Minor League Pitchers to Watch in the “A” Leagues

Myworld will focus more on strikeouts and WHIP when looking at the pitchers.  These are the pitchers to watch for 2015.

Carolina League

Christian Binford (Royals) RHP - He leads the league in strikeouts with 64.  Three Royal teammates follow him on the league leaderboard, Miguel Almonte (57), Jonathan Dziedzic (54) and Seth Manaea (53).  Binford leads that group with a 2.20 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.  In four of his last five games he has struck out eight batters.  The Royals selected Binford in the 30th round of the 2011 draft.

Ryan Merritt (Indians) LHP - He leads the league in ERA at 1.71, has a 6-2 record, with his six wins being more than any other Carolina League pitcher and he has an impressive 0.95 WHIP not topped by any other pitcher.  Ryan has not given up more than three runs in any of his 10 starts.  His six wins have already equaled his career high in the minor leagues.  Ryan was a 16th round pick in the 2011 draft.

California League

Ben Lively (Reds) RHP - Ben has been one of the more dominant pitchers in baseball with his 8-1, 1.48 ERA, putting him on top in wins and ERA.  He didn’t allow a run in his first four starts covering 23 innings.  The opposition is hitting only .182 against him, with right handed bats squirming for a .142 average.  Ben was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 draft out of the University of Central Florida and is due for a promotion to AA.  Other areas Ben leads is in strikeouts with 79 and WHIP at 0.84.

Josh Hader (Astros) LHP - The Orioles drafted Josh in the 19th round of the 2012 draft.  The Astros acquired him for Bud Norris.  He has not lost a game yet in the California League (4-0) and his ERA is 2.64.  He combined with two other pitchers on a no hitter in May.  The Astros rotate him back and forth between starting and relief, which they do with all their pitchers in the lower leagues.  He seems to fare much better as a starter (1.59) than out of the bullpen (5.27).  The opposition is hitting him at only a .190 clip with 60 whiffs in just 47 plus innings.

Florida State League

Daniel Norris (Blue Jays) LHP - Daniel Norris has been unhittable with the Blue Jays (4-0, 0.72) with the opposition hitting him at a .200 clip.  In five of his ten starts he has not given up a run, but his wins are limited because of his pitch count.  The second round 2011 pick has 60 strikeouts in his 50 innings of work and has yet to give up a homerun.

Taylor Cole (Blue Jays) RHP - We hate to take two Blue Jays from the Florida State League, but both have been so dominant.  Taylor leads the league in whiffs (82) with a 4-2, 2.31 ERA.  Taylor pitched seven shutout innings in his last start and has struck out 19 in his last two starts with only one walk, covering just 13 plus innings.  Taylor was a 29th round pick in 2011.

South Atlantic League

Matt Milroy (Marlins) RHP - Matt has pitched both from the bullpen and in the rotation.  He has a 0.85 WHIP, limiting the opponents to a .177 average against him.  Lefthanders are only hitting .119 against him, even though he throws right.  Matt is 5-3, 2.01 ERA with 67 whiffs in just 49 innings.  In his last nine appearances, three of them in relief he has struck out at least five hitters.  Matt was an 11th round pick in the 2011 draft.

Matthew Lujan (Giants) LHP - Matthew leads the league in ERA (1.44) with a 5-2 record.  He has yet to give up a homerun in his 50 innings of work.  Lefthanders struggle against him (.182) , but he must do a better job retiring righthanders (.276).  In his last four starts he has only given up one run or less, striking out at least six.  He is a bit old for Low A (25) but he was never drafted, pitching at the University of San Francisco.  This is his second year in the South Atlantic League, so he is due for a promotion.

Midwest League

Austin Kubitza (Tigers) RHP - At 6′5″ 225 he looks pretty intimidating when staring down from the mound.  He has not seen a loss this season (5-0, 2.08) with the opposition hitting him at a .197 clip.  His 65 whiffs are third in the league, including a 12 strikeout performance in seven innings of work on the first day of May.  Austin was a fourth round pick of the 2013 draft out of Rice.

Robbie Aviles (Indians) RHP - His first five appearances were in the pen, but his last five have been as a starting pitcher.  One of those starts he threw six no hit innings.  In high school he got some publicity for throwing back to back no hitters.  Robbie is 1-1, 1.45.  His only downfall is his lack of strikeouts (31 in 49 plus innings) but the opposition has trouble making hard contact, hitting him at a .192 clip.  The Indians drafted him in the seventh round of the 2010 draft.  He failed to win a game until his third season in the minor leagues, going 0-4 in two seasons of short season ball.

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