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Diamonds in Single A: Jeanmar Gomez

April 27, 2009
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Hey, everyone. Wanted to just say thanks for reading my column and wanted to explain what this column will focus on every week. Most fans know the names of the AA and AAA players in the Indians minors, so this area will be reserved for players who are in A (hence the title). Now, I don’t get to see most of these players in person, so in general every week will be a more statistical look at prospects in the lower levels that I think deserve as much attention as the higher level players. Also, I won’t use typical stats like BA, RBI, K’s, W, etc. These days stats have evolved, and there are better stats to show growth and projection. As these stats are presented I will explain why each one is used and what it shows. One final note: since it’s so early in this season I won’t be using this year’s number as a reference.

Okay, let’s move onto this week’s player – Jeanmar Gomez, SP, Kinston.

First, some background information: Jeanmar Gomez is a big righty (6’4”) from Venezuela. He is only 21 years old and already in his 4th season in the Indians minors. Every season he’s been younger than the league average he has been in. He is often grouped with Hector Rondon and Kelvin De La Cruz, due to their similar ages. Right now he is the third rated of the trio as De la Cruz and Rondon are both top ten picks, but there are many who think he has the talent to be just as highly thought of as his former teammates. Let’s look at his stats for the last three years, focusing on his walk, hit, home run, and strike out rates, along with earned run average (rates work best since it allows a comparison across different amounts of innings):

Level WHIP SO/9 BB/9 ERA H/9 HR/9 SO/BB
Rookie: 1.14 5.6 2 2.48 8.3 .3 2.83
Low A: 1.41 6 2.9 4.80 9.7 1.2 2.04
High A: 1.45 7.2 3 4.55 10 .9 2.39

All of Jeanmar’s numbers appear to be rising – both the good and the bad. He strikes out more players but also walks more; a lot of the time those numbers are tied in the low minors because a lot of players will chase bad pitches. The big positive from that data is that Jeanmar’s HR rate went down, which more than anything led to the drop in ERA, even though during the same period we saw a rise in WHIP (Walks + Hits / Innings pitched).

The major concern, though, is his WHIP, and one would infer from the high WHIP also command issues. To give some comparisons about how high a 1.40ish WHIP is, Cliff Lee’s WHIP last year was 1.11—which is phenomenal—and Paul Bryd’s was 1.32. For a starting pitcher a solid WHIP would be in the 1.20’s to 1.30’s. Jeanmar is giving up about .15 more guys on base per innings which leads to about 1.4 more players on base a game than a player whose WHIP is 1.3; over a year that’s 49 more base runners. The hope is that as his control improves, walks will go down, his strike outs will rise, and this year his WHIP might drop into the mid 1.30’s. Less walks from better control would lead to more strike outs, and better control also lends itself to less pitching from behind. Pitching from behind not only drives up the pitch count but also means that the hitter is put more hitters counts, which give them better situations to hit. If you’re ahead of the hitters then they can’t wait on their pitch, an aspect of the game Jeanmar still needs to work on.

When you combine this with him dropping his home run rate between the previous two years then it would be very possible to see his ERA get below 4 and make the jump from a mid 20’s prospect into a top 20 prospect and gain some ground on the likes of Kelvin De La Cruz and Hector Rondon. So, as this year progresses, it seems there’s a very good chance Jeanmar will end up in AA and hopefully continue his growth in a positive direction.

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