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The WAR Room: 2014 Scrappers pitchers season in review

Brady's solid season, standouts among the 2014 draft class headline Mahoning Valley's season

The WAR Room: 2014 Scrappers pitchers season in review
The WAR Room (Graphic courtesy of Brittany Chay)
November 2, 2014
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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 Mahoning Valley Scrappers pitchers.

The list of previous season in reviews are below:

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 note that pitchers have FIP-based WAR -- which is based on peripherals like strikeouts, walks, home runs, etc. -- and RA-based WAR -- which is based on runs allowed.

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 begin our look at the Mahoning Valley Scrappers with the pitchers before moving to the hitters next week. Keep in mind that for the short season leagues, the projection of each player features heavily into the equation, not just the raw stats. For the full stats, go ahead and click here.

Sean Brady Indians (A-) 20 71.0 0.7 1.6
Julian Merryweather Indians (A-) 22 46.2 0.6 0.6
Cameron Hill Indians (A-) 20 56.1 0.6 2.6
Nick Maronde Indians (A-) 24 9.0 0.3 0.5
Casey Shane Indians (A-) 18 11.0 0.3 0.6
T.J. House Indians (A-) 24 5.0 0.2 0.4
Juan Santana Indians (A-) 20 63.2 -0.1 -0.9
Kieran Lovegrove Indians (A-) 19 30.0 -0.1 0.4


David Speer Indians (A-) 21 42.2 0.7 1.0
J.P. Feyereisen Indians (A-) 21 17.0 0.6 1.0
Jordan Carter Indians (A-) 22 34.2 0.6 0.5
Luis DeJesus Indians (A-) 22 26.1 0.3 0.0
Luke Eubank Indians (A-) 20 20.0 0.3 0.5
James Stokes Indians (A-) 23 6.1 0.1 -0.2
Jose Zapata Indians (A-) 21 36.1 0.1 0.3
Cortland Cox Indians (A-) 19 8.1 0.0 0.1
Carlos Melo Indians (A-) 23 2.0 0.0 -0.2
Ramon Rodriguez Indians (A-) 20 23.2 -0.1 0.1
Dominic DeMasi Indians (A-) 21 18.1 -0.2 -0.6
Justin Garcia Indians (A-) 21 32.1 -0.2 0.1
Luis Gomez Indians (A-) 21 28.1 -0.5 -0.7
Anthony Vizcaya Indians (A-) 20 33.0 -0.5 -2.4
Edward Estrella Indians (A-) 20 36.1 -0.7 0.2

Notable Starters

Sean Brady (Photo: MiLB)Left-hander Sean Brady’s 14.5 percent strikeout rate (72 K%+) and 8.9 percent walk rate (116 BB%+) do not jump out as notable, yet the 20-year-old’s peripherals add together to a solid 3.79 FIP (107 FIP-) and 0.7 FIP-based WAR in 71.0 innings. While those are essentially average, where Brady really stood out in 2014 was in run prevention, as his 2.79 ERA (79 ERA-) and 1.6 RA-based WAR place the left-hander at an All-Star level performer in the New York-Penn League. Brady will need more strikeouts and fewer walks in order to keep up this level of performance, but at the very least, the left-hander’s level of performance in 2014 and projection are encouraging.

Coming in as a fifth round pick in the 2014 draft, right-hander Julian Merryweather hit the ground running in Mahoning Valley, posting 0.6 FIP-based WAR and 0.6 RA-based WAR in 46.2 innings. Though a then-22-year-old posting slightly above-average numbers in a short season league is not remarkable on its own, that performance in someone’s first experience in professional baseball is still good to see. Merryweather could use some more strikeouts going forward (17.6 percent strikeout rate, 88 K%+), but the right-hander has shown an ability to limit walks (6.5 percent walk rate, 85 BB%+) and could take another step forward in his first full professional season.

One 2014 draftee that outdid Merryweather from an ERA perspective was 17th rounder Cameron Hill, who posted a 1.76 ERA (50 ERA-) and 2.6 RA-based WAR in 56.1 innings. But while the right-hander’s ERA put him on a Mike Trout-ian pace in the WAR department, Hill’s peripherals pump the brakes on things a bit. His 0.6 FIP-based WAR and 3.73 FIP (105 FIP-) are both solid, as a lot of Hill’s run prevention came with the help of a .233 BABIP (77 BABIP+). The results are still good for Hill, however, and the 20-year-old will look to improve his 15.0 percent strikeout rate (75 K%+) and 9.1 percent walk rate (119 BB%+) in 2015 and beyond.

Given how young right-hander Kieran Lovegrove was when he was drafted, it is easy to assume the 20-year-old should be further along in his development. But knowing Lovegrove just finished his age-19 season, seeing him pitch at Mahoning Valley actually puts him essentially right on schedule for an average big league arrival time (Lake County at 20, Carolina at 21, Akron at 22, Columbus at 23, and Cleveland at 24). The on-the-field performance is not quite there yet for Lovegrove, as you can see by his -0.1 FIP-based WAR and 0.4 RA-based WAR in 30.0 innings, but right now, the growth potential and youth of the right-hander are more important than a handful of innings in the New York-Penn League.

Notable Relievers

David Speer (Photo: MiLB)Other relievers may have burned brighter, but from a pure, overall value standpoint, left-hander David Speer had the slightest edge for the lead among the Scrappers. The 2014 27th round pick posted 0.7 FIP-based WAR and 1.0 RA-based WAR in 42.2 innings, a strong first taste of professional ball for the 22-year-old. As a late round draft pick who is yet to pitch above short season league, Speer will need to keep this up in order to climb the minor league ladder, but assuming he can continue posting a 27.2 percent strikeout rate (136 K%+) and 4.6 percent walk rate (60 BB%+), the left-hander will keep getting shots.

Speer may have ended with the slight lead, but there is no denying right-hander J.P. Feyereisen stole the show with Mahoning Valley. The 21-year-old only threw 17.0 innings following his selection in the 16th round, but they were all quite impressive. Feyereisen did not allow a run, racked up 0.6 FIP-based WAR and 1.0 RA-based WAR, and posted a 38.7 percent strikeout rate (193 K%+) to go with a 1.6 percent walk rate (21 BB%+). Obviously a lot had to go right for Feyereisen to pitch at this level -- and it was not a full season’s worth of innings -- but this was easily one of the better 2014 draftee debuts in the organization.

Continuing down the list of relief pitchers drafted in 2014, right-hander Jordan Carter did not quite reach the same level as Speer and Feyereisen, but that should not take away from his debut. The 22nd round pick was above-average for the Scrappers -- posting 0.6 FIP-based WAR and 0.5 RA-based WAR in 34.2 innings -- and showed a real ability to put the ball over the plate. Carter’s 16.8 percent strikeout rate (84 K%+) does not stand out, but when paired with a 2.8 percent walk rate (37 BB%+), it is not all that bad. That walk rate is pretty uncommon, and if the 23-year-old can keep it going in the future, he will have a chance to succeed.

Finally, 15th round pick Luke Eubank was another slight step down from where Carter ended up, but the right-hander’s post-draft performance was still quite good. The 20-year-old put up 0.3 FIP-based WAR and 0.5 RA-based WAR in just 20.0 innings, a pace that puts Eubank ahead of Speer and Carter. Naturally we will need to see this level of performance out of Eubank over the long haul before declaring anything, but with a solid 19.1 percent strikeout rate (95 K%+) and low 6.0 percent walk rate (79 BB%+), this was yet another nice debut for a 2014 draftee among the Mahoning Valley relievers.

Quick Hits

Juan Santana (Photo: MiLB)The only starter who pitched a significant amount of innings not featured above is right-hander Juan Santana, who posted -0.1 FIP-based WAR and -0.9 RA-based WAR in 63.2 innings. Like Lovegrove, Santana is still pretty young at 21 years old, and despite this rough performance in Mahoning Valley, there is still time for the right-hander to turn things around.

The final 2014 draftee not mentioned who pitched more than a handful of innings is right-hander Dominic DeMasi, who put up -0.2 FIP-based WAR and -0.6 RA-based WAR in 18.1 innings. The 31st round pick may not have stood out in his debut, but as with all draft picks, there is some room for forgiveness given they are at the end of what is often the longest season of their lives.

The rest of the Scrapper bullpen was highlighted by performances hovering around replacement level, including right-handers Luis DeJesus (0.3 FIP-based WAR, 0.0 RA-based WAR in 26.1 innings), Jose Zapata (0.1 FIP-based WAR, 0.3 RA-based WAR in 36.1 innings), Ramon Rodriguez (-0.1 FIP-based WAR, 0.1 RA-based WAR in 23.2 innings), and Justin Garcia (-0.2 FIP-based WAR, 0.1 RA-based WAR in 32.1 innings). Those four will need to see some improvements going forward, as relievers who perform at that level in the lower rungs of the minors risk falling behind other prospects.

The same goes even more so for Luis Gomez (-0.5 FIP-based WAR, -0.7 RA-based WAR in 28.1 innings), Anthony Vizcaya (-0.5 FIP-based WAR, -2.4 RA-based WAR in 33.0 innings), and Edward Estrella (-0.7 FIP-based WAR, 0.2 RA-based WAR in 36.1 innings), as these three were worse on the mound in 2014.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

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