On Monday afternoon with a few minutes to spare, the Cincinnati Reds traded left handed pitcher Tony Cingrani to the Los Angeles Dodgers. They received catcher Hendrik Clementina and outfielder Scott Van Slyke. At the time I wrote a little bit about Clementina, but today we are going to take a more in depth look at the 20-year-old catcher.
At the time of the trade, and for the next few hours it was tough to find too much information from scouts on Hendrik Clementina. Plenty of teams don’t do much scouting of the rookie leagues. Instead they tend to scout those players in spring training and instructional league. That’s not to say that teams aren’t scouting those levels, but it’s a much smaller contingent than you are going to see in full-season leagues.
Over the last two days I was able to speak to two people who shared some thoughts on the 20-year-old from Curacao. Both sources noted that he was still quite raw on the defensive side of the ball. They also both noted that he had some raw power to tap into. One person I heard from made note that he had good hands as well. That could come into play both at the plate and behind the plate.
Getting into the statistical side of things, it’s been noted that Hendrik Clementina is having a breakout kind of year at the plate. He’s hitting .370/.439/.554 this season in the Pioneer League. He had been playing with the Ogden Raptors before the trade. That’s an enormous step up from hitting .217/.286/.369 in 2016 with the AZL Dodgers. There are several differences worth noting between the two seasons.
The biggest difference between the 2017 season and his past seasons is his strikeout-to-walk ratio, and perhaps most importantly, his strikeout ratio. In both 2015 and 2016, Hendrik Clementina struck out 24% of the time he stepped to the plate. This season, granted we are talking just 108 plate appearances, he’s cut his strikeout rate to 14.8% – a significant reduction. He’s also increased his strikeout rate from 7.6% and 8.0% up to 9.3% in 2017.
His power has jumped up a little bit, too. That, however, could be related to changing leagues. The Pioneer League is rather hitter friendly, but Ogden is one of the few more pitcher friendly parks in the league – though in the overall landscape of minor league baseball, it still is hitter friendly. The move to Billings will be similar, where the park is also one of the pitcher friendly confines within the Pioneer League.
Another difference that he’s made has been his spray chart. He’s pulling the ball less than ever before and going to center field more than ever.
He’s basically traded both directions toward the foul poles for more balls hit up the middle. This season his spray chart is basically about as even as it possibly can be.
One of the reasons that he’s seen a big uptick in his batting average on balls in play. In 2016 his BABIP was .252, which is generally below average from what you would expect. This season it’s .405, which is significantly higher than you would expect. With that said, the league average BABIP is .345 – just illustrating how hitter friendly the league actually is.
The 2017 season is a step forward for Hendrik Clementina. There’s a lot of reasons for it, but he’s changed his game in multiple ways at the plate.