The Fightins » phuturephillies R.I.P. Harry Kalas Tue, 05 Jul 2011 12:18:38 +0000 en hourly 1 Prospects… we talkin’ bout prospects! volume 4.0 Mon, 06 Jun 2011 15:15:05 +0000 phuturephillies Hi friends. It’s been a few weeks, but I’ve been preparing for the draft, which as you may or may not know, starts Monday night (1st round + sandwich round…not that kind of sandwich) and then continues Tuesday (Rounds 2-30) and finishes on Wednesday with rounds 31-50. You know I’m not ashamed to shill for my own site, but if you check out I’ll have more info than is necessary on all of the guys we pick, culminated in a wrap-up article that will border on insanity in length. It will be fun. You should check it out. So, with the draft on my mind, I thought I’d drop in 10 draft related nuggets in this edition of the prospect report. Check below for all the exciting details!

1. The Phillies do not have a first round pick this year, the cost of signing Clifton Phifer Lee, but they do receive a pick in the sandwich round, the group of picks between the 1st and 2nd round, for the Nats signing Jayson Werth, and they also receive the Nats 2nd round pick, which is #66. That means the Phillies first 3 picks this year will be #39, #66 (Nats 2nd rounder) and #90 (Phillies 2nd rounder)

2. The player at the top of my “wish list” for our first pick is high school infielder Tyler Goeddel from St Francis HS in California. You can see video of him here and you can read my full take on him here. He’s your prototypical high school kid with sky high potential. Its uncertain if he can remain at 3B long term, as he may outgrow the position, but he is going to hit for average with 25-30 HR power, and his arm will play in RF. I like.

3. The Phillies farm system, in the top 7-8 in all of baseball, has been built largely without slam dunk first round picks. Of the guys taken in the last 5 years, the only one on track is Jesse Biddle, taken last year. Joe Savery (2007) and Anthony Hewitt (2008) are a long way away from contributing, and may never make the majors in a meaningful role. The Phillies best 1st round pick in the last 5 years, Kyle Drabek, was the key to the Roy Halladay deal.

4. The top prospect in the system, who won’t be a prospect this winter, Domonic Brown, was not among the 38 prospects Baseball America wrote up prior to the 2006 draft. Goes to show that even the “experts” miss. A lot.

5. When the Phillies like a guy, they aren’t afraid to take him multiple times if they are unable to sign him the first time. They took Vance Worley in the 20th round of the 2005 draft out of high school and then in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft. You could see a similar patten in 2011, with Andrew Susac, C (16th round pick in 2009) and Jeff Ames, RHP (46th round, 2009) the most likely re-draft candidates.

6. The draft by which all Phillies drafts will be judged on moving forward is the 2008 draft, which yielded many of the prospects currently in our Top 30, including: Zach Collier, Jon Pettibone, Trevor May, Julio Rodriguez, Cody Overbeck, Michael Schwimer, and Jarred Cosart. 2008 also produced 2 current big leaguers in Vance Worley and Mike Stutes, as well as 2 prospects who were key to major trades: Jason Knapp (Cliff Lee) and Anthony Gose (Roy Oswalt). And this doesn’t even include 1st round pick Anthony Hewitt, who is finally showing flashes at Lakewood.

7. Starting in the 17th or 18th round, the Phillies will start drafting high ceiling high school guys with strong college commitments who will be tough to sign, but every year the Phillies seem to get at least one guy. In 2008, it was 38th rounder Jarred Cosart for $550,000 (2nd/3rd round money) and in 2010 they spent $1M combined for 20th rounder Kevin Walter (RHP), 21st rounder Jon Musser (RHP), and 28th rounder Brian Pointer (OF). Look for these guys to appear in box scores once the GCL and Williamsport teams start games in a few weeks.

8. The Phillies best draft pick of the last 10 years is probably Cole Hamels, taken 17th overall in 2002. Hamels was considered a top 5-10 talent in the draft but fell because of the injury he suffered in high school. The Phillies did their homework, and the rest is history.

9. If you’re bored sometime (and lets face it, if you’re reading this, you’ll probably have some spare time at some point in the near future), you should check out the draft section at and look back at some past Phillies drafts. You’ll probably find yourself saying “Who the hell is that guy??”…..the attrition rate for prospects is off the charts. If you get more than 3 big leaguers out of a draft where you take 50 players, you’re about average. If you get one star, you’re ahead of the game. If you have a draft like 2008, well you can make up for a lot of bad drafts, like those in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

10. Hmmm, I only had 9 things to say. I guess for number 10, you should watch the first round of the draft on MLB Network. The preview starts at 6PM, and the actual draft starts at 7PM. The Phillies pick won’t come until #39, so you can flip over at like 9 or 10 and probably not miss it. This year’s draft is loaded with college pitching, yet I think I like Dylan Bundy, a high school RHP from Oklahoma, more than any of the college guys. Trevor Bauer, a RHP from UCLA, has a crazy routine and a delivery very similar to Tim Lincecum’s, and you should hope he doesn’t end up with the Nationals, because I think he’s going to be pretty damn good.

Okay, that’s it. Thanks for reading, and make sure to check out my site over the next 3-4 days if you’re in to the draft, because I’ll have plenty to talk about and discuss.

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Prospects… we talkin’ bout prospects! volume 3.0 Mon, 23 May 2011 14:10:02 +0000 phuturephillies After a one week break, I’m back with another prospect report for you. As a prospect dork, this is one of the more exciting times of the year, as the MLB draft will take place in the beginning of June, which means lots of new players to over analyze and obsess over, and of course I can get worked up by the Phillies not spending enough money in the draft. But until then, I wanted to provide another update for you. I realize that my first two reports were too long, and you probably got distracted by a shiny object halfway through, so I’m going to go with a new format. It will be exciting, and hopefully you can make it all the way through. Check below for the big reveal.

Instead of breaking things down level by level and using long form prose, I’m going to simply give you a ten pack of notes/facts/stats. Hopefully this method proves more readable/enjoyable!

10.) Blogging sensation Michael Schwimer appears next in line for a call-up in the bullpen. Over his last 10 appearances, he’s gone: 14.2 IP – 1.84 ERA – 1.20 WHIP – 24 K. He sports a 1.90 ERA along with 33 K in 23.2 IP this season

9.) Phillippe Aumont, arguably our best Canadian prospect, has a 16 to 1 K to BB ratio in his last 12.1 IP. On the season, he’s at 28 to 5, a massive improvement after walking a small country full of hitters last year.

8.) Jacob Diekman, a sidearming lefthander, has the craziest splits among pitchers in the system. vs RHB, he sports a 10.38 ERA and a .386 OPP BA. v LHB, he’s at 0.00 with a 0.63 OPP BA with an 8 to 1 GB to FB ratio.

7.) Cody Overbeck, a prospect afterthought heading into 2011, leads the AA Eastern League in home runs with 12. He doesn’t turn 25 till next month. He still has plate discipline issues (just 11 walks this year), but the power appears to be somewhat real, though 8 of his HR have come at home, a very hitter friendly park.

6.) Though he got off to a slow start, flame-throwing righty Jarred Cosart has turned on the style in his last 2 outings, putting up a line of: 15 IP – 1 ER – 4 H – 4 BB – 11 K. Dude throws 93-95 and can hit 98. Just pray that his arm stays attached and healthy, he’s going to be a good one.

5.) A guy I was really high on before the season started, 2B Cesar Hernandez, got off to a terrible start this year, hitting .143/.186/.161 in 56 April AB with 14 K, very uncharacteristic for him. In May, he’s turned things around to some degree, hitting .269/.309/.308 with just 7 K in 52 AB. If things work out, he profiles similarly to Placido Polanco offensively, but with more speed, though may less power (!) if that is possible. But he’s a long way away.

4.) Sebastian Valle, our best catching prospect by a country mile, returned from a brief DL stint (from blocking the plate! he’s the anti-Sardinha/Barajas) with a hit in 4 trips to the plate. His .870 OPS in a very pitcher friendly league is hugely impressive, even if his plate discipline (1 walk!) needs work.

3.) The one name you really need to monitor at Lakewood is Zach Collier, the Phillies first round pick in 2008. He missed all of 2010 recovering from hand/wrist surgery, but he’s shaking off the rust now, and starting to really hit. After a .513 OPS in April, he’s rebounded with a .282/.358/.423 line in May. His power will be the last thing to develop, but he’s already stolen 10 bases in 13 attempts and he’s already racked up 3 triples. If you head down to Lakewood to see a game, be sure to check him out.

2.) You have to focus to see him because he’s tiny (5’11/155), but SS Edgar Duran, one of the Phillies many under the radar signings out of Latin America, is tearing the cover off the ball, hitting .378/.415/.514 in his last 10 games, bringing his season line up to .291/.327/.381. He’s on the radar. I’m watching.

1.) 2008 first round pick Anthony Hewitt is trying to suck me in. I’ve resisted for 3+ years. But he’s got me close. After doing close to nothing for 3 seasons, he’s showing signs of being more than just a random dude. Through 149 AB, he already has 17 extra base hits after collecting a total of 30 in 440 AB last year. He’s still striking out….like, a lot, and he’s not drawing walks, but he’s using his speed (12 SB in 14 tries) and he’s showing the aforementioned power. I’m paying attention. I’m not all in yet, because he may be bluffing, but I’m debating. Stay tuned.


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Prospects… we talkin’ bout prospects! volume 2.0 Mon, 09 May 2011 12:15:56 +0000 phuturephillies After last week’s introductory posting, I’m back for more. Now that I’ve set the scene and given an overview of the prospects that will be worth following, I’m going to simply use these weekly updates to go over guys who are heating up, guys who are struggling, and any potential breakout performers that may have been under the radar but are now emerging. To keep things simple, I will again break things down by affiliate level, and  I will be a bit more brief than my rambling soliloquy last week.

Lakewood (A): The song remains the same at Lakewood, as the pitching has carried the team by and large. David Buchanan (pictured above) is the best of the best, boasting a 1.77 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 40.2 innings this season. As a soon to be 22 year old prospect (next week), he should be putting up solid numbers, and he is. While he isn’t overpowering (just 25 K in 40 innings), he’s walked only 6 and he’s held righties to a .209 batting average thus far. He’s a candidate for promotion to Clearwater later in the summer if a need arises. After three poor starts in a row, Jesse Biddle turned in his best outing of the season, going 5 innings and allowing 1 ER on 4H and 2BB with 4K. As I mentioned last week, its going to take some time, and there will be speed bumps along the way, but he has all the tools to be a durable middle to front of the rotation starter. Offensively there isn’t much to write home about. Former first round pick Anthony Hewitt has 2B, 1 3B, and 3 HR in his last 10 games, but also a 15:2 K to BB ratio. High ceiling outfielders Domingo Santana and Aaron Altherr are still struggling.

Clearwater (A+): Clearwater, the Phillies most prospect laden affiliate this season, is off to a better start at 20-10, just 2 games behind Daytona (Cubs) in the North division of the Florida State League. The team has gotten strong pitching, led by 2008 3rd round pick Jon Pettibone. After an up and down season at Lakewood, Pettibone has put things together this season, posting a 1.75 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 36 IP. While you’d like to see more strikeouts (just 24 in 36 IP), he’s shown excellent control and allowed only 1 HR in his 36 IP. He doesn’t have star potential, but he looks the part of a solid middle of the rotation guy. Jon Singleton, the much talked about first baseman turned outfielder, hasn’t really hit for power yet (just 3 XBH) but he has hit for average (.308) and he’s taking his walks (11 in 20 games) and as he recovers from a minor ankle injury, his power should return. Joe Savery, an even more ambitious conversion project (pitcher to hitter) continues to hit, as he’s at .333/.429/.417 in his last 10 games, bringing his season line to .413/.456/.548 in 104 AB. Its tough to really analyze his performance though, as he’s 25 (very old for the FSL), but at the same time it is his first season as a full time hitter. He was a solid two way player at Rice, playing first base on days he didn’t pitch, and the fact that he’s made so much contact so early is encouraging. He doesn’t really hit the typical player development mold, and though expectations should be tempered, he’s been a fun story to follow.

Reading (AA): The most interesting storyline in Reading for me is the performance of 1B Matt Rizzotti and 1B/3B/OF Cody Overbeck. Rizzotti, as you may have heard, experienced a big time breakout season last year, hitting a combined .343/.430/.555 across A+, 2A and 3A in 484 PA. He struggled during a brief AAA stint at the end of the year, and the Phillies chose to drop him back down to Reading to start this season. So far, he’s responded, posting a .327/.374/.574 batting line in 115 PA. Check out this video of him from last season. He has a low hand load (haha) and because of this, creates more topspin than backspin, resulting in a lot of line drives. At least that’s what I gather from watching him play. Not that there is anything wrong with this necessarily, but I do think it will limit his ability to really hit for power at the major league level, especially against very good fastballs. The other issue of concern is that his glove is made of steel. By all accounts, he’s an absolute butcher at 1B, and would have the range of an orange road cone in LF. All of that is a fancy way of saying I think he’ll end up as part of a potential trade this summer, if the Phillies have a need and a team that needs a potential DH guy. Overbeck, a 9th round pick in the banner 2008 draft, also had a nice breakout year of sorts last year, hitting .276/.354/.490 across A+ and AA in 551 PA with 24 HR and 55 total extra base hits. Like Rizzotti, Overbeck is the owner of an iron glove, as he didn’t really work out at 3B, and he’s been previously limited to 1B. Now, however, the Phillies are giving him a look in left field, which is very promising, as he’s continued to rake, hitting .291/.336/.592 with 9 HR in just 113 PA. If he can handle LF defensively, better than a road cone, he may play himself into a Ben Fracisco-esque role in the big leagues. There’s no shame in that.

Lehigh Valley (AAA): Domonic Brown, someone you may have heard of, has been rehabbing in Lehigh Valley and is hitting a robust .375 with a double, home run and stolen base. He figures to play at least a couple of weeks to ensure that he’s fully recovered and has his timing down. Still, a nice treat for fans in the L-H-V to see. And man have the fans been turning up, with a number of crowds already at 10,000 this year, the max for Coca Cola Park. Outside of Brown, there isn’t a whole lot to see offensively. Journeyman minor league Eric Kratz (also a local product) is having a nice season, but he’s almost 31. Rich Thompson, a robust 32 years of age, is 12 for 12 in SB. You could find jobs that suck more than playing minor league baseball at age 32. I’ve had a few. Drew Carpenter‘s conversion to the bullpen has been a success so far, as he is pitching in 2 inning stints and holding his own,  with a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings as a reliever thanks to a 13 to 3 K to BB ratio. While he lacks the upside of a Mike Stutes or Phillippe Aumont or Justin De Fratus, there’s no reason he can’t carve out a Clay Condrey-type career in the majors. Is Clay still in the majors? Anyway. Michael Schwimer, the other guy to monitor in the pen right now, has pitched fairly well thus far, with a 2.63 ERA in 13.2 IP, but he’s struggled with his control, walking 9. He has continued to strike guys out though, registering 17 K, and his problems really come against lefties, who are hitting .368 off of him, compared to just .182 for RHB. He could be on the Chad Durbin type path, where he’s excellent against righties and iffy against lefties, but can get the job done.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back next week with more tales from down on the farm.

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Prospects… we talkin’ bout prospects! volume 1.0 Mon, 02 May 2011 11:59:05 +0000 phuturephillies Hi friends, its James checking in. When I got word that The Fightins was making its triumphant return, I immediately asked jedi Meech if I could lend my services. For those who don’t know me, I started a website 4+ years ago devoted to following Phillies prospects. It seemed a novel concept at the time, but people actually kept reading, and I kept writing. I’m always looking to spread my (prospect) seed where possible, and Meech and the gang were happy to have me, so look for one post a week from me, updating you on the happenings down on the farm. I think its important that you understand how I look at prospects, including the traits and characteristics I find the most valuable, but instead of rambling on incessantly here, I’ll simply link you to this piece from my site, which goes over my general prospecting philosophy. My goal is to provide you a once a week overview of the key guys you should be focusing on, potential breakout guys, and if a trade is made, I’ll try and pop in and give you my take on that as well, if prospects are involved. Now that we got the foreplay out of the way, check below for your first prospect report of the 2011 season.

To make this easy to read and follow, I’ll just break down each of the 4 Phillies affiliates one by one. After the MLB draft in June, two short-season leagues will start up, one in Williamsport and the other in Florida, and I’ll cover those when the time arrives.

Lakewood (A): Over the past few seasons, the Lakewood team has been the jewel of the Phillies minor league affiliates, winning the South Atlantic League title in 2006, 2009, and 2010. Almost all of the Phillies big time prospects now have come through Lakewood, and the teams have characteristically featured strong pitching, helped by the spacious confines of FirstEnergy Park. This year is no different, as Lakewood is leading the league in ERA by a wide margin, at 3.42 with the next closest team at 3.97. The bats, unfortunately, are still experiencing a winter hibernation, as the team is 13th (of 14) in batting average, last in on base percentage, and 9th in slugging. Last year’s team featured a ton of high ceiling position player prospects including Jon Singleton and Jiwan James, and this year’s squad features similar guys in Aaron Altherr, Domingo Santana, Miguel Alvarez and Zach Collier. Santana is possibly the most intriguing guy of the bunch. At just 18, he’s one of the youngest players in the league, and cuts an imposing figure at 6’5/200. He’s still extremely raw and is swinging and missing a lot, but he’s got plenty of time to figure things out. If he were in high school, he’d still be a senior, which helps put things into perspective. Last year’s rotation was anchored by two highly touted arms in Jarred Cosart and Brody Colvin. This year’s staff lacks the same star power, but first round pick Jesse Biddle is the name to watch. He’s gotten off to a slow start, but scouting reports I’ve received on him since spring training have been extremely positive, with one person likening him to Andy Pettitte, both in terms of his physicality and his demeanor/work ethic.

Clearwater (A+): Many of the key contributors to the Lakewood title winning team in 2010 have moved up a notch to Clearwater, including prospects 2-6 on my pre-season Top 30 list: Brody Colvin, Jon Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Trevor May and Sebastian Valle. They’ve recently been joined by a rehabbing Domonic Brown, the obvious #1 on my Top 30, giving Clearwater one of the most intriguing collections of talent in the minors. Brody Colvin, the Phillies most expensive draftee in 2009, is currently rehabbing a minor back injury which the team does not deem a concern moving forward. Jarred Cosart, who possesses one of the best raw arms in all of the minors, has experienced mixed results early, posting a 3.81 ERA in 28.1 IP with 23 K and 9 BB. The most encouraging stat on his line is the 2.22 groundballs to flyballs ratio. Sebastian Valle, the Phillies top catching prospect, is starting to pick things up after a slow start, hitting safely in his last 7 games and upping his average to .267. He’s still an adventure at the plate, as he will swing at pretty much anything near the zone, but he has lightning fast wrists (haha) that should allow him to hit for power as he refines his approach. More importantly, he’s made great strides behind the plate defensively. Jon Singleton, the Phillies top hitting prospect outside of Domonic Brown, has picked up where he left off last year, posting a robust .412 OB% in just 42 AB. He’s been slowed by a minor ankle injury, which the Phillies deem as very minor, though they are taking every precaution with him now to ensure it does not turn into something more problematic. The biggest surprise at Clearwater comes in the form of 2007 first round pick Joe Savery. Savery was run through the arm grinder at Rice, missing time recovering for arm surgery, but the Phillies banked on him making a full recovery and getting back to his pre-surgery days, when he routinely hit 93-94 from the left side. That hasn’t happened, but luckily for Savery, he’s always been an excellent hitter dating back to his college days, where he played first base on days he did not pitch. He’s mashed to the tune of .447/.463/.618 in his first 76 AB, an eye opening line for someone who hasn’t hit regularly since 2007. While he’s not an elite prospect, or even a very good prospect, he’s a fantastic story, and an easy guy to root for.

Reading (AA): This year’s Reading team features an interesting mix of experienced minor leaguers (also called “org guys”, guys who likely won’t make the majors, or may just get a brief cup of coffee) and interesting prospects. The guys everyone will continue to focus on are the products of the Cliff Lee trade, 2 of which are on the roster now and one of which will likely join the roster after his injury rehab. I’m speaking, of course, about Phillippe Aumont (RHP), JC Ramirez (RHP) and Tyson Gillies. In an attempt to maximize his value, the Phillies moved Phillippe Aumont to the starting rotation last season. The results were poor, but the experience and innings (he more than doubled his career innings total last year) should prove valuable, as he was able to work on different things, including his secondary pitches. When he’s at his best, he features a 92-97 mph fastball with hard running movement in on righthanded batters. His primary secondary pitch is a breaking ball with hard two plane (both down and away from RHB) break. His big issue is control and command, and if he can throw quality strikes, he could be the Phillies answer to Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard. JC Ramirez, who pitched with a bum hip for most of last season, has gotten off to a strong start, posting a 1.33 ERA in his first 3 starts. Consistency is the name of the game for him, as he still has a very strong arm. Tyson Gillies, who had a bit of a nightmare last year, is currently rehabbing. He spent much of last year injured, and it took almost a year to diagnose the issue, which was related to his hip and groin, the result being increased pressure on his hamstring. Or something. I’m not a doctor. But anyway, it appears now that they’ve figured out the issue, he should get back to 100%. He’ll show off some of the best speed in the minors, and is an all around excellent athlete, with gold glove potential in CF. Also keep an eye on hard throwing righthander Justin De Fratus, who got a brief look in spring training this year. Converted to the bullpen, De Fratus jumps his fastball into the 95-96 range with good movement and features a hard but inconsistent breaking ball and a decent changeup. He still needs a bit of work, but could become a future setup man, or even a closer if everything breaks right. The biggest downer at Reading came in the form of an ACL injury for Harold Garica, one of the Phillies best middle infield prospects. He’ll be out of action until the 2012 season.

Lehigh Valley (AAA): With the various maladies impacting the big club already in 2011, the Phillies depth at AAA has been tested, and so far they’ve responded well. Vance Worley, #8 on my pre-season Top 30, pitched very well in his first big league start of 2011. He didn’t seem to have a feel for his curve or slider, but he’ll throw 5 pitches at any time and is a good competitor on the mound. While its unlikely he will be a fixture in the rotation this year after Blanton returns (cross your fingers that he isn’t needed, that means everyone stayed healthy) he does offer a nice insurance policy for the big club. Also making the jump up and making his big league debut is hard throwing Mike Stutes. After struggling with his control and command last season, Stutes regained his ability to throw strikes this spring, opening the eyes of everyone, including the Phillies brass. To be successful he will have to keep throwing his fastball for strikes, which will set up his swing and miss slider. Still down on the farm is blogging sensation Michael Schwimer. The 6’8 reliever doesn’t overpower hitters, instead he opts to slay them with his own form of pitching calculus. So far, the call-ups have helped the Phillies tremendously. I hope for the Phillies sake, and for fans in Lehigh Valley, that no more reinforcements are needed for the time being.

Thanks for having me. This first report was a bit wordy, but I wanted to set the stage and make a grand entrance. Check back next week for another installment.

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