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Eric-OH

Minor League Thought Of The Day 3/18-I Need A Hitter

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Trying to come up with ideas to write or organize thoughts when there’s no action is tough.  I feel like a manager in the late stages of a close game, searching for a spark.  What or who can start that rally?  

That made me think of this question; If I have the entire organization at my disposal who’s the one hitter I’d want leading off my inning to start a rally and get to first?  I’ve got anecdotal evidence, stats and some thoughts to help me come up with this and I have a hunch right now before I even start looking at numbers.  I’ll say at the end if my hunch was right.

I’m at baseballreference.com and have sorted by On-base.  I see a bunch of catchers (know anyone who thinks the catcher depth chart is better than others?) and not too many high game or PA totals, but 4 and 5 are rookie league catchers Harris Yett at .417 and Chris Burgess .412.  The first guy who came to the plate more than 200 times and exceeds the magic 40% is Brett Cumberland and his 230 PA, 31 BB and .404 on-base.  He hit .257 too and I think that’s the floor for him.  Cumberland doesn’t work counts or get comfortable in the box either so that’s a profile of a guy eager to get things going and be on base or not.  

Corner Trevor Putzig is another bat I trust and he shows up on this list too.  His plate appearances were mostly at rookie league but he had 140 of them, batted .278 and was on-base at .403, good for 10th in the organization.  Also 23BB to 28 K so off to a good foundation there too.  I’m not surprised to see a couple guys I vouch for often show up here.  By the way, another catcher, Luke Ringhofer is 14th (barely played though) and Chance Sisco is 16th with a .388.  

17th and 18th on the list have me stroking my chin and thinking as they’re Toby Welk and Adam Hall, a pair of guys who I have faith in and have watched a bit over the past few weeks.  Welk is young, but in his 240 PA’s he got to first at a .388 clip.  Also he grounded into a double play only twice so showing a smidge of bat control.  19 XBH pretty solid, 50K:20BB needs work.  Adam Hall was hit by a pitch 22 times and stole 33 times in 42 chances.  Please make that connection.  He also had a .385 on-base overall in 534 PA’s and 78 runs scored, behind only Mason McCoy and Ryan Mountcastle in the minors.  That’s a guy getting to first and making things happen when he gets there.  183 total bases too, not a bad campaign by any stretch and a few impressive numbers emerge to enhance his profile.  Sometimes Norfolk, sometimes Orioles outfielder Mason Williams checked in with a nice looking .371 on-base in his 494 PA’s and I’ve seen him get hits off more than one style of pitcher this spring.  That stands out a bit too, but he’s not a minor league guy to me anymore.  Young infielder Darell Hernaiz checks in with a clean .371 but he only played in 29 games and I can’t endorse him everywhere.  Although 5 SBs, no caught mean maybe a pinch runner.   

The real answer should probably be Mason McCoy.  He fits the profile, he’s somewhat aggressive but can take 4 balls if need be (44 times in 596 PA isn’t a good percentage) and he hit .290 getting on base at a .345 clip.  Also and especially, he’s shown me excellent bat skills and executed 2 hit-and-runs right in front of my face.  Waiting with his hands back and driving the ball into a recently vacated 2B hole is how you get me to notice you and he did it perfectly when he got the sign.

  Mountcastle batted .312, walked never and was on-base at .344.  He won his league player of the year at 22 and had over 80 RBI and runs so love him or hate him but he’d be a damn good candidate to get a hit or do some damage if not necessarily one to sit at 3-1 and eye one in.  These guys are offensive players I trust, and as we’re around .341 on the list going down, we approach the organization’s top 50 threshold.  Familiar names like Adley Rutschman appear-he’s .351.  AA speedster OF Cole Billingsley and his .349 look nice behind a .280 average too.  Infielder Joey Ortiz is down around here too, checking in at .345 to accompany a too low for him .241 average.  But he also only grounded into two double plays in 229 PA’s and mixed in 30 BBs with his 37 K’s.  So not a bad start, but he’s not my bat in the clutch today.  Rylan Bannon, who has impressed me this spring with power, distance and exit velocity put together some work to get to his .345 on-base.  553 PA’s is a full season but the guy had 47 XBH including 11 HR.  He walked 50 times too all the while tattooing lefties to an OPS over 1.000 at two levels combined.  A chance meeting with a TB farmhand days after the Machado trade made me recall pitcher Dayveon Whittle (currently at Hudson Valley and an old roomy of Rylan) who told me that Bannon is ‘all uppercut but fans will love him’   I’d love to choose a lefty slugger who made a very positive impression on me, JC Escarra who can walk it like he talks it, but checked in with a surprisingly low .325 on base despite his solid walk total, 52.  But his 104-448 leads to a .235 average and I’m taking too much of a chance.  Maybe if I only got one pitch.  And I’m open to him changing my mind in 2020 but I think my guy is going to be someone else.

My hunch was Cumberland but after reviewing what I wrote, he’s going to lose out to Adam Hall in a very close decision.  I trust both, and in most situations I’d choose a lefty but Hall is my ignitor.  Cumberland is listed as a switch hitter but I’ve only seen him in a righty box one BP rotation so he’s a lefty to me and I’d consider his bat/on-base skill set as a true weapon.  I wonder how other GMs evaluate it.  Hall and his speed intrigue me and walking needs to be a skill he adds to his developing arsenal as it can only add to the damage he can do.  I trust his ability to get to first or drive a pitch and be more than he is today so he’s my choice.    Hallsy-You’re Up!!!

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Interesting concept and some good research. I think what this shows though is the organization is lacking that prototypical leadoff guy right now.

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9 hours ago, Tony-OH said:

Interesting concept and some good research. I think what this shows though is the organization is lacking that prototypical leadoff guy right now.

Yes. A lot of work on that. I still see the concept of a leadoff hitter trending towards a Springer type. 

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11 hours ago, Tony-OH said:

Interesting concept and some good research. I think what this shows though is the organization is lacking that prototypical leadoff guy right now.

Or, maybe there’s a shift in lead off qualifications/skills.  High on base yes, but pitches seen no?  Not too many ‘walk’ guys and of that small subset none are burners on the bases.  Of the speed guys I’d try and squeeze pitch recognition skills out of Janvrin and Sparks.  They just assaulted the GCL once on first and dictated so much action from that point.  Watching some old clips of games from previous seasons it is astounding how little base stealing is a part of today’s run production.  
Taking a base a fair percentage of the time changes how defenders act.  I’m all for that.  

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1 hour ago, weams said:

Yes. A lot of work on that. I still see the concept of a leadoff hitter trending towards a Springer type. 

I do too.  I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all to mix wheels with some bat skills a semblance of on-base mentality.  The prototype of a lot of baseball-specific roles is changing.  Look at Adley and his foot speed, bouncy legs and hops.  That’s a modern day backstop.  
If anyone in the Minors has some young-Springer type numbers we can look at Hall but he has less punch, slightly more speed.  K:BB ratio leaves something to be desired but a)he’s young and b)he can get on base.  

Seeing all the BRob all over spring training has me longing for 12 pitch at-bats that end up in walks and then steals.....

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I’m an Adam Hall believer.    High OBP, dangerous on the bases.    I see him as BRob before he, er, developed power.   Pesky.    

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On 3/19/2020 at 6:43 PM, Frobby said:

I’m an Adam Hall believer.    High OBP, dangerous on the bases.    I see him as BRob before he, er, developed power.   Pesky.    

I think a year from now there will be a large percentage increase in his believers.  It looks like you’re early on lots of guys.  Hall doesn’t jump out at me in person but his stats are clean and his fundamentals are even cleaner.  BRob is a fair comp.  In terms of athleticism they’re not tiers apart.   BRob got to top speed quicker but Hall’s fastest pace is higher than Roberts’.  That’s very fast.  His bends, pivots, transfers and steps show me a person who is very in tune with the speed of baseball.  Like Grenier, nothing in the field gets him out of rhythm so he’s transferring his athletic gifts in a significant way.  I didn’t need to see a ton to realize this. 

I think it’s more than past time for Hall’s lack of high level amateur experience to skew his prospect ranking and he should be evaluated on the here and now.  Pesky is apt, skilled is more appropriate.  Provided there’s some type of season, Hall will use his gifts and rise in rank this year.  

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