Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Weekly Carolina League News and Notes

Transaction Filled Week

The following is a summary of the most interesting transactions of the last week

  • Gage Canning called up by the Nationals from Hagerstown and is now an everyday outfielder for Potomac.  Canning was a 5th round pick last year.  In my team preview I wrote the following about Canning.
Dustin Pedroia is the most famous undersized overachieving baseball player from Arizona State. Gage Canning is looking to follow in Pedroia's footsteps.  He was a really good college player hitting .368/.426/1.074 as a Junior.   As a pro Canning had a strong initial 14 games with Auburn (.315/.373/.965), but was less successful in 31 games to end the year (.223/.294/.704). With 54 strikeouts in 166 at bats as a pro, Canning struck out too much for the type of player he is.

  • Drew Rasmussen was called up by the Brewers from Wisconsin to the Mudcats.  Rasmussen was outstanding in his Carolina debut striking out 6 in 3 scoreless innings.  He was the Brewers 6th round pick in 2018.
Rasmussen was the 31st pick in the 2017 MLB draft by          the Tampa Rays out of Oregon State. However, they elected not to sign him as a result of his physical which determined he needed Tommy John surgery for the second time.  Rasmussen had the surgery and went back in the draft in 2018.

  • The Cubs called up 1st basemen Cam Balegio from extended spring training to the Pelicans.  He is playing everyday and has a 5 game hitting streak with 8 RBIs and a homer in 6 games.
  • The Pelicans placed Aramis Ademan on the Temporarily Inactive List.  He has not played since April 16th.

  • The Woodpeckers placed Peter Soloman on the 7 day injured list.

  • The Wood Ducks placed Bubba Thompson on the 7 day injured list with a fractured left hamate bone.  He is expected to miss four weeks.
  • The Rangers called up Julio Pablo Martinez from Hickory to Down East.  In my team preview I wrote the following about Martinez.
Martinez was a coveted signing last March after defecting from Cuba.  The Rangers signed Martinez for 2.8 million and they took things slowly with him in 2018.  However, he will be twenty three before the 2019 season starts and this should be a pivotal year for JPM.  Obviously coming to the United States is a big adjustment, but Martinez' numbers in short season were disappointing given his age and background.
  • The Blue Rocks placed Kyle Isbel on the 7 day injured list.  No word on his injury.  Isbel got of to a huge start hitting .348/423/1.054  with 2 homers and 5 steals in 13 games.
  • The Royals brought Rudy Martin from extended spring training to the Blue Rocks.  Martin stole 29 bases last years for the Blue Rocks.
  • The Red Sox sent major leaguer, Marco Hernandez on a rehab assignment to Salem.  Hernandez last played on May 3, 2017.  He has had 3 surgeries on his shoulder.
  • The Dash activated Lincoln Henzman from the injured list.  Henzman got hurt on opening day.  He retired on 9 hitters with 3 strikeouts in his return.
  • The Keys placed Ryan Ripken on the 7 day injured list.  No word on his injury.
  • The Red Sox demoted Marino Campana from Salem to Greenville.  He had 19 strikeouts in 36 at bats.
  • The Wood Ducks placed AJ Alexy on the Temporarily Inactive List.
Young Bucks

Last week I brought up six top young non-college position players in their first year in the Carolina League and how it is a big jump and they were all struggling.  This week saw the following developments.

  • Seuly Matias had a hot stretch early in the week where he hit 4 homers in 3 games.  Overall he is striking out 42% of the time but has a .868 OPS and among the league leaders in homers and RBIs.
  • Bubba Thompson broke his hamate bone and is out for a month.  It would not be surprising if he goes to Hickory when he returns.
  • Tristen Lutz, Nick Pratto and MJ Melendez are struggling.  Lutz has struckout 37% of the time and his Isolated Power (ISO) which is Sluggling Percentage - Average is .071. Nick Pratto is striking out 33% of the time with a .051 ISO. MJ Melendez is striking out 48% of the time with a .077 ISO.  In 2018 Lutz had a ISO of .176, Pratto had a ISO of .163 and for Melendez it was .241.
  • Miguel Amaya has had a strong start (.245/.351/.881) with a .286 ISO.  In 2018 Amaya was much better in the first half (.865 OPS) than the second half (.634 OPS).
  • The much less heralded Oscar Gonzalez fits in the category of non-college position player in his 1st year in Advanced A and he has gotten off to a tremendous start (.377/.386/.936). Gonzalez turned 21 in January so he is close to the same age to the young bucks.  In 70 plate appearances in 2019 he has yet to walk which obviously is an issue.
Pitching Summary

I am going to highlight three stats to compare the top starting pitchers in the Carolina League.  Pitches per out to show efficiency.  Strikeout percentage helps to show whether pitches can miss bats and BABIP to show trends that may not be sustainable.  All these stats come with the disclaimer that it is very early in the season so it is a small sample size. 

Unfortunately there are a few isolated games where the pitch count was unavailable.  JC Cloney (4-17),  Blake Battenfield (4-17), Kyle Johnston (4-21) and Malvin Pena (4-20) had games that were not included in the pitches per out calculations.  Battenfield and Johnston were very good in those games. 

Pitcher Team Pitches Per Out K% BABIP
Tyler Phillips Down East 3.81 19.70% 0.216
Juan Hillman Lynchburg 4.57 16.00% 0.316
Jean Carlos Mejia Lynchburg 4.71 35.60% 0.265
Eli Morgan Lynchburg 4.73 37.30% 0.188
Bryan Mata Salem 4.8 24.60% 0.239
Jackson Tetreault Potomac 4.81 21.90% 0.256
Jason Bahr Down East 4.83 26.70% 0.235
Kyle Kubat Winston Salem 4.86 19.70% 0.192
JC Cloney Wilmington 4.93 22.70% 0.182
Daniel Tillo Wilmington 4.94 10.50% 0.259
Cody Sedlock Frederick 4.94 22.60% 0.167
Dylan File Carolina 5.08 29.70% 0.381
Noah Zavolas Carolina 5.1 26.60% 0.357
Bryan Abreu Fayetteville 5.14 42.40% 0.292
Brenan Hanifee Frederick 5.17 15.00% 0.222
Brady Singer Wilmington 5.2 21.10% 0.307
Nick Gallagher Lynchburg 5.2 38.90% 0.179
Malvin Pena Potomac 5.29 21.80% 0.324
Noah Bremer Down East 5.3 25.90% 0.278
Cameron Bishop Frederick 5.31 24.60% 0.372
Blake Battenfield Winston Salem 5.38 19.00% 0.324
Reid Anderson Down East 5.52 25.40% 0.129
Adam Scott Lynchburg 5.59 27.00% 0.408
Nelson Hernandez Carolina 5.62 20.40% 0.307
Cristian Javier Fayetteville 5.72 28.60% 0.189
Paul Richan Myrtle Beach 5.76 12.30% 0.25
Bowden Francis Carolina 5.79 33.30% 0.364
Parker Mushinski Fayetteville 5.86 36.10% 0.29
Yohan Ramirez Fayetteville 5.86 35.30% 0.25
Jackson Kowar Wilmington 5.93 30.00% 0.242
Kutter Crawford Salem 5.96 31.10% 0.293
Daniel Lynch Wilmington 6.1 22.00% 0.436
Peter Solomon Fayetteville 6.13 42.40% 0.429
Michael Baumann Frederick 6.15 48.50% 0.375
AJ Alexy Down East 6.38 32.70% 0.296
Kyle Johnston Potomac 6.5 22.10% 0.333
DL Hall Frederick 7.23 28.90% 0.444

  • Lynchburg's top trio (Mejia, Morgan Hillman) are very strong.

  • It is particularly impressive that Jean Carlos Mejia, Eli Morgan and Bryan Abreu are near the top in pitches per out and strikeout percentage.
  • Reid Anderson, Daniel Lynch and DL Hall have BABIPs that are not sustainable.  Some of the outs Anderson is getting will eventually become hits and vice versa for Lynch and Hall.

  • Winston Salem's Luis Robert who has dominated the first couple weeks, has missed the last few games with "Left hand discomfort." However, he has not been put on the IL so he should be back soon.
  • The White Sox are takings things very slowly with Alec Hansen pitching him in 1 or 2 inning outings for Winston Salem.  After a rough year in 2018, Hansen has been practically unhittable this year.  In 8 innings, Hansen has allowed 1 hit, 2 walks and 14 strikeouts.  Going into 2018, Hansen was 40 on Baseball Prospectus' prospect list.
  • Lynchburg's Nolan Jones has had a strange start to the season.  He is hitting .317 with a .461 on base percentage, but Jones only has 2 extra base hits in 60 at bats.  More concerning is that he has 6 errors in 16 games. Jones is 67 on MLBs top prospect list.
  • It has been a tough introduction to the Carolina League for the Cubs 2017 1st round pick, Alex Lange.  Lange has been suspended for 10 games for using an illegal substance and been hit hard in all 3 starts.
  • The Hillcats Adam Scott had a much better start on Sunday than his previous outing.  Last Monday, Scott did not make it out of the second inning and was charged with 3 throwing errors.

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