Minor League Overview: The Hitters

Following up on yesterday's look at the pitchers, here is an overview of how the hitters in the Indians system have fared this year.  A few breakouts, a few disappointments, but mostly it has been a steady as she goes season so far...

Progress Score Leaders

  1. Carlos Santana: 10.6
  2. Michael Brantley: 8.8
  3. Nick Weglarz: 8.1
  4. Lou Marson: 7.7
  5. Andy Marte: 7.6
  6. Matt LaPorta: 7.4
  7. Lonnie Chisenhall: 6.9
  8. Carlos Rivero: 6.2
  9. Wyatt Toregas: 5.6
  10. John Drennen/Abner Abreu: 5.2

A few surprises, no?  First, Carlos Santana, as will become apparent throughout this overview, is in a class by himself.  He almost makes you wish we could have signed Casey Blake in the off-season just to trade him back to LA this year.  The surprises on this list are because of two things: progress score builds into it a substantial positional component (hence all the catchers, middle infielders and guys who can manage CF), and it works off of OPS adjusted for luck and park effects. Michael Brantley and Carlos Rivero, for example, have both been pretty unlucky on balls in play according to minorleaguesplits.com.  In Rivero's case, though, this seems to be a chronic condition and something which would be nice to see reversed at some point.  John Drennen has quietly had a solid season.  And Marson was clearly just a throw-in from Philly (Jason Donald's 2008 numbers would be good for a 6.3, also).

NET Leaders

  1. Michael Brantley: 54
  2. Carlos Santana: 44
  3. Nick Weglarz: 36
  4. Cord Phelps: 25
  5. Matt McBride: 23
  6. Jose Constanza: 21
  7. Andy Marte: 18
  8. Chris Arnal: 18
  9. Matt LaPorta: 16
  10. Jared Goedert: 14

NET puts a premium on control of the strike zone and speed, so seeing Brantley and Santana on the top of the list (again) shouldn't be surprising.  It is somewhat surprising, and a good thing, to see Marte and LaPorta on the list.   If we look at last year's numbers for our top prospects, it is striking how the guys NET likes have generally done quite well this season (Santana, Brantley, Wegz, Valbuena, Chisenhall, LaPorta), and the guys NET didn't like (Rivero, Hodges, Mills) have struggled.

Lots more...

OPS Leaders
  1. Andy Marte: 963
  2. Carlos Santana: 935
  3. Jordan Brown: 910
  4. Matt LaPorta: 901
  5. Matt McBride: 857
  6. Nick Weglarz: 855
  7. Abner Abreu: 839
  8. Lonnie Chisenhall: 835
  9. Jared Head: 809
  10. Nate Recknagel: 808

It is nice to see a few of our young guys who were placed somewhat aggressively by the organization, Abreu and Chisenhall, rise the occasion.  Compare this list with the adjusted OPS leaders (using minorleaguesplits.com algorithm for luck and park effects).

adjusted OPS Leaders

  1. Carlos Santana: 1039
  2. Andy Marte: 985
  3. Matt LaPorta: 955
  4. Nick Weglarz: 944
  5. Nate Recknagel: 939
  6. Jordan Brown: 881
  7. Lonnie Chisenhall: 880
  8. Matt McBride: 862
  9. Chris Gimenez: 839
  10. Adam Abraham: 821

The top of this list is pretty nice.  You might be wondering who Recknagel and Abraham are.  They are former teammates from the University of Michigan, both 2008 draftees, and both too old to get excited about while playing in Lake County (Abraham is being converted into a catcher, so he has some excuse, but Recknagel is a no defense all offense guy). 

OBP Leaders

  1. Trevor Crowe: 401
  2. Carlos Santana: 398
  3. Nick Weglarz: 389
  4. Lou Marson: 384
  5. Cord Phelps: 380
  6. Matt LaPorta: 378
  7. Jordan Brown: 377
  8. Jose Constanza: 370
  9. Andy Marte: 369
  10. Mickey Hall: 366

So this is what Trevor Crowe is supposed to do...To weed out the guys who are getting buy on high batting average, here are the walk-rate leaders.

BB/PA (%) Leaders

  1. Mickey Hall: 18.7
  2. Nick Weglarz: 17.4
  3. Cord Phelps: 16.4
  4. Carlos Santana: 16.4
  5. Tim Fedroff: 14.3
  6. Trevor Crowe: 14.3
  7. Karexon Sanchez: 13.2
  8. Matt Brown: 12.7
  9. Lou Marson: 12.7
  10. Jose Constanza/Lucas Montero: 11.4

This list has a bunch of guys who are probably old for their level and finding success at the top of the order.  It is nice to see 2008 draftees Phelps and Fedroff doing something well, though.  I was surprised to see Karexon Sanchez on this list, only because I think of him more as a massive strikeout guy (25.6%) than a plate discipline guy. 

K/PA (%) Leaders

  1. Bo Greenwell: 8.1
  2. Chris Arnal: 8.9
  3. Michael Brantley: 9.5
  4. Matt McBride: 11.3
  5. Niuman Romero: 11.8
  6. Jared Goedert: 11.9
  7. Carlos Rivero: 12.8
  8. Jose Constanza: 13.1
  9. Jordan Brown: 13.6
  10. Adam Abraham: 14.3

For Brantley, this is actually a major regression from his out of this world number last year (5.7%).  Of course, after getting off to a rough start this season Brantley's numbers have been slowly coming back.  In July he struck out in just 3.1% of his plate appearances (3 times in 97 trips to the plate).  And to complete the plate discipline section, the following guys all have more walks than strikeouts: Brantley (1.15 BB:K), Phelps (1.11), Greenwell (1.09), Santana (1.09), Weglarz (1.03) and Arnal (1.00).

SLG% Leaders

  1. Andy Marte: 593
  2. Carlos Santana: 537
  3. Jordan Brown: 532
  4. Matt LaPorta: 523
  5. Matt McBride: 508
  6. Abner Abreu: 488
  7. Lonnie Chisenhall: 487
  8. Nick Weglarz: 466
  9. Nate Recknagel: 466
  10. Jared Head: 444

And for those who prefer to removing the batting average component...

ISO (SLG-BA) Leaders

  1. Andy Marte: 266
  2. Carlos Santana: 257
  3. Matt LaPorta: 226
  4. Nick Weglarz: 223
  5. Lonnie Chisenhall: 210
  6. Matt McBride: 208
  7. Jordan Brown: 199
  8. Chris Gimenez: 199
  9. Nate Recknagel: 196
  10. Abner Abreu: 183

Andy Marte really wasn't fooling around in July (.487 ISO) and because of that, is at the top of these lists.  Lonnie Chisehall's appearance here is evidence of his very successful season at the plate so far and a good sign for a player of his age.  This list does make you wish the Indians drafted guys with power, though, doesn't it...And, because repeating this phrase brings a sense of calm to me: Carlos Santana.

HR Leaders

  1. Carlos Santana: 19
  2. Andy Marte: 18
  3. Lonnie Chisenhall: 16
  4. Nick Weglarz: 15
  5. Matt McBride: 14
  6. Nate Recknagel: 13
  7. Matt LaPorta: 13
  8. Jordan Brown: 12
  9. Beau Mills: 10
  10. Karexon Sanchez: 8

An old fashioned HR-leaderboard finally gives us a peak at Beau Mills and his disappointing 2009.  I really thought this was going to be a breakout year for him after consolidating some of his skills at the plate last year...not so much.  He has been slowly getting better month by month, but not nearly what was expected of him.  No positional player has had as rough a year as Mills, who probably would have a hard time cracking a top-15 list of Indians prospects were you to put one together today.

XBH Leaders

  1. Matt McBride: 47
  2. Andy Marte: 43
  3. Jordan Brown: 43
  4. Carlos Santana: 41
  5. Lonnie Chisenhall: 41
  6. Matt LaPorta: 36
  7. Nate Recknagel: 35
  8. Nick Weglarz: 34
  9. Beau Mills: 34
  10. John Drennen: 32

Chicks might dig the long balls, but doubles and triples are nice, too. 

Net SB Leaders

  1. Michael Brantley: 27
  2. Jose Constanza: 13
  3. Lucas Montero: 10
  4. Chris Arnal: 8
  5. Karexon Sanchez/Jason Donald: 7

This is SB-2*CS, to account for the detrimental effect of getting caught stealing.  I keep this to a top 5 (6) because while the Indians have a lot of guys who steal bases in the minors, most of them aren't doing a very good job of it.  Cord Phelps is fast (apparently), but actually manages a -10 because he gets caught so much.  Even Constanza and Montero get caught more than they should.  Michael Brantley seems to know what he is doing on the basepaths, though.

The Movers

Going up...

Lonnie Chisenhall has done a lot to quiet his skeptics.  The move off of SS lowers his positional value, and it will be nice if his improvements at third continue, but the emergence of his power this season is a great sign.  His secondary components have room for improvement, but neither his walk-rate or K-rate are in the red flag territory.

Andy Marte has given himself the chance at a second life with Cleveland (maybe).  He's been pretty solid all season, but his numbers are buoyed considerably by his torrid July.  It'll be interesting to see if major league pitchers still exploit him at the plate.

Abner Abreu was having a great full season debut until he separated his shoulder.  He has worrying plate discipline issues (one of the reasons it would have been nice to get him another 200 plate appearances this year), but he also has real power.

Michael Brantley has had a phantom good year.  The constant glowing reports from the Indians coaching staff about Brantley seemed to be counter to his somewhat pedestrian offensive numbers...but perhaps the Indians coaching staff knows something.  Brantley's numbers suggest he's been driving the ball hard, but right at people a lot of the time.

Carlos Santana is without any debate the Indians top prospect right now. 

Going down...

Beau Mills, as I said above, has not had a good season.  He isn't old, but given his defensive limitations, he really needs to hope for a big turnaround season next year (and now might be a good time to start).

We spent a fair amount of money to sign Tim Fedroff and so far, the return hasn't been great.  He's good at drawing walks, but for a guy with very little power he strikes out way too much (20.8%).

Looking more closely at his numbers, Carlos Rivero hasn't had as bad of a year as I thought.  His plate discipline numbers are still good, he's still playing at short, but he's developing a bad habit of under-performing his stats.  According to the minorleaguesplits.com numbers, Rivero has gotten unlucky every season of his career at the plate.  It makes me wonder if there isn't something systemic in the way Rivero puts balls in play that the site is adjusting incorrectly for.  Also, given his size, it'd be nice to see more power from him.

Final Thought

It is clear to see why the Indians have begun focusing on 2011.  It is possible that by then Matt LaPorta, Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley and Nick Weglarz will all be regulars in Cleveland.  These are all potential impact guys.  Behind them are a few younger guys who are interesting, but also a lot of guys who represent decent organizational depth guys.  I wouldn't be surprised to see the Indians lose a few guys in the Rule 5 over the next few years who stick and have some success elsewhere.

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