Lehigh Valley Rotation

The battle for the five spots in the Lehigh Valley rotation will prove to be interesting once SPring Training gets under way in less than two weeks. With the addition of several veterans with major league experience, what first looked like a youthful rotation of up and coming prospects now looks like a mixed bag of the up and comers combined with those with major league experience that could provide several spot starts for the Phils without total implosion and ruining confidence.

First the givens. It is extremely likely that Jon Pettibone will be the #1 starter for Lehigh Valley absent a very unlikely chance that the Phils take a shot on him right out of the gate with the big club. Pettibone was extremely impressive on each occasion I saw him throw, and it would surprise me if he didnt spend big league time this year. The #2 starter should be Ethan Martin, who was an impressive 5-0 with a 3.18 ERA in his 7 starts with Reading after being acquired from the Dodgers. Just 23, Martin has good upside so long as he can maintain his command which he has struggled with in the past. Tyler CLoyd should be penciled in as the #3 starter. Coming off an incredible year in which he went a combined 15-1 between Reading and Lehigh Valley, it would be a struggle for anyone to replicate the success of CLoyd’s outstanding 2012. Ultimately, I see CLoyd as a guy who will give you a quality start almost every time out that could fit in a middle relief, innings eating role for the Phils just fine if needed.

The battle for the #4 and #5 spots is where things will get interesting in the Spring. As of now, I am unsure of the Phils plans with BJ Rosenberg. I like the way Rosenberg throws, but he has bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen which has not helped him. He was never adequately stretched out to see what he could really do and his short time with the Phils was very rough at the outset, before he settled down. Several minor league veterans are in the mix for the #4 and 5 positions as the Phils have re-acquired both Rodrigo Lopez and Brian Bass as well as Aaron Cook who who has over 200 major league starts under his belt. Cook floundered with the Red Sox last year, but threw well in AAA Pawtucket and gives the Phils another viable option if (when) the Lannan/Kendrick duo struggle. Finally, there are reports that the Phils have re-signed Tom Cochran, a 30 year old lefty, who after struggling a bit at the beginning of the 2012 season with injuries, ended up being one of the IronPigs most consistent pitchers last year.
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My final prediction for the Opening Day rotation: 1. Pettibone; 2. Martin; 3. CLoyd; 4. Cook; 5. Cochran. I suspect Bass comes down with a early turf toe ailment that will place him on the DL until another body is needed in the rotation.

50 thoughts on “Lehigh Valley Rotation

  1. It will be nice having two legit prospects at the top of Lehigh’s rotation. Hopefully Morgan will join them at some point.

    1. Given the way Morgan progressed through the system, I think he’ll be in Lehigh Valley pretty quickly.

      1. Morgan is very highly thought of, but I think he needs at least 10 more AA starts before he sees Allentown. Mid June–July is all goes well in my opinion

    1. In the early going, Starters usually go 4 or 5 innings, so you need guys who can pick up other 4 or 5 innings. After a few starts, a decision has to be made on who gets the innings. You may see guys tandem together (I’m not sure if that’s redundant) doing 4 innings and 4 innings. Then you get to some of those good young relievers, If you carry 7 starters in the early going then you have 2 games with a second starter and then 3 games where you need to use those relievers. Everybody gets game experience until the 5 starters break from the pack. By then some of the recent signees might be released or take their leave.

  2. I agree 100% with that rotation, no clue why they signed these ex-pigs castoffs to be honest. This could be the first time in club history we have actual prospects in the rotation, just hope we have the bats to go along with it. I’m just wondering who is going to be the closer there as I’m wondering if the Phils keep both Aumont and DeFratus. I would personally see how Friend does in a closing role at the start since he had so much success in Reading last year and pitched decent for the Pigs except for a bad outing or two.

    AND THAT IS THE TRUTH!!

  3. I agree on Cloyd, Pettibone, and Martin. I guess Phillies might reward Pettibone as the Opening Day starter though Cloyd seems to have earned it.
    I figure Cook gets cut and Lopez is one of the starters. I guess if Cochrane is the only Lefty then he gets the 5th slot over Bass, though either could be cut/stashed/pen’d.
    I thought Rosenberg would be a leading candidate for ‘long-man’ out of the major league bullpen until Durbin was acquired so I figure he will have a similar role with AAA, though that may hurt his development. Keeping him a starter could certainly increase his value and possibly help him develop a 2nd pitch, but I see a Mathieson-like future for him.

    I was thinking Hyatt would be a good choice for long-man in AAA. No more development for him so can use and abuse him as needed but he is still under team control with maybe a tiny bit of upside. Morgan should stay in AA for awhile, but if he earns a promotion why not send him to AAA. Cloyd should be interesting to follow. Still might be nice if Phillies could ‘sell high’ on him.

    1. CLoyd was subject to some trade discussion during the Fall and I agree that if the Phils could get a legit mid level non pitching prospect for him, both he and the Phils may benefit from a move.

      1. Tyler Cloyd was a ‘throw-in’, in the Sebastian Valle for Wilton Lopez deal. I doubt he brings anything in trade, unless combined with a better piece.

            1. Evidently, that didn’t deter the Rockies from signing him………………..then again, they are the Rockies.

            2. It would be interesting to have a pool to see when Wilton Lopez goes on the DL and have TJ surgery.

      2. Isn’t that (mid-level non-pitching prospects) all the Phillies already have? :)
        Galvis, Hernandez as middle infielder backups
        Gillies, James, Collier as possible CF types
        Ruf, Brown, Castro as corner OF
        Asche at 3B
        Valle and Rupp at C

        I like Franco, Joseph, Gillies as upper level guys and maybe Asche and Ruf will exceed my expectations.

        Obviously the Phillies should trade Cloyd for the best prospect they can get regardless of position. But with all these guys scratching the big leagues, I’d prefer seeking a young wildcard like they did with Lino. Try to grab a young projectionable guy with some huge upside and significant flaws.

  4. No reason to keep a 37 year old starter on a AAA roster in my view. Forgot about Rosenberg, maybe he could be closer material down there as well. At this point, they need to make a decision on what he is instead of yo-yoing him between the two.

  5. What about Zach Miner? Also, I think it is not out of the realm of possibility that Austin Hyatt pushes himself back into the picture.

    1. Hyatt was just awful in both Reading and Lehigh Valley. It will take considerable work for Hyatt to bring himself back. I see Miner as more of a middle innings guy.

        1. It’s tough to say it was one good year when he had three years of K/9 over 10 and BB/9 under 3. I’d hate for the Phillies give up on him as a starter after one bad year, but it just goes to show how tough it is for an older college player to maintain prospect status. I don’t know what the problem Hyatt had last year and whether or not it is something that the organization thinks is correctable.

    2. I think if Hyatt gets himself into any picture it will be as a reliever. The Phils’ organizational ‘pen is crowded but maybe in short stints his fastball velo will tick up and he’ll have a good 2-pitch mix with his changeup. I think all hopes of Hyatt as a starter were squashed last year with his struggles.

      1. Yeah, the pen is the spot I think. Unless injuries and strangeness sap starters from AA/AAA, Hyatt is most likely to find innings as the long guy probably in LHV, but possibly REA.

        My take on his struggles last year: control. He’d get behind in counts, then try to throw his change for a strike and leave it up in the zone. Too much trying to make the perfect pitch, perhaps. I say put him on the Savery plan (minus the stint at 1B) and let him clear his head and just pitch out of the pen. He could be OK.

  6. I see no reason to disagree here. 3 prospects and a couple fillers until Morgan, or maybe someone else, forces their way to AAA. We know Cloyd can have success at that level so the eyes will be on Pettibone and Martin.

    Real prospects in LHV? Can’t wait.

  7. I’ll be interested to see what happens with Rosenberg next year. He struggled initially in the majors but I felt like by the end of the year they were giving him a nice long look. It seems like, based on what some of the beat reporters have written, that the front office still likes his arm.

  8. here is the big question and I’d love to see answers on this if anyone has them.

    What are the out clauses on the minor league deals? How long can we keep these guys before they have the option of opting out? This is important.

    Aaron Cook wasn’t actually that bad. He had some bad starts but had some nice ones too. I’d love for him to be in the LHV rotation and available for 4-6 starts if needed.

    Rodrigo Lopez stinks.

    Look at the LHV bullpen. I think Cruz is a real nice addition as well. Curious to know what his opt out clause is.

    Dallas Braden would be a great minor league singing. I know he is probably still hurt but if he can get himself healthy and work his way back, he would be a nice option too.

    1. The out clauses typically are for either June 1 or July 1…in that if they arent on a major league roster then they can opt out. Not every minor league veteran has one and usually that info doesnt start trickling out until the season starts….I would be surprised if Cook didnt have one howver.

      1. I think they are all different. Some are out of Spring training or May 1st as well. I think Joel Pinero’s last year was an out if he wasn’t on the opening day roster.

        if they are June 1st or July 1st, that is fine since by then you would hope either Pettibone or Martin are ready. There is always Cloyd too. Anyway, I think they are in good shape as far as starting depth goes.

    2. Wait, you said Lopez stinks but Cook was actually decent?? Do the stats support that opinion? Personally, I think they both stink but Lopez does have the ability to make a few spot starts and keep them in the game.

      1. 5 in 2 r, 9 in 0 r, 6 in 3 r, 7 in 0 r, 6.1 in 3 r, 7 in 1 r, 5.1 in 2 r, 6 in 3 r, 6 in 3 r, 6 in 2 r, 5 in 3 r, 6 in 1 r, 9 in 5 r

        Those are 13 pretty decent starts. Not bad. Now, at the same time he has some bad ones too (6) but at least he showed the potential to still go out and compete without getting lit up on a consistent basis. I am not saying he should be a 5th starter, but if he has to fill in for 6 starts, I am okay with that. Probably get 4 QS and two bad ones. That is fine from a 6th starter

  9. Lmao who in there right mind would give you anything for cloyd. he stinks. even as a throw in a team would be nuts to take him. unless he pays his own airline ticket.

  10. It is funny how relative situations can be. Six years ago we had Jamie Moyer winning 15 games and getting rocked every third game when his wiles couldn’t make up for his lack of a blow away pitch. He was great that year. Why do we think Cloyd can’t be that? I don’t have any contacts in the FO, but I would think that they are going to take a good long look at him in ST when he is fresh, to see if he can’t do the job. Hopefully, they won’t wait until he is tired to try him out. He should be one of the first called up. Zach Miner may be ready to pitch again. I would certainly give him a look to do the same as Cloyd. The Phillies are correct to have some veteran arms around, even for brief duty. Aaron Cook can pitch well even though he is a .500 pitcher. He could win a couple of games. Spring Training will be interesting. Maybe Rosenberg will be the long man. I’m rooting for him.

    1. If Cloyd threw 92-93, everyone would be gushing over him. I’m a fan of his and it was great to see him have some good starts in the majors (yes, he had bad ones too). If his other stuff can get better and offset his FB a little, he can do it in the majors.

      Only thing I noticed with him is that if his pitches have little/no movement on them, they get mashed, which is something he can and I believe work on.

    2. Because Cloyd probably doesn’t have the “wiles” of Jamie Moyer, and he’s not left-handed. Also in the 4 full seasons Moyer had in Philly, only one was good. I think the team is hoping for better than an 85 ERA+. Not to say Cloyd isn’t in the mix, but he’s probably not better than John Lannan.

      1. Lannan was a mediocre at best MLB pitcher before last year. Last year, he was a mediocre AAA pitcher at absolute best. I didn’t get the signing of Lannan at all to be honest as you have two pitchers in the same style of him (won’t get a ton of K’s) in KK and Cloyd, along with guys like Pettibone and Martin waiting in the wings.

        Cloyd at best is a 4/5 guy, I just think overall he might have a slight edge on Lannan.

        1. He’s a lefty. How’s his splits vs lefthanded batters? Nats and Braves a few key kefthanded bats.

        2. I find it amusing that a statement like this rarely seems to inspire many replies. ‘Any non All-star on the major league team can be easily replaced by any semi-successful AAA player, no matter the scouting reports.’
          How is it possible that Tyler Cloyd inspires more confidence than John Lannan? Besides the scouting reports on Cloyd, that say that he isn’t a major league quality RH starter, there is empirical evidence that Lannan is an obvous better option than Cloyd. Lannan is a 6 year mlb veteran with a career 103 ERA+. Cloyd had an ERA+ of 82 last year.

      2. Lannan has some quality major league experience to project from.
        Cloyd could make some adjustments to stick in the bigs but his margin for error is very small. But the odds of a prospect with his background tend to favor a short major league career.

  11. A real baseball conversation! Thanks
    The three kids are a given for the rotation while I expect BJ to be the long man in Philly (that’s not Durbin’s role). If they bring Cochran back, it will be to start because he did a very good job in the 2nd half last year. The last spot will be between Bass and Lopez and I expect Lopez to win it. Miner will be in the bullpen but t will be a crowded pen if most guys are healthy.

  12. I hope you all are right and I am wrong on Ethan Martin. Even with his great stride forward he still had a bad BB rate (as opposed to horrendous) without even an impressive K rate with which to pair it. He needs to make another quantum jump this year much less not plateau or regress. At best to me he seems like a guy who will give you 2 quality starts before taxing your pen when he implodes on the third.

  13. Late last season in Clearwater, I talked with a source that works for the Phils but I wouldn’t call him FO. He told me two things at the time I found most interesting – one about Tocci which I shared some of months ago and the other about Rosenberg. The Tocci comment was that the org was going to do everything possible, he felt, to start him at Lakewood, unless ST really made it obvious that wouldn’t be good. Think the org thought is he doesn’t have anything significant skills wise to work on in XST for months waiting for Williamsport’s season to begin. Most of his work is just about getting AB’s and trying to get stronger. He had mentioned the team had expectations of him this off season to take some steps in that direction.

    As for Rosenberg, he was very high and sounded like the org was very high on him yet, and committed to finding out if he could start. Based on that conversation, assuming things haven’t changed and don’t change in spring, it sounded to me like they’d rather have him starting at AAA and seeing if they have something with him than being a long man with inconsistent work at the major league level. I doubt he would earn a starting spot over Pettibone at this point if there was an injury so I expect Rosenberg to join the AAA rotation to start the year.

    1. Apparently their MO for Tocci, is what they did with Franco and Tyler Greene. Start them at low-A and if they cannot do it, back to WLMSP to finish up the season to perhaps regain confidence.

      1. They didn’t start Franco at Lakewood in his 2nd year. They kept him in Extended spring, he performed well in NYP, got promoted to Lakewood and struggled.
        The scenario you describe applies to Collier, Valle, Santana and Tyler Greene. Not Franco.

        1. I assume Franco starts the season at Clearwater, with Walding at Lakewood. I’m guessing Asche starts at AAA. Does H Martinez then go to Reading, or does he repeat Clearwater and play 1B and/or DH?

          Interesting comments on philly.com the other day by Joe Jordan about the catchers and the writer hinted that the Phils likely want Rupp to move to AA so he can continue to catch Biddle and Morgan. If that happens, then Valle and Joseph have to both play at AAA despite Jordan saying that’s not desirable. Will be interesting to see how that all plays out.

    2. I should qualify the Tocci comment about nothing significant to work on. Of course anyone 17 has a lot to work on. What I meant was he’s not making a position change, or learning to switch hit, etc, something major.

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