High-A Leader Boards: The Hitters by Marc Hulet July 22, 2009 This week we’re taking a look at some of the leader boards in double-A and high-A ball. Today, we’ll take a look at the leaders in Isolated Power (ISO) and wOBA (For an explanation on this stat, check out HERE) among the three high-A leagues: the California League, the Carolina League and the Florida State League. I want to add a caution with this league, though. The California League, is an extreme hitter’s league, so many of the numbers are inflated. The Carolina League is also an above-average hitter’s league, although not as potent as the Cal League. The Florida State League is widely considered a pitcher’s league, so the offensive numbers will not be as gaudy. The California League Isolated Power (ISO) .366- Jonathan Gaston | OF | Houston Gaston has absolutely exploded this season, thanks in part to the launching pad that is Lancaster (and the league in general). The strikeout rate is worrisome (28.2 K%) but the left-handed hitter is also walking at a respectable rate (12.3 BB%). Gaston, 22, has an intriguing mix of power (27 HR) and speed (12 SB, 13 3B). He was barely a blip on the radar entering the 2009 season. .300- Joseph Dunigan | 1B/OF | Seattle If you need proof of the power of the California League, look no further than Dunigan. He had a batting average of .231 in short-season ball in 2007, and .240 in low-A ball last year. This season the 23-year-old is hitting .303 and has hit more homers (22) than he did in his first two seasons combined (18) and in half the at-bats. On the plus side, his walk rate has improved, while the strikeout rate dropped from 32.5 in 2008 to 27.8 K% this season. .279- Alex Liddi | 3b | Seattle Liddi could not even hit .250 in his past two full seasons in low-A ball. A move to high-A ball, though, has seen his average jump from .244 to .352 (a difference of .108). His ISO also increased from .116 to .279. A raw player when he signed, Liddi is still only 20 years old, so some of his improvement is probably for real, but he’s not THIS good. Double-A will be a real test for him, especially with a walk rate of 7.8 BB%. wOBA .459- Thomas Neal | OF | San Francisco Along with Gaston, Neal is one of the biggest legitimate breakout candidates in the California League. The 21-year-old outfielder spent the 2008 season rounding back into shape after missing almost all of 2007 with a shoulder injury. His power and batting average have certainly received a boost from the league, but Neal has good plate discipline for his age (10.3 BB%, 19.6 K%) and he had good power numbers in the South Atlantic League last season. .456- Jonathan Gaston | OF | Houston See above. .442- Logan Forsythe | 3B | San Diego James Darnell has received a lot of attention for his strong offensive season. However, Forsythe was drafted in the same year and has had a very nice offensive season as well – and one level higher than Darnell. After a strong first half in the Cal League, Forsythe, 22, was promoted to double-A (thus making room for Darnell in Lake Elsinore’s lineup) and he’s continued to hit above .300 with a .160 ISO and a .400 wOBA in 22 games. The Carolina League Isolated Power (ISO) .284- Cody Johnson | 1B/OF | Atlanta Baseball players don’t come much stronger than Johnson, but the 20-year-old has significant holes in his swing. As a result, despite massive power numbers, career strikeout rate of 37% is a huge red flag for this future quad-A slugger. .239- Pedro Alvarez | 3B | Pittsburgh Alvarez has received a lot of attention for his low batting average, high strikeout totals and lack of conditioning, but despite everything that’s gone wrong with his season, he’s still hitting for impressive power. The 22-year-old former first-round pick received a surprise promotion to double-A recently and he is currently hitting .280 in 22 games. His power has also remained strong, although his walk rate of 5.7% and his strikeout of 34.1% suggest his numbers are set to nosedive. .232- Brandon Waring | 3B | Baltimore Obtained last season (along with Justin Turner) from Cincinnati in the Ramon Hernandez trade, Waring is a power-hitting third baseman who will likely struggle to hit for average in the Majors (and possibly triple-A). He’s actually done a nice job to trim his strikeout rate from an average of 33% in his first two seasons to 25.6% in 2009 at high-A ball. wOBA .423- Kris Watts | C | Pittsburgh Wow, a catcher with a wOBA of .423! But don’t get too excited. Watts is playing in high-A ball at the age of 25, and it’s his second straight season at the level. You also have to like his BB/K rate of 1.55. .396- Cody Johnson | 1B/OF | Atlanta See above. .388- Lonnie Chisenhall | 3B | Cleveland Chisenhall got off to a scorching start in April and May before fizzling in June (although his power remained consistent). He’s begun picking things up again and he’s still having a well-above-average offensive season, despite the off month. A little more patience at the plate (8.8 K%) could help him take his game to the next level. The Florida State League Isolated Power (ISO) .218- Dominic Brown | OF | Philadelphia One of the names that might get dangled in a potential Roy Halladay trade, Brown is a dynamic young outfielder whose season was slowed by an injury. Despite that, he is showing increased (and somewhat unexpected) power potential in a league where it’s tough to hit for power. Brown also has the ability to steal 30 bases and play above-average defense. .199- Chris Parmelee | OF/1B | Minnesota A former first-round pick, Parmelee has moved slowly and quietly through the Minnesota organization. The left-handed hitter is already four years into his pro career, but he’s still just 21 years old. After struggling to hit above .240 in the past two seasons, Parmelee is up to .261 in 2009 while showing good power – and he’s trimmed his strikeout rate by 10% to 25.4%. .198- Ike Davis | OF/1B | New York NL Davis got off to a brutal start to his pro career in 2008 after being a first round draft pick. Last season he hit zero homers in 215 short-season at-bats and had an ISO of just .070. This season, though, he’s hit seven homers in high-A and another five since his promotion to double-A (27 games). It remains to be seen how well he’ll hit for average. wOBA .410- Dominic Brown | OF | Philadelphia See above. .404- Darin Mastroianni | OF/2B | Toronto Mastroianni had a terrible first full season in low-A in 2008 as he struggled to receive playing time behind some of the Jays’ top high school draft picks from the 2007 draft. He even moved to centerfield at one point, from his natural second base position. The speedster has blossomed this season and looks like a potential big-league utility player in the Ryan Freel mold. Mastroianni stole 32 bases in 39 attempts, before moving up to double-A, where he’s nabbed 13 bags in 14 tries. .390- Cody Cipriano | 2B | Tampa Bay Cipriano’s career has actually paralleled Mastroianni’s almost eerily. However, the Rays prospect doesn’t have the Toronto farmhand’s speed. Cipriano does, though, have a little more strength, although it’s gap power so he looks like a future utility player.