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Jake McCarthy and Stone Garrett are crushing the ball for Reno

A look at the batted ball data of the best two performers on Reno’s current roster.

MLB: APR 21 Diamondbacks at Nationals Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Reno and the Pacific Coast League has been known as both a huge hitter-friendly park and league, but it’s also home to the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate since the 2009 season. What makes Reno a notorious hitter-friendly park is the elevation, with Coors Field being the only MLB park with higher elevation than Greater Nevada Field, and drier air in Reno than in Denver. In addition, there is also a wind tunnel in right-center that can cause a fly ball hit in that direction to carry farther than expected and inflate extra base hit totals. In the thirteen seasons they’ve been affiliated with Arizona, we’ve seen some pretty eye-popping hitter numbers from hitters of varying talents to have mixed results in MLB. Multiple times here on the Snake Pit, there have been articles published about how hitters have fared in Reno vs. MLB.

However the at-bats there still have some purpose for a pair of players looking to get their chance to contribute with the MLB club in outfielders Jake McCarthy and Stone Garrett. D-backs fans are no stranger to Jake McCarthy, who debuted last August and initially broke with the club before a lack of consistent at-bats got him sent down. The injury to Carson Kelly was an opportunity for McCarthy, but he’s since been passed on the organizational depth chart by one of the their best prospects in Alek Thomas. In 91 PA, McCarthy has hit .400/.505/.693 with 5 homers and a 200 wRC+.

Garrett, is a minor league signing from 2021 who had a solid year in AA (.280/.317/.516, 116 wRC+) at the age of 25. Originally drafted by the Miami Marlins out of high school in the 8th round of the 2014 Draft, he played six seasons in the Marlins organization before stalling out at AA in 2019. Garrett is your typical power hitter prospect, one that comes with the tradeoff of high swing and not as refined plate discipline. Garrett does have some innings at first base along with both corner outfield spots so there is some positional versatility for him. With Reno he is hitting .323/.385/.677 with 10 homers and a 153 wRC+.

In 2022, Statcast has now started tracking the Minor Leagues. The PCL and the Florida State League, the latter of which is not as relevant to Arizona, now have pitch and batted ball data for us to dissect. At first I was only interested to see if McCarthy’s AAA numbers had any substance behind him, but I also decided to do the same thing with Garrett as well. Here are the results:

Jake McCarthy & Stone Garrett Batted Ball Table

Player Position Bats PA K% BB% BIP Avg EV (MPH) Avg LA (°) Max EV (MPH) Hard Hit (EV>95MPH) FB/LD EV (MPH) GB% FB% LD% Barrels/BIP Barrels/PA HR/(FB+LD)
Player Position Bats PA K% BB% BIP Avg EV (MPH) Avg LA (°) Max EV (MPH) Hard Hit (EV>95MPH) FB/LD EV (MPH) GB% FB% LD% Barrels/BIP Barrels/PA HR/(FB+LD)
Jake McCarthy CF Left 91 12.1% 14.3% 64 89.4 9.3 108.6 45.3% 95.4 50.0% 18.8% 31.3% 10.9% 7.7% 15.6%
Stone Garrett C-OF/1B Right 147 21.2% 8.9% 97 90.0 18.5 110.3 42.3% 93.5 29.9% 48.5% 21.6% 11.3% 7.5% 14.7%

I decided to change the metric on HR/FB to HR/(FB+LD) because not all home runs are fly balls. One look at Corbin Carroll’s batted ball data on Fangraphs was all it took for me to make that decision. This instead measures the amount of home runs hit off of meaningful air contact, whether that’s any line drive or a fly ball that gets past the infield with no pop flies included in the calculation. There aren’t any expected stats or central hub to display all the batted ball data, so I had to crunch the numbers myself then figure out the best way to present that.

It’s worth noting that neither player has accumulated enough plate appearances to get the batted ball data to stabilize, but you can see a clear trend here. McCarthy’s swing is geared more towards line drive contact to make use of his speed while we’re seeing better exit velocities as he’s incorporated his lower half more to make use of his 55-60 grade raw power that made him a Top-40 pick four years ago. He still hits too many ground balls, with a 50% ground ball rate, but when he makes fly ball or line drive contact he puts a charge into them with that type of contact generating an average exit velocity greater than 95 MPH. It’ll be interesting to see how he looks when given a fair shake at an MLB role as I see a high usage 4th OF who gets 400-450 PA and mainly bats against right-handed pitchers.

Garrett’s batted ball profile is also typical for his skill set. He’s a big guy (6’2” 195+) who’s one plus tool is raw power. To tap into that tool, he’s looking to get the ball in the air as evidenced by his fly ball rate exceeding 40%. That has hampered his overall fly ball/line drive average exit velocity to some degree, but it translates nonetheless to a strong barrel rate. His plate discipline is somewhat middling with average strikeout and walk rates, but it’s tough to gauge in Reno how good it really is because of the elevation affecting breaking balls in a way that doesn’t happen in 29/30 MLB parks. Overall, I see a 5th outfielder who will get a decent run as a right-handed bat off the bench with most of the team’s best outfielders being lefties with roughly 200-250 PA per year while in Arizona.

Both players have been able to put up solid exit velocity and barrel numbers, which we want to see an improvement in . If we were to take their hard hit, barrel, and FB/LD exit velocities and compare with the Statcast Leaderboard for MLB players, which I have to do with the lack of a comparable leaderboard for the PCL, to paint the picture of how well they are performing.

McCarthy/Garrett Batted Ball Rankings (Hard Hit, Barrels, FB/LD EV) vs. MLB Statcast Leaderboard

Player Hard Hit Rank %-ile Barrel% Rank %-ile FB/LD EV (MPH) Rank
Player Hard Hit Rank %-ile Barrel% Rank %-ile FB/LD EV (MPH) Rank
Jake McCarthy 45.3% 50 72 7.7% 38 88 95.4 35
Stone Garrett 42.3% 69 62 7.5% 39 81 93.5 79
*Disclaimer: This does not predict future MLB performance, there’s just no leaderboard in the PCL to compare with right now.

Given that the PCL is one of the most hitter-friendly leagues in the minors, there is obviously going to be some drop-off when these guys face MLB pitching. As of right now, neither player really has an opportunity to get at-bats with the MLB club. The team is committed to an outfield rotation of David Peralta in LF, Alek Thomas in CF, Pavin Smith in RF, and Jordan Luplow playing the 4th outfielder role who starts against left-handed pitchers. As a result of his quality at-bats down in Reno, McCarthy was called back up to the majors today and went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI in a D-backs win. Meanwhile, Garrett will just have to wait for an opportunity to break in with the best approach towards that being to continue to put together quality ABs.