STEP 3(B) - EVALUATING THE MINORS - PITCHERS
You may have noticed that up until now I have not made a big deal about what ballpark I am in and the "park effects". I personally do not believe that they play into the game nearly as much as some people claim. Yes, if you look across the worlds, you will see a lot of great pitching numbers for the all - parks and a lot of great offense for the all + parks. However, I believe that people build their teams towards what they think their park will do. So the people with all + parks load their teams with offense and skimp on pitching, and vice versa.
That being said, I don't ignore park effects entirely. I am in Cincinnati. My park is -1 for singles, 0 for doubles, -4 for triples, and +1 in both home run directions. The +1 and -1 are not that big of a deal, although I do note that I would prefer groundball pitchers (which I would have preferred anyhow). The -4 for triples I do believe will have an impact. But as I have never built a team around trying to get or not get triples, I don't think there is much I will do in terms of building my team because of that number.
Knowing that I prefer groundball pitchers because of the slightly short outfield walls, and knowing that control is important as well (I consider control perhaps the most important pitching stat), it is time to analyze my under-27 pitchers throughout the organization.
On the big league team, there was only 1 pitcher under 27, L. Locko who I was hoping would have big time projections based on what I saw from his current ratings. I could not be happier with what I see now - this guy projects to be an absolute stud. I would have preferred if he developed in the minors for another year or two, but despite a solid makeup, I will leave him in the bigs. And he is probably one of the very few players that I will consider untouchable for trades, even though his groundball rating will only be 44.
At AAA, I find several nice pitchers. D. Thompson projects to a 28 DUR and 99 STA. A lot of times guys with those ratings have falsely inflated overalls, but not Thompson. His control is only mediocre and he has a low groundball number, but the rest of his numbers will be solid. I also find 2-3 more starters with clear major league potential, though I do not find much worth keeping in relief pitchers. All in all, I am pleased with AAA, especially because at least 3 guys are probably major league ready and may end up being regulars on my big league team this season.
At AA, the first thing I notice is that there are a TON of pitchers - it seems the prior owner simply put every pitcher in his minors at AA for some reason. Luckily, I also find several very nice gems. Two starter prospects get my top prospect rating (though one projects to a 0 groundball rating, he also projects to a 100 control!). A couple others get ratings as potential big leaguers. In the bullpen, I don't find any studs, but I do find half a dozen guys with major league potential, several of which are probably ready for the bigs this season. I am going to need a very deep bullpen this season because I anticipate a lot of ugly games, and it is good to see I will be able to fill some of those spots from my minors as opposed to having to get some cheap one year veteran free agents.
At High A, there is one starter that I consider a longshot for the bigs and nothing else worth noting amongst the starters. In the bullpen, I find a couple more guys with a shot at the majors -- more good news in terms of my bullpen's future at least.
At Low A, there are only a total of 9 pitchers, but one half-decent starter prospect and, the best part, a very nice looking closer prospect. He only has a projected durability of 57, but his splits and pitches are all very nice and his control is decent. The bad news I find at Low A is 2 of teh 9 pitchers start the season with injuries that will last more than 100 days. Neither is a major league prospect, but it means even more tryout camp or minor league free agent pitchers I will need to sign to fill out my minor league rosters before the season starts.
At Rookie, only 3 pitchers on the entire roster. I can only assume that there were a ton of retirements from the Rookie staff. The majority of the pitchers I have been seeing have 3-5 years of pro experience, which tells me that the prior owner did not sign very many draft picks and probably filled his rosters with guys with more years (and thus guys that are more likely to retire). None of the 3 rookie pitchers I find have any shot to make the bigs.
In all, I am pleased with what I find on my pitching staffs. I expected little to no talent at all and instead found several guys that I believe will make solid major leaguers. most of them need some more time to develop, but if I am successful in moving most of my bad contracts, some of them will have to do their developing on the big league roster.
Up next -- More trade updates (I have a few potential deals in the works), and free agency/coach hiring begins.