I meant to do this earlier when the call-ups were first announced, but I got sidetracked. If you’re wondering how some of our minor league player’s performances might translate to the majors, this post is for you.
Note: Translations are NOT a guarantee of performance nor are they a prediction of what a player will do, but they are a translation of what a player has done. They do have predictive value and they let us sort out some things in the move from the minor leagues to the major leagues.
I’m using Dan Szymborski’s zMLE worksheets which you can download for free at BBTF. They are a handy tool to keep stashed away in your analytical toolbox.
The Giants’ September call-ups are as follows: 1B/3B Scott McClain, C Steve Holm, OF Nate Schierholtz, 1B/OF John Bowker, RHP Brad Hennessey, LHP Pat Misch, LHP Geno Espineli.
Name League BA OBP SLG OPS Scott McClain AAA PCL 0.300 0.388 0.553 0.941 Scott McClain NL 0.289 0.358 0.484 0.842
McClain is your typical 36-year-old AAAA slugger that never got a shot in the majors. He has 5,878 career AB’s in the minors to go along with 287 career U.S. Minor League home runs. He hit an additional 71 in Japan during a few years with the Seibu Lions. His translation is pretty favorable, he lost about 100 points of OPS coming from Fresno but if he was on the current Giants team with an 842 OPS, he would be the best hitter by a fair margin. That’s among players with at least 250 PA’s or more, so Pablo Sandoval’s hot start doesn’t qualify him for the lead. Randy Winn is leading the team in OPS at the moment with a score of .796, meaning that no Giant has an OPS of .800 or greater. He’s probably an average, at best, defender at 1B/3B. Lefty Malo notes that he could see McClain taking on a Aurilia-type role on next year’s team. I like it, he could platoon against LHP, the same thing that Aurilia has been doing, and get time at 1B/3B. McClain probably has some value in a right-now sense, but the Giants haven’t used him much and I think it might be a stretch to see him on the team next year.
Name League BA OBP SLG OPS Steve Holm AAA PCL 0.273 0.367 0.333 0.700 Steve Holm NL 0.273 0.347 0.333 0.680
Small sample size warning: Holm’s translation is based on only 70-some AB’s at Fresno. The translation is similar because Holm wasn’t doing much other than hitting singles and walking in his brief time in Fresno. Both his AAA line and his translation are pretty close to what he did in his first go-around in the MLB. He hit .256/.351/.390 in 80 AB’s earlier this year. Holm shouldn’t play a role in any future Giants team unless injuries strike.
Name League BA OBP SLG OPS Nate Schierholtz AAA PCL 0.320 0.363 0.594 0.957 Nate Schierholtz NL 0.303 0.336 0.506 0.842
Nate seems to be having his usual year in Fresno and his translation is also favorable. The Giants would be thrilled to have a .842 OPS bat in their OF but will Nate get his chance? Randy Winn has played well this year and despite all he brings to the table, the Giants might do well to try and trade him this winter. LF and CF are locked down with Lewis and Rowand and until either Randy Winn or Dave Roberts is traded, Nate doesn’t really have a place on the current Giants roster. It is amazing that he’s been sitting in AAA for 2-years in a row now for a team that’s desperately needed hitting. Whether or not he’ll hit in the majors — his power never showed up last year in 112 AB’s — could still be a question, but the Giants should do their best to find playing time for Schierholtz. A trade of Roberts or Winn would be a step in that direction.
Name League BA OBP SLG OPS John Bowker AAA PCL 0.237 0.304 0.355 0.659 John Bowker NL 0.226 0.273 0.312 0.585
Another small sample alert, Bowker has only grabbed 93 AB’s this year in AAA. Bowker hit .246/.295/.395 in 301 AB’s this year in the majors. Bowker started April in AAA and only had 27 AB’s before the Giants called him up. He started off hot but cooled down considerably in July and August and was sent back to Fresno. I like his swing but his plate approach needs work. I keep flip-flopping on his ultimate upside, rotating between 4th OF and a fringe corner OF. As of today, I think he might be a guy that starts occasionally in the OF and 1B and PH’s against RHP now-and-then.
Name League W/L IP K/BB H/9 ERA Brad Hennessey AAA PCL 7/10 132.1 1.86 10.7 4.83 Brad Hennessey NL 6/11 132 1.55 10.9 5.66
It’s been a tough year for the 28-year-old Hennessey. He lost his bullpen job very early in the season after 16+ innings of getting battered around. For his age and experience, you wold expect something better than a 4.83 ERA against AAA competition. He’s given up a lot of hits in AAA, nearly 11 per 9 innings of work. He’s got a low walk rate, which helps his K/BB some, but his strikeout rate is sub-par at 12.1% in AAA. I think Hennessey has a real chance of getting non-tendered after this year. As a bullpen candidate, there are better choices and as a starter, he’s really fringey. I think the Giants made a statement on how they view him this year after calling up younger bullpen arms before him. He’s also earning $1.6M this year and I just can’t see him coming back.
Name League W/L IP K/BB H/9 ERA Pat Misch AAA PCL 6/5 87 2.07 10.44 5.38 Pat Misch NL 4/7 87 1.72 10.75 5.69
Misch made 7 starts this year for the Giants in the majors and was extremely unlucky with the longball. His HR/FB% of 23% is about 11% higher than league average, indicating that Misch was unlucky when the ball was hit into the air. His xFIP, which normalized fly balls, is a much more respectable 4.48 as compared to his actual ERA of 5.94. Misch was then sent down to AAA after his 7 starts and has, much like Hennessey, struggled. Like Brad, he’s giving up a lot of hits. He’s been reliever lately, indicating that the Giants might move him back to the role that he found success at in ’07 with Fresno. He’ll be relieving in the majors for now.
Name League W/L IP K/BB H/9 ERA Geno Espineli AAA PCL 1/1 61 4.36 8.26 2.66 Geno Espineli NL 1/1 87 3.70 8.85 3.00
Geno, like some of our other call-ups, found his way onto the Giants roster earlier this year. He pitched a brief 11.2 innings with the Giants this year. In those 11.2 IP he gave up 4 HR’s. He’s had a fine year in AAA, posting very strong numbers, keeping the ball in the yard — only 2 HR’s in 61 IP — and striking out hitters while walking hardly anyone. His translation is the best out of all of our pitchers, the zMLEs see him as a 3.00 ERA reliever in the majors. I think Geno’s upside is probably a LOOGY. He works with a 82mph fastball that he throws from a low, sidearm motion. In a perfect world he would pitch much better during his September call-up and work his way into the bullpen next year. We’ll see.
The September call-ups are a good mix of old and semi-old players (McClain, Hennessey, Misch, Holm) and some younger guys who might shake out to be something useful down the road (Bowker, Geno, Nate). Here’s how I would rank them, in terms of who I’d like to see play over these last few weeks of the season.
- Nate – Still our best upper-level hitting prospect
- McClain – I just want to see some DINGERS.
- Bowker – Will he be able to improve his plate discipline?
- Geno – Funky motion, stirrups, the potential to be a bullpen cog.
- Misch – At the moment, I believe in him as a reliever. Maybe even still a 5th starter.
- Steve Holm – He looks like Adam Savage from MythBusters.
- Brad Hennessey – Not a fan.
Comment Starter: Which Sept. call-up has your eye? Out of the 7 listed, who has the best chance to be on the team next year?