By now I’m going to assume that you’ve seen my introductory piece on this new statistic I’ve created, which I’ve dubbed the SONAR Score. Because I don’t have to do a huge setup here explaining the premise of the entire project, I’m going to address a few quick points before getting to the pitching scores, then just dig right in. I won’t comment on everyone, obviously, because there are over 80 players on the sheet. Not all of these guys are legit prospects, obviously, but they are all scored on the same scale, all of the adjustments are applied, so including them does no harm. I also left Jason Knapp and Carlos Carrasco on the list as a point of reference, I’m well aware that they are no longer in the Phillies system. So, with that intro, lets get down to it.
* I hope everyone had a chance to go back and read my intro piece and then the comments section as well. I tried to address a few of the key questions briefly, and there’s some good information in there, especially with regard to my devaluing of the stolen base. If you still have questions on the hitting aspect, please post your questions in the hitting discussion, not here.
* Someone brought up the idea of looking at the score in season. I’m here to tell you that its not practical from my end. Creating these scores involves me copying/pasting data into an Excel sheet that I spent a lot of time building, and then after all of the data is copied/pasted, combining lines for players that played at multiple levels. Its very time consuming, there’s a lot that goes into it, and its just not something that I will be doing in season. The point of the score is kind of to look at the season that was and try to figure out if we can learn something that might go against the popular belief or prevalent notion. As I discussed in the other post, I’m not a big believer in minor league splits. I just don’t really think pulling 75 AB or 20 IP from any pitcher’s sample and analyzing it will give you something useful. Could the guy have really improved a core skill that changes his prospect outlook? Sure. Or he could have feasted on weaker competition after 10 of the best prospects in the league were promoted midseason. There are any number of explanations for hot and cold streaks, and its just not something I see the value in. As I mentioned before, this score isn’t some type of magic, there will be guys who score low but then suddenly break out, and guys who have a great year then fall flat. My hope is that by looking at the score, and then the confirming indicators (SecA, ISO, DICE) that we can maybe put a player’s season in perspective and see if hes maybe overrated/underrated at the time and what to expect going forward. It still requires a lot of analysis, you still need the scouting reports, and even then you really won’t ever be right 100% of the time, or 90% of the time, or probably even 75% of the time. Its the unpredictable nature of baseball.
* The pitching version of the SONAR score is built on the same basic principle as the hitting version. My goal was to target the aspects of pitching that the pitcher has control over. I’ve mentioned the DICE statistic before, there is also DIPS, and you can read all about it here and elsewhere. The three true outcomes for a batter are a walk, a strikeout and a home run, as none of the three are dependent on a ball being put in play. For a pitcher, the concept is similar. A pitcher can control the guys he strikes out, the guys he walks, and to a lesser extent, the number of home runs he gives up. The latter is more controversial, but I do believe HR rate is a predictor of future success/failure to some degree. I don’t weight that as much as I do the other two factors, but I think it is important. Obviously if you read into the last few sentences literally, you’ll say pitchers can’t control whether an umpire has a consistent strike zone, and things of that nature, and I agree, but that isn’t really the argument. Guys who strike out lots of hitters while walking very few batters are the guys who generally lead the league in pitching categories. When the ball is put in play, you’re at the mercy of your defenders and the luck that comes with batted balls in play. A pitcher with mediocre stuff on a great defensive team could have a shiny ERA, but then go to a team with a bad defense, have the same mediocre peripherals, but have an ERA 2 runs higher. By not allowing the ball to be put in play, as a pitcher you take the defense out of the equation. That’s the aim of DICE and FIP. Its also the foundation for my pitcher ratings, looking at a pitcher’s control, his domination, and how well he keeps the ball in the park. With hitters, the “confirming” statistic was SecA, and with pitchers the confirming stat is DICE. A guy who posted great peripheral statistics but pitched in a very hitter friendly park, or with a really bad defense behind him, could have a pedestrian/ugly ERA, but still have the core skills needed to thrive. So, a pitcher’s SONAR score will not be impacted by his ERA, instead by his core skills on the mound.
The scale for lining up all the prospects is the same for pitchers as it is for hitters. A refresher
Score of 110+ = Elite 
Score of 95-110 = Well Above Average to Elite 
Score of 80-95 = Well Above Average 
Score of 65-80 = Above Average to Well Above Average 
Score of 50-65 = Above Average 
Score of 35-50 = Average to Above Average 
Score of 20-35 = Average 
Score of 5-20 = Average to Below Average 
Score of 5 to -10 = Below Average 
Score of -10 to -25 = Below Average to Well Below Average 
Score of -25 to -40 = Well Below Average 
Score of -40 to -55 = Well Below Average to Terrible 
Score lower than -55 = Terrible 
Some of you complained that the image was not visible for you, or you couldn’t see it. If you are using a Windows based operating system, right click on the image/chart then select “view image”, or copy the image URL and then paste it into another window. I’m also going to post a URL link where you can click on and it should open the image in a new window/tab. If you continue to have issues with this, let me know. The far right column, labeled “20-80 scale” is again a reference to the numbers in brackets above, which I explained in the hitters post. Its just a frame of reference. Also, the red and green highlighted boxes are not scientific, just rates that I viewed as either positive or negative. I might not have gotten all of them, but I think it gives you a general idea.
So, lets get to the positive value pitchers.
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Any big surprises here? No real surprise that Drabek tops the list. I suspect most people would have expected a higher score, but his score was brought down slightly by his performance in his last few starts at Reading. His performance at Clearwater was excellent, and he was age appropriate for A+. He was young for Reading, but his performance dropped off a tad. He lost about 3.5 K per 9 and allowed 9 HR in 96 IP after allowing 0 in 61 IP at Clearwater. The FSL is a much tougher hitting environment, whereas Reading is one of the more hitter friendly parks in the Eastern League. Still, Drabek’s score is fine, and I suspect that when I compile all the numbers from every team, he’ll have one of the 20 or so best scores for pitchers. Nothing to be ashamed of.
Maybe the next two are kind of surprising, but not really. De Fratus has posted excellent peripherals at every stop. His walk rate is outstanding, he doesn’t give up many HR, and he’s still missing bats. Kevin Goldstein indicated that he has good raw stuff, not elite stuff, but good enough stuff to make it to the bigs. Right now the Phillies seem undecided about his role, and while he may ultimately end up a reliever, I’d give him a chance to start again in 2010 at High A and see what happens. Bastardo’s rapid ascent continued, as he reached the majors, blew away the Padres, then came back to Earth a bit, then vanished with another arm injury. At this point, that’s my biggest knock on him. Can he stay healthy enough to log 120 innings in a minor league season? He looks like a reliever to me, but a power reliever who can pitch late in games and provide great value in his league minimum MLB seasons.
Our resident guest contributor Michael Schwimer comes in just behind former Phillies prospect Jason Knapp and just ahead of former Phillies prospect Carlos Carrasco. Schwimer’s season is even more astounding because he threw only 64 innings. As I mentioned in my intro, guys with lower innings totals/plate appearance totals are docked, because the same is smaller, and thus a bit more unreliable. If I hadn’t had this type of adjustment in, Schwimer might have scored higher than Drabek. Almost 12.5 K/9 is ridiculously good, and just under 3 BB/9 is just fine. He keeps the ball in the park, and his 1.35 DICE backs up the fact that he had ridiculous stuff working this year. How will he do at the higher levels and beyond? We’ll see, but so far so good.
Touching on a few more in brief. Matt Way ranks the highest of the 2009 draft class, a stellar debut and a ridiculous K/BB rate. His stuff is more finesse, so it remains to be seen how he’ll fare against better competition. Futures Game rep Yohan Flande, who came out of nowhere, had a decent but not amazing season. His peripherals aren’t amazing, just solid, and he’s probably a reliever. Two guys who maybe no one is thinking about, Ebelin Lugo and Nicholas Hernandez, posted really nice scores. Lugo had a fairly pedestrian debut last year in the GCL, but all of his peripherals greatly improved. I wish I knew more about him. Hernandez, a 12th round pick this past June, was only 20 in the NYPL, not out of line, and posted good numbers, especially with his command. Hernandez, if you remember from the draft writeup info, was a good prospect (possibly top 100-150 picks) entering the spring but had a bad season and then fell down draft boards. He’s got an 88-91 mph fastball, a great changeup, but BA noted his curve was suspect. So he is basically the same type of pitcher as Matt Way. Same caveat, wait and see how they progress against better competition, but hes definitely a name to watch.
Jesus Sanchez, the last remnant of the Abreu trade (I think), continues his conversion from catcher to pitcher, had a solid year at Lakewood. He logged 136 IP, a pretty staggering number all things considered, and had solid peripherals. Jarred Cosart, who got a lot of positive juice in the BA Top 10, sits among an interesting group including fellow 2008 draftee Jon Pettibone. Austin Hyatt, who also got some love among NYPL observers, comes in slightly lower, but this is again an innings pitched adjustment, as his sample size is much smaller. Jumping further down is Andrew Carpenter, who has kind of stagnated over the last 2 seasons. He has some troubles with the long ball, he’s hittable, and at this point I’m not sure what his role is going forward.
The big surprise here is probably Trevor May. As you can see, May is kind of a feast or famine type right now. He struck out an eye popping 95 in 77 IP, but he also walked 43. He did keep the ball in the park, and he was really humming along by the end of the season. I’m much higher on May than the score represents, but again, that’s kind of the point, to have something objective to look at. May will rank near the top of my prospect list, but I think this is one of those things that merits watching. Brody Colvin obviously threw only 2 innings, you learn nothing from 2 innings.
Lets move along to the next group of guys
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Lots of organizational guys here, so not a whole lot to discuss in detail. Sergio Escalona is mildly interesting, and his strikeouts and walks are fine, but he was somewhat homer prone, which is a concern. Tyler Cloyd, a favorite of some here, has underwhelming strikeout totals, which brings his score down, but his control is good. Mike Cisco is an interesting guy. He showed excellent control but really didn’t miss many bats, and just as troubling, he was very homer prone at Reading. Vance Worley got killed over a 2 month stretch, which really brought down his score. Was he just tired? Did hitters adjust? Whatever it was, his season as a whole looks pretty ugly, but hes not someone I’d give up on.
And the final batch of guys
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Some interesting guys end up here, unfortunately. Mike Stutes had just an ok season and was vulnerable to the long ball at Reading. He didn’t really miss a ton of bats and also issued a few too many walks. Heitor Correa also shows up here. As you know, he missed all of 2008 due to a team suspension, and its pretty likely that he was just shaking off the rust in 2009. He’s still very young, he can repeat Lakewood and still be age appropriate, so I wouldn’t give up on him. It pains me to see Julian Sampson down here, but was there any other place for him? Its almost shocking that his score wasn’t worse. His K/9 is the worst of anyone on this entire list, which really says something, his walk rate wasn’t great, and for a sinkerball pitcher he gave up a ton of HR. Just an all around disaster. Another guy I’ve defended to no end, Joe Savery, also comes through with a very poor showing. His peripherals across the board really just were not good. He only struck out 1 more per 9 than he walked, which isn’t going to get it done. Your guess is as good as mine on him at this point. Its foolish to say he never had talent, I’ve outlined this countless times before, he was an elite prospect after his freshman year at Rice. The Phillies gambled that he’d come all the way back from his arm injuries, and he obviously didn’t. Took a gamble, lost the bet, and you move on. He might make it as a LOOGY, maybe he decides to take the Ankiel route and start hitting again, but its obvious that his prospect star has dimmed considerably at this point.
There ya go. Feel free to discuss any of the guys here, some I didn’t touch on just because I can only write the same types of descriptions so many times. If you have questions that I can answer about the system and the scores, ask away. I have to do battle with the DMV tomorrow, so I may not have a chance to address the issues until Friday. Enjoy.