Mike Minor

Seems to be pencilled in, very heavily, as the #5 starter, both because he’s lefthanded and all the other starters are righties, and because really he’s the best man for the job, even if he didn’t look it in the majors last year. Minor, a controversial #1 draft choice by the Braves in 2009 (7th overall, considered a signability pick by many) out of Vandy, was impressive in his first professional action that year, then pitched well in the first half for Mississippi, earning a promotion to Gwinnett. He demolished the International League, going 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA in six starts before getting called up to bolster the rotation when injuries took out Kris Medlen and Jair Jurrjens, making his debut only a year and three days after he was drafted. He went 3-2, but that was due to run support, as his ERA was a hefty 5.98 and opposing batters hit .314/.353/.527 off of him. The general consensus is that this doesn’t represent his true ability, that he was worn out after already having pitched more innings than in any season prior; he wound up, I believe, going over the innings limit that the Braves set for him before the season. But he wouldn’t be the first Braves lefty to put up impressive minor league stats and not succeed for the major league team.

Minor apparently added velocity through some mechanical adjustments upon entering the professional ranks, and has been a strikeout machine. Even in the majors last year he struck out 43 in 40 2/3 innings, with okay control. His poor major league showing seems to be a result of (a) home runs (six of them, after just nine in more than three times the innings in the minors) (b) falling behind the batters and having to come over the plate with less than his best stuff, and (c) bad luck. He has a good chance of being league-average in 2011, which is really good for a fifth starter.

Mike Minor Statistics

108 thoughts on “Mike Minor”

  1. I’m optimistic about Minor. The peripherals look good with the exception of the HR rate, so if he can get that fixed, we’re in business.

  2. Thanks Mac, but I don’t think it’s fair to compare Minor to JoJo, Chucky, and Chen. JoJo never had the control that Minor has, and Chucky/Chen never had the “stuff” that Minor has. Minor is the most talented out of that group.

  3. Mac… comparing Chuck the Huck to the finer Minor… well, it’s just disturbing.

    Signability pick.. so Minor the signer?

  4. First, as to Bruce Chen:

    Prospect Ratings by Baseball America:
    Pre-1997: Rated #83 Prospect
    Pre-1998: Rated #27 Prospect
    Pre-1999: Rated #4 Prospect

    That’s from B-R. Chen was roughly as good of a prospect as Teheran is today. In 1998 he had gone 15-8 (at AA and AAA) with 193 strikeouts in 163 2/3 innings.

    Chuck James’ career minor league ERA is 2.13, with 9.9 K/9. Joseph Reyes had put up AAA ERAs of 2.31 and 2.86 in the two years before the Braves got rid of him.

  5. To me, the ‘added velocity’ Minor is a legit 2/3 on a ’12 or ’13 playoff caliber rotation. The ‘regular velocity’ Minor is still an above league average 4/5 lefthander, which still has quite a bit of value, especially while still cheap.

    The comparison to JoJo scares me, though I wouldn’t put Minor in the soft tossing lefty category like Chucky or Chen, even if he doesn’t maintain his velocity increase. I think he has the best stuff (especially K ability) of any lefty in the system since Avery.

  6. And also, I’m young enough to not remember Chen, but didn’t James pretty much exclusively feature a fastball/changeup combo? I thought that Minor had three legit pitches plus a fourth that could be called upon.

  7. Someone on DOB’s blog is saying there’s an article on Wagner suggesting he’s leaving the door open for a return. Does anyone have Insider that can shed some light on what “ExBravesFan” is saying?

  8. Yeah, James only had two pitches and really wasn’t an upper tier prospect.

    I remember when Chen was going to be the next Avery.

  9. I have read an interview with him somewhere last week. He doesn’t blame his drop off on tiring but on the fact that hitters stopped swinging at his curveball. In the interview he goes on saying that he’ll need a third pitch if he wants to be successful. I’ll try to find the link.

  10. You can go back father than that. I can’t remember his name but there was a guy in the early/mid 90s that was supposed to be the next Glavine. I think his name was Brad Woodall.

    FWIW, I have a calendar with baseball trivia. Today’s fact is “from 2006 to 08, Atlanta’s Jeff Francouer ranked 12 in theh Majors in two-out RBI with 120, just one behind teammate Brian McCann, who was tied for 10th on the list.”

    Uh, this proves exactly what??? I believe this fact was submitted by Mrs. Jeff Francouer.

  11. I think Mac makes a good point. The jump to the Majors is a pretty big one. Minor has a deeper arsenal than Chuck James, but his trajectory isn’t too dissimilar from Jo-Jo’s.

    I do think Minor has a better head on his shoulders than Reyes, though. So, I don’t think he will be just a quad-A guy. Minor will hold a Major League starting pitching job. I think the range of reasonable outcomes is from a #2 to a #5. Hopefully, he can at least hit that floor this year.

  12. @15,

    I would think so. Being in the five hole would help limit his innings too. However, if there is an injury early in the year to someone, he might get more innings.

  13. For us to truly challenge this year, Minor (or some other lefty) is going to have to contribute.

    Wonder if David Pryce would like to join his old teammate someday?

    I’m clearly watching too much History Channel, but Tony Jones looks like Himmler.

  14. Rob – Saw your mention of Spring Training the other day. I may be opening up Roger Dean stadium this spring, but I do not think I will be around when you are there.

    If anyone is going to be in Orlando for the Braves – Yankees on March 8th, I will be all by my lonesome at that game.

  15. Mac,
    Just saw the promo for the Maple Street Press, glad to you’re going to be one of the featured writers. Can’t wait to order a copy.

  16. I think that Minor is a better prospect than Jo Jo. However, Mac’s basic point is on target–there is about as much certainty that Minor will do what Braves’ fans would like as their was with Jo Jo (or Chuck James, for that matter). I cannot help but remember that both Glavine and Smoltz saw enough potential in Jo Jo that they took the time to try to mentor him….

  17. @25,

    That is funny. Actually it is call “Signs of the Apocalypse: Larry the Cable Guys Has a Show on the History Channel.”

  18. It’s called “Only in America.” Apparently, Larry the Cable Guy will go around the country to talk to real American people about things that they do that apparently could only happen in America.

    Maybe History Channel figured he’s the right man for the job because it is only in America that a failed comic named Dan Whitney would be able to become a superstar by cutting off his sleeves and telling hack jokes in a parody redneck accent.

    Maybe they figured they needed one show that wasn’t about World War II. But if they wanted to build a show about a comedian, why not just hire Abe Vigoda?

  19. @28,

    This is the same channel that turned down a show on the Kennedys because it didn’t meet their standards of authenticity. That seems to be a pretty low standard but this was apparently a real beaut; one scene apparently was to have Jack begging Jackie, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, to not leave him. Where the hell was she going to go? (I guess the WH wouldn’t be the best place to be during a nuclear attack but I bet it has a kickass fallout shelter and, anyway, they would probably evacuate the president first.)

  20. Bruce Chen was consistently ranked the top pitching prospect in baseball circh ’98. He was loved by both scouts (Baseball America) and stat nerds (Prospectus.) At the same time Odalis Perez was highly touted as well.

    Jo Jo Reyes was consistently projected to be a solid #2-3 in the bigs.

    Chuck James was more of a stat-nerd project. A lot of number crunchers loved his minor league translations, but scouts never liked him much at all (size and “make-up.”)

    Along with Brad Woodall it bears remembering there was a time when Rob Bell and Ruben Quevedo were considered “top pitching prospects” mostly because they put up “good” seasons at Myrtle Beach, they had a tomahawk across their chest and no one was really park adjusting for minor league parks back then.

  21. I don’t know how anyone who actually watched James in the majors could have thought much of him. That is a prospect fetish that completely baffles me.

  22. I enjoyed watching Chuck James, frustrating as it was to watch him hit a wall in the 5th-6th inning, every single time. If he had a breaking pitch that worked, he could have been an effective starter. But he truly did have a great changeup, and he could probably still make it as a reliever. Also, don’t forget, but he actually didn’t have a bad major league career. His rookie season was legitimately good, as he went 11-4 with a 3.78 ERA in 119 innings. But his FIP was 5.06, and that may help explain why his ERA went up the next year.

    I think it’s even easier to explain, though: over his career, opponents hit .244/.326/.427 off him in the first three innings, and .269/.334/.518 thereafter. He got a lot more hittable the second and third time through the lineup. I’d love to see him come back and succeed, even if he’s more of a George Sherrill LOOGY than an Eddie Guardado-style improbable relief ace.

  23. I think that was part of what was so painful to watch Re: Chuck James when he started struggling… almost every start would look like he was getting it together for a few innings, and then the wheels would slowly fall off. I remember WILLING him to get through the line-up that third time.

  24. #36
    Chuck James could certainly be frustrating, in a Damian Moss-kinda way.

    But I always found Jo Jo Reyes more infuriating to watch. Compared to Reyes, Chuck James was Greg Maddux.

  25. PECOTA seems to think that Heyward is going to magically lose 30+ walks playing a full season in 2011. I think that’s hilariously off, and he’ll probably be closer to 110.

  26. I’d wait until you get the full PECOTA projections, James.

    I’ll also say that I don’t really expect Heyward to put up the .300/.400/.500 line everyone around here seems to think he’s due for. Sophomore slumps aren’t exactly a radical thing to project.

    And FWIW, systems like PECOTA rely on comparing players to others. When you get distinctive guys (Ichiro is a classic example), PECOTA tends to struggle. Heyward’s rookie year was quite unique. Didn’t he break a record for walks as a 20-yo or something like that? I dunno. Either way, he’s a pretty unique player, so PECOTA is going to struggle to get an accurate read on him.

  27. He didn’t set the record, but he’s in good company:

    Mel Ott 113 1929
    Ted Williams 107 1939
    John McGraw 101 1893
    Jason Heyward 91 2010
    Al Kaline 82 1955

  28. @28

    There are shows about WWII on the History Channel?

    The only thing I’ve ever seen on that Channel are a couple guys that steal antiques from white trash, a family of fat morons who run a pawn shop in Vegas, and 2-hour specials about what would happen if every human on earth disappeared(Spoiler Alert: All of our shit breaks down… Weird, I know).

  29. I will also agree with Mac’s main point being that Minor wouldn’t be the first Braves lefty to put up minor league numbers and not succeed at the major league level. I went back and looked at his numbers compared to the minor league (mainly A & AA) K/9 & K/BB rate of Woodall, Moss, Horacio, Odalis Perez, JoJo and Chen and they really all are pretty similar.

    After looking at those numbers, it does illustrates an organizational inability to develop left handed starters for the better part of two decades. Perez is probably the lefty developed that had the most success at the big league level, albeit in a Dodger uniform. Minor is the only guy out of any of the lefties mentioned in this thread that a) was a first round draft pick (even if you say he was a signability pick, most had him in the first round somewhere) and b) drafted out of college. I applaud the organization for at least trying something different with Minor, and we’ll see how it pans out. For those two reasons, I’m more optimistic about Minor’s future success, especially if the added velocity remains.

  30. With all this discussion of Braves prospects that should have been but never were, we’re getting perilously close to the discussion about whether Bobby’s tunnel vision kept us good but not great.

  31. I overlooked Dan Meyer being a first round supplemental pick in ’02, 34th overall, but my point is largely that the Braves have never taken a college lefty high before. I went back to 1990 and as far as I can find other than Meyer, Minor represents the only other college (4 year or JC) lefty drafted by the Braves in the first OR second round.

  32. Thanks for the link, ryan.

    I remember thinking how cruel the baseball gods can be.

    Give. And take away.

  33. Looking back at drafts from 1990-2006 via BR, the list of successful college lefties is not lengthy.

    Here is the list of college (4 yr or JC) LHP drafted in the 1st round (including supplemental) with a 5 or higher career WAR:

    1990 13 Cardinals Donovan Osborne (5.2) University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    1993 3 Angels Brian Anderson (10.3) Wright State University (Dayton, OH)
    1993 12 Astros Billy Wagner(29.3) Ferrum College (Ferrum, VA)
    1995 13 Twins Mark Redman (7.6) University of Oklahoma
    1996 20 Yankees via Angels Eric Milton (13.9) University of Maryland
    1998 2 Athletics Mark Mulder (16.3) Michigan State University
    1998 22 Mariners Matt Thornton (9.5) 4Yr Grand Valley State University (Allendale, MI)
    1999 9 Athletics Barry Zito (31.9) University of Southern California
    2001 30 Giants Noah Lowry (8.3) Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
    2002 9 Rockies Jeff Francis (6.5) 4Yr University of Lethbridge (Lethbridge, AB)
    2002 12 Angels Joe Saunders (8.0) 4Yr Virginia Tech
    2003 8 Pirates Paul Maholm (7.9) Mississippi State University

    ’04-’06 (still active/incomplete)
    2004 6 Indians Jeremy Sowers (1.7) Vanderbilt University
    2004 13 Expos Bill Bray (1.0) College of William & Mary
    2004 31(s) Royals J.P. Howell (3.6) University of Texas
    2005 6 Blue Jays Ricky Romero (5.6) California State University, Fullerton
    2006 6 Tigers Andrew Miller (-4.6) University of North Carolina
    2006 39(s) Indians David Huff (-2.3) UCLA (Los Angeles, CA)

    I didn’t write down the exact number of players drafted that fit this criteria, but I’d estimate there are at three to four per year that did fit the criteria.

  34. The ’07 draft is shaping up to be an interesting one for LHP, and one that many people thought would be one of the deepest and most successful in history for college lefties, with David Price going first overall. In all, 10 of top 63 first round and supplemental picks were left handed college lefties. It would be impossible to evaluate this class completely now, but one of the general thoughts in drafting a college pitcher is that they will get to the big leagues quicker. Of the ’07 class besides Price that have reached the big leagues, only Brett Cecil, picked 38 overall to the Blue Jays, has had much big league success. Those two in my estimation are the only ones who fill finish their careers with 5 or more WAR, but admittedly the other 8 still have their chances to crack that number by the time their careers are over.

    Based upon looking at those numbers it is very easy to see why the Braves would want to stay away from drafting college lefties in the first round over the years.

  35. Man, if only Minor had something in common with Price which we could hang our collective hat on in being optimistic about his future.

  36. Stu, if Minor didn’t have that same thing in common as Jeremy Sowers and Clint Johnston ‘in ’98 before him, I’d be more optimistic about his future.

  37. Well, Clint Johnston didn’t have Derek Johnson as a pitching coach. Pre-Corbin VU is in no way comparable to the current program.

  38. @48

    Yes, Chen is still getting paid to play baseball. I wouldn’t say he is in the big leagues.

  39. @50,

    Nice story. Baseball is a damn hard game. Brooks Conrad had one of those games that sometimes happens. It’s a shame that it happened to a guy like Conrad.


    I remember the show about what would happen if humans died. Very weird and how does this involve history?

  40. Why on EARTH would you give up Prado for Michael Young? They have a similar bat, Prado’s a better defender, plus he and KK combined make less money.

  41. Stu–Thanks for Adam Foster’s list. I think that is more realistic than most. Nice to see that Pastornicky makes it #89….

  42. #66–The point made Todd Cunningham a” polished college player with decent tools, of which his power is the most impressive” is almost funny. I wish it were true but it makes me wonder just how well Kevin Goldstein really knows Braves’ prospects….

  43. Dont shoot mraver, it was just a thought. Young wants out and if Chipper get hurt, we’ll need someone to replace him.

  44. FBF, I don’t think Young is necessarily a terrible idea — we certainly all love the idea of adding a right-handed bat. But he’s expensive as hell, and certainly isn’t worth giving up anything of value. He’s basically got to be treated as a salary dump for Texas at this point, because he’s made his trade demands public. And, as Mraver pointed out, he isn’t really a better hitter than Prado, and since he can’t play center field, there really isn’t anywhere else to put him.

    Over at Fangraphs a writer suggested the Rangers trade him to Houston for Carlos Lee, which tells you how much they think Young is worth. If we could figure out a way to give up very little and get salary relief as well, I’d say sure, because we can always use more Chipper insurance, and he might even be able to fill in for AAG from time to time, even though his glove kind of sucks. But I wouldn’t give up anyone that we actually like.

  45. I didnt think anyone would loose sleep over trading KK, just fill in the blanks with the players. He’s good insurance for 3b & LF, when Prado needs a rest or Chipper needs rest. If we are gonna carry a big contract (ala KK) shouldnt it be someone who actually would be useful?

  46. Michael Young 2010 H/R splits:

    Home .307 .361 .509
    Away .260 .299 .380

    Career splits:

    Home .322 .372 .487
    Away .279 .322 .411

    He’s an average hitter, at best, and a below-average fielder. He benefits enormously from his home ballpark — not only is Prado a better ballplayer right now, but so, arguably, is AAG.

  47. AAG arguably sucks and should arguably be shot into the sun to fuel it for .00000000001 seconds.

  48. AAG is a really crappy hitter. But he’s a pretty good fielder, and all in all he’s a more-or-less average major leaguer. Which makes him approximately three billion times better than any other shortstop in the organization. We can’t really afford to get rid of him.

  49. We have someone to play 3B if Chipper goes down. His name is Martin Prado….

    Michael Young could be a decent bench bat, but at this point, he can’t play in the middle infield at all and probably shouldn’t play 3B either. Plus, he’s owed like a billion dollars.

    Maybe KK for Young + cash.

  50. I wouldnt trade Beachy alone for Michael Young. Where would he play? Are they going to pay his ridiculous contract? He’s awful defensively too.

  51. Yeah, but if Prado goes to 3rd, who plays LF? If we use Hinske thats one less bench bat. See my logic? Not saying it was a great idea, just an idea.

  52. Michael Young has 3/$48 left on his contract. Thats a ton for a guy that has only 1 .800+OPS season in the last four years.

    Plus if you trade for him where does he play now? He is requesting a trade because he’s now bench player in Tex. He wont be happy in Atl being one either.

  53. Irrational hatred is not swayed by evidence. I’m building the rocket in my backyard right now.

    It’s called The 715.

  54. the only realistic option is lowe for young, and that’s not even very realistic. the rangers would have to pay 5 mil or so and i dont think they’d be willing to do that.

  55. #81 – then what happens? We’ve traded a SP for a $16 mil bench bat just for insurance. If we knew Chipper wasnt coming back, then Young would become a realistic target. He has no spot with this current roster though.

  56. Martin hit .353 /.384 /.498 at home last year, and 269/.322/.426 away. Young’s salary is a function of his career length with respect to FA. His home hitting still happened, and it’s not like many other players would have equaled it. I appreciate the distinction, but 82 games per year of an infielder hitting like a premier LF is not without value. Yes it was a dumb contract, but Beltre’s is likely to be much worse.

  57. @82
    i never said i wanted it. i said it’s the only realistic option. any other trade scenario doesnt work financially.

    Joe:”and he went the other way there chip”

  59. Young’s park-adjusted OPS+ since ’06: 108, 106, 95, 128, 105. There are lots of guys who could have done that.

    His value resides primarily in his durability, which allows his counting stats to look more impressive than they actually are. I’m not trying to say he’s useless, just that he’s overrated (along with overexpensive and overold).

  60. “Aaaand it’s a cold day here in Atlanta, where cars are driving on the highway and… a whole lot of fans are cold. And speaking of cold — and the sun — THERE GOES ALEX GONZALEZ! THE BRAVES SECOND BASEMAN HAS BEEN SHOT INTO OUTER SPACE! Nate McLouth, going back, has a bead on him, and… Alex Gonzalez just collided into the sun. Joe, the sun’s even further away than Birmingham, isn’t it?”

  61. sansho-

    Those are great numbers for a SS or a 2B, and they’re okay for a 3B. Young can’t really play any of those positions anymore. If he was averaging a 105 OPS+ as a SS, he’d probably be worth something near his contract. But he’ll likely be hitting worse than that and playing LF or 1B going forward. These are the reasons I don’t think he’s valuable.

  62. Great article on Brooksy. Hope he makes the team this year, he was really nice to have coming off the bench.

  63. Most frightening thing I’ve heard in awhile:

    Mark Cuban says he has been approached by some investors about buying into the Mets.

    The very last thing we need is Cuban’s money and Steinbrenneresque passion to win in our Division.

    Speaking of which: has there been any recent movement towards realignment and/or contraction?

  64. “A MAJESTIC foul ball down the left field line…and it lands about 10 rows up in the terrace level.”

  65. I think Prado goes .325/.385/.500 this season and finishes in the top 10 in the MVP voting for the second straight year. He’ll be 27 this year, and playing LF should cut down on the nagging injuries that dragged him down towards the end of last season.

  66. I hope your right Sanso, but if Chipper goes down, LF is going to be a black hole that will have to be addressed if we are going to be a legit playoff force. I’m not going to be satisfied with 1 and out this year.

  67. the jays are interested in trading juan rivera. acquiring him for kawakami would be something i’d be interested in seeing completed.

  68. I’m ready to go with the current crop. If/when Chipper goes down, we can utilize our SP depth then to make a trade for an OF. If Wren lays the groundwork now, it shouldn’t take long to accomplish once needed.

    Does the fact that KK has the Japanese League option open to him lessen his potential trade value, or increase it?

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