Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why Jake Floethe?



Before I get started, let me begin by saying that I am thrilled to get Jake Floethe to join the Biscuits pitching staff. The team needs him.

I had expected he might have a chance to break camp with the Skitz out of spring training, but it didnt happen. I like the kid, hes a good pitcher and has solid numbers in his career as well as this season. He has stepped right into the rotation and has already tossed a couple very big games for us.
Jake Floethe MiLB photo

Its not a criticism, but I wonder why he was the player promoted to join the Biscuits staff after the Rays moved Buschmann and Kelly to Durham.....



Why did we get Jake Floethe?

He has the Bulldog look down

He only had one start in ten appearances for Charlotte. The StoneCrabs are playing way under .500 ball and have two pitchers who were passed over for promotion that have better numbers.

It looks like Jake was the main man out of the Charlotte bullpen, called into games when the starter was unable to post more than four innings, which was often, and as a result would pitch up to five innings in relief per game.

THE GOOD
He has good numbers against the Florida State league, 4w-3L and a nice 3.56 ERA.

THE BAD
He stuck out just 27 men in over 40 Innings Pitched and allowed more than a hit an inning. He walked 18 men in ten appearances for Port Charlotte, only twice was he able to avoid the free pass and usually allows multiple bases on balls.

THE INTANGIBLES
Flat Brim = Family Resemblance?
Maybe he was throwing the ball well, but I have to wonder why wasn't he in the StoneCrabs rotation? If he was the best option for promotion, do his stats not reflect his performance?

It seems an odd choice to send to a team seeking a playoff berth, when there are several guys who have numbers that look better but are left pitching for a team more than a little out of the playoff picture.

With that in mind, lets see if we can shed some light on the Tampa decision making.


OTHER CANDIDATES
Hahn

How about Jesse Hahn, in 13 starts hes 0-1 with a sparkling 1.23 ERA, has fanned 44 batters in 43 innings pitched, and gives up less than a walk a game.

How about Felipe Rivero who is 5w-3L, a nice 3.38 ERA and some good strikeout totals. He even pitched a shutout already this year, of the seven inning variety.
Rivero

Ryan Carpenter has good numbers in Charlottes rotation, 6-3 with a 3.60 ERA, 64K in 70IP.



Carpenter
If I were any of those three guys, I would wonder what more I had to do to get a promotion!  I am guessing it wont be long before they get here....

It cant be that age is factor, while Rivero and Carpenter are under 23, by the numbers the best of the Charlotte starters, Hahn, is only two months younger than Floethe.



We can point out that Hahn has yet to make it past the fourth inning in any start this season, but add the fact that Floethe had only one start this year in game two of a doubleheader.

In four starts with the Biscuits Jake has twice failed to get to the fifth inning.

Yes, Jake Floethe is a starting pitcher. He has 32 career starts, mostly in 2012. Yes, he has gone at least three innings in each of his ten appearances this season. It's easily seen that he has been a valuable rubber arm out of the bullpen for a staff of younger guys, often able to pitch more innings more often than some of the other starters.

But hes not the only dependable hurler. SP Rivero has only twice in his last ten starts failed to reach the fourth inning, and has much better numbers. In Carpenters last ten starts he has made it to the 5th inning or better nine times.

 
The point being that maybe the guy with the best stats didnt get the promotion from the 14-games back StoneCrabs to the 2-games back Biscuits. 

"IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, PITCH BETTER!"
Here's my thoughts on it:
Jake Floethe should have indeed been brought up when he was, but it should have followed the promotions of one or more of the other StoneCrabs starters, and the DE-motion of Victor Mateo. Mateo has seemed overmatched at times in Double-A and might better serve the organization and his own development to work through the issues at a lower level.

Victor is a very hard working guy with a great attitude. I appreciate that he is trying hard to improve and wants to win. He probably feels he is just a couple bullpen sessions from getting back to normal, but when you log 49 earned runs in 15 games, hitting 11 men and allowing 35 walks in the first half of the season, I think it says control may be on the list of things to work on. The 2 wins and 7 losses in the first half of the season had already banished him to the Biscuit bullpen.

This is not a new problem for Mateo. He has posted ERA's over 4.00 three times since 2008, but that total is less than two runs lower than it stands now. Victor has allowed almost as many bases on balls as he did in 2011, but that season it took 20 starts and a half dozen relief appearances to reach the total he has gotten in just fifteen starts. That season he also gave up more than a hit per inning, so the Rays have to be aware that he is having the same issues.

To ask him to take the hill going into the final series of the half - just a pair of games out does a disservice to him and to the Biscuit fans hoping for playoff games in September.

Mateo knows going into the game that its a must-win situation. He also knows, like we do, that opponents hit .291 off him, that he is one homer behind Thompson for the most allowed, that he has been giving up walks in groups and hit alot of batters.
He knows that 70% of baserunners who try to swipe a bag succeed. He knows this and he knows that the Biscuits only score four runs a game and his Earned Run Average is over a run and half more than that.

I think thats a ton of pressure to put on a young man who is struggling to hone his skills into a craft for a team a long way from Santo Domingo. Especially considering that there are quality pitchers of the same age playing for Charlotte that have proven they are worthy of the chance to pitch in a game that means more than the StoneCrabs June 11th game, attendance 997.

SENDS A MESSAGE ABOUT PHILOSOPHY
If it is about player development, there is little reason for leaving players in lower levels with losing teams when there is an equal chance for them to develop, improve and learn how to win. That is the reasoning we are given when players are being sent to Durham, but it appears that isnt always the way players are sent to Montgomery.

If it wasn't about winning we would never bring the infield in or give an intentional walk.


WE LIKE MIKE

Mike Colla is not chopped liver, nor even chipped beef. Nor is he the part of the shirt next to my neck. He IS our new starter. He IS pitching great.

Colla is a Cali native
I LOVE that the Rays spent money on a guy for the Biscuits, even if they maybe did it to keep us from having a guy from the Port Charlotte rotation.

It means the big club had to tend to our needs, maybe even TALK to us and find out what we needed. It gives me hope to know that it actually does happen. Sometimes I wonder.

Mike is a former Pirates farmhand, the 26 year old went to Arizona before signing with the Bucs. Hes been mired in the Eastern League for a few years, spending all or part of the last four seasons in double-A. Until this spring when Pitt lost faith he started in independent ball when the Rays came calling.

Colla in college
With the Skitz he has made three starts, two good and one bad. With over 400 career minor league innings he should have stamina, and looks to post his first winning season since 2009.

His first home start against Huntsville was excellent, six punchouts in six innings, one run allowed on a solo homer, one walk and five hits. It was just what fans hope the big club will send to a team in the hunt.

Second start was on the road and the Mr.Hyde to the first starts Dr.Jekyl - six runs on the same five hits, plus three walks, the same one homer and five strikeouts.

He did his job well in one way that game by going 5.1 innings, taking the weight off the bullpen a little for not having to bail him out.

Game three saw him pitch seven innings of one hit ball, stretching out innings and giving the bullpen a breather.

And that is why we got Jake Floethe and Mike Colla instead of Hahn, Rivero and Carpenter!




SERIES VS LOOKOUTS - BEGAN JUNE 24

Oh, hey, thats right. We went to Chattanooga and are playing the Lookouts!

The Dodgers affiliate is Puig-less but still boasts Jock Pederson in the lineup. With the promotion of Puig to Los Angeles, Pederson takes over the title of Dodgers Top Hitting Prospect. However also on the Prospects list are pitchers Chris Reed, Onelky Garcia, Yimi Garcia, Ross Stripling and outfielder Blake Smith.

A four catcher tandem on the roster is sort of rare, but the Lookouts probably enjoy getting to employ one in the DH in the series against us, perhaps including Matt Wallach. Also, 32 year old 3B Sean Burroughs is on the comeback trail with the Lookouts, providing veteran leadership and a solid bat in the lineup.

Osvaldo Martinez play for the Lookouts this season, another veteran infielder that make this a tough team to face.

Game One - the Biscuits started Jake Thompson against the Dodgers top pitching prospect Zach Lee and managed to score in the ninth to tie and the tenth to win in extras.

Game Two - Mike Colla will make his fourth start against the Lookouts Reed 3w-6L.

Game Three - Enny Romero vs Andres Santiago 3w-5L

Game Four - Victor Mateo? vs TBA

Game Five - Jake Floethe vs Ross Stripling


WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Its going to be a tougher series than the wins and losses will show. This five game series will set the tone for the second half road trips and also give the players a good idea of what the sales tax is in the state of Tennessee, where they will be visiting often in the next two months.

I look for the starting pitchers to step up in the coming weeks, and it could begin in this series. They will be asked to stretch out innings and take the pressure off the bullpen. A side effect of this will be seen in the bullpen, which always benefits from a strong effort by the starting pitcher.

I look for Mikie Mahtook to add fifteen points to his batting average by seasons end, the LSU product has been showcasing his defensive abilities in recent highight reels, but soon he will figure out the batting stroke that will carry him to Durham and beyond.

Cameron Seitzer finally popped the seal on the home-run ball in the home series just ended. Now that the pressure is off we will start to see what he can really do, and Southern League pitchers may not appreciate it.

I look for Hector Guevara to earn more walks, but none may be as large as the one he got in the first game of the Chattanooga series!



PROSPECT WATCH
I often talk about prospect lists for other teams, but we have no lack of talent in our organization, and even on our own team. Of course there is Mahtook and Enny Romero, top twenty prospects who inhabit the Montgomery roster.

On the way up!
Here is a quick list of the guys who are waiting and hoping for the promotion to Montgomery and also on the MLB top prospect list.

Shaffer
Taylor Guerrieri is 5-2 with a 2.52 ERA in 11 starts at Bowling Green A-ball, ranked #2 in the Rays organization.

Blake Snell, the #7 prospect is a lefty pitcher also in Bowling Green, 2w-5L so far this season.

Vettleson
Richie Shaffer is batting .247 for Port Charlotte High-A and is ranked at #9 among Rays prospects.

The #10 prospect is Drew Vettleson, also playing in Charlotte. Drew is an outfielder batting .268 on the year.

Shortstop Jake Hager is the #14 prospect, having an easy go of it in the Florida State League with Charlotte - batting .286 with nine steals so far.

Also in the top twenty: Tyler Goeddel, Brandon Martin, Patrick Leonard and Ryan Brett.



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