Mariner Minors
Friday, December 10, 2004
  M's Minor League Hitting Review, pt. 4

We're on to the final part, the analysis of those who didn't quite make the top seven. For easy navigation, the previous three parts were as follows...

M's Minor League Hitting Review, pt. 1 (intro and runs created)
M's Minor League Hitting Review, pt. 2 (SECA and sorting through the numbers)
M's Minor League Hitting Review, pt. 3 (analyzing the numbers)

The Rest of the System

This year was a lot kinder to hitters in general than it was to pitchers, but that seems to be primarily because the injuries were on the lower levels and the brunt of the wrath of the baseball gods was directed to Ismael Castro’s knee, Sam Bradford’s arm, and Chris Snelling’s wrist. My condolences to all limbs and the persons to which they are attached. But this was a year when a lot of the middle of the road guys came into their own and while they aren’t necessarily guys who are going to be stars or even regulars, they could be major leaguers, and that counts as some sort of success.

* I left Zapp in here even though he’s with the Reds now. Why? He deserved it more than M. Lopez or Dobbs, that’s why (and strikeouts are overrated).

* Jose Lopez seems closer to fulfilling his potential, though again, he was well above league average in RC/27 while being a little below in SECA, not unlike last year. A number of people have been debating whether or not he should be the starting shortstop going into 2005, and while there are arguments for him staying in Tacoma are somewhat valid, I’m of the “couldn’t hurt” mindset, and would just pencil him in right now.

* Nearly everything of value was promoted by season’s end in Tacoma, save Strong, Zapp, and Jacobs. Strong is a guy who might be a top ten in a lot of systems provided he was younger/healthier; such was the assessment by BA recently at least, and I believe he could be sold as a similar type of player as Juan Pierre if need be. Jacobs is on the other end of the spectrum, with decent power and plus arm (just not plus aim, from what I hear), but not quite as solid defensively. Some team might think about getting him in the rule 5, but there are a lot of other players that would be considered before him.

* At the end of last season, I predicted a breakout of sorts for T.J. Bohn, and it’s looking like he fulfilled that prediction, along with earning a promotion to San Antonio. I don’t think he’ll start in Tacoma to start next year, given the possibilities for that outfield. For the record, I don’t regard T.J. Bohn as much more than 4th OF on a lot of teams and probably not with us, considering our OF depth, but I do expect him to latch on with some club out there and get some time in the majors. He’s one of many middle of the road guys in the system.

* Hunter Brown’s another guy that I suggested had the possibility of breaking out and he made good on the prediction, adding a good amount of (somewhat empty) batting average and a number of stolen bases. I’ve talked before on the virtues of a Justin Leone type who can play 3B, SS, and LF, but Hunter presents some similar possibilities. He’s a little more proven on the field, while Leone seems to have an edge on him in batting.

* I’m not as sold on Michael Morse as some are. It’s not that I think he’s a bad player, just overrated by some in the media right now considering his abilities and the limited breakout he had, which seemed to subside a bit after he was traded. I do believe that he is making some legitimate improvements defensively, but whether they’ll be enough, or whether he can hit enough at another position remains to be seen. I’d try to trade him, but that’s just me.

* Catching is not really good in our system right now, which I suppose could go without saying. Rivera and Oliveros are both high-end defensive catchers, but they both took huge steps back in their offense this year. Meanwhile, you have Ruchti, who is unbelievable defensively, but can’t seem to hit at all, and Christianson, who won’t really be a catcher if he can’t throw and that’s all his bat is good for. There should be a new influx of catching talent in the low-minors next year, what with this year’s draft and the new international talents coming in like Kent Dixon and possibly Jair Fernandez and Juan Fuentes from the VSL.

* Another position of serious weakness is second base, underscored by the loss of Castro. Chen and Navarro are solid options at second and could soon rise to the top there (I'll say right now that Chen's a lot better than it seems, just a hunch), but we’ll also have Luis Valbuena coming in from the VSL and he’s a likely candidate to spark the offense a bit. We may also see the movement of such guys as Erick Monzon, who is currently playing second in Puerto Rico and doing well, though I must caution that non-drafted FA players can be deceptively good at first (see also: Metheny, Brent; Rogelstad, Matt).

* Asdrubal Cabrera fell just short of making the rankings, but to speak briefly on him, he’s incredibly solid defensively, despite errors (he just gets to balls that others cannot). With the bat, he’s not bad either, proving himself to be a capable switch hitter with some good power potential and the ability to use all fields. This is pretty much what I expected from him making the jump from Venezuela, and while I personally think he could handle Inland Empire, he’ll likely be the starting shortstop for Wisconsin to start out the year, with the possibility of moving up midseason. Along with Chen, he's one of the guys who didn't make it who seems like a good candidate to do so next year, possibly following a "breakout".

* Lahair may be one of our top first base prospects, which isn’t terribly promising. I’d like to see what he and Hubbard could do in extended time, but I don’t think it would kill anyone to give Luis Soto a chance either.

* Brief notes here, but some of the guys who were on the bottom in terms of offense in Arizona are better than you think they are, namely, Rayon Lampe, Jermaine Brock, and Jeff Flaig. Lampe was probably the youngest player in the league, getting used to a new country and a new position, but he had great range and the ability to hit to all fields. Brock has the potential to be a younger version of Strong, plus some power and arm strength and perhaps minus a bit of stolen bases, the bonus being he’s left-handed. Flaig, as we well know, was hampered by a shoulder injury that limited him to DH, though there were some who compared him to Troy Glaus prior to that. I expect all of them to rebound in 2005.

* In the summer leagues, I see Valbuena and Graterol as near certain promotions from the VSL. Serrano, Fernandez, and Fuentes are all options as well; I’ve said a little on the former two, but Serrano’s in there because he wasn’t bad offensively or defensively and the M’s have had a recent penchant for promoting switch-hitting Venezuelan shortstops after one year in the VSL (Navarro, Cabrera). As for the DSL, Jairo Hernandez is definitely a guy to keep an eye on as he has a good combination of power, speed and average. Others earning promotions might include summer league vet Ronald Garth, and Manelik Pimentel, who had pretty good power, though Jairo lapped him for the HR lead in the division.

Next year’s hitting doesn’t necessarily look as bright as the pitching does; I’ve maintained that pitching is a strength now and looks like it will continue to be a strength for the foreseeable future. There are some interesting guys who will make their debuts next year, Valbuena and Hernandez being the most notable from the summer leagues, though there may be some immediate returns from the trio of Australian position players, Tim Auty (outfield), Kent Dixon (catcher), and Dean Zorn (infield), moving over to start their major league careers. I think what may end up being the biggest bit of good news in the system for next year is that the hitters from Everett will be moving up to full-season leagues and given the ability that roster had, I’m looking forward to seeing some good things from Wisconsin and possibly Inland Empire.

Additionally, if there are questions about specific prospects that I haven't mentioned, by all means leave a comment and I'll try to add a little analysis.

  M's Minor League Hitting Review, pt. 3

This is the third of four parts... previously...

M's Minor League Hitting Review, pt. 1 (intro and runs created)
M's Minor League Hitting Review, pt. 2 (SECA and sorting through the numbers)

By The Gut

Just like with the pitchers, we have narrowed the list down to seven guys on whom the statistical gods are smiling. Are they the best and brightest? In many areas, yes, but there are other prospects out there who are more than capable of making this list next year, provided they live up to their potential in performance. We’ll get to them later, for now, let’s take a closer look at the magnificent seven.

Balentien’s a guy I’ve had my eye on since his second year in the VSL. Venezuela isn’t exactly conductive to power hitting; your average pitcher there gives up only a couple of home runs, tops. Balentien hit ten of them. The next year he moved to the thinner air of Arizona (I imagine the parks are similar dimensions), and in ten less at-bats, he hit sixteen home runs. Unfortunately, with this reputation as a power hitter came the notion that 1) he was older than he said he was and 2) he’s a one trick pony, particularly when you factor in his strikeouts. The former should be resolved when his visa is renewed this winter, but it’s the latter I have problems with. I’ve watch Wlad’s seasons progress for three years now and I’ve noticed some trends and talked with a few people about him. Wlad’s swing is a hard one, but when he gets a couple of strikes on him, he becomes more patient and focuses on either drawing a walk or getting a hit, and that trend grows as the season progresses. I mention this because some people don’t believe he can hit for average. Wlad’s end numbers from Wisconsin were .277/.315/.519 with 77 strikeouts in 266 at-bats, or roughly a strikeout every 3.45 at-bats. For the first month, he was playing through a shoulder injury, and if you take out those stats from his end totals, he hit .300/.338/.570, and struck out once every 3.65 at-bats. Keep in mind that the Midwest League is awful to hit in, particularly early on. Defensively, he won’t win any gold gloves, but I don’t see him as a liability as some sluggers tend to be, but not really an asset either (average, in other words). I expect good things from him in 2005. Just not necessarily in April.

Casey Craig once said that he hates taking walks, which is a shame because it’s one of the things he does best. Last year, he was the second best hitter in Peoria behind Balentien and ended the season batting .331/.338/.458. This time around, he started out hot, but at season’s end his average was only .265. So why was his OPS only .025 points less than in his Arizona campaign? Walks, it’s all about the walks. Over the course of 200 at-bats this year, Craig walked 45 times and struck out 59 times. From the power end of things, I get the feeling like he has more than he shows. He did slug out ten doubles and five home runs, but that’s in a fairly hitter-friendly league. He’s likely to start next year in Wisconsin, so I wouldn’t expect anything significant right away. But one of the things that makes Craig interesting, to me at least, is that he uses what speed he has to his advantage, and rather well at that. I wouldn’t consider him to be a burner on the basepaths (his body type kind of reminds me of Bret Boone), and in the outfield his arm and range have him as fairly average, but he swiped seventeen bags in Everett and legged out three triples. The organization has gone back and forth on whether or not they want to keep him in the outfield or move him back to second, but they now seem fairly intent on keeping him in left. Considering our outfield prospects compared to our second base prospects, I don’t know that I agree, but then again I’ve never seen him play on the infield.

Shin-soo Choo is a bit of an enigma, even by minor league standards. A number of people have referred to this season as a breakout for him. I don’t know if I necessarily agree. It’s not that I think he’s going to be a superstar, it’s that I’m not convinced that he’s put everything together yet. Yes, he did have a career high success rate in stolen bases, but he ended up with only two more than his previous single season total. Yes, he did have a career high in home runs at 15, but assuming that he hadn’t lost 100 at-bats or so last season, he would have had about 11 home runs. Yes, he did rebound nicely from a foot injury in 2003, but it was pretty much a return to his previous standards, if not a little better (.020+ OPS in more of a pitcher’s league). My confidence in him as a player is renewed, but this is pretty much what he’s done the whole of his minor league career. Considering the fact that he moved from the mound four years ago, that’s pretty impressive, but I don’t think that he’s quite done yet. Choo’s always working on one more thing in his game, and the amount of focus and effort he puts into it is outstanding. I’m not saying that it’s a given that he will distinctly exceed his current production, but given his work ethic, I don’t think it’s impossible to see him add any combination of average, stolen bases, walks, or power to his lines above what we see now, but how much more remains a question I can’t answer. There’s an interesting thread on these matters with regard to Choo, Reed, and Snelling going on at SportSpot right now that may be worth checking out.

Few players in the system had a breakout that was near the caliber Jesus Guzman had in 2004. I’ve seen a few people compare it to the breakout of Jose Lopez in San Bernadino in 2002. This is an interesting thought, but not entirely accurate. From the numbers end of things, Lopez had an RC/27 of 6.12 and a SECA of .226, which means basically that Lopez got a little less production while putting up peripherals that weren’t quite as good either. But the difference is that while Lopez has a plus arm, great power potential, and used to be able to steal bases with some frequency and play great D at short (not as great now, but still good), Guzman has been graded pretty much as average across the board by a number of tools scouts and no one from Baseball America seemed to acknowledge his existence in either the Cal League Top 20 or the chat following it. He’s more polished, but has a lower ceiling, in other words. A number of people have since attached the “overachiever” label to him. I have respect for those making the claims and the claims themselves, but I have to say that it’s quite a bit to overachieve on that level when you’re dealing with a relatively raw VSL product. Will he keep it up? I don’t know, I have heard that he’s consistently a tough out (his eye at the plate is probably one of his strongest assets), but I’ve also heard that he sometimes doesn’t play as hard as some would like. He could probably start 2005 in San Antonio, since he already won the battle against the Cal League. It’s a matter of whether or not he works hard enough to continue outperforming his tools, and there’s some precedent for it. There are guys with fairly average tools across the board who have “overachieved” their way to fine MLB careers. And no, that’s not making a direct player comparison there.

It’s kind of hard to talk about Jeremy Reed once you’ve already talked about Choo, because they’re fairly similar in a lot of ways. Both lefties, both more inclined to get a base hit than bash out a home run, but Reed is far more polished than Choo is and at this point I would grade Reed higher. In addition to having superb plate discipline, Reed will probably steal 25+ bases in any given year and probably has the best, or at least the most certain, ability to hit for average among all of our minor league prospects. Defensively, what I’ve heard has been split between capable CF and tweener, but he seems to have earned a spot in next year’s OF (players with less talent have made the roster for less), and I’m not really opposed to sticking him in center. He’s a similar type of player to Chris Snelling, just with more of what I’ve mentioned above. He’ll lay it all out on the field and what’s more he has a decent arm. There’s not much else to say about him, other than he might develop a little more home run power later and he should be a solid MLer for years to come. We can do little wrong by putting him in the lineup.

Daniel Santin is probably the best hitting catcher prospect we’ve had in the system for quite a while, and I’ve already written a decent amount on him. If you saw my post on SportSpot concerning him, skip right on by because this is mostly copied… Santin has been labeled as an offense-first catcher by some following this season. I like Santin, but when we say "offense-first catcher", that's a pretty loaded phrase. Santin was tied for 6th in the league in doubles with thirteen this season. This was all in 160 at-bats. The guys ahead of him were Freddy De La Cruz (15, 178 AB), Wesley Long (17, 206 AB), Raul Padron (14, 147 AB), Freddy Parejo (15, 222 AB), Miguel Vega (15, 229 AB), The guys tied with him were David Hall (137 AB, probably all from hustling, no other triples or HR), Karl Herren (180 AB), and Alexi Ogando (180 AB). He was also tied for eighth in home runs with four, with a number of guys who were ahead of him being previously listed. Factoring in power potential and that sort of thing, Santin was one of the better/best offensive players in the league, in fewer at-bats than most (but keep in mind I'm saying players, not prospects here, AZL stats mean very little). But he's a catcher, so different rules apply to him and we're more concerned with his defense. He has good hands, he calls a good game (and has been known to get a little intense if not fiery behind the plate at times), but his arm isn't that strong or accurate. He threw out 32% of runners, while league average was 33%. Baseball America will tell you that his bat is his only above-average "tool", but with catchers I always have to wonder about how calling a game factors into those "tools". Catchers have made the big leagues with less talent than Santin, just don't expect him to be the guy to gun the runners down. If his game calling can keep him at catcher, then his bat may move him along the rest of the way.

Baseball America loves Matt Tuiasosopo and ranked him as number one in the Arizona League and five in the Northwest League. Some in the M’s FO thought that he could hit in Wisconsin at the time they drafted him, but with how some of the pitchers were getting ahead of him in Everett, I’m not so sure. He’s one of the more intriguing five-tool players to come through the system recently, with 30 home run potential according to some and a cannon arm. Unfortunately, like a lot of younger shortstops, particularly those who aren’t used to playing one sport/position exclusively, he doesn’t have superb aim yet and I saw him quarterback a throw or two first-hand in Everett this year. That should smooth out with time… but personally I was thinking they were going to stick him in right or at third. Then again, these are the Mariners we’re talking about and a lot of highly regarded guys will stay at short until they prove they absolutely cannot. Tui’s about as highly regarded as anyone in the low minors, and there are some out there who think that he was a better pick at 93 than Jones was at 37. Myself, I try to reserve judgment on recently drafted players, particularly high school ones, but I’m looking forward to what he might do next year.

  M's Minor League Hitting Review, pt. 2

This is part two of the four part series. Part one, concerning the intro and Runs Created, can be found here.

Up next, we have secondary average, or SECA. Where on-base percentage and slugging percentage are patience and power plus batting average, SECA operates on different principles. Batting average has no real involvement in SECA, and instead it is a measure of power, plus patience, plus stolen base efficiency. With all those factors taken into account, your slow slugger and your speedy leadoff guy can potentially come out with the same numbers, but the longer a season gets, the wider the gap may be between them.

Just because hitters grade out similarly in RC/27 doesn’t mean they’ll come up with similar SECAs. I previously cited Guerrero and Ichiro as two examples in RC/27, but when you look at their secondary averages, Guerrero is way up there at .366, while Ichiro has a paltry .188. Does that mean that Guerrero had twice the value? Not really.

Overall, I view SECA as being a little less accurate a representation. In terms of prospects, it can sometimes seem to come out as a gauge of whether or not a hitter is living up to their potential. Players can put up excellent numbers on the field with SECAs well below league average. But the fact remains that a lot of upper-tier hall of fame players have had extremely high SECAs. Mickey Mantle’s career had a .479 SECA, while Lou Gehrig had a .481.

This year, I’ve also decided to add the minor league equivalent averages, or EQA, to the SECA section where I have that data available (everywhere Northwest League and above). The grunt work on that was done by Clay Davenport of Baseball Prospectus, and I acknowledge right now that while I’m using it, it isn’t something that I’ve come up with or done the actual number crunching on. Nor can I claim to understand it well enough to make many comments about the formula itself. However, if you believe in this formula and think that it should take precedence over SECA for the purpose of a numbers review, by all means tell me and I’ll tweak it for next year. Right now, I’m leading towards having EQA take precedence.


Name Age Pos. AB SECA EQA
Jacobsen, Bucky 29 DH 292 .521 .333
Bocachica, Hira 29 UT 136 .463 .303
Leone, Justin 28 3B 253 .427 .283
*Reed, Jeremy 23 CF 233 .360 .272
*Zapp, A.J. 26 1B 509 .342 .282
#Ugueto, Luis 26 UT 361 .329 .256
Strong, Jamal 26 CF 238 .315 .287
*Jacobs, Greg 28 OF 197 .310 .292
Lopez, Jose 21 SS 275 .280 .270
#Lopez, Mickey 30 IF 391 .276 .261
Christianson, R 23 C 151 .272 .244
#Santiago, Ramo 24 SS 243 .169 .176
*Dobbs, Greg 26 3B 255 .168 .219
*Guzman, Elpidi 28 CF 454 .139 .199

San Antonio

Name Age Pos. AB SECA EQA
*Choo, Shin-soo 22 OF 517 .317 .307
Brown, Hunter 25 IF 441 .304 .295
Bohn, T.J. 25 RF 220 .295 .278
Lindsey, John 28 1B 457 .293 .294
*Jacobs, Greg 28 OF 155 .284 .300
*Delucchi, Dust 27 CF 486 .243 .271
*Dobbs, Greg 26 3B 203 .241 .303
Morse, Michael 23 IF 157 .236 .274
Christianson, R 23 C 132 .174 .255
Oliveros, Luis 21 C 279 .143 .217
Menchaca, Eddie 24 SS 419 .107 .185
*Bubela, Jaime 26 LF 166 .102 .192
#Moon, Brian 27 C 119 .092 .169
*Gandolfo, Rob 27 IF 323 .087 .188
#Balfe, Ryan 29 1B 141 .078 .135

Inland Empire

Name Age Pos. AB SECA EQA
Bohn, T.J. 25 RF 240 .342 .297
Monzon, Erick 22 SS 115 .322 .322
Nelson, Jon 25 LF 499 .275 .284
Hagen, Matt 25 1B 347 .274 .243
#Guzman, Jesus 20 3B 442 .265 .289
#Castro, Ismael 21 2B 66 .242 .277
*Harris, Gary 25 CF 562 .233 .257
Garciaparra, Mi 22 SS 234 .226 .232
Lentz, Brian 25 C 122 .205 .230
#Gonzalez, Juan 23 IF 520 .196 .255
*Arroyo, Carlos 23 OF 434 .189 .275
Rivera, Rene 21 C 379 .182 .223
*Rogelstad, Mat 21 IF 375 .155 .222
*Ellison, Josh 21 OF 114 .152 .320


Name Age Pos. AB SECA EQA
Balentien, Wlad 20 OF 260 .319 .290
Blakeley, Eric 25 IF 261 .276 .291
Colton, Chris 22 OF 457 .267 .253
Cox, Michael 24 IF 390 .259 .250
*Ellison, Josh 21 OF 91 .231 .234
*Womack, Josh 21 OF 470 .223 .256
Jones, Adam 19 SS 510 .210 .260
Collins, Chris 23 C 382 .207 .241
*Dutton, Jeremy 24 1B 288 .205 .224
*Lahair, Bryan 22 1B 262 .187 .260
Nesbit, Michael 23 CF 237 .177 .257
#Navarro, Oswal 20 IF 109 .165 .213
Orlandos, Nick 24 2B 261 .165 .264
Ruchti, Justin 24 C 230 .157 .212


Name Age Pos. AB SECA EQA
Schweiger, Bria 22 C 72 .444 .313
*Craig, Casey 20 LF 200 .435 .295
Chen, Yung-Chi 21 IF 200 .310 .287
#Wilson, Mike 21 OF 239 .305 .279
Falcon, Omar 22 C 158 .259 .248
#Green, Brandon 23 IF 283 .258 .264
#Cabrera, Asdru 19 SS 239 .251 .263
Tuiasosopo, Mat 18 SS 101 .248 .254
#Navarro, Oswal 20 IF 267 .247 .262
Johnson, Brent 22 OF 233 .245 .285
*Hubbard, Thoma 22 1B 189 .233 .266
Cruz, Elvis 21 RF 106 .226 .211
Heid, Trevor 22 OF 130 .223 .225
Johnson, Rob 21 C 77 .208 .226


Name Age Pos. AB SECA
Tuiasosopo, Mat 18 SS 68 .485
Arroyo, Jack 22 2B 84 .321
Gerez, Francisc 25 SS 94 .277
Ozoria, Pedro 21 3B 138 .261
*Santin, Daniel 19 C 160 .250
Cruz, Reynaldo 20 RF 92 .250
Soto, Luis 21 1B 148 .236
Emmons, John 21 OF 131 .206
*Wu, Chao Kuan 20 1B 75 .200
#Jacobitz, Joe 23 OF 97 .196
Hall, David 21 OF 137 .190
Flaig, Jeff 19 DH 107 .178
#Dominguez, Jef 18 SS 162 .160
*Brock, Jermain 18 CF 120 .150
Rayon, Lampe 17 2B 95 .095


Name Age Pos. AB SECA
Graterol, Jose 21 RF 202 .446
*Valbuena, Luis 19 2B 222 .324
Ortiz, William 19 1B 135 .252
#Serrano, Terry 18 SS 136 .221
Fernandez, Jair 18 C 136 .213
*Avila, Gerardo 18 1B 110 .200
Britton, Dwight 17 LF 116 .198
Orfila, Pablo 18 1B 132 .159
Robles, Edzul 19 CF 136 .147
Fuentes, Juan 19 C 109 .128
Benitez, Deybis 17 SS 208 .125
Espinoza, Humbe 18 3B 150 .060

Dominican Republic

Name Age Pos. AB SECA
Tejada, Pedro ? DH 106 .358
Payano, Alejand ? OF 147 .333
Hernandez, Jair ? OF 214 .322
Pimentel, Manel ? 1B 219 .251
Bonilla, Leury ? 3B 229 .249
Garth, Ronald ? 2B 207 .227
Mejia, Jose ? SS 196 .184
Ruiz, Donato ? OF 168 .155
De La Rosa, Jua ? 2B 98 .153
Hernandez, Eddy ? OF 197 .147
Beltran, Juan ? C 144 .056

Of course, now that all those numbers have been posted, we have to sort through and figure out who is legitimate and who is not, and we’ll do that by setting up an age range for each level, using the same model as we did with pitching. In Peoria, we will only look at 18 and 19-year-olds, and the trend will continue on up to Tacoma where the cutoff will be with 23 and 24-year-olds. Filtering everything by those standards, the top hitting prospects within the organization are…

LF Wladimir Balentien
LF Casey Craig
RF Shin-soo Choo
3B Jesus Guzman
CF Jeremy Reed
C Daniel Santin
SS Matt Tuiasosopo

For the sake of argument, I’ve removed SS Erick Monzon due to a small sample size and added Tui and Santin, despite having no league data for Arizona. Tui I can justify on the basis that he was the top prospect in the whole of the AZL, and few are going to deny that. Santin was added because it was clear that his RC/27 was well above-average and, for a catcher, his secondary average was pretty impressive.

You can also check out Baseball Prospectus' future DT on hitters by each league and you'll find the same names popping up in the top 20 for each league.

Parts 3 & 4, up next...

  M's Minor League Hitting Review, pt. 1

Well, here we are again, it’s early December and surprisingly, nothing’s been happening on the free agent front aside from a few contracts that borderline on ludicrous. But enough of all that nonsense, it’s time to take another closer look at the guys who are still out there just doing it for fun. At least, most of them… others had things like signing bonuses in mind, but moving right along…

The Great Hitting Review, 2004 edition

By The Numbers

As previously stated in the pitching post, I’ve stopped tracking things in terms of split levels. If a player has enough at-bats or enough of a reputation to warrant showing up on multiple levels, they’ll be represented as such. This just makes things a little bit easier when you’re trying to track progress from one level to the next for the guys that have been promoted.

Now then, let’s start off with Runs Created for each of the hitters in the system, from Tacoma down on to the Dominican. Runs Created is one of the better-known concepts that the sabermetric world has devised, and there are any number of incarnations of it. RC is basically designed to show how effective hitters are at “creating” runs, whether they’re the type who run around the basepaths and score them at a higher rate or whether they’re driving them in via doubles or homeruns. Runs Created per 27 outs, or RC/27, indicates how many runs an entire lineup of the same player would score over the course of 27 outs.

As is the case with most offensive stats, higher numbers are better. Vlad Guerrero, for example, last year had about 140 runs created and about 8.66 RC/27. Which is not to say the whole thing is skewed for power guy; Ichiro Suzuki created about 132 runs and was worth 7.46 in RC/27. In other words, RC is a good indicator of the raw amount a player did in his at-bats, but RC/27 is where the numbers are given a greater context.

There are any number of formulas for Runs Created, but the formula I use runs as follows…

Runs Created = {(Hits + Walks + HitsByPitch - CaughtStealing - GroundsIntoDoublePlay) * (TotalBases + .26[Walks - IntentionalWalks + HitsByPitch] + .52[SacrificeHit + SacrificeFlies + StolenBases])} / (AtBats + Walks + HitsByPitch + SacrificeHits + SacrificeFlies)

RC/27 = (RunsCreated) / (AtBats - Hits + CaughtStealing + SacrificeHits + SacrificFlies + GroundsIntoDoublePlay) * 27

As you can tell, it doesn’t factor in strikeouts. My view on them is that they aren’t something I would encourage from a hitter (and who would?), but if you can still get the job done and are even more effective when swinging harder, just go for it. On with the numbers, and remember that the dividing lines, where applicable, are designed to indicate league average...


Name Age Pos. AB RC RC/27
Jacobsen, Bucky 29 DH 292 83.04 10.53
Bocachica, Hira 29 UT 136 32.27 8.07
*Jacobs, Greg 28 OF 197 41.15 7.88
*Zapp, A.J. 26 1B 509 100.16 7.33
Strong, Jamal 26 CF 238 47.71 7.28
Leone, Justin 28 3B 253 50.14 6.84
Lopez, Jose 21 SS 275 49.15 6.51
*Reed, Jeremy 23 CF 233 39.86 6.22
#Lopez, Mickey 31 IF 391 64.29 5.73
#Ugueto, Luis 26 UT 361 57.02 5.58
Christianson, R 23 C 151 20.77 4.71
*Dobbs, Greg 26 3B 255 25.94 3.50
*Guzman, Elpidi 28 CF 454 42.76 3.22
#Santiago, Ramo 24 SS 243 20.29 2.48

San Antonio

Name Age Pos. AB RC RC/27
*Choo, Shin-soo 22 OF 517 97.69 7.05
*Jacobs, Greg 28 OF 155 28.95 6.92
*Dobbs, Greg 26 3B 203 36.42 6.69
Lindsey, John 28 1B 457 80.25 6.19
Brown, Hunter 25 IF 441 77.49 6.17
Bohn, T.J. 25 RF 220 35.03 5.63
*Delucchi, Dust 27 CF 486 70.93 5.04
Morse, Michael 23 IF 157 20.72 4.41
Christianson, R 23 C 132 15.95 4.26
Oliveros, Luis 21 C 279 24.29 2.83
*Bubela, Jaime 26 LF 166 12.24 2.45
Menchaca, Eddie 24 SS 419 27.50 2.10
*Gandolfo, Rob 27 IF 323 20.81 2.04
#Balfe, Ryan 29 1B 141 7.95 1.82
#Moon, Brian 27 C 119 4.65 1.12

Inland Empire

Name Age Pos. AB RC RC/27
*Ellison, Josh 21 OF 114 24.48 9.05
Monzon, Erick 22 SS 115 26.80 8.93
Bohn, T.J. 25 RF 240 46.55 6.87
#Guzman, Jesus 20 3B 442 80.18 6.64
Nelson, Jon 25 LF 499 86.59 6.37
*Arroyo, Carlos 23 OF 434 68.65 5.94
#Castro, Ismael 21 2B 66 10.22 5.52
*Harris, Gary 25 CF 562 76.54 4.78
#Gonzalez, Juan 23 IF 520 70.44 4.71
Hagen, Matt 25 1B 347 44.32 4.30
Lentz, Brian 25 C 122 13.81 3.84
Garciaparra, Mi 22 SS 234 26.49 3.73
*Rogelstad, Mat 21 IF 375 37.70 3.35
Rivera, Rene 21 C 379 36.81 3.15


Name Age Pos. AB RC RC/27
Blakeley, Eric 25 IF 261 43.96 5.79
Balentien, Wlad 20 OF 260 40.20 5.37
Nesbit, Michael 23 CF 237 29.85 4.47
*Lahair, Bryan 22 1B 262 32.92 4.42
Orlandos, Nick 24 2B 261 31.77 4.27
Jones, Adam 19 SS 510 63.41 4.26
*Womack, Josh 21 OF 470 56.86 4.19
Cox, Michael 24 IF 390 47.13 3.98
Colton, Chris 22 OF 457 52.10 3.74
Collins, Chris 23 C 382 40.07 3.43
*Ellison, Josh 21 OF 91 8.68 3.04
*Dutton, Jeremy 24 1B 288 26.47 2.98
Ruchti, Justin 24 C 230 18.64 2.65
#Navarro, Oswal 20 IF 109 8.31 2.44


Name Age Pos. AB RC RC/27
Schweiger, Bria 22 C 72 16.59 7.59
*Craig, Casey 20 LF 200 38.51 6.46
Chen, Yung-Chi 21 IF 200 33.57 6.04
Johnson, Brent 22 OF 233 39.12 5.87
#Wilson, Mike 21 OF 239 39.23 5.66
*Hubbard, Thoma 22 1B 189 28.00 5.29
#Green, Brandon 23 IF 283 40.65 4.99
#Navarro, Oswal 20 IF 267 37.30 4.89
#Cabrera, Asdru 19 SS 239 34.34 4.78
Falcon, Omar 22 C 158 21.22 4.55
Tuiasosopo, Mat 18 SS 101 12.87 4.18
Heid, Trevor 22 OF 130 13.69 3.55
Johnson, Rob 21 C 77 7.80 3.34
Cruz, Elvis 21 RF 106 10.05 3.08


Name Age Pos. AB RC RC/27
Tuiasosopo, Mat 18 SS 68 26.69 15.67
Gerez, Francisc 25 SS 94 21.74 9.17
Arroyo, Jack 22 2B 84 17.17 7.86
*Santin, Daniel 19 C 160 29.89 6.96
Soto, Luis 21 1B 148 24.82 5.88
Emmons, John 21 OF 131 19.58 5.62
*Wu, Chao Kuan 20 1B 75 11.11 5.36
#Jacobitz, Joe 23 OF 97 13.99 5.04
Cruz, Reynaldo 20 RF 92 12.83 4.95
Hall, David 21 OF 137 18.07 4.65
Ozoria, Pedro 21 3B 138 17.70 4.43
Flaig, Jeff 19 DH 107 12.55 3.89
*Brock, Jermain 18 CF 120 10.74 3.02
#Dominguez, Jef 18 SS 162 12.95 2.61
Rayon, Lampe 17 2B 95 7.68 2.59


Name Age Pos. AB RC RC/27
Graterol, Jose 21 RF 202 50.78 9.14
*Valbuena, Luis 19 2B 222 53.35 8.95
Fernandez, Jair 18 C 136 23.50 6.41
#Serrano, Terry 18 SS 136 20.27 5.26
Orfila, Pablo 18 1B 132 17.01 4.41
Fuentes, Juan 19 C 109 12.99 4.22
Ortiz, William 19 1B 135 15.90 3.83
Benitez, Deybis 17 SS 208 21.89 3.58
Britton, Dwight 17 LF 116 11.95 3.43
Robles, Edzul 19 CF 136 13.13 3.22
*Avila, Gerardo 18 1B 110 10.53 3.16
Espinoza, Humbe 18 3B 150 6.87 1.43

Dominican Republic

Name Age Pos. AB RC RC/27
Hernandez, Jair ? OF 214 42.69 7.07
Garth, Ronald ? 2B 207 32.61 5.43
Pimentel, Manel ? 1B 219 33.71 5.42
Bonilla, Leury ? 3B 229 27.72 3.86
Ruiz, Donato ? OF 168 18.58 3.74
Mejia, Jose ? SS 196 21.43 3.62
Payano, Alejand ? OF 147 16.73 3.53
Hernandez, Eddy ? OF 197 20.23 3.52
Tejada, Pedro ? DH 106 10.96 3.18
De La Rosa, Jua ? 2B 98 9.24 2.97
Beltran, Juan ? C 144 11.41 2.48

Parts 2-4 to be posted quite soon...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004
  Snelling and Ask BA

Jim Callis got a question on Chris Snelling in the new Ask BA today...
I have followed Mariners outfield prospect Chris Snelling for a while. He showed a lot of promise early and got called up to Seattle in 2002 at age 20, but he has run into knee and wrist problems ever since. Where do you see Snelling's career going? I really hope he can get rid of the injury bug.

Bob Romoga

There have been two constants in Snelling's career since he signed out of Australia in 1999. He has hit everywhere he has gone, putting up career averages of .319/.398/.486 in 353 minor league games, and he has been hurt in each of the last five seasons. His litany of injuries include a broken left hand and ligament damage in his left wrist in 2000; a stress fracture in his right ankle in 2001; a broken right thumb and a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in 2002; tendinitis and then a torn meniscus in the same knee in 2003; and a deep bone bruise in his right wrist in 2004.

Snelling is so aggressive and wants to play so badly—his bone bruise came from when he swung a bat too much trying to get ready for the season—but he needs to tone it down so he can stay on the diamond. I have no doubt he'll hit for average in the majors, but he may have a 15-homer ceiling and that may not be enough to win him a left-field job. The Mariners have several outfield options in the majors and upper minors, so he needs to seize his next opportunity. Snelling might have established himself as an everyday player in 2002 had he not blown out his knee in his eighth big league game.

I could speak more on this right away, but I'm still working on the minor league hitting review (BTW, I'm up to part four of four right now, and part three was unusually detailed) and most of what I have to say would just be repeated in there. Hopefully, that will be up within a week or so.

  Providing greater insight on the VWL...

One of the interesting things about this blogging/journalism gig is that even when I think I have a decent grasp on the facts, there's always one new thing to learn.

Today, I found out (actually, not found out so much as confirmed) that there is actually a minor league operating within the Venezuelan Winter League which is referred to as the "parallel league", according to my translator. So if you've been checking out the winter league rosters wondering why there are nineteen guys who played in the low minors this season that haven't debuted yet, it's because they're in the parallel league (and for all I know, other winter leagues may have a similar arrangement). That's the same reason why Jesus Guzman and Jose Escalona have seen minimal time with the Cardinales as well, and for all I know Emiliano Fruto may be getting some work in there as well.

Anyway, they just got through their all-star game, as did the major league portion of the LVBP (interesting note: Luis Sojo played all nine positions in the game). Jesus Guzman went 3-4 with an RBI in the parallel's game and was named the game's MVP. According to the info I'm getting, he's currently batting .485. Asdrubal Cabrera and Nibaldo Acosta are also doing exceptionally well, or so I hear.
| M's Minor League Review

Jonathan Mayo of has posted a review of the 2004 Mariners minor leaguers. This article details how the top five prospects fared, who is close to breaking onto the list, who has the most intriguing background, and a brief synopsis of the top two draft pick. Nothing earthshaking, but good for those just starting to follow the minor leagues (and if so, welcome).

Tuesday, December 07, 2004
  News Around the Minors: (12/07/04)

Not a huge update this time, but there are some things from the recent issue of BA that I would like to mention.

In an issue that's of some significance to me as a minor league journalist, the MLB has announced it will not continue its relationship with SportsNetwork (Will Lingo with the story, subscription req'd).

As frequent readers will know, I spent more than a few words ragging on SportsNetwork. For one thing, they couldn't keep an archive of transactions, for another they named Ismael Ramirez as the top right-hander in minor league baseball, and for a third thing, check this out... Notice anything missing? That's right, it's been over a month and they skipped over reviewing the California League entirely. But enough of my griping...

Apparently the situation was far more complex than I originally realized. For one thing, SportsTicker covers all of the minor leagues, including the independant leagues, the summer leagues, the AZL/GCL rookie leagues, and some of the winter leagues, whereas SportsNetwork only would take everything above the complex rookie leagues. That's not always an issue, but when one side covers the MLB and the other covers mLB, things aren't really going to mesh. When both sides are trying to cover mLB baseball and end up with different stats at seasons end, it only gets worse.

Regardless, the experiment is over, and everything is switching back to the SportsTicker system, which means that my major complaints will be addressed and we won't see any 100+ ages popping up on rosters any time soon.

Continuing a trend of BA articles, Jim Callis has one out on the not-quite-top-10 prospects from around the AL, and the M's have two representatives in CF Jamal Strong and RHRP Aaron Taylor. Subscription required, again, but Callis believes that Taylor's struggles with regaining his velocity are making him work on his secondary pitches more, and I tend to agree.

Finally, I mentioned before that George Sherrill would be helping out in a baseball clinic north of the border, so I consider myself obligated to report that Wisconsin infielder Eric Blakeley will also be helping out in a baseball clinic this weekend in Greenville, Ohio.

Mariner Minors: We cover the news, whether it's interesting or not.

  Transaction Update (12/07/04):

Courtesy of Baseball America, we have a new list of transactions, though nothing thrilling, I assure you.

The Seattle Mariners haev signed 1B Daniel Schwab. RHP Justin Ockerman has been placed on the restricted list. LHP Randy Williams has been traded to the San Diego Padres for IF/OF Billy Hogan.

I've already discussed Williams for Hogan a bit, but those who are more curious about Hogan may want to check out a free piece at InsideThePark about him. For all the questions about his work ethic, the kid certainly talks as if he has learned his lesson.

Schwab, 21, is a castoff from the Yankees system and bats left-handed. That's about as much as I know about him. Given that he was a 30th round pick and didn't debut until the following year, I think that he may have been a draft-and-follow, but BA doesn't mention anything on him and all the usual searches are turning up dry. The M's have gotten lucky with Yankee scraps who couldn't seem to hit before, but this isn't something that really registers as a blip on the radar just yet.

Ockerman, 21, is noted as being perhaps the tallest, or one of the tallest pitchers in minor league baseball at 6'10, and unfortunately, that's all I've been able to say about him. He was drafted as a 6th rounder in that fateful 2001 draft, but aside from having a brief stint with the Aquasox in 2003, he's never done anything of note. This marks the second time he's been placed on the restricted list, if memory serves me well.

A closer look at the minor league system of the Seattle Mariners baseball club.

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2006 Minor League Splits
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