (of course, there is some selection bias at play using only qualified pitchers as pitchers that are absolutely terrible are less likely to get enough innings to qualify. However, you run into small sample size problems by not using only qualified pitchers.) that have thrown at least 20% sinkers and 20% of sliders have a FIP – of 100.25, so again about average (anecdotal evidence suggests that a ton of minor league lifer pitchers are sinker/slider guys because it usually means inferior velocity).

The “curve” is slower in velocity by about 4 MPH on average and appears to have more vertical drop according to movement charts.

These views may help a little bit in helping us distinguish between the two pitches.

The curve has more dip, meaning a better vertical drop, but has about the same horizontal movement. The slider and curve are similar enough that if it wasn’t for Pitch F/X, I probably wouldn’t notice the difference (in Tuesday night’s outing, he threw several curveballs, but I had a real hard time telling the difference without looking at Pitch F/X or at least the radar gun readings). With this said, I expected the slight drop (both in velocity and movement) would make it a good pitch for Kinney, almost a change of pace off his slider that hitters wouldn’t notice until too late. Evidently this isn’t the case, as his “run value” on his curve is negative this year (his slider is his only positive pitch as his sinker/fastball is below average according to run values). For what it is worth, all 4 of the pitchers with 20% sinkers/20% sliders also have curveballs, just like Kinney (although they are starters, so Kinney could more easily ditch a pitch).

Coming into this year, according to TAV (Baseball Prospectus’ True Average), Josh Kinney had a less than league average platoon split. This year, he has faced nearly twice as many righties and lefties and has been much more effective against righties (just a 1/1 K/BB against lefties with a .385 OBP and .367 SLG against or 4.35 FIP).  So perhaps because of increased slider usage (as general age regression doesn’t jive with his velocity jump), he appears to be somewhat confined to a platoon role.

He has a huge Home/Road split, but weirdly is giving up less homers on the road. That seems to be a skill Kinney has. He doesn’t give up power. In the PCL (league average was .95 HR/9IP) this year, he didn’t give up a single homer in 36.2 innings.  For whatever reason, he is walking far more batters on the road, but again we are dealing with really small sample sizes at this point. I probably believe it is more likely that it is fluky rather than him being afraid to throw strikes away from Safeco (or just being generally uncomfortable on the road).

His mechanics are really hard to watch. However, while he had serious elbow problems in 2007-2008, he has been pretty healthy over the last few years (minus a shoulder strain in early 2010). Of course, with age (Kinney is 33 and a half), you always have to wonder about whether he can continue to stay healthy. He has had a pretty regular/healthy workload since being brought up, meaning that the Mariners must feel comfortable with his health (perhaps more cynically, he is not a valuable commodity, so the Mariners aren’t worried about him getting injured). Eric Wedge has clearly showed that he likes Kinney, as he has used him not only frequently but in pretty high leverage situations. It is mindnumbingly frustrating (but most managers do the same thing) that Wedge doesn’t use Wilhelmsen it tie games in the 9th, but that guy has usually been Kinney. If I am running or managing the Mariners, Kinney doesn’t pitch in those situations. If nothing else (whether or not they are right is another question and perhaps the question this article is trying to answer), it means that the Mariners like him. He has pitched in 12 high leverage situations, 10 medium leverage situations, and 17 low leverage situations. If they like him and he is at the right price, there is a good chance he is coming back.

To give you a look, and an attempt to quantify how bad his mechanics are, here is his release points for the year.

As you can see, that is really inconsistent. For comparison, here is Tom Wilhelmsen (over the past couple of weeks):

Wilhelmsen is rather inconsistent (most late inning relievers are for whatever reason), but much better than Kinney. Perhaps this image of how Kinney’s sinker drifts to the left quite a bit will provide a clearer picture:

This is most likely because of his mechanics/release point. I wanted to look back at older video of Kinney to see if he had always had these mechanics, but because of MLB.com’s stranglehold on game videos, I could only see some of last year with the White Sox (you see what looks like the separate curve and the slider in the video).

There could have been a bias shown by teams because of the mechanics, and could be why he has so few innings for his age (just 91 career MLB innings and he was originally signed out of Independent ball).

There is the issue of other good right-handers (and pitchers overall) in the Mariners organization that can do Kinney’s job. Of course the team has hard-throwing Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor in the big leagues, but they also have Chance Ruffin (who had a rough year in AAA, but should get another look in the spring) and Danny Farquhar (acquired in the Ichiro trade, I find him interesting). Steven Hensley in Tacoma is a little interesting (but won’t start in the Majors next year), Yoervis Medina is already on the 40 man roster and throws hard but walks a lot of batters, and Logan Bawcom was acquired in the Brandon League deal and looks to be ready for the Majors soon (but doesn’t have a big ceiling, even by reliever standards). This doesn’t even count D.J. Mitchell (why isn’t he in the Majors?) and perhaps even Andrew Carraway and Forrest Snow, all heavily flawed starters in the minors that could get a shot in the bullpen in 2013.

Kinney’s trade value will obviously not be high, and may actually be non-existent. This means that if the Mariners decide to tender him a contract, it has to be with intent to keep him. He is an interesting bullpen piece, but the command and control issues does cause some concerns.

Let’s say that Kinney is going to get about 1 million dollars (it seems to be a really difficult arbitration case to guess because he hasn’t been in the big leagues consistently since first breaking in). That means that you expect him to be worth about 2-3 runs above replacement, not exactly a daunting task, but according to the two most used WARs (Baseball Reference and Fangraphs), he has been worth just 1-2 runs above replacement so far this year (Baseball Prospectus’ WARP has him at 2 runs as well). So if you expect Kinney to pitch at this level again next year, but get more big league innings, than he is worth the ~1 million dollars (but not much more).

The Mariners had no problems releasing Shawn Camp (750,000) and Hong-Chih Kuo (500,000 guaranteed) in camp when they didn’t perform as they did not perform in Spring Training. So tendering him a contract only to release him if he has a poor spring is not necessarily out of the question. The Mariners may choose to go after other veteran relievers that may even be cheaper than Kinney and hope to get the same success. Kinney appears to be a serviceable reliever. He relies basically on one pitch, but gets strikeouts and keeps the ball in the park. I think Kinney is a decent bullpen piece that every team could use. I think there is some bias in the industry thanks to his delivery and fastball velocity (even though it isn’t his feature pitch and he can get hitters out without using it basically). However, the Mariners have other options. It is not as if Kinney will be expensive, but it may be wiser to count more on younger right-handed relievers in the organization and focusing resources on bats or another starting pitcher. What the Mariners do with Kinney might tell us a lot about how the Mariners view the 2013 season. If they think they can compete for a playoff spot, you may take the small gamble on Kinney. If not, there is no reason for him to be around.

 

2012 Jackson Generals Season Review

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The Jackson Generals lost in the Championship to the Diamondbacks AA affiliate in 4 games. The team went 78-60 (with the exact same pythag) and had a one year park factor of 100 (meaning the park played neither as a hitter friendly or pitcher friendly park compared to the rest of the league).

Carter Capps was amazing in his time with Jackson and the Mariners were impressed enough that he was brought up to the big leagues. He struck out 35.5% of the batters he faced and walked just 5.9% of them. He also had one dominating outing in Tacoma where he struck out 3 of the 4 batters he faced. In 8 big league outings so far, he has been okay, with a 3.20 FIP and 4.52 SIERA.

Jose Jimenez had an interesting year that he split almost exactly between High Desert and Jackson (with one outing in Tacoma). He was much better in Jackson, which isn’t that surprising considering the Mariners’ system, but would be odd for most organizations. He racked up high strikeout totals along with a really nice ground-ball rate. He walks a few too many hitters, but not so many that you can’t live with it.

Yoervis Medina had a nice year, with a 3.52 FIP and 3.60 SIERA. He struck out a lot of batters and had a solid ground-ball rate, but walked too many batters (which is pretty normal considering his career path). Opponents hit .245/.347/.389 off of him, which is a high OBP, but not a high average or slugging. Imagine what his season would have looked like if he had thrown strikes more consistently. After coming over in the Brandon League trade, Logan Bawcom threw 14.1 very mediocre innings. He walked as many batters as he struck out, which is never good. However, on the whole season, he was very solid with a 2.99 FIP and 3.52 SIERA. He walked a lot of batters, but he also got a ton of strikeouts, and opponents had an OPS of just .575.

James Paxton put up comparable numbers to Medina, except as a starter. He walked too many batters, but got some grounders, kept the ball in the park, and struck a bunch of hitters out. He was limited to 21 starts thanks to a knee injury, but he pitched really well after coming back from the injury. I am guessing we see him in Tacoma to start next year with a chance of pitching in the Majors if he pitches well and cuts down on the walks. Mauricio Robles failed spectacularly as a starter and Tacoma and was demoted to AA Jackson and used as a reliever. He wasn’t that great here either, but was less embarrassing. Between the two levels, he managed to walk nearly 20% of the batters he faced. That is not good if you were wondering.

Taijuan Walker was the youngest player in the league for most of the year, and still pitched at a roughly league average rate. His K/BB was above average, as he walked slightly less batters than an average pitcher in the Southern League did and struck out slightly more batters. He had a little bit of a problem with homers and didn’t get many ground-balls. He gave up an OPS of .744 versus the league average of .709. Brandon Maurer was extremely interesting, with a 3.05 FIP and 3.91 SIERA. He had a roughly average strikeout percentage, but didn’t walk batters and kept the ball in the park. You would like to see him get more grounders and less line drives, but opponents hit just .260/.329/.346 against him. ‘

Jandy Sena had a decent year in Jackson by getting a ton of grounders and limiting line drives. He pitched in 5 games in Tacoma and 3 in High Desert as well, but had some injury problems later in the year. He really struggled to miss bats though, and walked too many batters for such a minuscule strikeout rate. Veteran Steve Garrison was a disappointment. He got some starts with Tacoma in the middle of the year, but was pretty bad and was demoted back to Jackson. He didn’t miss many bats and gave up a lot of homers. He didn’t get many grounders at all, and watched hitters have a .827 OPS again despite being a guy who got to pitch in a game for the Yankees last year. Moises Hernandez, the brother of Felix, had a miserable year, actually pitching worse this year than he did last year in Jackson. He allowed nearly 2 runners per inning and had a huge line drive rate and more walks than strikeouts.

Hitters:

Nate Tenbrink played in just 44 games thanks to injury and rest late in the year. He hit well though, with a .921 OPS. He stole 5 bases but was caught 3 times, but hit 8 homers. He struck out a ton (30.8% of the time exactly) but did walk some. Rich Poythress had a really nice year, striking out just 8.8% of the time and walking 13.9% of the time. You would like to see more power with his positional value, but efficient hitters are valuable as well.

Joe Dunigan popped 25 homers and had a .251 ISO and stole 14 bases. However, he is also 26 and struck out an amazing 37% of the time, walking just 8% of the time. His numbers (not his power numbers obviously, but his overall OBP) were somewhat inflated with a large BABIP (over .360). Chris Petit played in 61 games for Jackson (signing early in the season) and hit .273/.357/.440 before being released. The 27 year old latched on to the Rockies organization and played in 24 games between AA and AAA and played pretty well. Kalian Sams is nearly 26 and had a very similar year to Dunigan. There were strikeouts (28.8% of the time), stolen bases (13 and 0 caught stealings), and homers (11 with .206 ISO). Earlier this year, I called Sams the poor man’s Dunigan. Statistically that bore out as well. His line drive rate wasn’t that impressive, and he didn’t walk enough to justify the strikeouts.

Johermyn Chavez was DFA’d but stuck with the team. This year he played in 73 games and was okay with an OPS .027 points above league average. He struck out a little too much, but walked well over league average. He didn’t show an improvement in power though, and was just 2 for 6 in stolen base attempts. He hits a lot of ground-balls. Chih-Hsien Chiang was also DFA’d, but also stuck around. He hit a ton of ground-balls, and didn’t walk hardly at all. He played some in Tacoma but was demoted after failing to post an OPS of .600. It was not a good offensive year for him, and he doesn’t provide much value on the bases (3 for 5 in stolen base attempts). Eric Campbell was released after 58 games in which he hit .250/.330/.383. He then went on to play in Independent ball. Ralph Henriquez played in 4 games with Tacoma and 43 with Jackson before being released. His combined slash line was .232/.272/.348 and he hit 3 homers and stole 3 bases.

Denny Almonte struck out a ton but balanced it with some walks, some steals, and a touch of power. His overall numbers aren’t that impressive, but some of the different tools and abilities do come out in the stat line. He is just going to have to hit more consistently. 27 year old Leury Bonilla played in 17 games for AAA Tacoma and held his own in the small sample size. Of course, most of the year was spent in AA, where he didn’t hit as well (.644 OPS, exactly .100 points below his AAA total). He struck out too much, didn’t walk enough, and was a horrible baserunner. His ISO was just .068. Jesus Sucre hit for similar (lack of) power, but didn’t strikeout (or walk) much at all. Daniel Carroll had his season ruined by injuries, and played just 21 games for AA Jackson (3 AZL games). It is really hard to evaluate anything statistically, but he did steal 7 bases and hit a homer in the small sample size. Francisco Martinez had an extremely disappointing season, with just a .611 OPS in 94 games. An injury cut into some of his games, and he did steal 27 bases and walked nearly 11% of the time. However, the lack of power was really apparent and he hit a lot of ground-balls. Gabriel Noriega played in 83 games with Jackson before being demoted to High Desert. As you would expect, he hit better in High Desert than Jackson, but that isn’t exactly a hard thing to do. Combined, he hit .229/277/.271 and stole 3 bases and was caught 4 times. His value is in his defense (something these season reviews haven’t talked very much about, but the scouting reports always do), but you have to hit at least a little bit.

High Desert Mavericks Season Review

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The Mariners A+ team, the High Desert Mavericks, lost to the Astros’ Lancaster JetHawks on Tuesday, ending their season. The team was 83-56 in the regular season (81-58 Pythag) and the team’s one year park factor was an insane 126 (meaning that it was extremely hitter friendly). Because of this, I will only use the road numbers for most players, as even though it will make the sample sizes smaller, High Desert is so crazy that it just doesn’t do any good to evaluate hitters or pitchers based on those numbers.

Leon Landry was very good with the Dodgers A+ affiliate before coming over in the Brandon League trade with a .917 OPS (league average was .769). With High Desert in 24 games, he was even better, with a 1.077 OPS. In all, Landry played 104 games, hit slightly more line drives than league average along with slightly more fly-balls to the outfield. He walked just 3.9% of the time and struck out 13.6% of the time. He stole 27 bases and was caught 11 times.

Jack Marder’s injuries limited him to 65 games and he hit .303/.378/.462 in 30 road games. He struck out just 15.3% of the time but only walked 5.3% of the time, didn’t hit for a ton of power and stole 6 bases (but was caught 4 times). Brad Miller got 38 games with Jackson at the end of the year and was very good with a 13.4 BB% and 15.2 K%. Before the promotion, he played 45 games on the road with High Desert and had a similar K/BB rate, but didn’t hit for a lot of power with a .114 ISO. However, he hit well in the Southern League, possibly the hardest league for hitting in the minors.

Stefen Romero split the season between High Desert and Jackson almost evenly, but since he had 5 more regular season games with High Desert, I’ll talk about him here. On the road with High Desert he walked just 4.6% of the time but had a solid GB/LD/FB with a 16.8% strikeout percentage, and stole just 1 base (and was caught once). Despite this, he lit the world on fire when he moved up to Jackson, with a .994 OPS in 55 games and .262 ISO. He walked 6% of the time versus striking out 15% of the time.

Steven Proscia spent 21 games with AA Jackson and didn’t hit very well (.395 SLG with 8.1 LD% and 4.8 BB%). In 55 road games with High Desert, Proscia hit .283/.326/.368 (just a .085 ISO) with 6 steals and very good line drive rate. Julio Morban struck out a little too much (over 21%) but walked at a decent rate (over 8%) on the road for the Mavericks this year. He had a .583 SLG with an impressive line drive rate as well. You would like to see him play in more 76 games but good numbers nevertheless. Mike McGee spent the entire year in HD and was okay. He didn’t strikeout too much, and he had a decent walk rate. He didn’t show much power on the road though (hitting a lot of grounders), but stole 10 bases.

Trevor Coleman played 5 games for High Desert before getting injured/retiring/getting released. Andrew Giobbi played in 4 games for Jackson and High Desert this year before being released (he was released in early June and if I remember right he was struggling with an injury as well).  James Jones spent 82 games with High Desert last year and 125 games with the team this year. He showed some pretty dramatic splits between lefties and righties (Jones is a left-handed hitter). In 61 games on the road against both lefties and righties, Jones hit .270/.355/.413 with 12 steals and 12 caught stealings. Dennis Raben is another guy who repeated High Desert and was actually worse this year (seeing a .157 OPS drop). On the road, he had an acceptable K/BB ratio but hit below league average thanks to mediocre power (.147 ISO). Another repeater was Mario Martinez, who saw an uptick in performance over a 120 game period. He struck out less, but also walked less, walking just 2.6% of the time! His power improved, but most of that was at home. On the road, he hit .272/.279/.435, striking out 22% of the time.

John Hicks walked just 4.7 % of the time on the road with a 15.4 strikeout percentage. He hit a lot of grounders and just 6 homers (.117 ISO) with a .732 OPS. He did steal 14 bases. Amazingly, his line drive rate was lower on the road that at home. It may be a classification error, or he may actually hit less line drives on the road. Mickey Wiswall boasts a pretty poor K/BB with more caught stealings than steals on the road. He hit for some power (.192 ISO on the road), with a really nice line drive rate. Overall the .799 OPS on the road is nice. Carlton Tanabe spent a little bit of time in Clinton and Everett along wiht 23 games in High Desert. Overall, his K/BB was nothing to brag about and he hit a lot of grounders and stole just 1 base and hit just 1 homer. Carlos Ramirez struggled with injuries all year and hit for virtually no power (.500 OPS and .021 ISO), hitting grounders over half the time.

Pitchers:

Stephen Kohlscheen split most of the year between High Desert and Clinton (with one inning in Jackson). He pitched really well, with a 3.62 FIP and 3.22 SIERA in 70 total innings. He walked a few more batters than you would like, but struck out over 28% of the ones he faced. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get a lot of grounders and gives up a few too many homers, but a .375 BABIP against is something that will come down in the future. Andrew Kittredge threw to 176 batters in Clinton/High Desert/Jackson most of it in High Desert. He put up solid SIERAs across the board, thanks to a K/BB ratio of over 3/1. BABIP and HRs were Kittredge’s problems, and a low GB% probably wasn’t helping. He is just 22.

Tyler Burgoon was another guy that had a nice year (3.13 SIERA) with a lot of strikeouts and a few too many walks. He was unable to get the grounders that he got in Clinton last year, but he still did a good job of keeping the ball in the park. In fact, out of the 119 batters he faced on the road, just 1 of them hit a homer. He had an excellent 2.41 FIP on the road, walking 15 batters against 40 strikeouts. Jonathan Arias also threw 33.1 innings in Jackson, but threw 35 reasonable innings with High Desert. He struggled with homers, but his GB/K/BB was solid, so he still put up a solid 3.61 SIERA. In Jackson, his strikeout ability eroded and he really struggled with walks (putting up a very deceptive ERA, he isn’t going to keep up a .160 BABIP).

Carson Smith earned the monicker “heart attack” as the team’s closer, mainly because of a few too many walks. He still struck out over 28% of the batters he faced and had an insane ground-ball percentage. This allowed him to post FIPs and SIERAs under 3 for the year and no home runs allowed on the road. Tyler Blandford faced just 91 batters on the year, so the sample size is very small. 23 of those batters struck out, but 18 of them walked, and only 22.4% of them hit grounders. Wesley Alsup faced 129 batters on the year in 3 different levels and struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness. He turns 26 this off-season, so the 7.48 FIP and 6.05 SIERA is really concerning. He missed some bats, but walked a whopping 31.8% of batters.

Roenis Elias spent the whole year in High Desert, throwing over 140 innings. On the road, he had a 3.70 FIP and 3.21 SIERA with a very good K/BB (but not a very good ground-ball rate). He did give up over a homer per 9 innings on the road, and with the GB/FB, that may be a problem with him. Anthony Fernandez split the year between Jackson and High Desert, throwing 164 combined innings. Between the two, he was really solid, getting a few strikeouts, not walking hardly anyone, and keeping the ball in the park. He had a solid ground-ball rate and opponents didn’t hit very many line drives. It is not a surprise that Fernandez’ saw regression in his K/BB between A + to AA, but it is perhaps a little surprising that his home rate jumped a little (which may just be a testament to how good he was at keeping the ball in the park at High Desert).

James Gillheeney got 4 starts for Jackson at the end of the year, but spent the vast majority of the year in HD. In 73.1 road innings with High Desert, he was okay, with a 4.10 FIP and 3.83 SIERA. Homers hurt him (1.10 HR/9IP), and with that ground-ball rate, he will probably always be an issue. He did have a good K/BB, but one wonders if he is too hittable.Taylor Stanton struggled, especially with an ability to miss bats, in AA Jackson but he pitched well on the road with High Desert. He didn’t walk hardly anyone, got a bunch of ground-balls and didn’t give up many line drives. The issue will be whether or not he can miss bats.

Timothy Boyce repeated High Desert after a rough year last year, and he showed some improvement in a small sample size (he threw 24.2 innings this year). He had a respectable K/BB, but really struggled with homers again. He hasn’t been able to get hardly any ground-balls, which isn’t going to help. Austin Hudson also repeated the level and showed some improvement, improving his strikeout rate, his walk rate, and his ground-ball rate. His walk rate plus his ground-ball rate is intriguing, although perhaps not as much for a relief pitcher. George Mieses didn’t miss a lot of bats, but he didn’t walk many batters and did a decent job of keeping the ball in the park. His line drive rate was too high, but he did an adequate job of getting grounders.

Chris Sorce was okay (although incredibly unlucky) in 38 innings this year before being placed (I guess technically placing himself on it) on the voluntarily retired list. Willy Kesler was released after 28 innings of 5.70 FIP ball. His K/BB was solid (though he didn’t miss as many bats as you would like), but he really struggled with homers.

Brett Shankin split the season between Clinton and High Desert. It obviously isn’t a surprise that he was much better in Clinton. He doesn’t miss a lot of bats and he saw a pretty dramatic jump in walks with HD. He gets a lot of ground-balls and actually saw a drop in line drives in High Desert. Cameron Hobson started the year in Clinton and was okay/not impressive. He ended up throwing 108.2 innings with High Desert and had some issues. On the road, hitters hit .314/.372/.444 off Hobson. He really struggled to miss bats but at least had a very solid ground-ball rate. Angel Raga had an okay strikeout rate but walked too many hitters. On the road, he didn’t give up too many homers and he had a decent ground-ball rate. He was the victim of a .400 BABIP, so expect the basic numbers (ERA, WHIP, etc.) to come down next year.

Clinton Lumberkings Season Review

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The Clinton Lumberkings lost to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 4-2 on Sunday night, ending their season. They faced Mark Williams, who spent part of the year in independent ball. He was throwing just 90 MPH with an okay 2 plane break curve but dominated the Lumberkings anyway.

Michael Dowd had some problems behind the plate, which usually isn’t a problem. After not hitting at all in Everett last year, Dowd turned into an above league average hitter in Clinton, with a 101 wOBA + and 105 wOPS +. He hit a lot of ground-balls but had a decent line drive rate and didn’t strikeout very often. The only thing you can complain about (if you believe he is an above average catcher) is his lack of walks.

Jamal Austin ripped a ball the other way on a line. He seems to handle the high fastball just fine away. He was somewhat of a disappointment offensively this year, hitting just under league average, not walking, and not hitting for much power. He did steal 36 bases, which gives you hope that hitting ground-balls 60% is something he can have success with. He did make a lot of contact which is a positive.

Ji-Man Choi looks like he will be a ground-ball hitter on low pitches. Seems to dig into his power. Another ugly hack at a low pitch. Not pretty swing but you can definitely see the raw power. He had a little bit of injury problems, but he hit well in 295 plate appearances, with a 123 wOBA + (100 is league average). He walks a lot and doesn’t strikeout too much, but he did hit too many ground-balls, which isn’t a surprise from what I saw.

Ramon Morla’s pretty violent swing worked for him when he clubbed a ball off the wall to deep center.Of course, he also swung and missed at pitches he should have hit. He repeated the level this year after 110 disastrous plate appearances last year, and hit well, with a 123 OPS +. He doesn’t walk hardly at all and strikes out too much, which is a real concern.

If you are a right fielder and you get ahead 3-1, get a fastball down the middle, and hit a ground-ball, you get penalized. That is what Kevin Rivers did in his first at-bat. His bat speed was a little slow as he whiffed late on a 90 MPH fastball with 2 strikes in another at-bat. He was a good hitter in Clinton but was roughly league average in 171 plate appearances with High Desert. He is a guy with high walk and strikeout totals.

Dillon Hazlett couldn’t handle a hop that was pretty tough at 2nd base, but he probably still should have been able to at least stop it. He doesn’t have the prettiest swing and it is a little long. He doesn’t seem to discriminate between breaking balls and fastballs very well and is definitely looking to go the other way. He was a slightly above league average hitter this year, but struck out too much for his pedestrian walk total.

Patrick Brady made a nice play at short and showed off a little speed, but again, there is not much with the bat. He was roughly league average this year in both the Midwest League and the California League and had a much better walk rate with Clinton.

Guillermo Pimentel still looks bad at the plate. He doesn’t seem to have any idea what is a ball and what is a strike. He takes the strikes and swings at balls.He is still just 19, but he was below league average as a hitter this year and had 117 strikeouts versus just 19 walks.

Daniel Paolini didn’t look like the guy that has been putting up good numbers lately. The 22 year old did have a nice season statistically, with a 121 wOBA +, but he had a rough night at the plate on Sunday. His K/BB was very nice and his GB/LD/FB was solid.

Seon-Gi Kim was sitting at 91-93 MPH with his fastball (and could get some movement on it) with a solid slider that breaks into the lefty batters box. He also threw a straight up and down curve for strikes. He was hittable at times, as he gave up a monster home run in the first and then a ball to the wall in the 2nd. His curveball command was pretty poor. It seems like he was trying to throw a changeup as well but had absolutely no feel for the pitch and it drifted way to the right. Kim’s slider was much much better than the curve. He showed the ability to miss bats, mainly by using the slider to put away hitters. I am not 100% sure it is good enough to get upper level hitters chasing, but it is definitely not his problem at this level. He also threw some moving fastballs low for called strikes. When it stayed up, it was hit hard though. He also played good defensively and is a definite athlete. He spent most of the year in Clinton and wasn’t very good with a 4.90 FIP and 4.74 SIERA.

Lefty Kyle Hunter threw a curveball with some pretty good drop but it tended to stay a little bit up and was hit. He used it as his feature pitch, but the fastball wasn’t bad when he threw it low and in on right-handers. He threw 84.2 really good innings for Clinton this year, not walking hardly anyone and keeping the ball in the park.

Stephen Shackleford showed off his moving sinking fastball. It has good movement, he just has no idea where it is going. His best bet is to throw strikes and get weak contact as he is not a guy who is going to get a lot of whiffs. He was also really good for Clinton, but he did it mainly by getting ground-balls with a decent K/BB ratio.

Ambioris Hidalgo was the team’s worst pitcher according to the defensive independent metrics in 73 innings. He also threw a little bit for High Desert and Everett. He really struggled to miss bats. Benjamin Cornwell threw 6.1 forgettable innings for Clinton before he was released after being solid in Arizona and Pulaski last year. Jeremy Dobbs threw 71 innings for the team with mixed results. He didn’t strike hardly anyone out, and didn’t get many ground-balls, but FIP thought he was serviceable because he kept the ball in the park somehow. Mayckol Guaipe was solid, getting grounders and keeping walks down, but wasn’t particularly good because he didn’t miss a lot of bats. John Taylor was sort of mediocre, with too many walks and too few strikeouts, but an elite ground-ball rate. Jordan Shipers threw the no-hitter, but was sort of underwhelming other wise. He doesn’t miss hardly any bats and his ground-ball rate is sub par.

Trevor Miller has since moved to High Desert, but was very solid with Clinton mainly because his HR/9IP was reasonable and he doesn’t walk anyone. Joshua Corrales gave up a huge line drive percentage and walked way too many batters but had a decent strikeout rate and somehow didn’t give up a homer. Richard Vargas threw just 15.2 innings but was solid in that time. David Colvin spent the whole year in Clinton and threw well, with a decent strikeout percentage and low walk rate. He had a decent ground-ball rate and didn’t give up many homers. Tim Griffin pitched a lot in High Desert and was horrible. Clinton was his main home though and he pitched much better there. The home run bug caught him an insane amount of times in High Desert but he didn’t have that problem in Clinton. He isn’t the first one. Jordan Pries gets a lot of ground-balls and doesn’t walk anyone along with a good strikeout rate. A lot to like about his small stat line this year. Matt Brazis didn’t throw many innings this year but was absolutely dominant when he did. Stephen Landazuri was really good this year despite a strikeout rate that wasn’t overly impressive. He didn’t walk anyone and got a very solid ground-ball. Robert Shore was perhaps the team’s best pitcher thanks to a very nice strikeout rate and not many walks, despite not giving up many homers.

On the hitting side, Jabari Blash showed some power and had a decent line drive rate. However, he struck out 28% of the time, way too much of the time, despite a decent walk rate. Despite being a catcher, Steven Baron showed off slightly above average power, but didn’t walk hardly at all. His strikeout rate wasn’t big, but it was too many for his walks. James Zamarripa played the plurality of his season in Pulaski but I seemed to have not included him in that review. In his different stops, he struggled in an admittedly small sample size. He hit too many ground-balls and struck out too much. Jharmidy De Jesus had about an average K/BB but was disappointing outside of that, not hitting for much average or power. Anthony Phillips really struggled with the bat this season and a lot of it had to with his .263 BABIP. He didn’t hit for much power either though despite a LD/FB/GB. Nathan Melendres struggled with injuries this season but hit okay in 22 games this season, not striking out hardly at all and stealing 8 bases. Mario Yepez had an OPS under .600 in 40 games (48 if you count short stops with Tacoma and Jackson) and was released.

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