With enough plate appearances in the bag, we can finally look at some minor league BB and K rates for this season. Of course we know that K rates normalize around 150 PAs while BB rates are around 200. Only those with 200 PA’s therefore were included in this snapshot. You should also remember that’s exactly what this is: a snapshot of the season to this point. Career rates are much more helpful and obviously the larger the sample the better. So don’t get too stoked or too bummed by what you see here just yet. After the season, we’ll take a look at some career rates and see how it all lines up. So here it is:
Recent studies have shown that a K rate below 22% or so for minor leaguers is a helpful indicator of success at the major league level. Above 23%, the amount of players who go on to have successful big league careers drops off. This is obviously subject to various mitigating circumstances. Power hitters, who are obviously very valuable, tend to have higher K rates. Ryan Howard for instance struck out in nearly 28% of his plate appearances in the minors. He still turned out to be a pretty good major league player (although he does still strikeout a lot). A player’s skill is always more important than his K rate. A good hitter who strikes out often is still a very good hitter. As for BB rates, we know that it’s hard to “learn” plate discipline. It does happen but at a certain point you either know how to take a walk or you do not. Not very often do hitters suddenly develop this ability. Early in a player’s career while at the lower levels of the minor league latter, these can fluctuate quite a bit. With all of that being said, there is still some fun stuff to look at in here. Here are some quick thoughts of mine.
- Often you’ll see guys with good numbers at the various A levels hit a wall when they jump to AA. Other than jumping to the majors, it’s the biggest hurdle minor league players face. A player may or may not adjust to the level. For instance, last year Corban Joseph in his first trial at AA had a K rate around 30% for his 130 PAs at the end of the year. So far this year, he’s adjusted well, hitting .289/.378/.449. Joseph has always been able to get on base and that skill hasn’t deserted him yet.
- Zolio Almonte has cut his K rate by about 8% from last year so far. He’s had a terrific year to this point, already with a career high 12 HRs and 11 SBs in just 248 PAs.
- JR Murphy has had a consistently low K rate to this point in his career. He doesn’t walk often either but he makes a lot of contact which is always nice to see.
- Rob Segedin is a 2010 draft pick of note from Tulane. As an advanced hitter, his K and BB rates aren’t very surprising for A ball. After hitting .323/.396/.482 in Charleston, he’s struggled a bit in his first 50 PAs in A+ Tampa but he should be okay.
Here’s a look at all the information combined for those with over 200 PAs, sorted by wRC+.
All data from Fangraphs.com
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