Reaching the major leagues marks the achievement of a significant milestone in any player’s career. Whether it is a high profile prospect or an aging, grizzled veteran of the minor leagues, there is something about a debut that strikes a chord with me.
It was for this reason I started the Breaking Through series. During the season I tackled the MLB debuts in a weekly column. That is until the calendar turned to September, the volume got out of hand and I had to change my plans. Now I am trying to run through the last month of the season day by day as my schedule allows.
Today I’m covering the Major League debuts from September 2nd. In total there were 9 debuts on this day so I’ve decided to split the day into 2 columns. This one covers Josh Stinson, Andrew Carignan, Michael Taylor and Leonys Martin.
You can find previous entries of the series by clicking here.
RHP – Josh Stinson (23) – New York Mets
2011 Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
2011 Minor League Performance: 3.99 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 in 47.1 IP (27 G/2 GS) for the Binghamton Mets (AA) and a 7.44 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 4.8 BB/9 and 4.7 SO/9 in 61.2 IP (13 GS) for the Buffalo Bisons (AAA)
Debut Performance: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO
Stinson made two starts in AA to open the season and then moved up to Buffalo. As you can see in the above stat line, his 13 starts for the Bison were nothing short of a disaster and he was demoted after the last one – a 3.0, 7 H, 7 ER, 3 BB abomination – on June 18th.
Back with the B-Mets, he was shifted to the bullpen. Statistically he was worse in his 25 relief appearances than he was in his 2 starts with Binghamton, but there wasn’t a significant difference outside of his walk rate. The next logical step would have been to send him back to Buffalo to pitch out of their bullpen, but since the AAA season was winding to a close, the Mets decided to call him up.
It wasn’t a crazy or outlandish move given that he did have 89.2 Triple-A innings – all as a starter – under his belt. On the other side of the coin, 2011 was – statistically speaking – the worst season of his professional career so you could view his promotion as curious to say the least.
Regardless of whether or not you feel he deserved a look with the Mets, he did not deserve the treatment he received once he joined the team. The powers that be decided to have him pitch in 14 (!) of the team’s final 25 games of the season. The workload clearly took it’s toll.
In his first 5 appearances: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO
In his last 9 appearances: 6.2 IP, 10 H, 10 ER, 6 BB, 5 SO
At that rate, over the course of a full season, Stinson would have appeared in 91 games for the team which is a borderline insane rate for any reliever, let alone one that is only 23 and just cutting his teeth in the majors.
I’m not sure what to make of Stinson or his viability as a major league contributor. Much of that lies at the feet of the team that has continued to jerk him back and forth between SP and RP roles over his entire minor league career. They further compounded the problem with their apparent decision to see if they could make his arm fall off in September.
RHP – Andrew Carignan (25) – Oakland Athletics
2011 Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
2011 Minor League Performance: 1.85 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9 and 10.5 SO/9 in 39.0 IP (33 G) split between Stockton (A+), Midland (AA) and Sacramento (AAA)
Debut Performance: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO
I’m guessing A’s fans expected to see Carignan in their bullpen in 2009 and no later than 2010 but injuries have a way of altering timeframes and that is exactly what happened in this case. Back in 2008 he pitched in 9 games for Stockton (A+) and then spent the rest of the year with Midland (AA). Between the two stops he posted a 2.01 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 6.3 BB/9 and 12.1 SO/9 in 62.2 IP.
At the time it was reasonable to expect that he’d reach Triple-A, and perhaps the majors, in 2009. Instead he began experiencing pain in his forearm and threw just 2 innings for Stockton that year. He went under the knife to remove bone spurs and other “loose bodies” from his elbow and then endured a forgettable 2010 season, once again with Stockton.
He battled more injuries to start 2011 and made only 2 appearances in Triple-A in May. On June 3rd, once again back with Stockton, he threw a perfect inning. That single inning was the beginning of a run of dominance that carried him through A+, AA and AAA in just 3 months.
Carignan appeared in 6 games for the A’s during the month of September finishing with a 4.50 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.1 SO.9 in 6.1 innings. The overall line with Oakland doesn’t look that great but most of the damage was done by the Rangers – on September 11th – when he gave up 5 hits, 1 walk and 3 runs in 1.2 innings pitched. It’s hard to fault him too much for that outing considering the Rangers lineup chewed up it’s share of pitchers on their way to the World Series.
If he can stay healthy – and that’s a big if given his history of elbow, oblique, and other dings – I believe he can be a valuable asset for the Athletics in 2012 and beyond. While he still relies on his mid-90s fastball, he has made strides with both his slider and changeup and could develop into more than “just another guy” coming out of the pen.
NOTE: Nathaniel wrote about Carignan in his Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of series back on November 6th.
OF – Michael Taylor (25) – Oakland Athletics
2011 Preseason Ranking: #10 in BA’s Athletics Top-30
2011 Minor League Performance: 0.272/.360/.456, 16 2B, 16 HR, 14 SB, 46 BB and 80 SO in 400 PA (93 G) for the Sacremento River Cats (AAA)
Debut Performance: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 SO
Prior to heading west to Oakland in December, Taylor was coming off a 2 year stretch (2008-2009) in which he hit better than 0.300/.400/.500 while climbing from A to AAA. Heading into the 2010 season he was ranked as baseball’s 29th best prospect by Baseball America.
He went out and hit 0.272/.348/.392 in 127 games for Sacramento that season as his bat speed and in-game power started to disappear. Scouts and fans alike assumed that shoulder problems the previous winter were part of the problem. They also assumed he would bounce back in 2011. Taylor did hit 10 more HR from the previous season and his SLG increased over 60 points, but he didn’t have the impact that so many had hoped or expected.
At 25 and with 250 games at Triple-A, the Athletics gave him a taste of the major leagues presumably in preparation for a more regular role in 2012. He didn’t wow anyone by hitting 0.200/.314/.300 with 1 HR, 5 BB and 11 SO in 35 PA for Oakland, but a spot on the Opening Day roster is still within his grasp. Presently the A’s only have 4 other OF on their 40-man roster; Jai Miller, Ryan Sweeney, Collin Cowgill and Jermaine Mitchell so the time is now for Taylor to lock down a job as an everyday player in the majors.
OF – Leonys Martin (23) – Texas Rangers
2011 Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
2011 Minor League Performance: 0.295/.362/.421, 16 2B, 4 HR, 19 SB, 27 BB and 38 SO in 343 PA split between the AZL Rangers – Rk (4 G), Frisco RoughRiders – AA (29 G) and Round Rock Express – AAA (40 G)
Debut Performance: 1-1 as a pinch hitter
Martin may not have been ranked heading into the season but that was simply a function of not signing with a team until May 4th. A Cuban defector with four legitimate tools, he signed a 5-year $15.5 million major league contract with the Rangers. He acclimated quickly to affiliated ball and while it’s unlikely he’ll develop anything more than average power he can do everything else and do it well. Given that he’s compared to some elite active players, like newly minted Marlin Jose Reyes, expectations were high for the young man but by and large he lived up to them. In addition to his work in Double-A he went 3-8 with a 2B in his limited time with the Rangers and also tacked on a successful 8 G and 31 PA stint in the Arizona Fall League.
Martin figures to have a good chance to make the Rangers 2012 Opening Day roster and that’s not simply a result of the contract he signed with the team. He’s earned the shot with his performance in AA, the AFL and his brief September stint with the big league club. Some have reservations based on his 40 G performance in Triple-A (0.263/.316/.314) but that doesn’t bother me when put into context with the rest of his season and the circumstances surrounding his transition to affiliated ball.