Since the Statcast era began in the Majors in 2015, baseball analysts, writers and fans have used new ways to break down the national pastime. Terms like exit velocity and barrel rate are more commonplace now than a decade ago, and while they can still make some heads spin, they have largely aided our understanding of how players can stand out at the top level.
Except Statcast isn’t reserved for just the top level anymore.
The increased use of the Automated Ball/Strike System (ABS) in Pacific Coast League, Triple-A Charlotte and Florida State League (excluding Daytona) ballparks has meant the proliferation of public Statcast data in those locations. Using a game ID and Baseball Savant, any fan can view the Statcast data from an eligible Minor League game, gaining access to numbers previously reserved for players and clubs themselves. It’s a great way to see what a pitcher is throwing or how hard a hitter can make contact before he reaches the bigs.
With only a few weeks left in the Minor League season, let’s take a look at some of the Statcast standouts from currently ranked MLB Pipeline prospects or those who have recently graduated.
Oneil Cruz, SS, Triple-A Indianapolis (Pirates), max exit velocity: Extreme Statcast data should sometimes be taken with a grain of salt, because outliers could be the result of faulty data. Then again, we already know Cruz is himself The Statcast Outlier. The Pittsburgh shortstop has already set Major League Statcast-era records with a 122.4 mph exit-velocity hit and a 97.8 mph infield throw. Before that, he set the Triple-A season high with a 121.7 mph single at Charlotte on May 12, five weeks before joining the Majors. The rocket (seen above) covered 299 feet in 2.4 seconds from a launch angle of just nine degrees. There could have been similar Cruz missiles in non-Charlotte International League parks, but for what it’s worth, no other Statcast-measured Triple-A batted ball has been at an exit velocity above 117.7. That difference would have raised an eyebrow for anyone but the 6-foot-7 slugger.
Luis Campusano, C, Triple-A El Paso (Padres No. 2, MLB No. 98), home run distance: This season the 23-year-old catcher’s Minor League slugging percentage has dropped to .483, its lowest level since 2018, but that doesn’t mean Campusano can’t still pack a big punch when he makes contact. His July 22 homer at Reno measured in at a whopping 491 feet, making it the second-longest Statcast-measured homer of the Triple-A season. (Only a 493-foot homer by Round Rock’s Zach Reks beat it.) In case you were wondering, the longest Padres homer this season was a 463-foot shot by Manny Machado on June 18. There are a lot of factors involved in Campusano’s number -- Reno’s elevation, dry conditions and 16 mph winds blowing toward the outfield, for starters -- but anyone capable of hitting a baseball 491 feet anywhere has power that will play in The Show.
Bubba Thompson, OF, Triple-A Round Rock (Rangers No. 28), Sprint Speed: Anyone who has watched Thompson play for Texas knows he can fly. That’s doubly true for anyone who caught him during his 80 games with Round Rock. The 2017 26th overall pick eclipsed the elite Sprint Speed standard of 30 ft/sec on the basepaths 83 times, most among Triple-A players who ran in a Statcast-eligible ballpark this season. Those 83 “Bolts” would rank second in the Majors behind only Trea Turner’s 107. So when we talk about elite wheels, these are them.
Gregory Santos, RHP, Triple-A Sacramento (Giants No. 25), pitch velocity: The 23-year-old right-hander has thrown the 43 fastest pitches of the 2022 season among Sacramento hurlers, topping out at 102.2 mph and averaging 98.9 mph with the heater. It’s elite heat, pure and simple. And yet, the reliever actually throws his upper-80s slider more, 57.3 percent of the time to be specific. The differing whiff rates (8.3 percent vs. 20.5) explain why Santos may prefer the breaker to the velo, but both pitches give him a back-of-the-bullpen ceiling.
Andrew Painter, RHP, Single-A Clearwater (Phillies No. 1, MLB No. 25), pitch velocity: The 19-year-old right-hander has been promoted twice since his days in the FSL, but it's from his outings in that circuit that we have Statcast data. Painter had started to show additional velocity as far back as last fall’s instructs, and those gains certainly carried over to Clearwater, where he touched triple digits twice and averaged 96.8 mph with the four-seamer. The heat on the pitch helped him get swings-and-misses 22 percent of the time he threw it; only his changeup had a higher whiff rate in the FSL. The 6-foot-7 hurler’s mixture of size and stuff has helped him post a 1.23 ERA with 132 strikeouts over 87 2/3 innings at three levels.
Jackson Jobe, RHP, Single-A Lakeland (Tigers No. 1, MLB No. 41), spin rate: The 2021 third overall pick has a solid four-pitch mix, but one of those four offerings earned the highest grade -- his 65 slider. The pitch lived up to its high-spin billing in his first taste of pro ball. He threw the slider 263 times with Lakeland, and 101 of those (38.4 percent) featured spin rates of 3,000 rpm or above. The big spin and sweeping horizontal break helped him get whiffs on 15.2 percent of his sliders, and opposing FSL batters only hit .152 against it. The rest of the arsenal will determine just how good of a starter Jobe can be, but the slider is already special.
Jasson Domínguez, OF, Single-A Tampa (Yankees No. 2, MLB No. 42), arm strength: For all the talk of Domínguez’s many tools, his arm strength might not get as much ink as his power and speed. Perhaps it should. Following his return to Tampa this spring, Domínguez registered six of the Tarpons’ eight strongest defensive throws on the season, all of which clocked in at at least 95.4 mph. He maxed out with a 100.5 mph seed from center on May 3 in Bradenton. Raw tools like that don’t require an adjustment against better opposition and should translate wherever Domínguez heads, including his current spot with High-A Hudson Valley.
Masyn Winn, SS, Double-A Springfield (Cardinals No. 2, MLB No. 54), arm strength: We can’t possibly do a story on Minor League Statcast without mentioning Winn, even if his big moment happened in an exhibition. The Cardinals shortstop famously “broke” Statcast with a 100.5 mph throw across the diamond during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in July. It cleared the previous high of 97.8 set by Cruz that week, and no one in the Majors has gotten close yet. Winn has played 73 games for Springfield this season and remains in line for a potential Major League debut next summer. Pack your radar guns, St. Louis.