Thursday, March 13, 2014

Astros Minor League Depth - Lefty Relief Pitchers, Part 2

In our ongoing look at the Astros minor league depth, earlier this week we covered those lefty relievers who finished the season at Advanced A or above. Today, we'll find out more about those lefty relievers who finished their seasons at Low A or on one of the short season teams. One exception to this is Reymin Guduan who made a spot appearance with Oklahoma City to end the season, but spent all but one of his regular season games with the Gulf Coast Astros team. The players are sorted low to high by WHIP.

Although three DSL players top this list, we're going to start at the other end of the spectrum ... with the Quad Cities team. Mitch Lambson, drafted by Houston in the 19th round in 2011, has been largely consistent in his three professional seasons. A couple of tough outings in May and June inflated his numbers somewhat. Lambson got stronger as the season progressed, culminating in a 0.82 ERA and 0.773 WHIP in his final 10 games. In four post-season games, he posted a 0.00 ERA and a 0.632 WHIP, striking out nine and walking one in six and a third innings. Lambson was often used in long relief, particularly later in the season. He has historically had better splits against right-handed hitters than against lefties and this year was no exception as southpaws hit .310 off Lambson.

Mitch Lambson - April 2013
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Drafted by Houston in the 36th round in 2013, J.D. Osborne started the season with Greeneville (8 games) before being promoted first to Tri-City (12 games) and then on to Quad Cities for his final appearance of the regular season. He went on to make three post-season appearances with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.090 WHIP. A groundball pitcher, Osborne held opposing hitters to a .213 average (.212 vs. righties and .217 vs. lefties) and struck out 13.2 of them per nine innings. However, he also walked 5.3 batters per nine. He collected eight saves for the season.

Albert Minnis had a very nice first professional season after being drafted by the Astros in the 25th round in 2013. He spent his entire season in Tri-City before being shut down early. Minnis has the most extreme groundball numbers of this group with a 4.17 ground out/air out ratio. Because he was shut down early, it is a small sample size, but his splits against righties and lefties are virtually the same.

Albert Minnis - July 2013
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Kevin Ferguson, a non-drafted free agent out of Northwestern University, had a much better time of it in his first nine games with the Gulf Coast League (0.82 ERA and 0.818 WHIP) than he did in his final six with Greeneville (12.54 ERA and a 2.143 WHIP). Lefties only hit .179 off of him. Sebastian Kessay missed a good chunk of the short season due to what I presume was an injury and worked exclusively out of the Greeneville bullpen after he returned to the line-up. He will likely get back in a starting rotation in the coming season since he struggled in a relief role. The 22nd round 2013 draft pick had a very hard time against lefties in 2013 as they hit a whopping .462 against him.

As noted above, Reymin Guduan pitched all but his final game with the GCL. The Dominican lefty has played four professional seasons and will turn 22 next week. He is reported to crank it up to 100 on occasion, but is also reported to have some control issues. Lefties only hit .185 against him. He struck out 12.5 batters per nine innings in 2013, but also walked 5.1 per nine.

Three youngsters from the Dominican Summer League lead this list in terms of WHIP and batting average allowed. One, Yhoan Acosta from the Dominican Republic, only pitched 5.1 innings so it's hard to get too excited about him yet, but Panamanian Cristhopher Santamaria and Dominican-born Junior Garcia definitely bear watching. Santamaria doesn't turn 18 until June. Garcia held lefties to a .115 batting average while Santamaria's lefty/righty split was more even.

And this brings me to Blaine Sims, picked up from Atlanta in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft in December. Sims just turned 25 and hasn't progressed beyond Advanced A, but don't pay any attention to that because he's a knuckleballer in training and all rules go out the window.

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