Morning Report: The Toughest Players to Strike Out at Each Level

I’ve been waiting for a bigger sample size to do this article and now that we are at the end of May, the minor league season in almost two full months old. For reference purposes, Indianapolis just played their 50th game last night out of a 140-game schedule.

We have had this article in the past and it’s usually been dominated by two players, Carlos Munoz and Jin-De Jhang. Munoz is no longer in the system and Jhang has barely played this year, so that leaves room for new players to look at here. I wanted to see if not striking out translates to success for these players.

Two months wouldn’t be enough time to figure out whether or not on a big scale, there is a correlation between strikeouts and success. That being said, Carlos Munoz doesn’t play anymore in the U.S. and Jhang is a backup in Double-A in his seventh season, so those two don’t help the case for success. Anyway, here are the toughest to strike out for each club. Do with the information what you please.

The toughest strikeout on Indianapolis is Kevin Newman. In 194 plate appearances, he has 22 strikeouts. He started off poorly this year, then had a terrific week, which has been followed by a .300+ average over the last 15 games. The problem is that he has gone 64 plate appearances without an extra-base hit, so that .300+ average doesn’t even come with a .700 OPS during that stretch. His season OPS is .736, which is above league average, but only ranks him sixth on the team.

In Altoona, the best is Jordan George, who has 12 strikeouts in 119 plate appearances. George has a .726 OPS, which is just below Newman and ranks him fourth on Altoona. Again, it’s better than league average, but not by much.

In Bradenton, you have Arden Pabst. It’s a little bit smaller sample size, but he’s a platoon catcher and no one else with more plate appearances is that close in strikeout rate. Pabst has 13 strikeouts in 97 plate appearances, which is actually a nice improvement over his previous totals. He is having success this year with an .835 OPS, which is third on his team and well above league average.

In West Virginia, Lolo Sanchez is the toughest to strike out, just edging out Calvin Mitchell. That’s quite a contrast in performance this year, but then again, neither of them are close to the strikeout rates of the players listed above. They are just the best on a team that strikes out a lot. Sticking with Sanchez because he’s been tougher to strike out in the past, he has 36 strikeouts in 174 plate appearances. He also has a .568 OPS, which is lowest among regulars on the team and well below league average.

It’s an interesting mix of players. You have Newman, who is the top rated prospect in this group and his overall season results are mixed. You have Jordan George, who is old for his league and also known as a excellent hitter, but he doesn’t have the rest of the game to make him a top prospect. Then you have Pabst, who has seen his prospect status rise this season and cutting down on the strikeouts is one part of his improvements. Then Sanchez, who has seen his prospect status stall right now, as it’s too early to judge a player his age this early in full-season ball. He doesn’t really belong with the other three though, just because of a large difference in the rates.

** As guessed in yesterday’s Morning Report, MLB Pipeline continued their draft tools article with the best by each position. The added the tools for the catchers and outfielders yesterday. Also they did an all draft prospect team with the best at each position. Surprisingly, the lowest ranked player on this list is a shortstop. Brice Turang is ranked #25. Besides outfielder and right-handed pitchers, any other position would have been a better guess than shortstop as the lowest ranked on this list.

** I inadvertently left out some news yesterday that I meant to put in the Morning Report. Albert Baur, who was our Player of the Week on Monday, was also named as the Florida State League Player of the Week. He had a .338/.379/.572 season slash line at the end of play on Sunday. Baur has already hit eight homers this season, made more impressive by the fact that it happened in the FSL.

PLAYOFF PUSH

Bradenton is in third place in their division, 5.5 games behind the leader with 19 games remaining in the first half.

West Virginia is in fourth place in their division, seven games behind the leader with 19 games remaining in the first half.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 2-1 over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. They now take on the St Louis Cardinals on the road and will send Trevor Williams to the mound for his 12th start today. He allowed four runs over four innings against the Cardinals in his last start. The Cardinals scheduled starter is right-hander Jack Flaherty, who has a 2.15 ERA in 29.1 innings, with 31 strikeouts and a 1.02 WHIP. He faced the Pirates in his last start and allowed one run over six innings.

The minor league schedule includes the tenth start of the season for Mitch Keller with Altoona. He allowed a season high six runs in his last start and gave up nine hits, which ties a season high. The Curve game is a morning start time. Alex McRae goes for Indianapolis tonight. His last four appearances have been on the road.

Bradenton and West Virginia each have a doubleheader today after a rain out yesterday. Bradenton lost a game from their schedule yesterday due to a second straight rain out and only one date left on the first half schedule with Daytona to make up for a lost game. Bradenton has now lost three games from their first half schedule. Gavin Wallace will start one game for West Virginia and the other could be Cody Bolton making his second Low-A start, but nothing has been announced for the second game. Mike Wallace will start for Bradenton, while game two hasn’t been announced yet.

MLB: Pittsburgh (29-26) @ Cardinals (29-24) 7:15 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (3.43 ERA, 43:20 SO/BB, 63.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (25-25) vs Gwinnett (23-27) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (5.04 ERA, 43:23 SO/BB, 44.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (24-24) vs Akron (31-22) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (3.69 ERA, 49:22 SO/BB, 53.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (26-22) @ Daytona (27-20) 5:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Mike Wallace (5.63 ERA, 21:3 SO/BB, 24.0 IP) and TBD

Low-A: West Virginia (25-23) @ Lexington (27-22) 5:35 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Gavin Wallace (3.86 ERA, 21:8 SO/BB, 39.2 IP) and TBD

HIGHLIGHTS

From West Virginia’s Tuesday night game, Lolo Sanchez’s second homer of the season

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

5/30: Brandon Waddell promoted to Indianapolis. Jerrick Suiter assigned to Morgantown.

5/30: Eduardo Vera promoted to Altoona.

5/29: Dario Agrazal placed on DL. Bryan Reynolds added to Altoona roster.

5/29: Joel Cesar activated from West Virginia DL. Blake Weiman promoted to Bradenton.

5/29: Brett McKinney released.

5/28: Ivan Nova placed on disabled list. Pirates recall Nick Kingham.

5/28: Pirates released George Kontos.

5/27: Raul Hernandez placed on disabled list. Yoel Gonzalez added to West Virginia roster.

5/26: Starling Marte activated from disabled list. Jose Osuna optioned to Indianapolis.

5/25: JT Brubaker assigned to Altoona. Austin Coley assigned to Altoona.

5/25: Jacob Taylor retired. Kevin Mahala was released (possibly retired).

5/24: Trae Arbet released. Jesse Medrano added to Bradenton roster.

5/23: JT Brubaker assigned to Altoona.

5/22: Jesus Liranzo promoted to Indianapolis.  Jackson Williams assigned to Morgantown.

5/22: Tyler Jones released.

5/21: David Lee retired.

5/21: JT Brubaker activated from Temporary Inactive List

5/21: Cody Bolton added to West Virginia roster. Dylan Busby placed on disabled list.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a memorable Memorial Day from 103 years ago. The players born on this date were 2003 center fielder Kenny Lofton and 1983-86 outfielder Joe Orsulak. Lofton didn’t sign with the Pirates until March in 2003. He did pretty well in his time, but didn’t last long. In July, he was part of the highly unpopular Aramis Ramirez deal, going to the Chicago Cubs.

Orsulak was a sixth round draft pick of the Pirates in 1980 and worked his way up the system, making his debut three years later. He batted .300 during the 1985 season, but by 1987, he was in the minors and then dealt away before the 1988 season. The Pirates got nothing in return for him, just two minor league players who never made the Majors. Orsulak went on to play another ten years before retiring.

On this date in 1915, the Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs twice by matching 1-0 scores. It was Decoration Day, which is now called Memorial Day. The Pirates were at Forbes Field and the first game started at 10:30 in the morning. By 12:06, it was over and Wilbur Cooper, the team’s all-time winningest pitcher, had a complete game shutout. The crowd was shuffled out and at 3:00, they started the second game, which took all of 91 minutes to complete. Al Mamaux got the win, one of 21 that season, with eight of them being shutouts. You can find the boxscores here: game one game two

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