Wednesday, January 13, 2010

TEAM #15 – Philadelphia Phillies

After a series of prospect laden trades, Dominic Brown distances the Phillies field

The Philadelphia Phillies check in at #15, something that would have been hard to imagine as recent as last June, but a couple of deals that involved high profile prospects for Cliff Lee, and then Roy Hallady, have gutted the Phillies’ system. While Phillies’ management would like you to believe, they broke-even when they dealt Lee to the Mariners, there is no way that the prospects that the Phillies got back match-up with what they gave up to get him. If the Phillies’ Minor League system was a rock band, it would be called Dominic Brown and the no-names, as the gap between Brown and the rest of the system is light years. In fact it is quite likely that the all of the seven prospects that the Phillies have dealt since last June would have all rated ahead of the top original #3 Anthony Gose, had they still been with the system. Another problem that we have with the Phillies’ system, is that they have followed a broken script of drafting highly-athletic, toolsy, position player ‘projects’ that just haven’t developed. The system is absolutely loaded with them. Obvious by their middle of the pack ranking, there is still some talent here, but this is a system that is no longer very deep, and a system that quite possibly would have been one of the top two in baseball without the trades.

Grade A

1) Dominic Brown, RF (2009 Performance Scores– Power 75; First Base Rate 64; Discipline 48; Speed 66)

We likely don’t rate Brown as highly as many sources, because, while the tools may be there, they haven’t yet fully translated into measurable skills, as demonstrated by his #21 Performance score in the ESL (he did finish at #4 in the FSL). Brown is an athletically gifted specimen that ‘oozes’ tools. He has quick wrists, a strong arm, and tremendous speed. While he only hit 14 HRs in 2009, we see above average power potential here. His bat speed compensates and allows him to make average contact, and he has the ability to take a walk—not a given for a 22yo. While we could pick nits about his under developed baseball instincts, the only real caution flag that we see is his tendency to flail at pitches out of the strike zone, which led to a nearly 20% strikeout rate in 2009 (21% against the more advanced pitching that he faced in the AZFL). It is rare to find such an athletic, ‘toolsy’ player that has such a high-floor. It is hard not to envision him patrolling right field in Philadelphia sometime in 2011. That said, while stardom is his ceiling, it would also not surprise us if he eventually becomes ‘just’ an above average, everyday, Major League right fielder. Brown’s AZFL performance highlighted the fact that there is still more work to be done here, and Brown would definitely benefit from another year in the Minor Leagues. Expect him to spend it at AAA.

Grade B+

2) Tyson Gillies, CF (2009 – Power 36; First Base Rate 77; Discipline 71; Speed 78)

Gillies is the most intriguing prospect that the Phillies got back in the Cliff Lee deal. He profiles as the classic top of the order CF, with sound defense, plus speed, above average strike zone management skills, and excellent on-base skills, as his park-adjusted First Base Rate ranked #3 in the CAL in 2009. The downside is that Gillies has below average power, and isn’t likely to develop any. Unlike many speedsters that fail to succeed as they move up the ladder, Gillies has the plate discipline skills that should carry him all the way to the Majors. While he will likely never be a star, it is likely that he has a lengthy career as a top of the order table setter. The 21yo is likely to begin 2010 in AA, and reach Philadelphia sometime in 2011.

3) Anthony Gose, CF (2009 – Power 36; First Base Rate 49; Discipline 56; Speed 80)

Since Greg Golson in 2004, the Phillies have had a penchant for spending high draft picks on ‘toolsy’, athletic , OF projects. 2008 alone yielded Anthony Hewitt, Zach Collier, and Anthony Gose. While many of the picks look extremely questionable in retrospect, the Gose selection looks like it just may bear fruit. With only 39 ABs in his 2008 debut, 2009 was, for all practical purposes, his debut, and as one of the youngest everyday players in the SAL, the 18yo held his own, finishing with the #9 Performance score. In an organization with a ton of ‘speed’ prospects, we like Gose’s overall speed package the best, as he swiped 76 bases in 2009. But speed isn’t Gose’s only exceptional skill, as he has the range to play center and one of the best arms (pitchers included) in the entire organization. His bat raises the biggest questions, but there is enough to project average CF power, above average on-base skills, and eventually average plate discipline skills-despite fanning 20% of the time in 2009. Don’t misunderstand us, Gose is still a project that has a long way to go, but he will play the 2010 season as a 19yo in Hi-A. If the Phillies show patience with his development, they could field one of the fastest outfields in the game by 2012.

4) Trevor May, RHP (2009 – Dominance 75; Stamina 69; HRrate 49; Control 24)

2009 brought a couple extra ticks to the large-framed (6’5”, 215lbs) May’s fastball, now a low-90s offering, and it allowed him to have a breakout season. Only 19yo for the entire year, May more than held his own in the SAL, finishing with the League’s #7 Performance score. His best pitch however may be his power curve. Still tremendously raw, May’s Change is very much a work in process, but shows potential. More importantly, he did have periodic bouts where his control vanished, as he walked more than five batters per 9IP during the season. His ceiling is that of a mid-rotation starter, but there is much to be done before he gets there. The journey begins for him at Hi-A in 2010.

5) Sebastian Valle, C (2009 – Power 68; First Base Rate 35; Discipline 53; Speed 31)

2009 was an interesting year for Valle, as he began the year in full-season ball, where he proved to be over-matched. When the NYP opened in June, the Phillies sent him there, where he had a monster year, eventually posting the #2 Performance Score in the League. But it didn’t end there, as perhaps the most impressive part of the 18yo/19yo’s season came this Winter in the Mexican League, where he finished 6th in the League in home runs with only 160 ABs and posted an .882 OPS. There is a sizeable upside here and a lot of potential to like, and after a Top 15 Performance score in the GCL in 2008, and the #2 score in the DSL in 2007, Valle has a demonstrated track record of success. With plus power potential and an advanced strike zone management approach Valle has all the makings of a potential everyday Big League player…the concern is at what position. With poor footwork, raw game calling ability, average receiving skills, and a below average arm, he isn’t a strong candidate to remain behind the plate. Add to that base clogging speed, a general lack of patience at the plate and below average on-base skills, and you are likely looking at a 1B/LF if he doesn’t make it at catcher—which would raise the bar considerably. A return trip to the SAL in 2010 appears to be in order. Expect completely different results this time around.

6) Domingo Santana, OF (2009 – Power 80; First Base Rate 59; Discipline 23; Speed 44)

The most incredible line of a rather incredible 2009 performance—Santana played the majority of his 2009 GCL as a 16yo! Along the way he posted an .896 OPS and the League’s #3 Performance Score. At 6’5”, 200 lbs, Santana is a physical beast. In the GCL, he demonstrated plus power, above average speed, and a plus arm that makes him a natural fit for RF. Additionally, he showed average on-base skills, and the patience to take a walk. The downside, outside of this was a rookie league performance, is that he has an aggressive approach at the plate that led to a 33% strikeout rate. The Phillies will be tempted to push Santana aggressively. We hope they resist the temptation and allow him to stay in extended Spring Training and then on to the NYP. He won’t turn 18yo until the second half of the 2010 season. Watch this one closely, as he could fly up the prospect lists in 2010.

7) Phillippe Aumont, RP (2009 – Dominance 70; Stamina 25; HRrate 48; Control 51)

Aumont was an extremely raw talent when the Mariners drafted him in the first round in 2007, so it came as somewhat of a surprise when they had already given up on the idea of him becoming a starter by the beginning of the 2009 season. Word is that the Phillies may be considering moving him back into the rotation. There is a ton of potential here, as the ceiling is that of a lights out closer or front of the rotation stud, but for us, there remain more questions than answers. At 6’7”, 220lbs, Aumont is physically imposing, using a downward plane to generate a mid-90s fastball. Additionally he has a hard sinker, and a Curve that shows potential. Currently a Change is basically non-existent. As a raw 21yo, you would think there is enough there to consider him as a front of the rotation starter. But elbow concerns, questionable mechanics, and struggles with command, call into doubt how far he will actually go. His AZFL performance did nothing but reinforce what we already knew. Look for Aumont to begin 2010 in the ESL. The difference between his floor and his ceiling are enormous.

Grade B

8) Antonio Bastardo, LHP (2009 – Dominance 79; Stamina 44; HRrate 49; Control 76)

Bastardo has had flashes of brilliance for five seasons now, but for the most part has been held back by his diminutive size and fragility concerns that have not allowed him to throw more than 98 innings in any season. With a low 90s fastball and an average change, both of which he commands well, Bastardo has the floor of a Major League left-handed set-up man. If he could develop a quality breaking pitch, he could become a starter. Expect the Phillies to give Bastardo a shot a bullpen spot this Spring. If he doesn’t earn it, he will likely end up in the AAA rotation, and spend time in Philadelphia at some point this year.

9) Brody Colvin, RHP –

We expected Colvin to go no worse than the second round last June, with the possibility of sneaking in toward the end of round one. So the Phillies got a bargain when they selected him in the 7th round and signed him for sandwich round money. While relatively raw, Colvin already throws a low-90s heater, and a Curve that may be an even better pitch. With a 6’4” frame that portends further projection, he could well end up with a mid-90s fastball. Other than his rawness, his weaknesses include the lack of a quality change, occasional bouts of control issues, and mechanics that will need some tweaking. While there is still much projection here, the ceiling looks high. Expect the Phillies to keep Colvin in extended Spring Training. His performance there will dictate his debut assignment.

10) Zach Collier, RF (2009 – Power 43; First Base Rate 29; Discipline 33; Speed 66)

Sometimes you have to admit when you got it wrong. While we are far from giving up on him, unfortunately for us that appears to be the case for Collier, who we saw as a mid-first round pick in the 2008 draft. With 560 professional at bats under his belt, Collier has yet to translate his considerable tools into measurable skills. Still just 19yo, and possessing an incredibly athletic build, there is still plenty of time for Collier to turn it around, but so far he has given us nary a glimpse of what he could become. His smooth swing, quick wrists, plus speed, and advanced hitting approach have yielded little, and the computer now shows an arrow pointing to a higher probability of bust than boon. While there is considerable ceiling here, Collier will need a breakout 2010 in the SAL to change that direction.

11) Jonathan Singleton, 1B (2009 – Power 74; First Base Rate 73; Discipline 73; Speed 34)

Coming into draft day, we had Singleton as a 5th round pick, who the Phillies were fortunate to nab in the seventh round. The only knock on him was that he had a long swing that made him susceptible to the better pitchers. Otherwise he would have rated much higher, as he is young for his level, shows plus power, solid on-base skills, solid pitch recognition, and is an excellent defensive first basemen—all skills that he demonstrated after signing in the GCL. His 2009 Performance score ranked #2 in the GCL. Singleton has a good shot at beginning 2010 in the SAL. While he is still a ways away, his upside is that of an above average, everyday, Major League firstbaseman.

12) Jarred Cosart, RHP (2009 – Dominance 77; Stamina 44; HRrate 50; Control 55)

The Phillies drafted Cosart in the 38th round of the 2008, then signed him away from Missouri by paying him late second round money. Already possessing a low-90s fastball, and a lean 6’3” frame, we can project Cosart to eventually throw a mid-90s heater. His Curve also has plus potential. The downside to Cosart is that he is essentially a two-pitch pitcher at this stage, and is relatively raw, physically as well as mentally. Possessing front of the rotation stuff, the Phillies will guide him carefully, likely sending him to the SAL to open 2010.

13) J.C. Ramirez, RHP (2009 – Dominance 38; Stamina 68; HRrate 47; Control 49)

After spending his first three seasons known to the baseball world as Juan Ramirez, he became J.C. this season, but it didn’t help his performance any, as he struggled to his most disappointing season as a professional, as the thin air and band box conditions at High Desert got the best of him. The Mariners sent him to the Phillies, this winter, as the third prospect in the Cliff Lee deal. Featuring a low-90s fastball with late life, and a slider that has the potential to become an above average pitch, the raw ‘stuff’ is there to yield better results. The most disappointing aspect of his 2009 season was watching his strikeout rate drop from 8.25 per 9IP coming in to the season to barely 7.0. Additionally, the now 22yo Ramirez has made little progress with his below average Change. 2010 will be a huge year for Ramirez, as he will likely be in AA. If he can’t improve his secondary offerings, his value will take a hit, as the bullpen will then likely become his destination.

Grade B-

14) Leandro Castro, CF (2009 – Power 76; First Base Rate 43; Discipline 63; Speed 71)

Coming into the 2009 season with ‘fringy’ prospect status, Castro doesn’t possess the upside of most of the names that are ahead of him on this list, but has an intriguing skill set that shouldn’t be overlooked. The, then 19yo, Castro began 2009 in the SAL where he was clearly overmatched. When the NYP opened in June, Castro was demoted. He proceeded to post the best performance of his career, finishing with the League’s #3 Performance Score. Castro has the power skills necessary to succeed at an OF corner, if he finds CF too crowded in the Phillies organization. He also possesses above average speed and decent strike zone management skills. On the downside, Castro isn’t very big, isn’t a plus speed guy, and has difficulty repeating a smooth swing—often appearing to be flailing at the ball. He will return to the SAL to begin 2010 and will be looking to end up with a dramatically different result.

15) Felix Cespedes, RHP (2009 – Dominance 77; Stamina 79; HRrate 50; Control 69)

Mr. Almost Perfect game, Cespedes gained notoriety this season by tossing a 9-inning, 14 strikeout, perfect game, but left with a scoreless tie, only to have his team lose the game in the 12th. At 6’3”, 180 lbs, there is good projection with Cespedes, and he finished the 2009 season with the #2 Performance Score in the DSL. Perhaps more impressive than his 103 K’s in 83 innings, was his limiting opposing batters to a .228 Average Against and only issuing 20 walks. Cespedes also throws a heavy fastball that produces a lot of ground ball outs. Look for Cespedes to make his stateside debut in the GCL in 2010.

16) Jiwan James, CF (2009 – Power 41; First Base Rate 60; Discipline 66; Speed 55)

It’s been an interesting ride for James, who spurned Florida and signed with the Phillies after being drafted in the 22nd round in 2007. Some regarded him more highly as a pitcher, but injuries had basically shelved him almost two years when he made his NYP debut. Another in the long list of athletic, ‘toolsy’, project OFs in the system, James may have as many tools as any of them—and that’s saying something. With plus speed, solid defensive skills, an advanced set of plate discipline skills, and solid contact skills, James is only missing power to be considered a true 5-tool athlete. While he held his own in the NYP after a long layoff, James will have to show more than that as a 21yo in the SAL in 2010 to get our attention. There is a lot of upside here, but at the moment there are also a lot of questions.

17) Freddy Galvis, SS (2009 – Power 29; First Base Rate 41; Discipline 65; Speed 49)

Galvis is the epitome of a glove only SS. Unfortunately his advanced glove has led to his aggressive assignments, which has hindered his offensive development. We aren’t talking about a good glove here, we are talking about one of the best in the Minor Leagues, as he combines silky soft hands, a strong accurate arm, and quick lateral movement into the complete package. On the otherside of the ball, however, only his strike zone management skills grade out as average. Galvis has played at 5 different levels in his brief professional career, and hasn’t posted an OPS higher than .610 at any of them. Galvis will play the 2010 season as a 19yo. Right now he is ticketed for AA, but we would love to see what would happen offensively if he were to repeat the FSL. His ceiling is a bottom of the order defensive SS, with a glove worthy of an everyday gig…unfortunately his bat may never allow that to happen.

18) Anthony Hewitt, 3B (2009 – Power 69; First Base Rate 23; Discipline 25; Speed 59)

When the Phillies selected Hewitt in the first round of the 2008 draft they understood he was a project…we are just not convinced they understood how big of a project he really is. A highly athletic, powerful, strong, intelligent player, with a solid work ethic, Hewitt has not yet found a way to translate the intangibles and tools into a productive skill set. Now with two professional seasons behind him, only his Power shows as a potentially plus skill. There is a tremendous ceiling here, but we have no evidence that he will ever come close to it.

19) Scott Mathieson, RP (2009 – Dominance 68; Stamina 27; HRrate 49; Control 54)

One of the year’s feel good stories, Mathieson came back after missing more than two years from elbow surgery. Then in 32 second half innings, between three stops, Mathieson posted a 0.64 ERA and fanned 34 batters. This fall in Arizona, he showed that he was well on his way to recovery, sporting a fastball that sat in the mid-90s. While there is never a strong certainty with a player of this injury history, Mathieson should continue to regain command during the 2010 season, and could become a valuable add to the Phillies bullpen in the second half of the season.

Grade C+ Prospects –

20) Vance Worley, RHP; 21) Jonathan Pettibone, RHP; 22) Drew Carpenter, RHP; 23) B.J. Rosenberg, RP; 24) Kelley Dugan, CF; 25) Nevri Jimenez, 3B; 26) Justin De Fratus, RP; 27) Colby Shreve, RHP; 28) Kyrell Hudson, OF; 29) Michael Stutes, RHP; 30) Yohan Flande, LHP; 31) Edgar Garcia, RHP; 32) Heitor Correa, RHP; 33) Steve Susdorf, LF.

Grade C Prospects –

Aaron Altherr; Rudney Balentien; Lisalverto Bonilla; Michael Cisco; Tyler Cloud; Sergio Escalona; Harold Garcia; Nick Hernandez; David Herndon; Austin Hyatt; Ely Izturriaga; Tim Kennelly; Ebelin Lugo; John Mayberry; D’Arby Myers; Drew Naylor; Julio Rodriguez; Julian Sampson; Joe Savery; Michael Schwimer; Jonathan Villar; Matt Way.

Feel free to post any questions and or comments. We will try to answer them in our weekly Mailbag segment.

You can find an explanation of our grades here Diamond Futures Annual Prospect Rankings Series and an explanation of our 2009 Performance Scores here Do-It-Yourself - Understanding Performance Evaluation. The Performance scores represent the player’s performance relative to the leagues that they played in during the 2009 season. For additional information on our rankings methodology, see our recent Mailbag article here This Week's Mailbag - Prospect Rankings Questions.

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