Top minor league defensive players of 2009

Sean Smith has been kind enough to provide The Hardball Times with his Total Zone data for all minor league players in 2009 (for more information check The Total Zone numbers are produced using play-by-play data and the results are similar to Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) or the plus/minus system. A more detailed explanation of Total Zone can be found at baseball-reference.

Below you will find a listing of the top rated defensive players of 2009 at each position based on the amount of runs above average they saved (minimum of 100 total chances).

EDIT- I have included the home and road splits for players who had substantial differences.

First Base

Beau Mills – 13 runs
Mills is the son of recently named Astros manager Brad Mills. He was a first round pick by Cleveland in 2007 and spent all of 2009 in Double-A.

Whitney Robbins– 12 runs
Robbins was a fourth round selection by Minnesota in 2006. He spent 2009 in the Eastern League (Double-A).

Gabriel Jacobo– 12 runs
Drafted in the tenth round in 2008 by the Los Angeles Angles he spent all of 2009 in Single-A.

Logan Morrison– 11 runs
The Florida Marlins’ farmhand spent most of 2009 in Double-A

Second Base

Alexia Amarista– 20 runs (15 home, 5 road)
Amarista was signed in out of Venezuela by the Angels and made his debut in 2007. He played in the Midwest League (Single-A) during the 2009 season.

Matthew Lawson– 19 runs
Lawson was chosen in the tenth round by the Texas Rangers in 2007 and he played in the California League (Single-A) in ’09.

Harold Garcia – 13 runs (3 home, 10 road)
Garcia was signed out of Venezuela by the Phillies and made his debut in 2005. He played for Lakewood the South Atlantic League (Single-A).

Carlos Willoughby- 13 runs
Willoughby has spent the past three seasons in the Dominican Summer League since being signed by the Giants out of Columbia.

Third Base

Jonathan Hee– 19 runs
Hee was drafted by the Red Sox in 2008 in the twenty-first round and spent 2009 between Single-A and Advanced-A.

Marquez Smith– 19 runs (17 home, 2 road)
The Chicago Cubs prospect spent 2009 primarily playing in the Southern League (Double-A)

The Incompleat Starting Pitcher
The end of the nine-inning start and how we got here.

Travis Mattair– 18 runs
The second round pick of the Phillies in 2007 spent the ’09 campaign in SIngle-A.

Paul Gran– 14 runs
The Dodgers prospect played second base and shortstop in Single-A but rated highest at third base.


Joey Wong– 17 runs (13 home, 4 road)
Wong is a first year player drafted by the Colorado Rockies. He spent the year in the Northwest league (Low-A).

Greg Paiml– 17 runs (16 home, 1 road)
Paimi was drafted by the White Sox in 2007. He spent the ’09 year in Advanced-A.

Jonathan Schoop- 15 runs (11 home, 4 road)
The 17-year old played in the Dominican Summer League this past season. he was signed by the Orioles out of Curacao.

Chin-lung Hu– 15 runs
Hu has spent time in the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers the past three seasons. He spent most of ’09 in Triple-A.

Center Field

Gregory Burns– 38 runs (25 home, 12 road)
A third round pick of the Marlins in 2004, Burns spent last season in the Florida State League (Advanced-A)

Darren Ford– 28 runs (21 home, 7 road)
Ford played the 2009 season in Advanced-A for the Giants organization.

Dave Sappelt– 26 runs
Sappelt played in the Florida State League (Advanced-A) for the Cincinnati Reds organization.

Yordany Ramirez– 24 runs
Ramirez played 2009 in the Pacific Coast League (Triple-A) for the Houston Astros.

Left Field

Derrick Mitchell– 17 runs
Mitchell played in the Florida State League for the Phillies organization in 2009.

Cole Gillespie– 15 runs (16 home, -1 road)
Gillespie was a third round pick back in 2006. He played in the Pacific Coast League for Arizona this past year.

George Drullard- 15 runs
The 17-year old was signed out of the Dominican Republic. He spent his first season in the Dominican Summer League with the Mariners.

Jay Cox– 15 runs (11 home, 4 road)
Cox played for the Rockies in Advanced-A during the 2009 season.

Right Field

Kyle Russell– 25 runs (20 home, 5 road)
Russell was a third round pick by the Dodgers in 2008. He played in the Single-A during the past season.

Austin McClune– 23 runs
McClune played for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in Single-A in ’09.

Sean Conner– 20 runs (15 home, 5 road)
Conner was drafted in 2008 by the Reds and played in the Pioneer League (Rookie-A) during 2009.

Matt Joyce– 19 runs
Joyce has spent time in the majors but played the majority of 2009 in the International League (Triple-A) with Tampa Bay.

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Dan Novick
Dan Novick

Center field seems really out of whack. Right field also, but to a lesser extent.

Alex Pedicini
Alex Pedicini

The numbers do seem to be high. If it makes a difference I am just using the raw data not the MLE runs.

Sean Smith
Sean Smith

I have to warn you, there are no park factors adjusting these ratings.  I don’t have enough knowledge of minor league ballparks (such as when a team opens a new one) to try and tackle that.

Alex, you might want to show the home/road breakdown for some of the players with extreme ratings.

Alex Pedicini
Alex Pedicini

I have updated the list with players who had extreme home/road splits. Some of them, particularly Gillespie, are pretty staggering.

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