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The WAR Room: Breaking down September callup candidates

Columbus is full of players who could join the roster in September

The WAR Room: Breaking down September callup candidates
The WAR Room (Graphic courtesy of Brittany Chay)
August 31, 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, August 29.

Columbus Clippers

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Jesus Aguilar Indians (AAA) 24 116 419 2.7 3.4 4.1
Zach Walters Indians (AAA)/O 24 67 268 2.8 3.2 3.6
Roberto Perez Indians (AAA) 25 53 174 2.1 2.5 2.8
Giovanny Urshela Indians (AAA) 22 102 386 1.7 2.4 3.0
Tyler Holt Indians (AAA) 25 59 227 1.9 2.3 2.6
Carlos Moncrief Indians (AAA) 25 129 467 0.9 1.7 2.5
Jose Ramirez Indians (AAA) 21 60 245 1.2 1.6 2.0
Matt Carson Indians (AAA) 32 82 274 0.8 1.3 1.8
Audy Ciriaco Indians (AAA) 27 109 360 0.5 1.2 1.9
Luke Carlin Indians (AAA) 33 59 176 0.8 1.1 1.5
James Ramsey Indians (AAA) 24 25 96 0.8 1.0 1.1
Elliot Johnson Indians (AAA) 30 85 306 0.0 0.6 1.1
Tim Fedroff Indians (AAA) 27 70 231 0.1 0.5 0.9
Justin Sellers Indians (AAA) 28 100 348 -0.2 0.4 1.0
Dusty Brown Indians (AAA) 32 16 50 0.3 0.4 0.5
Ryan Rohlinger Indians (AAA) 30 84 288 -0.1 0.4 0.9
Francisco Lindor Indians (AAA) 20 35 151 0.1 0.3 0.5
George Kottaras Indians (AAA)/O 31 26 79 -0.1 0.1 0.3
Adam Abraham Indians (AAA) 27 18 55 0.0 0.1 0.2
Russell Branyan Indians (AAA) 38 1 3 0.0 0.0 0.0
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
Nyjer Morgan Indians (AAA) 33 15 60 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1
Michael Bourn Indians (AAA) 31 5 20 -0.3 -0.2 -0.2
Chris Wallace Indians (AAA) 26 18 53 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1
Ryan Raburn Indians (AAA) 33 3 14 -0.3 -0.3 -0.3
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)With 3.4 average-defense WAR in 116 games, first baseman Jesus Aguilar has shown an ability to play around an All-Star level in his first taste of the International League. How much longer he is given to accumulate Triple-A stats is up for debate, however. Many are wondering how soon Aguilar will be up in Cleveland, and given his .208 isolated power (157 ISO+), 19.3 percent strikeout rate (100 K%+), and 13.0 percent walk rate (146 BB%+) in Columbus, he really should get a look soon. Cleveland's lineup remains heavy with left-handed batters, but soon they should be joined by the right-handed Aguilar.

Whether or not third baseman Giovanny Urshela will be joining Aguilar in Cleveland is less clear, however. Urshela is not on the 40-man roster, which complicates matters, but it is hard to believe he would not be useful down the stretch run. Urshela's 3.0 great-defense WAR in just 102 Triple-A games really illustrates how quickly the 22-year-old adjusted to the International League and it is hard to believe his defense at the very least would not help the major league team. He still does not walk very much (6.9 percent walk rate, 78 BB%+), but Urshela does not strike out much either (12.1 percent strikeout rate, 63 K%+) and has a .202 isolated power (152 ISO+) in Columbus; that definitely sounds like someone who could potentially help in Cleveland.

It is possible that shortstop Francisco Lindor will get a September callup in order to prepare him for a big league job in 2015, but I am not so sure it happens. Lindor does own an average 0.5 great-defense WAR in 35 Triple-A games, but an average Triple-A player probably will not add much immediate value to the major league team. Alternatively, Lindor could be left off the 40-man roster through the offseason, which would give the organization some flexibility in the offseason to make moves, and give Lindor more time to fully prepare for the majors. There would be nothing wrong with calling Lindor up, but to me, it is not a slam dunk decision.

Another player not guaranteed a September callup, -- at least in part due to his absence from the 40-man roster -- right fielder Carlos Moncrief seemingly could be an upgrade in Cleveland. Terry Francona has given a replacement-level player in Chris Dickerson over 100 plate appearances to date and Moncrief would probably be able to offer a little more. Moncrief put up a 2.5 great-defense WAR in 129 games, an above-average rate that would probably translate to something more than replacement level in the majors. The 25-year-old's plate discipline has definitely regressed (24.4 percent strikeout rate, 126 K%+; 7.4 percent walk rate, 83 BB%+), but with a little power (.165 isolated power, 124 ISO+) and defensive ability, it would be nice to see Moncrief get a chance.

Akron RubberDucks

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Tyler Naquin Indians (AA) 23 76 304 1.8 2.2 2.7
Francisco Lindor Indians (AA) 20 88 342 1.7 2.2 2.8
Anthony Gallas Indians (AA) 26 71 272 1.4 1.9 2.3
Joe Wendle Indians (AA) 24 84 326 0.8 1.3 1.9
Erik Gonzalez Indians (AA) 22 29 120 0.9 1.0 1.2
Giovanny Urshela Indians (AA) 22 24 90 0.7 0.9 1.0
Jaime Pedroza Indians (AA) 27 19 59 0.8 0.9 1.0
Bryson Myles Indians (AA) 24 81 292 0.4 0.9 1.4
Tyler Holt Indians (AA) 25 39 124 0.6 0.9 1.1
Alex Lavisky Indians (AA) 23 65 233 0.4 0.8 1.2
Tony Wolters Indians (AA) 22 94 341 0.1 0.7 1.3
Justin Toole Indians (AA) 27 75 228 0.2 0.6 1.1
Ollie Linton Indians (AA) 28 46 140 0.3 0.6 0.9
Nick Swisher Indians (AA) 33 2 6 0.1 0.1 0.1
Cody Ferrell Indians (AA) 24 5 13 0.1 0.1 0.2
Ryan Raburn Indians (AA) 33 2 7 0.1 0.1 0.1
Adam Abraham Indians (AA) 27 29 108 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Charlie Valerio Indians (AA) 23 9 27 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Jake Lowery Indians (AA) 23 65 216 -0.5 -0.1 0.3
Bryan LaHair Indians (AA) 31 99 357 -0.8 -0.2 0.4
Jason Giambi Indians (AA) 43 5 14 -0.2 -0.2 -0.2
Michael Bourn Indians (AA) 31 6 23 -0.3 -0.3 -0.2
Jerrud Sabourin Indians (AA) 24 12 33 -0.5 -0.4 -0.4
Tim Fedroff Indians (AA) 27 28 107 -0.6 -0.4 -0.3
Jordan Smith Indians (AA) 23 124 453 -1.2 -0.5 0.3
Ronny Rodriguez Indians (AA) 22 116 407 -1.4 -0.6 0.1

Anthony Gallas (Photo: MiLB)On a team that was loaded with prospects earlier this season, outfielder Anthony Gallas is third in the team in WAR with 1.9 average-defense WAR in 71 Double-A games. Gallas has essentially done nothing but mash since being called up to Akron, posting a .250 isolated power (190 ISO+), and interestingly, the 26-year-old has started to improve his plate discipline. Gallas still strikes out more than average (22.7 percent strikeout rate, 119 K%+) and does not walk all that often (6.7 percent walk rate, 82 BB%+), but over time, he has gotten better. Those rates will play, however, especially with Gallas' power, and with this level of performance, he should keep getting some chances in the organization.

Shortstop Erik Gonzalez is celebrating a birthday today, turning 23 years old while establishing himself in Double-A. Gonzalez played well in his first 29 games, posting 1.0 average-defense WAR, though the shortstop still has some improvements to make in the future. The 23-year-old is not hitting for much power (.100 isolated power, 76 ISO+) or drawing many walks (5.5 percent walk rate, 67 BB%+), but he is also doing a good job of limiting his strikeouts (18.1 percent strikeout rate, 95 K%+). Gonzalez's .417 BABIP (135 BABIP+) is curing a lot of ills, but as it falls, the shortstop will need to start drawing more walks and hitting for more power.

Outfielder Jordan Smith spent a lot of the year near the bottom of these leaderboards, but infielder Ronny Rodriguez replaces him this week. It has been a rough season for Rodriguez, as the 22-year-old has put up -0.6 average-defense WAR in 116 games this season. Some of it is the byproduct of a below-average .275 BABIP (89 BABIP+), but much like Gonzalez, Rodriguez also struggled with his walks (5.7 percent walk rate, 70 BB%+) and power (.098 isolated power, 74 ISO+). Yet despite nearly identical core stats, Rodriguez is easily below replacement level and Gonzalez is firmly above; some of it is related to their different positions, but quite a bit of it is just BABIP.

Infielder Jaime Pedroza is new to the organization, but the 27-year-old is doing his best to make a good first impression, with 0.9 average-defense WAR in 19 games. Pedroza has shown flashes of power in the past, and through his first few weeks in the organization, it has clearly shone through (.203 isolated power, 154 ISO+). A lot of Pedroza's MVP-level performance is based in his .400 BABIP (130 BABIP+), but the infielder filled in well with the RubberDucks and has put up some very nice numbers in his organizational debut.

Carolina Mudcats

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Jeremy Lucas Indians (A+) 23 101 378 2.3 2.9 3.6
Yhoxian Medina Indians (A+) 24 96 372 1.4 2.0 2.6
Yandy Diaz Indians (A+) 22 74 277 1.5 2.0 2.4
Erik Gonzalez Indians (A+) 22 74 308 1.4 1.8 2.3
Todd Hankins Indians (A+) 23 88 349 1.2 1.8 2.3
Jerrud Sabourin Indians (A+) 24 89 322 1.0 1.5 2.1
LeVon Washington Indians (A+) 22 67 242 1.0 1.4 1.9
Anthony Gallas Indians (A+) 26 58 221 0.9 1.2 1.6
Alex Monsalve Indians (A+) 22 93 359 0.5 1.1 1.6
Luigi Rodriguez Indians (A+) 21 97 328 0.3 0.9 1.5
James Roberts Indians (A+) 22 114 397 0.2 0.9 1.6
Logan Vick Indians (A+) 23 79 253 0.2 0.7 1.2
Joe Sever Indians (A+) 23 69 258 0.2 0.6 1.0
Ollie Linton Indians (A+) 28 23 75 0.4 0.6 0.7
Torsten Boss Indians (A+)/O 23 40 138 0.1 0.3 0.6
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
Eric Haase Indians (A+) 21 13 54 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1
Ryan Battaglia Indians (A+) 22 28 80 -0.5 -0.3 -0.1

Yhoxian Medina (Photo: MiLB)Some of it is related to just playing in enough games to rack up the stats, but the fact that infielder Yhoxian Medina is tied for second among Mudcats position players with 2.0 average-defense WAR in 96 games is still an impressive feat for the 24-year-old. Medina is not a big power hitter (.070 isolated power, 57 ISO+), but he has shown a very good approach this season with a 14.2 percent strikeout rate (72 K%+) and 9.0 percent walk rate (105 BB%+). After stumbling in his first exposure to High-A last year, Medina righted the ship this year and put together a nice season in 2014.

Tied with Medina for second place among Mudcats players in average-defense WAR is third baseman Yandy Diaz, who also has 2.0. Diaz accomplished it in only 74 games, however, thanks to an insane ability to control the strike zone. With a 14.5 percent walk rate (168 BB%+) and 10.6 strikeout rate (54 K%+), the 23-year-old Diaz has not been phased in his first season in the United States. Diaz's power has not come through in games yet (.076 isolated power, 62 ISO+), but Tony's preseason scouting reports say it is there. The power should be there in time, and when added to Diaz's plate discipline, it could be something great to watch in 2015.

Catcher/designated hitter Alex Monsalve's 1.1 average-defense WAR in 93 games is not outstanding, but the 22-year-old improved as the season has gone on. Those improvements offensively have gotten Monsalve up to the Carolina League average, which plays really well when he is catching. But being average offensively does not look as good coming from a designated hitter, leaving most of Monsalve's value tied up in where the organization plays him. With Jeremy Lucas and Eric Haase at essentially the same developmental level, Monsalve will need to keep improving offensively and defensively to force his way into the conversation.

Though outfielder Luigi Rodriguez has spent time in all three outfield spots, the majority of his time has been spent in right field. Unfortunately for Rodriguez, his bat fits better in center field, which is a big part of why the 21-year-old only has 0.9 average-defense WAR in 97 games. Rodriguez has been average offensively thanks to a 13.0 percent walk rate (151 BB%+), but his .107 isolated power (87 ISO+) is really holding him back. In the big picture, it is great to see Rodriguez back on the field and more healthy than in the past, but in order to keep moving up the ladder, he will need to improve a bit on offense.

Lake County Captains

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Paul Hendrix Indians (A) 22 112 403 2.7 3.4 4.1
Eric Haase Indians (A) 21 77 296 2.7 3.2 3.6
Clint Frazier Indians (A) 19 117 461 2.4 3.1 3.8
Nellie Rodriguez Indians (A) 20 128 477 2.1 2.9 3.7
Grant Fink Indians (A) 23 117 407 0.9 1.6 2.3
Claudio Bautista Indians (A) 20 116 449 0.7 1.5 2.2
Richard Stock Indians (A) 23 52 184 0.7 1.0 1.4
Ivan Castillo Indians (A) 19 82 306 0.4 0.9 1.4
Dorssys Paulino Indians (A) 19 111 419 0.0 0.7 1.4
Sicnarf Loopstok Indians (A) 21 8 30 0.2 0.3 0.3
Torsten Boss Indians (A) 23 37 126 0.0 0.2 0.4
Logan Vick Indians (A) 23 16 59 0.1 0.2 0.3
Brian Ruiz Indians (A) 21 84 285 -0.5 0.0 0.5
Cody Ferrell Indians (A) 24 48 151 -0.3 0.0 0.3
Mike Papi Indians (A) 21 36 126 -0.3 0.0 0.2
Ryan Battaglia Indians (A) 22 1 3 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Shane Rowland Indians (A) 22 4 15 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1
Josh McAdams Indians (A) 20 28 101 -0.7 -0.5 -0.4
Anthony Santander Indians (A) 19 43 163 -1.0 -0.8 -0.5
Jorge Martinez Indians (A) 21 26 86 -1.0 -0.9 -0.7

Clint Frazier (Photo: MiLB)The 2014 season is all about development for center fielder Clint Frazier, but the soon-to-be 20-year-old has also performed well, putting up 3.1 average-defense WAR in 117 games. The scary thing is quite a few of Frazier's stats are outrageously lucky. Sure, the .376 BABIP (121 BABIP+) is unsustainable for anyone and will regress in time, but his .143 isolated power (122 ISO+) and 10.6 percent walk rate (128 BB%+) both are good with room for improvement. Frazier will need to work on his 29.9 percent strikeout rate (143 K%+) as he moves on, but even with plenty of room for growth, Frazier is above-average and doing well.

Thanks in large part to positional adjustments, Frazier is actually outdoing first baseman Nellie Rodriguez, who has 2.9 average-defense WAR in 128 games. That is no slight on Rodriguez, however, who has put up some really impressive numbers in Lake County this season. Rodriguez is hitting for a ton of power (.208 isolated power, 177 ISO+) and drawing walks (10.9 percent walk rate, 131 BB%+) while not striking out all too often (25.7 strikeout rate, 123 K%+), a great combination to see out of the 20-year-old. The first baseman may not be leading the team in WAR, but he has been arguably the Captains' most impactful bat this year.

Though it is hard to have real value while also carrying a .278 on-base percentage (86 OBP+), second baseman Claudio Bautista is pulling it off. Bautista's 1.5 average-defense WAR in 116 games is perfectly average and a good thing to see out of the 20-year-old. The second baseman's on-base percentage is so low due to his 2.5 percent walk rate, but the pop he is showing this season (.158 isolated power, 134 ISO+) is interesting. The combination may not be enough to make Bautista a top-10 prospect, but it is enough to make him someone to pay attention to in the years ahead.

With his outstanding defensive ability, shortstop Ivan Castillo does not need to hit all that much to have value to a team. That has been on display in 2014, as despite a below-average 86 wRC+, Castillo's 1.4 great-defense WAR in 82 games is above-average. Castillo does not hit for much power (.098 isolated power, 83 ISO+) nor walk very much (3.3 percent walk rate, 40 BB%+), but a little improvement on either front will do wonders for the shortstop. The good news is Castillo is still young at 19 years old and has a great base to his talents thanks to his defense; he may not be a highly-rated player, but he is someone with potential and room to grow.

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.

User Comments

Tony
September 2, 2014 - 9:46 AM EDT
Nice job again as usual with this. Many may not understand the stats, but this is a nice way to kind of get more data to help us in our valuations of prospects. And minor league WAR stats such as this are not available for minor leaguers, so it is definitely a neat twist. Keep it up Jim!
Jim Piascik
September 1, 2014 - 4:24 PM EDT
Well, I would argue there is plenty of writing and analysis between the stats. :)

This data is not anywhere else or easily computable for minor leaguers, which is why it is here and why I spent the time on it. We have a ton of scouting information on these players (which is something I build in to these writeups), but the sabermetric side of the minors is harder. But it is worth it, because sometimes the perception is not reality. Like with Frazier, who is actually having an above-average statistical season, even though it really does not feel like it.

I am always looking to improve and will try to spice things up going forward. But even ignoring the WAR totals, I try to put interesting facts, stats, and observations into the 16 player capsules I write each week.
Concerned Citizen
September 1, 2014 - 12:49 PM EDT
This is nice stat collection but ultimately many extrapolations are boring and using WAR for minor leaguers seems to be a relative waste of time. I find this to be mind numbingly boring and probably a waste. Where is the writing and analysis, not data I can find or produce myself. Love your saber mind but use it to write not publish this.
Jim Piascik
September 1, 2014 - 12:12 PM EDT
The full stats are linked right before the Columbus section, including batting average (I can't fit them all on this page without wrecking the whole design). The pitcher stats come every other week, alternating with hitters.

And if you want to dive into the more high tech stats, the links in the introduction are really helpful. :)
Jimmy
September 1, 2014 - 8:14 AM EDT
I think the battling average for position player and pitcher stats would be very help. Do not completely understand War. Need basic info not high tech for old guys. Thank you.
Jim Piascik
August 31, 2014 - 2:43 PM EDT
Thanks for the FYI BritDawg! I updated that sentence accordingly. Too many names swimming around my head apparently.
BritDawg
August 31, 2014 - 2:20 PM EDT
FYI, Moncrief is in fact on the 40-man (not that I expect him to be given a Sept call-up all the same).

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