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The WAR Room: A trio of Clippers look major league ready

Aguilar, Ramirez, Urshela all impressing in Columbus

The WAR Room: A trio of Clippers look major league ready
The WAR Room (Graphic courtesy of Brittany Chay)
July 20, 2014
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The WAR Room is back again, bringing you the 2014 advanced stats for every Cleveland minor leaguer. After looking at the pitchers last week, today we focus on the hitters.

Of course, it is always important to keep context in mind, just like with scouting. A pitcher who is old for his level using that experience to succeed against young, inexperienced hitters must be taken with a grain of salt; the same goes when looking at these WAR totals.

But it is a useful tool to put each player's performance into context and look at where they sit in regard to the rest of the league.

For reference on how I computed WAR, a reminder on the problems inherent in the stats, and everything else you need to know, click here. For a refresher on WAR and what it is, click here.

As a reminder, a 0.0 WAR per 162 games is replacement level -- otherwise known as the kind of performance an average player from the level below could offer -- a 2.0 WAR per 162 games is average, and a 5.0 WAR per 162 games is All-Star level.

Also, the lack of good defensive metrics for the minor leagues means we have to adjust for a range of defensive abilities. To account for this, I will give you each player's WAR with a qualifier: either poor-defense WAR for a poor defender (-10 runs below-average per 162 games), average-defense WAR for an average defender (0 runs per 162 games), or great-defense WAR for a great defender (10 runs above-average per 162 games).

One more thing, all "+" stats are averaged at 100. Anything over 100, like 110, is higher and means that player is 10 percent better than the league average. Anything under 100, like 90, is lower and means that player is 10 percent worse than the league average. In the case of any "-" stats -- when lower is better, like with ERA -- a 90 ERA- means that player is 10 percent better than the league average.

Today we look at the hitters throughout the system. Next week we will do the pitchers. For the full stats, go ahead and click here. Stats are updated through Friday, July 18.

Columbus Clippers

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Roberto Perez Indians (AAA) 25 53 174 2.1 2.5 2.8
Tyler Holt Indians (AAA) 25 46 168 1.8 2.1 2.3
Jesus Aguilar Indians (AAA) 24 81 289 1.5 2.0 2.5
Jose Ramirez Indians (AAA) 21 57 233 1.1 1.5 1.8
Giovanny Urshela Indians (AAA) 22 64 243 0.8 1.2 1.6
Matt Carson Indians (AAA) 32 52 168 0.9 1.2 1.5
Audy Ciriaco Indians (AAA) 27 73 232 0.7 1.2 1.6
Elliot Johnson Indians (AAA) 30 57 212 0.4 0.8 1.1
Carlos Moncrief Indians (AAA) 25 92 326 0.1 0.7 1.2
Ryan Rohlinger Indians (AAA) 30 77 266 0.1 0.5 1.0
Tim Fedroff Indians (AAA) 27 70 231 0.1 0.5 0.9
Justin Sellers Indians (AAA) 28 78 269 0.0 0.4 0.9
Luke Carlin Indians (AAA) 33 35 102 0.2 0.4 0.6
Adam Abraham Indians (AAA) 27 18 55 0.0 0.1 0.2
Todd Hankins Indians (AAA) 23 2 7 0.0 0.0 0.0
Jason Kipnis Indians (AAA) 27 3 9 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Michael Bourn Indians (AAA) 31 2 7 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Chris Wallace Indians (AAA) 26 7 20 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1
Nyjer Morgan Indians (AAA) 33 15 60 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1
George Kottaras Indians (AAA) 31 14 42 -0.3 -0.3 -0.2
David Cooper Indians (AAA) 27 40 143 -0.7 -0.4 -0.2
Bryan LaHair Indians (AAA) 31 10 35 -0.6 -0.5 -0.4

Jesus Aguilar (Photo: MiLB)First baseman Jesus Aguilar has cooled since his red-hot start to the season, yet the newly-turned 24-year-old still has 2.0 average-defense WAR in 81 Triple-A games this season. That rate leaves Aguilar on pace for a borderline All-Star season, something that would translate to around an average performance in the major leagues. Aguilar made real jumps this season, posting a very strong .197 isolated power (149 ISO+), a roughly league-average 20.8 percent strikeout rate (107 K%+), and a great 13.1 percent walk rate (145 BB%+). There is no room for Aguilar on the major league roster right now, but if he were to be called upon, it seems the first baseman would be a solid addition to the team.

Jose Ramirez is posting a similar borderline All-Star level season in Triple-A with 1.5 average-defense WAR in 57 games, though the 21-year-old's stellar performance at an advanced level for his age goes beyond just the offensive output. The organization is using Ramirez all over the place in Columbus, playing him at second base (33 games), shortstop (20 game), third base (1 game), center field (3 games), and left field (1 game). That level of flexibility will add to Ramirez's value, which is already pretty high due to his great approach at the plate. Ramirez also looks ready to help at the major league level, and given the high number of positions he is capable of playing, it should be easier for him to find his way onto roster.

Continuing the string of Columbus players performing at a borderline All-Star level, third baseman Giovanny Urshela has 1.6 great-defense WAR in 64 games. Urshela is still adjusting to the Triple-A level, with a below-average .310 on-base percentage (93 OBP+), though his .210 isolated power (159 ISO+) is making up for it. Plus, Urshela is making better contact this season, leaving his below-average .272 BABIP (87 BABIP+) probably more of a fluke than a real problem. The emergence of Lonnie Chisenhall at third base will likely keep Urshela off the major league roster for now, which is not a terrible thing since Urshela could still use some time to grow in the minor leagues. But Urshela is coming along and looks like he could be an option in the major leagues soon.

Utility man Elliot Johnson is not playing at the same level as the three players listed above, but the 30-year-old is playing well in Columbus. Though a veteran like Johnson posting an average 0.8 average-defense WAR in 57 games is a little disappointing, he is still available to fill in adequately is the major league team needs to call upon his multi-positional availability. An average performer in the International League, Johnson would not be a star if called upon to fill in at the major league level, but despite his rough performance earlier in the season, he should be passable in a bench role in Cleveland.

Akron RubberDucks

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Tyler Naquin Indians (AA) 23 76 304 1.7 2.2 2.7
Francisco Lindor Indians (AA) 20 84 329 1.6 2.1 2.6
Anthony Gallas Indians (AA) 26 33 128 1.2 1.4 1.6
Joe Wendle Indians (AA) 24 76 297 0.8 1.2 1.7
Giovanny Urshela Indians (AA) 22 24 90 0.7 0.9 1.0
Tyler Holt Indians (AA) 25 39 124 0.6 0.8 1.1
Bryson Myles Indians (AA) 24 54 195 0.5 0.8 1.2
Bryan LaHair Indians (AA) 31 66 240 0.3 0.7 1.1
Tony Wolters Indians (AA) 22 85 314 0.1 0.7 1.2
Justin Toole Indians (AA) 27 41 109 0.3 0.5 0.8
Alex Lavisky Indians (AA) 23 42 151 0.2 0.4 0.7
Ollie Linton Indians (AA) 28 22 63 0.2 0.3 0.5
Erik Gonzalez Indians (AA) 22 6 27 0.1 0.2 0.2
Adam Abraham Indians (AA) 27 18 70 0.0 0.1 0.3
Nick Swisher Indians (AA) 33 2 6 0.1 0.1 0.1
Jake Lowery Indians (AA) 23 43 143 -0.2 0.1 0.4
Cody Ferrell Indians (AA) 24 4 11 0.0 0.0 0.1
Michael Bourn Indians (AA) 31 3 13 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Charlie Valerio Indians (AA) 23 9 27 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Jason Giambi Indians (AA) 43 3 8 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1
Ronny Rodriguez Indians (AA) 22 82 301 -0.7 -0.2 0.4
Tim Fedroff Indians (AA) 27 8 37 -0.3 -0.2 -0.2
Jerrud Sabourin Indians (AA) 24 12 33 -0.5 -0.4 -0.4
Jordan Smith Indians (AA) 23 88 317 -1.5 -1.0 -0.5

Francisco Lindor (Photo: MiLB)Shortstop Francisco Lindor may be an extra step away from Cleveland compared to those listed above, yet he is making up for it by performing at a higher level in Double-A with a 2.6 great-defense WAR in 84 games. The raw stats do not jump out for Lindor -- with his 109 wRC+ only putting him slightly above the Eastern League average -- but hitting at an above-average rate while playing shortstop as well as Lindor does is quite valuable. With the trade deadline close and Asdrubal Cabrera's contract up at the year's end, Lindor's name will come up as a potential replacement as soon as August 1. His .747 OPS (103 OPS+) would suffer if Lindor were called up the majors, but his defense should play at any level and give him at least some immediate value to the team in 2014.

Though catcher/middle infielder Tony Wolters is not a finished product, he is making some decent progress. Wolters' 0.7 average-defense WAR in 85 games is slightly below-average, but the 22-year-old is average in almost every offensive statistic except power. Wolters' .067 isolated power (50 ISO+) is the only thing holding him back and even a little jump in power help him immensely. Power was never one of Wolters' calling cards, but the 22-year-old will need a little bit to give him more value in the future.  Wolters is a decent player right now, but some more power would potentially make him an impact talent.

This season is shaping up to be a lost one for catcher/first baseman Jake Lowery, as in addition to missing seven weeks after being hit in the face by a pitch, the soon-to-be 24-year-old only has 0.1 average-defense WAR in 43 games. Lowery's approach at the plate has actually been pretty solid, with his 14.0 percent walk rate (169 BB%+) making up for his 25.7 percent strikeout rate (136 K%+), but the absence of power is really hurting Lowery. Following isolated powers in the .170 throughout his career, Lowery is down to a .112 mark (84 ISO+) this year. Lowery will need to get his power back to restore his value, with part of the hope being that his timing is still off from missing so much time.

Infielder Ronny Rodriguez is also having a rough time in 2014, posting -0.2 average-defense WAR in 82 games. Rodriguez's problems are coming from all sides right now, with his .113 isolated power (85 ISO+), 5.2 percent walk rate (63 BB%+) and his 21.0 percent strikeout rate (111 K%+) all below-average for hitters. The end result has not been a good one, especially with Rodriguez repeating Double-A this season. Rodriguez is still fairly young for the Double-A level at only 22 years old, but he will need to start hitting soon in order to regain his prospect standing.

Carolina Mudcats

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Jeremy Lucas Indians (A+) 23 83 305 1.5 2.0 2.5
Todd Hankins Indians (A+) 23 68 264 1.4 1.8 2.2
Erik Gonzalez Indians (A+) 22 71 295 1.3 1.8 2.2
LeVon Washington Indians (A+) 22 47 174 0.9 1.2 1.5
Anthony Gallas Indians (A+) 26 58 221 0.9 1.2 1.6
Yandy Diaz Indians (A+) 22 38 140 1.0 1.2 1.4
Yhoxian Medina Indians (A+) 24 60 222 0.7 1.1 1.4
James Roberts Indians (A+) 22 81 275 0.4 0.9 1.4
Joe Sever Indians (A+) 23 36 143 0.7 0.9 1.1
Luigi Rodriguez Indians (A+) 21 67 228 0.4 0.8 1.2
Ollie Linton Indians (A+) 28 23 75 0.4 0.6 0.7
Jerrud Sabourin Indians (A+) 24 62 229 0.1 0.5 0.9
Alex Monsalve Indians (A+) 22 67 255 0.0 0.4 0.8
Charlie Valerio Indians (A+) 23 17 53 0.1 0.2 0.3
Cody Ferrell Indians (A+) 24 6 8 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Torsten Boss Indians (A+)/O 23 28 99 -0.3 -0.1 0.1
Logan Vick Indians (A+) 23 51 170 -0.5 -0.2 0.2
Ryan Battaglia Indians (A+) 22 19 53 -0.3 -0.2 0.0

Jeremy Lucas (Photo: MiLB)Catcher Jeremy Lucas is still chugging along in Carolina, with 2.0 average-defense WAR in 83 games this year. Lucas is utilizing a very strong approach to find success, pairing a 15.1 percent strikeout rate (77 K%+) with a 12.6 percent walk rate (146 BB%+). That, plus a .154 isolated power (123 ISO+) has Lucas putting together a very good season. Lucas'  defense behind the plate is still improving and the 23-year-old is a little old for the Carolina League, but there is no doubt Lucas has taken some nice steps forward this year.

Shortstop Erik Gonzalez's recent hot streak has done wonders for his season stats, with his average-defense WAR all the way up to 1.8 in 71 High-A games. Part of Gonzalez's success comes from his .359 BABIP (116 BABIP+) but that is not the entire reason the shortstop is having a good season. Gonzalez may not walk very often -- posting a 6.6 percent walk rate (77 BB%+) -- but he is making up for it by striking out at an average 19.7 percent rate (101 K%+). Combined with a league-average .125 isolated power (100 ISO+), Gonzalez is having a nice season and is more than deserving of a callup to Akron once Francisco Lindor vacates the position.

The long-term success of second baseman/center fielder Todd Hankins continues to hinge upon how much we believe in his power surge. Though Hankins has 1.8 average-defense WAR in 68 games is impressive, the 23-year-old's only above-average peripheral rate right now is his .163 isolated power (130 ISO+). Hankins' 23.4 percent strikeout rate (120 K%+) and 8.0 percent walk rate (93 BB%+) could use work, things that will be needed once his .346 BABIP (111 BABIP+) comes back down to normal. If the power is real, it will cover a lot of ills, but in case it is not, Hankins has some improvements he needs to make.

Though infielder Yhoxian Medina's 15-game hit streak came to an end Friday, the gains the 24-year-old made during that time remain. With 1.1 average-defense WAR in 60 games, Medina is performing at an above-average rate in Carolina thanks in large part to his ability to limit his strikeouts (13.6 percent strikeout rate, 70 K%+). Medina's .095 isolated power (76 ISO+) and 9.2 percent walk rate (107 BB%+) do not jump out, and with his .319 BABIP (103 BABIP+) sitting at a normal rate, this is mostly Medina maxing out his ability. He is a good player who could get a shot in Akron at some point, but he will probably hit a wall eventually without a little more power or on-base ability.

Lake County Captains

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Paul Hendrix Indians (A) 22 78 275 2.3 2.8 3.2
Eric Haase Indians (A) 21 63 241 2.0 2.4 2.8
Clint Frazier Indians (A) 19 80 325 1.7 2.1 2.6
Nellie Rodriguez Indians (A) 20 90 335 0.9 1.5 2.0
Grant Fink Indians (A) 23 89 314 0.9 1.5 2.0
Claudio Bautista Indians (A) 20 83 324 0.9 1.5 2.0
Richard Stock Indians (A) 23 35 124 0.3 0.5 0.8
Torsten Boss Indians (A) 23 27 90 0.1 0.3 0.4
Logan Vick Indians (A) 23 16 59 0.0 0.1 0.2
Mike Papi Indians (A) 21 2 7 0.1 0.1 0.1
Dorssys Paulino Indians (A) 19 76 286 -0.5 -0.1 0.4
Shane Rowland Indians (A) 22 3 10 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Cody Ferrell Indians (A) 24 48 151 -0.4 -0.1 0.2
Ryan Battaglia Indians (A) 22 1 3 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Brian Ruiz Indians (A) 21 56 194 -0.5 -0.1 0.2
Ivan Castillo Indians (A) 19 46 153 -0.4 -0.1 0.1
Josh McAdams Indians (A) 20 28 101 -0.8 -0.6 -0.4
Jorge Martinez Indians (A) 21 23 78 -0.9 -0.8 -0.7
Anthony Santander Indians (A) 19 43 163 -1.1 -0.8 -0.6

Clint Frazier (Photo: MiLB)Thanks to hitting out of his mind lately, center fielder Clint Frazier is up to 2.1 average-defense WAR in 80 games, putting the 2013 first round pick at a well-above-average rate in his first full professional season. Naturally with most hot streaks, Frazier is benefitting from an elevated .367 BABIP (117 BABIP+) this season, though that is not the only source of the center fielder's offense. Frazier's power is present (.157 isolated power, 131 ISO+) and the 19-year-old is walking at a decent 9.6 percent clip (112 BB%+). The strikeouts are something that will need to be addressed at some point (28.0 percent strikeout rate, 138 K%+), but Frazier's debut has still gone well and put him on the right path toward Cleveland.

Another Captains hitter benefitting from a recent hot streak is second baseman Claudio Bautista, who is up to 1.5 average-defense WAR in 83 games this season. Bautista's success is thanks to the impressive pop he has shown this season, with his .176 isolated power (147 ISO+) actually outdoing Frazier, who is known for his power. Of course, Bautista's long term future will be affected greatly by whether he can improve his 2.3 percent walk rate (27 BB%+), but as it is now, the 20-year-old is producing. Though he has gains to make in the future, 2014 has been a good year for Bautista.

The 2014 season has been a disappointment for outfielder Dorssys Paulino, both from getting moved off the shortstop position and from a performance standpoint. He has -0.1 average-defense WAR in 76 games, though there is some hope for the 19-year-old. Paulino's .098 isolated power (82 ISO+), 22.3 percent strikeout rate (110 K%+), and 7.9 percent walk rate (92 BB%+) are all below-average, however they are also not far from being average. With youth and talent on Paulino's side, there is hope he can find a way to bring his game up a little bit in the future, however the early results have not been encouraging.

The same goes for outfielder Jorge Martinez, who is still trying to get over the Lake County hump. After last season's -1.3 average-defense WAR in 112 games, Martinez has -0.8 average-defense WAR in 23 games this season. Though some of Martinez's issues this season are related to his .216 BABIP (69 BABIP+), a 33.3 percent strikeout rate (164 K%+) and .026 isolated power (22 ISO+) are not helping either. Martinez was highly regarded when he was signed in 2009, but the 21-year-old is still working to put it all together.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@gmail.com. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

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