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Minor League Context: Bats

It’s been nearly three weeks since the first installment of “Minor League Context,” which is an attempt to understand the factors and environments in the minor leagues so as to not misjudge minor league performances. This is an essential antidote to “scouting the stat line:” given the minor league development assignments, different developmental standpoints, and varying environments, it is nearly impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions from minor league stats.

This morning I’m focusing on the bats. Let’s remember where the affiliates were on April 25:

April 25 Bats Median oppOPS Median Age Brewers Park Factor Easy Competition? Tough Competition?
AAA Pacific Coast (212) .7385 26 116.5 Susac / Brinson / Rivera / De Jesus Cooper / Orf / Cordell / Wren
AA Southern (127) .660 24 98 No One Everyone
Advanced A Carolina (102) .695 23 102 Rijo / Ghelfi / Gatewood McDowell / Ray / Belonis / Erceg
A Midwest (197) .676 22 107 Everyone No One
Players With >10 PA

And now, through May 12:

Brewers Affiliates (Bats) 20+ PA Median oppOPS Park (Brewers) Tough Competition? Easy Competition?
Pacific Coast (AAA) 229 .750 101 (115) Noonan / Orf / Heineman / Wren Nieuwenhuis / Brinson / Susac / Rivera
Southern (AA) 134 .674 95.5 (94) Almost Everyone Michael Choice
Carolina (A+) 132 .708 101 (101) Almost Everyone Jake Gatewood
Midwest (A) 204 .6825 102 (109) Orimoloye / Segovia / Cuas / Oquendo Rodriguez / Lara / Neuhaus / Harrison

A couple of interesting notes:

  • The Pacific Coast League continues to be the most favorable batting environment within the system, which should cause fans to place a pile of salt on their statistics citations for Lewis Brinson, Brett Phillips, Ryan Cordell, etc. Normalizing their performances to their environment should help one to present more realistic expectations for potential MLB call-ups.
  • Keep an on Jacob Nottingham, who is heating up in May (.261 / .346 / .435 thus far). For the year, he’s faced brutal opposing OPS of .639 in a pitcher’s environment, so his overall total of eight extra base hits and six walks in 97 Plate Appearances look intriguing. If Nottingham can begin to find his power in this environment, it could signal a potential breakout ability in a more favorable (i.e., even an average) batting environment.
  • Over the last couple of weeks, there has been a huge shift in the Midwest League at Wisconsin, causing competition levels to stratify there. Demi Orimoloye’s power surge looks especially impressive against opposing OPS of .681, so it will be interesting to see what midseason scouting reports reveal about his current performance and approach.
  • Fans concerned about the performance of Lucas Erceg and Corey Ray, absent any specific scouting notes about their respective performances, should heavily weigh their tough opposition against their stat lines. Compared to the league opposition of .708 OPS, the median Carolina Mudcats regulars face opposition of .696 OPS. Within this environment, Ray has faced opponents with a .681 OPS, Erceg a .693 OPS. For this reason, throw aside the stats concerns and await scouting and approach notes.
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