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The Advanced Rookie-level Pulaski Blue Jays finished their Appalachian League campaign recently, and I've taken the opportunity to import individual stats for every player in the league into one spreadsheet. Pulaski compiled the third best record in the league at 38-29 (.567). I haven't checked, but I think that with Auburn possessing one of the best records in minor league baseball (52-15, .776), the Blue Jays farm system will sport the best short-season winning percentage this year. That is a testament to the quality of the last two drafts, which provided the majority of the players for the two squads.

After getting all the data into one worksheet and cleaning it up a bit, I was able to calculate league norms for the component batting stats that are at the heart of my approach to evaluating the hitting skills of prospects (see earlier article on Simon Pond for more details). The following are 2003 Appalachian League norms:

Power = .114;
Walks = .088;
Strikeouts = .201;
Ball in Play Average = .316

I selected all batters who had at least 100 plate appearances for further analysis - there were 116 batters on 10 teams, including 13 P-Jays. I compared each player's component measures to the league norm and determined the percentage above or below average for each component. The average age (as of July 1, 2003) for these regulars was almost exactly 21 - not surprising, since the league is heavily populated by second tier college draft picks (the more advanced ones usually end up in short season A) as well as some second-year Latin and drafted-out-of-high-school players.

I calculated an overall batting rating by combining the component stats so that power is weighted at 35%, the strikeout rate at 25%, the walk rate at 20% and bip average at 20%. This rating system likes guys with power, but otherwise matches up fairly well with super OPS (1.7*OBP + SLG) - there was an 0.95 correlation between the two measures with the main difference being the ranking of high power/high strikeout guys.

Here are the Appalachian League's top 10 regulars by overall component rating:

playerageorgposPArating$OPS rankP/K (%)
Kevin Davidson22.95  HOU1631.583+115
Joseph Wolfe22.73  TOR 1291.492+139
Paul Frisella22.23  STLof 2071.424+67
Tyler Davidson 22.77  NYMof/1b 1931.291+161
Nick Thomas20.41  TOR of/1b 2220.998+69
Vincent Esposito22.86  TOR3b 1530.979+37
Daric Barton17.88  STL2140.9114+11
Dusty Gomon20.83  MIN1b 2660.8919+60
Brock Peterson19.61  MIN3b 2500.816+60
Robinzon Diaz19.78  TOR1990.775+248

Table notes: the component rating is designed so that a league average performer scores 0; P/K is the ratio of power to strikeout rate, in this case the percentage above or below league average; $OPS is 1.7*OPS + SLG.

The top 4 hitters are definitely old for this level. They face an uphill battle to become even fringe prospects because of their late start. Joseph Wolfe, Pulaski's #2 catcher, was the second best hitter in the league by both super OPS and the component rating system, but he was also 19 months older than the average Appalachian regular.

The next top 10 list presents similar information, but excludes players who were older than 21.00.

playerageorgposPArating$OPS rankP/K (%)
Nick Thomas20.41  TORof/1b 2220.998+69
Daric Barton17.88  STL2140.9114+11
Dusty Gomon20.83  MIN1b 2660.8919+60
Brock Peterson19.61  MIN3b 2500.816+60
Robinzon Diaz19.78  TOR199 0.775+248
Matt Esquivel20.54  ATLof 2500.6516+45
Luke Hetherington20.22  TORof 1720.6326-3
Cody Haerther19.96  STLof 2490.6210+78
Chris Young19.82  CWSof 2720.6021+108
Coltyn Simmons19.58  TBD1840.5625+40

Three Blue Jays prospects make the list; let's take a closer look at the component stats of these players.

Nick Thomas is an interesting case. He was drafted last year out of Sacramento CC in the 38th round as a pitcher. He didn't sign in time to play in 2002, so he debuted professionally with Pulaski.

His stats don't look fancy at first blush - .290 AVG/.389 OBP/.489 SLG - but he amassed an extra-base hit every 8.45 ABs, good for a power rating of .204 against a league average of .114 (79% above average). He walked in 13.2% of his opportunities, which was 50% above average. His strikeout rate was a minor weakness - 21.3% strikeouts per opportunity - 6% below average. His broad batting skills added up to the 5th best overall component ranking in the Appalachian League (100+ PA).

Robinzon Diaz has been mentioned in some of the Batter's Box minor league reports. Because of his age and position, he should be considered the best position prospect at Pulaski.

He played last year in Medicine Hat (Pioneer League, similar level of difficulty) in 2002 and improved his power numbers considerably this year. The Dominican catcher doesn't walk much right now, but he was one of the best contact hitters in the league (7.1% K rate, 2nd best in the league to teammate Jayce Tingler). He's a line drive hitter (.392 bip average, 9th best in the league) with decent power (22% above average). He played 33 games at catcher and made 8 errors (31 games, 7 errors in 2002), but that could be nothing more than temporary wildness on stolen base attempts.

Luke Hetherington was drafted in 2001 in the 9th round out of Kentwood HS in Covington, Washington. He was overmatched in the Pioneer League that year, hitting .207 AVG/.299 OBP/.305 SLG in 51 games that year. He was out of action in 2002.

Hetherington shares his skill-set with John-Ford Griffin, pitched lower. He hits line-drives, has decent power, walks above average, but strikes out a bit too much for comfort. It's much too early to tell if he'll even get to where Griffin is now, much less to the majors.

These three youngsters as well as a few of the older Pulaski Blue Jays who performed well, Wolfe, Esposito, Tingler and Acey among them, will be worth keeping an eye on.


If I were visited by a person from the future and told that one regular in the Appalachian League in 2003 would become an impact player at the major league level one day, I would put my money on the St. Louis Cardinals first rounder in 2003, Daric Barton.

A catching prospect, Barton was chosen 28th overall and became the youngest regular in the Appalachian league before his 18th birthday. He was 24% and 18% above average in the power and line drive departments respectively this year. His strikeout rate was only a little below average and he drew tons of walks, ranking 3rd in the league among regulars.

Pulaski Round-Up, part 1 | 19 comments | Create New Account
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_Phil - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 09:33 AM EDT (#93601) #
another excellent article, and the main reason why the battersbox has become my favorite source for blue jays information. Thanks again, and keep up the good work.
Gerry - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 09:39 AM EDT (#93602) #
Excellent round up. Diaz and Jermy Acey were named to the all-star team, Acey at 2B. Acey, as you note, is overage, he turned 22 this year. He might have a utility type role in his future as he continues to develop. He has a good eye, a 400+ OBP but has little power. I assume he will be at Dunedin next year.

You say your model values power. How did Acey score in the non-power categories?
robertdudek - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 09:56 AM EDT (#93603) #
Jermy Acey (aged 22.10, split time between 2B and SS) had a manifested power rating of .120, just slightly above the league average (.114).

He had excellent strikeout and walk rates, both about 40% above league average. He led the league in HBP with 14, which is part of the reason he had such a high OBP. I don't include HBP in any of the 4 component batting skills, except insofar as getting hit by a pitch allows one to avoid strikeouts. I view it as one of two minor offensive skills (along with speed).

His power/strikeout ratio was the 13th best among Appalachian regulars (+73%); super OPS and overall component rating peg him at 15th and 17th in the league respectively.
robertdudek - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 10:14 AM EDT (#93604) #
It's a big jump from the Appalachian to the FSL. I assume that most of these guys will start out in the Sally league and go from there (some may be demoted mid-season to Auburn, others may progress to Dunedin).
Coach - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 12:08 PM EDT (#93605) #
Great stuff, Robert. In addition to the excellent analysis and writing we've come to expect, your HTML skills make you an all-round prospect. Unlike me, you're not too old for this league.

Thanks for shedding some light on a fine season by Thomas. I'm rooting for "Tiny" Tingler to succeed, and have heard excellent reports on his defence. Is there any statistical evidence to support the claims that he's a terrific outfielder?
robertdudek - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 12:17 PM EDT (#93606) #
I don't know of any place to get detailed fielding stats for the lower minors until the Sporting News Baseball Guide comes out. If anyone knows another source, please let me know.

Even at that, it'll be the standard PO/A/E/DP stuff. I suppose someone could figure out Defensive Win Shares for every minor league player after the Baseball Guide comes out - but I don't personally know anyone wacky enough to do such a thing.

One little measure I like for outfielders is Assists/Errors ratio - which is a decent measure of the strength/accuracy of an outfielder's arm (given enough of a sample). The only facts I know to date are that Tingler made 1 error in 62 outfield games.
Gerry - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 12:26 PM EDT (#93607) #
To change the subject slightly, I noticed this on the Sun's website:


Blue Jays catching prospect Guillermo Quiroz of the Jays double-A New Haven Ravens found an odd and potentially life-threatening way to end up on the disabled list this past weekend.

Quiroz, hitting .282 with 20 homers and 79 RBIs for the Ravens, and outfielder Alexis Rios were both battling through an upper respiratory infection much of last week but continued to play. On Friday, Quiroz hit a three-run homer but woke up the next morning feeling worse. He checked himself into a local hospital where hospital staff promptly diagnosed his problem as a collapsed lung. Quiroz is out of danger now and on the road to recovery.

As of yesterday, Quiroz still had a tube in his chest and the lung had returned to 80% of it's inflated capacity. Club officials remain concerned.
robertdudek - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 12:38 PM EDT (#93608) #
Wow, Gerry.

That is disturbing news. We all hope that Quiroz has not suffered a permanent injury.
_Shane - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 12:43 PM EDT (#93609) #
Quick side-jack:

Boston's interest in Mike Bordick was reported somewhere last week and here it is a again:

With five days to go before the deadline to complete postseason rosters, the Red Sox are shopping for a complementary player or two who could contribute during the pennant chase both on the field and in the clubhouse. Notable among the pool of players on their wish list is Toronto infielder Mike Bordick.

So far, the Sox have tried unsuccessfully to acquire Bordick, 38, a former University of Maine star and a 15-year veteran of the majors who is considered one of the league's most dependable defensive infielders.

The Sox recognize the importance of defense, particularly in the postseason.

"We call him `Mr. Automatic,' " said Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi.

Yet the Sox have been unable to strike a deal with the Jays.

"We're not going to give him away," Ricciardi said. "We're trying to get better, not worse."
_Shane - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 12:53 PM EDT (#93610) #
And once more just for the curious...

Red Sox Notebook: Bench reinforcements are tough to come by

BOSTON -- With just five days before the waiver period trade deadline passes, the Red Sox are working on improving their bench but haven't yet found the right deal.

The Sox spoke with Toronto, last night's opponent, numerous times in the last week and discussed potential deals for both Mike Bordick and Frank Catalanotto.

Catalanotto would give the Sox a lefty bat off the bench and a player who could play both the infield (first and second) and the outfield. But when the Jays asked for Double A lefty pitcher Jorge de la Rosa, the Sox balked.

The Sox were similarly unwilling to part with Casey Fossum for Catalanotto. Talks on a deal for Bordick, a veteran infielder, were also unproductive.

Toronto has had an interest in both left-handed pitchers. Earlier this season, general manager Theo Epstein wouldn't part with both in exchange for right-handed starter Kelvim Escobar.

Catalanotto didn't make it through waivers though, I believe.
Craig B - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 01:38 PM EDT (#93611) #
I would imagine that if Cat were blocked again, the team that wanted him could negotiate with the blocking team to lift the claim.

As of yesterday, Quiroz still had a tube in his chest and the lung had returned to 80% of it's inflated capacity. Club officials remain concerned.

Club fans remain concerned, too. Wow... thanks Gerry.
_DS - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 05:15 PM EDT (#93612) #
Tingler got promoted to Auburn, so clearly the club wants to test him at the higher level before next year.
_David - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 05:30 PM EDT (#93613) #
We have no way of knowing how serious it is, but for anyone who's interested, here's more about collapsed lungs.
Pepper Moffatt - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 09:25 PM EDT (#93614) #
We have no way of knowing how serious it is, but for anyone who's interested, here's more about collapsed lungs.

Not to be any more self-absorbed than I have been lately, but I'll mention that I had a collapsed lung about 2 years ago from complications from a back surgery. My right lung collapsed to the size of a hockey puck (I still have the X-ray), but I don't know what that is in percentage terms. I imagine Q's is a lot worse.

Honestly, it was the most scared I've ever been in my life. It feels like you're drowning.. no matter how hard you try to breath, you only get little gasps. Of course, your instincts are to try to breathe harder, which only serves to bruise the heck out of your lung. The parademics told me I might have died if I started hyperventilating, but fortunately I didn't.

I had the tube sticking out of my chest as well. Fortunately mine only took about 14 hours to get back to near full capacity. My chest hurt for about 6 weeks, mainly due to all the bruising. It didn't seem to have any long term effects; I haven't thought about it in months.

Craig B - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 10:40 PM EDT (#93615) #
Wow, Mike. You don't show any ill effects from it... I'm glad to hear that you haven't had any long term problems.

I'm glad you didn't die, we need a Gitz buffer around here.
_Jabonoso - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 10:45 PM EDT (#93616) #
Robert: Great work as always. I'm convinced that you should be paid for this, but I guess we are still a long way to a semi pro blog.
Really glad you enjoy doing this.
How could Quiroz could develop that serious and strange illness, without trainers, team doctor or anybody else noticing?
Hope he is better, sounds like seasons is over for him, a shame.
Please, if anybody learns something to note, post it asap.
Pepper Moffatt - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 11:02 PM EDT (#93617) #
I'm glad you didn't die, we need a Gitz buffer around here.

Thanks. I re-read my message.. I meant "fortunately I didn't start hyperventilating". It's kind of funnier the other way, tho.

Speaking of funny, here's something I'll never forget:

The lung didn't collapse until after I left the hospital. I was in a hotel room and my Dad had just gone out to get some Tim Hortons. By the time he came back a half hour later, I was rolling around on the ground. He called the paramedics and it took them about 10 minutes to get there. He looked really, really calm about the whole thing.. almost like nothing is happening. It turns out he was trying to look calm so as not to freak me out, but he was as scared as I was. Of course, all I can think is, I'm f'ing dying here, and my own father doesn't seem to notice!! :)

Pepper Moffatt - Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 11:05 PM EDT (#93618) #
I'm really interested in hearing what happened to Quiroz as well. I have a feeling that how easy/difficult it is to recover from a collapsed lung depends on what caused it to collapse. In my case it was because my surgeon forgot to remove the compressed CO2 that was pumped into my chest cavity so he could move my lung out of the way to attach a staple to a nerve along my spinal cord.

_R Billie - Thursday, August 28 2003 @ 02:33 AM EDT (#93619) #
A lung can sometimes spontaneously collapse for no apparent reason in a young person, but Rios and Quiroz have both been battling upper respiratory problems lately and I'm not sure if that's related. Rios remains in the lineup for New Haven and has actually been hitting quite well lately.

From what I've heard, they got Q's lung inflated to 80% capacity earlier today and he's still got the tube in his chest. Chances are he'll recover and be fine as Mike was; the only unknown right now is his recovery time. His baseball future will likely be fine but he probably shouldn't go deep sea diving anytime soon.
Pulaski Round-Up, part 1 | 19 comments | Create New Account
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