Monday, November 03, 2008

Remember Brad Lincoln?

I wanted to do a "Road to 17" this morning and 1994 is probably halfway done, but I had an exam to work on all weekend and it didn't happen. So that should be done for tomorrow (I'm hoping to do two of those a week from here out), but until then let's spend some time talking about the latest minor leaguer to be featured in a blurb on -- Brad Lincoln.

There's not much terribly interesting about the article itself, your typical blurbs about how excited the team is about his recovery, how he pitched this year, etc. What did grab my eye was the part at the end about starting Lincoln at AA this year and fast-tracking him. I knew the Pirates were happy with how he performed coming off of the surgery, but his numbers were far from eye-popping at any level. Could they really be THAT happy with him?

I did a little digging to try and find the answer, and I think Stark's reasoning becomes a bit clearer if you look at Lincoln's splits with Lynchburg. On the surface, his 4.75 ERA there combined with a pretty low strikeout rate (29 in 42 1/3 innings is pretty low for a guy that was a power arm in college for A-ball) and the jump in walks from his stint in Hickory (from 0.83/9 innings to 2.34/9 inning is quite a jump). His splits in Lynchburg are much more interesting, though, as his second month in the Carolina League was much improved over his first. In August, he held hitters to a .230 average, saw his strikeouts jump to more than 7 per 9 innings, and only gave up one home run in 27 innings, compared with four homers in 15 1/3 innings in July.

Certainly none of this is ground-breaking stuff that I'm talking about here, but I think it is worth noting that there is at least a reason based in reality for Stark's optimism in the story. Last year was his first year back from Tommy John and he pitched pretty well in the Sally League and while he struggled with Lynchburg, at least there's reason to think that he adjusted after some time there. Both he and Bryan Morris are worth keeping a close eye on this year as they get back to full strength now that they've reached the full recovery time from their surgeries.