This is the final segment of three in my review of statistical category leaders across the St. Louis Cardinals system in 2014. Here, I will share the starting pitching lists, both good and bad, as well as some observations. I hope you will learn from this as I certainly have.
The ground rules
My main decision was where to draw the line in terms of minimum innings pitched. I did not want to go so low that the rate stats would be distorted, yet I did not want to go so high that deserving short-season players would be excluded. I settled at 30 innings for the hurlers and chose to break out starters from relievers. The latter group was covered in article two.
In each category, I generally went for around 10 names, plus or minus, depending on breaks in the stats.
ERA and WHIP
We will start with two of the most-commonly referenced stats, earned run average and walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP). The latter is a general surrogate for baserunners allowed. A high WHIP and low ERA would suggest some luck.
The system had 11 starters who finished the season with an ERA under 3.00. The group was dominated by short-season pitchers, with all five members of State College’s rotation coming in with ERAs at 2.50 or under. Marco Gonzales is the lone member of the 11 with more than one game above Class A.
Leading the way was Peoria left-hander Rob Kaminsky, who had the only ERA under 2.00. His WHIP was third, right behind Ian McKinney and Trey Nielsen from the Spikes. Gonzales (1), Kaminsky (2) and McKinney (21) are ranked in The Cardinal Nation top 40.table
Strikeouts per nine innings
Moving to strikeouts, three starters fanned between 10 and 11 per nine innings, four more were between nine and 10 and three more had between 8.5 and nine per nine. Only one, however, struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings. That was Peoria’s Alex Reyes, our fourth-ranked prospect in the system.
Other than Reyes, the only full-season pitchers among the leaders are Gonzales and Boone Whiting, who fanned 9.2 per nine in an otherwise disappointing season.
The table on the right are those starters with the lowest strikeout rates in the system. I have to admit there were some surprising names here.
Steven Farinaro received a big bonus a year ago to forego UCLA. His strikeout rate of just 5.4 per nine tied new arrival Corey Littrell. The latter is the pitcher received from Boston as part of the John Lackey deal.
However, the most unexpected name is clearly Tyrell Jenkins. Coming into this season, the right-hander had fanned right at eight batters per nine over his career. Hopefully, the drop all the way down to five per nine is due to his ramping up from shoulder surgery. In support of that theory is the fact Jenkins was back up to 7.4 Ks per nine in August. He is another to watch closely in the AFL.
|Alex Reyes||Peo||109.1||11.3||Junior Gonzalez||DSL||50.2||3.6|
|Landon Beck||JC||42.1||10.8||Blake McKnight||Peo||111.1||4.5|
|Daniel Poncedeleon||SC||44.1||10.6||Kyle Helisek||Peo-PB||121.2||5.0|
|Derian Gonzalez||DSL||55.0||10.1||Tyrell Jenkins||PB||74.0||5.0|
|Fernando Baez||SC||45.2||9.5||Oneiver Diaz||DSL||37.0||5.1|
|David Oca||DSL||65.0||9.3||John Gast||Mem||64.1||5.2|
|Boone Whiting||Mem||96.2||9.2||Steven Farinaro||JC||53.0||5.4|
|Juan Perez||JC||58.1||9.1||Corey Littrell||Sal-PB||31.2||5.4|
|Trey Nielsen||SC||50.1||8.8||Jonathan Cornelius||Spr||155.2||6.0|
Walks per nine innings
10 starters issued two or fewer walks per nine innings this season, while at the other extreme, 10 others issued at least 3.3 free passes per nine.
New York-Penn League all-star Will Anderson, the Cards’ 26th-rounder this June, leads the way with a rate of just 1.4 per nine. McKinney and Johnson City’s Julio Mateo were next best. Current major leaguers Gonzales and Tyler Lyons also made the top 10.
Compare the highest walk rate list to the top strikeout pitchers and you see a pattern. Five of the top 10 strikeout artists in the system also are among the top 10 in issuing walks. That is why velocity and strikeouts alone are not enough.
The highest walk rate in the system was registered by a hard-throwing converting reliever, Fernando Baez. Others on both lists are Whiting, Juan Perez of Johnson City and Derian Gonzalez from the Dominican Summer League.
Right behind Baez is Reyes. This walk issue is why I have not placed Reyes in the top three prospects in the system – yet. In support of Reyes, in August, he lowered his walk count to a much more respectable 2.2. If the 20-year-old can continue with that improvement, he will move up in my rankings.
|Will Anderson||SC||73.1||1.4||Fernando Baez||SC||45.2||5.5|
|Ian McKinney||JC-SC||47.1||1.7||Alex Reyes||Peo||109.1||5.0|
|Julio Mateo||JC||62.0||1.7||Juan Perez||JC||58.1||4.2|
|Jimmy Reed||Peo-PB||138.1||1.8||Boone Whiting||Mem||96.2||4.1|
|David Oca||DSL||65.0||1.8||Landon Beck||JC||42.1||4.0|
|Matt Pearce||JC||45.0||1.8||Dewin Perez||SC||63.2||3.7|
|Chase Brookshire||Peo||109.0||1.9||Derian Gonzalez||DSL||55.0||3.6|
|Tyler Lyons||Mem||83.1||1.9||Kyle Helisek||Peo-PB||121.2||3.6|
|Marco Gonzales||PB-Spr-Mem||122.0||2.0||Austin Gomber||SC||47.0||3.4|
|Steven Farinaro||JC||53.0||2.0||John Gast||Mem||64.1||3.4|
Strikeout to walk ratio
Those who rarely issue free passes also show well here, with Anderson again on top, along with David Oca from the DSL. Gonzales and Lyons move up from the strikeout list. Jimmy Reed of Palm Beach and Matt Pearce of Johnson City are a couple of names to watch.
Struggling to come back from shoulder problems, lefty John Gast is among those to appear on both the low strikeout and high walk lists – the worst combination of places to be. Kyle Helisek, sent down to Peoria after being an all-star at Palm Beach is in the same area.
Not to belabor the point, but names I do not want to see in the right table of worst strikeout to walk ratios include Jenkins, Littrell and Reyes.
|Will Anderson||SC||73.1||5.7||Junior Gonzalez||DSL||50.2||1.3|
|David Oca||DSL||65.0||5.2||Kyle Helisek||Peo-PB||121.2||1.4|
|Ian McKinney||JC-SC||47.1||4.4||John Gast||Mem||64.1||1.5|
|Marco Gonzales||PB-Spr-Mem||122.0||4.3||Blake McKnight||Peo||111.1||1.6|
|Tyler Lyons||Mem||83.1||4.3||Fernando Baez||SC||45.2||1.7|
|Jimmy Reed||Peo-PB||138.1||3.8||Dewin Perez||SC||63.2||1.8|
|Matt Pearce||JC||45.0||3.8||Tyrell Jenkins||PB||74.0||1.8|
|Daniel Poncedeleon||SC||44.1||3.7||Dailyn Martinez||JC-SC||62.1||1.9|
|Chase Brookshire||Peo||109.0||3.6||Corey Littrell||Sal-PB||31.2||1.9|
|Julio Mateo||JC||62.0||3.5||Austin Gomber||SC||47.0||2.0|
|Trey Nielsen||SC||50.1||3.5||Juan Perez||JC||58.1||2.2|
Ground ball to fly ball ratio
One small distinction between this data and others you may see is that I include all batted balls, not just those which are recorded as outs.
Atop this list is Beck of Johnson City, our best ground ball starter in the system. Anderson offers few walks and induces many ground balls. It is easy to see why he did well this season.
I admit that I am more concerned about the names on the right. Worry about Gast and Reyes were already noted, though I suspect the two are on opposite trajectories.
Seeing McKinney right after Gast is surprising. Kurt Heyer had an inconsistent season with Springfield and it appears that he too many balls got into the air. Nick Petree scores well in tenacity and had a good ERA, but more of those Florida fly balls may leave Texas League parks in 2015.
|Landon Beck||JC||42.1||3.7||John Gast||Mem||64.1||1.1|
|Trey Nielsen||SC||50.1||3.2||Ian McKinney||JC-SC||47.1||1.1|
|Will Anderson||SC||73.1||3.1||Kurt Heyer||Spr-Mem||152.1||1.3|
|Dailyn Martinez||JC-SC||62.1||2.9||Julio Mateo||JC||62.0||1.3|
|Silfredo Garcia||Peo-PB||122.2||2.8||Nick Petree||Peo-PB-Spr||129.0||1.3|
|Sam Gaviglio||Spr-Mem||136.2||2.7||Fernando Baez||SC||45.2||1.3|
|Derian Gonzalez||DSL||55.0||2.5||Alex Reyes||Peo||109.1||1.3|
|Daniel Poncedeleon||SC||44.1||2.5||Corey Littrell||Sal-PB||31.2||1.3|
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