Minor League Monday’s: Quick Overview of the Diamondbacks Minor League teams.
By David Coffey
Welcome to the first edition of what we will be calling Minor League Monday’s. Every Monday we will take a quick look at how each of the Diamondback’s Minor League affiliates did during the week and what kind of trajectory they are on for the rest of their seasons. It is said that the Diamondbacks have one of the worst Farm systems in terms of the MLB but looking at how some of the teams are doing that may just be hard to argue. So let’s start at The Triple A level and work our way down the teams.
Minor League Triple A: Reno Aces
Currently, the Reno Aces are sitting at a record of 69-45 with a winning percentage of .570. With this record, they are only one game behind the division leader in the Fresno Grizzlies. With less than a month until the playoffs begin they are still well within a chance at taking the Northern Division of the Pacific League.
Much like their parent team, the Aces have a lot of players that can hit. With most everyday players with an average over .280. Unlike the Diamondbacks however, the starting rotation does not seem to have the same consistency with most starting pitchers. Every one of the Aces pitchers with double digit starts has an ERA over 4.4.
Minor League Double A: Jackson Generals
The Jackson Generals are not having the same success this year as the Aces. They are currently 11 games behind the division leaders. They ended the first half standings five games behind the team that won the first half. Sitting just under .500 at the record of 21-22, their hopes of making the playoffs may just be too far for them to grasp in what is a very strong upper tier to the Southern League North.
None of the batting statistics for the Generals really jumps off the page with only a single player with triple Digit at-bats for the club has a batting average over .300 and that is Kevin Merdano who is playing up with the Aces right now. One plus side for the Generals is that they have a pitcher who is doing outstanding. Ivan Pinyero has started 10 games for the Generals has a 3.11 ERA and an 8-0 record. If this is something that he can maintain in the higher leagues he may make it to the big league sooner rather than later.
Minor League Class A – Advanced: Visalia Rawhide
The Visalia Rawhide are continuing the winning ways set by the Diamondbacks. With a record of 23-21, the team has a one game lead over their closest rival in the California League North Division. They finished the first half of the season with a 36-34 record only three games behind the team that won the first half. With the season ending in just under a month, it can be said that they are surely in the driver’s seat of their own destiny.
Visalia has themselves a pretty good core of players that have not done a lot of moving through the Minor League levels. All of the batters seem to have a bit of trouble with contact with only one player with an average over .300. The pitching, on the other hand, is doing wonders for the team. 3 out of the 4 starters for the team that have started 10+ games have a sub 4.00 ERA and the one pitcher with a higher than 4.00 ERA is at a 4.02.
Minor League Class A: Kane County Cougars
The Kane County Cougars are playing quite well as a Minor League team so far this year. They won the division in the first half of the season securing themselves a spot in the playoffs they are 4th in the division in the second half of the season and 6 games behind the team in first place. The Cougars are 61-49 through out the entire season and have the third best overall record across the Midwest League. So the Cougars may be doing worse in the second half of the season only because they already have a playoff spot.
Throughout the season, a lot of the players have been hitting quite well. Most players have a batting average above or around .250. Not the best slugging percentage so they are hitting more for contact as opposed to hitting for power. The starting pitching has been quite good as well in terms of not giving up a lot of runs. The players that have started more than 10 games almost all have an ERA under a 4.00 ERA as well. Especially in the Minor Leagues, it is clear that starting pitching is very important for the team as a whole.
Minor League Class A – Short Season: Hillsboro Hops
Finally, we have gotten to the Hillsboro Hops. The Hops being the short season players do not have the most amount of time to make themselves known as a team but not only did they win the first half of the season for their division they are currently tied for first place in the second half. So far this season they have a 28-21 record the best in the league by a game.
Four out of the eight everyday players with over 100 at bats have batting averages over .300 so they are hitting incredibly well for a team this far down in the Minor Leagues. The pitching staff is the main flaw with the team. With four starting pitchers getting most of the teams starts you would hope that the players in those positions would be competent, but two of the four have ERA’s over 4.00 one of them is over 7.00.
After looking at all of the non-rookie league teams only one team is not in the playoff hunt. This goes against the common thought that the minor league system is weak. The players themselves may not be the best but the teams are playing well together. Even in the majors, chemistry means just as much if not more than talent so this has me confident that the Diamondbacks will be looking good in years to come.