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John Dewan's Stat of the Week

Stat of the Week: Minor League Hitting and Fielding Leaders

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The minor league regular season concluded not so long ago, so to review the season and prepare you with names to watch this September or next Spring Training, let's take a look at some of the top performers with the bat and with the glove.

All players below are at most in their age-25 season, reached at least Double-A in 2019, and played at least 400 innings (except pitchers).

MiLB Defensive Runs Saved Leaders by Position
Age 25 or younger, min. 400 innings

Player Org Pos Age Highest Lvl DRS
Arnaldo Hernandez Royals P 23 AAA 6
Luis Torrens Padres C 23 AA 11
Evan White Mariners 1B 23 AA 3
Danny Mendick White Sox 2B 25 MLB 3
Edwin Diaz Athletics 3B 23 AAA 6
Edwin Diaz Athletics SS 23 AA 3
Conner Capel Cardinals LF 22 AAA 10
Jacob Meyers Astros CF 23 AA 11
Cody Thomas Dodgers RF 24 AA 7

There are a couple of names on this list that might be recognizable (even excluding Oakland farmhand Edwin Diaz, who is not to be confused with the Mets closer).

Luis Torrens played a partial season with San Diego in 2017 after being a Rule 5 selection, coming up straight from A ball. He cost the Padres 8 runs in 51 games that season, but was the best at his position in the minors this year.

Danny Mendick just hit his first major league home run over the weekend after a late-season call-up, and is coming off two above-average hitting seasons at Double-A and Triple-A.

We would be remiss not to return to Diaz, who topped two positions on this list. He was one of three players in the minor leagues to save at least one run in Range and Positioning, Double Plays, and Good Plays / Misplays. And remember, this is on a major league scale, so that's above-average major league performance in each.

A name that's worth mentioning who didn't make the list is Braves top prospect Cristian Pache, who saved nine runs in right field across two levels in under 200 innings.

Hitting Leaders by Synthetic Statcast

What about the hitters?

We can use Synthetic Statcast, Sports Info Solutions' model that takes batted ball characteristics and models Statcast-like metrics, to take a look. Who were the hardest hitters in 2019?

MiLB Synthetic Statcast Average Exit Velocity Leaders
Age 25 or younger, min. 200 balls in play

Player Org Age Highest Lvl Avg Exit Velo (mph)
Jared Walsh Angels 25 MLB 92.1
Edwin Rios Dodgers 25 MLB 91.1
Ty France Padres 24 MLB 90.9
Roberto Ramos Rockies 24 AAA 90.4
Bobby Bradley Indians 23 MLB 90.2
Travis Demeritte Tigers* 24 MLB 90.0
Kyle Lewis Mariners 23 MLB 90.0
Sheldon Neuse Athletics 24 MLB 89.9
Taylor Jones Astros 25 AAA 89.9
Jason Vosler Padres 25 AAA 89.5

* Acquired from ATL in July; his MiLB stats came before the trade

This list has both metaphorical and literal heavy hitters. There are multiple first round picks, recent call-ups, and notable performers.

Jared Walsh tops the list in a season in which he slugged .686 in Triple-A while also pitching 13 innings. He's no Shohei Ohtani on the mound, but it's an interesting pair to have on the same roster. And he also just hit his first major league homer.

Ty France was in line for playing time at third base in San Diego before the Manny Machado signing, and he took the missed opportunity out on the Pacific Coast League, hitting .399 with 27 home runs.

Sheldon Neuse is one of Oakland's top ten prospects per Fangraphs, and hit .317/.389/.550 in Triple-A while also playing four different positions (2B/3B/SS/LF), costing his team runs at none of them.

If the minimum were dropped to 100 balls in play, the list would also include names like Yordan Alvarez of the Astros, Will Smith of the Dodgers, and Austin Riley of the Braves. Their sample sizes were lower because they were busy hitting the ball hard in the majors.

For more baseball content, check out the Sports Info Solutions Blog or the SIS Baseball Podcast.

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