Minor League Slow Starters

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Last week we took a look at the players who have started their minor league season red hot and today we will take a look at the player that haven’t been so lucky (or good).

Michael Wacha – SP – Memphis

Everyone’s Spring Training darling jumped past Springfield after 8 innings there in relief last year and is starting his first full minor league season at the top of the minor league ladder in Memphis and has struggled in his first 2 starts over 9 innings. His FIP is at 7.09 is 3 runs higher than his ERA, which indicates that despite his struggles, he is still getting a lot of luck with a BABIP of .200. The main difference in his numbers from last year is the contact he is allowing within the strikezone. Wacha’s contact allowed on pitches in the strikezone is a staggering 95.9%. So, 96% of the time he throws a ball in the strikezone this year, the batter is making contact. Compare that to 60.8% in Springfield last year. Looks like Wacha is not yet able to get AAA batters to swing and miss at strikes yet. We have all seen Wacha pitch and heard the reviews. He has the stuff, but has not put it into results as a starter in Memphis yet. Everything indicates that he will, however.

Hector Hernandez – SP – Peoria

Hernandez, who is repeating at the A-ball level and is in his 3rd season at the level, had a bad first outing of the year despite only giving up 4 hits and 3 runs, his BABIP is at dangerously low levels (.111) but 2 HRs and 1 walk will push that FIP up to 7. As I always have a soft spot for lefties with big sweeping curveballs, I’m hoping Hernandez will turn it around and start moving up the levels again.

Audry Perez – C – Springfield

Perez, a player never known for his offense and who has a walk rate of under 2% for his minor league career, it is never really a headline when he is struggling to start the year, but he is even struggling compared to his career numbers. Perez has 2 hits in 30 plate appearances and no walks. Perez has a .069 BABIP and with only 1 strikeout, he is well below his career average in that category. His luck is going to turn, but if he keeps pounding 60% of his balls in play into the ground, it will not go much higher.

Charlie Tilson – OF – Peoria

You can hardly blame Charlie Tilson for his slow start after losing all of last year to a shoulder injury and previously having only 30 professional PAs in rookie ball after being drafted in 2011 out of high school. But, 3 hits in 33 PAs is still a very bad start. Only 1 walk so far and 7 strikeouts. Additionally, one of the 4 times he got on base, he was thrown out trying to steal. Tilson’s .125 BABIP should regress up, but like Perez, he will have to hit fewer than 76% of his balls in play into the ground.

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