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Minor League stats to watch




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With pitchers and catchers reporting, I thought I would celebrate by delving into one of my favorite topics, a random assemblage of minor league statistics. There were a lot to choose from, ranging from Darrien Miller's caught stealing percentage to a bunch of guys' strikeout rates, but here are three others to keep your eye on.

1. Ground ball rate, Jadher Areinamo

If you were to construct batted ball stats for a hitter without a ton of power, there is a decent chance that they would look similar to Areinamo's in the complex league last season.

He was fifth in the ACL in line drive rate (25%) and split the others relatively evenly between ground balls (40%) and fly balls (35%). He hit the ball to all fields. He had the fourth lowest swinging strike rate in the ACL. He walked as often as he struck out. And he hit doubles, lots of doubles. Almost 10% of his plate appearances ended up in extra base hits.

After his promotion to Carolina, many of those traits remained. He still hit a healthy number of line drives. His swinging strike rate was still down in Hendry Mendez territory. Two things did change, though. His ground ball rate jumped more than 15% and the doubles power disappeared.

You might be wondering why I didn't pick one of the obvious choices for this stat: Garrett Mitchell, Hendry Mendez or, as Smichaelis9 mentioned in his top prospect list, Daniel Guilarte. The reason is because while the stats might measure success, each of those would likely require swing changes, so the changes could be seen before the results are (if Mendez could duplicate Areinamo's line drive and fly ball rates from the ACL he is probably a top 100 prospect).

With Areinamo, it is not about the swing. The Complex League stats proved that. It is about continuing to make quality contact as he faces increasingly good pitching moving up the ladder. Restoring his ACL batted ball splits would be a good way putting him on track to maximize his potential.

2. Walk rate, Jeferson Quero

There seems to be one thing that is keeping some of the national prospect evaluators from being as high on Quero as some on this site (including obviously me).

It is not his defense or intangibles. Those garner universal praise. 

It isn't the hit tool. He made it up to high-A during his age-19 season without ever topping a 20% strikeout rate at any level. And it isn't his power, which seems more than adequate for the position.

No, the question involves Quero's approach at the plate, namely if it is too aggressive. And, to be fair, the 2.4% walk rate after his promotion to high-A seems to bear that out.

The thing is, it wasn't always this way. Before getting injured, Quero posted a 14.5% walk rate in the ACL, walking more than he struck out. But each move up the ladder has led to fewer walks.

He has enough going for him that he might be able to become a legitimate starting catcher even with a walk rate closer to 5% than 10%. But to be a true impact player at the position rather than just one of the top 30, the walk rate probably needs to start climbing back closer to double digits, especially since, given how scarce .300 hitters are in general these days, he probably doesn't hit .313 in the big leagues like he did in Wisconsin.

3. ISO, Gregory Barrios

Remember all of those elements about Areinamo's batted ball stats that I praised earlier? What if I were to tell you that there was another Complex League infielder who in many ways mirrored Areinamo? Balanced LD/GB/FB rates? Check. Uses all fields? Check. Where Areinamo was fourth in the ACL in swinging strike rate, he was sixth. And to top it off, he is already one of the steadiest middle infield defenders in the Brewers' system.

He also has yet to get a single point on our most recent prospect poll, and I believe I was highest on him, putting him at No. 38.

So why isn't Gregory Barrios getting more prospect love? It comes down to the fact that if you added his ISOs from his first two seasons of pro ball together, you still wouldn't get to .1. Ultimately, he needs to at least develop doubles power to make a mark in a system that is suddenly flush with lower minor league infielders. If he manages to do that, though, it seems possible that he could be one of the bigger risers in the system this season.

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