The WAR Room: 2014 Lake County hitters season in review
Haase, Rodriguez, Frazier have strong seasons for the Captains
The WAR Room is back again, bringing you the 2014 advanced stats for every Cleveland minor leaguer. With the minor league seasons at an end, we continue bringing you seasons in review, with today's featuring the 2014 Lake County Captains. After focusing on the Captains' pitchers last week, this week we focus on their hitters, including Eric Haase, Nellie Rodriguez, and Clint Frazier.
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.
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 finish our look at the Lake County Captains Next week we will move to the Akron RubberDucks. For the full stats, go ahead and click here.
|Name||Team||Age||G||PA||Poor D WAR||WAR||Great D WAR|
|Paul Hendrix||Indians (A)||22||115||415||2.8||3.5||4.2|
|Eric Haase||Indians (A)||21||77||296||2.7||3.1||3.6|
|Nellie Rodriguez||Indians (A)||20||130||485||2.3||3.1||3.9|
|Clint Frazier||Indians (A)||19||120||474||2.4||3.1||3.8|
|Grant Fink||Indians (A)||23||118||409||1.0||1.7||2.4|
|Claudio Bautista||Indians (A)||20||119||461||0.7||1.4||2.2|
|Richard Stock||Indians (A)||23||52||184||0.7||1.0||1.4|
|Ivan Castillo||Indians (A)||19||84||315||0.4||0.9||1.5|
|Dorssys Paulino||Indians (A)||19||113||427||0.0||0.7||1.4|
|Sicnarf Loopstok||Indians (A)||21||10||36||0.4||0.5||0.5|
|Bradley Zimmer||Indians (A)||21||3||11||0.3||0.3||0.3|
|Torsten Boss||Indians (A)||23||37||126||0.0||0.2||0.4|
|Logan Vick||Indians (A)||23||16||59||0.0||0.1||0.2|
|Brian Ruiz||Indians (A)||21||85||292||-0.5||0.0||0.5|
|Cody Ferrell||Indians (A)||24||48||151||-0.3||0.0||0.3|
|Ryan Battaglia||Indians (A)||22||1||3||-0.1||-0.1||-0.1|
|Mike Papi||Indians (A)||21||39||135||-0.4||-0.1||0.1|
|Shane Rowland||Indians (A)||22||5||18||-0.2||-0.2||-0.2|
|Josh McAdams||Indians (A)||20||28||101||-0.7||-0.5||-0.4|
|Anthony Santander||Indians (A)||19||43||163||-1.0||-0.8||-0.5|
|Jorge Martinez||Indians (A)||21||26||86||-1.0||-0.9||-0.7|
It took a little longer than expected, but catcher Eric Haase’s 2.7 poor-defense WAR in 77 games eventually earned him a late-season look in Carolina. Haase is still striking out quite a bit (25.6 percent strikeout rate, 122 K%+), but pairing an average 8.5 percent walk rate (103 BB%+) with amazing power (.243 isolated power, 205 ISO+) more than made up for the whiffs. The 21-year-old is still far from a finished product and is still improving his defense behind the plate, but right now, it looks like his bat will play going forward.
First baseman Nellie Rodriguez’s season ended up in a very similar place to Haase’s, with essentially the same amount of strikeouts (25.8 percent strikeout rate, 123 K%+), a little less power (.214 isolated power, 181 ISO+), but more walks (10.9 percent walk rate, 132 BB%+). The overall product left Rodriguez with 3.1 average-defense WAR in 130 games, a big step forward for the 20-year-old after 2013’s setbacks. As a lower-level first baseman, Rodriguez will need to keep hitting like this as he climbs the ladder, but for now, he has passed the tests. Rodriguez is at a perfectly normal point in the development curve and will look to continue on that path as a 21-year-old in High-A.
Despite the exploits of Haase and Rodriguez, Lake County’s leader in average-defense WAR in 2014 was actually infielder Paul Hendrix with 3.5 in 115 games. Built largely on an outstanding first half, (.907 OPS, 131 OPS+ in first half; .727 OPS, 105 OPS+ in the second half), Hendrix put together a solid high-strikeout (29.2 percent strikeout rate, 139 K%+), high-walk (10.4 percent walk rate, 126 BB%+), high-power (.161 isolated power, 136 ISO+) season while also playing a decent amount of games up the middle. Long-term, however, the 22-year-old will need to make more contact since his .398 BABIP (128 BABIP+) will not last over the long haul.
Second baseman Claudio Bautista’s season may be roughly average -- with 1.4 average-defense WAR in 119 games -- but this is a case where numbers in Low-A do not tell the whole story of a player’s career. Bautista has plenty of room to grow and seeing the 20-year-old put up some good power (.161 isolated power, 136 ISO+) in his first real time in a full season league while not striking out all that much (21.3 percent strikeout rate, 102 K%+). The second baseman’s need to walk more is well-documented (2.5 percent walk rate, 30 BB%+), but while change can be hard, it helps that simply improving his walk rate would make Bautista’s offensive game essentially complete.
After Dorssys Paulino moved to the outfield, shortstop Ivan Castillo eventually took over the job. Castillo may not hit all that much, but thanks to his ability on defense, the 19-year-old put up 1.5 great-defense WAR in just 84 games. This is another case where a young middle infielder needs to work on walking more often (3.2 percent walk rate (39 BB%+), but Castillo’s defense will help him despite not having the best offensive profile. Castillo does not hit for above-average power (.105 isolated power, 89 ISO+), but he also does not strikeout much (17.7 percent strikeout rate, 85 K%+) and will have his defense to carry him.
As has been written in this column before, though there is a sentiment out there that outfielder Clint Frazier had a disappointing first full season, his 3.1 average-defense WAR in 120 games in his age-19 season is actually pretty good. Plus, Frazier did this without showing off much of his trademark power (.146 isolated power, 123 ISO+) and while having some issues with strikeouts (29.7 percent strikeout rate, 142 K%+). Some of Frazier’s value was propped up by a .372 BABIP (119 BABIP+), but with a good eye at the plate (10.3 percent walk rate, 124 BB%+) and plenty of development ahead of him, 2014 was ultimately a strong season for the 2013 first round pick.
In some ways, outfielder Dorssys Paulino’s season was a disappointment, as the former top prospect struggled again to only 0.7 average-defense WAR in 113 games. However, after making the transition to the outfield, Paulino was essentially average on offense while doing a decent job of making contact (96 wRC+; 6.5 percent walk rate, 79 BB%+; 19.0 percent strikeout rate, 91 K%+; .102 isolated power, 86 ISO+), yielding hope for the future. Luckily, Paulino is still young, only entering his age-20 season in 2015, and hopefully a full offseason to grow into an outfield spot without the pressure of struggling defensively as a shortstop will help him breakout in 2015.
Infielder Grant Fink put together a decent season with 1.7 average-defense WAR in 118 games, but in order to find success in 2015 and beyond, he will need to start making more contact and cut down on his 36.7 percent strikeout rate (175 K%+). His 12.9 percent walk rate (156 BB%+) is nice, but without improvement, that strikeout rate will hold Fink back.
Though he only played in 52 games, catcher Richard Stock still managed to post 1.0 average-defense WAR in 2014. As was the case for many Lake County hitters, Stock did not walk much (3.0 percent walk rate, 36 BB%+), but the 23-year-old added value thanks to his .152 isolated power (128 ISO+), though his lack of opportunities over the past season does not bode particularly well for his future prospects.
Three Lake County outfielders combined to put up essentially replacement-level performance, with Brian Ruiz (0.0 average-defense WAR in 85 games), Cody Ferrell (0.0 average-defense WAR in 48 games), and Mike Papi (-0.1 average defense WAR in 39 games) not adding much to the Captains’ 2014 on-field performance. Though Ruiz and Ferrell are not high-level prospects, luckily for Papi, his .204 BABIP (65 BABIP+) should rise and pair with his 15.8 percent walk rate (191 BB%+) to give him better results in 2015.
Three other Lake County outfielders/designated hitters were easily below replacement level in Josh McAdams (-0.5 average-defense WAR in 28 games), Anthony Santander (-0.8 average-defense WAR in 43 games), and Jorge Martinez (-0.9 average-defense WAR in 26 games). Santander was still dealing with a shoulder injury that limited him to the DH spot and probably hurt his performance, while McAdams and Martinez still couldn’t make the jump to Low-A (which got McAdams demoted to Mahoning Valley and Martinez released).
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It appeared that Dorssys Paulino was a different hitter once he moved ot the OF and Claudio Bautista needs to be talked about more. I had no idea Haase had this kind of raw power. Indians are building a really good farm system