The focus of this article is finding a comparable player to Willy Garcia when it comes to his low walk rate and high strikeout totals. This season, Garcia had 24 walks and 145 strikeouts, which is a difference of 121, the biggest differential in the system. Last year, Garcia had a difference of 131 with 23 walks and 154 strikeouts. During these past two seasons, no one else in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system had a difference that reached triple figures. In 2012, Garcia had a 33:132 BB/K ratio, second worst in the system to Carlos Mesa, who had a 9:119 ratio and then no job this year in baseball.
The main reason Garcia isn’t rated higher in the system is his inability to draw walks and his high strikeout rates, because he passes all the other prospect tests. If you look at his strong points, you’ll see a power hitter that has hit at least 16 homers in each of the last three years. Garcia just turned 22 years old last week, which is a strong age for someone in AA, so he has shown power at a young age for the level for three straight seasons. He also has the best arm in the system, as well as above average defense at either corner outfield spot. He made 13 errors this year, which is an unusually high number for an outfielder, but the defensive reports have been strong and I’ve personally seen him play well on defense in the past.
So you have a power hitter with plus defense and he has decent speed, which is at least average. All that and he has done it at a young age. With that in mind, we now we take a look at the past, searching for a success story in the Pirates system that includes someone with a horrible strikeout rate and no walks. Using that strikeout/walk difference as the focal point, here are the players that have put up at least 100 more strikeouts than walks and where they ended up.
In 2011, Quincy Latimore had a difference of 107 and he is a good comparison for Garcia, because he was a 22-year-old corner outfielder for Altoona that year. Latimore also hit 15 homers and 32 doubles, so that compares well to Garcia’s power numbers. Latimore just spent his fourth season at AA this year and was cut by the Pirates in Spring Training, but latched on with the Nationals.
In 2010, Latimore had a 106 difference and was one of four players in the system to do that. Two of the others haven’t been in the system for awhile, Calvin Anderson and Rogelio Noris. The other was Jarek Cunningham, who has stalled at AA. All four had something in common besides the BB/K ratios and that is their power potential.
In 2007-09, no one in the Pirates system had a triple-figure difference, but a player that was close might be familiar to Pirates fans. Brad Corley was a top prospect back when it didn’t take much to be a top prospect in the Pirates’ system. He also refused to take walks and struck out too much. When I say, refuse, I mean that literally in that Corley once said being aggressive got him where he was, which was AA at the time, and he wasn’t going to change his approach.
The difference between Corley and Garcia is that Corley didn’t strikeout as often, he just took less walks. In 2006, Corley wasn’t the worst offender, that honor belonged to Steve Lerud at 106 and he has played in the Majors. Sure it’s just nine games over two seasons(2012-13) with the Phillies, but it counts.
No one in 2005 reached the century mark, so we go to 2004 and find a power-hitter that reached the Majors. Brad Eldred hit 37 homers with a .301 average and a 41:148 BB/K ratio. Eldred was the only member of the 100 club in 2003 and no one came close in 2002. That year Humberto Cota led all hitters with 106 strikeouts, so it was by far the best year for BB/K rates that we have seen yet.
When you go back to 2001, you find the biggest difference since Rogelio Noris(129) in 2010. That person from 2001 would be the immortal Chad Hermansen. As a 23-year-old in AAA that year, he had 17 homers and 22 stolen bases and a 41:154 BB/K ratio.
In 2000, you have Jeremy Harts(115 difference) and another power-hitting prospect that didn’t work out, J.J. Davis. That year, he had 20 homers and 52 walks(171 strikeouts) as a 21-year-old in high-A ball. Davis made the Majors too, playing 67 games with a .465 OPS over four seasons.
In 1999, Corey Pointer and Jovanny Sosa combined for 37 homers and both barely reached the century club. I’m sure you remember both of them, right? If not, don’t worry, neither made the Majors. Pointer was the only rep in 1998, one of the worst differences ever at 124(fourth worst in franchise history). In 1997, Pointer was joined by outfielder Alex Hernandez, who briefly played with the Pirates so there is another example of a player at least making it, even if it was for a short time.
You need to go back to 1993 for another example and there were three, all players that never made the Majors, Shon Walker, Keith Thomas and Rico Gholston. Thomas was the worst at 111 difference. In 1992, Ramon Martinez(110) was the only player in this elite group and he never made the Majors. We also get to the point of players that played before Willy Garcia was born and the best Major League player we found was either Chad Hermansen or Brad Eldred. Also, no one matched the 131 difference Garcia had last year.
It’s not to say that Garcia has no chance of succeeding in the Majors, but over the last 22 years, you can’t find a player that was as bad as he was with the difference between walks and strikeouts. You also can’t find a successful Major League player that has come close, but you can find a lot of guys that never even made it to the show. Between 1966 and 1992, there were only three members of the 100 club and none of them made it to the big leagues.
If you have hope for Garcia, maybe this example from the 1965 season will help your case. Bob Oliver just barely made the cut with his 27:127 BB/K ratio in AA at age twenty-two. He ended up playing eight years in the Majors and put up a .696 OPS in 847 games, with most of his time coming with the expansion Kansas City Royals in their first three seasons. The flip side is that Oliver had just one minor league season that qualified and like I said, just barely.
That’s right, you only have to go back 50 seasons to find one example of a player that had a decent MLB career while not walking enough and striking out too much. Like I said, Garcia has the tools to be a strong player for the Pirates, but there aren’t any good examples to point at to back up his case. If he goes on have success in the Majors, he will be used as an example in the future as THE player that made an impact while showing poor plate patience and bad contact skills.
Pirates Game Graph
Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 4.5 games behind St. Louis for the NL Central lead and 1.5 games ahead of both Atlanta and Milwaukee for the second Wild Card spot. They are three games behind San Francisco for the first Wild Card spot.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won on Monday night, picking up a game on both the Braves and Brewers. Edinson Volquez will take the mound for his 28th start of the season tonight in Philadelphia. He pitched against the Phillies on July 5th, giving up one run on four hits and four walks over seven innings. In his last start, Volquez threw 6.1 scoreless innings. The minor league season is over. Bradenton was the only affiliate to make the playoffs. They lost their series Wednesday night. You can read the DSL season recap here complete with scouting reports for each player and the top ten players to watch list can be found here. We will post other season recaps soon.
MLB: Pittsburgh (75-68) @ Philadelphia (66-77) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Edinson Volquez (3.31 ERA, 114:60 K/BB, 165.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (73-71)
AA: Altoona (61-81)
High-A: Bradenton (78-61)
Low-A: West Virginia (54-81)
Short-Season A: Jamestown (35-40)
RK: Bristol (22-46)
GCL: Pirates (20-40)
DSL: Pirates (34-36)
With the minor league season over, it’s time to take a look back at some recent video from the GCL, which we will continue to do over the next few days. All videos are courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page. Below is a video of lefty reliever Jesus Paredes, who threw 21 innings this year with 20 strikeouts and a .211 BAA, but he also issued 15 walks. He spent one year in the VSL, before moving to the DSL for the 2012-13 seasons. The 21-year-old has thrown just 101 innings over his four-year career.
9/8: Pirates release Ernesto Frieri.
9/7: Michael Martinez and Chris McGuiness clear waivers and were outrighted to Indianapolis.
9/2: Pirates recall Gregory Polanco, Jeff Locke, John Holdzkom, Casey Sadler and Bobby LaFromboise.
9/2: Chase d’Arnaud added to 40-man roster and promoted to Pittsburgh. Michael Martinez designated for assignment.
9/1: Pirates recall Gerrit Cole and Tony Sanchez. Stolmy Pimentel activated from the disabled list
9/1: Pirates designate Chris McGuiness for assignment. John Holdzkom added to 40-man roster.
This Date in Pirates History
Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including the second baseman for the first World Series champs in franchise history. As a rookie in 1909, John “Dots” Miller got to the Pirates Spring Training camp before Honus Wagner and impressed the Pirates management so much that once Wagner arrived, Miller was moved from shortstop to second base and it moved Ed Abbaticchio to the bench. The Pirates had paid a high price for Abbaticchio just two years earlier, but the star infielder was replaced by the rookie infielder. Miller would go on to play five years with the Pirates before being dealt away in an unpopular trade in December of 1913. You can read a full bio of Miller here.
Among the seven other Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date is Hall of Fame pitcher Waite Hoyt, who pitched for the Pirates from 1933 until 1937. You can read his bio here, as well as six other players and also Frankie Frisch, a Hall of Fame second baseman that managed the Pirates from 1940 until 1946. There is also a game recap from 1987 that included a very unlikely home run that helped the Pirates defeat the Cubs.