The 2007 DSL Phillies had an amazing season, winning its division on the strength of an unprecedented 22-game winning streak before losing their final game. In one 35-game stretch the DSL Phillies went 32-3. For the season the Phillies went 45-18 and won their division by 4 games over the Athletics 1 squad. Their .714 winning percentage was the 3rd best in the entire DSL, though the team lost their playoff series against the Angels 2 games to 1.
After playing .500 ball for the first 6 weeks of the season the Phillies took off in the stretch fueled largely by the play of a half dozen younger players who could become interesting prospects in the years to come. In previous years the DSL Phillies had a reputation as one of the older teams in the league, often fueled by superior performance from players that had lied about their age. This year’s team was noticeably younger, though it was still about average in age for the league. BaseballReference.com tracks a playing time weighted team age for every minor league squad. The DSL Phillie hitters averaged 18.8 years old as opposed to 18.5 for the league while the pitchers also averaged 18.8 years old as opposed to 18.9 for the league. The A’s team that finished second to the Phillies in their division was slightly older (18.9 hitters/19.1 pitchers) which is a good sign.
Age is everything in determining prospect status in the minors, especially in the rookie leagues. The Phillies were not too old for their league and, more importantly, some of their best performances were from their younger players. While several older players did have important contributions, it was the stellar performances from the younger players that elevated the team.
The rest of this post will highlight the top prospects on the DSL team. Note that this list is based on statistics, age, and opinion only. Nobody outside of the DSL has seen many of these players in action, so real conclusions should really wait until the top players make their U.S. debuts in future seasons. With that disclaimer out there, here is the list:
1. Sebastian Valle – C – age 17 – A left-handed hitting catcher with power, patience, and defensive tools. What is not to like? Valle started the season hitting over .500 the first week, though cooled off with the bat as the season progressed. He ended up hitting .284 with an .801 OPS and more BB than K (29/26). Baseball America noted his strong catch and throw skills. Valle is the first important Phillies signing from Mexico in a long time (anyone else old enough to remember Jesus Rios?). Valle played most of the year at age 16, turning 17 in late July.
2. Leandro Castro – CF – age 18 – Castro is a right-handed hitting CF with power and speed potential. The Baseball America article actually noted he was the top position prospect on the team over Valle, though I went with the younger player at the more important position. Castro hit .278 and led the team with 6 HR. He ended up with a .779 OPS and stole a team leading 24 bases.
3. Reginal Simon – RHP – age 17 – Haitian prospect Reginal Simon was an impressive 5-1 with a 1.69 ERA at a young age. Baseball America noted that Simon has three pitches with a fastball sitting comfortably in the 86-90 range. At 6’3″ 180 Simon also has an ideal projectible body and should be able to pick up velocity as he matures. His peripherals were good other than his strikeout rate. In 64 IP he gave up only 46 hits, with 33BB and 38 K. At his age the low strikeout rate is not a major worry, but it is something to watch on his prospect status in the future.
4. Pedro Carpio – RHP – age 19 – Arguably the top starter on the team was 19-year-old right hander Pedro Carpio. He went 4-3 with a 2.07 ERA and strong peripherals (68.2 IP, 54 H, 24 BB, 67 K). Carpio was in his second season for the Phillies and likely will get a chance at GCL next season.
5. Lendy Castillo – SS – age 18 – Castillo is a strong defensive players who will need to add some offense to be more than a Fidel Hernandez type. He hit a soft .286 with only a .685 OPS. He does have some speed with 12 SB, but with the other strong SS in the lower minors (Donald in high A, Freddy Galvis in SS-A, Cesar Hernandez in VSL, new signee Carlos Valenzuela) he will have his work cut out to advance.
6. Ebelin Lugo – RHP – age 17 – Another of the impressive young arms, Lugo went 6-1 with a 2.79 ERA. In 58 IP he gave up 46 hits with 25 BB and 32 K. Like Simon he will need to improve his K rate as he advances, but he is still very young with lots of time.
7. Juan Sosa – RHP – age 17 – The 3rd 17-year-old pitcher to watch is Juan Sosa. He went 6-2 with a 2.49 ERA and decent periphierals (47 IP, 37 H, 28 BB, 28 K).
8. Dario Alverez – LHP – age 18 – Alvarez only went 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA, but was extremely hard to hit. In 36.1 IP he gave up only 22 H with 29 BB and 50 K. The control is a problem, but the strikeouts are impressive.
9. Vladimir De Los Santos – 1B/OF age 20 – De Los Santos is a little old to be a prospect, though he took an impressive step forward in 2007, hitting .337 with a .903 OPS. De Los Santos was in his 3rd season with the Phillies, though he disappointed in 2006 with only a .246 average. De Los Santos has some speed (9 SB) and power (3 HR), but also is too old and plays an offensive position (1B). While the .337 average might get him a look at GCL next year, he probably is not a long term prospect (like fellow older hitter Yonderman Rodriguez in the VSL).
10. Pedro Aguilar – C – age 18 – Aguillar is a stocky Panamanian catcher like Carlos Ruiz. He had a decent year with the bat, hitting .288 with a .785 OPS and 4 HR. He only caught 9 games, however, so the team probably does not see him as a long term catching prospect. He will go as far as hit bat takes him.
Others to watch – Rudney Balentien is a 17-year-old OF from Curacao who has some speed and got a fair amount of playing time at a young age. LHP Yohan Flande was one of the top pitchers on the team, though at age 21 he is not likely to be a prospect. Gabirel Arias showed up late in the season to throw 8 shutout innings at age 17. Finally, Kenny Fernandez (age 20) went 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA in middle relief with some strong peripherals (29.1 IP, 19 H, 6 BB, 31 K).