Saturday, May 7, 2016

Saturday Stats Pack: #WilliansWatch, Riley, Swanson, Ruiz

Going to do something different this week, though it's actually going back to what I used to do with this series. Rather than splitting up observations by minor league affiliate, I'll just make note of interesting stats of the particular players. Should be easier and more fun that way. In addition, feel free to check out the major league companion to this series at my other site. Topics discussed include Aaron Blair's opening three games, historic marks in SLG and HR, and how badly the Braves are doing in WAR. It's a real joy to read.

1 Strikeout

It's over. The great 2016 #WilliansWatch has reached its end. It actually came to a close the Friday before last, but I missed last week's edition for my daughter's birthday. Willians Astudillo struck out swinging to open the bottom of the second inning against Jacksonville's Jarlin Garcia (Miami). It ended a streak of 54 AB to begin the year without a strikeout. #WilliansWatch might continue in a different facet, however. He's already up to 23 AB without a second strikeout.

36 Strikeouts

From a ridiculous frequency to put the bat on the ball to the opposite end. Austin Riley leads Braves minor leaguers with 36 K's in his first 101 AB. Riley remains a very intriguing prospect, but we are seeing what we didn't last year - adversity. The 19 year-old has a .282 OBP and while he has shown the power (12 EBH), the inability to get on base and the all-too-common quick trip to the dugout should make his biggest supporters pause and remember that he's still very young and not even close to contributing for the Braves.

19 Walks/14 K

One last focus on this strikeout theme comes from the impressive bat of Dansby Swanson. Among minor league hitters, his .455 OBP is tops. A big reason for that is his 19 walks in 121 PA (16%). The 19 walks also leads minor league hitters. Conversely, he has struck out just 14 times, which shows just how advanced Swanson is at this point. He remains the minor-league leader in doubles with 15 and only one other player, Midland's Ryon Healy, has more extra base hits (20-to-17).

Respect the Ruiz - 3 IBB

Intentional walks are a rarity in minor league ball. It's part of the reason you might see a major league pitcher oddly struggle with throwing intentional passes once he gets to the majors. They simply aren't asked to do it very often. No minor leaguer hitter has gotten the intentional free pass more often so far this season than Rio Ruiz, who is hitting .324/.405/.471 through 28 games. Granted, it's just three walks, but it shows how respected Ruiz is right now in a lineup full of minor league veterans.

5 Balks

So far this season, Braves minor league pitchers have committed a handful of balks. One each for Enderson Franco, Max Fried, and Mike Soroka while Carlos Salazar has two. I mention this because two pitches, Durham's Matt Andriese and Tampa's Jose Campos, each have five all to themselves. At least Braves minor leaguers aren't struggling with that.

Keeping the Ball in the Yard

Sean Newcomb and Soroka are running neck-and-neck for most innings among Braves farmhands without surrendering a homerun to start the season. Newcomb has 31.1 innings while Soroka is at 31 innings. The current minor league leader is Alex Mills, a Double-A tosser for Northwest Arkansas of the Royals organization, who has gone 36 innings so far this year without surrendering a homerun.

Durable and a Workhorse

Williams Perez may lack the stuff to be a big-time major league pitcher, but one thing he can do is give the bullpen a break. Six days after getting a rain-shortened complete game victory (he only threw 5.1 innings), Perez handled the Charlotte Knights with ease on Friday night. He gave up just one hit and walked one batter while striking out nine during the shutout. He threw 112 pitches in the win, including 76 strikes, and induced 12 groundballs and 3 pop-ups. His game score - 91. I'd call that a stellar performance.

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