With the success of the MLB team, I think we as fans have not paid as much attention to the minors as in years past. This is especially true of our affiliate in Rochester. We are having success at the MLB level so we only want players who are going to help NOW. There's no patience for development and no room on the roster for border line guys. (At least there shouldn't be)
This puts more pressure on the kids to get ready and succeed right away when they get here. Even those that have pitched well (Tyler Duffey) have found themselves quickly sent back down. The leash on others (Andrew Vasquez) has been really short. So what do we really have down there? Should we look at ANYONE internally for possible reinforcements or should we only be looking at trades, Kimbrel and Kuechell?
I decided to start with the pitchers and I have rated them into one of 4 categories:
1) Needs a real shot
2) Needs time to develop
3) Had their shot
4) What the heck is going on this year?
So looking at the starters let's work in reverse order:
Chase DeJong- 15.43 ERA in 14 innings this year with only 11 K's 14 BB's an allowing 24 earned runs off of 30 hits. Last year for the MLB club he was at a 3.57 ERA in 17.2 innings with 13 K's and 7 BB's. Those numbers were in line with his minor league numbers of 3.66 ERA in 160 innings with 123 K's and 46 BB's. Looking farther back, he had a bad 2017 but most of his other MiLB years were pretty decent. The big number I notice is he is a fly ball pitcher and he has always given up a lot of hits. He has a career 0.70 GO/AO rate and has given up 729 hits in 735 innings. He has given up 85 home runs or about 1 per 9 innings. In the majors he's given up 1 per 4 innings approximately. I was close to saying I'm done with him but at 25 years old, there might be something there. Still I have to ask what the heck is going on this year?
I did not find any 3's among the starters at Rochester. Those are among the relievers. I'll cover them at another time.
Devin Smeltzer is all of 23 years old and just moved up to Rochester. The kid has been lights out this year so we have all been hearing his name some this year. He may even get a shot before the year is done but lets give him a chance to warm up beside the fire before we toss him in. 2019 numbers: 0.40 ERA in 45 innings. He has 42 K's and 4 walks this year. He has not allowed a run in 2 starts for Rochester covering 15 innings
Lewis Thorpe was close to a What the Heck but he is in his first full season at AAA so I can give him some more time. He has a 7.36 ERA this year and has given up 30 earned runs including 7 homers in 35 innings. He has been going an average of 5+ innings per start and has 45 K's vs 11 BB's.
Zack Littell is also 23 and is pretty close to being a 1 for me. I believe, if he keeps doing what he is doing, he should get a shot before the year is out but I want him to get an honest shot unlike last year where we gave him 8 appearances and only 2 as a starter. I know I know, some things did not go very well. There are growing pains with rookies and on a playoff team, there's less patience for that. This year Littell has put in 33 innings and has a 3.82 ERA to show for it. He has 37 K's and 14 Walks so far. This is higher than his 3.38 career ERA so let's give him a little more time.
I'm not sure how well this is going to be received but I gave Kohl Stewart a 1. It seems like hemight be almost ready for a true shot. Last year he made 8 appearances, 4 as starts and we walked away a little impressed. Some of us thought the kid had finally arrived and we may have gotten something out of what had once looked like a complete bust of a first round pick. Last years MLB numbers were 3.68 ERA in 36.2 innings. He only had 24 K's to 18 walks so we had concerns about his control.
He has had two MLB outings this year and one did not go very well but Saturday he looked pretty decent (not great but decent). He has an inflated ERA and only 3 K's to go with 5 BB's but he also has an inflated 2.33 GO/AO. MiLB career rate of 1.76 is pretty impressive though. There are going to be some bumps in the road and I like the way they have used him so far this year giving him spot starts but there is going to come a time when we need a starter and I believe Stewart should get that shot when it comes.
I can't talk about Rochester Starters and not mention Gonsalves. I am so bummed the kid is still on the injured list. Does anyone have an update on him?