MiLB Player & Pitcher of the Week: August 28 – September 3

Looking at the best MiLB performances in the month of August 2022.

With 120 teams and 5,000+ players spread through four levels (not to mention the Dominican Summer League and the renamed Complex leagues in Arizona and Florida), keeping up with minor league performances can be difficult. If you wait until end-of-season wrap-ups, a breakout prospect may no longer be available. You can scout stat lines all year, but that can be tedious, and it’s difficult to keep an eye on every tweet of a new highlight. But fear not, intrepid dynasty league manager: Welcome to Pitcher List’s MiLB Player and Pitcher of the Week!

This is a weekly column where I’ll select one hitter and one pitcher who performed outstandingly in the prior week. Not only will you get a name, but also we’ll dive into what powered their results and where their future value stands.

 

Player of the Week: 1B Blaine Crim, TEX, AA

Stats: (6 games) 14-28, 5 HR, 2 double, 11 RBI, 9 runs

I was hesitant to include Crim as at first glance, his good profile seemed rather generic: 1B only power bat with little to offer in any other category. But if hitting .500 with 5 HRs in a week doesn’t qualify for at least an honorable mention, what am I even doing?

So I looked deeper: 2019 & 2021 looked nice but I assumed that was just an older college bat abusing younger, inexperienced pitchers. Except in both years (what would be considered Low A now in 2019 and High A last year), Crim hit exceptionally well against older pitchers: 1.016 OPS and .906 respectively.

Hmmm. Well surely he’s a TTO guy, I’m sure he’ll have a K rate well over 25% and an astronomical FB percentage, right?

Nope, in fact his highest numbers came last year: 24% K rate and 39% FB. This season, he’s continued the trend with a 16% K rate (11% SwStr) and a 36.4% FB. Crim has even increased last year’s walk rate from 4.7% to 9%. That’s a lot of stats but what’s it all mean? Crim is a good target for prospect depth as you move into the offseason. He’s blocked by Nathaniel Lowe but he could find time at DH or, if left unprotected, find his way to more stable playing time through the Rule 5 draft.

 

Honorable Mention: C Endy Rodriguez, PIT, AA 

Stats: (6 games) 7-20, 3 HR, 2 doubles, 8 RBI, 6 runs

Rodriguez might actually be the most fascinating Pirates prospect not named Oneil Cruz. Acquired from the Mets as part of the Joe Musgrove three-team deal, Rodriguez put up exit velocities that raise eyebrows along with showing off a plus arm in Low A Bradenton last year. He was assigned to High A in 2022, where he hit his first major speed bump since moving to Pittsburgh’s farm system, putting up a 31% K rate in April among other struggles. May saw him turn things around and since then he’s continued hitting everything hard. Rodriguez finished the level with 16 HRs, a .242 ISO, and an OPS over .900 and K rate brought back down to a very normal 21%.

Oh, did I forget to mention he’s a switch hitter?! And has the athleticism and build to play 2B, 3B, and LF? Since early August, he’s been thumping pitchers throughout the AA Eastern League, no easy feat given both talent and park factors, and now he sits poised to make an MLB debut in 2023. With Cruz and Rodriguez hitting rockets into the seats, Pirates fans might need to start bringing hard hats to watch batting practice at PNC Park pretty soon.

 

Pitcher of the Week: SP Carlos Rodriguez, MIL, High A 

Stats: (2 starts) 12 IP, 1 ER, 3 hits, 1 BB, 16 Ks

I love seeing late season pop up arms, it gives you some last minute potential roster churn in dynasty while drawing your eye to possible names to know for next year in redrafts. In the case of Rodriguez, his value is much heavier on the dynasty side as he’s just finishing his first pro season at age 20.

That said, what a season. Split between both levels of A ball, Rodriguez showed strikeout ability at the low level while improving in K-BB and FIP at the next level.

Now if you’re a frequent reader of this column, you know that I pride myself on assembling a GIF or two to illustrate a player’s ability (after all, that’s how this site got its start!). But when MLB Pipeline does the legwork, who am I not to utilize it?

Not only has Rodriguez improved his topline peripherals, he’s shown positive change in a couple of areas that often gets overlooked. LOB% (also known as strand rate) is a good barometer of run prevention: Too low and it points to a pitcher that can’t keep baserunners from scoring; too high, the pitcher is walking an unsustainable high wire act susceptible to blow up at any time.

For Rodriguez, he finished Low A with an LOB% of 72.5% (MLB average is 73%). In his 31 innings at High A Wisconsin, the strand rate is sitting at a healthy 83%. Add in a significant reduction of wild pitches and hit batters and suddenly Rodriguez looks like a pitcher maturing rapidly in real time. He should get at least one more start to finish the season, I’ll definitely be tuning in.

 

Honorable Mention: SP Chase Silseth, LAA, AA

Stats: (2 start) 13 IP, 2 ER, 2 hits, 2 BB, 21 Ks

So this one is sort of cheating as Silseth already made his MLB debut earlier in the year but his story is such an interesting one. He gets drafted in 2021 in the 11th round but gets the call after 75 pro innings pitched, almost exclusively at the AA level. And then after making seven big league starts, he’s back with Rocket City, now headlining a combined no-hitter.

While I doubt most evaluators trust the Angels’ development process of selecting pitchers, giving them aggressive assignments and bumping them to the majors ASAP, Silseth still looks like a viable arm in need of continued seasoning. A minor league coach helped Reid Detmers over the hump, maybe he can do the same for Silseth.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

LaMar Gibson

A lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan that still hasn't forgiven Jeffrey Maier, Tony Fernandez, the 2014 Royals, or Edwin Encarnacion...and has no interest in doing so in the foreseeable future. You can read more of LaMar's thoughts by subscribing to his free monthly newsletter, Inside Fastball, for all things prospects.

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