Midseason Review: Top Pitching Performances At Each Level (So Far)

The unveiling of the Top Prospect Performers page today provides a suitable backdrop to reflect on (and provide context for) the top game scores in the minors during the first half of the season. If you're not familiar with the game score metric, please see the Wikipedia entry before proceeding.

Here we divvied up pitchers by level, presenting a top 20 list for each full-season classification—but with a catch. Only pitchers who are age-appropriate for their level of competition were considered. That means that to qualify for one of the lists, a pitcher must meet (or be younger than) his classification's median age as of July 1 this year. The median cutoff ages are as follows: 26 for Triple-A, 24 for Double-A, 23 for high Class A and 22 for low Class A.

All performances up through Sunday, June 24, were considered. Lefthanded pitchers denoted with an asterisk (*). To qualify, a pitcher must either have started the game or thrown at least five innings in relief. The second clause sometimes triggers when minor league starters begin in the second inning (or later) in games in which rehabbing major leaguers start the game.

TOP 20 GAME SCORES • 26-AND-YOUNGER PITCHERS AT TRIPLE-A
NO PITCHER ORG TEAM LEAGUE DATE IP H R ER SO BB GS
1 Chris Tillman BAL Norfolk International 5/31 8 1 0 0 9 1 88
2 Liam Hendriks MIN Rochester International 6/9 8.2 3 0 0 10 2 87
3 Justin Wilson* PIT Indianapolis International 4/29 7.1 0 0 0 9 2 86
4 Tom Koehler MIA New Orleans Pacific Coast 6/16 7.2 1 0 0 10 3 85
5 Bruce Billings OAK Sacramento Pacific Coast 5/26 8 3 0 0 8 0 84
  D.J. Mitchell NYY Scranton/WB International 4/18 8 2 0 0 7 1 84
7 Terry Doyle CWS Charlotte International 6/7 8.1 1 1 1 9 3 84
8 Charles Brewer ARI Reno Pacific Coast 6/4 9 3 2 2 9 0 82
  T.J. McFarland* CLE Columbus International 6/24 9 4 0 0 4 1 82
10 Chris Rusin* CHC Iowa Pacific Coast 4/22 8 2 0 0 4 0 82
11 Casey Coleman CHC Iowa Pacific Coast 5/7 7 2 0 0 9 1 81
  Steve Johnson BAL Norfolk International 5/14 8 3 1 0 8 1 81
  Jair Jurrjens ATL Gwinnett International 5/27 8 3 0 0 5 0 81
14 Brad Hand* MIA New Orleans Pacific Coast 5/29 7.1 1 1 1 10 2 81
15 Nick Additon* STL Memphis Pacific Coast 6/12 7 4 0 0 11 0 80
  Trevor Bauer ARI Reno Pacific Coast 5/18 8 4 1 1 11 1 80
  Tyler Cloyd PHI Lehigh Valley International 4/5 6 0 0 0 8 0 80
  Alex Sanabia MIA New Orleans Pacific Coast 5/7 8 2 1 1 7 1 80
19 Andrew Carraway SEA Tacoma Pacific Coast 5/11 7.1 1 0 0 4 1 80
  Christian Friedrich* COL Colo Springs Pacific Coast 4/10 7.1 2 0 0 6 1 80

Youngest Pitcher: Only 22-year-old Marlins lefty Brad Hand can challenge the Diamondbacks' Trevor Bauer when it comes to youth. The third pick in last year's draft, Bauer doesn't turn 22 until January. In eight starts for Reno he went 4-0, 2.82 with 11.3 strikeouts and 4.4 walks per nine innings. Slated to make his big league debut on Thursday, Bauer leaves the minors as the overall leader in wins (11) and strikeouts (116).

Best Effort Not Reflected Here: 27-year-old Indianapolis lefty Jo-Jo Reyes (88 game score on May 7: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 8 SO, 1 BB).

TOP 20 GAME SCORES • 24-AND-YOUNGER PITCHERS AT DOUBLE-A
NO PITCHER ORG TEAM LEAGUE DATE IP H R ER SO BB GS
1 Edwar Cabrera* COL Tulsa Texas 4/17 8 1 0 0 8 0 88
  Daniel Corcino CIN Pensacola Southern 6/16 8 0 0 0 9 3 88
3 Jose Cisnero HOU Corpus Christi Texas 6/16 9 2 0 0 6 2 87
4 Danny Rosenbaum* WAS Harrisburg Eastern 4/18 9 4 1 0 9 0 86
5 Danny Hultzen* SEA Jackson Southern 6/8 8 2 0 0 8 1 85
  Dan Straily OAK Midland Texas 6/15 8 1 1 1 9 0 85
7 Tyler Thornburg MIL Huntsville Southern 4/16 7.1 1 1 1 11 0 84
8 Matt Magill LAD Chattanooga Southern 5/24 7 2 0 0 10 0 83
9 Jose Alvarez* MIA Jacksonville Southern 6/22 8 2 0 0 5 1 82
10 David Buchanan PHI Reading Eastern 4/7 7 2 0 0 9 1 81
  Dan Straily OAK Midland Texas 5/18 7 3 1 1 15 1 81
12 Jake Odorizzi KC NW Arkansas Texas 5/5 7.1 2 1 1 11 1 81
13 David Hale ATL Mississippi Southern 6/6 7.2 5 0 0 11 1 80
14 Edwar Cabrera* COL Tulsa Texas 4/28 7 2 0 0 7 0 80
  Chris Dwyer* KC NW Arkansas Texas 6/22 7 2 0 0 7 0 80
  Mike Kickham* SF Richmond Eastern 6/2 7 2 0 0 8 1 80
  Andre Rienzo CWS Birmingham Southern 6/22 8 4 0 0 7 1 80
18 Chad Bell* TEX Frisco Texas 6/11 6.2 1 0 0 6 0 79
19 Simon Castro CWS Birmingham Southern 5/28 8 3 1 0 5 0 79
  Paul Demny WAS Harrisburg Eastern 5/20 8 2 0 0 4 3 79
  A.J. Griffin OAK Midland Texas 4/10 6 0 0 0 8 1 79
  Brett Oberholtzer* HOU Corpus Christi Texas 4/20 7 3 0 0 8 0 79
  Jake Odorizzi KC NW Arkansas Texas 4/23 7 4 0 0 11 1 79
  Jose Quintana* CWS Birmingham Southern 5/15 7 2 0 0 8 2 79
  Dan Straily OAK Midland Texas 6/4 7 4 0 0 11 1 79

Youngest Pitcher: Reds 21-year-old righty Daniel Corcino tossed the first eight innings of a Pensacola team no-hitter on June 16. He has survived the jump from low Class A to Double-A in style, going 3-4, 3.41 through 14 starts with 8.6 strikeouts and 4.5 walks per nine innings.

Two-Timers: The Royals' Jake Odorizzi (81 and 79 game scores) and the Athletics' Dan Straily (85, 81 and 79 game scores) both earned promotions to Triple-A following their fine pitching in the Texas League. Rockies lefty Edwar Cabrera (88 and 80 game scores) might have joined them for the second half but for the fact that such a promotion would place him in homer-happy Colorado Springs. He already has allowed a TL-leading 15 home runs with Tulsa.

Best Effort Not Reflected Here: 28-year-old Montgomery righthander Matt Buschmann (84 game score on May 11: 6 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 12 SO, 1 BB).

TOP 20 GAME SCORES • 23-AND-YOUNGER PITCHERS AT HIGH CLASS A
NO PITCHER ORG TEAM LEAGUE DATE IP H R ER SO BB GS
1 Cody Buckel TEX Myrtle Beach Carolina 5/17 8 2 0 0 11 1 88
2 Robbie Ray* WAS Potomac Carolina 6/3 8 2 0 0 9 1 86
3 Burch Smith SD Lake Elsinore California 4/28 7.2 1 1 1 13 2 85
4 Aaron Northcraft ATL Lynchburg Carolina 6/22 7 0 0 0 10 2 85
5 David Holmberg* ARI Visalia California 5/20 7 1 0 0 9 0 84
6 Nick Tepesch TEX Myrtle Beach Carolina 5/19 7.1 0 0 0 9 4 84
7 Frank Del Valle* CHC Daytona Florida State 6/22 6 0 0 0 11 0 83
8 Andres Santiago LAD R Cucamonga California 4/29 6.2 2 0 0 11 0 82
9 Andrew Chafin* ARI Visalia California 5/27 8 3 1 1 11 1 82
  Matt Heidenreich CWS Winston-Salem Carolina 5/17 8 3 0 0 6 0 82
11 Ryan Bradley* SF San Jose California 5/4 7 1 0 0 6 0 81
  Kyle Hendricks TEX Myrtle Beach Carolina 5/20 8 4 1 1 11 0 81
  T.J. House* CLE Carolina Carolina 4/9 7 2 0 0 9 1 81
  Nick Maronde* LAA Inland Empire California 4/27 7 3 0 0 12 2 81
  Daniel Renken CIN Bakersfield California 6/5 8 3 0 0 6 1 81
  Gus Schlosser ATL Lynchburg Carolina 6/10 8 3 0 0 5 0 81
17 Lay Batista LAA Inland Empire California 5/22 8 2 0 0 3 1 80
  Jesse Biddle* PHI Clearwater Florida State 6/3 7 4 0 0 12 1 80
  Roenis Elias* SEA High Desert California 5/1 8 3 1 1 8 0 80
  Shane Greene NYY Tampa Florida State 6/9 6 0 0 0 8 0 80
  David Holmberg* ARI Visalia California 4/10 7 2 1 0 9 0 80
  Eric Jokisch* CHC Daytona Florida State 5/7 7 4 0 0 11 0 80
  Tyler Matzek* COL Modesto California 5/30 8 3 1 1 9 1 80
  Jimmy Nelson MIL Brevard Cty Florida State 4/16 7 2 0 0 7 0 80
  Tyson Perez HOU Lancaster California 5/17 9 2 1 1 2 1 80
  Max Russell* LAA Inland Empire California 5/15 9 4 1 0 5 2 80

Youngest Pitchers: Four 20-year-olds have turned in top game scores in high Class A, three of who—the Rangers' Cody Buckel, the Nationals' Robbie Ray and the Phillies' Jesse Biddle—were 2010 draft picks out of high school who won't age until after the season. Diamondbacks lefty David Holmberg, drafted a year earlier in the second round, is the exception. He turns 21 on July 19, but he received extra credit for putting in his time in the California League and also for receiving a bump to Double-A, like Buckel.

Two-Timer: Arizona acquired both David Holmberg (84 and 80 game scores) and Daniel Hudson in its 2010 trade of Edwin Jackson to the White Sox. Though he's made three stats for Double-A Mobile, Holmberg still ranks third in the Cal League strikeout race (with 86), while also continuing to haunt the ERA (2.99, third) and WHIP (0.97, first) leaderboards.That's quite a turnaround from 2011, when he logged 13 starts for Visalia and finished with a 4.67 ERA and 1.51 WHIP.

Best Effort Not Reflected Here: 24-year-old Brevard County righthander Hiram Burgos (84 game score on April 24: 8 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 9 SO, 1 BB).

TOP 20 GAME SCORES • 22-AND-YOUNGER PITCHERS AT LOW CLASS A
NO PITCHER ORG TEAM LEAGUE DATE IP H R ER SO BB GS
1 Vianney Mayo COL Asheville South Atlantic 4/16 9 3 0 0 9 0 90
  Tim Shibuya MIN Beloit Midwest 5/15 9 3 0 0 9 0 90
3 Tommy Collier DET W Michigan Midwest 5/30 9 4 0 0 7 1 85
  Jordan Shipers* SEA Clinton Midwest 5/5 9 3 0 0 6 2 85
5 Kyle Crick SF Augusta South Atlantic 6/7 7 1 0 0 10 1 84
  Blair Walters* CWS Kannapolis South Atlantic 5/17 7 1 0 0 9 0 84
7 Alex Gillingham COL Asheville South Atlantic 6/1 9 5 1 0 8 0 83
8 Clayton Blackburn SF Augusta South Atlantic 6/5 8.2 4 0 0 6 1 82
9 Ryan Carpenter* TB Bowl Green Midwest 6/16 7 2 0 0 9 1 81
  Nick Tropeano HOU Lexington South Atlantic 4/19 8 4 0 0 9 2 81
11 Rafael Montero NYM Savannah South Atlantic 6/1 8 4 0 0 6 0 80
  Victor Payano* TEX Hickory South Atlantic 5/29 7 3 0 0 11 2 80
  Kyle Ryan* DET W Michigan Midwest 6/16 8 2 0 0 5 3 80
  Jeff Shields ARI South Bend Midwest 4/12 7 2 0 0 7 0 80
15 Clayton Blackburn SF Augusta South Atlantic 5/29 6.2 2 0 0 9 1 79
  Luis Cruz* HOU Lexington South Atlantic 5/20 7.2 3 0 0 7 2 79
17 Mike Foltynewicz HOU Lexington South Atlantic 6/3 8 1 1 1 5 2 79
  Mickey Pena* BOS Greenville South Atlantic 5/8 6 0 0 0 7 0 79
  Adys Portillo SD Fort Wayne Midwest 5/9 7 1 0 0 6 2 79
  Domingo Tapia NYM Savannah South Atlantic 4/14 7 3 0 0 8 0 79
  Nick Tropeano HOU Lexington South Atlantic 5/5 7 2 0 0 8 2 79

Youngest Pitchers: Does any organization identify and cultivate high-school arms quite like the Giants? Past success stories include Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler, and now this year's Augusta squad features 19-year-old righthanders Kyle Crick (Sherman, Texas) and Clayton Blackburn (Edmond, Okla.), a pair of 2011 prep picks who are off to fine starts in full-season ball. Rangers lefty Victor Payano also is 19, and he's gone 5-3, 3.13 for Hickory despite issuing 5.0 walks per nine innings. His secret: Opponents have hit just .214 against him thus far.

Two-Timers: Clayton Blackburn (82 and 79 game scores) has shown spotless control all season for Augusta—he ranks third in the South Atlantic League in WHIP (1.09) and second in strikeout rate (10.3 per nine innings). Astros righty Nick Tropeano (81 and 79 game scores) has chewed through SAL competition with a solid fastball/changeup mix, ranking second in strikeouts (97) to Greensboro's Jose Fernandez and second in innings (87 1/3) to Lexington teammate Mike Foltynewicz.

Best Effort Not Reflected Here: 23-year-old Lansing righthander Jesse Hernandez (83 game score on June 12: 8 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 8 SO, 1 BB).

Minors |

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