Posted by Steve
I’m on a posting kick, so why not rip off another one? Now I know how Michael Jordan felt when he was “in the zone.”
I saw in the JS that Mat Gamel was 5-5 yesterday, which is what motivated me to make this post. Three minor leaguers right now, who in my opinion are the Brewers’ top three prospects, are really playing well as of late.
Gamel has been a dominating offensive player all season for Huntsville. His current line is Chipper Jones-esque: .379/.442/.636 for a gaudy 1.078. Unfortunately, his defense does not appear to be improving, as he has 22 errors already at third base. Errors are far from a good metric for defense, but it’s all that’s readily available for minor league stats.
LaPorta’s is currently hitting .294/.406/.592 for a .999 OPS. What a bum, dropping below 1.000. Actually, the encouraging thing about LaPorta is that he has a huge OBP with a fairly sustainable .294 average. Gamel’s .442 OBP is pretty inflated by an unsustainably high batting average.
Both Gamel and LaPorta are putting up great numbers in a tough league, and both profile to be above-average hitters in the big leagues. It’s hard to say which hitter is more valuable; LaPorta seems to have more power while Gamel hits for a better average. Gamel is lefty and LaPorta is righty, which would seem to favor Gamel, but LaPorta is doing pretty well defensively in left while Gamel is still struggling at third. Unfortunately, we may find out pretty quickly which player the Brewers value more, as the Crew is rumored to be shopping for a frontline MLB pitcher. Hopefully any deal they make will not include Gamel, LaPorta or the next player I’m highlighting, Jeremy Jeffress.
Jeffress is picking up where he left off before his suspensions. In 47.2 innings this season, he has a 4.34 ERA, 1.2 WHIP, 65 strikeouts and 18 walks. As indicated by the insane strikeout totals, Jeffress is still overpowering hitters with his crazy velocity. At least as encouraging is his relatively low walk totals. 3.6 K/BB is a very nice ratio.
It sounds bad, but the suspension could actually turn out to be a good thing in the long run for Jeffress if he pans out. The window for pitching injuries is much bigger for an 18 or 19 year old pitcher (just ask Mark Rogers, who was recently shut down AGAIN with shoulder trouble), when the player is still growing. The older young pitchers get, the lower the risk of serious injury. It’s why high school pitchers are so much riskier than college pitchers in the draft. Anyway, with Jeffress sitting out for about a year, you could argue that he was at least resting his arm and staying healthy. He has an unlimited ceiling if he can get everything together off the field.