Cards ‘09 Arizona Fall League Recap: Pitchers

Mike Parisi fared well in the AFL while three other pitching prospects struggled on the mound.

In part one, we looked at how the St. Louis Cardinals position player prospects assigned to the 2009 Arizona Fall League fared with the bat. Here in part two, we will evaluate the pitching performances.

Like the hitters, there was one standout performer and three strugglers. The former is Mike Parisi, while the latter group includes Gary Daley, Jr., Adam Reifer and Scott Gorgen.

With the AFL being primarily known as a hitters' league over time, it is important to establish a benchmark against which to compare. "Johnny Average" represents the average of all pitchers in the 2009 AFL.

This league-average pitcher posted a 5.35 ERA and allowed far too many baserunners with his 1.59 WHIP. Mr. Average struck out a tad over eight per nine innings and walked just over four per nine, so his strikeout to walk ratio was just under two.

Here are the numbers for "Johnny" and the four Cardinals pitching prospects.

AFL 2009 stats ERA WHIP BB/9 K/9 K/BB
Johnny Average 5.35 1.59 4.2 8.1 1.93
Mike Parisi 4.44 1.22 2.1 5.1 2.50
Gary Daley, Jr. 8.03 1.86 4.5 6.7 1.50
Scott Gorgen 7.15 2.29 7.3 8.9 1.22
Adam Reifer 7.59 1.59 5.3 6.2 1.17

Earned run average
Normally, a 4.44 ERA is nothing special, but in the hitting-heavy AFL, Parisi's mark is respectable. The others were in the seven to eight runs per nine innings range – not a good place to reside.

As another point of comparison, the major league average walks plus hits per innings pitched is typically a tad under 1.40. Parisi's 1.22 WHIP is excellent. Reifer was right on the AFL average, while Daley and especially Gorgen, were WHIPtastic.

Walks per nine innings
This stat may be the key to Parisi's successful campaign – he really kept walks to a minimum. The 4.5 per nine for Daley might look high, but it was just above league average and down from his 2009 regular season rate of 5.9. Gorgen's rate was way up from his 4.7 regular season rate and may be partially attributable to him learning a new pitch. Reifer's rate was only slightly higher than during the season with Palm Beach.

Strikeouts per nine innings
Gorgen, not considered a big strikeout guy, was the only Cardinal that exceeded the league average. Parisi struck out the least of this group.

Strikeout to walk ratio
Because Parisi kept his walks so low, he managed to still have the best ratio despite striking out so few. The other three were considerably below average.

Now let's see at how the four Cardinals ranked among the 74 qualifying league pitchers. The actual total is 70 plus the non-existent Johnny Average plus the three Cardinals relievers.

To appear on the leaderboard, an AFL pitcher needed to have accrued a minimum of 0.4 innings pitched per league game. That worked out to 12 2/3 innings. While Parisi logged 26 1/3 innings, the three relievers fell just short, with between 10 2/3 and 12 1/3 Arizona innings.

As such, I added the relievers as if they had met the minimum. There is no doubt these numbers of innings are small and therefore one should not read too much into the data.

AFL 2009 ranking* ERA WHIP BB/9 K/9 K/BB
Johnny Average 49 42 41 36 39
Mike Parisi 35 17 14 71 30
Gary Daley, Jr. 67 60 47 52 55
Scott Gorgen 63 71 71 23 64
Adam Reifer 65 43 61 60 67
* among 74 pitchers

There is no need to belabor the points already made. Parisi's control served him well while the other three were consistently below average in all areas, with the few exceptions being Gorgen's strikeout rate, Daley's walk rate and Reifer's WHIP.

Note: I made a blog post at the other day recapping peak and average fastball velocities for all four Cardinals AFL pitchers. Make sure you check it out if you missed it the first time!

I will close in noting that both Parisi and Daley are Rule 5-eligible this year and neither was protected by the Cardinals. If they all return in 2010, I would expect Parisi in the Triple-A Memphis rotation with the other three beginning the season with Double-A Springfield.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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