The 88 pitchers who faced at least 150 batters in the 2013 New-York Penn League (NYPL) season and averaged at least 10 batters per game.
Data Under Review
Data from all plate appearances against said pitchers in the NYPL in 2013, excluding bunts and foul outs. This was captured and compiled from the MLBAM Gameday folders.
The table below summarizes how 12 unique general play events impacted the run expectancy for the batting team for that play plus the remainder of the inning. The first +0.26 value you see in the Average column of the table conveys that, on average, a walk or hit-by-pitch increased an inning's run expectancy by 0.26 runs. The two -0.20 values in the same column convey that a strikeout or an infield flyball decreased any inning's run expectancy by 0.20 runs, on average. And you can continue all the way down that column to the +0.00 which conveys that an outfield flyball to the opposite-field-third of the field had zero effect on run expectancy, on average. From the perspective of a pitcher seeking to minimize the risk of runs scoring, he would ideally walk few, strike out many, infield pop out a fair percentage, and generally avoid line drives hit anywhere and flyballs hit to the batter's pull-field-third sector of the outfield.
Armed with the values in the Average column of the table, we can now score the performance of individual pitchers in the league's season by charging the pitcher with the exact number of runs specified in the table for each instance of the corresponding play type. Note that at this level of analysis the effects of factors that tend to be out of the control of the pitcher have been largely neutralized (ballpark and environmental effects, fielding and other defensive variables, context and sequencing of run-scoring events, luck, etc.). As a simple example, consider a pitcher who walked 1, struck out 4, and allowed 3 center-third groundballs and 2 pull-third line drives; the math would go 1 x (+0.26 runs) + 4 x (-0.20 runs) + 3 * (-0.03 runs) + 2 * (+0.37 runs) and sum to 0.11 runs; that result can then be divided by the total number of 10 events and thus the pitcher allowed run expectancy to increase by 0.011 runs per plate appearance. That process is completed for each of the 88 pitchers to determine their overall effect on run expectancy per plate appearance. Since the magnitude of that number doesn't have any particular meaning as a standalone quantity, the average and standard deviation (SD) of the 88 values are computed and used to grade each pitcher's individual performance as a single Performance Score that is expressed on a 20-to-80-style scouting scale; 50 denotes league-average performance (equal or better than 50% of peers), 60 denotes 1 SD better than league-average (the 83rd percentile, or >= 83% of peers), 70 denotes 2 SD better than league-average (>= 97% of peers), 40 denotes 1 standard deviation (SD) worse than league-average (>= 17% of peers), 30 denotes 2 SD worse than league-average (>= 3% of peers), and so on with 10 points essentially being 1 SD.
To gain a better understanding of each pitcher's relative strengths and weaknesses it makes sense to break their Performance Score down into a few of the individual elements that influence it. As such for each of them I will report a Control Subscore (based on the pitcher's walk plus hit-by-pitch rate), Strikeout Subscore (based on the pitcher's strikeout rate), and a Batted Ball Subscore (this is computed exactly as the Performance Score was but without including the walks or strikeouts in the computation), again using a 20-to-80 scale where scores above 50 are better than average. Age-relative-to-level also merits consideration, so each of them is assigned an Age Score based on how many SDs young they were relative to the average age of the 88 pitchers with the younger ones receiving scores above 50.
The results will be presented by parent organization, in alphabetical order. Note that a few dozen non-qualifiers from the 14 clubs will have their smaller-sample results presented towards the bottom of the post rather than with their team's data. Green numbers in a table beat league average by at least 1 SD (excellers) whereas red ones trailed league average by at least 1 SD. An asterisk next to a pitcher's name indicates a lefthanded thrower. This is a league where many of the top collegiate draftees make their professional debuts, so much of this audience will recognize the names of many of the pitchers even if they are otherwise unfamiliar with what went down in the league this season.
Baltimore Orioles: Aberdeen
There are lots of middle-of-the-pack scores here and that is not necessarily bad, all things considered, as the top 4 generally performed well. In a bit of a surprise, 2013 11th-rounder Brault cracked the recently-published Baseball America Top 20 prospect list for the league. The two extreme results are 2013 9th-rounder Horacek's control mark and Urban's batted ball figure and both are skewed in the positive direction.
Boston Red Sox: Lowell
Gomez stands to be an arm to watch among this group of youth-biased arms given his Performance Score (and Strikeout Subscore) and Age Score. Callahan, their 2012 2nd-round draftee, was the youngest pitcher in the study group but promisingly grades out as a league-average performer nevertheless; Buttrey, their 4th-round pick from the same draft, grades out as below- to well-below-average at everything aside from age relative to level.
Cleveland Indians: Mahoning Valley
Cole Sulser took top honors among the 88 pitchers on Performance Score, which is a surprising outcome for a 25th-round senior selection out of Dartmouth this past June; the righthander threw fastballs in the 87 to 91 mph range, 73 to 78 mph breaking balls, and a 78 to 79 mph change-up when I saw him log 3 innings in July. Lefty Luis Lugo was the 2nd youngest of the 88 arms, and got bumped up slightly north to their full-season A affiliate in late August.
Detroit Tigers: Connecticut
The Performance Score of each member of the fivesome rated in the bottom half of the 88-man sample, though 2013 24th-rounder Edwards rates as one of the youngest hurlers of the lot and thus there should be little disappointment in his debut. Data from three better-performing 2013 draft picks can be found in the bonus group near the bottom of this post.
Houston Astros: Tri-City
Feliz ranked 2nd overall and such a performance coupled with a young age bodes well for his future (as does his ranking as the first pitcher on the aforementioned Baseball America league top prospects list). As opposed to being an above-average groundballer, the high Batted Ball Subscore of Feliz was fueled by having his flyballs and line drives skewed to the less dangerous opposite-field. 2013 13th-rounder Westwood went a notch higher than Feliz in the Batted Ball category by sticking to the groundballers' playbook and was also rather stingy with walks. 2013 2nd-round pick Thurman racked up strikeouts but that was offset by surrendering a higher than typical dose of line drives plus pull-third outfield flyballs.
Miami Marlins: Batavia
The combination of Garcia's Performance Score (and Strikeout Subscore), Age Score, and throwing dexterity would stand to thrust this under-the-radar southpaw even further up this list beyond his official 9th place showing. 2012 7th-rounder Newell would stand to be another sleeper who seems to fare pretty well on all measures.
New York Mets: Brooklyn
This club's arms posted rather impressive numbers (esp. strikeouts) with all 7 listed here landing in the top half of the 88 Performance Scores. The relatively unheralded and wild Morris, a 2010 10th-rounder, seems like one to keep an eye on for 2014 given his 4th place overall finish in Performance Score and youngish age. 2011 13th-rounder Gsellman's very high marks on Performance Score and Age Score make him equally worthy of attention. Diaz statistically resembles a not-quite-as-good Morris.
New York Yankees: Staten Island
In his pro debut, 2013 14th-rounder Smith posted rather elite strikeout results for a southpaw. 2011's 14th-rounder, Davis, displays a nice balance of slightly better than average performance across all measures while still rating young for the level of competition. Control was all that kept 2013 24th-rounder Agnew-Wieland outside the top ten. 2013 12th-rounder Walby was the wildest of the 88 pitchers, though he rated better than average in the other subscores and Age Score.
Oakland Athletics: Vermont
Few Lake Monsters qualified for the study as the Athletics moved their arms through this stop rather swiftly. 2013 6th-rounder Finnegan ranked 6th overall, thanks to a heavy groundball bias and good control. Data for a half dozen other Lake Monsters can be found in the non-qualifiers table near the end of the post.
Philadelphia Phillies: Williamsport
Though the Performance Scores of all 6 ranked in the bottom half for the 88 arms reviewed, it should be noted that Rios, Anderson (2012 21st-rounder), and Gueller (2012 supplemental 1st-rounder) all rate extremely young by league standards (the Phils have no intermediate stop between this club and their Gulf Coast League affiliate).
Pittsburgh Pirates: Jamestown
Of the 2013 draft selections, 10th-rounder Carle displayed excellent control while essentially breaking even in the other departments, 9th-rounder Kuhl threw lots of strikes and did very well at avoiding line drives and aerial pulls, and lefty 4th-rounder Dickson missed bats proficiently while incurring some extra risk on batted balls as he sported a 10% over-league-average line drive rate at the expense of a 10% under-average groundball rate.
St. Louis Cardinals: State College
The Cardinals congregated a handful of unspectacular but good performers here that was anchored by their 2013 draft 6th (Reed), 8th (Pierce), and 9th (Petree) round picks. 2013 40th-rounder Reyes posted the 2nd best Batted Ball Subscore in the study sample on the strength of high groundball and pop-up rates.
Tampa Bay Rays: Hudson Valley
The Rays adopted a "strength in numbers" approach with this affiliate, spreading the available innings out over lots of arms in bulk with respectable to good results. 2012 18th-rounder Brandt rated as the top southpaw in this 88-arm sample (and one of the oldest) and briefly visited each of the organization's full-season A affiliates. Another lefty, 2013 28th-rounder Loera, rode his excellent control to a low ERA.
Washington Nationals: Auburn
2013 2nd-rounder Johansen ranked 3rd overall and displayed a rather sexy (and rare) mix of strikeouts plus groundballs during his stint in this league. The very young Barrientos was the worst of the 88 in Performance Score by a good margin; he figures to repeat Auburn given that the Nats have no stops between this one and the GCL.
Various Organizations: Arms Who Did Not Quite Qualify on the Minimum Batters Faced Criterion
These pitchers faced 75 to 149 batters, save for one who I granted entry despite barely eclipsing 50 batters faced. These numbers will give you a general sense as to how they would have scored, if eligible, and are presented in alphabetical order by the parent affiliation's town abbreviation. The particular standouts are Nationals' 2013 4th-rounder Austin Voth and Pirates' 2013 7th-rounder Buddy Borden, who grade out quite similarly.
Summary and Poll
Here is the official Top 20, which may be of some assistance in responding to the poll. Admittedly, there is a scouting dynamic to each of the arms that must be considered in a more thorough evaluation of the player.