Now time to move onto your AA affiliate, which is also where the vast majority of our guys are, including one name in particular who likely won’t be around for the next monthly installment.
A reminder that all numbers for hitters are park adjusted (but not pitchers). What this also means is that, on a monthly basis, applying park factors won’t change much of the stats because of how small they are. But it will change the yearly stats because they are a larger sample. This is why you’ll see things like Logan Morrison’s season BABIP being higher than both his April and May BABIP.
And some misc JAX news: Kyle Winters is out for the year with Tommy John surgery. Jose Ceda is still experiencing pain in the shoulder he had surgery on, having only thrown in extended spring training. With each passing day, Ceda is looking like the next Travis Bowyer. Bowyer was a hard throwing relief pitcher that we received from the Twins for Luis Castillo. He was expected to join the bullpen right away, being called the future closer by Larry Beinfest himself. However, he’d suffer a shoulder injury and never threw a pitch for the Marlins organization after being traded. Sound familiar? Jose Ceda still has time, but don’t expect for him to be in our pen in the future.
His April, especially the tail end, was just beastly. His May is more towards what his expected performance in the Southern League would be, and just how amazing is it that a wRC+ of 170 is your expected performance? There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said. A couple things I want to address though: a lot of people continue to bring up strike outs, and yes, they still are bad. But they’re still way down from last year, where he struck out 29% of the time. He’s exiting “Mark Reynolds” territory and is instead hitting “Dan Uggla” territory. The second thing is people also bring up his BB/K rates. Yes, his unadjusted 0.78 BB/K is very good, especially compared to the 0.31 mark he put up last year for Jacksonville. But adjusting for intentional walks drops his BB/K to 0.62 and his walk rate from from 18% to 14%. These are still very good numbers, but not as jaw dropping as the unadjusted numbers.
For a second strait year, I feel a lot of people are making much ado about nothing in regards to Dominguez low OPS. Last season it was Jupiter’s park factors. This season, it’s his BABIP. He’s walking a good amount, he’s hitting for very good power for a 20 year old in AA, and while he’s striking out more than you’d like it’s still at a respectable rate. But his BABIP sits at just .258, which really hurts his OPS. Upping his BABIP to .300 raises his OPS to .770. No, that’s certainly not Mike Stanton impressive, but it’s still good considering his age in relevance to the league and the fact that most of his value will come from defense at third base, not his bat. As of now Dominguez is staying the course, it’s not a good year but it’s not a bad year either.
Meanwhile, the exact opposite is having to the player playing to Dominguez left, as Osvaldo Martinez’s 155 wRC+ is fueled by a .370 BABIP. But make no mistake, Martinez is having a great year. His 1.53 BB/K is quite amazing for a player who’s career BB/K was just 0.59 going into the season. But that’s just the thing: Martinez does not have a track record of being able to keep up this kind of production. He needs more time with this kind of production before we can change our expectations of him. If he’s able to keep his walks up and become a hitter similar to Luis Castillo (Who has been able to put up a career .329 wOBA even with his lack of power), then that would be great. Unfortunately, his track record points more towards a bat like Alfredo Amezaga, who has a career wOBA of just .289. With his defense and base running abilities, this would allow Martinez to be a valuable bench bat. And as of now, we should not expect him to become anything more than a bench player unless he continues to show this kind of patience. But with Jorge Cantu coming off the books and Dan Uggla likely gone, Martinez could be in the running for a starting IF gig next season.
Mike Stanton isn’t the only player putting on a show for the good fans of Jacksonville. Unfortunately, his BABIP makes even Osvaldo Martinez jealous. Neutralizing his BABIP to .300 drops his OPS all the way down to .804, not too impressive for a corner outfielder. His home runs have dropped quite a bit, and while his ISO is still impressive, it’s fueled by doubles which will drop by a good amount when his BABIP drops. And while it’s good to see his strike out rate improve for a third strait season, he still has horrible patience at the plate. He’s not having a bad year and is still looking like a good lefty power option off the bench. But with Bryan Petersen and Scott Cousins ahead of him for the back up OF roles, he really needs to step it up.
Going into the year, I talked about Sanabia’s declining strike out rate and fly balls as the main concern for him. He has really gotten his strikeouts under control; his rates are up 6% from last year, 5% of which being an increase in swinging strike outs. Unfortunately fly balls are still a problem though. But the year he’s having as a 21 year old in AA is very impressive, and he’s moving up our ladder of SP prospects. It’s still too early to say if he’s legit or not though.
The Suns have the best ERA in the Southern League, and it doesn’t just lie on Sanabia’s shoulders; Elih Villanueva is also putting up great results. The process though isn’t nearly as impressive. Not only is there the big drop in strike outs, but Villanueva’s fly ball rates are just absolutely obscene. He seems like another Graham Taylor: great results and impressive K/BB (Powered solely by great control) that does great in the minor leagues, but just does not hold up in the majors.
Koehler is viewed as a possible back of the rotation starter for us in the future, but things aren’t looking too bright so far. His FB% is up 5% and his walks are up as well. Putting up a 4.47 xFIP as a 24 year old in AA just isn’t all too good.
Dan Jennings are still doing two great things you like to see: a very high amount of strike outs, and a very high amount of ground balls. The drop in control is pretty bad though. But with his May being a lot closer to his rates last year (10.2 BB%), he seems to be turning things around. With Pinto’s price tag continuing to rise, Dan Meyer’s explosion, and Hunter Jones not exactly impressing, the chance of seeing Jennings with the ML club next year are pretty high.
With a 23% career strike out rate, his drop in K’s are quite surprising. Things have gotten better in May, but at the cost of something else: Fly Balls. He had just a 21% FB rate last year, and that’s up quite a bit this year. We’re still dealing with small sample size obviously, and hopefully he can start turning things around.
Like Jennings, Cishek continues to get a lot of ground balls and a lot of strike outs, but the loss of control isn’t pretty. He’ll need to get his walk numbers back to where they were last year if he wants a future at the major league level.