This Week in the Cards Minors– 4/21– Pitchers

In a free preview of our new weekly stats-based report, Leonda Markee analyzes pitching performances across the St. Louis Cardinals' minor league system.

Welcome to the return of a revised ‘This Week in the Minors' Report for 2007. Thanks to the new series of weekly eye-witness reports on our minor league teams, this report will devote itself to the statistics side of the game. It is meant as a complement to those reports. One week we will focus on pitching and the next on hitting with the two alternating.

The report also incorporates some sabermetric statistics which alters the outlook of this report a bit. For example, in addition to the more well-known categories like WHIP and K/BB, the ‘Hot' and ‘Not' now looks at how the pitcher is performing in more non-defense-oriented statistics such as his dERA and BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play). None of the sabermetric statistics have been adjusted to include park factors due to extreme time constraints. However, each team's 2004-2006 Weighted Park Factors are listed for those who want to adjust the figures. There is a section at the end of the report that tries to explain some of these statistics a bit better.

How Are They Doing?  (Standings as of April 20, 2007)

Memphis Redbirds – Tied for second place with the Omaha Royals, two and one-half games behind the Iowa Cubs and Nashville Sounds (MIL)

Springfield Cardinals – Fourth (last) place, one and one-half games behind the Tulsa Drillers (COL) and Wichita Wranglers (KC)

Palm Beach Cardinals – Tied for second place with the Brevard County Manatees (MIL), one-half game behind the Daytona Cubs

Swing of the Quad Cities – Tied for fourth place with the Beloit Snappers (MIN), three games behind the Clinton LumberKings (TEX)

 

Up, Down and Out

There are plenty of moves to check out as the season begins.  While not all transactions will be discussed here, all will be listed: 

04/06/07 - St. Louis - INF Randy Roth placed on the Retired List

04/09/07 - St. Louis - RHP Chris Carpenter placed on the 15-day Disabled List, retroactive to April 2, 2007, with a right elbow impingement

04/09/07 - St. Louis (Memphis) - LHP Randy Keisler called up from Triple-A Memphis and added to the 25-man roster

04/09/07 - Memphis (Springfield) - RHP Mike Parisi called up from Double-A Springfield

04/14/07 - Springfield - LHP Eric Haberer activated from the 7-day Disabled List

04/16/07 - Memphis (Springfield) - INF/UT John Nelson placed on the 7-day Disabled List (back spasms);  INF Rico Washington called up from Double-A Springfield

04/16/07 - Springfield (Palm Beach) - 1B Mike Ferris called up from A-Advanced Palm Beach

04/16/07 - Palm Beach (Extended Spring Training) - OF Ian Church activated from the Disabled List and assigned to A-Advanced Palm Beach

 

04/17/07 - Quad Cities - RHR Kyle Sadlowski placed on the 7-day DL, retroactive to 4/16/07 (strained oblique)

04/17/07 - Quad Cities (Extended Spring Training) - RHR Armando Carrasco activated from the disabled list and called up to class A Quad Cities (replaces Sadlowski) 

 

04/19/07 - Springfield - OF Reid Gorecki placed on the 7-day Disabled List (left wrist)

04/19/07 - Springfield (Palm Beach) - OF Sean Danielson called up from A-Advanced Palm Beach

04/19/07 - Palm Beach (Quad Cities) INF Isa Garcia called up from class A Quad Cities

04/19/07 - Quad Cities (Extended Spring Training) - INF Jaime Landin called up from Extended Spring Training

 

As Springfield's season started, word came down that here-to-fore outfielder Joe Mather was being moved to first base on the Springfield club due to a glut of outfielders, and first baseman/infielder Randy Roth was being sent to Palm Beach to work in the outfield.  Roth reportedly did not want to report to Palm Beach so requested his release but it was denied by the St. Louis organization.  He then quit.  This means that Roth cannot play professional baseball at any level, either domestic or foreign, as the Cardinals own his rights.

 

At the time Roth ‘retired' many on our message board posted about how short-sighted that move appeared as the rosters usually have a decent amount of player movement early in the season with players not sustaining their Spring Training performances, DL time, etc.  Sure enough, earlier this week utility infielder John Nelson was placed on the Memphis disabled list with back spasms which triggered a chain reaction in the system.  Infielder Rico Washington went from Springfield to Memphis which left an open slot in Springfield.  With Roth and his flexibility gone, he played both corner infield positions, catcher and a dab of outfield, Springfield was forced to call up first baseman Mike Ferris from Palm Beach instead as they moved Mather back to the outfield, for now, due to an injury to Reid Gorecki (see below).  So what may well have been an opportunity for Roth to stick at Springfield will never be.  And the opportunity goes to another player.

 

The second chain reaction within the system was ignited by pitcher Chris Carpenter going on the 15-day Disabled List.  Memphis starter Randy Keisler was then called up to take Carpenter's slot in the rotation with Mike Parisi replacing him on the Memphis roster.  Parisi was slated to be Springfield's Opening Day starter but was held back due to a slight hamstring tweak.  Hence, he had not made a start in Springfield before he got the call from Memphis.  Eric Haberer was activated from the Disabled List and moved into Parisi's Springfield slot.  Haberer began the season on the DL due to a drop in his velocity during Spring Training.

 

Finally, the most recent set of moves was initiated when Springfield outfielder Reid Gorecki was placed on the seven-day Disabled List with a sore left wrist.  That wrist had limited his playing time and prompted Mike Ferris' previously mentioned call-up due to Joe Mather's move back to the outfield.  With Gorecki officially DL'd, Palm Beach outfielder Sean Danielson was called up to Springfield and Quad Cities' infielder Isa Garcia moved to Palm Beach.  The final move was recently re-signed infielder Jaime Landin (pronounced ‘HI-May Lan-DEEN') going from Extended Spring Training to Quad Cities.

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Triple-A – Memphis Redbirds

League Affiliation  - sixteen-team Pacific Coast League, four-team America North division

Overall Record – 6 - 9

Three-Year Weighted Park Factor – R=0.91, H=0.94, 2B=0.93, HR=1.08, BB=1.01, SO=1.04

Roster Link

Current Rotation – Matt Ginter, Blake Hawksworth, Chris Narveson, Mike Parisi and Mike Smith (Troy Cate started the second game of a double-header as well but is not a regular member of the rotation at this time)

Current BullpenTroy Cate, Andy Cavazos, Dennis Dove, Brian Falkenborg, Kelvin Jimenez, Mike Sillman and Mark Worrell

Pitching Year-to-Date – 3.91 ERA, 4.15 dERA, 1.30 WHIP, .248 BAA, .294 BABIP

 

Who's Pitchin' Hot

Lefty Troy Cate has started the 2007 season well.  In 10.1 innings, he has held opposing batters to a .167 average.  He has a BABIP of .208 which indicates that he has been more than a bit lucky.  However, Cate has allowed six hits and two walks for a 0.77 WHIP.  He has struck out 11 batters, an average of 9.58 for every nine innings pitched.  Cate has a 5.50 K/BB ratio and has given up only one home run.

 

Who's Pitchin' Not

Blake Hawksworth had about a ten-day lay-off between his start against St. Louis in the March 30th exihibition and his first start of the regular season.  He was shelled.  Although he took another loss in his second start, he pitched much better.  However, his overall numbers are not good, due mainly to his first horrific start.  Hawksworth has tossed 10 innings and batters are currently teeing off on him to the tune of a .333 average against.  His .371 BABIP says that he has been fairly unlucky.  While Hawksworth's control has been good, only two walks allowed, he has given up 14 hits for a 1.60 WHIP.  Since he has struck out only six batters, Hawksworth is averaging only 5.40 K/9 IP and has a 3.00 K/BB ratio.

 

Of Note –   

Brian Falkenborg is holding opposing batters to a .217 average and his .333 BABIP says that he has actually been a bit unlucky even then.  He has allowed five hits and four walks in six and one-third innings over five games for a 1.42 WHIP.  Falkenborg has struck out eight in that span for an 11.37 K/9 IP average.  While his ERA is 2.84, his dERA is 2.70.

 

 

Prospect Watch

Dennis Dove – off to a shaky start in his first taste of Triple-A.  He has walked more (four) than he has K'd (two) in six and one-third innings pitched to date.  Dove has given up almost a hit an inning (six) for a 1.58 WHIP and .261 BAA (.250 BABIP).  His ERA is 5.68 and dERA is 7.72.

Chris Narveson – control continues to be an issue as he has issued nine walks in 18 innings while striking out nineteen.  Narveson is walking an average of 4.5 every nine innings which is way too high.  His strikeout average of 9.5 is very good and batters are hitting just .197 against him (.231 BABIP).  Narveson's 1.17 WHIP is due almost entirely to the lack of hits allowed.  His ERA is 5.00 and dERA is 5.13.

Mike Sillman – like Narveson, Sillman needs to work on his control as he has walked four batters in just five innings for a BB/9 IP average of 7.2.  Batters are not hitting him much as they are being held to a .211 average but his .231 BABIP indicates that he is getting lucky.  Sillman has a 1.60 WHIP, 5.40 ERA and 6.60 dERA.  He is striking out an average of a batter an inning so far.

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AA – Springfield Cardinals

League Affiliation - eight-team Texas League, four-team East division

Overall Record – 3 - 7

Three-Year Weighted Park Factor – R=1.03, H=1.02, 2B=0.98, HR=1.16, BB=1.02, SO=1.10

Roster Link

Current RotationMitch Boggs, Jaime Garcia, Eric Haberer, Chris Lambert, Cory Rauschenberger

Current BullpenHugo Castellanos, Jose Garcia, Kevin Ool, Chris Perez, Matt Scherer, Brian Stitt, Zack Zuercher

Pitching Year-to-Date – 5.52 ERA, 5.65 dERA, 1.58 WHIP, .299 BAA, .320 BABIP

 

Who's Pitchin' Hot

Righty Matt Scherer is getting the job done out of the bullpen.  In seven and two-thirds innings over five game appearances, Scherer sports a .192 BAA (.250 BABIP), 0.91 WHIP, 3:1 K/BB while not allowing a home run.  He has given up five hits while walking two and striking out six.  Scherer averaged just under 12 strikeouts every nine innings last season for the Palm Beach Cardinals, so watch his K rate in Double-A this season.  His ERA, to date, is 1.17 with a 2.39 dERA.

 

Who's Pitchin' Not

Righty Cory Rauschenberger has been so horrific in his first three games, two starts, that he is likely out of the Springfield rotation when Stuart Pomeranz is deemed healthy enough to pitch again.  Rauschenberger may not even go into the Springfield bullpen if he keeps pitching the way he has been.  Opposing batters have hit him at a .393 average (.381 BABIP) in the five and two-thirds innings he has tossed, which qualifies for batting practice.  He has a 2.65 WHIP (11 hits and four walks), 1:1 K/BB ratio, and ties Chris Lambert for the team lead in home runs allowed with three.  (Lambert, however, has pitched almost three times as many innings.)  Rauschenberger's ERA is 20.65 with a 10.67 dERA.  Maybe he wants to change his name back to Meacham since he pitched much better as Cory Meacham.  (Just kidding!) 

 

Of Note –

For those following how Mexican League import Hugo Castellanos is doing so far, the answer is "So-So" (not Taguchi).  He has appeared in five games, five and two-thirds innings, and has allowed six hits and four walks with four strikeouts.  That equates to a 1.76 WHIP, 1:1 K/BB ratio and 6.35 K/9 IP and BB/9 IP average.  Opposing hitters have a .273 average against him and his .294 BABIP is within the standard range.  While his ERA is a very acceptable 3.18, his dERA is 6.58.

 

Prospect Watch

Mitch Boggs – Ouch!  Rauschenberger saved Boggs from the ‘Pitchin' Not' category.  The best thing that can be said so far is that he is not walking many, only two in eight and one-third innings.  That is good because batters using him for a punching bag, fourteen hits for a .368 BAA (that works out to a .406 BABIP which means he has been very unlucky).  Boggs has only five strikeouts and a 1.92 WHIP.  Well, that leaves plenty of room for improvement.

Jaime Garcia – there are good and not-so-good parts to Garcia's game so far.  In the ‘Good' category are his .229 BAA (.292 BABIP), eight hits and 10 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched.  In the ‘Not-So-Good' category is his eight walks, an average of 7.2/9 IP.  Control, control, control.  Still an impressive beginning in one so young.

Chris Perez – has not been seen much so far this year as he is Springfield's closer and has not had much to save since they have lost so often.  When last seen, Perez had tossed four innings in four games, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out seven.  That is good for a 1.25 WHIP, .250 BAA (.375 BABIP), 7:1 K/BB ratio and a K/9 IP average of 15.75.  Yowzers! 

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A-Advanced – Palm Beach Cardinals

League Affiliation - twelve-team Florida State League, six-team East division

Overall Record – 7 – 6

Three-Year Weighted Park Factor – R=0.89, H=0.96, 2B=1.06, HR=0.71, BB=0.97, SO=1.07

Roster Link

Current RotationGary Daley Jr., Adam Daniels, Trey Hearne, Tyler Norrick, Adam Ottavino

Current BullpenMike Cooper, Luke Gregerson, Jon Mikrut, Jason Motte, Donnie Smith, Scott Vander Weg, Nick Webber

Pitching Year-to-Date – 2.25 ERA, 2.77 dERA, 1.04 WHIP, .223 BAA, .274 BABIP

 

Who's Pitchin' Hot

Lefty Tyler Norrick has simply been pitching in another-worldly-like zone.  He has yet to allow an earned run in 18 innings over three starts.  Norrick has given up 10 hits and four walks with nine strikeouts.  You would like to see the K rate a bit higher.  He is holding the opposition to a .159 batting average (.185 BABIP) and has a 0.78 WHIP.  Currently his K/BB ratio is 2.25:1, his ERA is 0.00 and his dERA is 2.97.  However, Mitch Boggs' Palm Beach performance last June should act as a cautionary tale for those wanting to promote Norrick in the near future.

 

Who's Pitchin' Not

Trey Hearne has yet to get untracked at Palm Beach.  In 15.1 innings over three game starts, Hearne has allowed 22 hits and 11 runs, all earned, for a 6.46 ERA (4.55 dERA).  Opposing batters hold a .345 average against him but his .370 BABIP shows that he has been more than a tad unlucky.  Hearne has shown good control so far, with just three walks to go with eight strikeouts. 

 

Of Note –

Neither Jason Motte nor Nick Webber has not been scored upon yet this season.  In five innings and five game appearances, Motte is averaging a hit an inning but has not walked a batter.  That is a .238 BAA (.250 BABIP) and 1.00 WHIP.  However, Motte has only struck out one batter which merits watching.

Webber's stats are even better.  He has tossed six and one-third innings over four games, allowing only two hits and one walk with five strikeouts for a 0.47 WHIP.  Opponents are hitting just .095 against him (.125 BABIP).  Neither pitcher has allowed a home run.

 

Prospect Watch

Gary Daley Jr. – has only make one start this season while the other four starters have made three each.  Makes you go "hmmm".

Adam Daniels – has been the workhorse of the Palm Beach rotation so far.  He is averaging almost seven innings a start with 20 innings pitched in three game starts.  Daniels has allowed 22 hits but walked only one with 18 strikeouts.  That gives him a 1.15 WHIP, 18:1 K/BB ratio and a 8.10 K/9 IP average.  Opponents are hitting .282 against him but he has a .367 BABIP. 

Adam Ottavino – needs to work on his control, like other pitchers mentioned in this report.  He has walked six batters in 15 innings for a 3.60 BB/9 IP average.  Ottavino has given up under a hit an inning which keeps his WHIP at 1.27.  He is averaging 7.80 strikeouts every nine innings with 13 K's so far.  Ottavino is holding opposing batters to a .241 average with a .317 BABIP. 

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Low-A – Swing of the Quad Cities

League Affiliation - fourteen-team Midwest League, eight-team West division

Overall Record – 7 – 7

Three-Year Weighted Park Factor – R=0.97, H=0.99, 2B=1.09, HR=0.93, BB=0.93, SO=0.98

Roster Link

Current Rotation – Quad Cities' current arrangement is four groups of two starters each, eight pitchers in all.  Each group rotates which pitcher starts the game and each group goes every four days.  The eight pitchers are:  Brandon Dickson, Brad Furnish, Shaun Garceau, Elvis Hernandez, Tyler Herron, Blake King, Mike Schellinger, P.J. Walters.   

Current Bullpen – Armando Carrasco, Matt Lane, Kenny Maiques, Kyle Mura, Kyle Sadlowski (DL), Brian Schroeder

Pitching Year-to-Date – 2.95 ERA, 3.11 dERA, 1.31 WHIP, .253 BAA, .323 BABIP

 

Who's Pitchin' Hot

Righty Elvis Hernandez is impressing in the early going.  He has allowed only five hits and three walks in 10.2 innings pitched while striking out 13.  His WHIP is 0.75 and opposing batters are hitting just .139 against him (.217 BABIP).  Hernandez is averaging just under 11 strikeouts a game while walking an average of 2.53 batters for a 4.3:1 K/BB ratio.  He also has not allowed a home run.

 

Who's Pitchin' Not

Righty Shaun Garceau is showing a bit of rust after missing the 2006 season.  He has allowed 12 hits and three walks in eight and two-thirds innings over three games for a 1.73 WHIP, .324 BAA but a .429 BABIP which means he has been pretty unlucky as well.  One of his strong points is that he has struck out nine for a 9.34 K/9 IP average.  Another point very much in his favor is his youth, as he does not turn 20 until August.  Garceau is one of the high-risk, high-upside young prospects taken during the 2005 draft and certainly bears watching.

 

Of Note –

As mentioned above, the Swing currently have four pitching tandems that rotate starting games every four days.  The pairings are:  Brandon Dickson/Blake King, Elvis Hernandez/ P.J. Walters, Brad Furnish/ Tyler Herron and Shaun Garceau/Mike Schellinger.  There are two surprises in the group:  Brandon Dickson and Mike Schellinger.  Both are non-drafted free agents signed during August but in different years.  Dickson was signed in 2006 and Schellinger in 2005.  They have similar professional experience as Schellinger missed the entire 2006 season due to shoulder surgery.  Both pitched out of the bullpen after being signed.  The most noteworthy stat for both of them was that each put up double-digit K rates, in rookie level Johnson City and short-season A New Jersey respectively.  However, nothing else really stands out, statistically, and both have been ‘under the radar' so-to-speak until now.

 

Another point to remember about the pitching tandems is that this arrangement will limit the total number of innings each starter pitches.  Therefore, the statistics reported for the Swing starters will be based on a low innings total while this arrangement is in effect.

 

Prospect Watch

Brad Furnish – has pitched well to this point with seven hits and three walks allowed in 10.2 innings pitched to go with 10 strikeouts.  That works out to a 0.94 WHIP, 8.43 K/9 IP, 2.53 BB/9 IP, .184 BAA (.222 BABIP).  His ERA is 3.38 (3.58 dERA).

Tyler Herron – has not yet fulfilled the expectations engendered by his supplemental first round pick in the 2005 draft.  But Herron's is a good example that sometimes statistics can be misleading.  Herron has allowed 11 hits in nine innings but has walked only one and has K'd 11.  He has a 1.33 WHIP, .289 BAA (.385 BABIP), 11:1 K/BB, 11 K/9 IP, 1 BB/9 IP, 5.00 ERA and 2.76 dERA.  His sabermetric numbers of a .385 BABIP and a 2.76 dERA indicate that he has been fairly unlucky on balls put into play and that those areas which do not involve fielders (strikeouts, walks, hit batsmen and home runs) have been very good.

Blake King – is another member of the ‘Gotta Work on the Control' gang.  King has allowed less than a hit an inning (13 hits in 13.2 innings) while striking out 16.  That has been undermined by the 10 free passes he has issued.  That gives him the following numbers: 1.68 WHIP, .271 BAA (.406 BABIP), 1.6:1 K/BB, 10.5 K/9 IP, 6.6 BB/9 IP, 3.95 ERA (3.07 dERA).

P.J. Walters – is a pitcher in whom the Cardinals' organization is reportedly very favorably impressed.  Walters was deliberately placed into the bullpen at short-season A State College after being drafted in the 11th round last June.  This is because the Cardinals were concerned about the 152 innings he notched for the University of South Alabama in 19 games, all starts, during the 2006 college season.  That is an average of eight innings a start.  This season, Walters has a 1.31 WHIP, .294 BAA (.366 BABIP), 3,46 ERA (2.25 dERA) and a 5:1 K/BB ratio.  He has given up 15 hits in 13 innings but only two walks with 10 strikeouts.    

 

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NOTE:  The two sabermetric statistics being used in this report, as of now, are BABIP and dERA.

BABIP – Batting Average on Balls In Play.  It is used mainly to measure the luckiness or unluckiness of a pitcher on those balls put into play that involve fielders.  Hence, home runs are excluded.  The standard BABIP range is .280-.310 so pitchers with a BABIP above .310 are unlucky while those below .280 are lucky. 

dERA – the small ‘d' stands for the acronym DIPS (Defense Independent Pitching Statistics).  DIPS is used in many areas.  With regard to a pitcher's Earned Run Average, it tries to measure his effectiveness in those areas in which the pitcher has the most control:  walks and strikeouts.  This stat is not perfect but it does help gauge a pitcher's performance.

 

Leonda Markee may be reached at uconncard@yahoo.com.

 

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