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“Alluhring Strategy” MiLB Watch – AAA Pitcher’s Report: Pacific Coast League

Almost eight weeks in the books and we have seen an incredible amount of prospects get the call already in this young season. Clubs seem to be more willing to give their top prospects an early taste but won’t hesitate to send them back down if they struggle or need everyday reps. Even with the Super Two threshold likely a few weeks a way (to be safe), rookie eligible players are heading back and forth from The Show at a breakneck pace. Perhaps the liberal use of the the new 10-Day DL is contributing to this. Perhaps athletes are just progressing quicker in the past due to improved technology and treatments. Perhaps it is merely a strategy to keep other teams busy scouting and reacting. Perhaps clubs are just looking for a shot in the arm before an early season skid gets out of hand. Whatever the reason, it sure does make it exciting for baseball fans, fantasy baseball owners and especially the dynasty baseball community.

This week we will make our last stop around the upper levels of the Minor Leagues. Before we break down some of the top performers currently in the Pacific Coast League, let’s take a moment to recognize a pitcher that just earned his first call up. The San Diego Padres have called up RHP, Dinelson Lamet. The 24-year-old was signed as an International Free Agent in 2014 and is the first of the Padres recent “home-grown” talent acquisitions to reach the Majors. The rookie will make his debut, today, Thursday May 25th, 2017 against the New York Mets. After pitching at three levels and putting himself officially on the “prospect map” with a breakout 2016, he had a decent start to the 2017 season pitching for the Triple A affiliate, El Paso Chihuahuas. This is his fourth season of pro ball and known as a strikeout pitcher with two potential plus pitches. The knock is on his control and lack of a 3rd MLB pitch. There is no doubt Lamet has talent. His fastball consistently reaches the mid-90s and his hard slider can punch out lefties and righties alike. He has the stamina of a starter but his changeup is not very good and unless he develops that pitch, his long-term role could be the back of the Padres bullpen. With Jered Weaver hitting the DL, the club decided to give him a chance on the big stage. Ultimately, his walks may be what does him in. He did strikeout 50 in 39.1 innings this season, but he issued 20 free passes during this span as well. He may be a nice streaming option against a questionable Mets lineup, especially for the Ks, but I doubt he is in there long enough to earn a QS. Don’t sleep on him as he was able to handle top 50 prospect, Tyler O’Neill, by striking him out three times in a 13K effort on April 20th.

Finally in other Triple A new, Boston optioned back Hector Velazquez who had one mediocre start and called up hot-hitting 1B prospect, Sam Travis. Although, I haven’t been covering the MiLB hitters, I’m anxious to see what he can do. So without and further adieu, the Pacific Coast League’s Pitcher’s Report…

 

Wilmer Font RHP, Oklahoma City Dodgers (LAD)

DATE OPP W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 07 IOW 0 1 10.80 1 5.0 5 6 6 2 1 5 79-56 .238 1.20
APR 12 @NAS 1 0 5.40 1 5.0 3 0 0 0 1 11 83-55 .205 1.00
APR 17 @MEM 0 0 5.52 1 4.2 5 3 3 0 3 5 97-63 .232 1.23
APR 23 MEM 0 1 6.16 1 4.1 7 4 4 0 2 5 88-59 .263 1.42
APR 28 @OMA 1 0 5.11 1 5.2 5 1 1 0 0 7 98-68 .253 1.30
MAY 03 COS 0 0 5.16 1 5.0 4 3 3 2 1 9 89-60 .246 1.25
MAY 09 @RR 0 1 4.89 1 5.1 4 2 2 1 0 6 95-67 .239 1.17
MAY 15 SAC 1 0 4.29 1 7.0 2 1 1 0 1 15 98-72 .217 1.05
MAY 21 @ELP 0 0 4.40 1 5.0 5 3 3 0 2 10 91-61 .221 1.09

2017 represents Font’s 7th season of pro ball which actually began in 2007. He actually made an appearance in the Majors in both 2012 and 2013 with the Texas Rangers. He only totaled 3.2 innings in those two seasons and he has retained his rookie eligibility which is why I write about him now. Wilmer’s season ERA is pretty rough at 4.40, but his respectable 1.07 WHIP and outstanding 2.73 FIP indicates that he has pitched better than that. Font has had a unique journey as he was converted from a starter to a reliever in 2012 which lead to his cup of coffee in the Majors. The Rangers gave up on him in 2014 and he didn’t pitch in 2015.  The Blue Jays took a flier on him and moved him back to a starter, but didn’t like him enough to hang on to him. The Dodgers signed him this off-season to a minor league Free Agent contract and all he has done is lead the Pacific League with 73 strikeouts which he accomplished in only 47 innings. It is also significant to note that his K-BB% is over 32% for the year. The Dodgers have had an incredible run of injuries in their rotation and it would not surprise me to see Font called up anytime for a chance. He’s as a good an option as veteran scrubs Jair Jurrjens and Justin Masterson who are hanging around in Triple A. He lives off his high-90s fastball with a below average slider and changeup. This along with a history of command issues and injuries has kept him off the radar. His Tommy John surgery cost him the 2011 season, but he has been relatively healthy since then. Since his re-emergence in 2016, he has discovered his command walking only 1.6 per 9 innings in 2016 and 1.9 BB/9 so far in 2017. With only one Major League caliber pitch, it is hard to see a bright future other than in the bullpen, but the Dodgers are taking notice at what he is doing. Deep leagues should have him on the radar for a spot start in the near future.

 

Josh Staumont RHP, Omaha Storm Chasers (KC)

DATE OPP W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 08 @COS 0 1 18.90 1 3.1 7 7 7 2 3 5 92-50 .412 3.00
APR 13 RR 1 0 6.75 1 6.0 1 0 0 0 2 12 92-58 .222 1.39
APR 18 @RR 0 0 5.02 1 5.0 5 2 1 0 3 7 94-55 .232 1.47
APR 23 @NO 1 0 4.66 1 5.0 1 2 2 0 5 2 100-54 .194 1.40
MAY 01 OKC 0 0 3.81 1 6.2 4 1 1 1 3 12 107-72 .188 1.31
MAY 06 @SL 0 1 4.18 1 6.1 4 4 4 0 2 4 101-60 .188 1.24
MAY 11 @LV 1 0 3.62 1 5.0 4 0 0 0 5 10 109-65 .191 1.31
MAY 18 TAC 0 1 3.32 1 6.0 2 1 1 0 7 8 105-65 .181 1.34

We move on from a guy that was a stretch to even call a prospect to the clear #1 pitching prospect in the Royals’ organization. Josh, who is the highest ever draft pick from my brother’s alma mater, Azusa Pacific University, is now in his 3rd year of pro ball. He has shown his incredible talent as well as his incredible lack of control. His four-seamer projects as a plus-plus fastball ball with a potential plus two-seamer and curveball. He also throws a changeup but that is very distant pitch that he could dump. His 3.32 ERA in 2017 has been very good and he does keep the ball in the park, but his 4.10 FIP gives concern he might have had some luck so far. After pitching last night (not shown in game logs above), he now has 66 Ks in only 48.1 innings pitched but has allowed an insane 37 free passes. Ironically he has only allowed 30 hits so he has 66 punch outs and 67 baserunners in just over 48 innings. This mirrors his first full year of pro ball in 2016 where he had 167 Ks to 104 BBs in 123.1 innings. Scouts are concerned that his delivery is so inconsistent that he will never be able to gain enough command to be a starter. That is a shame as the fastball/curveball combo could be deadly if harnessed. I believe the Royals will give him every chance to succeed as a starter and will keep him in AAA all season to work on command and consistency. The organization has three or four other starters that are MLB ready in AAA that can be called up if needed. With the Royals unlikely to be in playoff contention, there is no reason to rush their top pitching prospect. If he can’t harness his pitches, he could do a Ricky “wild thing” Vaughn impersonation on his way to a long career as a late inning reliever.

 

Tyler Pill RHP, Las Vegas 51s (NYM)

DATE TEAM OPP W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 08 BNG @NH 1 0 0.00 1 5.1 7 0 0 0 1 2 63-41 .350 1.50
APR 12 BNG @POR 0 0 0.00 1 5.0 4 2 0 0 0 1 65-46 .282 1.16
APR 19 LV @FRE 0 0 0.00 1 6.0 4 0 0 0 0 4 96-66 .182 0.67
APR 24 LV @SAC 0 0 0.00 1 6.0 8 5 0 0 1 1 98-65 .261 1.08
APR 30 LV ABQ 1 0 0.00 1 7.0 2 0 0 0 2 3 93-64 .203 0.89
MAY 05 LV TAC 1 0 0.33 1 8.0 6 1 1 0 2 4 103-65 .204 0.93
MAY 11 LV OMA 0 1 1.06 1 7.0 6 4 3 0 3 5 101-63 .211 1.00
MAY 16 LV IOW 0 0 2.04 1 5.2 9 6 5 2 2 2 95-56 .236 1.13
MAY 21 LV @NO 1 0 1.96 1 6.1 5 1 1 0 4 4 103-68 .234 1.17

Tyler Pill has had 7 of his 9 starts in 2017 at the Triple A level in his 7th season of pro ball. The once pitching heavy prospect pipeline for the Mets has been replaced with top hitting prospects with only Justin Dunn and Thomas Szapucki in the Mets Top 10, both of whom are at likely 3+ years away. Pill is one of their most MLB ready minor league options especially as this is another rotation being decimated with injuries and ineffectiveness. Pill actually leads the Pacific Coast League in ERA with 1.96. For a hitter-friendly league, this is very impressive. This has been accomplished by keeping the ball in the park and not giving out too many walks. He has shown good consistency, endurance and command while throwing four pitches (fastball, changeup, curveball and slider). The downside is a lack of velocity (tops out in low 90s), no pitches project to be above MLB average and two of them project to be below average. My biggest concern with him is that he can’t strike anyone out and he could struggle getting out of jams. In 46 innings he has allowed 56 baserunners (40 hits, 15 walks, 1 HBP) compared to 23 strikeouts. Despite the stellar ERA and respectable WHIP (1.17), he may have been a bit lucky. Over his seven starts in AAA, his BABIP is .255 and FIP is 4.91. If these begin to correct themselves he could be in for a significant skid. On the other hand, he could be an option as soon as this Saturday in Pittsburgh with a possibility that Milone will miss the start and Matz getting hit around in his last rehab start. This probably affects actual Mets fans more than fantasy owners. I don’t see any reason to roster him even if he is called up this weekend.

 

Brandon Woodruff RHP, Colorado Springs Sky Sox (MIL)

DATE OPP W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 08 OMA 1 0 0.00 1 6.1 5 1 0 0 0 4 77-57 .217 0.79
APR 14 @MEM 1 0 0.00 1 5.0 1 1 0 0 3 5 86-52 .154 0.79
APR 19 MEM 1 0 2.20 1 5.0 7 4 4 1 2 3 91-61 .217 1.10
APR 24 NAS 1 0 1.61 1 6.0 3 0 0 0 1 5 85-64 .200 0.99
MAY 02 @OKC 0 0 2.22 1 6.0 7 3 3 1 0 6 80-56 .221 1.02
MAY 07 FRE 1 0 1.83 1 6.0 3 0 0 0 1 7 87-58 .210 0.96
MAY 13 SAC 0 1 2.77 1 4.2 6 5 5 1 2 4 94-58 .224 1.05
MAY 18 @ELP 0 1 3.02 1 5.2 6 3 3 1 0 8 90-62 .229 1.05
MAY 23 NO 0 1 3.40 1 5.2 10 6 4 1 2 3 90-54 .253 1.17

Looking at his year to date stats, he is having a mediocre year so far in 2017. However, if you look at his game logs, you see he won his first five decisions before going on a three game skid. After his first six starts you were hearing talk off a call up as he stood at a 1.83 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. Then his 4+ FIP began to materialize and now after seven games he sits at 3.40 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. He has still out-pitched the Brewers top pitching prospect, Josh Hader, and could just as easily get back on track as he was derailed. Woodruff is by far the best prospect on this list today and should be targeted in all dynasty leagues and keeper and redrafts should be monitoring his situation. This sounds like a broken record, but Milwaukee is another rotation that has been banged up, but the expected return of Junior Guerra this weekend will allow the club to wait a little longer before bringing up one of their top pitching prospects. The Brewers are known to wait out the Super Two and I don’t expect this season to be different despite the fact they are in 1st Place heading into Memorial Day Weekend and could compete all season in the surprisingly mediocre National League Central. Brandon has a three pitch mix featuring a fastball, slider and changeup that all project to be at least MLB average. He was the organization’s pitcher of the year in 2016 as he had a breakout season showing consistency and command throughout the season.  He can get a strikeout when needed but should live off inducing a ton of ground balls with this sinking fastball and breaking balls. He doesn’t have the plus pitch potential to develop into an ACE but should be a mainstay in the middle of the rotation beginning as early as this Summer.

Thanks for reading this season. I’ll be back after the June Rule 4 Amateur Draft to break down the results for the AL and NL West teams.


Bryan Luhrs

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

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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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