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The WAR Room: Lindor, Gonzalez adjusting well to new levels

Both Lindor and Gonzalez have not missed a beat since their promotions

The WAR Room: Lindor, Gonzalez adjusting well to new levels
The WAR Room (Graphic courtesy of Brittany Chay)
August 3, 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.

Plus, I did a special edition of The WAR Room on Friday, breaking down Cleveland's newest additions, James Ramsey and Zach Walters. If you want to know exactly what Cleveland acquired at the trade deadline, go check that piece out.

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 1.

Columbus Clippers

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Zach Walters Indians (AAA)/O 24 61 241 2.5 2.9 3.3
Roberto Perez Indians (AAA) 25 53 174 2.1 2.5 2.8
Tyler Holt Indians (AAA) 25 57 218 2.0 2.4 2.7
Giovanny Urshela Indians (AAA) 22 77 290 1.6 2.1 2.6
Jesus Aguilar Indians (AAA) 24 94 335 1.5 2.0 2.6
Jose Ramirez Indians (AAA) 21 60 245 1.2 1.6 2.0
Audy Ciriaco Indians (AAA) 27 86 278 1.0 1.5 2.0
Carlos Moncrief Indians (AAA) 25 105 380 0.5 1.2 1.8
Matt Carson Indians (AAA) 32 65 211 0.6 1.0 1.4
Elliot Johnson Indians (AAA) 30 63 233 0.5 0.9 1.2
Ryan Rohlinger Indians (AAA) 30 80 275 0.1 0.6 1.1
Tim Fedroff Indians (AAA) 27 70 231 0.1 0.5 0.9
Justin Sellers Indians (AAA) 28 86 297 -0.1 0.5 1.0
Luke Carlin Indians (AAA) 33 44 130 0.1 0.4 0.7
Francisco Lindor Indians (AAA) 20 10 40 0.1 0.2 0.3
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
James Ramsey Indians (AAA) 24 1 4 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Michael Bourn Indians (AAA) 31 2 7 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Chris Wallace Indians (AAA) 26 12 35 -0.2 -0.2 -0.1
Nyjer Morgan Indians (AAA) 33 15 60 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1
George Kottaras Indians (AAA) 31 14 42 -0.4 -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

Francisco Lindor (Photo: MiLB)Well, there is only so much that 10 games at Triple-A can tell us, but let's check in on shortstop Francisco Lindor anyway. Lindor currently owns 0.3 great-defense WAR in those 10 games, a solidly All-Star pace in his first exposure to Triple-A. Interestingly, Lindor's plate discipline shifted, as his low-strikeout, high-walk combination from Double-A has not fully translated to Columbus (19.6 percent strikeout rate, 101 K%+; 8.7 percent walk rate, 98 BB%+), though of course, it is way too early to say that is a real problem. But most importantly, Lindor is not only holding his own in Columbus through a week and a half, he is excelling.

Outfielder Tyler Holt is back in Cleveland -- at least for the time being -- where the 25-year-old will try to keep his massive Columbus success going. Holt is at 2.7 great-defense WAR in 57 Triple-A games, really showing the ultimate ceiling the outfielder can play at. Of course, it is unlikely that Hold's .387 BABIP (124 BABIP+) will sustain, but with a 16.4 percent strikeout rate (85 K%9+), a 14.5 percent strikeout rate (163 BB%+), and great defense, Holt will survive some BABIP regression. Holt's ultimate role coming into 2014 looked to be a fourth outfielder, but with the way he is hitting, it seems possible he could be pushing that ceiling up a little.

The first part of the season was pretty hard for outfielder Carlos Moncrief, but the 25-year-old turned it around of late. Moncrief's big arm and strong range give him some value on defense and some leeway on offense, putting him at 1.8 great-defense WAR in 105 games. Though that rate is closer to average than above-average, Moncrief is making progress in adapting to the International League. His plate discipline is slowly improving, and while it remains below-average (24.5 percent strikeout rate, 127 K%+; 6.5 percent walk rate, 73 BB%+), his power-defense combination could let it play. Moncrief does not look quite ready for the jump to the majors, but he is certainly much closer than he was after his first few months in Triple-A.

Given that Cleveland is a .500 team this year, it makes last September seem like so long ago. If you want a connection to last September, however, you can check out one of the heroes of last year's playoff run in outfielder Matt Carson. Carson is still hanging around in Columbus, posting a solid 1.0 average-defense WAR in 65 games. It does not look like Carson will have a role down the stretch in a playoff run, but his versatility, decent pop (.161 isolated power, 121 ISO+), and average 9.1 percent walk rate (102 BB%+) would play off the bench if needed.

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 88 342 1.6 2.1 2.7
Anthony Gallas Indians (AA) 26 47 180 1.1 1.4 1.7
Joe Wendle Indians (AA) 24 76 297 0.8 1.3 1.7
Bryson Myles Indians (AA) 24 62 225 0.5 0.9 1.3
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
Erik Gonzalez Indians (AA) 22 15 67 0.7 0.7 0.8
Tony Wolters Indians (AA) 22 94 341 0.1 0.7 1.2
Justin Toole Indians (AA) 27 54 156 0.3 0.6 1.0
Bryan LaHair Indians (AA) 31 79 286 0.0 0.5 1.0
Alex Lavisky Indians (AA) 23 48 171 0.0 0.3 0.6
Ollie Linton Indians (AA) 28 23 69 0.1 0.2 0.4
Nick Swisher Indians (AA) 33 2 6 0.1 0.1 0.1
Cody Ferrell Indians (AA) 24 5 13 0.1 0.1 0.1
Adam Abraham Indians (AA) 27 29 108 -0.2 0.0 0.2
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
Jake Lowery Indians (AA) 23 53 178 -0.5 -0.2 0.1
Ronny Rodriguez Indians (AA) 22 96 342 -0.8 -0.2 0.4
Tim Fedroff Indians (AA) 27 20 80 -0.4 -0.3 -0.2
Jordan Smith Indians (AA) 23 102 374 -1.0 -0.4 0.2
Jerrud Sabourin Indians (AA) 24 12 33 -0.5 -0.4 -0.4

Erik Gonzalez (Photo: MiLB)Lindor's replacement in Akron is also hitting the ground running in his new digs, with shortstop Erik Gonzalez posting 0.7 average-defense WAR in 15 games. Naturally, a .490 BABIP (158 BABIP+) will do a ton for someone's offense, and Gonzalez has some real issues he will need to work through in order to keep being successful in Double-A. Most importantly, Gonzalez's 24.3 percent strikeout rate (129 K%+) and 4.3 percent walk rate (53 BB%+) need work, as that combination will leave the shortstop very susceptible to his coming BABIP regression. The talent is there for Gonzalez, though, and we will see if he can make the adjustments to keep this success going.

Outfielder Bryson Myles is back on the field and playing following meniscus surgery, and so far, the 24-year-old is doing well, like he was before the injury. Myles still owns 0.9 average-defense WAR in 62 games this season, though in order to get better going forward, he will need to work on his 26.2 percent strikeout rate (139 K%+). Plus, some of Myles' success is due to his .374 BABIP (121 BABIP+), a rate that will come down in the future. Myles is doing decently while on the field this year, but in addition to the missed time, he needs to improve his performance on the field.

Though outfielder Anthony Gallas only played in 47 games with the RubberDucks, the 26-year-old is already among the team's leaders in WAR, with 1.4 average-defense WAR in that time. Much of Gallas' value is coming from his .256 isolated power (193 ISO+), and while that exact level of power is a little above Gallas' norm, it is not wholly outrageous. Gallas also improved his plate discipline (21.5 percent strikeout rate, 114 K%+; 7.0 percent walk rate, 86 BB%+) and owns a decent .341 BABIP (110 BABIP+), giving hope that the 26-year-old's bat will find a way to let him keep climbing through the minor league system.

Catcher Alex Lavisky came out of the gate hot this season in limited time, but as time has worn on, the 23-year-old has fallen back to Earth. With the benefit of not having to play every day, Lavisky is only at an average 0.6 average-defense WAR in 48 games. Lavisky's problems basically stem from hitting for below-average power (.105 isolated power, 79 ISO+) and only posting a 4.9 percent walk rate (60 BB%+), further cementing his status as a backup catcher going forward. There is nothing wrong with that -- and Lavisky should have a job for the next decade or so because of it -- but it is hard to see him holding down a starting spot based on his current level of production.

Carolina Mudcats

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Jeremy Lucas Indians (A+) 23 94 349 2.2 2.8 3.4
Erik Gonzalez Indians (A+) 22 74 308 1.3 1.8 2.2
Todd Hankins Indians (A+) 23 80 317 1.2 1.7 2.2
Yhoxian Medina Indians (A+) 24 71 271 1.2 1.6 2.0
LeVon Washington Indians (A+) 22 53 198 0.9 1.3 1.6
Jerrud Sabourin Indians (A+) 24 71 261 0.8 1.3 1.7
Anthony Gallas Indians (A+) 26 58 221 0.9 1.2 1.6
James Roberts Indians (A+) 22 92 318 0.5 1.0 1.6
Yandy Diaz Indians (A+) 22 50 194 0.7 1.0 1.3
Luigi Rodriguez Indians (A+) 21 77 264 0.4 0.9 1.4
Joe Sever Indians (A+) 23 48 186 0.6 0.9 1.2
Ollie Linton Indians (A+) 28 23 75 0.4 0.6 0.7
Alex Monsalve Indians (A+) 22 76 293 0.1 0.6 1.0
Charlie Valerio Indians (A+) 23 17 53 0.1 0.2 0.3
Logan Vick Indians (A+) 23 56 180 -0.3 0.1 0.4
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
Ryan Battaglia Indians (A+) 22 21 57 -0.3 -0.1 0.0

Luigi Rodriguez (Photo: MiLB)Outfielder Luigi Rodriguez's attempt to reestablish his prospect stock has not been perfect this year, but with 0.9 average-defense WAR in 77 games, the 21-year-old is on the right track. Rodriguez does not hit for above-average power (.114 isolated power, 92 ISO+), but with a solid 21.0 percent strikeout rate (107 K%+) and elite 13.7 percent walk rate (160 BB%+), Rodriguez has the basis for some real value going forward. Plus, Rodriguez is pulling this off with an average .313 BABIP (101 BABIP+), making it look more sustainable. Rodriguez is not putting up massive numbers in Carolina, but he is definitely on the way up.

Similarly, outfielder LeVon Washington is posting 1.3 average-defense WAR in 53 games on the back of a decent 21.9 percent strikeout rate (112 K%+) and high 13.7 percent walk rate (160 BB%+). However, Washington is also being aided by a .386 BABIP (124 BABIP+), which is making up for his low .096 isolated power (77 ISO+). That BABIP is not sustainable, but even as it falls a bit, Washington should still be able to keep up his above-average performance. It is not much, but after only playing in 74 games in the last two seasons, Washington is close to matching that number in this season alone.

Third baseman Yandy Diaz's strong debut is continuing so far in 2014, with 1.0 average-defense WAR in just 50 games. The soon-to-be 23-year-old is not hitting for much power (.062 isolated power, 50 ISO+), but with as many walks as strikeouts (12.5 percent strikeout rate, 64 K%+; 12.5 percent walk rate, 146 BB%+), Diaz has a really strong approach at the plate that should yield fruit in time. Even without the power, Diaz is hitting at an above-average rate (110 wRC+), and once his power comes through, Diaz could start making some huge waves in the system.

First baseman Jerrud Sabourin had some hiccups earlier in the season, but he is back on track now with 1.7 great-defense WAR in 71 High-A games. In addition to his usual strong plate discipline (16.4 percent strikeout rate, 84 K%+; 9.9 percent walk rate, 115 BB%+), Sabourin is starting to show some power for the first time in his career (.115 isolated power, 93 ISO+). How much of that is just repeating the Carolina League and how much is due to any adjustments Sabourin made is up for debate, but as it is, this adds a new dimension to the 24-year-old's game. Granted, hitting for slightly below-average power is still not great for a first baseman, but it is a nice new addition for Sabourin.

Lake County Captains

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Paul Hendrix Indians (A) 22 89 313 2.3 2.9 3.4
Eric Haase Indians (A) 21 70 268 2.1 2.6 3.0
Clint Frazier Indians (A) 19 91 361 1.8 2.3 2.9
Nellie Rodriguez Indians (A) 20 102 377 1.4 2.0 2.6
Grant Fink Indians (A) 23 97 337 0.8 1.4 2.0
Claudio Bautista Indians (A) 20 94 366 0.5 1.1 1.7
Richard Stock Indians (A) 23 41 144 0.3 0.6 0.8
Dorssys Paulino Indians (A) 19 85 316 0.0 0.5 1.0
Torsten Boss Indians (A) 23 31 105 0.0 0.1 0.3
Logan Vick Indians (A) 23 16 59 0.0 0.1 0.2
Brian Ruiz Indians (A) 21 65 221 -0.4 0.0 0.4
Cody Ferrell Indians (A) 24 48 151 -0.3 0.0 0.3
Shane Rowland Indians (A) 22 3 10 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Ryan Battaglia Indians (A) 22 1 3 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Ivan Castillo Indians (A) 19 57 189 -0.5 -0.1 0.2
Mike Papi Indians (A) 21 11 38 -0.4 -0.3 -0.2
Josh McAdams Indians (A) 20 28 101 -0.7 -0.6 -0.4
Anthony Santander Indians (A) 19 43 163 -1.1 -0.8 -0.5
Jorge Martinez Indians (A) 21 26 86 -1.1 -0.9 -0.7

Eric Haase (Photo: MiLB)With 2.1 poor-defense WAR in 70 games, catcher Eric Haase is putting together a very strong season with Lake County. But while that success is really great to see, the fact that the organization is not pushing Haase up to Carolina and is leaving him in Low-A for the second full season is worrisome. Cleveland does have a glut of catchers in the system, but you find a way for your best prospects to get the challenges they need. Haase owns a .228 isolated power (191 ISO+), a solid 8.4 percent walk rate (99 BB%+), and great 131 wRC+, but given his presence in Lake County, it would seem his 26.9 percent strikeout rate (130 K%+) and defense are concerns enough to leave him in Low-A for most (if not all) of 2014.

Following a nice hot streak, first baseman Nellie Rodriguez is up to 2.0 average-defense WAR in 103 games, a great rate to see following his struggles in Low-A last season. Not only is Rodriguez showing the power that makes him special (.210 isolated power, 176 ISO+), he also owns a solid .338 on-base percentage (104 OBP+) to go with it. Additionally, while Rodriguez's power comes with a high 25.1 percent strikeout rate (122 K%+), he also is walking at a high 10.3 percent rate (121 BB%+). Overall, this has been a great season for Rodriguez and should set him up to start in Carolina next year.

Though right fielder Mike Papi is a polished, advanced college bat, his first taste of Lake County is not going as expected. Papi is sitting at a rough -0.3 average-defense WAR in just 11 games, putting him firmly in a slump since being called up to Low-A. Now, Papi is still maintaining that polished approach, with his 17.0 percent strikeout rate (82 K%+) coming in strong and his 17.0 percent walk rate (200 BB%+) really impressing; the problem for Papi has been what happens when he makes contact. Papi's .069 BABIP (22 BABIP+) will rise, and with his plate discipline firmly in line, this slump should turn into nothing more than a few down games in time.

Infielder Grant Fink is still having a solid season with the Captains, posting a 1.4 average-defense WAR in 97 games, though his strikeout rate continues to run high. Fink's 36.0 percent strikeout rate (175 K%+) is still out of this world and something the 23-year-old will need to get under control going forward, though Fink's success to date this season is proof a hitter can make such a high strikeout rate work. Granted, Fink's .362 BABIP (116 BABIP+) has a role in making his strikeout rate work, but both his .139 isolated power (117 ISO+) and 13.5 percent walk rate (159 BB%+) are both helping. That many strikeouts is not ideal, but given his solid ability in different parts of his game, Fink cutting down a little on his strikeouts could go a long way.

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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