The Fightins'
Prospects… we talkin’ bout prospects! volume 1.0
Posted by phuturephillies at 7:59 am ET 38 Comments

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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38 Responses to “Prospects… we talkin’ bout prospects! volume 1.0”

  1. Philly fan stuck in DC says:

    Hi James.

  2. The Phillies minor league pitching prospects are very exciting. While I obviously would hate if they need to replace any of first 4 the starters, I have no problem with giving them a shot in the bullpen as I think that Herndon, Romero, and Zagurski are not the answer and I am very skeptical of Baez and Kendrick despite their strong starts. Contreras, Madson, Bastardo are fine, but they aren’t pitch every inning.

    I find watching Worley and Stutes to be very interesting. Hopefully Bastardo shows what the Phillies’ minors can do for relief. Bastardo has been MOWING THEM DOWN. It’s amazing that he has racked up as many SOs as he has. I look forward to watching him more.

  3. Nikita says:

    My heart is more with the minors since that’s where the raw talent is developed and refined…plus, attending a MiLB game is cheap! I just wish one of the Phillies’ affiliates was ten minutes from my house rather than the Blue Rocks.

    Looking forward to these weekly reports.

  4. I like Worley and felt bad when I realized he wouldn’t have many shots at a start this year. Glad he came up and performed well when needed. If the offense scores 10 runs every time he’s out there, he can pitch anyway he wants though.

  5. @shawnjames says:

    good post.

  6. Amandah says:

    Sacré Bleu!!! Phillippe Aumont can put his lé meat chord in my lé fart box anytime he wants.



  7. Walklett says:

    “To make this easy to read and follow, I’ll just break down each of the 4 Phillies affiliates one by one”

    Good call on Monday morning, my alcohol and weed soaked brain appreciates it.

  8. Philly fan stuck in DC says:

    Big kudos for keeping the troll lance in check.

  9. Greenman! says:

    lmao “le fart box”

    also good article, I enjoy reading about the farm.

  10. Bobby D says:

    I like the depth at the lower levels. Hopefully the high volume of potential pitching prospects can turn into some bargaining chips. The big club might need help this year and the minors are lacking middle infielders.

  11. TonyIsDynamic says:

    Shit like Amandah is why I still read the comment section. Awesome.

  12. We should organize a trip to see Jesse Biddle in Lakewood. Sounds like fun.

  13. MarkM625 says:

    Can I contribute a guest post on the temptation of running people over at CBP?

  14. soundofphilly says:

    Good job, I already like you more than Ryan

  15. Tommy Stugots says:

    Lance, you may be right about some of the jerkoffs on this site, but know this; it does not excuse you from jerkoffosity.

    Your shit, while admittedly rooted in some relative truths, grates more than it educates.

    Plus, wouldn’t you rather have consistently good to great baseball, the Bank and band wagoner, johnny come lately phans than the days of blue red bloods, the Vet and shitty, shitty Phillies teams? It’s a tough choice, really it is…but c’mon.

  16. Coca-Cola Park says:

    Dominic Brown sighting. Pop out to CF.

  17. Philly fan stuck in DC says:

    Lance you’re such a goddamned idiot. Everyone isn’t posting today because there isn’t a Phillies game, and THERE IS A FLYERS GAME ON. 99% of the posters here are also Flyers fans, we’re all on the same team – yet you seem to have to be a complete douche.

  18. Shane says:

    Lance, your village called they want their idiot back.

  19. Philly fan stuck in DC says:

    Guess what asshole, I grew up in south jersey. Lived there for 22 fucking years. I’m still a four for four even though I haven’t lived in the area in a few years now. I went to my first phillies game in the 80′s when they were a last-place team. Supported all the teams through numerous last place seasons. I am no front-runner.

    You’re a sorry sack of shit.

  20. Philly fan stuck in DC says:

    Why would I have any reason to make that up?

  21. Philly fan stuck in DC says:

    Oh, and I STILL drive up to philly for a few games a year, even though it gets very expensive. And guess where I’m at for the nine games the Phillies come into town in DC? Oh yeah, I’m in nats park with my Phils gear on. Shove it.

  22. Andrew says:

    Schwim went to my high school. He’s a bro. Hope he makes it to the big leagues

  23. Philly fan stuck in DC says:

    Oh, so I’m the douchebag now?

    Ok pal.

    Go back to your sorry life – I’ve got a flyers game to watch.

  24. Shane says:

    Lance, I wasn’t at the game last night because I’m in law school, in a state that’s not Pennsylvania, and I’m doing something productive with my life, unlike yourself. I watch every Phillies game I possibly can, and have done since I was 8 when my grandfather took me to my first Phils game at the Vet.

    I’ve never worn plaid shorts in my life, nor will I, and please for the love of god learn to spell, man. Your fifth grade education is somewhat embarrassing. Bon Jovi sucks. As for soccer, I studied in England for a year and half so fuck off because I can actually enjoy another sport. I played rugby in high school and college so fuck off about hockey because the players get all padded up like bitches.

  25. Tony Stugots says:

    I’ll give you this, Lanza, you get hot as a summer dash board sometimes but then sometimes, meh.

  26. Tony Stugots says:

    hey, Shane..out of bounds, mate.

    Hockey is the fastest sport anywhere not requiring internal combustion motors or horses. And last time I checked, soccer players don’t ever worry about running into a wall that doesn’t move much…not to mention those things called, “blades” they wear on their feet.

  27. Shane says:

    Rugby, Tony Stugots. Rubgy. Check it out. It’s football without pads.

  28. Shane says:

    Yeah, Lance. Post the box score for me. Cause it’s not like you can’t just dig up a box score and post in on here. Very convincing.

    You really are an idiot. Calling someone a loser for wearing a jersey of a United States National team? Hoping he gets cancer? While he’s celebrating a great moment in the history of this country?

    And, oh yes, the insult to end all insults – he’s a nerd. Boom you really “lanced” him good.

    The only thing your lancing is your credibility and others’ perceptions of your intelligence. Those are falling by the minute.

  29. Shane says:

    Excellent link from baseball reference that totally proves you were there that day.

    Here’s my first game:

  30. Kung Fu Fightins says:

    phillies prospect system = win

  31. MarkM625 says:

    Meech made the big time tonight. Service Electric Cable TV! It’s sad that people get rewarded for stalking players. ;)

    Domonic 1-4 tonight with a hard single and a run scored. Will get another at bat in the 10th.

  32. Shane says:

    The sooner Dom gets here the better…although I kind of want to see Raul set the record for the worst slump ever.

  33. Lynniemac says:

    Good thing Service Electric puts ‘Pigs games on demand. I definitely want to see that interview.

  34. MarkM625 says:

    I recorded it, but I haven’t figured out how to capture shit off my DVR yet. He was on during the top of the 8th.

  35. Stugots you again says:

    Shane, I’m familiar with rugby. I played a lot of that game…when it was called, “neighborhood football after school.” When I got to college, some of the spindliest guys played on the club team. Heck, I still play full contact football well into my thirties but ice hockey is one tough lot. Keep in mind with rugby, it’s rare when any of those guys hit each other with high impact. Those who try to romanticize the toughness of rugby often forget that.

    As for hockey, I wonder how much of it that you really pay attention to. I mean, I didn’t even mention that part about the half frozen rubber bullet that they routinely scream around the ice…when you get tackled in rugby, do you end up on a cold, unforgiving surface?

  36. Shane says:

    If you’re playing in Upstate New York into December and January, as I do, then your getting tackled into a cold, hard, unforgiving surface every time.

    If you think it’s rare that rugby players rarely hit each other at high speeds or high impact, I’d encourage you to watch any rugby game involving men above the age of 16. Real rugby is a game of position and the way you get position is by tackling and rucking. Teams that don’t do that stand no chance. Absolutely no padding is allowed in rugby, save for the scrum cap to prevent cauliflower ear. That means no cups, either.

    And while they don’t wear blades on their feet, as in hockey, most ruggers play with 1 – 1/2 steel cleats. Not even close to as sharp as blades, but, then again, rugby players don’t wear full padding, gloves, and helmets either.

    The scrum and rucking is a whole ‘nother animal as well. Fish hooking, stamping, and eye gouging are routine parts of the game.

    Finally, I wasn’t arguing that soccer was a sport that is in any way physically tougher than hockey. Soccer is an enjoyable sport on its own merits, as are basketball, golf, Aussie rules football, boxing, and many others. Soccer, of course, is no where near hockey or rugby in terms of physicality.

    And I pay quite a bit of attention to hockey as well. Like the Phils, Eagles, and Sixers I’ve been watching the Broad Street Crew since I was a child. Again, the fact that the puck is speeding around the ice adds to the excitement of the sport, but you could say the same thing about a baseball cracked of the bat hurtling at the pitcher’s face on the mound ala Manny Ramirez at Roy Oswalt during Spring Training – and he doesn’t gave a helmet on.

  37. Stugots you again says:

    Something tells me much of the padding is to prevent a litany of impending injuries including but not limited to; getting filleted open by hard steel skate blades, getting maimed by an impact from a high velocity hard rubber projectile and suffering a variety of broken bones, concussions and ligament tears due to high speed impact from bodies or objects.

    I am not too apprehensive about facing a wall of rugby shirted fleet footers and oafs alike, but 100 mph flying pucks and the wayward kicking hockey skate are things I’m not eager to deal with.

    Believe me, I’ve seen my share of rugby tourneys and those who participate can be really tough dudes, but there really isn’t much comparison, my friend.

  38. Shane says:

    Agree to disagree then, but for me there’s no argument. Putting your body on the line unpadded in a sport as visceral as rugby and taking the hits that get dished is equally as grueling as hockey if not more so.

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