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Notable Numbers

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In putting together some of the offseason prospect write-ups I came across a number of interesting numbers that didn't make it in elsewhere. Here are a few of those, highlighting a couple of guys who might otherwise not get much attention.

62% - TJ McFarland's GB-rate last year in 137+ innings of action at AA Akron, good enough for the Eastern League lead in the category among qualifying pitchers. And actually, aside for a few journeyman minor-league vets, right near the top of the list for qualifying full-season minor league pitchers in general. He put up the same number a year ago in Kinston, so McFarland's figure this year was not anomalous. For such an extreme groundball pitcher, McFarland's K-rate (16.9% in A+, 17.5% in AA) is not bad, but he would certainly benefit from some improvement in his control (8.5% last year) which isn't bad, but given his style of pitching could be better. I can't get the numbers, but I would be interested in what kind of double-play rate McFarland experienced with Akron last year. McFarland had what was probably a decent defense behind him most of the time in Akron last year (particularly Kyle Bellows at 3B, but also Juan Diaz at SS and Karexon Sanchez/Cristo Arnal at 2B), so his overall performance probably benefited, but he still might be something of a sleeper to watch this season given his age and experience.

17.6% - Roberto Perez's BB-rate in Kinston, also good enough for the league lead among qualifying hitters. In Lake County in 2010, Perez put up a similar 17.2% BB-rate. Overall, Perez is not a good hitter. While he might take a lot of walks, his plate discipline is still undercut by a too high K-rate (22.4% last year) given his poor outcome on balls in play (.084 ISO last year, .225 BA despite a .304 BABIP, 54% groundballs). Nevertheless, fresh after being labeled the system's best defensive catcher by BA, Perez seems like a prototypical backup catcher. I am a little surprised we don't hear more about him and/or see the Indians handle his development a little more aggressively. He is currently taking part in the Indians winter development program in Cleveland, so maybe this is the year we see and hear more from him.

21% - LeVon Washington's listed line-drive percentage last year with Lake County, good for second in the Midwest League among qualified batters. I have no idea how good the ball-in-play scoring is across the minors, but this (along with Wash's 14.0% BB-rate) might be one of the few encouraging numbers from an otherwise dreadful debut season for the 2010 pick. Back of the envelope calculations suggest that given his LD%, LeVon got pretty unlucky on his balls-in-play, with a BABIP of .298 (compared to the other guys on the leaderboard, with BABIPs between .331 and .408).

30.4% - The K% for Toru (or Tooru) Murata in Kinston last season. Murata, 26, signed as a free-agent out of Japan last offseason (Tony has a nice writeup of this at IPI), so this was his debut season with the organization. Murata is too old to be a prospect in the traditional sense, but was a former high profile prospect in Japan. His strikeout numbers last year far exceeded anything he had put up in Japan and may reflect his mastery over the level of competition, but could also suggest the benefit of adjustments from the Indians staff. He also put up a near 6:1 KK/B ratio, a number that moved upward as the season went on. I would suspect the Indians will be more aggressive with Murata's placement and usage this season and could be another sleeper pitching prospect.

.365/34/6 - The on-base percentage, SB and CS for Kinston centerfielder, Tyler Holt. Holt, like Perez, was recognized by BA for his defensive prowess, earning the "best defensive outfielder" label in the recent Indians overview piece. Holt might be the best of the Indians speedy, no-pop centerfielders (e.g. Jordan Henry, Delvi Cid, Ezequiel Carrera). In his brief 2010 debut with Lake County he was able to use his speed to rack up decent power (.171 ISO) with 8 2Bs and 2 3Bs in just 89 plate appearances. Last year, in a full season of play he only managed 18 doubles, four triples and two homeruns. If he can improve those numbers a little, his defense, on-base abilities and speed might make him a guy worth watching.