• Jul

    New data may improve prospect evaluations

    Looking at Ground ball/Linedrive Rates


    Don’t look now, but 19-year old Billy Rowell is batting .286 with a .796 OPS in 21 games so far this July.  His highest OPS for a month this year so far was .706 in May. His 13.7% BB rate this month is the best he’s had since the 14% he put up in rookie ball at Bluefield.


    Despite Rowell’s improvements this month, there are still some concerns. His groundball percentage is still at 62% - matching his season average, and his line drive percentage is at 12%. Before this season, Rowell’s worse groundball percentage was 52% (Delmarva) which suggests he’s not making good consistent contact this year.


    This brings up some interesting fairly new data that is now available on minor league hitters – groundball and line drive percentages. After doing some analysis, good hitters generally will have a ground ball percentage under 50% and an 18% or higher line drive percentage. For comparison sake, Brian Roberts has a 35% groundball rate and a 24% line drive rate and Nick Markakis has 44%/21% rate this year in the majors. In the minors, Matt Wieters had a 51%-16% mark at Frederick and a 42%-18% rate at Bowie currently. It’s not surprising that he hits much better away from Frederick and Bowie since they are two of the tougher ball parks to hit in. The 22-year old super prospect has put up much more impressive 29%-21% ratio away from Prince George’s Stadium and a 50%-23% away from Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick.


    By the way, Rowell has put up a 61% ground ball rate away from Harry Grove, but has a much more impressive line drive rate of 16% compared to just 7% at home.


    Although more research needs to be done in this area, ground ball % and line drive % are two new numbers to be considered when doing statistical analysis of players. When I scout players I’m looking to see if batters are squaring the ball on the barrel of the bat. In other words, are they hitting the ball hard consistently? Before this data was available, it was darn near impossible to know if a player does it consistently without taking other scouts and coaches subjective opinions along with doing statistical analysis on things like the amount of doubles and home runs a player hits.


    Home runs can be deceiving because ball park factors and mistake pitches by minor league pitchers need to be taken into consideration. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that a player who consistently hits line drives and keeps the ball off the ground will generally have more success then ones that don’t.


    It’s my opinion that you can take these stats along with strikeout and walk percentages, age, league, and ballpark factors and have a pretty good statistical argument to back up my own human scouting reports.


    Obviously you can not and should not use these numbers in a vacuum, but they are one more tool that should allow professional and amateur player evaluators to have a better well rounded opinions of an upcoming hitting prospect.


    Reimold in Left Field


    Nolan Reimold started in left field for the first time this season for Bowie and not surprisingly, misplayed a ball that went over his for a double. With Nick Markakis entrenched in right field, I could never understand why Reimold was not seeing more time in left field this season.


    It takes time to learn how the ball comes off the bat in the different outfield positions so to me, it only made sense to get Reimold some experience in left field.

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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.