The RoboUmps in the Pacific Coast League and the Hitters they Affect

It’s been nearly a month since the Pacific Coast League began using the Automated Balls & Strikes system, more commonly known as “Roboumps,” and it’s worth looking into how this has affected the players.  This week, let’s take a look at the hitters in Triple-A.

I took a glance at the stats of eight hitters from before and after the start of the ABS system, which was first used on May 16th.  I picked out the players who had substantial time playing at Sacramento before the start of the ABS system, so I focused on the guys who were not a part of trades (even though some had played in the PCL beforehand).  Also, these numbers do not contain numbers from time spent in MLB.

Obviously, there’s all sorts of caveats.  Less than a month is a small sample size.  Changes in play could just be streaks or slumps, and correlation does not mean causation.  But it’s worth looking into these stats to see how one of the biggest changes in calling balls and strikes in baseball history is affecting these players.

So let’s look at the two rates that would likely be most affected by the ABS.  Here’s the Strikeout Rate (K/PA) and Walk Rate (BB/PA) for these eight players.

The first thing to notice is that for these eight Sacramento hitters, there are zero consistent affects on these numbers.  Some have seen improvements, some have had struggles, but most of the differences are pretty minor.

The two players that stand out the most with big changes are Heliot Ramos and Jason Krizan.  In 19 Triple-A games since the ABS system started being used, Ramos has just two walks to 22 strikeouts in 79 plate appearances.  But Ramos’ performance is not fully reflected by these numbers.  Before the ABS, he was hitting .193/.313/.284.  Since, he’s batting .240/.278/.400.  It’s hard to parse out the causation in all these numbers, and what adjustments have caused them.

The other player with a severe walk rate drop was Jason Krizan, who has had two walks to eight strikeouts in 61 plate appearances since ABS began being used.  That’s compared to 12 walks to 14 strikeouts before the ABS.  Krizan has his own little quirk in his numbers: he missed about a week and a half that began the same time that the ABS started being used.  It hasn’t been said what Krizan missed time with, but he came back and went hitless in his first five games back, including no walks and two strikeouts.  Krizan actually the went on a hot streak and his numbers are better since the ABS system (.259/.279/.431) than before (.212/.329/.318).

Ultimately, in this small sample size, We can’t draw any consistent conclusions.  But at least for the hitters, this group generally did not see any big effects from the switch.  Hopefully, we’ll get to see some wider analysis beyond Sacramento, but for now, it looks like it hasn’t had a clear effect on the hitters.

Next week, we’ll touch on the pitchers in Sacramento, and see how they’ve been affected.

Marco Luciano Out with a Back Strain

In The Athletic, Melissa Lockard finally gave us the answer for why Marco Luciano has been out since June 3rd.  It was called a back strain, and according to Lockard, it’s not considered serious.  Hopefully he shouldn’t miss too much time, and we’ll see him get back on the field soon.

An Outfielder Gets Promoted to Eugene…but not who you think…

San Jose’s best producers this year have been in the outfield, and people have been expecting a promotion for some time.  But…the one that just got a promotion wasn’t the one that was expected.

Gaskins, 24, was drafted back in 2019 in the 20th round.  He only played 34 games in 2021, 19 in the ACL, and 15 in San Jose, where he hit .281/.328/.386.  This year, he’s batting .274/.328/.386 over 40 games in San Jose, with four steals in six attempts.

The Emeralds have three other outfielders on the roster, including Hunter Bishop, Luis Matos, and Carter Williams, but also have infielders that can play in the outfielder, notably Simon Whiteman and Ghordy Santos.

Brawling At A Price

One last bit of news…MLB is beginning to crack down on minor league brawls.  As reported by The Athletic, MLB, who now runs the minors directly, will be fining the parent clubs behind the brawling teams.

Fines reportedly start at $500, and doubles with each subsequent incident.  The Giants have taken two brawls so far this season from the Richmond Flying Squirrels, but there’s no official word if the fines were in effect then.

This has become an issue as of late due to the new minors scheduling, which for all A-ball teams and higher now leads to series of six games in most cases, with one day off for travel.  But the fine amount is so small for these billion dollar companies, it’ll be interesting to see how many brawls they prevent.

The Reading/Listening List

Here’s a great story about how Kai-Wei Teng is doing in Richmond, where there’s been some ups and downs but the Squirrels are winning.

Ever wonder what’s going on with the Sticky Stuff situation?  Well, MLB has been trying to test solutions to it, but those tests have gone very, very badly.  Some of these experiments that baseball is doing, especially midseason, can not be very conducive to prospects’ developments.  Even though this story doesn’t affect any Giants prospects, it’s worth the read.

Here’s a great discussion between two friends of GiantFutures, Brian Recca and Wrenzie Regodon (GiantProspectiv).  The draft is coming up soon, and tehse two are looking forwar

Hitter of the Week: Isan Díaz – 5-for-18 (.278), 1 2B, 4 HR, 1 BB, 6 SO

Díaz gets the award this week because not only did he hit a lot of dingers, but he had them in the most clutch moments in Saturday’s game.  He came in to pinch-hit in the ninth inning, with Sacramento down 1-0, and hit a home run to tie the game.  He then came up in the 11th, and hit a 2-run home run to win the game.  Díaz was traded for cash or a PTBNL earlier this season, after joining the Marlins from the Brewers as part of the Christian Yelich trade.  And despite hitting just .226 for the River Cats, he has 11 home runs along with two doubles and a triple.

Pitcher of the Week: Cesar Perdomo – 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO

At 20 years old, it’s a bit old for an international signing to be making his pro debut, but Venezuelan Cesar Perdomo had an excellent debut.  He went 4.0 scoreless innings, with two hits and a walk allowed with six strikeouts.  Perdomo is just a bit older than his peers in the DSL, but without much pro experience, he had an impressive debut.  It’ll be worth keeping an eye on him.

Top Prospect Watch

Marco Luciano – .288/.360/.507 – 42-146, 8 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 15 BB, 38 SO, 0-0 SB-SBA

For over a month, we were missing Luis Matos in these updates, but now it’s Marco Luciano’s turn.  Luciano’s been out with a back strain since June 3rd.

Luis Matos – .163/.257/.217 – 15-92, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 10 BB, 21 SO, 2-2 SB-SBA (High-A)

Luis Matos is back!  After a pair of rehab games in the Arizona Complex League, where he went 3-for-7 with a double and a home run, Matos went back to High-A Eugene.  He went 2-for-18 (.111) in four games back there, with seven strikeouts, but he did get a double, his first extra-base hit at the level.

Kyle Harrison – 7.43 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, .275 Avg – 13.1 IP, 14 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 8 BB, 22 SO

It’s been a rough start in Double-A for Harrison.  This past week, he only gave up three runs in 4.0 innings on three hits and three walks, though he gave up a pair of home runs.  He had a 1.55 ERA through seven starts in Eugene, but is facing the first adversity of his career.  It’ll be interesting to see how he responds.

Heliot Ramos – .212/.300/.322 – 39-184, 4 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 19 BB, 53 SO, 2-3 SB-SBA (AAA)

Ramos had a short week in Triple-A this week, as he got another callup to the bigs (that ended on Monday the 13th).  With Sacramento he went 3-for-17 (.176) with a home run and four strikeouts.  We took a look at some of Ramos’ season when talking about the new ABS system at the top of this story.

Will Bednar – 4.19 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, .167 AVG – 43.0 IP, 25 H, 22 R, 20 ER, 12 HB, 22 BB, 51 SO

This week, Bednar had two starts.  One shutout start that went 5.0 innings, and then one where his control just eluded him, with three walks, two more hit batters, as well as a balk and wild pitch.  The 12 hit batters and 22 walks he’s given up this season are a big reason for his 4.19 ERA.

The Wrap-Up:

We have to finish things up with Richmond’s “Squirrels in Space” jerseys.  I won’t lie, these logos look a bit like the Rocket City Trash Pandas…but those orange vests look very, very sharp.