Mike Minor: Low-Risk, High-Reward SP for Rockies?


Minor Minor became a free agent after the Atlanta Braves decided to non-tender the starting pitcher, so could he be a fit for the Colorado Rockies?

The Atlanta Braves selected Mike Minor in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft out of Vanderbilt University. Mike Minor spent one season in the minor leagues before making his Major League debut in the latter part of the 2010 season. Minor failed to impress in his first professional season with the Braves, posting a 5.98 ERA and 1.57 WHIP across 40.2 innings pitched. However, Mike Minor’s FIP suggested better days were ahead of him, finishing the 2010 season with a 3.77 FIP.

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Despite playing in 2010, Mike Minor did not lose his rookie eligibility heading into the 2011 season. Moreover, he set the Braves’ rookie record for strikeouts in a game, with 12, surpassing, recently deceased, Tommy Hanson‘s 11 strikeout game. Mike Minor started 15 games in 2011, sporting a 5-3 record across 82.2 innings pitched. Minor improved across the board in his second professional season, but he did not “wow” anyone in 2011. He finished the 2011 season with a 4.14 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, and 3.39 FIP. 

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Once again, Mike Minor showcased an above-average FIP, but he struggled to put everything together at the Major League level. Minor struck out nearly a batter per inning, finishing the season with 8.38 strikeouts per nine innings. Also, Minor demonstrated decent control, walking 3.27 batters per nine innings. With an ability to strikeout batters at a high clip and keep the ball in the ballpark (0.76 HR/9 in 2011), Mike Minor’s FIP showed the type of pitcher the Braves hoped they drafted.

Entering the 2012 season, Mike Minor played his first full professional season in the MLB. Minor started 30 games and pitched 179.1 innings. Minor boasted an 11-10 record in 2012, but he showcased mixed performances for the most part of the season. While Mike Minor improved on his ERA and WHIP from 2011 to 2012, he saw his FIP and home run rates increase drastically. In 2011, Minor posted a 3.39 FIP, but his FIP ballooned to 4.38 in 2012, likely due to his spike in home runs given up (0.76 in 2011, 1.30 in 2012).

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  • Following an up-and-down 2012 season, Mike Minor put together the best season of his professional career in 2013. Mike Minor improved across the board, registering career-bests in wins (13), ERA (3.21), innings pitched (204.2), strikeouts (181), FIP (3.37), WHIP (1.09), and BB/9 (2.0). Finally, everything clicked for the former first round pick, and he showed why many teams had him atop their draft boards while he was at Vanderbilt. After a career-year in 2013, both Mike Minor and the Braves hoped for further improvements in 2014.

    After an impressive 2013, Mike Minor succumbed to shoulder fatigue for the majority of 2014. Due to an ailing shoulder, Minor fell off the table from a performance standpoint, putting together the worst season of his career. Minor finished the 2014 season with a 6-12 record, 4.77 ERA, and 1.44 WHIP. Moreover, Minor posted career-worsts in FIP (4.39) and HR/9 (1.30), illustrating his shoulder troubles throughout the season. Mike Minor hoped to put his shoulder problems behind him after 2014, but that was not the case moving forward.

    Mike Minor continued to feel shoulder discomfort heading into Spring Training of the 2015 season. In March of 2015, Minor complained of shoulder tightness, which later revealed rotator cuff inflammation. The Braves placed Mike Minor on the 15-day DL following the diagnosis, but after trying to resume a throwing program in mid-March, he continued to feel pain in his throwing shoulder. With Minor not fully healthy, the Braves moved him to the 60-day DL. A couple weeks after the move to the 60-day DL, Mike Minor elected to have surgery to repair a torn labrum, effectively missing the 2015 season.

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    After the 2015 season, the Atlanta Braves decided to non-tender the former first round pick, making him a free agent immediately. Minor began a throwing program during the fall of 2015 (after the conclusion of the season), and so far, no setbacks have occurred. With Minor coming off of a career-worst 2014 season, mixed with an injury plagued 2015 season, Mike Minor’s value hit an all-time low as he enters free agency. However, he offers a low-risk, high-reward type of signing in 2016.

    The Colorado Rockies desperately need both starting pitching and relief pitching. Mike Minor, likely, wants a shorter deal to prove his worth at the MLB level, so the Colorado Rockies should make an offer to the soon-to-be 28 year old left-handed pitcher. Minor possesses four above-average offerings in his arsenal: fastball, slider, change-up, and knuckle-curve. Outside of a down 2014 season, Mike Minor demonstrated his ability to avoid home runs; thus, the move to Colorado might bode well for the lefty.

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    Mike Minor likely signs a one-to-two year deal for around $9M per year. With Minor having a high ceiling, it makes sense for the Colorado Rockies to pursue the lefty. The Colorado Rockies need pitching, and they might as well take a gamble on someone with a high floor and high ceiling like Mike Minor. The Colorado Rockies’ 40-man roster sits at 37, so more moves are on the horizon for the team. Stay tuned.