In one week, pitchers and catchers will report to the Oakland A's minor league spring training camp.…
By The Numbers: Bobby Cramer
The lefthander was signed by the A's in 2007 and proceeded to put up some solid numbers in that year and 2009 (he pitched in independent ball in 2008) at several levels of the A's system. Of course, Cramer was signed at age 27, so his age left him little room for error just to stay on a roster, let alone be noticed as a player with a big league future.
He's still technically part of the A's organization this year, but Cramer, now 30 years of age, is on loan to a Mexican League team this season. While there, he's done nothing less than lead the entire Mexican League in strikeouts, with 101. Unbelievably, that's 20 more than the next-highest strikeout total, even though five pitchers have thrown more innings than Cramer's 99. He's the only starting pitcher in the Mexican League with more strikeouts than innings pitched, and he's also got a 3.73 ERA and just 24 walks in the hitter-friendly circuit.
Cramer is a particularly interesting scouts vs. stats conundrum. On a scouting level, nothing's really exciting about Cramer. He's way too old to be considered a prospect, he isn't big, he doesn't throw hard, and he doesn't have a plus breaking ball or changeup. I suppose scouts would credit him for having solid command, but that's about it.
The odd thing is that on a statistical level, Cramer does everything well. I mentioned the strikeouts in the Mexican League earlier, and that's not a fluke. Cramer's got 89 K in 95.1 innings in Double-A over his career, and he struck out 14 in 14 innings for Sacramento last season in his first Triple-A exposure.
Cramer also keeps walks down, at 2.1 BB/9 for his minor league career. He also has an extremely impressive 57.3% groundball rate in the A's system. So, Cramer gets strikeouts and grounders while not walking anyone. Sounds good to me.
The A's system has been ravaged by injuries to the pitching staff at the upper levels, prompting the acquisitions of veterans like John Halama, Ryan Edell, Jesus Sanchez, Jamey Wright, Justin James and Neil Wagner. I'd take Cramer over any of them…the A's are doing themselves a disservice by not seeing what Cramer can do in Sacramento the rest of the season.
Statistically, there are really no warts in his game, so why not let the guy pitch until hitters find chinks in his armor?
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