A Look at Lakewood, volume 2.0

Its been close to two weeks, so lets take a look at Lakewood’s progress since my last write-up. I wanted to write more before the fold, just so there was some text and it didn’t look like just a link. And I was struggling to think of what to write. But then it came to me. When looking at statistics, the common question is “when do we know if this means something” in terms of sample size and relevance. Eric Seidman, who writes at lots of places including Fangraphs and his new Phillies site, Brotherly Glove, had an excellent piece on Frangraphs two years ago which covers this very topic. His piece is actually a simplification (much needed) of a longer, more stats heavy article. Read it here. As you can see from his list, we’re still not in the stabilization range for the statistics that I think are important when looking at prospects. That said, we’re getting close in some cases, and its fun to look at where we stand. So lets get to it.

Its still a long road back to push for the first half title, as the team is 6 games back.

The offense is still struggling. Current ranks

OPS: 11th out of 14
BA: 12th out of 14
OB%: 14th out of 14
SLG%: 9th out of 14
SB: 4th out of 14

Interestingly (well, kind of) their team OPS is actually UP from the last time we spoke, as they were at just .655 10 days ago. So, improvement, yes? Still a ways to go.

The pitching is still the strength of the team, and the class of the SAL.

ERA: 1st of 14
WHIP: t1st of 14
K: 5th of 14
BB: 9th of 14

Now lets look at the team on an individual level

* From 2008 to 2010, Anthony Hewitt’s best season line was .223/.255/.395 in 247 PA at Williamsport in 2009. This year, he’s at .247/.305/.464 in 105 PA in a repeat of Lakewood. Yes, he’s striking out a ton (38 times in 105 PA, 36%) but he’s drawn 5 walks in those 105 PA (4.7%), and while that may not seem significant, last year he drew a total of 13 walks in 465 PA, a rate of just 2.8%. Its improvement. Very small improvement. But more importantly, he’s actually hitting for power this year, with a .217 ISO. That is actual reason for excitement. He is 22. He is repeating a level. But this is encouraging. Everyone focuses on the ideal developmental path, one level per year, in AA by 22, etc etc. And while that is normal, Hewitt is obviously a project, and the Phillies knew this when they drafted him. I’m sure they hoped he’d be in Clearwater by now. But with any long term project, you have to focus on the short term. Hewitt will have to be put on the 40 man roster after this year, or be subjected to the Rule 5 draft, as he was 19 when drafted, but I don’t envision anyone taking him, considering his rawness, so the Phillies shouldn’t have to worry about this. Still, if he maintain’s his power and can keep his walk rate at 5%, he’s not finished as a semi-interesting prospect.

* The trio of Aaron Altherr, Domingo Santana, and Cameron Rupp have been major disappointments. I didn’t fully jump on the Altherr bandwagon this winter, as I had reservations, and they’ve come to fruition thus far. That said, I was bullish on Cameron Rupp, and it appears he’s having trouble adjusting to pro pitching. He has, however, thrown out 32% of would be base stealers, and that’s definitely a positive. Altherr has been abysmal against LHP, hitting just .133/.222/.356 in 15 AB, which is odd, because he’s righthanded. Still, he’s batting just .203/.272/.284 against righties in 74 AB. In total, its just 89 AB, so its not statistically significant, but it’s starting to become slightly concerning. In 77 plate appearances, Domingo Santana has struck out 27 times (35% of the time) while drawing just 4 walks. Discouraging, but again, he’s so young, you have no choice but to be patient. Given his age, he could still be in extended spring training waiting to get his first taste of the GCL. Still. Concerning.

* The best hitter on the squad (outside of minor league vet Jim Murphy) is Geancarlo Mendez, an under the radar signing out of the Dominican Republic in December 2007. Mendez couldn’t have gotten more than $25K to sign, as he received very little attention, and spent a bunch of time in the DSL before coming to the US last year. Andy mentioned him in his 2008 and 2009 DSL wrap-ups, but he wasn’t a highly touted guy. He’ll play the entire 2011 season at age 21, and so far he’s off to a nice start, hitting .308/.372/.436 in 87 PA. His 8 walks and 12 strikeouts are good, and though he doesn’t have a home run, he has 8 extra base hits and he’s 6 for 6 in stolen bases. He’s playing 3B after spending time at 1B, 2B and LF the last 3 seasons. At 6’2/170 he has the frame for the infield, but he’s probably maxed out physically, which raises questions about his long term power potential. Still, a name to watch.

Now, the pitchers

* David Buchanan leads the staff in both innings (40.2) and ERA (1.74), and has shown great control, with just 6 walks allowed in his 40.2 innings. As a 21 year old, he should be pitching well, and he certainly is. I would like to see him missing more bats, as he has just 26 strikeouts thus far. He’s yet to allow a home run, but isn’t a big groundball guy (0.93 GO to AO) so that is something to monitor.

* Garrett Claypool, another college righty, leads the staff in strikeouts with 29 in just 23 IP. He’s been a bit uneven thus far, but in his last two outings he’s gone 10 innings, 3 ER, 5 H, 2 BB and 10 K. He’s an extreme flyball pitcher (0.29 GO to AO), which could cause problems at the next level. He hides the ball well, and that deception should help him, but he’s going to have to miss a lot of bats and limit his walks to be successful.

* After a good debut, Jesse Biddle posted 3 below average starts, but he rebounded nicely last time out, going 5 innings, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB while striking out 4. In his previous 2 starts he racked up tons of groundballs, but kept the ball mostly in the air last time out. Its a small sample, so we’ll wait and see how it shakes out. I’ve expressed my optimism on Biddle before, and that remains.

Thats it for this report. Hopefully as the weather warms up, the performances of the Lakewood team do as well.

31 thoughts on “A Look at Lakewood, volume 2.0

  1. Lakewood seems to be the most dissapointing team (of the four) so far. But they are young. Mendez has really been the only positive as noted above. There is still plenty of season left so hopefully Altherr, Collier, Santana, and Rupp wake up. What about Kelly Dugan? How is he is swinging the bat at XST? Any reports? He seemed to be hitting the ball well in ST. Another thing that has hurt has been their defense.

  2. I have been impressed by Buchanan. As far as improving the use of statistics, it has become a newly much used phrase, but the term “late breaking pitch” seems to fit some of the pitchers traditional statistics miss. Rodriguez, Buchanan, Stutes for three whose velocity doesn’t seem to impress, but their pitches are difficult to hit because the batter has a hard time following them. The Phils are facing Jair Jurgens this evening. He is another one whose ball dances and is difficult to hit. How do we capture this? It seems difficult to me other than no hard hit balls against (see Pettibone).

  3. Stutes just gave up a 2 run shot to the Braves, I guess he folded under a little pressure.. well I guess you have to live with the learning curve…

    1. Yeah or that he just had a bad start, and couldn’t locate his stuff.

      Oh wait nevermind, it was the pressure lol

      1. Call it what you want, all I know is he gave up a 2 run shot, followed it up with a walk and then got yanked… sub par pitching…

    1. Definitely did…what happened to his velocity?

      91-92 is a far cry from his previous radar numbers.

      1. I’m wondering if he’s throwing more of a 2 seem fastball now. I can’t recall what his pitch fx data looked like last year though.

    1. Yeah that was nice to see… Any update of Colvin, last I heard he was supposed to be back shortly, but stll no mention of him…

  4. Mathieson looked horrible, 93 was the highest he hit on the gun and he left two or three sliders up around the letters, then threw another 5 in the dirt. Terrible

  5. I love this format with all the stats and analyses. Thanks PhuturePhillies!

    36 unearned runs jumped out at me. It is 3rd highest in the league and something I will monitor. 17 errors by Duran and Barnes haven’t helped, but nearly all of the positional players need to improve on their fielding as well as their hitting. Hopefully their defense and offense will improve together. Perhaps the pitchers are getting rattled after errors.

    1. I like to see how a pitcher handles errors. Some guys like Cosart or May can work their way out fielding errors. They can strike out the side, if they have to. Some guys rely on their fielders. They try to keep the ball in the ballpark and give their fielders a chance to make plays and get out of innings. There was one game where there were 3 errors on 3 successive plays. A pitcher can’t do anything about that. He did his job (except I believe one of the errors was by the pitcher). Villar made a ton of errors but was considered a good SS. Maybe he was getting to more balls and then throwing the ball away. I’m wondering if Duran is a fielder like that? Has anyone seen him play? I can’t speak for Barnes either but I don’t think he’s got great range and therefore committing errors by throwing it away. He was just throwing it away.

    2. Weird thing–when I wrote the Lakewood reports last year, at one point I spent time writing about how many unearned runs last year’s team allowed. If memory serves, I think Colvin gave up an ungodly number of unearned runs. There’s obviously no relation since the team is just about completely turned over, but it is an interesting observation.

  6. So I was just looking at BABIP across the phillies prospects and noticed Dominic Browns career BABIP is pretty high, the average (just eye balling it) seems around .345 … do you think that is sustainable? Is it driven by a high line drive %?

    1. It probably isn’t sustainable at quite that level, but he is a guy who could and probably will sustain an above average babip (possibly in the .330 range); he does hit line drives, and his speed is above average as well, and that profiles as an above average guy for babip. Also, the fact that he’s been able to sustain it for several years across several levels is a point in this favor.

    2. Dom also does a good job of taking his walks and only swinging at strikes which also helps provide more line drives.

    3. Dom had four minor league stops where he had more than 270 PAs. In those four stops he had the following BABIP:

      NYPL: 317 PAs .343 BABIP
      LWD: 516 PAs .327 BABIP
      CLW: 280 PAs .330 BABIP
      REA: 271 PAs .345 BABIP

      Looks reasonably legit to me.

        1. The ESPN boards might be great places to find guys who want Russian brides, but that doesn’t mean the people selling them aren’t spammers.

  7. It was great to see Biddle follow his good start with another one and get his first win. I’d really like to see Collier start to pick it up. After missing so much time, he really needs to stay on the field and avoid injury. Altherr looks overmatched and with Dugan and Hudson (both of whom played very well in ST) breathing down his neck for playing time (as well as Eldimire if he’s healthy), he’ll be sent out to WSport if he doesn’t start to hit soon. Santana started to play better and then I guess he got hurt. He’s still so young but he needs to improve too or they’ll send him down again.

  8. I mentioned it before but the prospect-filled OF is really disappointing. I figured one of them would have a great season. Alvarez, Altherr, Collier are just terrible with Hewitt seeming to deserve the most playing time. Santana did get hot for a little while but still K’s (and now BB’s) like Hewitt.

    All these guys need to keep playing but so do the XST guys. I am not sure if any of the current Lakewood OF would benefit by going to XST. Collier is getting closer to be a bigger dud than Hewitt.

    1. It’s still a little early to get down on these guys. It would have been nice to see one of them pop right away, but there is still time. Santana is only 18 and Altherr is only 20 and he showed promise at NYPL last year.

      Collier is also only 20 and his numbers look a little wonky so far. Solid BB rate and ok K rate but LD rate is miniscule (4%) compared to 16% in 2009. 16% is nothing to write home about, but it seems like there is a good chance he can improve on his current numbers. It is taking him a while to adjust after all the time away, perhaps?

  9. On the pitching side I am most disappointed by Shreve. I thought he would be a dark horse candidate for a break out year but he is now quite old for A- and is already out of the rotation.
    Biddle is inconsistent and that comes as no surprise. As long as he can keeping pitching and learning without becoming frustrated, it will be a good season.
    I am surprised that Pettis was not moved to a starter, and has since been promoted. He seems to have limited stuff so I would figure he’d be better suited as a starter. He has pitched very well though and deserving of moving up.

    1. A shame Shreve has slipped many notches, given the upticks of a lot of other guys who have to be ahead of him now. But he can still find himself this year and advance. Here’s hoping.

      Agree on Biddle. Right where he needs to be, showing flashes of his upside, while going through a learning curve. By all accounts, exceptional personal maturity for someone his age. That factor is THE most important after physical talent, which we know he has.

      Since Pettis does not have frontline stuff, don’t fix what ain’t broke. Keep him as a reliable reliever in high leverage roles.

  10. Another thing about Hewitt this year is the stolen bases. He’s one pace to crush his total last year, which was around ten. He hit 11 homers last year while batting just .200. I always thought if he could somehow hit .260, his power numbers would be excellent- 20-30 homers. Add in 25- 40 steals and he becomes a legit prospect. I’d like to see him boost his average this year by at least .10 points (from what it is now) and improve his discipline at the plate. He is clearly a free swinger. I imagine that a lot of the pitchers in low A are giving up a lot of easy walks- 4 straight pitches way out of the strike zone. It seems like discipline and a good eye is something you can learn and Hewitt, according to reports, has a lot that you can’t learn in terms of raw athletic ability. Also it could be interesting to look at his numbers after a certain point in the season. He started out stone cold, then he began to hit, earning player of the week honors. He must be hitting around .300 since he began to hit this year. I hope this is not just a hot streak but a new normal for Hewitt and that .248 is deceptive because of the cold start.

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