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“Alluhring Strategy” MiLB Watch – Pitchers: Double A Texas League Report

Another week in the books. Another hundred injuries and DL10 designations (slight exaggeration). We have seen an evolution in recent years that some players can ascend quickly through the minor leagues, even as early as one season. The rash of injuries can put pressure on organizations to develop players faster and expect a quicker impact than in previous generations. Fans and fantasy owners have begun to pay more attention to players in the minor leagues to keep up with the next thing or a deep sleeper that they can brag about when they hit on a kid. Whatever your reason is for reading about MiLB players, I continue to bring you a mix of known and unknown pitchers to help you get familiar with. This week we make our last stop in Double A by looking at the teams in the Texas League. The following five pitchers are having a great start to the 2017 campaign and are worth examining for future value.

 

Jack Flaherty RHP, Springfield Cardinals (STL)

Jack was the player of the month for the Texas League in April and was the best pitcher in the league by a wide margin. He led the league in Wins, Innings, ERA, WHIP and Strikeouts. The former 1st round draft pick is only 21-years-old. Since he is relatively young for the AA level, scouts were worried he would get exposed once he reached the upper levels. So far so good…

Jack Flaherty

DATE OPP W L ERA GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 06 @FRI 1 0 0.00 1 0 6.2 3 0 0 0 1 6 81-54 .136 0.60
APR 11 @MID 1 0 0.66 1 0 7.0 4 1 1 0 0 4 91-58 .156 0.59
APR 17 MID 1 0 0.42 1 0 7.2 2 0 0 0 1 9 99-63 .129 0.52
APR 23 @ARK 1 0 0.33 1 0 6.0 6 0 0 0 1 5 82-54 .161 0.66
APR 30 ARK 0 0 0.56 1 0 5.0 7 1 1 0 1 4 89-55 .191 0.80
MAY 05 NWA 1 0 0.69 1 0 7.0 2 1 1 1 1 12 99-73 .174 0.74

He’s been nothing short of dominant allowing only three runs over his first six starts covering 39.1 innings. His fastball is not his strength as it averages only 92 mph and maxes at 94. However it has sinking action and he has advanced command for his age which has kept hitters from getting good hacks at it. He also features three off-speed pitches including what should develop into a plus changeup. His ability to mix in an average slider and curveball keep hitters off balance. His four-pitch mix and command should allow him to succeed as a middle of the rotation starter at the Major League level. He is striking out batters in the minors, but that K rate will likely be lower the higher he advances. Due to his age and several other highly rated prospects in the system, the Cardinals have no reason to push his development. I would think they would like to keep him in AA all season unless he continues to dominant to the point that they need to promote him to keep him challenged. I would be surprised if this was the case, but I do think he has a fantastic season and likely invited to pitch in the Futures Game this July.

 

Rogelio Armenteros RHP, Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU)

Rogelio is not a household name and may never be. What I can tell you is that he has been arguably the second most dominant pitcher in the Texas League so far in 2017. After spanning three levels in 2016, he led the Astros’ minor league system with 140 Ks (in 127.1 INN) and walked only 44. Despite this production, the former Cuban defector in his third season of pro ball, is not listed among the top prospect lists. Here is what he has done so far this season…

Rogelio Armenteros

DATE OPP W L ERA GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 09 @NWA 0 0 1.59 1 0 5.2 1 2 1 0 2 10 78-49 .056 0.53
APR 15 ARK 1 0 0.84 1 0 5.0 2 0 0 0 1 8 80-50 .086 0.56
APR 21 @FRI 0 0 0.61 0 0 4.0 3 0 0 0 2 4 67-38 .120 0.75
APR 26 MID 0 0 1.40 1 0 4.2 4 2 2 1 2 5 85-47 .149 0.88
MAY 02 @MID 0 1 1.96 1 0 3.2 7 2 2 0 2 3 83-49 .205 1.13
MAY 08 SA 0 0 1.61 1 0 5.0 3 0 0 0 1 7 89-57 .200 1.07

He has given up only five earned runs over six appearances spanning 28 innings. He does throw a lot of pitches, but not due to a lack of command, but he throws five pitches all over the zone and can be effectively wild. The 1.07 WHIP indicates that he doesn’t walk a ton, however he did throw 12 wild pitches in 2016. Just to backtrack a minute, I did mention that has five (5) pitches. He likes to mix in a four-seam and a two-seam fastball with a curveball, slider and changeup. His curveball may be the only pitch that develops into a plus pitch, however, his willingness to waste pitches to setup a hitter with command of all five offerings has once again made him a leader in strikeouts. Not sure why he has appeared to come out of nowhere after last season, but I don’t think he goes unnoticed in 2017. The 22-year-old progressed quickly last season to reach AA in only his 2nd season of pro ball. There isn’t any reason to rush him as there is a log-jam of young pitchers between Houston and their AAA affiliate, Fresno Grizzlies. That being said, as it shakes out during the second half of the season with injuries and promotions I’d expect to see Armenteros in Fresno at some point as well as another crack at the Arizona Fall League after the season. I don’t see him as a top level prospect, but he certainly has the ability to be an effective pitcher in the Majors for Houston or a decent trade chip from them.

 

Collin Wiles RHP, Frisco Rough Riders (TEX)

On a team with top organizational pitching prospects like Yohander Mendez and Ariel Jurado, the best pitcher so far this season on this team has been Collin Wiles. The 22-year-old is in his sixth season of pro ball, but showing career best production over the last two levels of High A and now Double A. Entering the season, I couldn’t find him on a single top prospect list. He didn’t even make the Top 50 Ranger’s prospect list on the most extensive list out there at Prospects1500.com. What I do know is he is in the Top 5 in ERA of all starting pitchers currently in the Texas League (Christian Binfield and Andrew Moore would have beat him out but recently were promoted to AAA).  

Colin Wiles

DATE OPP W L ERA G GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 06 SPR 0 0 0.00 0 0 1.0 2 1 0 0 0 2 21-15 .333 2.00
APR 10 TUL 1 0 3.00 1 0 5.0 6 2 2 2 0 5 90-59 .296 1.33
APR 17 @TUL 0 0 4.09 1 0 5.0 6 3 3 2 1 5 90-59 .292 1.36
APR 22 CC 1 0 3.18 1 0 6.0 3 2 1 1 1 4 101-65 .243 1.12
APR 27 @SA 1 0 3.00 1 0 7.0 7 2 2 0 1 5 82-62 .253 1.13
MAY 02 SA 0 0 2.90 1 0 7.0 8 2 2 0 0 6 97-66 .262 1.13
MAY 07 @MID 0 0 2.63 1 0 6.2 8 1 1 0 1 6 96-63 .272 1.17

The first thing I notice is the low walk total. Although not considered a strikeout pitcher, I’d take 33:4 K to BB over his first 37.2 innings. He has only one game where he gave up more than two runs including 4 consecutive starts. He has shown to be susceptible to the Home Run over the last two seasons. That wasn’t an issue over the previous three seasons of pro ball so perhaps that can still be improved. There isn’t a lot out there regarding a scouting report on him and he doesn’t appear to have any plus pitches. He has a three-pitch mix of fastball, slider and changeup. His command is his plus tool and will determine his success in the future. Although not projected to be a huge contributor at the Major League level, there is a reason why the Rangers took the big, athletic righty at #53 overall in 2012 out of High School. He can become an innings eater and could be an option late this season for Texas if injuries continue to pile up. Otherwise, he probably moves up to AAA, Round Rock at some point this season with 2018 debut.

 

Miguel Almonte RHP & Zach Lovvorn RHP, NW Arkansas Naturals (KC)

We wrap up our look at the Texas League top pitching performers with a pair of teammates in the Royals system. Christian Binford would have made this spot if he wasn’t called up to AAA Omaha recently. Almonte was a former organizational Top 10 prospect for many years before he got rushed in the upper levels and lost his way. Signed as a J2 free agent in the summer of 2010, he had great success over the first three seasons of pro ball in the lower levels of the minors. He struggled in High A during the 2014 and then the wheels fell off in 2015 as the Royals inexplicably run him through Double A, Triple A and even a stint in the Majors where he gave up four bombs in 8.1 innings. 2016 was worse yet as he was demoted from AAA down to AA and banished to the bullpen. He made some mechanical adjustments this off-season and the early results have been outstanding…

Miguel Almonte

DATE OPP W L ERA GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 08 SA 0 0 3.38 0 0 2.2 2 1 1 1 0 2 48-30 .222 0.75
APR 14 @SA 0 0 1.35 1 0 4.0 2 0 0 0 1 4 66-40 .182 0.75
APR 20 TUL 0 0 1.42 1 0 6.0 5 1 1 0 0 7 85-57 .200 0.79
APR 25 SPR 0 0 0.98 1 0 5.2 3 0 0 0 3 7 87-53 .190 0.87
MAY 01 @TUL 1 0 1.85 1 0 6.0 4 4 3 1 1 9 92-60 .186 0.86
MAY 07 ARK 0 0 1.78 1 0 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 2 19-13 .189 0.91

His command has returned and his fastball/changeup combo is back and better than ever. He has a K/BB ratio of 5.17 to go with his fantastic 1.78 ERA, .189 AVG against and 0.91 WHIP. Is he back? The jury is still out, but this is a great step and five starts gives us a decent sample size. His ability to keep the ball down with renewed command could give him the confidence he needs to forget that horrible MLB experience in 2015. He is already on the 40 Man roster, so there is a great chance he gets another shot if he continues to pitch this way. I expect a promotion to AAA relatively soon. Keep an eye out for a late season call up. He could be a useful spot starter later in the season when your fantasy rotation is banged up.

 

Zach Lovvorn

DATE OPP W L ERA GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 06 SA 0 1 1.50 1 0 6.0 1 1 1 1 0 8 74-45 .053 0.17
APR 11 CC 1 0 1.50 1 0 6.0 2 1 1 0 2 8 81-51 .075 0.42
APR 17 @CC 0 0 2.04 1 0 5.2 7 2 2 0 1 3 87-52 .161 0.74
APR 23 TUL 1 0 1.90 1 0 6.0 5 1 1 0 1 1 87-59 .176 0.80
APR 30 @TUL 0 0 2.20 1 0 5.0 8 3 2 0 1 3 84-55 .213 0.98
MAY 05 @SPR 0 1 2.78 1 0 7.0 8 4 4 0 2 9 100-65 .231 1.07

I admit that Lovvorn was not on my radar at all this season. Despite playing in several dynasty leagues, he was not a name I was familiar with. I took a look at his stats and realized why I never heard of him. He went 2-15 in High A in 2016 over 23 starts. Under closer inspection, he wasn’t terrible, just wasn’t particularly good. One thing that did stand out is he doesn’t give up Home Runs (24 in 469 career innings) and forces an awful lot of ground balls (averages about 50% for career). I realize that wins and losses don’t necessarily represent how well a pitcher performed, but the rest of the stats were mediocre at best. Enter 2017…one HR allowed in the month of April in route to a 2.20 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. He will likely never be a strikeout pitcher but he fanned 8+ batters in half his starts this year. He started pro ball in 2012 right out of high school and at which time command was the biggest concern. It appears that he has improved that over the last few seasons and his best pitch is a sinking fastball which promotes ground balls. Lovvorn may not ever make a top prospect list, but the soon-to-be 23-year-old could carve out a respectable career due his skill set and makeup. He probably doesn’t need to be monitored right now, even in dynasty leagues, but could contribute at the MLB level as early as 2018.

 

 

 

 


Bryan Luhrs

Major League Fantasy Sports
Writer & Contributor
Real Deal Dynasty Sports
Owner, League Developer & Executive Commissioner

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You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

Faith, Family and Fantasy Sports.These are the three words that best describe me. I am a faithful husband and father of 6 amazing children. I work to earn a living, but I live for every precious moment I can spend with my family and a passion for sports.

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