Welcome back “Under the Radar” readers to the 5th season of our endeavor to unearth those players who are hustling in the low minors to reach the ultimate goal of being named MLBDC “UTR of the Week” er’ I mean …reaching the 25-man roster. While I was compiling my notes for the off-season, I realized that I would soon be preparing for our 5th season with MLBDC. Just like any milestone, one usually reflects about the past, and this was no different as I found myself looking back at past UTR choices and lists. At the end of every season, I always review to see how my pre-season picks fared throughout the season and the outcome was not what I had hoped. Going back further, the results were somewhat balanced, but I was shocked of the number pitchers on my earlier lists that have yet cracked MLB roster. I know the prediction business isn’t an exact science, just ask a meteorologist, but there has to be a better way.
A lot has happened at MLBDC since the last pitch of the 2012 season, the partnership with Baseball Prospectus looms the largest to me. To make improvements in the business of tracking minor league pitchers, I knew that I needed to make a major change in the mindset of choosing my breakouts for the 2013 season. Also knowing that a whole new set of savvy baseball readers from BP could be critiquing my picks, I set out to create a complex stat formula to enhance my current “Total Performance Score” ranking system. I was shocked with the initial results after completing a few NL teams and then stunned of the ease of making the breakout picks for this season. My “new” system has possibly taken the guesswork out of the equation and I am standing firm on the fact that my picks rose to the top, based on my formula. Granted, it’s a work in progress and the odds are that I’ll be writing a few years about instituting further improvements to the process. But I do feel more confident and energized of the pitchers that I selected for this season will have success this season. As not to wish the season away, but I can’t wait to see the final results in October.
If your new to the Under the Radar feature, Marc Hefferan and I look for those minors below AAA level, with a criteria of being drafted below the 5th round and ranked lower than 10th with Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. In reality, we really like looking much deeper in an attempt to bring those players into the forefront before anybody begins to take notice. For example, Marc locked onto Brandon Belt (Hi-A 2010) and Adam Eaton (Hi-A 2011) and I hit on Wily Peralta (Lo-A 2009) and Tony Cingrani (Pioneer League 2011), to name a few. Check out the archives of our past choices.
This season I selected two breakouts for each team, one that projects as a starter and another that could carve out a career in bullpen. I also included each pitchers TPS ranking score. The lower the score indicates a high ranking. Tops on my list of starters were Nathan Karns (WASH), who had a TPS of .061 and relief pitcher Michael Wacha (STL) rated out with a .044. This gives you a benchmark for comparison.
So let’s get the 2013 season started with the NL East……..