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The WAR Room: Aguilar, Ramirez stay hot in Columbus

Aguilar and Ramirez's performances in Triple-A make the case for another shot in the majors

The WAR Room: Aguilar, Ramirez stay hot in Columbus
The WAR Room (Graphic courtesy of Brittany Chay)
June 22, 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, 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 -- 2.0 WAR per 162 games is average, and 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, June 20.

Columbus Clippers

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Roberto Perez Indians (AAA) 25 40 125 1.6 1.8 2.1
Jesus Aguilar Indians (AAA) 24 54 193 1.3 1.6 1.9
Tyler Holt Indians (AAA) 25 24 87 1.1 1.3 1.4
Jose Ramirez Indians (AAA) 21 41 169 1.0 1.3 1.5
Matt Carson Indians (AAA) 32 41 132 0.8 1.1 1.3
Ryan Rohlinger Indians (AAA) 30 57 196 0.4 0.8 1.1
Audy Ciriaco Indians (AAA) 27 49 153 0.4 0.8 1.1
Tim Fedroff Indians (AAA) 27 57 187 0.4 0.7 1.1
Giovanny Urshela Indians (AAA) 22 45 177 0.4 0.7 1.0
Carlos Moncrief Indians (AAA) 25 68 239 0.1 0.5 0.9
Justin Sellers Indians (AAA) 28 56 210 0.1 0.5 0.8
Luke Carlin Indians (AAA) 33 24 69 0.3 0.4 0.6
Elliot Johnson Indians (AAA) 30 36 131 0.2 0.4 0.6
Adam Abraham Indians (AAA) 27 12 37 0.2 0.2 0.3
Todd Hankins Indians (AAA) 23 2 7 0.0 0.0 0.0
Jason Kipnis Indians (AAA) 27 3 9 0.0 0.0 0.0
Michael Bourn Indians (AAA) 31 2 7 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Chris Wallace Indians (AAA) 26 4 12 -0.1 -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 -0.2 -0.1
David Cooper Indians (AAA) 27 40 143 -0.6 -0.4 -0.1
Bryan LaHair Indians (AAA) 31 10 35 -0.5 -0.5 -0.4

Jesus Aguilar (Photo: MiLB)Though first baseman Jesus Aguilar's time in Cleveland could have gone better, his performance in Columbus continues to impress. Aguilar has 1.6 average-defense WAR in 54 games as the first baseman has performed at an All-Star level while in Triple-A this season. Much of that stems from Aguilar's .233 isolated power (181 ISO+), and while that mark is aided by Huntington Park, the first baseman's power is not all a byproduct of his home park. Aguilar is also walking a ton (12.9 percent walk rate, 141 BB%+) en route to his 152 wRC+ and should continue to factor into the big league picture through this season, probably with better results.

Another Clippers player who has seen time in the majors this season, infielder Jose Ramirez, is currently locked in with 1.5 great-defense WAR in 41 games. Ramirez went on the disabled list Thursday with a strained right hamstring, but the infielder had been doing quite well before the injury. The 21-year-old has impressed as usual with his plate discipline, posting a 10.4 percent strikeout rate (52 K%+) and 9.4 walk rate (103 BB%+) in Columbus, though the emergence of some power is setting Ramirez apart in 2014. After entering the year with a .097 career isolated power, if the infielder can hold onto some of his .148 mark (115 ISO+) in Columbus when he leaves Huntington Park, Ramirez may have found another gear for his offense in the future.

Despite not having the easiest transition to Columbus, third baseman Giovanny Urshela still owns 1.0 great-defense WAR in 45 games, an above-average rate in his first exposure to Triple-A. Like many who call Huntington Park home, Urshela is showing above-average power (.192 isolated power, 149 ISO+), though the third baseman was slugging in Canal Park before his callup as well. Urshela is still not walking very often (5.8 percent walk rate, 64 BB%+), but when combined with a 14.2 percent strikeout rate (72 K%+) and the third baseman hitting the ball hard, the 22-year-old can get away with it. Plus, Urshela's .269 BABIP (87 BABIP+) is likely to rise going forward, meaning the third baseman's league-average performance could easily get even better.

One of the few Clippers not hitting for power, outfielder Tim Fedroff has actually gone to the other extreme, posting a .070 isolated power (54 ISO+) in 2014. Fedroff is still productive, however, with 0.7 average-defense WAR in 57 games, utilizing his strong plate discipline to still find success (18.9 percent strikeout rate, 95 K%+; 17.6 percent walk rate, 193 BB%+). The problem for Fedroff is despite his .401 on-base percentage (122 OBP+), he is only an average player in the International League; not the type of performance that gets a callup to the majors. Fedroff has some things going for him this season, but his lack of power is really overwhelming quite a bit of it.

Akron RubberDucks

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Tyler Naquin Indians (AA) 23 70 281 1.7 2.2 2.6
Francisco Lindor Indians (AA) 20 69 270 1.5 1.9 2.3
Joey Wendle Indians (AA) 24 71 280 0.6 1.0 1.5
Tyler Holt Indians (AA) 25 39 124 0.6 0.8 1.1
Giovanny Urshela Indians (AA) 22 24 90 0.7 0.8 1.0
Bryson Myles Indians (AA) 24 54 195 0.5 0.8 1.2
Alex Lavisky Indians (AA) 23 31 107 0.6 0.8 1.0
Bryan LaHair Indians (AA) 31 45 167 0.4 0.6 0.9
Tony Wolters Indians (AA) 22 61 227 0.2 0.6 0.9
Anthony Gallas Indians (AA) 26 9 38 0.3 0.4 0.4
Justin Toole Indians (AA) 27 25 64 0.1 0.2 0.4
Nick Swisher Indians (AA) 33 2 6 0.1 0.1 0.1
Charlie Valerio Indians (AA) 23 8 25 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Jake Lowery Indians (AA) 23 24 73 -0.2 -0.1 0.1
Ollie Linton Indians (AA) 28 12 27 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Michael Bourn Indians (AA) 31 3 13 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Jason Giambi Indians (AA) 43 3 8 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1
Ronny Rodriguez Indians (AA) 22 59 215 -0.6 -0.2 0.2
Jerrud Sabourin Indians (AA) 24 12 33 -0.5 -0.4 -0.4
Jordan Smith Indians (AA) 23 64 229 -1.6 -1.2 -0.8

Francisco Lindor (Photo: MiLB)Shortstop Francisco Lindor is still rolling along in Double-A with 2.3 great-defense WAR in 69 games this season. Lindor's raw stats do not jump out, as his .281/.362/.396 line is only slightly above-average (107 AVG+, 110 OBP+, 101 SLG+) and his power is below-average (.115 isolated power, 88 ISO+). But while Lindor's stats do not look great compared to the overall league average, at that position, they are great. Combined with being a shortstop and defending the position well, Lindor's offense easily yield an All-Star level player. The 20-year-old is still in Double-A to put in reps and get more consistent, but talent-wise, he is ready for the challenge of Triple-A, if not the major leagues.

Regression has been kind to second baseman Joey Wendle, as his BABIP is back up to a more-normal .290 (93 BABIP+) after starting the year much lower. Given Wendle has made plenty of hard contact in 2014, his BABIP was always primed to rise, and now the second baseman's offensive performance is up to league-average. That rise has Wendle at 1.0 average-defense WAR in 71 games, a solid mark for someone getting their first taste of Double-A. Wendle could help his slightly below-average .317 on-base percentage (96 OBP+) by walking a bit more (6.5 percent walk rate, 77 BB%+), an adjustment that could help the second baseman even more.

Catcher Alex Lavisky is still Akron's backup catcher, but the 23-year-old has stood out when he has played in 2014. Lavisky has 1.0 great-defense WAR in 31 games, an All-Star level of performance, though the catcher has benefitted from being well-rested this season. The 23-year-old also should expect his .360 BABIP (116 BABIP+) to regress a little, which combined with Lavisky's 6.1 percent walk rate (72 BB%+) will lead to his on-base percentage sinking from its current .357 (108 OBP+) mark. Still, Lavisky is doing well when given the opportunity and has the defensive skills to, at the very least, stick around in the upper levels of the minors for years to come.

Repeating a level for the first time in his career, infielder Ronny Rodriguez is still paying for his extremely rough start to the season. Rodriguez has -0.2 average-defense WAR in 59 games, the kind of performance that, taken without context, points to someone more in need of a demotion than anything else. But so much of Rodriguez's bad season came in April (.331 OPS in April, .739 since) and the 22-year-old has encouraging signs for his future. In addition to time still being on Rodriguez's side, the infielder has shown league-average power (.126 isolated power, 96 ISO+) to go with his decent 18.8 percent strikeout rate (100 K%+). Positive regression from his .263 BABIP (85 BABIP+) will also help, though in order to truly break out, Rodriguez will need to improve on his 5.6 percent walk rate (66 BB%+).

Carolina Mudcats

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Jeremy Lucas Indians (A+) 23 61 223 1.1 1.4 1.8
Todd Hankins Indians (A+) 23 56 216 1.0 1.4 1.7
Erik Gonzalez Indians (A+) 22 52 216 0.9 1.3 1.6
Anthony Gallas Indians (A+) 26 58 221 0.9 1.2 1.6
James Roberts Indians (A+) 22 61 200 0.4 0.8 1.1
LeVon Washington Indians (A+) 22 29 104 0.6 0.7 0.9
Luigi Rodriguez Indians (A+) 21 42 142 0.4 0.7 0.9
Joe Sever Indians (A+) 23 12 46 0.4 0.5 0.6
Ollie Linton Indians (A+) 28 21 67 0.3 0.4 0.5
Jerrud Sabourin Indians (A+) 24 42 155 0.0 0.2 0.5
Charlie Valerio Indians (A+) 23 17 53 0.1 0.2 0.3
Yhoxian Medina Indians (A+) 24 38 143 -0.2 0.1 0.3
Ryan Battaglia Indians (A+) 22 13 40 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Yandy Diaz Indians (A+) 22 12 45 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Logan Vick Indians (A+) 23 41 135 -0.3 0.0 0.2
Alex Monsalve Indians (A+) 22 47 177 -0.4 -0.1 0.2
Torsten Boss Indians (A+)/O 23 28 99 -0.3 -0.1 0.1

Todd Hankins (Photo: MiLB)The question with second baseman/outfielder Todd Hankins continues to be whether or not to buy into the 23-year-old's newfound power. After coming into the season with a .110 isolated power in 979 career plate appearances, Hankins is at a .157 mark (126 ISO+) in 2014, a key factor in his 1.4 average-defense WAR in 56 High-A games. Typically, such a jump in power compared to a player's past performance regresses over time, but if Hankins can hold on to those gains, his power hitting and speed combination would become very interesting going forward.

Third baseman James Roberts, on the other hand, continues to do it without power, putting up a .035 isolated power (35 ISO+) so far in 2014. Roberts is still hitting enough singles and drawing an adequate amount of walks (8.5 percent walk rate, 98 BB%+) to have 0.8 average-defense WAR in 61 games, but the third baseman's inability to punish the ball will cause problems down the line. If defenses do not have to respect a hitter's power, they can start moving the outfield in and cutting off some of those singles. If Roberts cannot keep the defense honest with at least some power, he will have trouble finding success, both in Carolina and in earning a callup to Akron.

It hurts that outfielder LeVon Washington has played in under half of Carolina's games (29 of 69), but when the 22-year-old has been on the field, big stats have followed. Washington's 0.7 average-defense WAR in 29 games is easily above-average when projected out for a full season, but taking the outfielder's missed time into account, it drops to below-average. This remains the problem with Washington, as the results are always there, but just not over a full season. But even with the injuries Washington has gone through, the outfielder has the type of talent to keep betting on, because the moment the injuries are fully behind him, Washington has the ability to really make some waves.

On the surface, first baseman Jerrud Sabourin's 100 wRC+ seems like a positive; hitting at a league-average rate, of course, has value. But much like Lindor above, context matters. A league-average hitter playing shortstop and a league-average hitter playing first base are not the same thing, since the offensive burden at first base is much higher. That is how Sabourin ends up with 0.2 average-defense WAR in 42 High-A games, essentially playing at the Carolina League replacement level. Sabourin's lack of power remains an issue (.087 isolated power, 78 ISO+), but more importantly, the first baseman's walks have dipped (7.6 percent walk rate, 88 BB%+) while his strikeouts are up to 19.4 percent (97 K%+). After going undrafted in 2011, Sabourin's success in getting as high as Double-A is impressive, but in order to keep going, the first baseman will need to get back to what made him successful in the past.

Lake County Captains

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Paul Hendrix Indians (A) 22 57 203 1.9 2.2 2.6
Eric Haase Indians (A) 21 46 174 1.7 2.0 2.3
Grant Fink Indians (A) 23 65 228 0.7 1.1 1.5
Clint Frazier Indians (A) 19 57 230 0.6 0.9 1.3
Nellie Rodriguez Indians (A) 20 67 240 -0.1 0.4 0.8
Claudio Bautista Indians (A) 20 62 237 -0.1 0.3 0.7
Dorssys Paulino Indians (A) 19 53 203 -0.3 0.0 0.4
Richard Stock Indians (A) 23 26 90 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Shane Rowland Indians (A) 22 3 10 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Cody Ferrell Indians (A) 24 45 144 -0.3 -0.1 0.2
Torsten Boss Indians (A) 23 13 43 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Ryan Battaglia Indians (A) 22 1 3 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Jorge Martinez Indians (A) 21 11 34 -0.3 -0.3 -0.2
Brian Ruiz Indians (A) 21 42 143 -0.5 -0.3 0.0
Logan Vick Indians (A) 23 12 45 -0.3 -0.3 -0.2
Ivan Castillo Indians (A) 19 26 84 -0.5 -0.3 -0.2
Josh McAdams Indians (A) 20 28 101 -0.8 -0.6 -0.4
Anthony Santander Indians (A) 19 43 163 -1.1 -0.9 -0.6

Grant Fink (Photo: MiLB)Corner infielder Grant Fink continues to strike out in Lake County (36.7 percent strikeout rate, 182 K%+), but the 23-year-old is still finding success thanks to a walk rate almost as high above the Midwest League average as his strikeout rate (15.2 percent walk rate, 173 BB%+). Fink currently sits 1.1 average-defense WAR in 65 games, a slightly above-average pace despite all the strikeouts. The problem for Fink is much of his offense is BABIP-aided, as his .403 mark (129 BABIP+) will not stay this high in the future. Plus, such a high strikeout rate works best with extraordinary power, but Fink's isolated power is only .110 (94 ISO+) in 2014. Fink is surviving with the strikeouts so far, but without adjustments, that success is not likely to continue.

Center fielder Clint Frazier is roughly average in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and isolated power in 2014 to go with striking out 28.5 percent of the time (141 K%+). Yet just being average offensively is enough for Frazier to have 0.9 average-defense WAR in his first 57 games above the Arizona League, not a terrible overall result for the 19-year-old. It is strange to see someone with so much bat speed and offensive ability hanging around average, but that level of performance is still great to see out of Frazier in his first full professional season. Frazier has never faced pitchers this good before or been through the grind that is minor league baseball, so in that context, being average in 2014 is really a big win for the center fielder.

The combination of a rock-bottom 3.2 percent walk rate (36 BB%+) and below-average .288 BABIP (92 BABIP+) will sink almost any offensive season, with second baseman Claudio Bautista being no exception. Bautista currently has 0.3 average-defense WAR in 62 games because it is hard to support your offense without walks or having the balls you make contact with fall in for hits. Some nice power is there for Bautista, however, as his .143 isolated power is firmly above-average (122 ISO+), and improving his approach could help him tap into it even more. But most importantly for Bautista right now is working on his plate discipline, because even though a 22.4 percent strikeout rate (111 K%+) is not terrible, when combined with that low walk rate, it causes the issues the 20-year-old has had this season.

The same problems that plagued outfielder Logan Vick in Carolina have continued since his demotion to Low-A, as the 23-year-old is drawing walks (13.5 percent walk rate, 153 BB%+) and not striking out (17.3 percent strikeout rate, 86 K%+) in Lake County but still only owns a 53 wRC+ and -0.3 average-defense WAR in 12 games. Combined with his 0.0 average-defense WAR in 41 High-A games, 2014 is really shaping up to be a lost year for Vick. Much of Vick's problems continue to be with his BABIP, as he put up a .236 (76 BABIP+) mark in Carolina and an even worse .194 (62 BABIP+) figure so far in Lake County, though how much of that is bad luck and how much is bad quality of contact is unknowable in the minor leagues. Given the way BABIP can be fluky -- even over a 50-game sample -- it is too early to give up on Vick. However, there is no denying that so far his 2014 is a year to forget.

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

User Comments

yourtribe
June 22, 2014 - 3:31 PM EDT
Get Jesus up and give him ABs. Right and lefty pitchers. He can't do worse than what we got now.
We have 2 hitters right now. And pray Lonnie is for real.

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