Monday, June 21, 2010

Checking In With the Farm Clubs - High Minors

Not as much to look at in the upper levels as there was in the lower levels...but here they are.

Bowie Baysox

Joel Guzman - 1B/3B/OF

Guzman is a former top prospect in the Dodger organization who flamed out and has bounced around for the last three years. However, the 25-year-old Guzman is hitting .272/.336/.535 with 17 homers for Bowie this season.

Late bloomer? Who knows? But he's an interesting hitter who plays a position that the Orioles need. (I don't know if I should be enthused that the O's found Guzman or depressed that he is, by far, the most promising hitter on the Baysox this season...)

Zach Britton - SP

The top Oriole prospect in the high minors, the 22-year-old Britton continues to impress. His ground ball rate stands at 65.2% this season and that's no fluke; his GB% has been 63% or above for the last four seasons.

K/BB ratio is still more than 2 to 1 and a 2.62 ERA at AA should lead Britton to a promotion to Norfolk before season's end.

Eddie Gamboa - RP

I like Eddie. He rose fast last season and has continued to turn in good work in Bowie. He's striking out a batter an inning and while the walk rate is not great, the K/BB ratio is still 2.5 to 1. He's just another reason I think the bullpen can be rebuilt from within.

Jim Hoey - RP

Hoey seems to have worked himself back from injury problems to and is striking out batters like crazy (11.5 K/9). I guess I'll believe it if he starts doing it at AAA again.

Norfolk Tides

Josh Bell - 3B

Bell has been maligned for a couple reasons this season. First, he can't hit lefties and people are demanding that he abandon switch hitting. (I've never really understood that argument. How do we know he can hit lefties better batting lefthanded than righthanded?) Second, he has not hit overall like he was expected to after his promotion to AAA.

The L/R splits are troubling. However, his bat is probably not as bad as it looks right now. First, his offensive numbers have improved each month of the season:

Slash Line    BB   K   HR
Apr  .238/.256/.405    2  21    3
May  .282/.325/.455    7  29    3
June .275/.367/.451    7  12    2

After a horrific April, he has focused on being more selective at the plate and it has paid off. Taking away April, his K/BB ratio is 3 to 1, not terrific but it's respectable and trending the right way.

Furthermore, according to Minor League Splits, if you normalize his numbers for park factor and luck, his .265/.312/.437 line becomes .294/.338/.494.

He's trending well and hitting better than his numbers show. He won't be pushing Miguel Tejada out of town this season liked many had hoped but he's having a productive season for a 23-year-old in AAA.

Brandon Snyder - 1B

Some better trends for Snyder as well, although in a different manner than Bell.

After putting up an OPS's of .615 and .659 in April and May respectively, Snyder is posting a line of .327/.389/.531 in June. He still isn't walking enough but this follows Snyder's development through the minors thus far. He tends to have a long learning curve when he moves up a level but when he gets it, he catches fire. It has taken him 5 months at AAA to come around but this may be the turning point that lands Snyder in the majors in 2011.

I don't think Snyder will ever be a great first baseman but he will be serviceable enough that we won't have to sign the like of Garrett Atkins again. (Not that we needed to in the first place...)

Tim Bascom - SP

Bascom is the starting pitcher who is closest to Baltimore now that Jake Arrieta was promoted. His stuff is marginal and he's a flyball pitcher but he has improved through each level, especially with his control as his walk rate is a minuscule 1.4 BB/9 in Bowie and Norfolk combined. He paints the corners and will have to hope his control and stuff are good enough to work the edges in the majors...but it could work.

Dennis Sarfate - RP

Just a quick note about Sarfate...

Yeah, he's got his velocity back and he's striking out 11.79 per 9 innings. But his walk rate is 5.32 K/9 and that's not going to play at the next level. Get it under control Dennis.


The Oriole Way said...

The argument for Bell to give up switch hitting is that, for Major League caliber hitters, the talent distribution in platoon splits isn't that great, meaning we can expect him (and most hitters) to perform worse against same-handed hurlers to the roughly the same degree as everyone else. Since we know he's not good enough hitting righthanded, he should at least give it a shot. Maybe he will be even worse (which would not be impossible, especially at first), but he's clearly not a Major League hitter as a righty.

DempseysArmy said...

That's the best basis for an argument that I've heard so far. Thanks.

The Oriole Way said...

I wrote this up for with some data about a week ago, though I don't think I emphasized the talent spread among Major League caliber hitters enough (you might argue "at all").