2014 Philadelphia Phillies

C – Andrew Knapp – LoA Lakewood/HiA Clearwater –  22 yo;  –  (2013 – 2nd round) –
  • .290 – 6HR – 32RBi – 46R –  .324/.385/.710  slash    –  csPAG: 2.60
  • BA/#24(2014)   –  MLB Pipeline/#14(2015)   –  BP-NR
  • The University of Cal Berkeley draftee entered the pros as an athletic catcher with an above average arm and great blood lines (father, Mike played in the majors for 11 seasons), but most felt his bat was the overall better tool; and it showed as the switch-hitter came out of 2014 as the top hitting catcher in the entire system. Having had Tommy John surgery in October 2013, he was slow to come around as the organization felt Knapp’s in-game recovery may have somewhat held him back an entire season. Yet, he still posted solid production. In 2013, Knapp debuted with a 2.73 PAG for Short Season Williamsport then this season posted the csPAG you see above. With a clean bill of health and a possibly a full year assignment in HiA Clearwater in 2015, Knapp may very well cement himself as the top backstop in the organization. 
1B – Willians Astudillo – LoA Lakewood – 22 yo;  – (2008 – International FA signee-VE)
  • .333  – 30 2B  – 4HR –  61RBi – 41R –   .366/.433/.799  slash    PAG: 2.67
  • BA-NR   –   MLB Pipeline-NR   –   BP-NR
  • Jim and I have always laughed over how certain kids we discuss can only be described as an “enigma.”  Even though we try hard to include analysis for every kid in each organization, I have to admit, the Phillies weren’t easy. After only a select few (near) blue chippers, the overall quality of the system is subpar at best. It’s not as horrid as some may say. It’s not good, but it’s getting better.  The enigma part I was talking about? Well, the Venezuelan born Astudillo is just that.  The first time I looked at his career stat resume, I originally thought it was a misprint. What I mean is this: The 5’9 – 180 lb. righty has a 52:41/K:BB ratio.  Seems normal right for a bat first profile? But folks, that is in 5 completed seasons in the minors.  Astudillo averages 10 walks and 8 strikeouts a season.  Now, I’m not going to sit here and say Astudillo is some kind of novelty act. Oh no! He can flat out hit. His overall numbers certainly don’t indicate he’s a timid soul at the plate who’s afraid to swing the bat or take a pitch. He missed all of 2013 with a left knee injury which certainly delayed his ascension up the ladder. None the less, he’s that perfect UTR candidate who if he keeps on hitting (career .319 hitter), fans and experts alike will have no choice but to at least discuss him as one of the top bats in the system regardless of age. 
2B – Andrew Pullin  – LoA Lakewood – 20 yo;  – (2012 – 5th round)
  • .270 – 9HR – 61RBi – 67R – 6SB –  .332/.374/.706  slash    –  PAG: 2.78
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR   –  BP-NR
  • Chosen as my 2013 Phillies UTR Breakout Prospect of the Year at MLBdepthCharts.com (his MLBDC Breakout bio seen here) after posting a 2.56 PAG in his 2012 debut in the Gulf Coast League, the Centralia HS (WA) grad went on to log a modest 2.73 PAG while batting .261 with only 20 runs scored and 23 RBi’s in 51 games for Short Season Williamsport. He provided average defense committing 5 errors in 208 chances at second base. Not a vast improvement, but serviceable.  This season, his first in full-season ball, he inched up the PAG ladder batting .271 with 18 doubles, 61 runs scored and 67 runs batted in.  So, his bat progressed a little, but his defense went over a cliff committing 26 errors at second base. Despite his defensive woes, I don’t think the Phillies are going to pull the trigger on another position change just yet. They still view Pullin as a good enough athlete, polished enough bat, good enough speed and more than enough athleticism to vastly improve as a player and at the position. Maybe he might split time between 2B and the outfield. Just as long as his bat continues to show improvement. Otherwise, it’s a failed experiment that could set Pullin back further than his present skills can recover. 
3B – Mitch Walding  – Gulf Coast League Tigers  – 18 yo;  –  (2011 – 5th round)
  • .237  –  25 2B  –  7HR  –  55RBi  –  33R  –  1SB –  .308/.372/.680  slash   – PAG: 2.44
  • BA-NR  –   MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • For my Phillies 3B O.A.S., I deeply considered choosing 2012 – 3rd rounder Zach Green. As a whole (and I know this is only a 2014 All-Star list) Green has posted better PAG scores than Walding. Both having been drafted in 2012, the tale of the tape goes like this:  ’12 – Green: 2.62; Walding: 2.58) – (’13 – Green: 3.53; Walding: 2.35) – (’14 – Green: 2.94; Walding: 2.44) Yet, the reason I chose Walding over Green is simply because the 6’3 – 190lb. St. Mary’s HS draftee logged in a full season at the hot corner whereas Green split time between third and first. In fact, based on Green’s defensive stats, the only way he should be near third base is if he hits a triple. He posted an awful .900 Fld% for LoA Lakewood. Here’s the issue with Walding. Much like Elaine Benes stated in “Seinfeld’s  April 1995 “Fusille Jerry” episode describing boy friend Puddy’s “move”: It’s like a big budget movie with a story that goes nowhere.” Walding has all the tools: solid defense but error prone. Power bat, but home runs don’t count in batting practice. A solid bat, but has trouble with secondary pitches. He just hasn’t translated these tools into games. I really want to see Walding put it all together very soon. 
SS – J.P. Crawford  – LoA Lakewood/HiA Clearwater  –  19 yo;  –  (2013 – 1st round)
  • .285  –  23 2B  –  11HR – 48RBi  –  69R  – 24SB  –  .375/.406/.781  slash   – PAG: 3.20
  • BA/#1(2015)   –   MLB Pipeline/#1  –  BP/#1
  • It’s no secret that without question, Crawford is THE premiere prospect in the system. He’s supremely athletic, has a big arm, soft glove work, a polished bat and great range. All he needs is time. Time to let the game ease into him. He’s a potential superstar. One the Phillies need desperately with the aging major league squad and the off-season trade of all-time Phillies great Jimmy Rollins. 
LF – Jiandido Tromp – Short Season Williamsport/LoA Lakewood –  20 yo;  –  (2012 – International FA/Aruba)  –
  •  .256 – 15HR – 42RBi – 50R – 19SB –  .316/.456/.772   – PAG: 3.05
  • BA-NR   –   MLB Pipeline-NR   –   BP-NR
  • Being that this is the first time Jim and I have put together All-Star lists, I’m learning a lot. I’m learning that generally it’s best to temper enthusiasm over a prospect unless he’s proven himself over numerous levels. That is unless he comes to an organization with a high pedigree. Then and only then it’s okay, I guess, to slap a “stud” label on him. This is my admission that we’re not perfect. With the Aruba-born Tromp, he had a good season, but with all due respect, it’s hard to get excited when in three consecutive seasons Tromp as seen time with Short Season Williamsport and in two consecutive seasons for Lakewood of the South Atlantic League. When you both compartmentalize and desegregate Tromp’s stats you just want to see more. (the apparent theme of the entire organization actually.) He needs to play everyday and until he does at the higher levels, we’re not sure if all his tools (solid, but no plus) will translate into a true prospect. He has time. Sure we’ve seen decent production, but he’s stalled and Phillies die-hards want to see Tromp take his game to another level. 
CF – Roman Quinn – HiA Clearwater –  21 yo;  –  (2011 – 2nd round) 
  • .257 – 7HR – 36RBi – 50R – 32SB –  .343/.370/.713   – PAG: 3.14
  • BA/#4(2015)  –   MLB Pipeline/#4(2015)  –  BP-NR
  • I’m going on the record to say that I like Roman Quinn more than Carlos Tocci. With the UTR creedo stating production is what gets you to the majors and nothing else, Quinn has outproduced Tocci every step of his way. Now go ahead, throw criticism. Tell me that Quinn is a 21 year old who hasn’t played more than 88 games in a season since being drafted. Go ahead and argue that Tocci is a 17 year old who’s (barely) holding his own playing against competition 3+ years his senior. I get it. Tocci needs to put on weight in order to supplement his power. He has the tools to become a great player. However, I believe Tocci was rushed. Rushed on hope.  Quinn has been a better prospect so far.  I like that Quinn has still produced even after the adversity he’s overcome mixed with having to switch positions (SS to CF after the Phillies drafted J.P. Crawford).  Quinn is extremely athletic (he turned down a football scholarship to play QB for Florida State) and he’s known for his blazing speed. But, he still produced after rehabbing a torn right achilles tendon in November of 2013. Quinn has yet to log a PAG score under 3.09 in his three year career and I fully believe that a full season of health in full season ball for either HiA Clearwater or even Double A Reading will allow him to (continue to) prove he’s a top tier talent. 
RF – Dylan Cozens  –  LoA Lakewood –  20 yo;  –  (2012 – 2nd round)
  • .248 –  25 2B  –  16HR – 62RBi – 69R – 23SB –  .303/.415/.717   –  PAG: 3.07 
  • BA/#22(2014)  –  MLB Pipeline/#17(2015)  –  BP/#10(2015) 
  • Looking at Cozen’s you might think he’d be more apt to lineup at tight end on Saturday afternoons instead of playing right field five to seven days a week.  The 6’6 – 235 lb. beast out of Chaparral HS (AZ) came to the Phillies with one tool in mind: power; and he’s displayed plenty of it since his debut. In 2012 with the Gulf Coast League, Cozens batted .255 with 11 doubles, 5 home runs, 24 RBI’s,  24 runs scored and a PAG score of 2.96. The Phillies were very pleased and assigned the behemoth lefty to Short Season Williamsport in 2013. He improved across the board. He logged a 3.51 PAG batting .265 with 9 more home runs added to his resume. Cozens increased his extra base percentage as well with a 44% rate in ’12 to 46% in 2013. His defense also improved running better routes. This season, Cozens spent the entire year in LoA Lakewood (his first full-season assignment) and again, saw major gains in his development. When you look at the right field profile, the only true tool Cozens lacks is the hit tool.  The power and arm strength are definitely there, but his career average sits at .254.  With his body and room to add polish, the Phillies will gamble with that trade off. Cozens has no more room to grow. He just needs to continue sharpening his game and he’ll (most certainly) get the chance to do that for HiA Clearwater in 2015. 

 

 

Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
1. RHP Mark Leiter – (12) SP/TPS .100
  • 23 years old – (LoA Lakewood / HiA Clearwater)
  • 22nd round – 2013
  • 2014 UTR Breakout
  • UTR Mention (June 19th)
  • Most recently, the biggest thing to happen to the New Jersey Institute of Technology was the huge upset over the Big Ten basketball power Michigan. The high of that improbable win will be short-lived, but a lasting proud moment is that one of their alumni might make his way the MLB. Mark Leiter already has the pedigree going for him to find his way to Philadelphia, as his father of the same name was a 11 year MLB veteran and his uncle Al Leiter, who had 19 years in the MLB and current MLB Network analyst. All that aside, I picked Leiter for a breakout year in 2014, but as a relief pitcher based on the season he had in 2013. The Phillies placed him in the rotation at LoA Lakewood and he finished with HiA Clearwater posting decent numbers overall. The righthander has poise and pitchability with a fastball in the low 90’s, curve, cutter, and plus change.
 2. LHP Ranger Suarez – (10) SP/TPS .099
  • 18 years old – (VSL Phillies)
  • Undrafted – 2012
  • 5-Time UTR Mention (May 25thJuly 1stJuly 8thJuly 14thAugust 2nd)
  • If you’ve been following Marc and I, you know we are not scouts, nor do we pretend to be. We just started this to bring non-prospects (“notspects”) to the forefront, because through all the research that we do for our fantasy leagues….all the press is about the top ranked kids. We became huge fans of the under the radar kids and we wanted an outlet to tout their performances. When it comes to Ranger Saurez…please oh please….let the Phillies give him at shot at Short-Season Williamsport to start 2015…as I want to “scout” him in-person. This kid has spent three season in the VSL and pitched 102.2 innings and only walked 4 batters while striking out 95. What’s more impressive is that in 2014, he was given the opportunity to start for the first time. He made 14 starts, going 5-4 with a 1.56 ERA in 80.2 innings and K’ed 78 and one walk issued. I know that pitching in the VSL, or other foreign leagues, that one shouldn’t get too worked up. But this lefty is too intriguing to dismiss. Let’s see what happens!
 3. RHP Carlos Indriago – (9) cSR/TPS .139
  • 20 years ago – (VSL Phillies)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • 3-Time UTR Mention (June 3rdJune 28thJuly 19th)
  • You’re saying..”Come on, two kids from the VSL making the top 5?” Well, according to my system, it shows you where the Phillies are with their low level pitchers, in that those which should be near higher levels already….well, aren’t. The Top 5 list below, which matters the most, shows it’s not that bad. Indriago and Suarez made up 1/3 of the VSL Phillies wins last season and made the UTR Mentions a combined eight times. Sure, the hitting in the VSL could/must be suspect, but again, thats the beauty of what Marc and I are doing…..bringing these very young players out in the open before hitting the states. Indriago went 5-1, 3.19 ERA in 13 starts, striking out 44 over 62 innings and walking seven. The young right-hander is already throwing a 90 mph fastball. A tough call where he will come at the start of the 2015 season, but turning 21 in June….he could see the GCL at some point.
4. RHP Colin Kleven – (9) SP/TPS .120 
  • 23 years old – (HiA Clearwater)
  • 33rd round – 2009
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (May 17thAugust 3rd)
  • Kleven missed a ton of time in 2013 due to injury, but had decent season in 2014, but very stingy in allowing walks (2.2 BB9) in 136 IP. He had a particular strong second half though the numbers weren’t glaring.
5. RHP Victor Delgado – (9) SP/TPS .129 
  • 19 years old – (VSL Phillies)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (July 5thJuly 23rd)
  • Second season in the VSL where Delgado put up similar numbers, including a 5.00+ K/BB ratio in both season, but lowered his ERA in 2014.
 
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
1. RHP Lee Ridenhour – (7) RP/TPS .159
  • 24 years old – (HiA Clearwater)
  • 16th round – 2013
  • Across my tracking sheets, the Phillies were also very thin. Ridenhour started the season OK, but tailed off as the season waned in his first full season. Now 25 years old, the big right-hander will need to produce if he wants to move to the next level.
2. LHP Cody Forsythe – (6) RP/TPS .076
  • 23 years old – (LoA Lakewood / HiA Clearwater)
  • 25th round – 2013
  • UTR Mention (July 18th)
  • One bright spot from the bullpen was Forsyth. He was a seasoned pitcher out of the 2013 draft and had an exceptional year between LoA Lakewood and HiA Clearwater. In 45 appearances he threw 65 innings, struck out 72, walked 17, picking up 12 saves. How far he goes is unknown, as his stuff doesn’t project. He fastball marks in the high 80’s along with slider and change-up.
3. RHP Ulises Joaquin – (5) RP/TPS .121
  • 22 years old – (LoA Lakewood / HiA Clearwater)
  • Undrafted – 2010
  • Joaquin missed the whole 2013 season due to injury after a successful year at Short-Season Williamsport. During his outings with the Crosscutters (12 apps with 9 starts), the term “electric arm” was thrown about due to his mid 90’s fastball. Missing the following campaign was a blow to his development. The organization however, could have had Joaquin repeat in the New York-Penn League to rehab, but showed some confidence by placing him at LoA Lakewood and later a promotion to HiA. All of his appearances (46) in 2014 came from the bullpen where he finished 33 games getting 16 saves.
 
Top 5 TPS – Starting Pitchers
 
1. RHP Luis Morales – cSR/TPS .064
  • 21 years old – (GCL Phillies)
  • Undrafted – 2010
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (July 14thJuly 21st)
  • Morales is another pitcher that missed the 2013 season and found himself back in the GCL for the 3rd consecutive year. Though he was hit around somewhat (12.0 H9) it was a successful year, number wise.  It was the first time where he showed progress in command of his pitches in striking out 30 and only 7 walks. The scary part of Morales is the lack of movement of his fastball. Looking for a switch to the bullpen in 2015?
2. RHP Ismael Cabrera – cSR/TPS .073
  • 20 years old – (DSL Phillies)
  • Undrafted – 2014
  • UTR Mention (July 22nd)
  • I believe Philadelphia is the first team where a different pitcher occupies each spot on the list. As I stated before, the Top 5 TPS is where I pay the most attention, but it is reassuring to see a pitchers’ name appear on both lists. Im sort of rubbing my head with the Phillies low-level system; it’s like they’re starting over from scratch. Numerous pitchers grace my post-season breakdown spreadsheets that range in age from 19 to 21 at the levels from VSL to Short-Season. Cabrera spent his first year of affiliated ball in the DSL. He post decent numbers despite of having command issues.
3. RHP Ricardo Pinto – SP/TPS .078 
  • 20 years olds – (Short-Season Williamsport)
  • Undrafted – 2011
  • I’ve been using my TPS formula since 2010 and I created it to give me a snapshot of a pitchers performance without spending a lot time gazing at different stats, charts, or whatever info is out there. I still need to improve some things with it, but when I see the numbers Pinto posted over two seasons (.096 in 2012 and .085 in 2013) in the VSL, I placed a asterisk next to his name for the upcoming 2014 season. I saw his name occasionally on my daily tracking sheets, but it wasn’t until I broke down the Phillies and I saw his name appear near the top TPS rate, that Pinto possibly could be something special. The organization knows it too, by advancing him from the VSL to the Short-Season Williamsport last season. He throws a 92-94 mph fastball which can touch 96 at times. The pitches that could make the move for him are a plus change and a improving slider. He’s aggressive on the mound and stingy on allowing hits in holding opposing hitters to a .203 average in 2014.
4. LHP Brandon Leibrandt – cSR/TPS .082
  • 21 years old – (GCL Phillies / Short-Season Williamsport)
  • 6th round – 2014
  • 4-Time UTR Mention (July 1st, July 23rdJuly 29thAugust 11th)
  • Leibrandt is one of the highest drafted pitchers on list so far along with Matt Imhof coming up next. The lefty had a very successful collegiate career at Florida St. and didnt miss a beat in his first season as a pro. Known for the plus command of his fastball, he finished with a 2.82 ERA in 12 appearances (10 starts) and striking out 67 while allowing 10 free passes. One report I read gave him a quasi-comp to J.A. Happ, but with better control. Oh BTW, he also comes from good stock, as his father, Charlie, pitched for 14 seasons.
5. LHP Matt Imhof – SP/TPS .092
  • 20 years old – (GCL Phillies / Short-Season Williamsport / LoA Lakewood)
  • 2nd round – 2014
  • Imhof could be right on the heels to top pick Aaron Nola during their trek to Philly. He’s a huge lefty with a plus fastball and a deceptive curve. He projects as a middle to back-end starter that could eat innings.   
Top 3 TPS – Relief Pitchers
 
1. LHP Joey Denato – RP/TPS .074
  • 19 years old – (Short-Season Williamsport / LoA Lakewood)
  • 19th round – 2014
  • Denato could be a UTR gem. He’s already written the first few chapters that could possibly be a 30 for 30 special on ESPN someday. He was an outstanding pitcher for Torrey Pines HS (California) but never received a look from scouts. The under-sized (5′ 10″ 175 lbs) left-hander went on to Big Ten perennial baseball power Indiana University where he continue to excel from his freshman to junior years. Again, the scouts didn’t come knocking. He finished up his collegiate career with another top performance and the scouts couldn’t layoff any longer. After eight appearances with SS Williamsport, Denato was promoted to LoA Lakewood and he kept on rolling. There are still nay-sayers about his projectability because of his stature. But just as Marc stated about the Cardinals Matt Adams way,way back when (“All he has done at every level…. is hit”), the same could be said about Denato.
2. RHP Edubray Ramos – RP/TPS .074
  • 21 years old – (VSL Phillies / GCL Phillies / Short-Season Williamsport)
  • Undrafted – 2010
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (July 29thAugust 2nd)
  • An exciting looking reliever…. but we should wait until we see a performance in a full season league to back-up an outstanding 2014. He ended the season with a 0.81 ERA in 26 appearances. He throws a mid 90’s fastball, breaking ball, changeup, and a wicked slider. With that pitch mix, there’s that chance we could see him moved to a rotation in 2015, but some reports stated he could move faster through the system in the bullpen.
3. RHP Alejandro Garcia – RP/TPS .074 
  • 20 years old – (VSL Phillies)
  • Undrafted – 2011
  • Only pitching since 2013, Garcia is a converted outfielder. He only gave up 3 earned runs over 34.2 innings in 2014 and a total of 7 ER the past 2 seasons (55.2 IP). Definitely will be placing an asterisk next to his name for 2015.
 
 
 
2014 Breakout Grades
 
The following pitchers were chosen in early March. Their selection was based solely on their previous season’s TPS rating and using the UTRMinors.com criteria for those under the radar.
 
 SP Drew Anderson – It was progressing well for Anderson to start the season and it looked like a breakout year was in the cards. An elbow strain sidelined him in early June and he slowly tried to come back by pitching two outing in the GCL in late July. The Phillies are high on the right-hander and shut him down for the season. Grade C
 
RP Mark Leiter – Another UTR breakout selected as a relief pitcher, but broke out in the starting role and made the #1 spot on the above list for his performance during his outings. Grade B-
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