Saturday, January 14, 2012

Minor League Standouts In 2011


Ben Guez - Guez split time between AA (38 games, 146 PAs) and AAA (95 games, 348 PAs). Overall in 133 games and 494 PAs, he put up a line of .284/.345/.438 for an OPS of .783. He hit 7 HRs, 31 doubles, 8 triples, drove in 56 runs, and scored 59 runs. His ISO was .154, although at AA it was .205 and at AAA it was .133. While his walk rate went down from 9.4% to 6.9%, he at least managed to lower his strikeout rate from 23% to 19%. Last year in AAA, he hit for more power and walked more, but this year he raised his average from .251 to .278. Guez will be 25 in 2012 and profiles as a backup outfielder.

Ryan Lavarnway - Lavarnway had an outstanding season. Splitting time between AA (55 games, 239 PAs) and AAA (61 games, 264 PAs), he put up a line of .290/.376/.563 for an OPS of .939 in 503 PAs. He hit 32 HRs, 23 doubles, drove in 93 runs, scored 75 runs, and had 245 total bases. He was solid at AA, posting a line of .284/.360/.510 for an OPS of .869 with an ISO of .226. But he absolutely tore the cover off the ball at AAA, posting a line of .295/.390/.612 for an OPS of 1.002 with an ISO of .317. Overall, his ISO was .274, which was actually a little higher than Ryan Braun's ISO this year. Lavarnway also knows how to take a walk. At AA, his walk rate was 10.5% while at AAA it was 12.1%. Lavarnway didn't catch full-time, but he did put on the gear in 62 games and threw out 37% of the baserunners who attempted to steal on him. He's never been lauded for his defensive abilities, but he's clearly worked on that part of his game. Lavarnway is only 24 and should get a fair amount of ABs with the Red Sox in 2012. By season's end, I wouldn't be surprised if he were the primary catcher over Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has never had much success against lefties. Lavarnway, on the other hand, feasts on southpaws. At the very least, you can see the makings of a catching platoon here.

Michael Schwimer - Schwimer was utterly dominant this year. In 68 innings, he was 9-1 with 10 saves, a 1.85 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 6.8 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 2.9 BB/9, 11.4 K/9, 3.91 K/BB, and 2.45 FIP. He'll be 26 next year and presumably will battle for a spot in the Phillies' bullpen in Spring Training. However, he may already have a roster spot locked up, especially with the departure of Ryan Madson. Either way, Schwimer was unquestionably the best Jewish minor league reliever this year, and I'm fairly certain we'll see him again in 2012 at the MLB level.

Josh Satin - Satin was the Mets' minor league player of the year in 2011; that's how good he was. He split time between AA (94 games, 404 PAs) and AAA (38 games, 160 PAs). Overall in 132 games and 564 PAs, he put up a line of .323/.411/.495 for an OPS of .906. He hit 12 HRs, 43 doubles, 2 triples, drove in 76 runs, scored 77 runs, drew 71 BBs, and had 239 total bases. It should be noted that his plate discipline and power dropped off when he went to AAA. At AA, he had a walk rate of 14.1% while at AAA it was 8.8%. His ISO at AA was .213. At AAA, it was 0.76. Notwithstanding his lack of pop, he was still pretty good at AAA, posting a line of .317/.381/.393 for an OPS of .774. He tore up AA, posting a line of .325/.423/.538 for an OPS of .962. His ISO has gone up every season for the last 3 years, from .139 to .156 to .172. So, he has remained remarkably consistent with the contact and has made strides with the power. Satin will be 27 in 2012 and could battle for a utility spot on the Mets' roster next year, as he can play third base, second base, first base, and now outfield.


Eric Berger - Berger split time between AA (31 appearances, 57 appearances) and AAA (11 appearances, 14 1/3 innings). Coming into 2011, Berger had primarily been used as a starter, but this year the Indians decided to use the southpaw out of the pen, and it would appear that this is where he belongs. Berger was terrific in AA. He 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 6.9 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 3.5 BB/9, 10.6 K/9, 3.05 K/BB, and 2.97 FIP. At AAA, it was a different story. Overall in 71 1/3 innings, he was 2-1 with a 4.04 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 8.8 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 4.5 BB/9, 11 K/9, and 2.42 K/BB. Berger will turn 26 next year and will either start the season in AA or AAA. The Indians have to be pleased with the jump in his strikeout rate this year.

Charles Cutler - Cutler had a nice bounceback season after struggling in AA a year ago. In 62 games and 232 PAs, Cutler put up a line of .333/.398/.475 for an OPS of .874. He hit 5 HRs, 8 doubles, 3 triples, drove in 34 runs, scored 37 runs, and had a BB/K ratio of 21/28. He threw out 24% of the baserunners who attempted to steal against him. His ISO was .142. Cutler will turn 26 next July. He profiles as a backup catcher and now that he's with the Pirates, an organization in dire need of catchers, his chances of making it to The Show are a little better than they were with the Cardinals.

Daniel Rosenbaum - Rosenbaum split time between Class A-Advanced and AA, with 19 of his 25 starts coming at Class A-Advanced and 6 starts coming at AA. Overall in 25 starts and 171 1/3 innings, he was 9-6 with a 2.52 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 7.4 H/9, 0.2 HR/9, 2.7 BB/9, 7.1 K/9, and 2.60 K/BB. In Class A-Advanced, he was 6-5 with a 2.59 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.7 H/9, 0.3 HR/9, 2.8 BB/9, 7.4 K/9, 2.63 K/BB, and 3.05 FIP. He tossed 2 complete games and 1 complete game shutout. In AA, he was 3-1 with a 2.29 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 6.2 H/9, 0.0 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9, 6.2 K/9, 2.45 K/BB, and 2.82 FIP in 39 1/3 innings. Rosenbaum will be 24 next year and will likely start the year in AA. If the trend holds up of advancing a level every season, he'll be in AAA by the end of 2012. I would say his MLB ETA could be as soon as 2013. He even has a shot at being a September call-up next year with the Nationals. Doesn't hurt that he's a lefty. With Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and now Gio Gonzalez, it would appear that the Nationals are set with 3 starters, but the back-end of their rotation remains wide open for the future. Fellow lefty pitching prospect, Matt Purke, has the edge over Rosenbaum, but to quote an old Chicago Bulls promo (probably my most esoteric reference yet): "Anything can change in the blink of an eye."


Nate Freiman - In 138 games and 618 PAs, Freiman put up a line of .288/.354/.487 for an OPS of .842. He hit 22 HRs, 35 doubles, 4 triples, drove in 111 runs, scored 81 runs, drew 50 walks, and stole 6 bases (1 CS). In just his 3rd professional season, Freiman set career-highs in HRs, extra base hits (61), triples, hits (158), SBs, RBIs, SLG, ISO (.199), K% (15), HBP (11), and total bases (267). He led all Jewish minor leaguers in total bases. At 24, Freiman may have been a little old for Class A-Advanced. He'll be 25 next year and will presumably start the season at AA. Now that Adrian Gonzalez is gone, Freiman is no longer blocked at 1B, although he'll still face fierce competition from Jesus Guzman and a few other prospects. The Padres trading Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs certainly doesn't hurt Freiman's chances. I would say he is one of the Padres' better-kept secrets in their farm system. His MLB ETA could be 2013 if things continue to progress for the 6'7" slugger.

Casey Haerther - In 117 games and 470 PAs, Haerther put up a line of .293/.330/.426 for an OPS of .756. He hit 8 HRs, 34 doubles, drove in 68 runs, and scored 54 runs. His ISO has gone up every year, from .107 to .125 to .133. So, Haerther and the Halos have to be heartened by that. He had an excellent 1st half (.861 OPS in 269 ABs) but had an abysmal 2nd half (.583 OPS in 168 ABs). My guess is he played hurt in the 2nd half. He hit .361 with runners in scoring position. Haerther will be 24 next season and will likely start the year in Class A-Advanced or AA.

Jeffrey Kaplan - Kaplan missed all of 2010 with an injury. A few years ago, he was a starter. Now, he's being used as a full-time reliever. He split time between Class A-Advanced (45 appearances, 57 1/3 innings) and AA (3 appearances, 4 innings). Overall, he was 2-5 with 12 saves, a 3.52 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 8.2 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 3.8 BB/9, and 7.0 K/9. Kaplan will be 26 next year and will likely start the season in AA. Kaplan was lights out in the 2nd half at Class A-Advanced, posting a 1.90 ERA in 23 2/3 innings. In the 1st half, his ERA was 4.54 in 33 2/3 innings.

Jake Lemmerman - Lemmerman split time between Class A-Advanced (103 games, 469 PAs) and AA (21 games, 93 PAs). Overall, in 124 games and 562 PAs, the shortstop put up a line of .283/.370/.415 for an OPS of .785. He hit 10 HRs, 29 doubles, 2 triples, drove in 65 runs, scored 82 runs, drew 55 BBs, had 14 HBP, and stole 10 bases (3 CS). His ISO was .132. For just about anyone, these would be solid numbers. For a middle infielder, these are really good numbers. Lemmerman will only be 23 next year and will probably start the year at AA. He was outstanding in the Rookie Pioneer League in 2010, but that's a big-time hitter's league. What the Dodgers can take away from 2011 is Lemmmerman can hold his own outside a league where everyone's numbers are inflated.

Brett Lorin - In 17 starts and 25 appearances, Lorin was 7-6 with 1 save, a 2.84, 1.04 WHIP, 7.9 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 1.5 BB/9, 7.6 K/9, 5.21 K/BB, and 3.03 FIP in 117 1/3 innings. He tossed 1 complete game as well. This was a nice bounceback season for Lorin after he missed most of 2011 because of injuries and struggled in A when he finally did take the field again. He set career-bests in WHIP, BB/9, and K/BB. Lorin will be 25 next year and could start the season in AA. He has a chance to be in AAA by the end of 2012. The Diamondbacks recently selected him from the Pirates in the Rule 5 draft. Lorin has to remain on their 25-man roster all year or be offered back to the Pirates. In all likelihood, Lorin will be back with the Pirates before long. But now that he's healthy again, it may not be long before he advances up the minor league ladder. As a starter, his ERA was 3.26 in 85 2/3 innings. As a reliever, his ERA was 1.71 in 31 2/3 innings. Lorin was outstanding in the 1st half (2.82 ERA in 54 1/3 innings) and 2nd half (2.86 ERA in 63 innings). He's not a big name, but he's definitely one of the more promising pitchers we have in the minors.

Jack Marder - Marder only got 81 PAs in 18 games, but he made the most of his playing time. He posted a line of .324/.380/.493 for an OPS of .873. He hit 2 HRs, 6 doubles, drove in 12 runs, scored 11 runs, and stole 3 bases. Marder played 5 games at 2B and 9 games at catcher.

Ari Ronick - Ronick missed most of 2010 with an injury. This year in 45 appearances and  60 2/3 innings he was 3-1 with 1 save, a 3.56 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 7.6 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 5.3 BB/9, and 8.0 K/9. Ronick will turn 26 next year and will likely start the season in AA. The key for this southpaw will be improving his command.

Cameron Selik - Selik did well last year in Short-Season A used exclusively as a reliever. In his 2nd year of pro ball, the Nationals decided to use him mostly as a starter. Selik made 21 starts and 27 appearances in 120 2/3 innings, splitting time between A (5 starts, 29 innings) and Class A-Advanced (16 starts, 22 appearances, 91 2/3 innings). Selik was untouchable at Single A; his ERA was 0.31 and his WHIP was 0.90. At Class A-Advanced, his ERA was 4.52 and his WHIP was 1.28. Overall, he was 7-9 with a 3.51 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 2.2 BB/9, 6.1 K/9, and 2.83 K/BB. Selik also had 3 complete games at Class A-Advanced, the most of any Jewish pitcher this year. The 24-year old from the University of Kansas will likely start 2012 in Class A-Advanced or AA.


Mike Brownstein - Brownstein split time between A (45 games, 178 PAs) and Class A-Advanced (40 games, 152 PAs). The middle infielder (34 games at 2B, 33 games at SS, 17 games at 3B) did very well in A, posting a line of .277/.381/.372 for an OPS of .752. His BB/K ratio at that level was 24/25. However, at Class A-Advanced Brownstein struggled quite a bit. Overall, he posted a line of .261/.350/.335 for an OPS of .684 in 330 PAs. He hit 2 HRs, 13 doubles, 1 triple, drove in 29 runs, scored 35 runs, and stole 13 bases (5 CS). The 24-year old middle infielder will likely start next season at Class A-Advanced.

Ben Orloff - In 96 games and 376 PAs, Orloff put up a line of .284/.359/.373 for an OPS of .733. He hit 2 HRs, 15 doubles, 4 triples, drove in 31 runs, scored 51 runs, stole 12 bases (6 CS), had 13 HBP, and had a BB/K ratio of 27/16. Orloff played 80 games at SS and 15 games at 2B. He'll turn 25 next year and profiles as a backup middle infielder. He has no power to speak of, but he hardly ever strikes out (6.9 K%) and has some speed.

Jeff Urlaub - Urlaub split time between Short-Season A (23 appearances, 37 2/3 innings) and A (14 appearances, 18 1/3 innings). The 24-year old southpaw was dominant at Short-Season A and pretty solid at A. His strikeout rate was excellent at both levels. Overall in 56 innings, Urlaub was 4-3 with 5 saves, a 2.41 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 7.2 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 1.6 BB/9, 11.6 K/9, and 7.20 K/BB. Urlaub is a little old for the lower minor league levels, but you can't hold that against him; his 1st year of pro ball was last year when he was 23. Urlaub will be 25 in 2012, and I would expect him to start the season in A or Class A-Advanced.

Rookie League/A-

Corey Baker - Baker was drafted this year in the 49th round by the Cardinals, but he certainly didn't pitch like a 49th rounder. At Short-Season A in 53 innings (4 starts, 19 appearances), Baker was 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 9.2 H/9, 0.2 HR/9, 1.2 BB/9, 5.4 K/9, 4.57 K/BB, and 2.86 FIP. I would expect the 22-year old right-hander to start 2012 in A.

Zach Borenstein - In 31 games and 136 PAs, my brother put up a line of .274/.397/.451 for an OPS of .848. Zach hit 2 HRs, 6 doubles, 4 triples, drove in 21 runs, scored 21 runs, stole 12 bases (1 CS), and had a BB/K ratio of 17/21. His walk rate was 12.5% and his strikeout rate was only 15.4% while his ISO was .177. He'll turn 22 next July. I don't want to appear too biased, so all I'll say is the Angels are lucky to have this stud-in-the-making.

David Colvin - Colvin split time between Rookie Ball (1 start, 11 appearances, 22 1/3 innings) and Short-Season A (5 appearances, 6 2/3 innings). Overall in 29 innings, he was 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 9.9 H/9, 0.3 HR/9, 4.0 BB/9, 9.0 K/9, and 2.23 K/BB. The ERA doesn't really correlate with the peripherals, but the 23-year old's strikeout rate was pretty good.

Adam Ehrlich - This 6th round pick by the Cardinals posted a line of .237/.333/.339 for an OPS of .672 in 69 PAs in Rookie Ball. Ehrlich hit 1 HR, 3 doubles, drove in 6 runs, and scored 3 runs in 19 games. He caught 17 of those games and threw out 21% of the baserunners who attempted to steal against him. He'll be 19 in 2012.

Jeremy Gould - In Short-Season A, Gould was 1-3 with 5 saves, a 3.26 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 8.9 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 3.0 BB/9, 13.6 K/9, 4.60 K/BB, and 2.01 FIP. The southpaw's strikeout rate had to please the Mets. Oddly enough, Gould was primarily used as an everyday player at Duke and not a pitcher. He was a good hitter, too, finishing with a lifetime .331 average and .863 OPS.

Lenny Linsky - Linsky split time between Short-Season A (12 appearances, 24 2/3 innings) and A (4 appearances, 4 2/3 innings). The Rays' 2nd round pick was 3-0 with 3 saves, a 1.23 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 6.8 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.1 BB/9, 9.2 K/9, and 4.29 K/BB. His FIP at each level was 3.04 and 2.56, respectively. Linsky will turn 22 next year and is one of the better young arms we have in the minors, and the Rays' track record of developing pitchers in their farm system speaks for itself.

Max Perlman - Perlman had an excellent career at Harvard and was drafted in the 35th round by the A's. Splitting time between Rookie Ball (5 starts, 13 appearances, 42 1/3 innings) and AAA (2 starts, 9 innings), the 23-year old righty was 3-2 with a 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 6.1 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 2.3 BB/9, 8.2 K/9, and 3.62 K/BB in 51 1/3 innings. Perlman will be 24 in 2012. It's hard to say where he'll start next season, but if I had to guess I would say probably A or Class A-Advanced.

Nick Rickles - Rickles split time between Rookie League (6 games, 27 PAs) and Short-Season A (41 games, 166 PAs). In 47 games and 193 PAs, the young catcher put up a line of .310/.370/.458 for an OPS of .829. He hit 2 HRs, 11 doubles, 4 triples, drove in 35 runs, scored 21 runs, and stole 6 bases (1 CS). His ISO was .149. He also threw out 42% of the baserunners who attempted to steal against him. He'll turn 22 next year. Taken in the 14th round by the A's, Rickles could be a steal.

Jadd Schmeltzer - This Cornell graduate was a 49th round pick by the Red Sox. In Rookie Ball, Schmeltzer was 0-2 with a 2.92 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 7.7 H/9, 0.0 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, and 4.4 K/9 in 24 2/3 innings. That's not a very good K/BB ratio, but Schmeltzer only allowed 21 hits in his 24 2/3 innings and didn't give up any gopher balls. For a pitcher, he was also a decent hitter in college.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lavarnway Finally Cracks Sawx Top 10

Baseball America has at last put Ryan Lavarnway in the Red Sox top 10 prospect list, seen here. Lavarnway is currently ranked the 9th best prospect in the organization. Untested Blake Swihart is ahead of him at catcher, although it should be noted that the high school pick hasn't played at all yet. In my opinion, Lavarnway should have made this list last year as well, but better late than never, I guess. More on him later when I go over how the top Jewish minor leaguers fared in 2011.