The WAR Room: Performance-based rankings, #100 - #91
New-Phillie Araujo, the speedy Sayles headline part one of these rankings
Over the past three months, IBI rolled out the year-end rankings for every minor league affiliate in the Cleveland system. Next up, we will be running down the top-100 performers based on those WAR rankings, albeit with a slight twist.
Simply ranking each player based on the raw numbers would have some value, but not nearly as much as when the stats are adjusted for how old the prospect was compared to his minor league level. For example, older prospects like Anthony Gallas, who did well at 26 years old in High-A and Double-A, are downgraded, while younger prospects like Francisco Lindor, who did well at 20 years old Double-A and Triple-A, are upgraded (as if Lindor needed anymore help).
Naturally, if Gallas -- or anyone else in his situation -- continues to hit like he did in 2014, it will not matter that he was old for his level, and vice versa for young prospects. But overall, accounting for a player’s age relative to level is critically important for judging a prospect’s performance.
Before moving on to the honorable mentions of The WAR Room’s performance-based rankings, first some reminders on what these numbers are, their uses, and their limitations:
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).
Additionally, 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.
The 2014 year-end season in review for every affiliate is listed below:
- The Columbus Clippers hitters and pitchers
- The Akron RubberDucks hitters and pitchers
- The Carolina Mudcats hitters and pitchers
- The Lake County Captains hitters and pitchers
- The Mahoning Valley Scrappers hitters and pitchers
- The Arizona League hitters and pitchers
And here are the previous editions of these rankings:
Now, on to the rankings:
#100: Luke Eubank, RHP
As outlined in the introduction and honorable mentions last week, given the limited playing time 2014 draft picks have to rack up value, it is hard for them to rank highly when only taking on-the-field performance into account. But thanks to a 2.25 ERA (64 ERA-) and 2.74 FIP (77 FIP-), the 15th round pick sneaks into these rankings. Eubank could use a few more strikeouts going forward -- especially if he is going to stay in relief -- but the right-hander had a strong debut and should get a shot at continuing that start at Lake County in his first full professional season.
#99 Elvis Araujo, LHP
After putting up strong peripherals paired with an average ERA in Carolina, Araujo got the call up to Double-A in early July. Based on his 2.57 ERA (64 ERA-) in Akron, the 23-year-old seemed to have a strong time in his first action at the level. Araujo’s 4.74 FIP (118 FIP-) and 16.7 percent walk rate (205 BB%+) give pause to the left-hander’s success in Akron, however, and could be a contributing factor as to why he was allowed to become a minor league free agent after the season. There is plenty of upside in Araujo, but as he looks to turn his projection into on-the-field production, he will do it as a part of the Phillies roster.
#T-97 Grant Sides, RHP
Eubank and Araujo were both at age-appropriate levels in 2014, meaning their performances were not upgraded or downgraded in these rankings. Sides, on the other hand, spent most of his season in High-A at 25 years old, an age when the average pitching prospect should be making his major league debut. If Sides continues posting a 2.67 ERA (68 ERA-) as he climbs the minor league ladder, clearly age will not matter. However, if the right-hander wants to keep that ERA low, he will need to stop walking batters at a 11.8 percent walk rate (137 BB%+) in Double-A next year.
#T-97 Nick Maronde, LHP
Maronde only threw 23.0 innings after coming over from the Angels, but the left-hander showed some impressive results in that time. While pitching between Mahoning Valley, Akron, and Columbus, Maronde consistently struck out a ton of hitters while walking very few. Maronde struggled to throw the ball over the plate earlier in the season while with the Angels, so time will tell if the 25-year-old is fixed, but he should get a chance to show his stuff as a depth starter in Columbus.
#96 Willi Castro, 2B/SS
Based on his .633 OPS (93 OPS+) and 3.5 percent walk rate (38 BB%+), it looks like Castro did not have an impressive stateside debut. But taking into account that Castro played the entire season at 17 years old, his performance out in Arizona does not look so bad. Castro showed some nice pop (.110 isolated power, 107 ISO+) and contact skills (19.4 percent strikeout rate, 84 K%+), and even if he repeats in Arizona next season, he is still quite young and has plenty of time ahead of him to put the pieces together.
#95 Cortland Cox, RHP
Picked in the 32nd round of the 2013 draft, Cox started the season in rookie ball before making his way to Mahoning Valley. Outside of a slight home run problem with the Scrappers, Cox looked good on the mound, putting up good strikeout rates while giving up few free passes. The right-hander is obviously not a high priority prospect based on his draft slot, but Cox performed quite well as a younger reliever in just 23.1 innings. He is pretty far from the majors, but Cox is definitely putting up some nice stats in the early part of his career.
#94 Vinnie Pestano, RHP
The performance at the major league level may not have looked good -- and led to him being traded to the Angels in August -- but Pestano looked like the guy who was dominating the league in 2011 and 2012 while in Triple-A. The strikeouts were there, the walks were in control, and opposing hitters were not hitting home runs off Pestano like they were in the majors. The Triple-A performance points to Pestano as someone turning the corner back into being a successful pitcher, but as we all know, it is not that simple. Until Pestano does it in the majors, we cannot assume the right-hander’s performance as a 29-year-old in Triple-A will translate up.
#93 Silento Sayles, OF
Speed is Sayles’ calling card, but the 19-year-old put up some decent numbers in his first full professional season. Sayles ranks pretty low here due to only playing in 35 games -- a byproduct of being in rookie ball -- but his offense and contact skills were solid. There is not much power in Sayles’ game, but as someone with speed who has shown an ability to reasonably limit his strikeouts and draw some walks, the outfielder is off to a good start. He is pretty far from the majors, but as someone who was raw when drafted, seeing Sayles perform a bit in Arizona is good to see.
#92 Nathan Winfrey, 3B
Picked in the 28th round of the draft this past June, Winfrey hit the ground running in Arizona, showing off some above-average power (.126 isolated power, 122 ISO+) and drawing a ton of walks (16.3 percent walk rate, 177 BB%+). Winfrey could benefit from making a little more contact (26.0 percent strikeout rate, 113 K%+), but the fact he put up good numbers in his professional debut is icing on the cake. With the benefit of a full offseason in a professional system, Winfrey could easily take another step forward from his already-strong 2014 debut.
#91 Yonathan Mendoza, SS/3B
Making his first appearance above rookie ball, Mendoza was impressive when it comes to plate discipline, posting identical 10.8 percent strikeout and walk rates (54 K%+, 141 BB%+). Unfortunately for Mendoza, his overall results were hurt by his lack of power (.047 isolated power, 44 ISO+), though if the 20-year-old can stick at shortstop, that will not hurt as much. Mendoza was still able to have a nice season without the power, and thanks to his ability to avoid strikeouts and draw walks, the infielder should have a decent chance at doing well moving forward.
Next week we will tackle #90 through #81, which features the combination of 2014 draft picks, major league veterans, and players who could play in Cleveland next year.
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I know this isn't on topic, but MLB Trade Rumors says the Tribe just signed Destin Hood. Does that terminate the Brandon Moss possible trade?