Every once in awhile I'll be sifting through the stat leaderboards and come across something pretty insane. Be it a ridiculous ratio, percentage, or BABIP, its good to shed some light on these incredible accomplishments.
Ranger Suarez and the 49:1 K/BB ratio
An 18 year old southpaw in the Phillies organization, Suarez has spent 2014 with the Phillies Venezuelan Summer League team, one of six squads in the offense-heavy VSL. So far in nine starts spanning 47.2 innings, Suarez has struck out 49 batters to just one walk. The 49:1 K/BB is tops in professional baseball and is nothing new to the Venzuelan native. Last year he was on the same team as a 17 year old pitching out of the bullpen where he struck out 13 with zero walks. He is listed at an even six feet tall while tipping the scales at 177 pounds.
As far as the best K/BB ratio for stateside affiliates, that honor goes to another southpaw, Dean Kiekhefer of the Cardinals at 19.0 K/BB. Filter it down to starting pitchers only and Liam Hendricks of the Jays is in the lead at 11.67.
16 K/9 is just nothing new for Leathersich
Mets relief prospect Jack Leathersich is known for posting gaudy strike out numbers with the equally gaudy control numbers usually associated with such guys. Last year the lefty began the year in AA where he struck out 16.88 batters per 9 innings with 4.91 BB/9 as well. He was promoted to AAA and was BABIP'd to death (.448) and didn't help his own cause with another bout of wildness (9.0 BB/9) but continued to pile up the K's (14.59 K/9).
Well the Mets decided another round at AA was right for the 23 year old and he has responded with similar numbers to last year - 16.0 K/9, 4.25 BB/9. His 1.97 FIP is nearly a run lower than his 2.75 ERA. Leathersich is also showing that high BABIP's are the norm for him, as this year he's at .391 with a .353 in AA last year, and .362 in A+ in 2012.
Filtering down to starting pitchers only, the best K/9 in the minors belongs to Tampa RHP Jamie Schultz of Low A Bowling Green. In seven starts spanning 30.2 IP, Schultz has struck out 49 batters for a 14.38 K/9.
Even MC Hammer can't touch Akeel
Another Mets relief prospect has hitters tied up in knots as Akeel Morris has limited the opposition to the worst batting average against in all of the minor leagues of pitchers with at least 30 IP. The 10th round pick in the 2010 draft has thrown 40 innings out of Savannah's bullpen, usually serving as their closer. In those 40 innings he has allowed just 15 hits for a .110 batting average against and 3.38 H/9. The Virgin Island native has also struck out 63 batters for a 14.18 K/9 and has actually walked more than he's allowed hits with 16 walks (3.60 BB/9).
A .194 BABIP is certainly beneficial to a low average against (obviously) but even when contact is made, the opposition has a .379 OPS and .165 slugging percentage with just four batters notching an extra base hit off him this year, and the only home run off the bat of Gosuke Katoh.
Once again when looking at starters only, the Rockies' most recent recipient of a new UCL, Daniel Winkler, was in the lead holding batters to a .138 average. Tyler Glasnow leads active minor leaguers at .161.
BABIP monster bites Salcedo this year
23 year old right handed pitcher Adrian Salcedo came into the year looking to make the jump from A+ to AA. He had done well in Fort Myers' pen the year before posting 8.33 K/9 with 2.31 BB/9 and 8.18 H/9 which was good for a 3.70 ERA and 3.65 FIP. His BABIP was a normal .285 and his strand rate was also in the normal range at 73.5%. Turn the page to midseason 2014 and Salcedo has had to deal with an astounding .430 BABIP so far this year and relievers following him have kept just 59.7% of runners inherited from scoring. This has led to an elevated 6.00 ERA in New Britain with a 2.84 FIP. He's struck out batters at a great clip (10.91 K/9) but his control has taken a step back to 4.09 BB/9.
The starting pitcher who is getting the business the worst from BABIP is Rockies lefty Jayson Aquino for A+ Modesto in the Cal. His BABIP is currently sitting at .409 in eight starts.
Thanks for the help, guys
Once a pitcher leaves the mound with men on base, he has to rely on his team's bullpen to keep those men from scoring so he isn't charged with the runs. Yet another Minnesota farmhand takes home a dubious honor as Josue Montanez, a 22 year old lefty who has pitched in Low A Cedar Rapids and R+ Elizabethton, has the minor league's worst strand rate at 45%. This means that 55% of the men left on base after he leaves the game have crossed home plate. He's also been the victim of a bad BABIP year as his sits at .395 which helps explain his horrible 7.71 ERA yet solid 3.61 FIP. Royals lefty Noel Arguelles is not far behind with an equally atrocious 45.2% strand rate.
On the other side of the coin, one of Montanez's teammates, Todd Van Steensel, has a perfect 100% strand rate so far this year in 34.2 innings of work. The 23 year old Aussie has finished 18 of the 23 games he has pitched in so he hasn't had many opportunities to let the bullpen allow any runs. The best strand rate for a starting pitcher belongs to injured Rockies pitcher Daniel Winkler at 91.8%. As far as active starters, Cardinals right hander Nick Petree leads the way with 89.7%.
Well, its not really a surprise as Joey Gallo paces the world in isolated power, sitting at .398 betwixt A+ Myrtle Beach and AA Frisco. The next closest player would be Kris Bryant at .365. Dodgers second baseman Alex Guerrero, the victim of a mid-game snack by Miguel Olivo, comes in third at .359 while playing in the PCL. Three more players reside above the .300 line and two just might be a surprise. Giants AAA third baseman Adam Duvall comes in at .328 which is no surprise considering his 23 bombs, while Mets AAA outfielder Andrew Brown has posted a .314 ISO so far. The 29 year old has rode the Vegas-NYC shuttle this year but has 18 doubles and 15 bombs for Las Vegas. The final player is Washington's resident power hitting short stop prospect Zach Walters at .307
Royals outfielder Ethan Chapman has the worst ISO so far for a player with at least 175 plate appearances. In 194 PA's, the 30th round pick from 2012 has just two extra base hits, both doubles, for a .012 ISO.
That's some good eyeballs there, kid
A keen eye at the plate and the ability to work a walk is a big part of some player's game. Don't tell that to the Blue Jays' Dan Johnson though, he might slap you for being Captain Obvious (not really, I'm sure he's a cool dude). The 34 year old minor league vet leads all minor leaguers with at least 175 plate appearances by walking 20.2% of the time. He has drawn 78 walks so far this year in 386 plate appearances which has boosted his OBP to .409 with a .252 average. Astros middle infielder Nolan Fontana is a close second at an even 20%. Fontana has been at AA Corpus Christi all year and has accumulated 305 PA's. He's worked 61 walks so far this year and his season slash line sits at 262/418/376. A broken right pinky has put him on the shelf since June 20.
Some players just seem to be allergic to walks though, case in point being Cody Overbeck of the Padres AA affiliate. The 28 year old journeyman corner infielder has stepped to the plate 110 time and has not heard the umpire tell him to take his base all year. Not even intentionally, and he hasn't even been hit by a pitch! Up the minimum plate appearances to 175 and the next in line is Phillies third baseman Harold Martinez. The 2011 2nd round pick has made 211 PA's for A+ Clearwater, walking three times for a stout 1.4 BB%.
Choke and poke baby, just choke and poke
When you think about players who don't strike out the most recent example would be the Tigers DH Victor Martinez who has struck out just 23 times this year with 21 home runs. Lately the gold standard in the minor leagues has been Mike O'Neill of the Cardinals but not this year. His teammate Breyvic Valera has that honor as he has struck out in just 4.5% of his plate appearances this year. The Venezuelan second baseman has split time between A+ Palm Beach and AA Springfield, accumulating 359 plate appearances with 16 strike outs this year. He's also worked 29 walks. Second in the minor leagues goes to Low A Phillies catcher/first baseman Willians Astudillo at 5.0%. In 300 PA's the Venzuelan has struck out just 15 times to go with 15 walks. O'Neill so far has posted an 8.0 K% and 1.48 BB/K.
Another good component to use is BB/K which is paced by Brewers catcher Shawn Zarraga. The 25 year old has split time between AA Hunstville and AAA Nashville and has walked 32 times to just 14 strike outs in 216 PA's, good for a 2.29 BB/K ratio. Angels outfielder JB Shuck is second at 2.07 BB/K as he's walked 31 times to 15 K's for AAA Salt Lake in 282 PA's.
One man air-conditioning unit
Coming in to 2014, two names would be expected at the top in White Sox outfielder Courtney Hawkins and Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo. Repeating A+, Hawkins has dropped his K% from 37.6 to 25.1 while Gallo's feats have been well documented, dropping from 36.8% to 30.9% so far this year. Taking the crown for the time being in 2014 is third baseman Tyler Williams of the White Sox. In 243 trips to the dish at Low A Kannapolis, Williams has came up empty 43.2% of the time, striking out 105 times so far. Fellow White Sock Keenyn Walker is also above 40%, coming in at 41.6% this year with 87 in 209 PA's between A+ and AA.