Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dirtbags Summer League Recap

Like most bloggers, the thing I hate most about this line of work is the deadlines. It’s a life of anxiety, constantly having to work under the gun in the hopes that you can meet an arbitrarily set daily/weekly/monthly deadline. If you don’t, you’re screwed. It’s not like I can push the deadline back and just finish my work later.

I mean, I can, and I do, but sooner or later I’m going to have to finish a story (unless I don’t feel like it).

The summer leagues have been over for a while now, so I may as well get the rundown on how the Dirtbags did over with. As soon as I post this I’ll be back to agonizing over the next story I’ll have to write at my leisure.

I was limited to watching the Dirtbag-less Cal Ripken summer league this year, so my analysis is largely statistic-based, but I’ll try my best to explain how the numbers could be telling.

Position Players:

Josh Guerra, Outfielder, Alexandria Beetles, Northwoods League – Guerra didn’t find quite the same success with Alexandria as he did in the spring in Long Beach, hitting .235/.324/.346 in 46 games. He had slightly worse luck in the summer (.308 Batting Average on Balls in Play) than in the spring (.339 BABIP) but there’s nothing really to decipher from that when the difference in averages and sample sizes are that small.

The most noticeable difference in Guerra’s spring and summer performances was a slight increase in his walk rate (from 5.8% to 9.7%) and a larger jump in his strikeout rate (from 16.5% to 23.7%). I suppose the optimist could say he becoming more patient, now he just needs to work on his strike zone judgment.

Guerra will likely have the unenviable task of trying to fill Brennan Metzger’s shoes in center field next year.

Michael Hill, Infielder, Los Angeles Brewers, California Collegiate League – The Brewers haven’t updated their final stats, and the CCBL website doesn’t have much to offer, so all I have for Hill is some incomplete, bare bones hitting numbers, and they aren’t impressive (although they’re better than his spring stats). Hill hit .269/.310/.388 with a fairly high BABIP to boot. On top of that he drew only five walks while K’ing 32 times.

The most important part of Hill’s season was that he spent nearly all of it playing shortstop, as he’ll likely be the only upperclassman battling for the position next year. Unfortunately I don’t have much to report, other than that, in the less-than-handful of Brewers games I followed, Hill’s defense seemed inconsistent. Take that for what it’s worth (pretty much nothing).

Jeff McNeil, Infielder, Brewster Whitecaps, Cape Cod League – McNeil was named MVP of the last place Whitecaps, posting a .301/.347/.381 line, compared to a .258/.333/.304 line during the spring, and his Isolated Power jumped from .046 to .081, so his whole line wasn’t just inflated by hitting a bunch of singles.

Sounds great at first glance, until you see that offensive numbers were up across the board in the Cape (possibly due to ‘juiced balls’). His BABIP was also up to .347, compared to his .285 spring career mark. Basically, McNeil was hitting the ball harder (as reflected in his improved power numbers) causing more balls to get through for hits (improving his BABIP). If you believe the ‘juiced ball’ theory, then Jeff probably played about inline with what you’d expect from him. Not spectacular, but did a solid job in the nation’s best summer league. Jeff had an even better summer last year with the Santa Barbara Forrester, hitting .331. Maybe the Dirtbags should try giving McNeil a wooden bat.

I didn’t spend my summer in the cape because I’m not a college baseball player or a rich, white douchebag, so I can’t report on his defense, but there’s this from the Whitecaps website: “We watched Jeff make spectacular plays both at 2nd and in left field…he could have his own hi-light reel.” Also “he has been… willing to give over 100% every game.” Well, he is a Dirtbag. McNeil is the incumbent second baseman for the Dirtbags and will likely be batting second next year.

Chaz Meadows, Infielder, Alameda Merchants, Pacific West Baseball League – Meadows logged only 12 games and 38 at bats (and surprisingly pitched three innings) with the Merchants, hitting .237 but managed 11 walks (and 10 K’s) in those games. He also got some playing time in at shortstop, a position that will be up for grabs this fall, playing nine games at the position and committing one error in addition to playing two errorless games at second base.

Ino Patron, Infielder, Sanford Mariners, New England Collegiate League – Patron pretty much kept doing what Patron does; be a solid hitter. He posted a line of .336/.392/.467 in 32 games. Patron’s OBP and BB/K stayed about where you’d expect it but his power numbers saw a significant jump with his Slugging Percentage and Isolated Power being well above his career averages (including his stint last summer in the NWL). Patron wasn’t facing the most elite pitchers in the country this summer but if he has found something of a power stroke it would be a welcome boost to a light hitting Dirtbag lineup. Regardless, his best tool remains his ability to get on base, making him arguably the team’s best hitter and likely to be batting third or fourth once again in 2013.

Richard Prigatano, Outfielder, La Crosse Loggers, Northwoods League – Prigatano’s raw talent shined through this summer, although there still seem to be a few holes in his swing. Richard batted .316/.405/.526 with 15 doubles (leading the league) and 11 homers (tied for sixth) and 21 stolen bases over 61 games this summer. His .367 BABIP, which was actually lower than his spring BABIP, suggest he might’ve had some luck, but the power numbers speak for themselves and are the key difference for why his stats were so much better in the summer than in the spring.

He still appears to be a bit of a free-swinger, with a fairly poor BB/K of 27/55 (which is likely what kept him off of FanGraphs top prospects list), but it’s a considerable upgrade over his 9/45 mark he posted with the Dirtbags this year. In four playoff games he hit .313 with 4/7 BB/K as the Loggers won the NWL title.

He’ll probably be starting in right field in 2013 and hit somewhere in the middle-to-lower part of the order, depending on how his power comes along.

Robert Vickers, Infielder, Santa Barbara Foresters, California Collegiate League – Vickers only had 67 at bats with the NBC champion Foresters but made the most of them, hitting .284/.484/.448. His performance with Santa Barbara last summer was arguably better, with a line of .333/.424/.529, but there’s a key difference with his 2012 numbers. Despite his summer league batting average dropping by about 50 points his OBP actually went up by 60 points because of a drastically improved pitch selection.

After a 8/16 BB/K ratio last summer and 1/10 BB/K this spring Vickers came out this summer and drew 22 walks while striking out only nine times. Furthermore, in the NBC World Series he batted .318 with six walks and one strikeout in seven games.

The drastically improved BB/K may show Vickers has matured enough as a hitter to battle for a starting position in 2013, either at third base or DH.

Also, his Foresters teammate and Fullerton Titan Richy Pedroza hit just .164. So suck on that.

Jeff Yamaguchi, Infielder, Peninsula Oilers, Alaska League – It was a rough summer for Yamaguchi on both sides of the ball. Playing 3B (something he’s rarely had a chance to do with the Dirtbags) he tied for the third most errors in the league with 10. At the plate he wasn’t much better, hitting a team worst .202, although that came with a very low .258 BABIP so maybe it just wasn’t his summer. What’s more troubling is his walk rate was nearly cut in half but he did manage to slightly lower his strikeout rate as well. He’ll probably continue to spell Ino Patron at first base in 2013, unless Troy Buckley decides to make Patron the full time DH.


Josh Frye, RHP, Long Beach Legends/La Crosse Loggers, SCCBA/Northwoods League – Frye stayed close to home this summer, starting seven games for the Legends, going 4-1 with a 1.88 ERA, including a shutout. His BAA was just .193 though his BABIP was an uncharacteristically low .266 so the luck factor has to be considered. Most notably, Frye recorded 59 punchouts and only 14 walks in 43 innings; about his typical walk rate but almost doubling his career strikeout rate.

After the SCCBA season ended Frye joined fellow Dirtbags Prigatano and Jake Stassi with the La Crosse Loggers and pitched an additional 24.2 innings, giving up 19 hits (3 homers), striking out 21 and walking five.

Frye’s 2011 numbers with the SLO Blues weren’t far off what off what he did with the Loggers, but most of that work was out of the bullpen. With (now) two-thirds of the weekend staff gone this summer could be looked at as an early audition for a spot in the rotation. Frye was one of many Dirtbag relievers to move into a starting role this summer.

Edgar Gomez, RHP, Palm Springs POWER, SCCBA – Gomez dominated out of the bullpen for the POWER [sic]. In 41 innings he allowed just 32 hits (two doubles and the rest singles), walked seven and K’d 55. It was enough to give him a 0.44 ERA, 6-0 record, and seven saves. The logic-defying low amount of extra base hits surrendered leads me to believe Gomez probably benefited some by not playing in the most elite of leagues, but it’s great to see he went right after hitters and still had tremendous success. After struggling in 11 appearances for the Dirtbags in 2012 he’ll likely be relied on more heavily going into his sophomore year.

Landon Hunt, LHP, Conejo Oaks, California Collegiate League – After only throwing 8.2 innings serving primarily as a lefty specialist this spring, Hunt put together an impressive summer as a starter in his second year with the Oaks. In 49 innings Hunt posted a 3.94 ERA, a 49/6 K/BB ratio, a 0.94 WHIP. Hunt posted similar marks in IP, Ks, and hits with the Oaks in 2011 but walked 13 more batters in three less innings. His improved command while pitching in one of the top leagues in the nation could make Hunt, entering his senior season, an early favorite to land a rotation spot in 2013.

Jon Maciel, RHP, Peninsula Oilers, Alaska League – Like Frye and Hunt, Maciel moved from the bullpen to the rotation this summer and performed fairly well. In eight starts the righty posted a 2.14 ERA, 36/11 K/BB, and 37 hits in 46.1 innings. His BABIP was around .260 which seems awfully low, but it’s actually a number Maciel has consistently been at for most of his college career. His healthy K/BB is a large improvement over his spring ratio and more along the lines of what he did in his freshman year. He’ll likely be one of several Dirtbags to have a chance at making a wide-open rotation. At the very least he should once again be one of the most valuable pieces of the Long Beach bullpen next year.

Ryan Millison, RHP, Neptune Beach Pearl, Far West League – Incoming JuCo transfer Millison made only six appearances (two starts) this summer tallying just 12 innings. He maintained a .233 BAA but was his own worst enemy, issuing seven walks, three hit batsmen, and three wild pitches. He could compete for a spot in the Dirtbags weekend rotation, though his best bet is a bullpen/mid-week starter gig.

Jake Stassi, LHP, La Crosse Loggers, Northwoods League – Stassi showed some improvement in his second year in the Northwoods League. Despite pitching 14.1 fewer innings than last year he managed to improve his K total from 46 in 2011 to 50 this summer (he walked 15 in each season). With his BABIP staying roughly the same as it was last year (about .305) there isn’t much luck to account for; Stassi was simply more effective at getting men out this season, going from 76 hits, 8 homers, and a .277 BAA in 2011 to 47 hits, 2 homers, and a .236 BAA this year. It remains to be seen how well Stassi’s control of the strikezone will carry over to his play with the Dirtbags, as his career K/BB ratio is almost 1:1.

And saving the best performance for last…

Matt Anderson, RHP, Palm Springs POWER, SCCBA – Anderson mowed down the SCCBA all summer long, maintaining a K/BB ratio of about 9/1 for most of the season before finishing with at a 95/8 rate. In his final 10 innings, Anderson allowed no hits, no walks, and struck out twenty-one batters.

Turns out he somehow managed to get his fastball up to 95+ MPH. After it looked like the Dirtbags had managed to keep Anderson in school thanks to the new draft rules, the Seattle Mariners took notice of Anderson’s new fastball and signed him as an undrafted free agent. Great, so now the Dirtbags’ Player of the Summer is no longer a Dirtbag.