Five Triple-A, Double-A Small Sample Kings

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com

Ernesto Mejia

We’re a week into the Minor League season — boy, that went fast — and it’s time to play America’s favorite game this time of the year: extrapolating early-season results to see what would happen if they happened over a full season! In other words, saying “He’s on pace for. . .” over and over again.

With that in mind, these are what I’m calling the Small Sample Kings of the Triple-A and Double-A leagues through the early parts of the 2014 season. You’ll find their current stats, their season stats if they keep up their current pace over a 140-game season and what I’m calling the Shelton Sustainability Index — so named for Chris Shelton, the former Tigers first baseman who famously hit nine home runs in his first 13 games in 2006 but collected only seven in the remaining 102. The index is on a scale of one to five Sheltons — the higher the number, the more like Shelton the player is, the less likely they are to sustain their current run. (Notes: I’m keeping this to hitters. All stats are as of Thursday morning.)

International League — Ernesto Mejia, first baseman, Gwinnett Braves

2014 stats: 6 G, 5 HR, 9 RBI

Pace: 140 G, 117 HR, 210 RBI

Shelton Sustainability Index: Mejia finished second in the IL with 28 home runs last season and has accrued 52 long balls over his last two years with Gwinnett, so his early power surge isn’t entirely surprising. As such, it’s unlikely his power will fall off the table like Shelton’s did. But I’m not even going to touch the probability of a triple-digit home-run total. (Never mind the fact that he’d be called up or traded quickly if he maintained this pace for even a little more than a month.) This is simply a case of a power hitter showing off his best tool early. Two Sheltons

PCL — Zach Lutz, third baseman, Las Vegas 51s

2014 stats: 7 G, 9-for-21 (.429), 1 HR, 9 RBI, 9 BB, 4 K, .625 OBP

Pace: 140 G, 180-for-420 (.429), 20 HR, 180 RBI, 180 BB, 80 K, .625 OBP

SSI: What Mejia is to power, Lutz is to getting on base. The right-handed corner infielder posted a .377 OBP in 111 games last year for Vegas and a .410 mark in 72 games the year earlier. That being said, his early current walk rate (28.1 percent) is more than double that from 2013 (11.6), so this is still a little unusual. The course will correct itself soon, but still expect impressive OBP numbers from Lutz this season. Two Sheltons

Eastern League — Sharlon Schoop, shortstop, Bowie Baysox

2014 stats: 5 G, 9-for-15 (.600), 4 BB, 2 K, .684 OBP

Pace: 140 G, 252-for-420 (.600), 112 BB, 56 K, .684 OBP

SSI: The brother of Orioles infielder Jonathan, Schoop did not play at all last year but is back with a bang. Don’t expect it to last. The 26-year-old spent 2009-12 in Double-A and didn’t bat higher than .273 in any of those seasons. He hit .267 with a .341 OBP over 50 games with Northwest Arkansas in 2012 before missing last season. The right-handed infielder had a good four-game start — he went 0-for-3 in his fifth game — but it shouldn’t be seen as anything more than that. Five Sheltons

Southern League — Jaime Pedroza, second baseman, Birmingham Barons

2014 stats: 6 G, .333/.455/.889, 3 HR, 6 RBI

Pace: 140 G, .333/.455/.889, 70 HR, 140 RBI

SSI: Pedroza entered the 2014 season with 71 career Minor League home runs. His Minor League high came in 2009 when he hit 15 for Class A Great Lakes. For additional perspective, he hit four in 117 games with Double-A Mississippi  a season ago. The 27-year-old hit two solo homers on Opening Day this season and added another Wednesday. It’s a nice early-season story, but that’s about it. Five Sheltons

Texas League — Drew Heid, outfielder, Arkansas Travelers

2014 stats: 4 G, 9-for-14 (.643), 3 BB, 1 K, .706 OBP

Pace: 140 G, 315-for-490 (.643), 105 BB, 35 K, .706 OBP

SSI: Heid actually enjoyed a bit of a breakout season with the bat in 2013 when he slashed .305/.393/.452 in 108 games between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Salt Lake. He’s carried that impressive performance into the early parts of 2014, especially on Monday when he went a combined 5-for-7 in a doubleheader against Frisco. Will he bat .600 for long? No, don’t be silly. But should anyone be taken aback that he’s put up nice numbers early on? Probably not. Three Sheltons

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