Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Reds sign Wirfin Obisbo (Updated)

The Reds signed pitcher Wirfin Obisbo to a minor league contract. Obisbo has spent the past 4 years in Japan pitching as both a reliever and a starter. He had a pretty pedestrian PE in that time of 2.09. This obviously means he doesn't project to be a Major League pitcher. He really struggled with homers, giving up 1.4 HR/9IP per inning. According to NPB Tracker's velocity charts, Obisbo throws 92.5 MPH at the most and about 91 on average. So, he has average to slightly above average velocity. In 2006 he was actually in the Reds organization, pitching for the Reds' Dominican Summer League team. There he pitched pretty well striking out 10.6 batters per 9 innings and earning a 2.04 ERA. One of his teammates was Enerio Del Rosario, a pitcher who has pitched slightly below replacement level in the Majors. Obispo had a slightly higher ERA but a much better strikeout rate. Obispo was slightly older than his teammates at age 21, when his average teammate was 20.3 (Del Rosario was 20 as well). Pedro Viola, who has also pitched below replacement in the Majors, was part of the team as well, and had the exact same ERA and a slightly better strikeout rate. Viola was a few years older though. It should be noted, like the Dominican Winter Leagues, the league was a very pitcher friendly environment. The best hitter on the team had an OPS of just .700 (the Reds' team seems to have been pretty bad though, as the Cubs' best guy had an OPS of .796, and a few players in the league had an OPS of better than .800). So it would seem that one would have to be even harsher when applying the usually A metric of 2 runs added to the ERA from A-ball to MLB. This is not real good news for Obispo, as we would be talking about an ERA well over 4 in the Majors (which would make a lot of sense when factoring in his mediocrity in the NPB, with a projected ERA of 4.74). At age 27, this should be Obispo's prime season, and we would expect him to be an above replacement pitcher, but not an average one. Obispo is the kind of player these minor league free agent contracts are designed for, they may be helpful for a short time, but its not anyone you want to actually depend on.


 Obispo signed a minor league contract with the Braves for the 2013 season. He did not pitch in the Majors for the Reds in 2012, instead splitting it between AA and AAA. In 10 games (3 starts) with AAA, he struggled, with a 4.08 FIP and 5.53 SIERA, walking more guys than he struck out with a bad (36.2 %) GB rate. In AA, his basic numbers were helped by a .194 BABIP, but he was still decent with a 3.41 SIERA (.81 points better than league average) and 3.96 FIP (.12 points worse than league average). He pitched in a hitter friendly park compared to league average (the Southern League is a pitcher's league), but struck out over 25 % of batters and less than 10%. His ground-ball rate was still terrible (2nd worse on the team out of pitchers with at least 5 innings), but the line drive rate (if you trust it) was also low. Here is some video of him I took from him pitching in the Dominican Winter League:

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