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Farm Wrap – 5.12.06

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on May 11, 2006

Been a while since one of these was necessary, which is to say the system hasn't been that interesting since the end of April, but with the return of the Jedi Knight, things are looking up.

In Tacoma, Chris Snelling's second game back produced another win for the Rainiers and a 1-for-1 night for the 24-year-old. He walked twice, was hit by a pitch and a drove in a run with a single in the seventh inning – off of Steve Kent,the same left-hander he hit the game-winner off on Wednesday afternoon.

Kent isn't alone, not many AAA pitchers, lefty or not, can get Snelling out.

It maybe time to start believing in Cha Seung Baek, at least as a back-end rotation option or a middle reliever. Baek, 25, went six solid innings and allowed just one earned run on four hits. He walked two and fanned two and just like his track record, induced an even number of ground ball outs to fly outs, but he mixed his pitches very well and kept a solid Round Rock lineup off balance.

Baek is now 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA in 37 innings of work. He's walked 12 and struck out 22.

Sounds like middle relief to me. [insert music by Trio here]… Cha, Cha, Cha.

Adam Jones went 1-for-4 with his 7th home run of the season, a solo shot leading off the bottom of the fourth inning. He did strike out for the 25th time this season and he's walked only four times, but he's 20, learning a new position and is showing a lot more power than anyone thought he would this early in his Triple-A career.

As long as his slugging percentage hovers in the .480s, he's having a good season.

Catcher Rob Johnson has been struggling defensively of late, allowing five passed balls in his last nine starts. M's catching coordinator Roger Hansen says it's just a matter of balance and repetition and thinks it'll be fixed within the month, not because it's an easily fixable problem, but because of Johnson's natural ability and tireless work ethic.

Johnson did go 2-for-4 with his second home run of the season, raising his average to .273. He did strike out two more times, however, bringing his K/BB ratio to 26-2 in 81 plate appearances.

But, like Jones, he's very young and inexperienced as a pro and has time to correct the shortcomings. The fact that he's hitting .273 is pretty remarkable considering that he spent less than a half season above Low A ball prior to this season.

Right-hander Jesse Foppert was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday and made his first appearance Thursday night.

The 25-year-old went one inning and allowed a run on two hits. All three outs he recorded were of the fly ball variety.

He's expected to get at least two more relief outings before rejoining the starting rotation, but he may get as many as five.

Asdrubal Cabrera went 1-for-3 and drew his 12th walk of the season against just 13 strikeouts. The 20-year-old is hitting .288 after a 2-for-17 slump dropped his average below .280 for the first time all season.

Closer Emiliano Fruto pitched a scoreless ninth to secure the win for Tacoma and lowered his ERA to 3.20 on the season.

Wisconsin was rained out and the entire Texas League had an off day while Inland Empire played another uninteresting game without one single note from a legit prospect, with the potential exception of Yung-Chi Chen's 2-for-4, which raised his average to .351.

Chen, 22, has been playing second base for most of the season – his best future position – and is slugging .522 with a .378 OBP on the year. Chen has 11 steals in 13 attempts to go with his 13 extra-base hits.

He's somewhat interesting, but he should be in Double-A so the club can see what he's really got.

Photo Credit –

Cha Seung Baek: Associated Press


24 Responses to “Farm Wrap – 5.12.06”

  1. Grant said

    So what made you move Lincecum up to #3?

  2. Talked to a D-Rays scout who said right now, he wouldn’t slide past them. He’s been in Seattle twice himself to watch TL, and is planning another 10-day trip to see him twice more.

    It doesn’t appear the Rockies have a ton of interest in Lincecum as long as Lincoln and Morrow stay healthy and nothing occurs to either pitcher before the draft.

  3. Grant said

    That sucks, so it sounds like there pretty much zero chance that Lincecum’s an M.

    Also I’ve got to disagree with you about Baek, 5.35 K/9 in AAA, and no groundball tendencies. I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t get shelled in the bigs whatever roll he’s in.

  4. So you have to have high K rates or high G/F rates to even be effective in the bigs?

    Try telling that to…

    Mike Maroth, Jarrod Washburn, Nate Robertson and John Koronka.

    None have good K rates and none get a high % of ground balls and all rank in top 20 in ALL OF BASEBALL in ERA.

    I didn't include Mark Buehrle or Jose Contreras, even though they both qualify for low K rates and ordinary G/F ratios, because they simply have far better overall stuff and tip-top control.

    But the other four are decent arms who give their clubs innings every year, with the exception of Koronka who has a small sample size and Baek's stuff/command are right in that area.

    There are lots of pitchers who are useful in the majors without high K rates and/or plus G/F ratios.

    Moyer? Mateo? There's two and we haven't even left the city of Seattle.

    I'm not talking about Baek being some all-star or even giving the M's 34 starts and 200 innings.

    Just effective outings, likely from the pen, and likely in two-inning stints.

    Re: Lincecum

    Who knows, it's still pretty early and a lot can change.

    If Miller falls past the top two slots, it's not out of the question that a pitching starved D-Rays club goes off their beaten path and takes Miller, leaving Lincecum to the 4th and 5th slots.

    And I still think it's possible that TL indirectly hints at not wanting to go to Pitt, Tampa and Colorado so he can stay home, and using big money demands as a weapon.

  5. DIQ said


    I too noticed the shift in the draft board. Still looking quite good for the M’s if they can get Max Scherzer. What do you think of him and curious to what the M’s think of him as well? Thanks!

  6. The good about Scherzer:

    – He’s consistently clocked at 93-98 mph, has solid command, good slider that could develop into a true plus pitch.

    – Is a real worker. Likes to work his coaches and study hitters. This isn’t that common in college.

    – Has a nice track record of success at Missouri and has allowed less than two runs in all but two starts this season.

    The bad about Scherzer:

    – He has missed part of the ’06 season with a biceps injury and has made just three appearances since returning to the mound but has fanned 18 in 12 innings in those three outings.

    – He lacks a legit third pitch right now as his changeup has been stalemated in its development, partly due to the injury that forced him to miss six starts. Without a third offering, Scherzer may project as a relief option and some clubs already see him this way.

    In the end, if that third pitch is as true as some believe, he may drop out of the top 10.

    The M’s are pretty mum about their scouting, but have seen Scherzer this season. They are much higher on Morrow, Lincoln, Miller and Linecum, and if all four are gone they could choose to go with Bard, Chamberlain or the top prep pitcher, Clayton Kershaw.

  7. DIQ said

    Thanks Jason,

    If they really percieve him as a relief pitcher than I don’t see the point of drafting him. Hopefully he can develop his change because others seem to refer highly of him. The thought of another hard throwing arm in the rotation to go with Felix is quite exciting. If they draft a pitcher out of college how quick do you expect them to move up the system?

    Also I’m curious of Daniel Bard’s drop in stock from the end of last fall. He was in a lot of people’s top 5. What do you think of him?

  8. Re: Scherzer

    Seems to be about 60-40 in favor if him as a starter, but we’ll see. Not sure exactly what the M’s think. In the end, I doubt seriously that he’s their guy, but we’re 3 1/2 weeks away.

    Bard is a better prospect than Scherzer using just pure talent, stuff and projectability.

    He had a spell of control issues this year and has had a few instances where his head got in the way of success, which will drop a kid’s stock in a hurry.

    I’m not a big fan of Bard’s, and would be surprised if he ends up a Mariners pick in round 1.

    It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure.

    Even round two is going to be exciting.

  9. Jerry said

    Re the draft,

    I am hoping that Evan Longoria or some other position players slides into the top-4. That would dramatically improve the M’s shot at landing either Lincecum or Miller.

    I am still holding out hope that Miller slides down to #5. There are more and more rumblings that KC could go for a cheaper option. Colorado is supposedly very intrested in Morrow, who would be a good fit at Coors. They could also look at Longoria or perhaps even Drew Stubbs. The Pirates are also a club that could look at a position player.

    At this point, I am really hoping that Miller has outlandish contract demands. If he asks for Justin Upton money and a ML contract, he could well fall to the M’s.

  10. Long time Midwest M's Fan said

    Jason — Can you give us a few names, or a possible direction the team would consider in the second round at this point? Would they look towards a Hochevar, a college reliever (perhaps a Nebraska right-hander Brett Jensen, or similar type pitcher, which could move quickly through the system), or a lefty-swinging power hitter to play first or third? Or will it be the best available? Could you drop a few hints?

  11. eknpdx said

    JAC, if Hochevar fails to sign with LAD and has a dominant showing in the indy league, does he factor into the top 10?

  12. I don’t think Hochevar goes in the top 10, not right now. I guess it’s possible by draft day if he is absolutely lights out in his six starts in the indy league, becuase he doesn’t have any leverage left with signing… but I i think he’s a 16-30 guy and even possible a pick in the sandwich selection area by a club with a second or third first round pick.

    2nd rounders are really tough to predict but hope guys like Brett Sinkbeil, mizzou state RHP and prep OF Cody Johnson drop. They’d be great second round picks.

    Maybe Sd state RHP Justin Masterson drops, or even U of A RHP Mark Melancon.

    Even in a shallow draft there is a lot of good talent to be had in the 40s and 50s.

  13. Edman said

    Agree with you on Baek.

    Just have to laugh everytime the stats geeks pull up the “flyball”, “groundball”, “strikeout” tendancies, as proof of failure. It’s like saying, for a car to be good, it must be white only.

    It’s about outs, no matter how you get them. It’s about fooling the batter. Tendancies aren’t proof…..they’re just a ratio….nothing more.

    Baek impressed me with his call-up last year (or was it the year before?). He got shelled, out of the gate, which is typical. But, the thing that impressed me, was that he got better each time out. Yes, folks….he LEARNED. Unlike some pitchers who expect the league to mold to their stuff, he learned how to get hitters out. I’ll take a smart pitcher, anyday, over a talented one who’s stubborn as a mule.

    Agree on Chen too. I wish they’d move him up. I’d like to see him develop into Willie’s replacement.

    It would be interesting to do an article on some of the lesser known, but talented young arms at A ball. There are a number of bullpen candidates on their way up.

  14. JH said

    “Just have to laugh everytime the stats geeks pull up the “flyball”, “groundball”, “strikeout” tendancies, as proof of failure. It’s like saying, for a car to be good, it must be white only.”

    While Jason’s right that a flyball contact pitcher like Baek is still potentially useful in the bigs, pitchers with that profile have a maximum upside of a back-of-the-rotation starter.

    Pitchers who give up as many flyballs as groundballs and don’t strike people out have ERAs that fluctuate wildly from year to year. The best pitchers in baseball are the ones who induce ground balls and strike batters out consistently. Numbers can tell you who those are. People smarter than me have crunched the numbers that show that groundball and strikeout tendencies stay remarkably consistent from year to year. If that’s too stat-geeky for you, I’m sorry.

    “It’s about outs, no matter how you get them. It’s about fooling the batter. Tendancies aren’t proof…..they’re just a ratio….nothing more.”

    If getting hit hard consistently and not striking people out isn’t a sign that a pitcher isn’t fooling batters, I don’t know what is.

    A pitcher with Baek’s profile can be useful, but only in a limited role. You’ll notice that none of the useful pitchers Jason mentioned is even a fringe star.

    One disagreement with Jason: I wouldn’t classify Buehrle and Contreras as low K, high FB guys. Buehrle induces more GBs than league average and has been around 5.5-6 K/9 the past 2 years, and Contreras has a career K/9 over 7 (not this year, but it’s early and he’s been pretty lucky so far).

  15. I can’t disagree more.

    David Gassko at THT has a piece up on the fascination with G/F ratios and those stats are vastly overrated.

    THT Groundball Truth

    Re: MB and JC

    I didn’t say those guys were high fly ball guys, but their K rates are below league average and neither is a ground ball guy at all. Being abive league average isn’t saying much, since the league average is about 1.15. Heck, Joel was above that last year.

    Baek v useful pitchers/not fringe star — which is exactly what I suggested Baek could be. Useful, nothing more.

  16. JH said

    w/r/t Baek, I know. The bulk of my response was directed at Edman. I’m not saying you were claiming he’ll be anything other than useful.

    I take a different message away from the THT article: groundball pitchers tend to trade lower hr rates (as has become conventional wisdom) for higher line drive rates and more reliance on infield defense. Gassko didn’t conclude that GB% was a useless stat, just that it’s not an end in and of itself. It’s one more piece of information, one that was overlooked until about a year ago, and that is now being quoted far too often and out of context.

    Other studies that have looked not only at GB/FB or GB% in an isolated way, but at the combination of strong groundball AND strong strikeout tendencies suggests that those characteristics tend to make for the best starting pitchers in baseball. Rich Lederer and Dave Cameron have both gone into this a little bit, though not by any means in an exhaustive way.

  17. I never said it was useless, either. I like it.

    But just because a pitcher doesn’t produce high K rates, and especially G/F rates that rank highly, doesn’t mean, by any stretch, that a pitcher won’t be successful.

    Baek has every chance to be Julio Mateo-esque.

  18. JH said

    I agree with the Mateo comp, though I’m not sure Baek will ever strike out as many as Mateo did in his first three years in the majors (6.5-7-ish/9), even with the switch to relief. 2005 Mateo, I think, is a decent comp, and that kind of pitcher is not one I’d feel comfortable sending up there if I had another option capable of missing more bats, especially with Ibanez manning Safeco’s spacious LF.

    Baek could probably pass as a major leaguer in long relief, but there’s other guys in Tacoma I’d prefer promoting to that role before giving him a shot. His ERA owes thanks to some unsustainable luck. He won’t sustain a .7HR/9 rate all season.

  19. The 05 Mateo is the REAL Mateo.

  20. Edman said

    Same “luck” that’s allowed Jamie Moyer to pitch into his forties? I’ve heard the “lucky” tag planted on him for the last six or seven years. At what point, is it NOT luck?

  21. JH said


    Moyer’s HRs allowed the past 5 seasons. You’re right Ed, I really dropped the ball on this one. Look at that consistency!

  22. Edman said

    Well, there you go. It’s all about how many homeruns a pitcher gives up…..not the number of runs he allows.

    Proved wrong again, by another stat.

    Also, do yourself a favor, don’t take every comment to be directed at you. It was a comment in general, about the reliability of stats. They are indicators….not absolute. And, as such, means there can always be exceptions.

  23. Each stat in itself is an indicator, but you can come to a reliable conclusion about a player’s overall performance and value by combining the right stats over the right sample size.

  24. JH said

    Edman: While I appreciate the life counselling, your post was clearly directed at me. When you derisively put a word someone uses in quotation marks, you’re addressing them specifically, even if you’re trying to make a broader point.

    We agree on one thing: stats are imperfect indicators. The problem is, your approach to these guys seems to be to look at ONE stat, and ignore others. Case in point:

    “It’s all about how many homeruns a pitcher gives up…not the number of runs he allows.”

    Number of runs allowed. That’s a number, recorded based on things that happened in the real world, and kept track of over time.

    Looks like a stat to me. ERA, which is damn good for telling you how good a pitcher’s results have been up to the present, and an almost useless indicator of how good they’ll be in the future, because it relies on a number of factors the pitcher has no control over.

    I’m the first to admit that stats are imperfect in predicting the future. Some of them are a lot better than others, though. I’m enough of a geek that I like knowing what those are and using them to help form some of my opinions about players. If I only used my eyes and didn’t pay attention to stats at all, Greg Dobbs would probably be my favorite player.

  25. Jules said

    Hey I have a “simple” question. What is the best site or way to track when a Minor League Star is finally being called up? Recently Hamels was called up but I only heard that via ESPN, which couldn’t be the fastest way to found out could it?

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