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The WAR Room: Brown coming around in Lake County

Mitch Brown's results are strong in his second full professional season

The WAR Room: Brown coming around in Lake County
The WAR Room (Graphic courtesy of Brittany Chay)
July 27, 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 hitters last week, today we focus on the pitchers.

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 note that pitchers have FIP-based WAR -- which is based on peripherals like strikeouts, walks, home runs, etc. -- and RA-based WAR -- which is based on runs allowed.

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 25.

Columbus Clippers

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Kyle Davies Indians (AAA) 30 84.1 1.4 1.0
Travis Banwart Indians (AAA) 28 89.1 1.2 2.7
Tyler Cloyd Indians (AAA) 27 124.2 1.1 1.7
Zach McAllister Indians (AAA) 26 36.1 1.1 1.6
T.J. House Indians (AAA) 24 50.2 1.0 1.4
Danny Salazar Indians (AAA) 24 53.2 0.8 0.7
Trevor Bauer Indians (AAA) 23 46.0 0.7 2.1
Gabriel Arias Indians (AAA) 24 40.2 0.7 0.3
Josh Tomlin Indians (AAA) 29 35.0 0.6 1.7
Brett Brach Indians (AAA) 26 6.2 0.2 -0.4
Justin Masterson Indians (AAA) 29 11.2 0.2 0.0
Jordan Cooper Indians (AAA) 25 4.2 0.1 0.3
Duke Von Schamann Indians (AAA) 23 9.2 -0.1 -0.1
Toru Murata Indians (AAA) 29 39.1 -0.2 0.1

 

Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Mike Zagurski Indians (AAA)/O 31 44.1 0.9 0.9
Vinnie Pestano Indians (AAA) 29 27.0 0.7 0.7
Mark Lowe Indians (AAA) 31 29.0 0.6 -0.3
Austin Adams Indians (AAA) 27 40.1 0.6 1.2
C.C. Lee Indians (AAA) 27 25.1 0.5 0.2
Kyle Crockett Indians (AAA) 22 8.2 0.2 0.0
Tyler Sturdevant Indians (AAA) 28 14.0 0.2 0.1
Scott Barnes Indians (AAA) 26 31.2 0.1 0.3
Josh Outman Indians (AAA) 29 9.2 0.1 -0.3
Nick Hagadone Indians (AAA) 28 28.2 0.1 -0.1
Elliot Johnson Indians (AAA) 30 0.2 0.0 0.0
Blake Wood Indians (AAA) 28 8.0 -0.1 0.1
Bryan Price Indians (AAA) 27 12.1 -0.2 0.2
J.C. Ramirez Indians (AAA) 25 16.2 -0.5 0.0
Benny Suarez Indians (AAA) 22 2.1 -0.5 -0.6
Frank Herrmann Indians (AAA) 30 29.2 -0.5 -0.5

Danny Salazar (Photo: MiLB)Right-hander Danny Salazar found his way back to the majors -- at least for the time being -- leaving him with 53.2 Triple-A innings he used to try to get his season back on track. Even acknowledging Salazar was working on making adjustments at the expense of results in Columbus, the right-hander still managed to put up an above-average 0.8 FIP-based WAR and 0.7 RA-based WAR during his time in Triple-A. However, the same problems that plagued Salazar earlier in the season -- a high 11.5 percent walk rate (129 BB%+) to go with his high 27.5 percent strikeout rate (142 K%+) -- still remains. Whether Salazar can put together his adjustments with major league results remains to be seen and now he is getting that chance.

The raw ability of left-hander Nick Hagadone remains in place, yet the results are still lacking for the 28-year-old. With 0.1 FIP-based WAR and -0.1 RA-based WAR in 28.2 Triple-A innings, Hagadone is not making a strong case to get a long look in Cleveland despite his 33.3 percent strikeout rate (173 K%+). A big part of Hagadone's issues stem from his 1.57 HR/9 (207 HR/9+), a fluky result that should, in theory, regress back down toward the mean. The combination of those strikeouts with a relatively low 9.8 percent walk rate (110 BB%+) would work well with a normal home run rate, but if Hagadone cannot cut down on those, he will remain stuck in this Quad-A range.

Right-hander J.C. Ramirez was picked up as a depth option in the bullpen this offseason, though right now he is far from ready for any callup. Ramirez currently sits at a -0.5 FIP-based WAR and 0.0 RA-based WAR through 16.2 Triple-A innings, thanks in large part to his 4.2 percent strikeout rate (22 K%+). Simply put, Ramirez is not missing enough bats to get strikeouts, and on a similar note, the right-hander has allowed 1.62 HR/9 (213 HR/9+). Though he looked like he had some major league potential, right now Ramirez has some real issues to work through in Columbus.

After missing all of 2013 due to Tommy John surgery, right-hander Frank Herrmann is currently working his way back into form with the Clippers. That process is understandably a slow one, as evidenced by Herrmann's -0.5 FIP-based WAR and -0.5 RA-based WAR in 29.2 innings. The good news for Herrmann is that his 21.4 percent strikeout rate (110 K%+) is above-average, leaving his 13.6 percent walk rate (152 BB%+) and 1.82 HR/9 (240 HR/9+) as the causes of his struggles. Given that command is often the last thing to return for a pitcher recovering from Tommy John surgery and Herrmann's penchant for low walk rates pre-injury, there is a chance that as he gets farther away from his injury, the right-hander could pair a lower walk and home run rate and regain the effectiveness that got him to the majors.

Akron RubberDucks

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Joe Colon Indians (AA) 24 115.1 2.2 4.4
Will Roberts Indians (AA) 23 122.0 2.1 1.7
Gabriel Arias Indians (AA) 24 69.0 1.1 1.8
Duke Von Schamann Indians (AA) 23 98.2 0.5 1.5
Shawn Morimando Indians (AA) 21 18.0 0.3 1.0
Cody Anderson Indians (AA) 23 101.1 0.3 0.7
Toru Murata Indians (AA) 29 48.2 0.2 0.2
Matt Packer Indians (AA) 26 9.1 0.1 -0.3
Cole Sulser Indians (AA) 24 6.0 0.0 0.2
Kyle Davies Indians (AA) 30 29.2 -0.3 0.1

 

Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Shawn Armstrong Indians (AA) 23 40.2 0.7 1.3
Giovanni Soto Indians (AA) 23 36.1 0.6 0.3
Tyler Sturdevant Indians (AA) 28 31.0 0.6 1.3
Enosil Tejeda Indians (AA) 25 43.0 0.5 0.9
Kyle Crockett Indians (AA) 22 15.2 0.4 0.8
Bryan Price Indians (AA) 27 10.0 0.1 0.3
J.C. Ramirez Indians (AA) 25 13.0 0.0 0.4
Jordan Cooper Indians (AA) 25 57.1 -0.1 0.0
Trey Haley Indians (AA) 24 3.1 -0.1 -0.2
Louis Head Indians (AA) 24 19.2 -0.1 -0.1
Adam Miller Indians (AA) 29 26.1 -0.2 -0.2
Elvis Araujo Indians (AA) 22 8.1 -0.2 0.1
Francisco Valera Indians (AA) 24 12.2 -0.4 -0.3

Cody Anderson (Photo: MiLB)With the news that right-hander Cody Anderson was placed on the disabled list with elbow discomfort, we now can debate just how much of his 0.3 FIP-based WAR and 0.7 RA-based WAR in 101.1 innings is a byproduct of that injury. Following a 2013 season where Anderson put up a 3.1 FIP-based WAR and 5.1 RA-based WAR in 123.1 High-A innings, this fallback is naturally concerning. The problems are largely based on his strikeout rate dropping (118 K%+ in 2013, 78 K%+ in 2014) and his walk rate spiking (69 BB%+ in 2013, 104 BB%+), which is obviously not a good combination. Time will tell if Anderson's recovery from his elbow discomfort will help him turn things around, but for now, 2014 is largely a lost season for the right-hander.

Right-hander Joe Colon, on the other hand, is having the type of season this year Anderson had last year, with a 2.2 FIP-based WAR and 4.4 RA-based WAR in 115.1 innings. Colon could still use some work on his 17.5 strikeout rate (93 K%+) and 8.9 percent walk rate (108 BB%+), but even with those rates both coming in below-average, the right-hander is pitching at a well-above-average rate. The 24-year-old is also being helped by a 0.31 HR/9 (40 HR/9+), but overall, the sinkerballer made great strides in 2014. There is still work to do, but clearly Colon is on the right path.

Though left-hander Giovanni Soto's season was interrupted by an injury, the 23-year-old got his season back on track and is putting up some pretty impressive results. Soto's 0.6 FIP-based WAR and 0.3 RA-based WAR in 36.1 innings are both very strong and are good indicators for his future. The left-hander's ultimate floor is as a LOOGY -- a job he could potentially excel at in the majors right now -- but those season results include plenty of appearances against right-handed batters. Soto is much better against lefties, but so far in 2014, he has shown he can be effective against both.

The comeback trail has not been as forgiving for right-hander Adam Miller, who owns -0.2 FIP-based WAR and -0.2 RA-based WAR in 26.1 innings. In addition to missing time with an ankle injury, Miller struggled to keep the ball in the park while on the mound, posting a 1.37 HR/9 (176 HR/9+). Some positive regression on that home run rate and Miller's 60.6 percent strand rate (86 LOB%+) would help the 29-year-old, especially considering the right-hander's solid 18.2 percent strikeout rate (97 K%+) and 8.2 percent walk rate (100 BB%+). Making the majors as a reliever remains a bit of a long shot for Miller, but despite the rough results this year, there is some hope in his peripherals.

Carolina Mudcats

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Ryan Merritt Indians (A+) 22 123.1 2.4 4.3
Cole Sulser Indians (A+) 24 97.0 1.6 -0.5
Michael Peoples Indians (A+) 22 84.2 1.4 0.9
D.J. Brown Indians (A+) 23 93.1 1.3 0.5
Shawn Morimando Indians (A+) 21 96.1 1.0 2.2
Adam Plutko Indians (A+) 22 54.2 0.4 0.5
Dylan Baker Indians (A+) 22 9.2 0.2 0.1

 

Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Louis Head Indians (A+) 24 20.1 0.6 0.7
Josh Martin Indians (A+) 24 46.2 0.3 0.6
Elvis Araujo Indians (A+) 22 29.0 0.3 0.0
Jacob Lee Indians (A+) 24 52.1 0.2 0.8
Grant Sides Indians (A+) 25 38.1 0.2 0.9
Benny Suarez Indians (A+) 22 42.2 0.1 0.3
Clayton Cook Indians (A+) 23 32.2 0.0 -0.2
Ben Heller Indians (A+) 22 6.0 -0.1 0.1
Robert Nixon Indians (A+) 25 45.1 -0.1 -0.5
Carlos Melo Indians (A+) 23 10.2 -0.3 -1.0

Adam Plutko (Photo: MiLB)Right-hander Adam Plutko has been up and down since his promotion to Carolina, yet he has still managed to put up a nearly-average 0.4 FIP-based WAR and 0.5 RA-based WAR in 54.2 innings. Obviously being nearly-average in High-A is no one's career goal, but there is still hope for Plutko. His average 19.7 percent strikeout rate (100 K%+) pairs really well with his low 5.3 percent strikeout rate (62 BB%+), and while Plutko has a home run problem right now (1.32 HR/9, 223 HR/9+), his .292 BABIP (95 BABIP+) seems to indicate the home runs are fluky, not a result of giving up a ton of hard contact. Once the home run come down, Plutko's line will look much better to match the rest of his peripherals.

Another pitcher waiting for his results to match his peripherals is right-hander Cole Sulser, the owner of an above-average 1.6 FIP-based WAR and a below-replacement-level -0.5 RA-based WAR in 97.0 innings. Sulser is striking hitters out, posting a 23.4 percent strikeout rate (119 K%+) to go with his low 6.5 percent walk rate (76 BB%+), yet the right-hander's biggest problem is only stranding 51.1 percent of runners (75 LOB%+). That strand rate is not something that should persist (especially considering it was at a perfectly fine 77.3 percent in Lake County last year), leaving Sulser as someone who should get results more in line with his peripherals in the future.

The results for right-hander Clayton Cook have been pretty replacement level, though given that the newly-24-year-old essentially missed the 2012 and 2013 seasons, seeing him pitch at all is great. Cook's 0.0 FIP-based WAR and -0.2 RA-based WAR in 32.2 innings is not anything special, but his 18.9 percent strikeout rate (96 K%+) and 6.8 percent walk rate (79 BB%+) are both solid. A slight BABIP problem (.333 BABIP, 109 BABIP+) to go with a 0.83 HR/9 (140 HR/9+) are causing Cook's problems with his results, and with his strong strikeout and walk rate, the right-hander is in great shape to do well going forward, especially as he gets farther removed from his shoulder surgery.

Right-hander Jacob Lee has not allowed an earned run since June 10, a streak that has lowered his ERA to 2.92 (73 ERA-). Lee's 4.03 FIP (100 FIP-) is not that low, however, leading to the disconnect between his 0.2 FIP-based WAR and 0.8 RA-based WAR in 52.1 innings. That low ERA is one that makes Lee stand out, but an average FIP as a reliever in the Carolina League is less-than-ideal. For now, however, Lee's 5.9 walk rate (69 BB%+) is outstanding and getting results despite his below-average 16.4 percent strikeout rate (84 K%+).

Lake County Captains

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Adam Plutko Indians (A) 22 52.2 2.0 0.8
Robbie Aviles Indians (A) 22 66.2 1.4 2.2
Mitch Brown Indians (A) 20 104.0 1.3 1.0
Luis Lugo Indians (A) 20 87.2 1.0 -1.0
Dace Kime Indians (A) 22 99.1 0.9 -0.4
Jordan Milbrath Indians (A) 22 93.1 0.9 1.7
Zach McAllister Indians (A) 26 4.1 0.1 0.0
Caleb Hamrick Indians (A) 20 72.2 -0.1 -1.1

 

Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Trevor Frank Indians (A) 23 42.1 0.7 0.8
Ben Heller Indians (A) 22 37.0 0.7 1.1
Anderson Polanco Indians (A) 21 20.1 0.3 0.3
Kenny Mathews Indians (A) 20 17.2 0.2 0.4
Justin Garcia Indians (A) 21 8.2 0.2 -0.1
Matthew Whitehouse Indians (A) 23 32.2 0.1 -1.0
Carlos Melo Indians (A) 23 12.2 0.0 -0.1
Brian Ruiz Indians (A) 21 1.0 0.0 0.0
Cody Ferrell Indians (A) 24 0.2 0.0 -0.1
James Stokes Indians (A) 23 11.2 -0.1 0.3
Justin Brantley Indians (A) 23 23.0 -0.1 1.0
Luis DeJesus Indians (A) 22 1.2 -0.1 -0.3
Kerry Doane Indians (A) 23 16.1 -0.2 -0.4
Wander Beras Indians (A) 25 50.1 -0.2 -0.2
Alexis Paredes Indians (A) 22 47.1 -0.7 -1.0

Mitch Brown (Photo: MiLB)As a second round pick in 2012, there are pretty high expectations for right-hander Mitch Brown's career. Though things have been rough for Brown to date, in his second full professional season, the right-hander owns an average 1.3 FIP-based WAR and 1.0 RA-based WAR in 104.0 innings. Brown is still working to rein in his 10.9 percent walk rate (128 BB%+), but the right-hander is getting a decent amount of strikeouts (20.9 percent strikeout rate, 102 K%+) and finding success at Low-A this time around. Not every prospect shoots up through the system or grows linearly and Brown's progression this season is great to see.

Right-hander Jordan Milbrath is also having a good season, putting up 0.9 FIP-based WAR and 1.7 RA-based WAR in 93.1 innings. That FIP-based mark is pretty average -- not a bad result for someone in his first full professional season -- but his RA-based WAR is solidly above-average. In order to continue getting those results, Milbrath could use some work on his 14.5 percent strikeout rate (71 K%+) and 10.2 percent walk rate (120 BB%+), but as it is right now, the 35th round pick in 2013 is raising his stock considerably.

Ben Heller may have been the one promoted to Carolina, but right-hander Trevor Frank is still back in Lake County despite pitching essentially as well as Heller. In no way is that a slight on Heller, who has pitched extremely well this year, but it is pointing out how strong Frank has been this season. Frank's 2.34 ERA (61 ERA-) and 2.67 FIP (69 FIP-) are both extremely good, leading to his 0.7 FIP-based WAR and 0.8 RA-based WAR in 42.1 innings. There is no doubt that Frank's 27.8 percent strikeout rate (136 K%+) and 3.1 percent walk rate (36 BB%+) deserve a shot in Carolina and hopefully he will get it over the last month of the season.

Left-hander Anderson Polanco's first shot in Lake County last season did not end well (5.02 ERA, 5.57 FIP, -0.2 FIP-based WAR, -0.2 RA-based WAR in 14.1 innings), but the 21-year-old turned things around in 2014. With a 0.3 FIP-based WAR and 0.3 RA-based WAR in just 20.1 innings, Polanco is pitching as well as any Captain reliever not named Heller or Frank. Polanco still has some work ahead, as his 13.3 percent walk rate (156 BB%+) is cutting into the effectiveness of his 30.1 percent strikeout rate (147 K%+), but the early returns are strong. 

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

shy
July 27, 2014 - 7:12 PM EDT
As has been pointed out by me before, the Hagadone fastballs are flat- they come from a standard 3'4 arm slot and have no break- basically pancake stuff without late movement. Big league hitters like Billy Butler love the flat 95 - they come in hard and go out hard. If Hagadone doesn't change, the high HR rate won't change. NIck is not a kid anymore- he pitched at Washington w Timmy Lincecum. But he has never really had a mentor to change his mechanics. In my opinion if he wants to keep the arm slot he need more back and body rotation, his delivery has been too open, people have plenty of time to see the pancake coming. I would also change grips- maybe fork the ball a little bit to get some late downward bite. As is stands, Nick has the lowest PFX's of anyone on the staff. Maybe Callaway can work w him over the offseason and he becomes a late bloomer

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