Readers tell us again and again that they love top 10 lists. Assuming you're not overloaded with ballpark effects at this stage, keep reading this post to learn the 10 best and 10 worst ballparks in the full-season minors to see runs, hits and home runs. All samples cover the 2010-12 period except where noted.
|THREE-YEAR TOTALS FOR RUNS SCORED PER PARK|
|MOST RUNS||LGE||LVL||R/G||FEWEST RUNS||LGE||LVL||R/G|
|Northwest Arkansas||TL||AA||10.86||Brevard County||FSL||HiA||7.94|
* Installing a humidor reduced R/G from 14.37 in 2010-11 to 11.61 in 2012
^ Rate for 2011-12 only
# Rate for 2010-11 only; club moves to new park in 2013
|THREE-YEAR TOTALS FOR HITS PER PARK|
|MOST HITS||LGE||LVL||H/G||FEWEST HITS||LGE||LVL||H/G|
|Salt Lake||PCL||AAA||20.51||Great Lakes||MWL||LoA||16.20|
* Installing a humidor reduced H/G from 23.55 in 2010-11 to 20.88 in 2012
^ Rate for 2011-12 only
# Rate for 2012 only
& Club moves to new park in 2013
|THREE-YEAR TOTALS FOR HOME RUNS PER PARK|
|MOST HOMERS||LGE||LVL||HR/G||FEWEST HOMERS||LGE||LVL||HR/G|
|Las Vegas||PCL||AAA||2.22||Palm Beach||FSL||HiA||0.82|
& Club moves to new park in 2013
Factors such as altitude, humidity and wind affect how ballparks at all levels play for hitters and for pitchers. High altitude, low humidity and a steady jet stream are the perfect recipe for hits, homers and runs. No parks exemplify this quite like High Desert and Lancaster, the high Class A California League's two most hitter-friendly locales.
A park at or near sea level with still, humid air will almost always favor pitchers. Examples include Savannah of the low Class A South Atlantic League and Wilmington of the high Class A Carolina League. For league-by-league ballpark characteristics for the full-season minors, check out the recently published feature Minor League Parks Drive Performance. Go ahead and click—it's free.
A ballpark's features really come into focus, though, when a player in a hitter- or pitcher-friendly park ventures onto the road. Take High Desert as an example. In the three seasons from 2010 to ’12, Mavericks hitters and pitchers combined to score and allow 14.65 runs per game in High Desert, compared with 10.07 per game away from High Desert. That ratio works out 1.455, which implies that playing in Mavericks Stadium during the past three seasons increased the frequency of runs by about 45.5 percent in a typical game (compared to that same rate in road parks the Mavericks visited).
Given that home-road comparison for Mavericks games, we can arrive at a simple park factor to apply to individual High Desert players. To get there, we take the 1.455 ratio and reduce its impact by half—in this case, 1.228—to reflect the fact that a team's players spend only half their games at home.
Here are the highest and lowest three-year park factors for runs scored for the 10 full-season minor leagues:
|THREE-YEAR PARK FACTORS FOR RUNS SCORED|
|California||High Desert||SEA||1.228||Inland Empire||LAA||.894|
|Florida State||Bradenton||PIT||1.107||Brevard County||MIL||.908|
* Scranton/W-B had lowest PF for 2010-11 (.922) but had no home park in 2012
** Birmingham moves into Regions Field in 2013; next lowest was Mississippi (.937) [...] Continue Reading »
BA intern Peter Wardell checked in from the AFL championship game with some observations of his own:
• Lost in the shuffle of Brian Goodwin’s seventh-inning baserunning blunder was Peoria right fielder Rymer Liriano (Padres)’s impressive, accurate throw to the plate. The 21-year-old’s plus arm has earned the distinction of Best Outfield Arm in the Padres’ system three straight seasons and ranks among the best in all of the minor leagues.
• Peoria outfielder Billy Hamilton (Reds) showed off his elite speed all over the diamond on Saturday—tripling to center field in the first, drag-bunting for a single in the second and very nearly tracking down a well-hit ball to right-center in the eighth, a play that would knock him out of the game. On his bunt single, Hamilton timed 3.45 seconds home-to-first. It was the third fastest time I personally had gotten on him this fall (Best: 3.39 sec at Rising Stars Game).
• Hamilton wasn’t the only Reds player to excite however. Peoria shortstop Didi Gregorius (Reds) made a pair of impressive plays on shallow pop-ups into left field and got the chance to show off his plus arm on a tough fifth-inning chopper.
• Salt River second baseman Carlos Sanchez (White Sox) registered the game’s only stolen base. A slightly above-average runner, Sanchez led the AFL in stolen bases this fall with 11. Hamilton ended up with 10.
• Peoria righthander Carson Smith (Mariners) impressed in his inning of work with a pair of strikeouts. Smith, who throws from a low three-quarters arm slot, sits 93-95 with his fastball, mixing in an 85-87 mph slider with good bite.
BURLINGTON, N.C.—Appalachian League commissioner Lee Landers was soaking in every bit of the atmosphere Saturday night at Burlington Athletic Stadium.
"It's been a great year for us," Landers said. "They've been waiting a long time in this town for a winner and they've responded."
There were 522 fans for the Royals' game with the Elizabethton Twins, and some of them probably were around for the 1993 Burlington team—an Indians affiliate at the time—that won the town's last Appy League championship. They were excited to have any playoff game to cheer about and were treated to a thriller, a 3-2, 12-inning home victory that ended on a Bubba Starling sacrifice fly, scoring Terrance Gore ahead of a throw by Byron Buxton.
Elizabethton went on to win the league title, however, with an extra-innings win in Game Two and a walk-off grand slam by D.J. Hicks in a 12-inning victory in Game Three. The E-Twins trailed 6-1 in the ninth before rallying to score five runs to tie the game, capped by a three-run homer by Adam Brett Walker, before Hicks' game-winner in the 12.
All three games were decided in extra innings, and all three featured significant prospects. Here's some of what we saw Saturday from this unique Rookie-ball playoff series.
ASHEVILLE, N.C.–Greensboro lefthander Charlie Lowell is on a roll.
Lowell entered the seventh inning of his Saturday start against Asheville, the highest scoring offense in the low Class A South Atlantic League, just as he had his previous two starts—without allowing a hit. Unlike his two previous outings, Lowell retired the side in order to preserve the no-hit bid. But Lowell had thrown 107 pitches and did not return for the eighth, as lefthander Greg Nappo entered and allowed base hits to the first two hitters he faced.
"He went over his pitch limit the last start and obviously he wasn’t going to go two more innings, so we have our rules we have to follow," Greensboro manager Dave Berg said.
Lowell complied with the decision, understanding that long-term goals supercede short-term personal accomplishments. [...] Continue Reading »
BY JAMES BAILEY
BUFFALO—Sometimes, as they say, the third time is the charm. That's certainly proven true for John Ely, who was on the receiving end of more than his share of poundings for Triple-A Albuquerque during his first two seasons in the Dodgers organization.
In 38 Pacific Coast League starts in 2010-11, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound righthander surrendered 248 hits in 212 1/3 innings while posting a 6.06 ERA. That wasn't what the Dodgers had envisioned when they acquired him from the White Sox in 2009 as part of the return for outfielder Juan Pierre.
Ely started fresh this season, determined not to give in to the conditions in the PCL, particularly in Albuquerque, where the scoreboard operator always gets a good workout. [...] Continue Reading »
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—Even on a short leash, Dylan Bundy impresses.
In a start against high Class A Winston-Salem Thursday night, he went five innings and threw just 57 pitches, about 70 percent of which were strikes. He muzzled a hard-hitting Dash team that leads the Carolina League in scoring, giving up four hits and one earned run while earning his fourth victory in six decisions. His Frederick Keys earned a 4-2 victory.
Steve Melewski of MASN.com has reported the Orioles are limiting Bundy's pitch count for a stretch leading up to the Futures Game, and Bundy adjusted, pitching with efficiency. He had an eight-pitch inning followed by a five-pitch frame.
"I can go 80 to 85 pitches in a game right now, or five innings, whichever comes first," Bundy told the Winston-Salem Journal. "Tonight was five innings. I really would like to have gone out there for more. Fifty-seven pitches isn't a big workload I don't think, but that's the organization's plan and I guess they're sticking to it." [...] Continue Reading »
CHARLESTON, S.C.—Several decades ago, baseball legends represented their country not just by hitting home runs.
Hall of Famers such as Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial all served their country by fighting in the U.S. Armed Forces, despite being adored by hundreds of thousands of fans.
On Monday afternoon at the South Atlantic League Home Run Derby, the Charleston RiverDogs made a huge splash by becoming the first known organization to host the event on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier—the USS Yorktown (CV-10), a World War II aircraft carrier that was retired in the 1970s and is now part of the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in the Charleston Harbor.
“This is just a great day to showcase America’s pastime—baseball,” Patriots Point executive director Mac Burdette said. “And what better place to do it than on one of America’s most historic fighting ships.”
Once Charleston general manager Dave Echols learned the team would be hosting the league all-star game, he wasn’t afraid to do something he described as “crazy”. Echols and his staff teamed up with Dan Migala, an advertising entrepreneur who shared a story about visiting Willie Mays at his home after meeting him in Cooperstown.
“Willie said his proudest moment in history—and this is arguably the greatest baseball player that ever lived—and he paused and he said I fulfilled my dream when I served my country,” Migala recalled.
USS Yorktown was commissioned in 1943 during World War II after the previous carrier, the CV-5, was lost at the Battle of Midway the year before. The CV-10 served in many campaigns in the Pacific War, earning the Presidential Unit Citation and winning multiple battle stars in Vietnam as well.
Approximately 75 feet above water, 10 contestants launched balls into the Charleston harbor, where the U.S. Coast Guard as well as volunteer jet skiers and kayakers retrieved the balls to ensure that no sea life was in danger.
At the end of the derby, the top four hitters to advance to the final round were Hagerstown third baseman Matt Skole, Lexington third baseman Matt Duffy, Asheville first baseman Harold Riggins and Savannah center fielder Travis Taijeron. One champion will be crowned on Tuesday night before the All-Star Game at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, or simply, “The Joe”.
Celebrities in attendance were Bill Murray, the RiverDogs’ co-owner and ‘Director of Fun’ and the Miller High Life deliveryman, actor Windell Middlebrooks.
“This is the High Life, baby,” Middlebrooks said. “I’ve done a lot of crazy things on this High Life tour. But, I’ll tell you what—this might be my favorite.”
Clint Longenecker contributed to this story.
Plenty of buzz has surrounded Bryce Harper and his full-season debut, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the crowd at State Mutual Stadium in Rome, Ga. The attendance was announced at 4,133, but there were plenty of seats available and some sections had entire rows that were empty. A few lucky fans got a picture and autograph from Harper, but they were club members. The gates didn't open for general admission until an hour before the game and Harper was in the clubhouse by then.
Rome manager Matt Walbeck was at the helm for Double-A Altoona last season when Stephen Strasburg made his debut for Harrisburg and he noticed tonight didn't have quite the same aura.
"It was still an exciting game to watch," Walbeck said. "I think between A-ball and Double-A, it's a different dynamic, but it still wasn't quite the same." [...] Continue Reading »
SURPRISE, Ariz.—At 29, Cuban defector and Rays farmhand Leslie Anderson was the oldest player at Saturday's Rising Stars Game.
He's seen more baseball than any of the other players, and he seemed to know he got all of the changeup Bruce Billings (Rockies) threw him on the 1-0 pitch of their bottom-of-the-ninth showdown.
Anderson connected and threw his arms up in the air as he started rounding the bases. Billings, though, didn't think he got all of it, nor did his first baseman, Brandon Belt (Giants).
"I thought he got in on him," Belt said. "I guess he's a big strong guy, though, and got enough to get it out."
The high fly to right just scraped over the wall, and Anderson's West Division teammates tumbled out of the third-base dugout to greet him at home plate after his walk-off homer gave them a 3-2 victory in the Arizona Fall League's all-star showcase game.
Anderson doesn't speak much English, but his teammates were more than happy to talk about how his game-winning shot earned them an extra $500 bonus for getting the victory.
"It definitely was different from other games out here, more fans, different atmosphere," said lefthander Patrick Urckfitz (Astros), who as a non-drafted free agent was one of the more unlikely Rising Stars roster members. "I signed for $15,000, so for me the extra $500 definitely helps." [...] Continue Reading »
SURPRISE, Ariz.—The Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars Game will feature most of the top players in the AFL, but it doesn't have the one player everyone wants to see.
Bryce Harper, the Nationals' No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, just missed being the youngest player in Fall League history. When made his debut in the AFL, he was four days older than Mets prospect Fernando Martinez was when he played here in 2006.
Harper has bigger tools than Martinez, who has reached the big leagues but hasn't established himself as a regular yet. It's not easy to say when Harper will establish himself, but he has already set himself apart from many of his AFL peers with his hard play and effort, not to mention his tools.
"He plays the game the right way and has baseball instincts," said East manager Randy Knorr, who managed Harrisburg in the Nats' system this season. "He goes hard at all times. He's fun to watch for sure." [...] Continue Reading »
SURPRISE, Ariz. — Jason Adam grew up rooting for the Royals, going to games at Kauffman Stadium and even spending a couple spring breaks in Surprise, Ariz., watching the Royals in spring training.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound righthander from Blue Valley Northwest High in Overland Park, Kan. was a fifth-round draft pick by his hometown Royals this spring, signing for $800,000 to keep him away from his commitment to Missouri.
Adam did not play this summer after signing, instead making his pro debut in the instructional league. On Oct. 11, he threw three impressive innings against the Indians.
"I felt pretty good," Adam said. "I've had better outings, but it definitely felt like I had decent command of the ball and I was able to get most of my pitches over for strikes, so I was happy."
This was Adam's fourth outing in the instructional league, including one intersquad appearance.
"I like to get ahead with my fastball, it's one of my best pitches," Adam said. "And then, if my curveball is on—which it has been for me lately, which I'm liking—then I like to use that with two strikes to kind of put guys away. It's something they aren't able to hit, but it's close enough to a strike that they have to swing."
[...] Continue Reading »
Baseball America bird dog scout Dave Perkin attended the Futures Game and had these impressions:
• Mike Trout, of course, was the most exciting potential five-tool player in the game. I had him getting down the line in 3.88 seconds. My concerns with him center around some hitting mechanical issues: His bat starts behind his head, and he sometimes fails to complete his swing across his face or around his head; and finally, I'd like to see him really let that top hand go–use it to whip and fire the bat head. He pushes it a bit now. When he does that, he'll reach his power potential.
• Fellow Angels farmhand Hank Conger had a really tough day catching and throwing, and was visibly upset with himself on that front. He redeemed himself with the homer, but I still have some of the same worries I had from his days as an L.A. area prep. Conger still overstrides, and will often flip that front side open too soon. So you will get the occasional home run but the batting average isn't what it could be. [...] Continue Reading »
ANAHEIM—Here are the starting lineups for Sunday's Futures Game at Angels Stadium. The most notable keys are that Angles low Class A phenom Mike Trout isn't in the starting lineup, and that the starting pitchers are Simon Castro (Padres) and Jeremy Hellickson (Rays).
2b Brett Lawrie
ss Ozzie Martinez
1b Yonder Alonso
3b Alex Liddi
lf Carlos Peguero
rf Wilkin Ramirez
c Wilin Rosario
cf Gorkys Hernandez
dh Francisco Peguero
Starting Pitcher: Simon Castro [...] Continue Reading »
Normally when a major leaguer makes a rehab appearance in the minors, his presence swallows up all the fans attention.
On Tuesday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Edinson Volquez had to share the spotlight. Volquez may have been making a possible final tuneup before joining the Reds' rotation, but he was followed up by Aroldis Chapman. And as hard as Volquez may throw, and as tough as his changeup can be to hit, the real buzz came when Chapman came in and started generating triple digits on the stadium radar gun (and the BA Stalker gun as well).
In some ways, it was fitting that Volquez and Chapman pitched on the same night. For Volquez, this was likely a last or second-to-last tune-up before he joins the Reds' big league rotation as he returns from Tommy John surgery. For Chapman, the recent move to the bullpen (this was his third outing as a reliever) likely means he'll moving up before long to help bolster a bullpen that has been the team's biggest weakness.
"This guy could change the pennant race," a scout said before quickly adding, "if he can throw strikes." [...] Continue Reading »
At the big league level, players beg out of the home run derby because they are worried about screwing up their swing. But Carolina-California League all-star home run derby champion Jon Gilmore has no such worries.
"We take thousands of swings during the year, so I don't think 20 swings is going to hurt much," Gilmore said. "It's not your game swing. It's kind of like separating your golf swing from your baseball swing."
Gilmore had to go to a tie-breaking swing off in the first round after he and teammate Justin Greene each finished second in the Carolina League with three home runs. Gilmore advanced to the finals by beating Ronnie Welty two home runs to one, then topped California League derby champion Rich Poythress by hitting four home runs (to Poythress' three) in the finals. [...] Continue Reading »
Getting a spot on a minor league all-star roster leads to mixed feelings for a lot of minor leaguers. It's a big honor, but it also means that the only three-day break of the entire season turns into a working holiday.
Juan Perez didn't mind. It may be a long trip from San Jose to Myrtle Beach, but the Giants' center fielder has a memory to remember forever.
Playing in front of his mother for the first time as a pro, Perez went 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, two runs scored and two RBIs as the California League defeated the Carolina League 4-3 in the league's annual all-star game.
While Perez was the MVP, pitching dominated the night. Multiple pitchers, led by Braves' top pitching prospect Teheran, topped 95 mph on the stadium radar gun. Tehran hit a game-high 98 mph on the gun while striking out two in two innings of work. California League starter Craig Westcott (Giants) struck out the side in the first. [...] Continue Reading »
If you want to keep up with what's happening at the Carolina-California League all-star game, I'm tweeting about the game @jjcoop36.
By Matt Michael
Syracuse, N.Y.—From his first pitch (a 96-mph fastball for a called strike) to his last (a knee-buckling curve for a called strike three), Syracuse righthander Stephen Strasburg looked like a man among boys in his Triple-A debut against Gwinnett Friday night.
Strasburg was so dominating, in fact, that his pitching line would have been the same if the game had been played on a Little League field, because the Braves didn’t hit one ball in the air.
Strasburg allowed one hit—a seeing-eye single up the middle—in six innings and earned the win as the Chiefs blanked the Braves 7-0 before a Syracuse franchise-record crowd of 13,766 at Alliance Bank Stadium. Strasburg also chipped in two RBIs on a run-scoring single in his first Triple-A at-bat and a sacrifice bunt that plated a runner from third in the fourth inning (though the play was not conceived as a squeeze play).
Of his 18 outs, Strasburg fanned six and recorded 12 groundball outs, most of which were slow rollers or choppers. Not one Gwinnett batter hit a pitch from Strasburg to the outfield, even in foul territory.
"If you hit your spots," Chiefs center fielder Pete Orr said, "it makes it tough on hitters to drive the ball to the outfield or hit the ball in the air." [...] Continue Reading »
GREENSBORO, N.C.—Patience, patience, patience.
When Mark Parent was a catcher in the major leagues for more than a decade, he knew he had to be patient when working with young pitchers fresh from the minor leagues.
Today, Parent is manager for the the Phillies' low Class A Lakewood, a team filled with high-ceiling, tooled-up athletes, many of whom are about as raw as they come.
Patience, Parent believes, is the key to developing that type of player.
"It's almost like a circus every night, but controlled," he said. "You never know what's going to happen, but you figure out what happened that night and then you go work on it the next day. That's all we can do." [...] Continue Reading »
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