While the minor league baseball season is only a month in, and we need to be rather wary of the sample size at hand, there are still some things that are worth looking at. There is always the chance that someone is simply hot or cold, walk rates, strikeout rates for both hitters and pitchers, as well as power output for hitters are things that are a little less fluky. With a month under the belt for most of the minor leaguers, I wanted to look at several guys on each side of the ball who have made some changes in their peripheral stats for the 2014 season when comparing them to the 2013 season.
Tanner Rahier (3B)
In the 2013 season, the third baseman hit just .222/.252/.320 for the Dayton Dragons with 12 walks and 81 strikeouts in 437 plate appearances. So far in the 2014 season with Dayton he has hit .277/.324/.436 with six walks and 12 strikeouts in 112 plate appearances. The now 20-year-old former second round draft pick has taken his walk rate from an abysmal 2.7% and doubled it to 5.4% this season. His strikeout rate has gone from 18.5% to a very impressive 10.7%. Finally we have seen his isolated power (SLG-AVG) go from .098 to .159. In talking with him prior to the season, he mentioned that he was going to try and be less aggressive at the plate. So far that plan has worked well as he has improved across the board.
Donald Lutz (OF)
After hitting .242 and .245 in his previous two trips through Pensacola, the left handed hitter is hitting a robust .387/.439/.733 in 82 plate appearances. His walk rate is the same as it has been in the past, but his strikeout rate has dropped from 22% to 17%. That is a step in the right direction, but the biggest change is the power output. His isolated power has gone from .179 to .346, nearly doubling the total from the year before. Known to have some of the best power potential in the system, he has tapped into it early and often this season.
Juan Silverio (3B)
Juan Silverio spent most of his 2013 season with the Bakersfield Blaze, though he did get three at-bats for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Combined he would hit .287/.305/.474 in 534 plate appearances where he walked just 11 times and struck out 109 times. That was good for a 2.1% walk rate and a 20.4% strikeout rate. He has spent the first month in the Pensacola in 2014 and has raised his walk rate to 6.2% while keeping his strikeout rate the same. His power output has remained similar as well, but seeing Silverio with a respectable walk rate is a big step in the right direction for a player with a career walk rate of just over 4%.
Nick Travieso (SP)
The right handed pitcher had 27 walks and 61 strikeouts last season as he faced 348 hitters. His 7.8% walk rate was pretty good, though his 17.5% strikeout rate was merely average for the league. Prior to his start on Monday night (this article was written Monday afternoon), Travieso had more than cut his walk rate in half to an elite rate of 3.6% and raised his strikeout rate to 20.4%. Another improvement has come in the rate at which he is generating groundballs, going from just a 39% groundball rate last season to a 52% groundball rate in 2014. As I wrote earlier in April, his stuff has also taken a step forward.
Sal Romano (SP)
Like Travieso, Sal Romano is back in Dayton for a second season. Both players are just 20-years-old though, so they are still young for the level. In the 2013 season the big right hander had a 10.6% walk rate to go along with a 16.6% strikeout rate. The 2014 version of Romano has dropped the walk rate down to 7.4% while also bumping up the strikeout rate to 20.6% on the season. Those changes have resulted in a 3.00 ERA in 33.0 innings so far.
Michael Lorenzen (SP)
Last season the supplemental first rounder was working out of the bullpen at four different levels. Over 21.0 innings Lorenzen walked 13.7% of the batters he faced while striking out 20%. Moved to a starter for 2014 and placed at the Double-A level at that, the 21-year-old has almost cut his walk rate in half, currently sitting at 7.9%. His strikeout rate has dropped off some, down to 16.7%. Still, given the advanced placement in an entirely new role for a pitcher who has already thrown more innings as a professional than he did as a college player, it’s been impressive. He has also boosted his groundball rate, from 50% last season in the bullpen, to an incredible 61% in 2014 out of the rotation.