There is an unofficial label out there in the baseball world that no Minor League ballplayer wants. The label means “You’re good…but not good enough”. The term is “Quad-A” and it refers to those players who seem like they’d be good Major League players if they were just given a real chance to succeed. Unfortunately, for most of the Quad-A victims, that chance never comes.
How does a player get the label? Here are a few ways…
Quad-A Labeling Guidelines
1. No defensive value- Many Quad-A victims are players of which provide no real defensive value to their game. In general, 1st basemen, left-fielders, and worst of all, the DH type make up the vast majority of Quad-A players.
2. High-power, high strikeouts- One of my favorite Quad-A players of all time is former Brave Mitch Jones. Mitch could flat out destroy a baseball. He had years in the Minors where he hit 21, 23, 23, 39, 35, and 27 HR. At 31 years of age, Mitch hit 35 home runs, drove in 103 and had a triple slash line of .297/364/.651! Insane, right? However, he also struck out 102 times in 384 at-bats. Mitch did see the show for 8 games in 2009 with the Dodgers and was fairly successful logging 15 PA with 6 hits and 2 HBP, giving him a sexy OBP of .400. Why no more Mitch? Man…I wish I knew.
3. The Pacific Coast League- The most famous of hitters’ leagues, a league where Quad-A players go to die in the Minors is, no doubt, the PCL league. It is aTriple-A league where the parks are notoriously hitter friendly and the players swing for the fences! One of the more-veteraned PCL players (and a name some of you may know) is Mike Jacobs. Jacobs was a highly-regarded Marlins’ prospect back in the day and even had some pretty good years with the franchise and seemed destined to a long career in the Majors. However, he was signed by the Royals in 2009, had a terrible year, and has seen only 50 ABs in the Majors since. After that, he played in the PCL for 4 straight years and during that time he’s collected 75 home runs to 1221 at-bats… that’s 1 HR every 16 at-bats. The problem? He’s now on the other side of 30 and, as listed above, provides no defensive value and continues to strike out at a high rate.
4. Failed Short Major League Stints- “Small Sample Size” became popular over the last decade in baseball (and was probably a well-known term well before that in smaller Sabermetric circles) and it cautions the baseball world to no judge small handfuls of any stat that seems to be an outlier from the player’s normal strengths. Emilio Bonifacio has 11 hits in 19 at-bats this year and many a fantasy owner has rushed to their “Add Player” button to grab him before some other manager. In all likelihood, that same manager will be clicking on the “Drop Player” button at some point in time over the next month, because Emilio Bonifacio, outside one year with the Marlins (of which he had a very high BABIP, but that’s for another post), has been a very mediocre Utility-Infielder. It really sucks for these guys who get their chances in part-time play, only to be disregarded after a handful of at-bats of which they don’t find success while players, like former Brave Jeff Francoeur, are given multiple opportunities to succeed based on fluky success out the gate. This is the one rule that seemingly applies to both position players and pitchers.
5. The late-bloomer- Prospect status is so important in baseball. If a player comes up through an organization and doesn’t find success right away, the shimmer of that player fades to a bleak gray. Lost in the folds, many Quad-A players find their niche too late.
These 5 rules blanket the majority of players who get the “Quad-A” label, although, I’m sure there are many more. The Braves’ organization has a few players that fit the above criteria:
Braves’ Quad-A Players
1. Ernesto Mejia- Rule 1,2, and 5 apply: The true inspiration for this post, Mejia has already jacked 3HR in 2 games for Gwinnett’s young 2014 season. This is Mejia’s 3rd year holding down 1st base for the Braves’ AAA affiliate. In his last 3 full years with the Braves, Mejia has his 26, 24, and 28 home-runs, but has struck out 440 times! He also provides no defensive value as the only position he’s played since 2006 is 1st base (I won’t count that 1 inning last year at 3rd base). We all know that 1st base isn’t open for competition in this organization. Mejia, do yourself a favor and go make some money in Japan! I promise we’ll still pull for you, big guy!
2. Mark Hamilton- Rule 1,2,3, 4, & 5 apply: Hamilton seems destined for a career as a Quad-A player. Drafted in the 2nd round of 2006 by the Cardinals as a college player from Tulane , Hamilton didn’t hit as well as what the Cardinals were expecting until the 4th year in the organization. In 2009, between 2 AA-AAA (the PCL being the AAA league), he had a combined .927 OPS and was on the cusp of reaching the Major Leagues. In 2010, he continued to destroy baseballs and the Cardinals called him up the the Majors. It didn’t go well. Repeat pattern for 2011: hit well at AAA, called up to the Majors, stunk. That was it for Mark Hamilton. Since then, he’s been riding the Quad-A train where it took him to Boston’s organization before the Braves. A victim of all 4 rules above, Hamilton is now 29 and unlikely to see the majors again.
3. Seth Loman- Rule 1,2, and 5 apply: 9 seasons in the Minor Leagues and the first with the Braves, the Mississippi 1st baseman fits the prototype of a Quad-A player. The Braves are his 4th organization and at 28 years of age, could be his last.
4. Joey Terdoslavich?- Joey’s stint at the Majors did not go so well last year and he’s limited to 1st base and the corner OF positions, of which all 3 are filled forat least the next 2 years. Joey seems more victim of “wrong organization, wrong time” than any of the rules above. It’s in Joey’s best interest for the Braves to trade him to a team that has an opening, otherwise he could quickly get the dreaded Quad-A label.
There are others that are in the Braves’ organization that could be victim of the Quad-A label. Who’s your picks? Who are your favorite Quad-A players? Who are some players that shook off Quad-A status to find success in the Majors? Let’s hear from the peanut gallery!