If you read our article on the core hitters heading to Wilmington yesterday, you probably already have a good idea of where this is going. In case you missed it, here’s the gist.
So, essentially, using Microsoft Excel, we’re able to cross reference data that allows us to compare how prospects perform over different levels, and what their average improvement/regression over certain statistics would be as well. In our hitting prospect article, we looked at what we can expect from guys like Nick Pratto, MJ Melendez, Seuly Matias, and Kyle Isbel this year in Wilmington.
Now we’re going to try to look at the expectations for the Royals group of pitching prospects. For starters, here’s a look at some average changes as pitchers moved from Low-A to High-A:
|HR/9 AVG||K% AVG||BB% AVG||K-BB% AVG||WHIP AVG||BABIP AVG||ERA AVG||FIP AVG||SwStr% AVG|
So, as you can tell, the average pitcher (that fits our criterion) actually saw an increase in HR/9 moving to the Carolina League (this surprised me), a decrease in their K-BB% (seems expected), and a slight increase in their FIP (also expected).
This may not shock anyone, but the Royals haven’t exactly had very many top pitching prospects lately. Jake Junis has been fantastic in Kansas City, but he wasn’t thought of as much of a prospect until later in his career. Scott Blewett qualified for our criterion, but he still really hasn’t had his coming out party. In short, the Royals don’t really have anyone worth talking about for this study.
What we can do though is try to determine reasonable expectations for the top pitching prospects heading to Wilmington this year. Yefri Del Rosario, Carlos Hernandez, Daniel Lynch, and Jackson Kowar will all be making the jump from Lexington to Wilmington. Let’s take a look at each of their seasons and then compare them with someone who has already made the jump.
Yefri Del Rosario
2018 Stats: 12.7% K-BB%, 3.19 ERA, 12.1% SwStr%
There have only been two 18-year olds to throw 70+ innings in the Sally in one season, and 70+ innings in the Carolina League the next. The other two guys were Bryan Mata and Roniel Raudes. Mata just finished up his season in the Carolina League, and Raudes just did his second tour through the Carolina League (injuries). Mata struggled mightily with walks in 2018, and Raudes never saw his K% increase. Del Rosario compares more favorably to Mata though, and he actually had some decent success in 2018 despite the walks. There’s not a ton of precedent for Del Rosario given his age, but if he can stay ahead of the curve moving to Wilmington, he’s a top 100 prospect in my mind.
2018 Stats: 17.8% K-BB%, 3.29 ERA, 12.1% SwStr%
The Lexington Legends had three pitchers on the staff last year that were all very similar. Andres Sotillet (still not sure what to think about him), Carlos Hernandez, and Yefri Del Rosario all put up very similar peripheral and boxscore statistics, but they’re all very different. Sotillet is more of a “pitcher” that doesn’t throw very hard, but really knows what he’s doing on the mound. Carlos Hernandez is huge and throws hard, Yefri Del Rosario is a bit undersized and throws hard. Hernandez and Sotillet are bordering on the upper echelon of age compared to level, Del Rosario is on the bottom. Given the age curve, Hernandez can’t afford to be like the average pitcher moving from Lexington to Wilmington. He’s going to have to continue making improvements to his game (namely generating swings and misses) to continue to be a high-profile prospect moving forward. Luckily for all of these guys, Wilmington is a notorious pitcher’s park. This rotation is going to be nasty.
Daniel Lynch was too damn good in 2018 and Jackson Kowar didn’t quite throw enough innings to register. Pitchers are often harder to judge than position players, which is why I’ve only got two guys listed above. There isn’t a ton of correlation with big league success compared with transitioning from the Sally to the Carolina League, perhaps due to the CL’s reputation as a pitcher’s league, but we may have to wait until these guys reach AA before making any big conclusions.
Photo Credits: PLPhoto2015 (@PPhoto2015)