Minor League Pitching Standouts - Midseason Update

Halfway! Halfway through the baseball season, so now we are careening downhill towards an unforgiving and miserable winter when barely anyone will be throwing balls at sticks. Let's all focus on that for a moment, but when I've got your attention again, it's time to question everything we thought we knew and conclude that actually, we know a good amount. Don't be so hard on yourself.

Last time out I refined the Command score slightly to account for what seemed like odd results (beede) that might reflect poorly (beede) on the viability of the method.

That did not go so well.

So I threw out the rules, man and completely revamped the Command profiles. Rebuilt it from the ground up. The results?

Command Points Rank (out of 132)
Beede, Tyler -5.01 111

Suck it, Tyler. You shall not darken my door.

The Stuff points calculation remains the same. Why?

Stuff Points Stuff Rank
Black, Ray 6.53 1

Because it's clearly perfect.

Stuff Leaders

Pitcher Stuff Points
Black, Ray 6.53
Moronta, Yovanny 6.03
Wolff, Sam 5.62
Adames, Abel 5.01
Adon, Melvin 4.75
Armstrong, Jack 4.52
Valdez, Jose 4.49
Webb, Logan 4.08
Sano, Carlos 4.06
Martinez, Rodolfo 3.65

Lots of unfamiliar names here, including some who haven't pitched much in 2018. That's fine, part of the exercise here is early identification of interesting pitchers. Black, Melvin Adon, Logan Webb, Jose Valdez, and Rodolfo Martinez won't get much ink because we know about them, and what we know about them is that they are good.

Sam Wolff is a new name due purely to injury, and last year he flashed some significant improvements to his offerings after moving to the bullpen. Wolff's fastball sits 93-97 and he backs it up with an assortment of offspeed pitches, including a curve, slider, and changeup. I'm not especially enthused by any of them, but good velocity + three usable pitches is nice.

Coming stateside is Abel Adames, who has shown some incredibly inconsistent velocity that is generally not the reason he's here. Adames is more of a low-90s guy than the vast majority of the high-octane arms that usually dominate these leaderboards, so he's a particularly intriguing guy to look at. Adames' slider is absolutely wicked, though he throws it at curveball speeds, so it's harder to classify than one might think.

Down further is Yovanny Moronta, who's walked 22 batters in 8 innings from 2017-18 and doesn't really have the strikeouts to make up for it. Dude throws hard, though.

Command Leaders

Pitcher Command Points
Sanchez, Juan 6.03
Meyer, Mack 6.03
Horn, Trevor 5.72
Amaya, Luis 5.51
De La Rosa, Alejandro 4.79
Smith, Will 4.56
Gonzalez, Marco 4.53
Labrador, Jorge 4.27
Maita, Jose 3.84
Cueto, Johnny 2.93

Two rehabbing Major Leaguers make their way up here, and in general it's not surprising to see unfamiliar names with short-season leagues starting and the calculation being completely altered.

Keeping it on the island, Juan Sanchez has been dominant for the DSL Giants this year through five starts, and appears to be one of the few Dominican pitchers that doesn't walk everyone they see. Unfortunately, this is a case of refinement over skill as Sanchez is a mid-80s arm with a good slider that's just too much to handle for a lot of raw players. Still, he's 17 and could grow into more velocity, just don't expect a fast-moving front-of-the-rotation arm. Fellow rookie-ball pitchers Mack Meyer (sidearmer alert!), Marco Gonzalez, Jorge Labrador, and Jose Maita have enough pitches to get up here, but aren't anything interesting yet.

2018 39th-round pick Trevor Horn has acquitted himself well in limited time down in Arizona, and unlike most of the more polished pitchers, he's actually got a bit of low-90s about him to make that control useful. He is mostly fastball right now, with a show-me changeup and slider, and usually picks that late are just org guys. Which is probably what he is - get out there and pitch to some contact, have some fun.

Overall Leaders

Stuff Points Command Points Total Points
Horn, Trevor 2.58 5.72 8.30
Black, Ray 6.53 -0.28 6.25
Wolff, Sam 5.62 0.20 5.81
Labrador, Jorge 1.39 4.27 5.66
Santos, Gregory 2.72 2.49 5.21
McNamara, Dillon 3.63 1.49 5.12
Cederoth, Michael 2.25 2.79 5.04
De La Rosa, Alejandro 0.05 4.79 4.84
Timmins, John 3.56 1.27 4.83
Amaya, Luis -0.97 5.51 4.54

Let's just ignore ol' Trevor at the top there, who's enjoying some sample-size luck, and move on to more interesting pastures. I think we all know who I'm going to talk about next.

John Timmins has been lighting up the Augusta bullpen with 20 K's and three walks in 10 2/3 innings, bringing a nice combo of low-to-mid-90s velocity, solid SL, and diving changeup that keeps hitters off-balance. Potential for a useful relief arm in there, and his strong command gives him a chance to move quickly.

More appealing to me, of course, is big Dillon McNamara, who looks a lot like Timmins but in Richmond and Sacramento. McNamara appeared on the first Stuff leaderboards and currently sits in the #11 position in that category, a nice improvement considering the additional competition from low-level affiliates starting up. He only sits in the low 90s, but dude knows how to throw a slider.

Oh, also, GREGORY SANTOS is a top five pitching prospect by this metric. Clearly there are some kinks to be worked out yet, but I am confident I can finagle him to the #1 spot. In the meantime, he's Nos. 25 and 13 on the Stuff and Command boards, a nice early showing for the wunderkind.

Stuff over Command

Stuff Points Command Points Difference
Moronta, Yovanny 6.03 -5.33 11.36
Armstrong, Jack 4.52 -6.69 11.22
Martinez, Melvin 3.61 -7.00 10.62
Maita, Jose -6.30 3.84 10.14
Adames, Abel 5.01 -4.92 9.92

Our boy Yovanny immediately shows us that the improved Command scores are legitimate, as the dude should probably not be allowed to pitch in games for a while just to keep opposing hitters, the catcher, the umpire, and various passersby safe. In general, this is a list of raw Dominican arms. Whodathunkit?

Command over Stuff

Stuff Points Command Points Difference
Maita, Jose -6.30 3.84 10.14
Meyer, Mack -3.01 6.03 9.04
Gonzalez, Marco -3.46 4.53 7.99
Sanchez, Juan -1.59 6.03 7.62
Cueto, Johnny -3.70 2.93 6.63

In general, this is somehow a list of non-raw Dominican arms (and Meyer) with pinpoint control? Does that somehow accurately describe present-day Johnny Cueto as well? Odd. Generally speaking these guys just aren't bringing it, so when you see gaudy stats from them in the low minors, maybe temper your expectations a bit. Also, it's possible we should be worried about Cueto.

As usual, I will answer questions which I am able to answer. Some questions will fall outside that designation - ask them anyway, and then I just won't say anything. But I see you. And yes, I understand that creates a lot of doubt in the mind of readers; unfortunately, it's a necessary evil.

Additionally, I am doing preliminary work on an equivalent system for hitters. Hopefully I'll be able to write something on the offensive side within a couple of weeks.

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