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Minor Leagues. Major Trends.

With the calendar turning to July, it seems like an appropriate time to review some of the farm system's better June performances.

Sam Freeman probably hasn't looked like this in awhile...
Sam Freeman probably hasn't looked like this in awhile...
Bob Levey

July is here, so that makes it a convenient time to highlight some performances that stood out over the arbitrary end points that were June 1st and 31st. I decided to focus on more under-the-radar types instead of reminding everyone about the awesomeness of Carlos Martinez. Also, I excluded levels below Palm Beach because there just isn't much data there yet. Please forgive me, Jimmy Bosco.

Sam Freeman: 26-year-old LHP for Memphis (AAA)

Sam Freeman hasn't surrendered a run since May 26th (19.2 innings), which sounds pretty good until you realize this performance can probably be filed under the "smoke and mirrors" category, as his strikeout-to-walk ratio (23:11 K:BB) is no better than his career rate (2.03 K/BB). He has started turning line drives into grounders, so he deserves some praise for that but, given his stagnant peripherals, I'd bet that this is more of a small-sample-size blip rather than a performance epiphany.

Brock Peterson: 29-year-old 1B for Memphis (AAA)

As recently as last season, Brock Peterson was playing for the Atlantic League's Bridgeport Bluefish questioning whether it was time to retire. He had not been affiliated with an MLB team since playing for Minnesota's triple-A affiliate in 2010, and now he leads the Pacific Coast League in home runs. Probably too old to be taken seriously, his eight doubles and nine home runs in June were enough to make me wonder if he wouldn't be an immediate upgrade over Ty Wigginton, who is apparently a better coach than batsman.

James Ramsey: 23-year-old CF/RF for Springfield (AA)

More than seventy extremely productive plate appearances for Palm Beach earned Ramsey a promotion to double-A and, although he has struck out considerably more often at the higher level, his numbers have improved over time. After only three extra base hits (one home run and two doubles) in May, Ramsey swatted five homers, two doubles, and one triple in the same amount of plate appearances in June. Ramsey's walk percentage remains healthy (14%). Let's hope he can adjust and make more consistent contact.

Anthony Garcia: 21-year-old LF for Palm Beach (A+)

Anthony Garcia's first season in single-A was impressive enough to earn a tenth place ranking on our preseason top-twenty list. While his overall numbers have many of us questioning that vote of confidence, Garcia's apparent step back can be attributed to an abhorrent May that included only two extra base hits (two doubles) in ninety-five plate appearances. That came after a month that featured Garcia's usual brand of power (.200+ ISO) and has now been bookended by June, a month in which he punished opposing pitchers for an absurd seven home runs, eight doubles, and one triple in seventy plate appearances.

I'm not sure what happened in May but the most interesting thing I can extract from the data available at Minor League Central is Garcia's home/away splits. According to data from Baseball America, Palm Beach's stadium suppressed home runs by eighteen percent from 2010 to 2012, so that helps explain why Garcia has only homered twice at home but nine times on the road this season. Despite the abysmal May, Garcia has still outperformed the league average player by sixteen percent. Yes, he strikes out too much (27%), but his numbers could still be pretty appetizing by season's end.

Zachary Petrick: 23-year-old RHP for Palm Beach (A+)

Signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2012 draft, Petrick has paired a high strikeout rate (29%) with a low walk rate (5%) to post an impressive 1.37/2.01 ERA/FIP in nearly one-hundred minor league innings distributed between Johnson City, Peoria, and Palm Beach. This performance has impressed the Cardinals enough for them to try him out as a starter. In his first two starts (6/21 and 6/27), Petrick has given up two runs (only one earned) in ten innings that have included seven strikeouts and only one walk. Pitchers usually strike out fewer batters when converting from relief to starting, but that might be okay for Petrick if he can continue avoiding walks. I highly recommend that you read Brendan Meyer's story about Petrick over at STL-Today.