Breakout candidates for 2010

I figured a post like this (and one looking at guys I’m worried about) would be a good topic as the season gets close. I’m not really sure if “breakout” is the word I’m looking for, but basically I’m putting together a list of 6 players (3 position players, 3 pitchers) who I feel will take steps forward in 2010. Either this means they are rebounding from a poor season, or they are going to surpass expectations this season. I won’t include guys on my Top 30 list, since I obviously feel highly about those guys anyway and I’ve discussed many of them at great length. I’m going to use this piece as a way to talk about a few guys that I maybe haven’t given as much time to. So check below and we’ll get started.

Let’s start with the position players.

Aaron Altherr, OF – I didn’t rank A² in my top 30, but he didn’t miss by much. He logged only 92 PA in his debut, and the surface numbers weren’t anything great, but I see a lot to like here. At 6’5/190, he already has a solid frame and should add more power/muscle over the next few years. He just turned 19 in January, so while he’s probably done growing vertically, I can definitely see him adding strength, enough so that he might develop at least average power, maybe even more. He also stole 6 bases in 7 attempts last year, so he has a little speed. He made a name for himself with his basketball skills in high school, which would lead you to believe he possesses excellent athleticism, and that should help him be at least an average or above defensive OF. Like most guys who played multiple sports in high school, he has a long way to go. He will likely head to Williamsport in 2010, a very pitcher friendly league, but I like his chances of putting on an impressive display and opening some eyes. He’s a guy I can easily see cracking my top 30 next year.

Ryan Bollinger, 1B – Bollinger, an obscure 47th round pick out of North Dakota, was a surprise signing, and I think he’s actually a nice sleeper at a position where we’ve really struggled. At 6’6/185, like Altherr, he has plenty of room to fill out physically and add muscle, and he’s actually a month younger than Altherr. His 3 slash line from 2009 doesn’t look great; .174/.240/.217 but it was only 25 AB’s. Growing up in a non-hotbed for baseball, he’s going to be behind some of the other guys developmentally, but hopefully he fills out physically and develops the power needed for the position.

D’Arby Myers, OF – Ahhh, D’Arby Myers. Remember when I was crazy high on him after his nice debut in 2006? It seems like ages ago. It’s hard to believe that he just turned 21 in December, and to me, that means he still has time. He spent 2009 at Lakewood, repeating the level, but at an appropriate age of 20. His numbers don’t look great; .270/.309/.381, but the .111 ISO was his best effort since his brief 2006 debut, and he stole 16 bases in 20 tries. In a system loaded with premium athletes and tools-laden prospects, its easy for Myers to get lost in the shuffle, but he’s the fastest player in the organization, and the tool set is still intriguing. There’s no doubt that he needs to produce in a big way in 2010, to put everything together, but if he does, he’ll prove to be quite a useful prospect going forward.

Now the pitchers

Nick Hernandez, LHP – I touched on Hernandez a bit in my top 30 writeup, and I’ll just kind of go over it again. He was an underachiever in college, never quite living up to expectations, which allowed him to slide to the Phillies in the 12th round. He was apparently ready to get his career going, and I was somewhat surprised he signed, as he had eligibility left and has the talent to be a top 6 rounds pick. But maybe that was the Phillies gain. As you can see, his delivery is very simple, which should allow him to repeat it consistently, which will help his command and control. His bread and butter is his changeup, and sometimes it seems fastball/changeup guys and metal bats simply don’t agree. His college numbers were ugly; 220 IP – 253 H – 73 BB – 177 K. But I like what I see. In his pro debut, he went 80 IP – 72 H – 20 BB – 67 K and allowed only 2 HR. His GB rate of 44% is passable, and his .306 BABIP indicates he wasn’t hugely lucky or anything like that. Of the 85 lefties he faced, he allowed only 1 extra base hit, a double, which is also promising. He turned 21 in late July, so he’ll be that age for the first half of 2010, and as a college guy, he could probably handle the jump to Clearwater. The more I think about it, the more I know who Hernandez reminds me of…….Jeff Francis. Watch videos of both and let me know if I’m onto something here.

Jon Pettibone, RHP – I left Pettibone off my top 30, but he was right on the edge. The Phillies made a significant investment in him, taking him in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft with an unprotected pick, and they eventually signed him for an above slot deal at the deadline. So far, he’s posted uneven results and hasn’t really taken off like some of the other arms in the system. His 2009 line is something of a mirage, as he posted a 5.35 ERA in 35.1 IP, but posted good peripherals, striking out more than a batter per inning with a somewhat manageable 4.1 BB/9 rate, and more importantly, 0 HR allowed. His DICE (component ERA, removing “luck” on balls in play) was 1.92, compared to his 5.35 ERA. His .349 BABIP is likely to normalize next season, especially at pitcher friendly Lakewood. He also managed a 49.6% GB rate in 2009, and was even better against lefties (53%), both of which bode well for future success. One of the youngest guys in the 2008 draft, he just turned 19 in July, meaning he will be young for his level at Lakewood. He’s thrown just 36 IP combined the last 2 years, so the Phillies will need to begin to ramp up his workload in 2010. I wouldn’t be shocked if he was kept in extended spring training and put on the “Trevor May Program”, showing up at Lakewood in late May and logging about 80 or 90 innings. If the Phillies are more aggressive, he could try and go the distance and end up in the 120 IP range, but that might be pushing things a bit. At 6’5/200, he has an ideal middle of the rotation starter frame, and hopefully durability that goes with it. 2010 should give us a great idea of what we have here.

Heitor Correa, RHP – I struggled to come up with a guy I really liked here, but I went back to a favorite from a few years ago in Correa. After missing all of 2008 through suspension, he came back in 2009 and was decent at Lakewood. Decent may be a stretch, as he didn’t miss a ton of bats (6.45/9) and didn’t show pinpoint control (3.63 BB/9), but the one stat that jumped out at me was the 55% GB rate. He managed to stay healthy and log 124 IP in 2009 after a lost season, which is promising. His main peripherals weren’t great, but he didn’t turn 20 until late August, so he’s still young enough to really be on the radar. He’s never posted big K numbers, but was always young for his level in 2006 and 2007, now that he’s moving up the ladder, he has to start missing bats. The groundballs are definitely a nice feature though, and hopefully something he can maintain. 2010 is a big year for him, like a number of guys on this list, as he needs to reward the organization for sticking with him and not dumping him after his off the field transgressions.

38 thoughts on “Breakout candidates for 2010

  1. Break out position players not in PP’s top 30:
    1. Aaron Altherr
    2. Harold Garcia
    3. Jeremy Barnes
    Breakout pitchers not in PP’s top 30:
    1. Felix Cespedes
    2. Jon Pettibone
    3. Edger Garcia

    Breakout players ALREADY on top 30:
    1. Jon Villar
    2. Julio Rodriguez
    3. Colby Shreve

  2. Amongst hitters:

    -Cesar Hernandez
    -Jonathan Villar
    -Kelly Dugan

    I’m looking at players not ranked among the top 10-15 generally, so I’m avoiding Jiwan James who has already received a bit of hype this offseason.

    Pitchers:

    -Heitor Correa
    -Miguel Nunez
    -Drew Naylor

  3. Colby Shreve is my guy. I hope he shows all of us the potential that caused the Phillies to draft him so high despite being injured.

  4. I initially planned on picking Jiwan James and Kelly Dugan as two of my breakout players. I did not include Jiwan James because I have seen him ranked as high as #7 by reputable scources(BA #11) , so he has already been established as a serious prospect. Since Kelly Dugan was the top pick last year, I wont call him a breakout player. I think he will exceed expectations of the reader poll, but that is what he should do as the top pick. I am enthused by Miguel Nunez, but do not have enough info on him.

  5. Jiwan James and Kelly Dugan are good breakout candidates, and I’m going to hedge and say that a third candidate will be one of their stable of toolsy outfielders.

    As for pitchers, Shreve is a good choice for a breakout guy, and maybe Austin Hyatt

    – Jeff

  6. I definitely agree on Aaron Altherr. He could be the next in the Domonic Brown/Jiwan James mode of bigger, athletic outfielders. Not that I am down necessarily on the Gillies/Gose mold of smaller, speedier players, but power is an increasingly important part of the game. Starting with Brown, the Phillies have definitely started to look more for outfielders with some power potential.

    Altherr is raw, but he does seem to have a good set of tools and he would not be playing baseball at his modest bonus level if he did not love the game.

    Other players to watch as potential breakouts:
    Zach Collier – I know he is top 30 and currently hurt, but I still like him much more as a prospect than his current rankings.
    Adam Buschini – Slow start last year hid a good finish. He can definitely hit. Question for him is defense.
    Michael Cisco – Has quietly made it to AA and pitched well everywhere he has been. He will probably never be a star, but I would not be shocked if he is in Philly some time this year.
    Ebelin Lugo – Has been hid in relief the last 2 years as he was young for each level. But he misses bats and has gotten better each year as the year went on. Will turn 20 in April and should pitch in relief at Lakewood.

  7. Hitters:
    Jon Singleton
    Zach Collier
    Jon Villar

    Love Singleton, easily my favorite prospect and just think he’s really advanced for his age. Even if he doesn’t develop power immediately his plate vision/discipline should take him far.

    Pitchers:
    Jesus Sanchez
    Vance Worley
    Colby Shreve

    Sanchez probably already had his breakout season last year but I just think he’s going to go from above average or solid prospect to a top 10 or 15 prospect. Pretty surprised he was left off the top 30.

  8. Myers is the fastest player in the system? I didn’t know! I would’ve said Gose or maybe Gillies, based on what I’ve read.

  9. It’s funny – several of these posts talk about Jiwan James as if he had actually done something, no less “breakout.” He’s apparently a great athlete, but, to date, James has not done a blessed thing and, therefore, as far as I’m concerned, he’s a breakout candidate. In terms of accomplishments, James is in exactly the same place as Dugan and Altherr and perhaps even Hewitt.

  10. Rhetorical question of the day – if I like Sanchez a real lot, does that make me a “Jesus Freak”? In any event, count me among the “converted” for Sanchez.

    (I’m just trying to be cheeky, I hope this does not offend anyone, especially those of you who are religious).

  11. Jiwan James is not in the same boat as Dugan and Altherr. Jiwan James played in the NYPenn and hit, after not playing for 2 years. Neither of those guys played in NYPenn, a pitchers league. James also reportedly impressed scouts in the instructional league. He is doing all of the same things that Dom Brown did on his way to becoming#1.

  12. Yeah. James’ numbers do not look superficially impressive, but he was above average for the NY-Penn League. It’s important to keep that league baseline in perspective.

  13. Thought I’d posted this, but it doesn’t seem to have taken

    Hitters:
    Collier (despite injury, looking to second half)
    Jiwan James (Don’t think he’s had breakout yet)
    Galvis (Not power, but obp breakout)

    Pitchers
    Edgar Garcia
    Heitor Correa
    Shreve (although I don’t expect more than 40 – 50 IP)

  14. Of the 6 PP listed.
    I don’t think Altherr breaks out prior to 2011
    D’Arby Myers is likely toast, I don’t expect him back for 2011
    Not willing to bet on Bollinger, but if he breaks out, likely 2011

    I think Pettibone is a good breakout candidate. I’d have included him if allowed 4 choices.

    I’m not sold on Hernandez significantly improving on his 2009 results

    Of others mentioned, I think Lugo, Dugan, and Mitchell are good choices, also. I’d be surprised if Sanchez’s numbers don’t fall back a tad.

  15. Guys, give me a break – one homer and a .264 average for a 20 year old in the NY-P league does not qualify as a breakout year, even if it’s a pitcher’s league and even if there are very good explanations as to why his development was delayed. We have all heard about James and he could very well become another Dom Brown, but he’s not had a real performance breakout by any strech of the imagination.

  16. I would have put Pettibone in my top 30 had I made one. Granted, he may have been 30 but he has so much promise and although he hasn’t done anything to confirm it he hasn’t taken his shine off yet either.

  17. Catch22, if your argument is that James has not had a breakout year statistically, I agree somewhat. Not a big sample, but he was above average in RC+ for his league. I do not agree that he is in the same boat as Altherr, Hudson, Dugan or Marlon Mitchell. The GCL is not the NYpenn.
    BA calls him the Phillies breakout player for 2010, so he can be called a legitamate breakout candidate. I just have a hard time calling a prospect that is ranked #11 already, a breakout player.

  18. I think we’re going to see nice seasons out of guys like Jiwan James, Dugan, and Hewitt, but like I mentioned in my opening, I didn’t want to include guys that I’ve written about extensively. That kind of limited my choices, but I like all 6 guys I wrote about here. One guy I debated, but who I don’t have any real info on, is Stephen Inch. I think 2011 is going to be his year.

  19. I think, by the end of the year, we are going to have several high level performances by some of our young starters and some of our young outfielders such that we will not miss Drabek and Taylor quite as much. What would warm my heart is a breakout performance by any of our young middle infielders – I’d take one.

  20. On a side note Stutes got the win today for the Phillies. Bastardo pitched 2 perfect innings with 3 Ks.

    I am a little confused on why Stutes isn’t being given starts in the AA or AAA games as I doubt they are making him a reliever already. I think we all assume he will be in the LHV rotation this year.

  21. Drew Carpenter- i think that he’s gonna end up spendin a good chunk of the year in the majors as a spot starter and as a bullpen arm
    Ryan Sasaki- really, no real evidence, i just think that more people should be talking about him. he put up some decent numbers in rookie ball, and i like saying his last name.
    John Pettibone- as it has been said, he actually pitched really well last year. with a larger sample size, i htink that we’ll see his luck break favorably

  22. can you maybe do a poll and get 6 other players (not allowed to vote for the guys on your list) then track your six against the voted six?

  23. Myers may not even be with the Phils after cuts this spring. He doesn’t have a lot of friends in the organization, and you’ve really got to have significant talent to ‘big time’ your coaches and survive.

    I like Hanzawa, Buschini, and Barnes as middle IF breakout candidates. All three have some potential to be serviceable players.

  24. Lakewood might have an interesting infield this year with Buschini at third, Villar at short, Barnes at second and Ruf at first. Rumors were flying today about cuts at the Complex. Evan Porter was the only name as a confirmed cut. Looks like Castro, James, Hewitt and Collier, once he returns to action, in the outfield with Valle behind the plate. Hope to see Cosart start tomorrow. Wouldn’t be surprised if Colvin stays behind in extended spring training until it warms up in New Jersey. Much like they did with May last year.

  25. This is a tough list PP. Since, in my opinion, you chose more high talent guys in your Top30 (James, Hudson, Hewitt, Collier) than many have. I know nothing about overseas guys so that narrows my options I guess.

    Pettibone, Worley, Naylor (Edgar Garcia, since I count Pettibone as a Top30). Unfortunately, Worley and Naylor may have their good years as relievers and therefore will not have much propect value.

    Mattair, Kennelly, Mitchell. Mattair fits the projection model. Maybe, someday he’ll learn to hit but the talent is there supposedly. Kennelly really has utility player projection but one of those positions is catcher. I really hope they do what they can to get him competent there and his bat continues to make it worth the effort. Same thing for Mitchell. He is another important position player who has a long time and any decent hitting will put him in projection mode.

  26. I wish I could figure out how Kennelly fits into the org’s plans. He had a great statistical year in 2009, and his versatility would seem to be a great asset, but the org doesn’t appear to have much confidence in him. Mattair, well, I just don’t know. Its amazing that someone with his size has produced almost no power at all.

  27. i’m loyal. my breakout guys this year are the same as last year.

    mattair and sampson.

    keep hope alive

  28. Rizzotti!

    Why doesn’t anybody have faith in Matt Rizzotti? His numbers have been solid his whole career and he’s about due to just have a flat out great year

  29. Mitchell and Rizzotti are due to break out. Mitchell seems to have added some muscle and has more confidence.

    Rizzotti has been hitting well, he was 3 for 3 with a walk the other day, hitting bullet line drives. And he can hit lefties. If I’m correct, he was taken out of the line up in Clearwater last year if the pitcher was a lefty although I have no idea why.

  30. Stutes- It looks like Stutes has been releiving in minor league spring training also. I seen a report on the Lakewood outfield, they said it was Dugan in LF, Hewitt in CF, and Castro in RF. They say Dugan has done well. I thought Rizotti has been playing on Clearwater in Spring Training, If it is true that Tracy takes AAA as some have said, then maybe AA would be between Bozied , Mahar, or Stavisky with Rizzotti and Durant competing. Also James Murphy has trained at AA. I’d put Rizzotti there, but if they don’t move him up, he might move out. They said Jeremy Hamilton was competing with Ruf at Lakewood, so maybe Singleton will stay at Extended Spring Training until after the Draft. For the Lakewood Infield I like Ruf, Cesar Hernandez at 2b, Villar at SS, and Buschini and Barnes alternating at 3b. Whoever is not playing at 3b can alternate at DH with the 4th OF and Valle when he doesn’t catch. I see the OF candidates as Dugan, Hewitt, Castro, Jiwan James, and Collier. They will likely keep 4 on a full season squad, so maybe somebody will be dissappointed there.

  31. I am really hoping that Singleton plays at lakewood to start the year but he’s only 18 so its not a huge deal. I just want to see him get going since he’s really our only legit 1B option. I read that at the beginning of the minorleague ST games he was playing the high-A games. I took that to mean he wouldn’t involved in extended ST. Obviously I’m not expecting him to be at clearwater but putting him there has got to say something.

  32. I like the Buschini pick. He had a good college career. His numbers weren’t great, but he showed patience and speed.

    Drew Naylor is another good pick.

  33. My choice is Brian Bocock. I think he’ll step up enough with the bat to make himselph a legit utilty/light hitting SS prospect.

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