High-A Leader Boards: The Pitchers

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 high-A leagues: the California League, the Carolina League and the Florida State League.

As with the high-A hitters, I want to add a caution with this league. The California League, is an extreme hitter’s league, so many of the pitchers’ numbers are more impressive than they appear. The Carolina League is also a difficult league to pitch in, although not quite as bad as the Cal League. The Florida State League is widely considered a pitcher’s league.

The California League

Strikeouts Per 9 IP (K/9)

11.20- Chris Withrow, RHP, Los Angeles NL

Elbow soreness limited this former first-round pick to just four innings in 2008. His control has been off in 2009 (4.93 BB/9) but Withrow is still racking up the Ks. The 20-year-old has a 4.82 ERA, but his FIP is just 3.03. In 80.1 innings, he’s allowed 73 hits and just three homers.

10.24- Corey Kluber, RHP, San Diego

Kluber, 23, had a rough introduction to high-A in 2008 when he posted a 6.01 ERA (4.08 FIP) with 93 hits allowed in 85.1 innings of work. The right-hander was still a little too hittable in 2009 at the same level when he allowed 110 hits in 109 innings. Kluber did, though, post a strikeout rate of 10.24 K/9, as well as a walk rate of 2.97 BB/9. He’s now pitching in double-A, where he’s made just one start.

9.75- Connor Graham, RHP, Colorado

Graham has posted some good ERAs (and FIPs) in his first three minor-league seasons but his control has been less than impressive (5.07 BB/9 in ’08, 4.59 in ’09). This season he’s allowed just 68 hits in 80.1 innings of work, while also posting a strikeout rate of 9.75 K/9. With a mid-90s fastball and good slider (and not much else), Graham is probably a late-game reliever in the long run (a role he held in college).

Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP)

2.58- Cory Luebke, LHP, San Diego

Luebke joins teammate Kluber on this list. Whereas Kluber was borderline old for the league, Luebke was certainly an over-ager at 24. The left-hander also struggled during his first taste of the California League in 2008 with a 6.84 ERA (3.93 FIP) and 97 hits allowed in 72.1 innings of work. This year, he allowed 73 hits in 88.1 innings, while also posting a walk rate of 1.73 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 8.15 K/9. He’s now pitching in double-A with Kluber and has made three starts.

2.84- Jake Wild, RHP, Seattle

A senior sign out of college in 2007, Wild will be 25 in August so he’s definitely old for the league. He’s bounced between the starting rotation and the bullpen in 2009, while showing good control (2.23 BB/9) and modest strikeout numbers (7.92 K/9). He’s been hittable with 104 hits allowed in 88.2 innings of work.

2.96- Joshua Collmenter, RHP, Arizona

The Diamondbacks organization really needs some prospects, so Arizona has to be encouraged with Collmenter’s season, even if he is 23 and pitching in high-A. The right-hander has allowed 87 hits in 104.1 innings, while also posting a walk rate of 2.85 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 9.06 K/9. The 6’4” 235 pound Collmenter has a big, strong pitcher’s frame and he has an outside shot of developing into a No. 4 starter.

The Carolina League

Strikeouts Per 9 IP (K/9)

9.92- Eammon Portice, RHP, Boston

The Boston organization is flush with prospects and Portice is one name that does not get a ton of attention, in part because he’s pitching in high-A at the age of 24. The right-hander has made 17 starts but he projects as a reliever in the Majors due to a his violent delivery and lack of a third reliable pitch. Portice has shown improved control and he induces a lot of groundballs when he’s sharp.

8.70- Danny Duffy, LHP, Kansas City

One of the most promising pitchers in the entire league, Duffy is just 20 years old. He’s allowed 83 hits in 90 innings, while posting a walk rate of 2.90 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 8.70 K/9. On the downside, his K rate has dropped each year of his three-year pro career, while his ERA (and FIP) has risen each season.

8.53- Zach Britton, LHP, Baltimore

Like Boston, Baltimore is another organization that is rich in pitching depth and Britton often gets lost behind the likes of Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, and Jake Arrieta. The southpaw, though, is extremely talented and has allowed just 87 hits in 101.1 innings of work. The 21-year-old hurler has allowed four homers. He has, though, struggled with his control a little bit (3.74 BB/9).

Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP)

2.72- Bradley Meyers, RHP, Washington

Meyers was considered a possible supplemental first-round draft pick (in both high school and college) before his poor showing in his draft year of college. The Nationals got him in the fifth round and it’s taken him a little while to get acclimatized to professional baseball. Things have clicked for Meyers, 23, in 2009, and he allowed 71 hits in 88.1 innings, while also posting a walk rate of 2.14 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 6.62 K/9. He also had a 1.43 ERA (but 2.72 FIP) before his promotion to double-A, where he’s made just one start. He has a fastball that can touch 93 mph, a slider, and a changeup.

2.96- Danny Duffy, LHP, Kansas City

See Above.

3.06- Eammon Portice, RHP, Boston

See Above.

The Florida State League

Strikeouts Per 9 IP (K/9)

8.87- Evan Anundsen, RHP, Milwaukee

Anundsen has had one of the biggest jumps in value among any pitcher in high-A ball in 2009. The right-hander has seen his K rate jump by about 2 Ks per nine innings over his career norm, while also maintaining a solid walk rate (2.60). He’s also allowed just 67 hits in 93.1 innings of work. The right-hander is just 21 years of age.

8.75- David Newmann, LHP, Tampa Bay

Newmann was a fourth round pick coming out of college, but he did not get into game action after signing in 2007 and then he blew out his knee in the spring of 2008 and missed the entire season. As a result, the southpaw made his pro debut in 2009 at high-A ball. Considering the amount of time that he’s missed, you have to be impressed with his numbers, including his control at 3.67 K/9.

8.50- Darin Downs, LHP, Tampa Bay

A former Cubs prospect, Downs has seen his walk rate improve significantly (1.77 BB/9) over his 2008 season, when he posted a rate of 6.17 BB/9 in 22 double-A games. The left-hander has been too hittable with 104 hits allowed in 101.2 innings and he’s also 24 years old.

Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP)

2.39- Evan Anundsen, RHP, Milwaukee

See Above.

2.57- Jose Rosario, RHP, Florida

Rosario is 23 years of age and he’s having his first successful season in pro ball since coming over to North America from the Dominican Republic. The right-hander has shown excellent control with a walk rate of 1.59 BB/9. He also has a strikeout rate of 7.75 K/9 and has allowed just two homers on the year. Rosario, though, is an extreme fly-ball pitcher who has been aided by the big parks.

2.76- Lance Pendleton, RHP, New York AL

Pendleton was a fourth round pick out of Rice University in 2005, but he missed almost all of the 2006 and 2007 seasons with injuries (surprise, surprise). The right-hander has looked good this season, but he’s also turning 26 in September. He has walk rate of 2.76 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 7.65 K/9. At best, he profiles as a middle reliever in the Majors.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Kluber was too hittable? Who wouldn’t be with a .355 BABIP?