Minor League Minutes: 4/25/18

The Royals made a few roster moves yesterday, one being a call-up of LHP prospect Eric Stout.

Stout is a 25-year-old LHP who was drafted in the 13th round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Butler. Working as a bullpen arm for pretty much his whole minor league career, Stout had a career year in Omaha last year, appearing in 45 games spanning a total of 69.1 innings, posting a 2.99 ERA and 4.24 FIP.

We had the pleasure of interviewing another LHP in the organization in Josh Mitchell.

RFR:  What are some of your goals for the upcoming season?  And what are somethings you are looking forward to this season?

JM:  I really only have one goal and that is to move up this season either to Wilmington or higher.  I’m looking forward to playing a little closer to home so my friends and family can come watch. I’m also looking forward to playing 140 games!

Shaun Newkirk of Royals Review shares some of his overall thoughts on this upcoming draft.

Since the Royals have a nice pool, they’ll have some money to spend (though I think it’s a bit over exaggerated how much of a luxury having a big pool is – I’d rather have a higher pick). I would strongly suggest against going “cheap” at 18 to sign a guy who might fall at 33/34/40. For one, the draft ain’t like it used to be and pretty much 99% of players taken in the first two rounds sign (players are learning the lesson to not turn $1M+ it seems). This means that just taking the best player at #18 is the best strategy (which is the same strategy for any first round pick).

Also at Royals Review, Minda Haas Kuhlmann recaps the past week in Royals minor league baseball.

Right fielder Kort Peterson hit three home runs and drove in nine runs in five games. In a fun coincidence, two Blue Rocks players hit eight singles in six games this week. Middle infielder D.J. Burt also walked four times and struck out eight times, and scored five runs. Third baseman Emmanuel Rivera had a lot of runners on base in front of him; he ended up with 8 RBI. Outfielder Khalil had a three-walk game and already has 14 free passes this year with 20 strikeouts.

Craig Brown of BP Kansas City looks at the early season success of Mike Moustakas.

In fact, he’s underperforming his expected rates based on Statcast data. His xSLG (expected slugging percentage) of .710 is nearly 100 points higher than his real rate. Same for his xwOBA at .446 against his current .389 wOBA. He’s so locked in at the plate and scalding the baseball that his numbers could (and should) be better. Can you imagine? His rates may decrease a bit as the sample size increases and as pitchers adjust to Moustakas and the Royals lineup, but there’s no reason to fear a precipitous correction.

John Sickels of Minor League Ball profiles Padres new rookie LHP, Eric Lauer.

Even without a blistering fastball or eye-bending breaking stuff he’s consistently posted impressive strikeout rates, showing the ratios of a power pitcher even without the gun readings. The separator for such pitchers is usually Double-A but Lauer has kept things going in the high minors. He made one start in Las Vegas and two in El Paso this spring, both environments which are very conducive to offense, but was unfazed by the PCL.

And then over at THT, Eli Ben-Porat put out some very interesting research on the minor league strike zone.

As we move down the professional ladder, we again meet Scott Rice, one of the more unusual pitchers, statistically speaking. While he was never a legit prospect, had we been armed with these data, we easily would have seen through his excellent groundball percentage as merely the product of an unsustainable approach. Matt Strahm gave up a 14.4 percent HR/FB rate in his Double-A season, perhaps as a by-product of keeping the ball up in the zone. How much lower on the MiLB ladder can we go and still get strong signals?

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