May 17th, 2022 Scoreboard
- Triple A Oklahoma City 13 , El Paso 5
- Double A Tulsa 15, Amarillo 12
- High A Great Lakes 4, Lansing 7
- Low A Rancho Cucamonga 7, Fresno 8
A lot happened yesterday. A. Lot.
Michael Busch has been promoted from Double A Tulsa to AAA Oklahoma City! Busch had been on fire basically the whole season — he made MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Week three times. While with the Drillers, he had an OPS of 1.112, and a wRC+ of 172, buoyed by a robust walk rate of 17.5%.
As for his debut, he wasted little time, going yard in his second AB of the evening, his 12th of the season between Double A and Triple A:
Busch later tacked on an impressive base hit, his second of the game:
107.9 mph as a max exit velo isn’t exactly awe-inspiring, it’s just a hair below the 50th percentile of 108. 107.9 off a lefty in an 0-2 count? That’s a horse of a different color.
All season long, there have been box scores with Statcast data over at Baseball Savant. This has been in preparation of the rollout of the Automatic Balls and Strikes (ABS) system, which shared a debut with Busch, since they both use the Hawkeye System. While it has been great to see the data during the games, unfortunately, the numbers aren’t posted on the individual player pages. If you would like to see these numbers aggregated, the website texasleaguers.com has you covered. When the ABS system rolls out across all of the minor leagues, if Statcast data and Baseball Savant are working the same way, this site will be even more of a gem.
As for Busch, Dennis Higgins, who does play by play for the Drillers, has mentioned several times that Busch got quite a bit stronger in the offseason, so being able to get real numbers on one of the top hitters in the system is an exciting development. Hopefully this will carry over to the rest of minor league baseball.
Jose Ramos was also promoted, from Low A Rancho Cucamonga, to High A Great Lakes. Ramos had an OPS of .909, and a wRC+ of 139 with the Quakes. He debuted for Great Lakes on Tuesday as the DH, and he picked up his first hit at the level:
Ramos went 1/4, also reaching via a walk, he stole a bag, and he both drove in and scored a run.
Ryan Ward re-took the system lead in homers (briefly) with his multi-dong day:
Ward had a solid debut month with the Drillers, posting an OPS of .903 in April. In May, he has really taken off – his OPS a little over halfway through the month is 1.094. He’s also showing the ability to hit both lefties and righties (1.016 vs .974). This 8th rounder of Bryant University in Rhode Island is looking like a find.
Kody Hoese had the best day at the plate of his professional career:
Multiple 100+ mph exit velos in the same game, along with a line drive single to right that was 99 mph? This kind of loud contact all over the field has been a long time in coming, and it’s exciting to see.
It has been a battle for Hoese, who has had more than his share of injuries, which certainly haven’t helped as he has struggled to recapture what led to his 23-homer, 1.265 OPS breakout as a junior at Tulane. Though it may feel like he has been around forever, the Dodgers drafted him back in 2019 in the first round, and he’s still a tad younger than average for AA (-0.3 years). There’s still time, he’s finally healthy, and it will be fun if something has in fact clicked.
Edgardo Henriquez had a solid outing for Rancho Cucamonga, scattering three hits and three walks en route to 4.0 scoreless innings.
Henriquez is one of the more interesting developmental stories, due to the quickness with which it has happened. Last Summer, he was working to throw both a curve and a slider, but they often morphed into one pitch. That has very clearly changed:
FanGraphs has a present/future of 50/50 on the curve, and 55/60 on the slider. That is to say, this 19-year-old who hits 100 has two big league quality breaking balls right now. As the three walks show, command can still be an issue at times. How quickly that tightens up will determine how quickly he rises through the system, because the present stuff is fantastic for any level.
Henriquez was aided by his batterymate, Diego Cartaya, who nailed a pair of would-be basestealers. One of those was particularly impressive (even if the runner might have been safe):
That throw being right on the money does a pretty good job of displaying why the various outlets are so high on him with the glove as well as the bat.
Joan Valdez had an outing for Rancho that was both good and a bit entertaining:
Valdez was signed by the Dodgers as an IFA back in 2016 out of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. His fastball is reportedly 92-93, but it’s his changeup with big fade that does the bulk of the effective work.
Jorbit Vivas became the 10th Great Lakes Loon to hit two triples in a single game:
Vivas ended up going 2/5 for the day.
Like Eddys Leonard, this season started off slowly for Vivas in the cold temps up in the Midwest League, he was slashing just .211/.350/.281 going into yesterday’s action. This is an excellent time to highlight why wRC+ is such an important stat – as awful as his line looks, his wRC+ was 93, or just 7% below league average. Context matters, and the Midwest League in Spring is a very difficult place to hit.
That said, there are positives. For the first time in his career, Vivas is walking more than he’s striking out, and he’s doing both at impressive clips (13.1% vs just 9.7%). He has also dramatically improved his groundball/flyball ratio, from 1.43 to 0.86, while basically maintaining his excellent line drive rate, 23.3% last year, 20.0% this year. All that said, his BABIP is just .230 (career .315), and while that isn’t a guarantee of a hot streak incoming, it’s unlikely to stay quite so low.
My guess is more Jorbit highlights are coming.
Miguel Vargas hit his 5th homer for Oklahoma City:
If that looked like a difficult pitch to turn around, the strike zone feed at Baseball Savant is dead on, so you can see that Vargas, who really kept his hands in here, did damage to a pretty good pitch:
It could be argued that it perhaps caught a hair too much plate, but under the hands like that is a spot that often eats hitters up.
Vargas also showed some flair defensively, eschewing the leather:
It’s fair to say he did about all he could here. More importantly, it looks like the real thing. Progress.
Speaking of pitch locations, the Launch Angle Unicorn himself, Andy Pages, hit a ridiculous homer:
Given the camera angle, that pitch appears to be somewhere between 3″ and 6″ off the plate at the point of contact. That’s a pitcher’s pitch. A homer is not what’s supposed to happen here.
Brandon Lewis had quite the big fly of his own:
When the fans don’t even get out of their seats, you know it’s a bomb.
James Outman had the loudest homer of the day:
Outman’s slashing .294/.390/.608 in May.
With Hoese’s second homer coming just two batters later, Tulsa ended up winning the game thanks to their nine total homers for the day, and their 3+1 in the 9th inning.
Regarding Feduccia, his batted ball profile and plate discipline are getting pretty interesting. Going into yesterday, he had a GB/FB ratio of 0.57, hitting line drives 21.7% of the time, and flyballs 50% of the time. He’s also walking more than he’s striking out (18.5% vs 17.3%). His BABIP is just .196, and it’s .316 for his career, so it feels like something’s gotta give. Just another power/patience catcher to keep an eye on in a system that’s flush with them.
As for Taylor, he was written up here last Fall, and not much has changed just yet — he’s still drawing his walks, the Ks are manageable, but elevating the baseball isn’t a regular enough occurrence just yet. The homer is a positive sign, but a change to the batted ball profile would be even more so.
Lastly, a small note from a well-prepared Fresno broadcast booth on how the Dodgers got interested in Damon Keith:
Doc, you’re gonna have to hit the road a bit more often.