Tuesday, February 15, 2011

#5 Prospect: Mike Minor

Mike Minor was Atlanta's first overall pick out of Vanderbilt in the 2009 draft. The selection was widely panned as a "signability pick"; at the time, most saw Minor's ceiling as a command and control lefty without average stuff destined for the back end of a Major Leauge rotation. But the Braves' front office either got lucky or saw something that no one else did, as former Commodore's fastball velocity jumped to 94 from the high 80s/ low 90s during his first full season as a pro in 2010.

Minor's breakthrough actually began in late 2009 in a 14 inning stretch in the South Atlantic League when he allowed just one run while striking out 17, walking none, and allowing just 10 hits. At the time, Minor's performance was dismissed as the work of a crafty college pitcher beating inferior hitters with superior polish. It was widely thought that Minor's flaws would be exposed when he reached the higher levels.

In 120.1 innings across AA and AAA in 2010, Minor continued to impress, as you can see in the table below:

Courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com

Upon his promotion to the major leagues, Minor did not have the hoped-for results, but his skills remained intact:

Courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com
Minor was hurt by the the 6 HR he allowed in 40 Major Leauge innings after giving up just 9 HR in three times as many innings between AA and AAA. This phenomenon had something to do with Minor's inability to sustain the 49% ground ball rate that he enjoyed at AAA. This rate dropped to 38% in Atlanta. Minor's opponents were also the beneficiaries of a flukish .392 batting average on balls in play.

Minor has shown that he can sustain his high strikeout and low walk rates in the major leagues. If he's able to bring the high GB rate, he could prove an above average mid-rotation starter for the Braves in 2011 as well as a solid speculation play in fantasy leagues.

Minor is the favorite to nab the fifth spot in the Braves' rotation going into April, and is the most MLB-ready of any Atlanta prospects.

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  1. I'm very excited to see Minor this year, and I think he's going to have a lot of success.

    He's never posted a K/BB below 3.50 in any professional season (college included).

  2. Also, glad to see your back!