One of the best indicator’s for future success in both young hitters and young pitchers is the ratio of strikeouts to walks. If a young hitter can maintain a ratio of 1:1 or better it is usually a good indicator that they make regular contact and understand the strike zone very well. That combination can lead to a successful major league career. For pitching prospects the higher the ratio, the better chance that they will become a successful major leaguer, with anything above 3:1 considered good.
The Rays’ Andy Sonnanstine posted one of the better ratios in the minor leagues in recent memory. In almost 500 minor league innings, The Duke posted 463 strikeouts and 75 walks. That
6.2:1 ratio put Sonnanstine on the prospect radar even though he was not considered a prototypical right hander with a fastball that usually sits in the upper 80s.
Not surprisingly, Sonny’s K-to-walk ratio dipped in his rookie season but was still strong at 3.73:1 (97Ks, 26 BB). However, that ratio did translate well to his final record of 6-10 or his 5.85 ERA. Many feel Sonnanstine was a victim of the poor defense behind in 2007. But exactly how unlucky he was is difficult to calculate.
Baseball Crank put together a list of every pitcher that has ever posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio 3:1 or greater in his rookie season and Sonnanstine has the second worst ERA ever.
They then looked at the 10 highest ERAs from that group that were under the age 28 in their rookie year and looked at those player’s ERA in the next 3 seasons. Seven of the 10 pitchers posted and ERA under 4.00 in at least one of the next three years.
Some think that The Duke is a good candidate to have a breakout season. Some have even gone as far to predict that Sonny will be this year’s James Shields. Even if Sonnanstine can post 12 wins and a 4.50 ERA out of the 4th spot in the rotation, the Rays will be in a very good postition at the end of the year.
Baseball: Where the Sonnanstine [Baseball Crank]