Best Minor League Deals: Pitchers

It would be hard to argue that R.A. Dickey wasn't the best minor league signing of the year in 2010. The knuckleballer posted a 2.84 ERA in 174 1/3 innings, establishing himself as a fixture in the Mets' rotation. He has since signed an extension, but hundreds of players are now in the same position Dickey found himself in a year ago. One month into the season, some of this year's minor league deals are starting to pay off and when it comes to pitching, the Yankees' minor league signings are standing out:

  • Bartolo Colon, Yankees – Not only does Colon have a 3.00 ERA in 33 innings, he has the peripheral stats to back it up: 9.0 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 48% ground ball rate, 3.16 FIP, 2.65 xFIP.
  • Freddy Garcia, Yankees – The Yankees wanted low-risk starting pitching options who could eat innings and Garcia has thrived as a back-of-the-rotation starter despite posting his highest walk rate in years. The 35-year-old has a 2.88 ERA in 25 innings with 8.3 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9.
  • Jason Isringhausen, Mets – Izzy has allowed 4 hits and 4 walks in 8 1/3 innings, striking out 6 for a 3.24 ERA after barely playing pro ball in 2010. Honorable mention to Tim Byrdak, who has 10 Ks through 8 innings of relief in the Mets’ ‘pen.
  • Barret Loux, Rangers – The Diamondbacks selected the 6'5" right-hander sixth overall last year, but didn't sign him after looking at his shoulder. So far, the 22-year-old has a 2.88 ERA with 11.2 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in the Rangers' system.
  • Guillermo Mota, Giants – Mota has already pitched 19 2/3 innings and the results are excellent: a 2.29 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9.
  • Juan Cruz, Rays – Andrew Friedman had to take some chances on relievers after most of the Rays' bullpen signed elsewhere as free agents. Cruz has paid off so far, allowing 3 hits and 8 walks in 12 innings. He has 10 Ks for a 2.25 ERA.
  • Dontrelle Willis, Reds – He hasn't appeared in a game for the Reds yet, but his Triple-A numbers – 2.10 ERA, 30 innings, 8.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 – show he's making a strong case for another chance in the majors.
  • Rodrigo Lopez, Braves – The Braves got Lopez on a minor league deal after he logged 200 innings in 2010 and have stashed him at Triple-A, where he has a 1.67 ERA and three times as many strikeouts as walks through five starts. 
  • David Bush, Rangers – Bush has allowed just two earned runs as a swingman for the Rangers this year.
  • Miguel Batista – Cardinals – Despite an ugly 9K/8BB ratio, the 17-year veteran has an astounding 0.64 ERA.


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41 Comments on "Best Minor League Deals: Pitchers"


lemonjello
4 years 3 months ago

But can he pitch?

-Brian Cashman

Apparently, yes they can.

TrueYankeeFanNYC
4 years 3 months ago

This statement puts entire offseason in perspective. Epic.

East Coast Bias
4 years 3 months ago

Remember when everybody was bashing Cashman for signing Colon, Garcia, et al… Good times!

notsureifsrs
4 years 3 months ago

bashing cashman for the signings? no, i don’t remember much of that

lots of fat jokes and a fair number of trolling perpetual yankee haters (and melodramatic yankee fans themselves) cracking wise about a plan b for cliff lee, but there wasn’t much bashing. these were always low risk low reward signings. they just invited lots of jokes

still do, btw. colon’s return to glory came about because he figured out a way to eat the last 8 years of his life. he’s now 29 again

YanksFanSince78
4 years 3 months ago

Yeah there was a lot of fat jokes but there was a lot of bashing as well.

notsureifsrs
4 years 3 months ago

i guess i don’t consider that kind of ever-present yankee hating serious enough to be “bashing” a move. the same people who criticized those signings on the basis that they were poor backup plans for cliff lee would have been criticizing a cliff lee signing. it loses its effect

when people who know a thing or two about a thing or two criticize a move, that i’d count. the regular trolling is like white noise to me

Slopeboy
4 years 3 months ago

One man’s garbage is another’s treasure… one man’s joke is another one’s bashing. Check out some of the other threads during the off season and you’ll find that Cashman took a lot unjustified crap thrown at him for those signings.

The season is still young, but right now, he looks real smart.

notsureifsrs
4 years 3 months ago

wait, why does he look real smart? did he forecast these performances?

i’m happy to give him some credit for out-bidding on martin, for example – that was a big league deal for legitimate money that represented some risk. he had to be betting it would payoff, and that looks smart so far

colon and garcia were not the same thing at all. giving him credit for those makes as little sense to me as bashing him for them. they amounted to free spins of the wheel

East Coast Bias
4 years 3 months ago

You have to give him credit for signing many low risk options in hopes that at least one pans out.

Had none of them worked out, you would still have to give him credit for signing many low risk options in hopes that at least one pans out.

notsureifsrs
4 years 3 months ago

that’s my point, yes. no bashing due diligence and no extra credit for it panning out

YanksFanSince78
4 years 3 months ago

If that’s the case then stop giving credit to the Rays for all of their “shrewd” drafting when they were picking inside the top 8 every damn year.

Cashman and Girardi made good pick ups and they are paying off. Give him credit. It amazes me how hard it is for someone to say “Nice job”.

Ppl slob over Theo’s knob when he trades for Agonz and signs Crawford but you can’t give credit to Cash for two minor lge signings totaling $3 or $4 mil that are keeping the team afloat? Amazing.

notsureifsrs
4 years 3 months ago

you’re bothered by me not saying nice job for a pair of minor league signings because other people praised theo for signing crawford? cool, then i’ll just attribute to you every stupid thing yankees fans have ever done

loving a blockbuster trade for one of the game’s premier players obliges me to praise another GM for signing complete standard zero-risk contracts that anyone — absolutely anyone — in his shoes could have and would have done?

get real

East Coast Bias
4 years 3 months ago

In fairness, while anyone could have signed them… they didn’t. Or we’d be here saying good job to that GM for the minor league signing of blahblahblah… Well, we as in everyone but you lol

notsureifsrs
4 years 3 months ago

that’s not really “in fairness”, though, because i said they could and would have in his shoes

Slopeboy
4 years 3 months ago

What you say about Colon & Garcia can be easily applied to the Martin signing as well. Just because he signed Martin to a big league deal makes it a legitimate signing? I’m sure if Martin had flopped your thinking would be totally different and you’d be singing a different tune. Martin is on a one year contract and coming off two injury riddled years, so no could guess that he would perform as he has.

The reason I think Cashman looks smart is because he didn’t panic after he lost the Lee sweepstakes, he didn’t go nuts and offer money and years to ‘name’ pitchers like Peavy or Francis and the like. He didn’t trade any of his young and promising prospects for an immediate short term fix.

Could be that it blows up in his face as the season progresses, but even if it does, the signings have given him the flexibility to make trades where he’s not dealing from absolute weakness. Surprised that you couldn’t see or admit that. Me thinks you may have been one of those who made ‘jokes’ this past winter and are feeling a bit of sting.

notsureifsrs
4 years 3 months ago

*~*~internet psychology*~*~

seriously though what is it with you guys today? so much insecurity. i thought arrogance was your gimmick

“Just because he signed Martin to a big league deal makes it a legitimate signing? I’m sure if Martin had flopped your thinking would be totally different and you’d be singing a different tune.”

no, exactly wrong. read my words carefully, as this is the second time i’m explaining it to you. the martin signing is different because it involved risk. cashman had to put something on the line ($4MM and a spot on the 40-man and active rosters) to have a chance at results. if all martin cost was a minor league signing (like chavez, for example) it would again be a free spin of the wheel situation. no risk. the easiest of easy decisions

“The reason I think Cashman looks smart is because he didn’t panic after he lost the Lee sweepstakes, he didn’t go nuts and offer money and years to ‘name’ pitchers like Peavy or Francis and the like.”

maybe you do think that, but what you actually said is that he looks smart right now, so far. which means you’re basing that praise on the early results. which is goofy

any simpleton in the world, without even following baseball, can observe “that is a good/bad result”. decisions should primarily be judged based on the process by which they are made. e.g. the decision to pinch hit albert pujols for ryan theriot isn’t judged based on the outcome. it’s a good decision every time. pinching theriot for pujols is bad every time.

in other words, colon and garcia pitching well doesn’t make cashman any smarter than he was when he signed them, just as he wouldn’t be any dumber if they were pitching poorly. it wasn’t a decision worth bashing or praising then and it isn’t a decision worth bashing or praising now

Slopeboy
4 years 3 months ago

Dude, your sabermetrics formula has got you really hooked bad!! Cashman’s move was smart because he risked very little, and has two guys on his roster that cost him very little and they’re helping his team. Your response and elaborate wording reads very clever and well though out, but to the trained ear sounds more like an old sales pitch…
‘If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance baffle them with Bullfeathers’ You’re hiding the fact that you can’t bring yourself to give a little praise where it’s due. I truly am a simpleton, I thought you were better than that.

notsureifsrs
4 years 3 months ago

“i can’t understand these words. these words must be a trick. i will take this to mean that i was right all along. i am a master thinker”

Slopeboy
4 years 3 months ago

Child… Please!!

notsureifsrs
4 years 3 months ago

i went back to the colon signing thread. the harshest comment of the first 100 was from a yankee fan, and one from this very thread

Dude… what the hell are you talking about?! If Colon makes our lineup in any way, we have a lot bigger problem than we think we do.

-East Coast Bias

sticking with my theory that these signings were primarily fodder for jokes and not bashing. maybe yankee fans were a little sensitive around that time in the offseason and didn’t distinguish between the two

East Coast Bias
4 years 3 months ago

That ECB guy is a joke!

Just for the record, I hate Colon. I don’t care how well he pitches, I cannot stand him and his robbing Santana’s Cy Young ways.

notsureifsrs
4 years 3 months ago

and just for the record, your comment wasn’t wrong or excessively harsh. it was both an undesirable situation for the yankees and a pair of harmless moves

TartanElk
4 years 3 months ago

It’s kind of hard not to unintentionally bash players like Colon. Their girth makes it a bit difficult to avoid hitting them…

YanksFanSince78
4 years 3 months ago

The obvious caveat of course is “small sample size” and that’s a given. However, those two, along with Chavez and Martin have provided nice returns thus far. Let’s hope it lasts thru the summer.

Tirameenlasbolas
4 years 3 months ago

………………so far.

0bsessions
4 years 3 months ago

Seconded. A bit early to be calling these deals winners. Now, given, getting a handful of quality starts out of any of this motley crew should be hailed as a monetary victory on the bang for your buck rationale, but it’s way too early to say these guys are going to work out.

YanksFanSince78
4 years 3 months ago

I think the “small sample size” issue is obvious from the get go. But the writer chose the topic and if you’re judging ALL pitchers signed to minor lge deals this winter then those two are among the best. Keep in mind the whole premise of this post.

4 years 3 months ago

No love for Jose Veras.
The fact that he had a good year last year and the Pirates were still able to get a minor league contract makes me feel that it is better than some others on the list, which you can argue were pure luck.
22 K in 13.1 innings with just 4 walks

Slopeboy
4 years 3 months ago

Same could be said about Veras. He’s always had a live arm, his problem has always been the walks and focus. Many a time he’s been electric and then walks the entire ballpark, loses focus and puts the ball on a tee and gets clobbered. If he can continue what he’s currently doing, hell be a big asset to the Bucs.
Otherwise, he’s a lucky signing,too!

bigpat
4 years 3 months ago

I agree, the Veras signing was great. He is exactly the type of guy you want to bring in on a minor league deal. Even when he’s struggling, he’s hard to hit and has always had great stuff. It’s just that his control is up and down, and if he fixes it, he can dominate as he’s done this season. He did have a hiccup his last game though, but I felt he was worn down and shouldn’t have pitched that last inning.

4 years 3 months ago

Miguel Batista is garbage. He’s been lucky so far to have such a good ERA. His WHIP is over 1.7 and he’s given up a tremendous number of other pitchers’ inherited runs as well as many unearned runs (I know those aren’t counted against a pitcher for a reason, but if someone makes an error behind him, he can’t pitch out of the situation) having given up 6 total runs, with only 1 of them being earned.

As a Cardinals fan, when I see Tony LaRussa get Batista up, I worry about his ability to get guys out.

If I had more time, I would love to look at how many inherited runners he strands vs. how many he leaves out there than his fellow bullpen guys strand for him. I’d imagine it would also paint Batista in a pretty negative light.

4 years 3 months ago

Took the words right out of my fingers. Miguel Batista only has a low ERA because the other guys in the bullpen have picked him up. He has not done the same for those guys.

TrueYankeeFanNYC
4 years 3 months ago

That 2-seam fastball is unhittable. Back when the signing took place there were a lot negative comments and now that colon has had success this thread is empty. Just apologize.

4 years 3 months ago

Decided to look on fangraphs for more. Sorry to dump on the guy, but here’s some more stats to show Batista’s horrid pitching despite a sparkling ERA:

xFIP: 5.32
K/9: 5.79
BB/9: 5.14
Opponents OBP: .387

Only 14 Qualified NL batters and 11 AL Qualified AL batters have a better personal OBP than Miguel Batista gives up.

The only saving grace for the guy is that, despite having a career worst Groundball ratio (at least since either espn.com or fangraphs.com have kept track of those stats), the guy hasn’t given up any home runs or been left in long enough to be hurt by his own bad pitching. I wouldn’t count on all his flyballs continuing to stay in the park though. This guy’s bad, and sadly, just like the writer of article didn’t see it, so far neither does Tony LaRussa.

bigpat
4 years 3 months ago

The Yankees’ signings have looked great so far as Colon has provided more than anyone could of hoped for, and Garcia has looked very good as well. Martin is in a different boat as he was a major league signing and he’s been very productive. I guess this goes to show there’s value in signing a bunch of cheap arms and seeing who pans out.

I agree that most of the criticism of these signings weren’t serious, as people who know a thing or two about baseball know these moves won’t cripple the team if they don’t pan out. I liked the Garcia signing but felt the others were pointless. However, I still think Cashman’s detractors have a valid point in wondering how their playoff rotation will look this year, as guys like Colon and Garcia were brought in to be back end guys, and they can’t expect them to keep up this performance. I guess they will worry about the top of their rotation when the time comes, (trade deadline).

phoenix2042
4 years 3 months ago

two things:
1) the yankees made a thrifty minor league signing? what is this world coming to?
2) glad to see dontrelle willis coming back. he might make a heart warming comeback story later this year. gotta love those. speaking of which, how about lance berkman, right?

4 years 3 months ago

Why in the hell did Rodrigo Lopez sign with the Braves? If I’m gonna take a minor-league deal, I’m choosing a team where I at least have a chance to reach the majors. Lopez has Hanson, Hudson, Lowe, Jurrjens, Beachy, Minor, Kawakami and possibly Teheran ahead of him. Plus Kris Medlen when he returns. So much would have to go wrong for him to make more than one or two spot-starts, and even that’s somewhat of a long-shot.

Bo
4 years 3 months ago

Medlen most likely won’t be back this year. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Braves trade Jurrjens or Lowe at the deadline, then bring up Minor to take the empty spot. Lopez would then be in line as the 6th starter, assuming Teheran and Delgado aren’t quite ready for the show just yet.

xcfan
4 years 3 months ago

Jamey Wright could qualify for this list. He resigned with the Mariners on a minor league deal. 14ip 2 ER 4 BBs 11 Ks

Rangersfan32
4 years 3 months ago

D-Backs will regret not signing Loux. He looks like a stud right now with that strikeouts to walks ratio and his pitches are nasty. And you gotta love the #1 starter potential he has.

TartanElk
4 years 3 months ago

I think you don’t recognize my place around here. My job is to: Provide instant attempts at humorous comments. Sometimes I nail the jokes, but not always.