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Hatchling Report: 5/1/2010

I figured it's time for a quick update of the farm system, especially since I won't be able to post much for the next few days aside from my Sunday recap during finals, then I have just a couple days before the end of the year (which will largely be spent with LadySouthBend), and then head to Wisconsin to visit family (where there is no intarwebz), and then have a day before starting work and my fast from the SnakePit.  Random note: I'll try to put what I put my writings on my personal blog, at "The Token White Guy" in case you care to follow.  Then again, I haven't received confirmation that I'll be allowed to do so.  So, without any further ado, another Hatchlings report.

AAA Reno:

Good things:

First, with the recent call-ups of Dan Stange and Kevin Mulvey, what has been largely ignored and uncovered by the news is the promotion of Josh Collmenter from Hi-A to AAA and assignment of Brad Gemberling to Hi-A from Extended Spring Training (Gemberling threw four innings and allowed two earned runs in his start for Visalia on Thursday).  Collmenter made his first start for Reno tonight, and after posting a 2.40 ERA with a 21:3 K:BB ratio in 15 innings for Visalia (wonder why he jumped an extra level now?) in three starts, decided that that simply wasn't good enough.  So he struck out 8 PCL hitters while walking nobody in seven shutout PCL innings in his first PCL start and throwing a measly 89 PCL pitches.  Should I emphasize the fact that he did this in the PCL any more?  This guy is for real.  Great change-up (i.e. he's got secondary stuff that will actually allow him to be successful in upper level/the majors) and he's got the K-rates throughout the minors to show that he can definitely be a back-of-the-rotation guy for us within the next year or so, or as a September call-up guy in the 'pen.  There were age concerns at Hi-A for him, but now that he's up at Reno, he's on track to possibly reach the majors in 2011.

Cesar Valdez continues to be awesome, and now has a 25:5 K:BB ratio through 23.2 innings pitched.  I expect to see Valdez starting Monday in the big leagues, especially after Kevin Mulvey's suck-filled relief effort yesterday.

Jason Urquidez has a 1.65 ERA in 16.1 innings pitched with a 17:3 K:BB ratio and no homers allowed.  If Kroenke continues sucking, expect Urquidez to take his spot on the 40-man Roster and find himself in the porous D'backs' bullpen at some point this year, perhaps very quickly.

Despite not being mentioned as a rotation possibility in the majors, likely because he started at Mobile, Matt Torra currently leads the Reno rotation with his ERA of 3.32 through three starts, and his FIP is even lower, at 2.99, though a really low HR/FB rate is certainly helping him.

Pedro Ciriaco has been pretty bad since his return to Reno.  At least that's the original prognosis upon observing his miserable .184 batting average.  However, he has just 6 K's in 38 ABs to go with a walk (a solid ratio considering we're talking about Pedro Ciriaco here...), to go with two homers, a triple, a double, and two stolen bases (0 CS) in nine games.  That means a BABIP of .167.  If his BABIP were, say, .300, he'd be batting .289 with a .308 OBP and .526 SLG (.834 OPS).  From a guy I've heard described as a "defensive wizard" at shortstop, that's pretty nice.  Are the power numbers sustainable?  Probably not.  But the same can be said about that awful BABIP, so you have to take the inevitability of regression as good news for the kid.

Jeff Bailey still has an OPS of 1.006.  Doug Deeds has an OPS of .862.  Brandon Allen is 5-for-his-last-10, with three doubles, 2 BB's and just 2 K's.

Bad things:

What in the world has happened to Clay Zavada?  Something about his recent injury completely torched his control, as he threw 34 pitches tonight and only 16 were strikes.  Fewer than half of his pitches were strikes.  There's a reason that a 2/3-inning, two-run performance kept his ERA at a steady 27.00.  He's just been plain awful this year, both before and since his return.  I root for the guy and love him for his energy, but he's really gotta find the strike zone before he can be considered for the big leagues again.

Mark Hallberg is batting .162 in his last 10 games, though a BABIP of .207 isn't helping.  He's also playing sterling defense, so there's hope for him to have a good season, but he needs to be getting hits to be anything more than a poor man's Augie Ojeda since he supplies no power and little patience, which limit him to a .532 OPS, third-worst amongst the Aces.

After a promising six-inning, three-run outing in which he only allowed one walk and didn't allow a home run, Bryan Augenstein returned to awfulness last Monday, coughing up six earned runs in five innings, allowing a homer and walking three while striking out five.  He now has a 7.48 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched with a 16:9 K:BB ratio and three homers allowed.  He really isn't fooling anyone in the PCL, and would probably be well-served with a demotion to Mobile, especially if Kris Benson comes back and Kevin Mulvey returns to the Reno rotation (with there being little chance of Josh Collmenter being sent back to Visalia).  UPDATE (5/2/2010): Augenstein started in place of Cesar Valdez on Saturday, and coughed up six earned runs in five innings.  Augenstein needs to return to AA to find himself (and it's not like Roemer needs to waste more innings at Mobile).

Zach Kroenke still is awful, with a 9.53 ERA in 11.1 innings.  Even his only seemingly-decent outing, his only start of the season, saw him give up two unearned runs on top of one earned run in three innings.  In fact, Kroenke's only had one clean outing so far this season, back on April 9, and has since largely been relegated to mop-up long relief work.  Just how bad are his numbers?  His K:BB ratio in those 11.1 innings is 4:5.  No, that's not backwards.  He's also served up a homer to give him an FIP of 5.00.  Not nearly as bad as his ERA, of course, but when you walk guys as often as Kroenke has and refuse to strike guys out as Kroenke has, you pretty much are going to get what you deserve.

It looks like Jordan Norberto may not be ready for AAA either.  He's walked two in 1.2 innings (spanning three appearances), giving up two earned runs, albeit with three strikeouts.  It also looks like he's basically their designated LOOGY, which seems rather odd considering that he wasn't relegated to that role in the big leagues.

AA Mobile:

Good things:

After a mediocre six-inning, four-run start last Saturday in which he served up three homers, Wes Roemer threw himself an absolute gem on Thursday, with a complete game, nine-strikeout, five-hit, no-walk shutout of Carolina.  Yes, Carolina sucks and was in the middle of an 11-game losing streak, but it's impressive nonetheless.  Roemer has a shiny 2.00 ERA in 36.00 innings with a 25:3 K:BB ratio (and you thought Cesar Valdez's was good - hah!), and were Collmenter not needed to start last night, Roemer would have been the guy promoted to Reno.  Unfortunately for Roemer, it seems that Collmenter could actually stick in AAA, though Roemer could still be moved up if Bryan Augenstein continues failing.

Bryan Henry (13.0 IP, 13:4 K:BB, 0 HR, 1.38 ERA) and Roque Mercedes (10.1 IP, 12:6 K:BB, 1 HR, 2.61 ERA) have both been really effective out of Mobile's 'pen.  Though Henry has been slightly better and less walk-prone than Mercedes, expect to see Mercedes possibly called up to the majors first if we are in dire need of an arm, as he's already on the 40-Man Roster.

Bad things:

Pat McAnaney actually improved upon his metrics from his five-inning, two-run start on April 21 (3:5 K:BB ratio, 0 HR) with a 5:2 K:BB ratio through just 3.1 innings, but yet mysteriously gave up ten hits and four earned runs to earn the loss on April 26.  This appears to be remarkably flukey, but at two stops his ERA now stands at a rather gloomy 6.43, with way too many walks allowed (10 in 19 innings).

Walks finally caught up to Leyson Septimo again, as he gave out three free passes and two hits in a five-run, four-out relief appearance yesterday, and spiking his ERA to 5.40.  Good news is that his GO/AO ratio is still 3.0 and he still hasn't given up a home run.  In other words, I'm still more confident in Septimo being useful this season than Zach Kroenke or Jordan Norberto.

Collin Cowgill has a .529 OPS in his last ten games, though it has come with a .172 BABIP over that span.  Also, Konrad Schmidt has a .628 OPS in his last ten games, and without a crappy BABIP (.314).

Hi-A Visalia:

Good things:

Bryan Woodall continues to be untouchable at Visalia, having now thrown 11 shutout innings in eight appearances, striking out 14, allowing just two walks and three hits, and boasting a ridiculous 5.00 GO/AO ratio.  Expect to see him in Mobile very quickly, especially if relief arms start flying around different levels in the midst of a nuclear bullpen explosion.

But Woodall's success is also aided by the fact that he doesn't have to face Marc Krauss, who is thankfully on his team.  Krauss has been ludicrous this year, now boasting a 1.059 OPS in 20 games.  He has a decent 18:11 K:BB ratio, and three doubles, two triples, and four homers amongst 25 hits in 71 at-bats.  In other words, absurdity.

Prior to an 0-4 night last night, Ryan Wheeler had been on a slight tear himself, going 12-for-36 in his previous nine games with three doubles, a homer, and a 6:2 K:BB ratio (.368/.500/.868 OBP/SLG/OPS).  He's not been as remarkable as Krauss, but he's definitely held his own after what basically amounted to a two-level jump, having played in only 8 regular-season games for South Bend last year.

Bad things:

Wade Miley only technically gave up one earned run in his 5.2-inning start last night, but nonetheless has a fairly poor outing.  He gave up three more unearned runs, and had a 2:4 K:BB ratio, continuing on a pair of disturbing trends of unearned runs and his walks exceeding his strikeouts thus far at Visalia.  He has now allowed seven unearned runs to go with eight earned runs, and his overall K:BB ratio stands at 10:14.  In fact, he's only had one outing where he didn't give up any unearned runs, which also was his worst outing of the season, a five-inning, six-run suck-fest on April 13, AND just one outing where he had more strikeouts than walks, a 2:1 ratio in a five-inning start April 25.  If you're looking for a piece of good news with Miley, he does have a 2.53 GO/AO ratio.

Paul Goldschmidt's sizzling start has come to a screeching halt in his last ten games, in which he has put up a miserable OPS of .293, with four hits (including two doubles) in 40 at-bats, including 14 strikeouts with just two walks.  Now, 4 hits in 26 balls put in play is not going to keep happening, but the K:BB rate over this stretch would still naturally lead to some lesser degree of terribleness.

Mid-A South Bend:

Good things:

The rotation:  It's really really late at night and I want to be efficient, plus lumping their stats together looks awesome and intimidating.  In 113.2 innings, they have a 100:28 K:BB ratio, have allowed 101 hits, 6 home runs, and just 35 earned runs (and 11 unearned runs) for an ERA of 2.77.  Yes, 2.77.  The '09 draft is looking really good.

And it's not just the arms, either.  Keon Broxton has been red-hot lately, with a .951 OPS in his last ten games after a slow start, including two doubles, three triples, a homer, and, perhaps most encouraging, five walks.  Bobby Borchering has joined Broxton in the slug-fest, with a .934 OPS in his last ten.

Bad things:

Matt Davidson has been red-hot lately, with a 1.139 OPS in his last ten games.  So why on earth is he amongst the bad things?  Well, it's because it's largely BABIP-driven (.467), as he has a pathetic 21:1 K:BB ratio so far.

Bobby Stone still sucks.  .524 OPS overall, .576 OPS in his last ten.  The kid needs to figure some stuff out.

Sorry if this tailed off near the end, it's super late (keep in mind the time zone changes...).  I hear birds outside.  Not going to bother with a legitimate conclusion.  'Night everyone.