This week we’re taking a look at some of the leader boards in double-A and high-A ball. Today, we’ll take a look at the leaders in Strikeouts Per 9 Innings (K/9) and Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) among the three double-A leagues: the Eastern League, the Southern League and the Texas League. Unlike the hitters that we took a look at yesterday, the pitching leader boards are littered with legitimate prospects.
10.33- Marc Rzepczynski | LHP | Toronto
If you scan down this leader board, you’ll see that Rzepczynski’s K/9 rate is far and above tops in all of double-A, so it’s easy to understand why the southpaw is currently pitching (well) in Toronto. Along with his ability to miss bats, Rzepczynski is a ground-ball machine with his career ground-ball rate of 64.4%. If he improve his command a bit, watch out.
8.80- Ryan Mullins | LHP | Minnesota
Mullins was left unprotected in last year’s Rule 5 draft and I advocated for a team to take a flyer on the hurler as a potential LOOGY. He passed through the draft untouched, though, and is having another typical Mullins’ season (lots of hits, few walks, good K rate)… save for one key thing. Left-handed batters are creaming the southpaw this season to the tune of a .359 batting average.
8.12- Junichi Tazawa | RHP | Boston
For some reason, we just don’t hear a lot about Tazawa when people are rhyming off Boston’s pitching prospects. The right-hander is very quietly having an impressive first year in North America at the double-A level. The 23-year-old Japanese hurler doesn’t have one dominating pitch, but he has command of four average-to-above-average pitches.
2.64- Marc Rzepczynski | LHP | Toronto
3.07- Zach McAllister | RHP | New York AL
Like Tazawa above, McAllister is a pitching prospect that does not get a ton of press because nothing about him really jumps off the page. If you look at his statistics and scouting report as a whole, though, you can see that he has the makings of a No. 3 starter, who can provide innings while not hurting himself with too many walks or hits allowed.
3.10- Jeanmar Gomez | RHP | Cleveland
Gomez is one of the fastest rising pitching prospects in baseball, which is good news for Cleveland, an organization that has a reputation for producing pitching prospects with good pitchability but below-average stuff (Jeremy Sowers, David Huff, etc.). Gomez knows how to pitch and he has the repertoire to vault himself into elite prospect status; He should be a solid No. 2 or 3 big-league starter.
3.24- Reidier Gonzalez | RHP | Toronto
Since we’ve already touched on Rzepczynski and his fine minor league numbers, we’ll take a look at his teammate Gonzalez, who is another ground-ball machine but from the right side. Even though he can dial the fastball up to 94 mph on occasion, the Cuba native does not strike out a ton of batters (6.43 K/9). He does, though, have good control and has allowed just four homers this season and 16 in the past four years. The 24-year-old is just 5’9” so his future is probably in the bullpen, although his frame has been durable so far.
8.44- Jay Jackson | RHP | Chicago NL
A two-way player at Furman University, Jackson has really blossomed as a pitcher now that he’s devoted his full-time energies to the role. He’s allowed just 68 hits in 80 innings, while also showing respectable control (3.94 BB/9) and good strikeout numbers, given his experience level.
7.95- Travis Chick | RHP | Los Angeles NL
Chick has bounced around a few organizations, but he’s still just 25 years old, so there is some potential in the right-hander – most likely as a reliever. The former Marlins’ draft pick has been stuck in double-A for four straight seasons but he’s had a few trips up to triple-A, and a brief taste of Major League life (three games with Seattle in 2006).
7.79- Travis Wood | LHP | Cincinnai
The Little Rock, Arkansas native has had a very up-and-down career since being taken out of high school in the second round of the 2005 amateur draft. The southpaw posted a 7.09 ERA in 17 double-A starts last season, but Wood appears to have mastered the league this year with solid strikeout rate, good control and a 1.21 ERA (2.75 FIP).
2.75- Travis Wood | LHP | Cincinnai
3.28- Justin Souza | RHP | Seattle
Souza was recently traded from Seattle to Oakland for part-time big leaguer Jack Hannahan. The 23-year-old had solid numbers for the Seattle organization but he’s been hit hard in two starts for Oakland’s double-A affiliate. He has the upside of a strike-throwing middle reliever.
3.38- Scott Diamond | LHP | Atlanta
Diamond, a Canadian, has produced two straight good seasons, which is impressive considering the fact that Atlanta signed him as a non-drafted amateur in 2007. His fastball is nothing special, but he knows how to pitch and he has good control. Diamond needs to sharpen his command a bit so he doesn’t leave quite so many pitches over the heart of the plate. He also needs to get right-handers out a little more consistently (.324 average).
3.52- John Ely | RHP | Chicago AL
Ely has had a very consistent, albeit not-so-flashy, season. The right-hander has average stuff so he allows a fair number of hits, but he limits the walks and does a good job of keeping the ball in the park. Ely is also durable, which could make him a solid No. 3 or 4 starter in the Majors.
8.16- Kasey Kiker | LHP | Texas
As you probably know by now, the Texas organization is blessed with pitching prospects and Kiker has advanced through the system extremely quickly. The 21-year-old southpaw has been effective against both left-handed (.192) and right-handed (.229) hitters. One knock on him, though, (aside from his 5’10” frame) is that he’s an extreme fly-ball pitcher, which could hurt him at The Ballpark in Arlington.
7.92- Esmil Rogers | RHP | Colorado
Rogers has really emerged this season. The right-hander has improved his walk rate each of the past three seasons to a stellar 1.81 BB/9 in double-A this year. He’s also seen his strikeout rate rise each of the past four seasons to 7.92 K/9 in 2009. Rogers was recently promoted to triple-A.
7.81- Samuel Deduno | RHP | Colorado
Colorado has become a pitching development machine with the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez, Franklin Morales, Rogers, Jhoulys Chacin, and Christian Friedrich, just to name a few. If Deduno can finally cash in on his potential, then the organization’s depth begins to shift from rich to ridiculous. After sitting out all of 2008 with an injury, Deduno, 25, has returned with a new focus, as well as improved control and a better understanding of pitching. He’s missed a lot of bats this season with just 56 hits allowed in 78.1 innings of work, which is impressive considering the league and his lengthy layoff.
2.51- Esmil Rogers | RHP | Colorado
3.42- Polin Trinidad | LHP | Houston
Houston’s minor league system is far from bursting with prospects, so the emergence of Trinidad over the past two seasons is welcomed. The southpaw does not have electric stuff, but he throws strikes and has some deception in his delivery. He has a good pitcher’s frame, especially now that he’s added some muscle, and projects as a No. 4 starter or middle reliever.
3.50- Tommy Mendoza | RHP | Los Angeles AL
Medonza peaked as a prospect very early on in his career before getting derailed by injury and inconsistencies. The 21-year-old right-hander is having a respectable season, although he’s allowed 100 hits in 97.1 innings of work. His strikeout rate is also just 5.73 K/9, but he’s showing solid control with a rate of 2.31 BB/9.
3.55- Graham Godfrey | RHP | Oakland
Toronto pretty much stole Marco Scutaro away from the Oakland Athletics (one of GM J.P. Ricciardi’s few good trades). The A’s received Godfrey and right-hander Kristian Bell in return for the spark-plug shortstop and former utility player. Godfrey’s first year in the organization in 2008 was underwhelming, but he’s having a nice year this year in double-A and could find his way into a big-league bullpen.