Astros Minor League Review: Lexington Legends Pitching

Bob Levey - Getty Images

Here's a look at some of the other pitcher's to pitch with the Lexington Legends this season not named Nick Tropeano and Michael Foltynewicz.

The Lexington Legends finished the season .500 at 69-69 in their last season affiliated with the Houston Astros. There were a few of the Astros top prospects who saw time in Lexington this year ranging from Delino DeSheilds Jr to Mike Foltynewicz to 2012 draftee Nolan Fontana. Considering that the Legends lost one of their top performers to the Jethawks in Nick Tropeano mid-season, as well as surrendering a solid bullpen piece in Carlos Quevedo to the Jethawks the pitching staff had an okay season in 2012. Their team ERA of 4.24 ranked seventh out of the fourteen team South Atlantic League. The team finished second in strikeouts with 1144, and also finished third in the league in walks allowed by giving up 452 free passes. The problem was that the staff was also too hittable as they finished last in hits allowed with 1266, and also allowed the ball to leave the yard 123 times which was also good for last place in the Sal league. The bullpen did rank favorably in some of the traditional stats as they finished second in the league with forty saves and third in the league with thirty five holds.

There are a lot of performances to highlight here, especially with a few additions to the staff with the mid-season trades, so we will get right to it. Rightfully so Mike Foltynewicz will have the spotlight all to himself later in the week so we will leave him out of today’s discussion. For starter’s (no pun intended) we will get things started with Luis Cruz who finished just behind Folty in innings pitched with 146.2.

Starting Pitching

Luis Cruz

Cruz, a 21 year old southpaw finished the season with a 4.05 ERA, and a solid 3.57 FIP. He posted good strikeout and walk rates with an 8.27 K/9 and a 2.76 BB/9. His groundball rate of 58.8% was also the highest of his career and well above the league average of 44.2%. Cruz was not as successful against left-handed hitters this season as he was righties. Against lefties he allowed a 4.13 FIP, and only struck out 6.15 batters per nine innings in 41 innings pitched versus a 3.33 FIP against righties while striking out 9.12 batters per nine innings. He allowed 12 homeruns all season, and four of them came against lefties even though more than half of his innings pitched were against right-handed hitters. Cruz was solid during the first half of the season and posted an FIP of 3.12 in April, 2.84 in May, and 3.81 in June before fading a little in the final two months of the season with a 4.24 FIP in July, and a 4.06 in August. The biggest knock against Cruz is that he hasn’t been able to take that step forward at the next level. This was his third season with the Legends and so far he has only made four starts above the low-A level.

Jonas Dufek

Dufek, a 2011 draftee who had a good showing in short-season ball with Tri-City pitched okay with the Legends this season. He posted a 5.47 ERA in 126.2 innings pitched, but outpitched his ERA with a 3.87 FIP and a 3.66 SIERA. The problem is that at age 24 he was old for the level and did not perform as well as you would hope an advanced college pitcher would in low-A ball. His strikeout numbers were solid with an 8.31 K/9 as was his walk rate of 2.63 BB/9, but he also had fly-ball tendencies and only posted a groundball rate of 39.1%. In short, he didn’t have to be Nick Tropeano but with the increased pitching depth in the system he probably needed a better showing than the one he gave to continue to hold a rotation spot in the system. He could be a guy that’s moved to the bullpen next season, or play the organizational depth role that Jonathan Aristil and Wes Musick has in the past.

Luis Ordosgoitti

Ordosgoitti made his full season debut in May of this season and experienced a few bumps in the road along the way. He ended the season with a 5.42 ERA in 103 innings pitched, and posted a better FIP of 4.13. Ordosgoitti didn’t walk a lot of batters, only 2.27 per nine innings, but also didn’t strike out a lot either averaging 6.73 strikeouts per nine innings. He was pretty hittable this season and allowed 133 hits in his 103 innings, and was also vulnerable to the big inning. Lefties did the most damage off of him this season. He posted a slash line of .376/.404/680 against lefties versus a .271/.317/.396 against righties. This amounted to a 5.51 FIP in 39.1 innings pitched against left-handed hitters with a 4.58 K/9, versus a 3.28 FIP in 63.2 innings pitched against right-handed hitters with a 8.06 K/9. At 19 years old this season he’s still got plenty of time to improve, but it will be interesting to see his role next season as there are several capable arms available for rotation spots for the Quad-Cities team next season.

Chris Devenski

Devenski is interesting to me for a couple of reasons. One of those reasons is the fact that Jeff Luhnow stated that the player to be named later in the Brett Myers trade was a significant piece in that deal, and that PTBNL was Chris Devenski. The other main reason was that little sixteen strikeout no-hit performance in his last start of the season. Devenski was a 2011 draftee by the White Sox who started this season in the Sox bullpen where he made 11 appearances in relief. He didn’t perform particularly well in the bullpen and posted a 4.87 ERA. He was then converted to a starter where he threw 70.2 innings and posted a 3.58 ERA with 69 strikeouts and 29 walks. Overall Devenski threw 91 innings with a 3.86 ERA, a 3.75 FIP, and a 3.58 SIERA. He struck out 9.1 batters per nine innings and walked 3.46. In his 29.1 innings with the Legends Devenski posted an FIP of 2.89 and averaged 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings though his walk rate also rose to 4.91. All in all not too bad for his first full season and also his first try at starting in professional ball.

David Rollins

Rollins was also a 2011 draftee who was sent over to the Astros from the Blue Jays in the big ten player swap. Overall Rollins had a solid year in low-A ball and pitched 103.2 innings while posting a 2.86 ERA and a 3.38 FIP. He averaged 8.42 strikeouts per nine innings and while walking 3.56. He was bit by the homerun bug in Lexington and allowed four long balls in 26 innings while only allowing 2 homeruns in 77.2 innings in the Blue Jays system. His platoon stats favored facing left-handed hitters, but only slightly. Lefties hit .210/.300/.290 off of him this year while righties hit .230/.310/.360. His performance this season does come with the caveat that he was 23 years old and was older for the level.

The Bullpen

Murilo Gouvea

The Legends had some guys perform well in the pen for them and Gouvea was one of them. Gouvea was in his second season with the Legends and appeared in 49 games and pitched 75.2 innings this season while posting a 10.2 K/9 and a 3.21 BB/9. He posted a decent groundball percentage of 45.3% and also was better than league average at avoiding line drives. He’s posted good strikeouts numbers since he’s been in professional ball but his age relative to the rest of the league also has to be taken into account. This was his age 23 season in low-A ball.

Evan Grills

Grills made his full season debut this year appearing in 36 games for the Legends and pitching 67.1 innings. He struggled this season and posted a 5.21 ERA and a 5.35 FIP while also only averaging 5.08 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. He allowed 80 hits in his 67.1 innings pitched and 34 of those went for extra bases. Right-handed hitters hit him harder than left-handed hitters, but he struggled against both. Lefties hit .294/.327/.490 against him while righties hit .301/.378/.530. Grills’ was only 20 years old this season and could be repeating low-A Quad Cities next season.

Dayan Diaz

Diaz also made his full season debut this season with the Legends at age 23 and recorded 19 saves. He appeared in 40 games this season and posted a 1.76 ERA and 2.84 FIP in 56.1 innings. He averaged 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings, but also walked 4.63 batters per nine innings. He was one of the few Legends relief pitchers who posted a good groundball percentage of 50%. He was especially effective against left-handed hitters this season and averaged 15 K/9 with a 2.04 FIP against lefties and an .180/.320/.240 slash line. He allowed just four extra base hits against lefties all season.

Mitchell Lambson

The last guy we are going to talk about here is Lambson. Lambson started the season in rookie ball before being promoted to Lexington in late June. He had a very nice season for the Legends and pitched to a 2.36 FIP in 31 innings. He averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings versus just 1.74 walks allowed per nine innings. He had flyball tendencies in his 17 games with the Legends, but only two of those went for homeruns this season. Lambson was very good against left-handed hitters this season posting a .220/.260.350 line against lefties, but was even better against righties and only allowed a .190/.230/.280 slash line against him. It will be interesting to see how he performs in a full season.

Conclusion

Even though they didn’t make the playoffs the Legends had a nice season in their final year being affiliated with the Astros. There weren’t any real standout performances in the rotation outside of Nick Tropeano and Mike Foltynewicz. Luis Cruz had a solid year but you would expect him through in his third season at the level. Most of the bullpen guys mentioned above outside of Evan Grills and maybe Mitchell Lambson will probably advance a level leaving room for some of the short-season guys who posted strong seasons to get started. There is also no shortage of starting pitching prospects that look to be ready to start in full-season so it will be interesting to see these guys’ placements next season.

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