Cubs Minor League Daily: Quarter Post

brett jacksonWe are starting to see several minor league players creep up to and across the 25 PA line now, and that is semi-significant. It takes 100 to 120 Plate Apperances for the batting stats to stop looking like something off a video game and start resembling something we can analyze. The 25 PA line means we are about a quarter of the way to actually having fairly meaningful and useful numbers to look at it.

Fortunately, the arrival of the 100 PA threshold and the arrival of permanent warm weather tend to coincide quite nicely. By early May both of those pieces should be coming together and we should be able to enjoy good baseball weather and adequate baseball stats at the same time. Until then, just keep in mind that we are under a permanent Sample Size Alert. I’ll keep referring to the numbers, we just can’t get carried away and start drooling/sobbing over them.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa kept this one close, but they finished the game still looking for a win. The final was 4-2.
Tennessee – The Smokies had the night off. They return to action in Tennessee on Wednesday.
Daytona – Daytona fell behind early and never quite closed the gap. They lost 5-4.
Kane County – It took a ninth inning rally, but Kane County wins again. The final (in regulation, this time) was 6-5.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Two more hits, including a triple, for Brett Jackson. He has also posted four straight games with just one strikeout. That may sound sarcastic, but it really isn’t. Compared to what we were seeing last year, this is progress.
  • [Iowa] The story with Rafael Dolis has generally been a tale of great stuff but little control. He gave up just one hit in his inning of work in this game, and did not walk anyone. One data point does not make a trend, but it is still good to see.
  • [Daytona] The power in this game was supplied by Zeke DeVoss. The 2B/CF known more for his speed than his power hit the Cubs only home run of the game.
  • [Daytona] But no mention of power in Florida would be complete without checking in on Jorge Soler. The big outfielder continued to shred Florida State League pitching with two more singles and a walk. He has had two hits in four of his five games so far this season, and has been on base three times in his last three games. Through five games he has an OBP of 0.522.
  • [Daytona] John Andreoli has his first stolen base of the season. And his first caught stealing. And he was picked off. The Cubs have been batting him in the middle of the order (and he has responded with a Soler-like slash line), but this guy will make his money by getting on base and stealing. He’d done quite a bit of getting on base already this year. It looks like he is starting to unleash the speed.
  • [Kane County] Six Cougars had a multi-hit game, but only Rock Shoulders homered. His solo shot was his second long ball of the year.
  • [Kane County] Back to back to back singles by Gioskar Amaya, Daniel Vogelbach, and Jeimer Candelario allowed Amaya to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. The best part? We can realistically imagine those three repeating that performance in Wrigley one day. Those three are three of the best prospects on the KC roster.
  • [Kane County] Pierce Johnson‘s second start went better than his first. Johnson lasted five innings and gave up two runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts. That isn’t great, but it is a step up from his opening effort.

Other News

  • I strongly suspect Javier Baez is pressing too hard in Daytona. He went 1 for 5 with two strikeouts in this game, but the one hit was a triple. That means he is striking out in over a third of his plate appearances, but three of his four hits have been for extra bases. Those numbers are symptomatic of a player who is trying to crush every pitch he sees and isn’t taking what the pitcher offers. If that is the case, then we should see his numbers take an uptick once he relaxes and starts letting his natural abilities do the crushing for him.
  • I thought sending Ben Carhart straight to Daytona was a very aggressive move by the Cubs, but so far the corner infielder has held his own. He reached base twice in this game (single and a walk) and is currently hitting an even .250 on the year.

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation. He can be found on Twitter as ltblaize.

61 responses to “Cubs Minor League Daily: Quarter Post”

  1. BluBlud

    I stated after the Campana trade that John Andreoli is my new favorite Cub, and he is tearing up Daytona right now. This guy is probably going to need to be move to Tennessee soon. He is getting towards his maxout at the A level and needs to be challenge before he gets too confortable. I’m looking foward to seeing him as he gets closer to the Majors. This guy is better then a lot of people think.

    1. #1lahairfan

      I love him too. Hope he can be our future lead off man.

      1. BluBlud

        Yeah, if he keep progressing, I hope they find a way to get him the MLB lineup. Even if he only hits .275 in the Majors, his good batting eye will still allow him to get on base at at least a.350-.360 clip. If he can get on base at that clip, he will steal a lot of bases and cause a lot of damage on the basepaths.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          He can also hit it out of the infield and hit the cutoff man without a crow-hop. :P

    2. MightyBear

      I too am an Andreoli fan. The Cubs have needed a leadoff hitter since 1908.

  2. AA Correspondent

    Happy to report that after a long winter BASEBALL IS BACK in Tennessee!!

    Tonight is the Smokies home opener as the Chattanooga Lookouts come to town for a 5 game set. Looking forward to seeing Yasiel Puig (Dodgers uber-prospect) in person as well as many of the returning Smokies players from last year’s roster as well as the new comers. My sense is that the Smokies have a veteran team that should contend for a 1st half title. The 2nd half is hopefully going to be bolstered by the arrival of some of our Daytona prospects (Baez and Soler). We shall see. I am expecting a lot of excitement at Smokies Park this season for sure.

    I am looking forward to providing “morning after” reports on most Smokies home games throughout the season as well as my observations of the lineup and other tidbits.

    GO SMOKIES!
    Brandon

    1. Grant

      Brandon -

      I’m thinking of catching a Smokies game sometime after Soler or Baez get a call-up from Daytona. However, Knoxville is a bit too far from Atlanta to make the drive home after the game, so I’m thinking about Chattanooga or Birmingham (or anything else that isn’t too far away). Any recommendations?

      1. AA Correspondent

        Grant,

        If you come to a game, you might as well spend the night right here in Kodak next to the park. There are (3) hotels walking distance from the ballpark, which is right off the interstate (I40 Exit 407). Atlanta is 3-4 hour drive, and Chattanooga is about half way. many of the Smokies players live in the hotels (Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express).
        My recommendation is the Hampton Inn as it is literally right next door from the ballpark.

    2. Spriggs

      Looking forward to your reports, Brandon.

    3. Brett

      Niiiiice.

  3. ETS

    I can’t remember if it was BN where I first saw this or somewhere else, but here’s a decentish article on sample size
    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=17659

  4. Die hard

    Seems to be a lack of long ball power in Cubs minor league system

  5. preacherman86

    random waiver update in case anyone missed it. Whitenack was optioned and taken off the 40 man by Cleveland…so it was clearly a stash pickup, and clearly no one else in baseball thought he was worth a 40 man spot either…even cleveland

  6. Grant

    I realize it’s early in the season, but is there any sense of Vogelbach’s going to be able to stick at 1B, or if he’s pretty much just DH fodder?

    1. Kyle

      He can probably stick at first as long as he doesn’t get any less mobile. He’s got no margin for error, but right now he looks like he can get there.

      1. Grant

        Since he seems to be getting in better shape as time goes on, any reason to think he’ll get less mobile rather than more?

        1. Kyle

          Because that tends to happen. Few of us are as limber as we were at 19.

  7. SirCub

    Actually, BB and K rates tend to stabilize in less than 40 PA’s, so we’ve almost got a meaningful sample size already! We can almost start analyzing our prospects again, how exciting!

    Unfortunately, the one thing that we can reliably measure (BB% and K%), are pretty ugly already for the usual suspects.

    Jackson: 0% and 31%
    Baez: 0% and 35%

    Soler looks great though! (13% and 13%)

    1. Kyle

      Yeah. 40 PAs isn’t a ton even for strikeouts and BBs, but it’s getting there quickly. I think a lot of times people who grew up in the early sabermetric revolution (OPS! ERA+!) underestimate how quickly the underlying stats stabilize. The purer you get down into them, the faster they becoming meaningful. Things like swing% have already begun to have meaningful samples.

      With BB and K rate, it’s too early to draw conclusions, but it’s not too early to begin to notice things that are worth following up on. Maybe they wash out in another 50 PAs, maybe they don’t.

      Soler’s dominance is obviously one that excites me. When your HR, BB and K totals are all even, the pitchers at your level probably aren’t challenging you significantly.

      On the flip side, I’m a bit concerned that Vogelbach, Baez and Jackson have combined for 20 Ks and 0 BBs so far. They all have slightly different stories (Vogelbach is showing he can hit the level, so no big deal. Baez is doing his “fantastic power but nothing else” routine, and Jackson we have to assume hasn’t completely forgotten how to walk), but that’s not an inspiring ratio.

      1. SirCub

        Yea, no doubt. I don’t think those numbers are really reflective of true talent level at all. Jackson’s gonna walk. Baez isn’t gonna strikeout that much. But I do think that with these numbers, you’re probably not just seeing random error. Like Luke said, there are other things going on here, as the players make adjustments and settle into the new season.

      2. DocPeterWimsey

        Well, yes and no. At 40 PAs, 50% of guy with “true” rates of 0.10 will have 2-5 K’s (ƒ = 0.05 – 0.125); 25% will have higher or lower frequencies. 50% of guys with “true” rates of 0.15 will have 4-7 K’s (ƒ = 0.10 – 0.175). And 50% of guys with “true” K-rates of 0.20 will have 6-9 K’s (ƒ = 0.15 – 0.225). So, we see some clear separation between 0.10 and 0.20 rates, but even then we expect 10-15% of players from one rate class to be showing K’s in the other rate class.

        The bigger problem with choosing the first 40 (or any string of 40) is that you are not getting a good sample of the league’s pitching: you probably are talking about 2 staffs. A guy’s K-rate (or BB-rate) will have an average, but it really is part of a distribution affected by the distribution of pitchers on other teams. So, that’s the other part of small sample sizes: it’s possible that the two series will not really reflect what league-average is.

    2. cubchymyst

      I’m surprised Jackson doesn’t have a walk yet,

    3. hansman1982

      I’m gonna have to see your work on the 40 PA mark. At that point, a chance call from an Ump or facing John Axford/Carlos Marmol and the rest of the league doesn’t means a 2.5 percentage point swing in BB and K rates.

      Even in the bigs, there are still 40 PA guys who have some wacky rates going on.

      I could see 40 PA as the starting point of nomalization.

      1. SirCub

        Yea, I made a small mistake in my translation. Those are the number of PA’s it takes for a large sample of players’ numbers to stabilize. For individual players the BB and K rates take more along 150-200 PA’s to stabilize. Dang! We’ll have to keep waiting!

        SW% and contact rate stabilizes a lot faster, but I don’t know where you can find that data for minor leaguers :(

        Pizza Cutter!.

        1. SirCub
        2. hansman1982

          statcorner.com has some info for AA and AAA. Other than that…

        3. DocPeterWimsey

          You probably can find binomial error bar estimators on line. Just give it K’s (or BB) and PA, and you’ll get the most likely rate plus some upper/lower bounds (50%, 95%) on rates that could produce those results.

          If you know how to use R, then you can construct a routine using the pbinom function, where you look at log(pbinom(K,PA,X)) over a range of X that gives you a result within 2.0 of the peak (where X-K/PA). That will at least give you an idea as to whether a guy might be showing unusually high/low numbers of K’s, BB’s, etc.

  8. Koyie Hill Sucks

    Jackson has struck out every game he has played in and at least twice in half of the games he has played, I wouldn’t call that progress…

    1. SirCub

      It’s a lot better than what did with the big league club last year!

    2. CubsFanBob

      Mike Olt is having a worse start than BJ http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=olt—001mic

      yet we would be doing ninja flips in the air if we had Olt.

  9. Cedlandrum

    The guy who is jumping out at me with his SO’s is Amaya. 9 times in 26 ab’s that isn’t Rick Ankiel ugly but it isn’t good either. There has been a widespread lack of patience all through the system for guys who have exhibited it in the past: Jackson, Vogelbach and Amaya have zero walks between them.

    1. BluBlud

      Where do you get that Vogelbach has exibited a lack of patience in the past. The guy has a walk rate over 10% for his career. Not a long track record, but not exactly a track record of showing a lack of patience either.

      1. BluBlud

        exhitbited

        1. #1lahairfan

          Vogelbach is great at the plate. He’s a true hitter.

      2. Cedlandrum

        “There has been a widespread lack of patience all through the system for guys who have exhibited it in the past” Maybe that isn’t worded the best, but I am implying in fact that Vogelbach has been patient in the past and isn’t so far this year. Same for Amaya and Jackson.

  10. Rebuilding

    The thing that worries me about Jackson’s bb% is that you could see a total focus on not striking out hurting every other aspect that made him exciting as a hitting prospect. If he is going up to the plate hacking so he doesn’t k he’s actully a worse hitter

  11. Rebuilding

    Also, count me as a little concerned that Baez’s selectivity is going to be a problem. Yes, it’s a small sample size this year, but he struggled mightily at Daytona last year too. I know all of the usual caveats about rainouts, etc. but in 109 at bats at A+ his bb/k is 5/29 with 1 HR. I thought at the time that the 4 HRs on spring training meatballs might hurt his devlopment a little because the hype it created

  12. another JP

    Soler is looking like a guy who could make the Cubs roster out of ST in 2014. Would also like to see Andreoli aggressively along with Bruno… at their age they could fit in nicely at Tennessee right now. Bruno’s hitting is really impressive and for all the love Almora gets this guy looks like he can help in a year two.

  13. someday...2015?

    Luke, I have been thinking since last year that maybe Baez is pressing playing in his home state. Do you see that or do you think it’s really just his plate discipline that’s hurting him right now?

  14. TC

    Pierce Johnson was much better than his line looked yesterday. His velocity was up from the very beginning of the game, and he held it through 5 innings (compared to his first start, when he only hit 90-92 early in the game and lower in the next two innings). Two of his hits should’ve been outs, and only 2-3 balls were hit really well. He looked really good. (I’ll have video from his start for you tomorrow, I’ll post it on the message board.)

    Source: I was at the game yesterday and sat directly behind the scouts, so the velocity readings were legit.

    Also Jeimer Candelario’s game winning hit would’ve been an easy flyout if the outfielders weren’t playing so far in because of the game situation.

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