This is the 6th in the 2015 Pitching staff review series, here’s a review of Auburn/Short-A’s pitching staff for 2015. Other parts of the 2015 series:
- Washington/MLB 2015 review
- Syracuse/AAA 2015 review
- Harrisburg/AA 2015 review
- Potomac/High-A 2015 review
- Hagerstown/Low-A 2015 review
For some historical perspective, here’s 2013’s version (featuring Jake Johanssen), 2012’s version (Brett Mooneyham was the feature pitcher) and 2011’s version (Nathan Karns the feature pitcher) of this post specifically for Auburn/Short-A. Had we done this series in 2014, we likely would have featured Reynaldo Lopez, who had a 0.75 ERA in 7 starts and 36 innings.
All stats are courtesy of either milb.com’s Auburn’s 2015 Stats page or via Fangraph’s Auburn 2015 page. Also useful here are the Big Board and the Nats Draft Tracker since so many of these lower-minors guys are recent draftees.
A caveat before starting this post (and we’ll say this same thing in the GCL post): this is short-season ball, so nobody’s got more than a few dozen innings. So yes this is absolutely going to be some “Small Sample Size” analysis. Which in some cases is unfair to the player (to the good or to the bad). It is what it is.
Auburn Pitching Staff movement throughout the year (* == lefty)
- Opening Day Rotation: Dickey/LTorres, JRodriguez, Fedde, Crownover*, Baez, Mills
- End-of-Season Rotation: Gilbeau*, Borne*, Baez, DeRosier, Hearn*, Crownover*
- End-of-Season spot starts/swingman: Valerio
- End-of-Season bullpen: Mooney, Pirro, Overton, Boghosian, MRivera, Johns, LTorres, Van Vossen
- Mid-Season promotions: LReyes, Bach*, KPerez, DWilliams, Glover, JMorales, Lee, Brinley,Fedde, Peterson, JRodriguez
- up-and-back: Johns, LTorres
- down-and-back: Feliz, Dickey
- demotions: Reynoso*, Mills*, Baez, Gunter
- dl/restricted: Bourque, AMartinez, McDowell, Sylvestri
- cut/released/FAs: Ullman, Webb*, Plouck*
Auburn starters. The rotation started the season with several “tandem” starter pairs, not quite going to a full A/B starter set but getting relatively close. Here’s an overview of the 12 starters used in 2015, starting with the original starters, going all the way to the rehab spot starts.
- Robbie Dickey had two bad starts in Hagerstown before getting dumped back to Auburn in time to get the ball on opening day. From there the jury is kind of out: for the entire year: 6.65 ERA, 16/17 k/bb in 23ip (6 starts). He was incredibly wild and then didn’t pitch after 7/25/15, accumulating just 23 IP on the year. Was he hurt? There was no record of a D/L trip, just an assignment back to XST after a while. All in all, a pretty disappointing season for our 2014 4th round pick. Where does he go from here? Is the team just being too impatient with him, yanking him from Hagerstown after just a few innings? Outlook for Next Season: attempting the Low-A rotation again.
- Jefry Rodriguez bounced between Short-A and Low-A again this season, starting in Hagerstown but pitching most of the year in Auburn. At the end of the season, he led Auburn in both IP and starts. All told; 4-10 with a 5.42 ERA between the two levels. While he maintained a 2-1 K/BB ratio in Short-A, he was nearly 1/1 in Low-A (27/25 K/BB in 42.2 low-A innings). The team likes him as a starter … but this is the 2nd year in a row he’s posted a 6+ ERA in low-A. He’s still young though (he turned 22 mid-season) so I can see him repeating his 2015 season; in the Low-A rotation. If he struggles again though, I think it may be time to move him to the bullpen and look at converting him to a late-innings reliever. He can definitely strike guys out (67 Ks in 68 Short-A innings against college competition), so perhaps there’s a new stage in his career if he can’t figure out starting. Outlook for Next season: Low-A rotation.
- Erick Fedde threw 8 effective starts in Auburn, going 4-1, 2.57 ERA in Short-A Auburn with 36/8 in 35ip (8 starts), 2.60 fip, .346 babip. He then got bumped up to Hagerstown where he finished out the season. See Low-A write-up for more. Outlook for Next season: Low-A rotation to start.
- Matt Crownover went 1-4, 3.81 ERA in Short-A with 34/9 K/BB in 49.2 ip (13 app, 10 starts), 3.40 fip, .301 babip. His whip was decent on the year (1.17), mostly due to his great K/BB ratio (4/1). Nothing bad but nothing mind blowing out of Crownover’s numbers in Short-A. Not a bad return for an under-slot ACC lefty starter. I see him competing for the Low-A rotation; there’s no reason not to keep him moving up as a college draftee from the ACC. Outlook for Next season: Low-A rotation competition, likely in the pen.
- Joan Baez bounced around the system a bit in 2015, getting 5 starts in Auburn to the tune of a 7.13 ERA. See GCL write-up for more.
- McKenzie Mills got hit hard in 4 appearances in Auburn before spending the rest of the season int the GCL. See GCL write-up for more.
- Taylor Guilbeau went 3-3, 3.54 mostly in Short-A after starting briefly in the GCL with 31/9 K/BB in 51 ip (11/10 starts) .2.89 fip, .356 babip. His FIP looks solid based on his competition but he may get bumped to the bullpen to focus on being a lefty reliever thanks to the large number of arms in the system. I put him behind his fellow 2015 draftees Crownover and Hearn in this regard thanks to his senior sign status and low club investment (fairly or otherwise; it is what it is). Outlook for Next season: Low-A rotation competition, likely in the pen.
- Taylor Hearn went 1-5, 3.56 in
Short-A with a 38/13 K/BB in 43ip (10/10 starts), 3.40 fip, .346 babip. Hearn joined his fellow lefty first 10 round starters in the Auburn rotation a couple of weeks into the short season and was completely effective, averaging nearly a K/inning with decent control. He’s done nothing to jeopardize his advancement for 2016 and should compete for a low-A rotation gig. Outlook for Next season: Low-A rotation competition.
- Grant Borne went 1-4, 3.59 in Short-A with 32/7 K/BB in 47.2 ip (15 apps, 5 starts), 2.99 fip, .321 babip. Its amazing how similar Hearn, Crownover, Guilbeau and Borne’s numbers were, each profiling as a command/control lefty starter in Short-A. Outlook for Next season: Low-A rotation competition with the rest of his fellow lefty 2015 draftees.
- Mariano Rivera Jr. got 3 starts before it was clear he needed to be pushed to relief; see the reliever’s section.
- Matthew DeRosier had two bad starts in Auburn before getting dumped back to the GCL; see the Rookie league write-up for more.
- Maximo Valero had 4 appearances and one start in Auburn after a late season promotion: see the GCL write-up for more.
Auburn Relievers: taking a look at the relief corps. We’ll organize relievers by going by IP from most to least. Anyone with less than 10 IP will get cursory analysis at the end.
- Luis Torres was Dickey’s “tandem” starter for a while, getting zero “starts” but pitching mostly longer stints usually on the same schedule as Dickey. We saw this with several others and will treat them as “relievers” for the purposes of this post. Season stats: 5-1, 5.66 ERA, 4.54 fip, 1.37 whip, 22/17 K/BB in 35 innings. Torres got bumped up at season’s end to provide a bit of cover in Low-A but didn’t merit the promotion based on his production. In his age 21 season he showed he still has some work to do and regressed badly from his 2014 production in Short-A. Where does he go from here? I think he’s destined to miss out on the Hagerstown bullpen, spend more time in XST and try Short-A again in 2016. Outlook for Next Season: short-A bullpen.
- Mariano Rivera Jr, went 1-2, 5.45 ERA in Short-A with 26/3 K/BB in 33IP (19 app, 3 starts). 2.70 FIP, .388 babip. Rivera was tried as a starter and quickly failed, getting moved to the pen, where he was much better. Starter ERA: 13.00. Reliever ERA: 2.63. His seasonal ERA isn’t nearly as bad as it looks thanks to some bad luck; his FIP is good and his K/BB rate looks good as well. He profiles like his father; slight, live arm, good stuff as a reliever. I can see him moving up the ladder as a back-of-the-bullpen reliever. Perhaps a disappointment that a 4th round pick was relegated to the bullpen after just three starts … but could be a quick moving arm on a team that clearly needs them. Outlook for Next Season: low-A bullpen/closer.
- Adam Boghosian went 3-0, 4.28 era across 2 levels with 16/18 k/bb in 27ip, 5.59 fip, .162 babip in short-A. Anytime you have more walks than strike-outs, its a bad thing. And he posted a mediocre ERA despite an unbelievably low babip; his numbers are likely even worse with a longer sample size. Another senior sign that may get the axe once full-season rosters get set next spring. Outlook for Next Season: low-A bullpen/release candidate.
- Cody Gunter went 1-0 4.15 ERA, 23/8 K/BB in 21.2 IP for Short-A Auburn, 3.84 fip, .259 babip. Gunter was drafted as a 3B and after two non-descript seasons in Auburn converted to the mound. So far, results look promising; he maintained a K/inning ratio with good control and could be better based on the ERA-FIP delta. I see him getting pushed to the Low-A bullpen in 2016. Outlook for Next Season: low-A bullpen.
- Kevin Mooney, was 1-0, 5.40 ERA in Short-A with a 15/13 K/bb in 21.2 innings, 4.95 fip, .333 babip. Not a great debut for the local kid Mooney, who was last seen blowing both super-regional games that enabled UVA to surprisingly make its way to the CWS (where even more surprisingly they ended up winning). Far, far too many walks given how many punch-outs he had, his FIP was still way up there even given a BABIP not really that out of line. Needs to step it up if he wants a full-season job. Outlook for Next Season: low-A bullpen competition/release candidate.
- Tommy Peterson was 0-0, 2.66 in Auburn with 13/4 K/BB in 20 relief innings, 2.83 fip, .318 babip as part time closer. Not too many innings to judge on here; looks like a good option for the Hagerstown 2016 bullpen. He was one of the few Auburn hurlers from the 2015 class to get the bump up to low-A in 2015. Outlook for Next Season: low-A bullpen competition.
- Connor Overton went 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA (13/5 K/BB in 19.1 IP) after getting cut loose from Miami’s short-A squad and quickly getting snapped up last July. He’s an oddity; a 22-yr old MLFA already making the rounds of the lower minors. He briefly got called up to AAA at season’s end but is currently un-attached. With Washington’s glut of arms, i’m not sure he did enough to make the team think he was worth keeping on for a full-season spot and I think the Richmond product goes elsewhere (Atlee HS in Mechanicsburg and then ODU in Norfolk). Outlook for Next Season: in another organization.
- Sam Johns blitzed short-A (1.42 ERA in 19 innings) after struggling in Hagerstown. See Low-A write-up for more.
- Matt Pirro was 0-0 3.71 ERA across two levels, ending in Short-A. 14/11 k/bb in 17ip, 4.52 fip, .372 babip in short-A. Not great numbers; too many walks, but his ERA/FIP likely the result of a bit of unlucky babip. In a battle to stay employed though going into next year by virtue of his senior sign status. Outlook for Next Season: low-A bullpen/release candidate.
- John Feliz didn’t get a ton of innings in 2015: throwing just 17.1 across both short-season squads. In Auburn he had a 4.38 ERA in 12 innings and didn’t pitch after July 28th (but didn’t go on the D/L). He may have been hurt and just not officially gone on a D/L. More or less a lost season for Feliz, who just turned 22, was an old IFA and has yet to perform outside of complex ball. He may not get too many more chances; I see him getting one more shot at Short-A before getting cut loose. Outlook for Next Season: short-A bullpen/release candidate.
- Ryan Brinley was unhittable in 10 innings in the NY Penn league and was bumped up; see the Low-A write-up for more.
- Other Relievers who had less than 10 IP in 2015
- Jose Morales got blasted in two Low-A starts after three quick relief appearances (8ip total) in Auburn, then spent the rest of the year on the D/L. See Low-A write-up for more.
- Andrew Lee struck out 12 guys in 8 innings in the NY Penn and was bumped up. See Low-A write-up for more.
- Koda Glover struck out 11 guys in 6 innings in the NY Penn and was bumped up. See Low-A write-up for more.
- Mick VanVossen spent most of the season in the GCL; see rookie league write-up for more.
- Cole Plouck got sent to Auburn, had two appearances in 10 days, gave up just 2 hits and one run in 5 innings … and then was released. He had decent 2014 numbers in the GCL; this one is curious to me. I guess the team saw all they needed to see in XST. Outlook for Next Season: out of baseball.
- Joey Webb was released 6/25/15, losing out in the numbers game when the 2015 short-season college draftees started flowing in. He, like Plouck, clearly were not impressive enough during XST to merit any further consideration after run-of-the-mill 2014 seasons. Outlook for Next Season: out of baseball.
- Yorlin Reynoso pitched one game in the first week of the season, walked 6 guys and got demoted to the GCL. See Rookie write-up for more.
- Ryan Ullmann got stuck in XST to start the season, hooked up with Hagerstown 5 weeks into the season, got hit hard, was dumped to Auburn, had one appearance and then was summarily released. Quite a quick downturn of events for Ullmann, who was always going to be a long shot (30th rounder out of a small school). Outlook for Next season: out of baseball.
- David Ramos threw 2.1 innings of rehab ball for Auburn before returning to Hagerstown: see low-A write-up for more.
- Two guys (James Bourque, Anderson Martinez) both spent the whole season on the D/L; both are starters who should compete for spots in 2016 after the lost season. Outlook for Next Season: Short-A rotation competition.
- Another two guys (Chase McDowell, Michael Sylvestri) were put on the “restricted list” at some point in 2015, usually indicating voluntary retirement. Outlook for Next season: out of baseball.
Auburn was not a good team this year; they were 35-58. And a lot of that was due to the “brain drain” of the pitching staff; inside of a short season 11 guys got bumped up and beyond. Some of them quickly dominated Short-A and earned their promotion, others trickled up as the season moved on. In the end, the staff was anchored by a quartet of college lefty 2015 draftees with strikingly similar numbers, and it should be interesting to see how this group performs moving forward.