A ton of great questions coming in this week so without anything further here are the answers to your questions
Mitch_Rupert says: If you were forced to pick one team throughout minor league baseball to watch every game they played this year, which team would you have picked at the beginning of the season?
I love this question. The first thing I did was look up where top talent was playing to start the year and the teams that jumped out were Hickory Crawdads (TEX, SAL), Quad City Bandits (HOU, MWL), Ceder Rapids Kernals (MIN, MWL), Memphis Redbirds (STL, PCL), and Portland Seadogs (BOS, EAS). In the end I love low minors talent and I would take the Quad city Bandits because going into the year you knew you were going to get Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Rio Ruiz, and eventually the #1 pick in the draft (which ended up being Mark Appel). Additionally coming into the year the Midwest League was really strong on talent and it would be good to have caught Buxton, Seager, Urias, Ynoa, Fried, and Almora. I live in the middle of the MWL right now (Madison, WI) and my job has brought me to Cedar Rapids multiple times, but I never did get to a game while Buxton was there, but nonetheless there is a ton of talent and a great baseball atmosphere.
If I were to pick a Phillies affiliate it would have been the GCL Phillies.
Handzus says: What was the deal with Franklyn Vargas? I thought he was a guy with some upside. He had a nice debut last year, and then spent this year pitching less, at the same level, in a smaller role, and doing worse.
The stuff is there but the control is horrible. I don’t know if there was injury this spring but he really cannot find the strikezone.
fritzerland says: What do people think of Severino Gonzalez? (Not as a September call-up, but a prospect). Is he in our Top 15? I don’t get to watch Clearwater, but, at 20, he seems to be holding his own there down.
He is Top 20 for me right now, at least until all of the scouting reports on the year trickle in. The fastball is average, the curveball is good, I have heard wide variances on the changeup. I worry about the height without a good fastball as well as the overall frame over a full season. I want to be cautious with him and see how he shows up next year. Overall it is more of a #4 starter profile with some growth to a #3 if he starts answering some of those questions.
ramsey says: What are scouts saying about Deivi Grullon?
I don’t have a ton of scout quotes but from what I have heard the arm is a true 70 and the receiving is advanced for his age (feel for framing already there). The bat makes good contact but the power looks more gap to gap. It is a special defensive profile, still questions about how the bat will continue to play up the levels.
Anonymous VOR says: Will Louis Encarnacion make your top 20 prospects, before playing a profesional game? He is the highest rated LA signee the Phillies have signed in years.
It will be really close, the system has gotten deeper since they signed Tocci two years ago and he made top 20s. I am waiting on FIL reports (if he is there) before passing judgement, but if there are rave reviews about the hit and power tools he could see a good ranking on the list.
Ahoy says: What are your thoughts on beer prices at CBP?
I am huge fan of micro and craft brews so overall beer prices are less important than what quality I get for the money. In this regard CBP is great, I am a huge fan of Victory Brewing Company and the price you get at CBP on Hop Devil or your brew of choice really is not that much more than I would pay at a local bar (if the local bars in Madison brought in Victory, which would make my day). In general there is little chance of me buying a generic American style lager at a major sporting event, I just don’t see the value in my purchase (I would much rather go get a bucket of Crab Fries instead). If you want a cheap beer and baseball, minor league ball is the way to go and it is well worth it.
allentown1 says: The unfolding tale on Joseph has gotten worse as the season progressed and it became obvious the Phillies were trying to minimize the concussion severity. What are the odds that he can remain at catcher. If not, is he any kind of prospect at all.
I don’t know what to do about Joseph because concussions are so unpredictable. If I am the Phillies I protect him in the Rule 5 I send him to Reading to play 1B (and maybe some LF) in games and have him catch in practice to get reps. It will be interesting to see how the bat will develop without catcher defense to worry about. But I worry with his suspect hit tool that his future is at best bench bat if he cannot catch. (It would be interesting to consider a move to the mound as a complete fall back for his career, other catchers have made the conversion and Joseph has the arm strength)
allentown1 says: When will we learn whether or not Hernandez is granted a 4th option year, or more correctly, that the Phillies are granted one for him. Likely he’d prefer to be Rule 5 eligible to force his way into the bigs next year. How much has he been tried at SS and 3B and is it definite that he can’t play utility-guy D at those positions?
We likely won’t know until the early spring when MLB makes a decision. The arm is what limits him at SS and would be near impossible at 3B.
jcull says: Do you see Andrew Knapp’s developmental path resembling Cody Asche’s?
Not really purely because of the catcher defense. While Knapp may show a bat deserving of following Asche’s path through the minors he will need some extra time to work on the defense. He converted to catcher late so his receiving definitely will need the minor league reps.
C says: Drew Anderson has frame to fill out at 6’3 185lbs. He throws in low 90′s. He was born March 22 (same day as me) and as we know March Aries never back down. So what gives…why did they player last until 30th round?
It was the 21st round, he is picked a bit of velocity since signing but essentially he was a projection pick. He still needs a lot of work on the secondary pitches to be a starter as well. Often a player falls when all they have is a body that could be a major league pitcher.
anonymous says: What’s the over/under on Anthony Hewitt’s MLB career game appearances and/or plate appearances?
I would put it at 20 PAs which is the difference between cup of coffee and actually getting there. I would take the over right now, but the under on 100 career PAs.
pilspan says: If this site existed when Jimmy Rollins, Chase, or Ryan Howard were minor leaguers what would have been said about them? (Love this site, think we don’t have many elite prospects after trading so many the last 5 years. but not sure if we are too hard on them in general, or they just arent that good)
Jimmy Rollins 2000: Shows the ability to make good contact from both sides of the plate, and he has a chance to hit for close to average power in the majors. He walks but not an elite pace and it will be interesting to see how much it translates to the majors. The speed is near elite but he still needs to work on his baserunning success. In the field the defensive tools should make him one of the better defensive SSs in the league. Coming into 2001 as a 22 year old he projects to be a first division starter who is the Phillies SS of the present and future.
Chase Utley 2002: Despite his low average after the double jump from hi-A to AAA Utley shows advanced contact ability. He can drive the balls to all fields and the power might play up to plus due to the approach. Utley has played both second and third but doesn’t look to be more than average at either. The arm is a concern and third base and the footwork isn’t great at either position. Long term he projects better as a bat first second baseman. Utley’s makeup and work ethic are off the charts which should allow the raw tools to play up in game.
Ryan Howard 2004: After struggling before the draft and in his first few years Howard has tapped into the raw power that had on pace to be a first round pick. Howard has true elite power to all fields, but it comes with heavy strikeouts against breaking pitches. He has shown strides defensively at first base but there has been rumors of trying him in an OF corner with Thome at first base. Howard is a bit old for the level and there are concerns about the swing but he is a major league ready first division slugger at first base.
Frank says: The Phillies are a team in transition. Give us your 2016 starting lineup (just ignore for now any potential free agents the team may sign).
C – Andrew Knapp
1B – Ryan Howard/Darin Ruf
2B – Chase Utley
SS – Freddy Galvis
3B – Maikel Franco
LF – Domonic Brown
CF – Ben Revere
RF – Kelly Dugan
Rotation: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Jesse Biddle, Adam Morgan, Jonathan Pettibone
Notable Bench Bullpen: Altherr, Asche, Hernandez, Martin, Giles, Wright, Perkins
A couple of caveats, here are players I expect to arrive at some point during the 2016 season but didn’t make my opening day cut off include both Roman Quinn and JP Crawford. I think 2017 is the year you are looking for a lot more big names to be there.
PhxPhilly says: It seems like there are a few positional minor leaguers who are given 80 grades for speed, power, arm, and defense.
What players have an 80 hit tool? It seems to me that hitting is true elite skill (which is why hitters make the big bucks).
If I had to pick an 80 hitter in last 30 years it’d be Wade Boggs.
For pitchers I was wondering who has 80 command? Seems like 80 FB, 80 breaking balls exist but I do not see too many 80′s for control or command.
Obviously Greg Maddux comes to mind for 80 command pitcher.
Just a quick aside, you will never see an 80 grade on a hit or command tool in the minor leagues, there is some amount of prove it to the tool. Guys with 80 hit tools in the major leagues right now are Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, and Joe Mauer. The first two are fairly obvious, as for Votto he almost never makes bad contact, he can hit to all fields and has complete command of the strike zone, as for Mauer all he has done since making the majors is make contact without any real weaknesses. Players who formerly had 80 hit tools are Ichiro and Pujols (I could here arguments for Manny and Jeter).
As for 80 command in the majors right now my list is Cliff Lee and Adam Wainwright. I don’t have time to think back historically but vintage Roy Halladay jumps to mind.
Anonymous says: Where does Franco finish in the Minor League Player of the Year (non pitchers) voting? 6th? Sano, Baez, Buxton, Springer, Boegarts, Franco
I would rank those years Springer, Buxton, Sano, Baez, Boegarts, Franco, it is impressive company though numbers wise.
ramsey says: You’ve been a pretty big Ruf skeptic in the past. Has your opinion changed based on his performance since his promotion? If he were eligible, where would you rank him among our prospects right now?
It has not. I thought he would be a good bench bat and platoon hitter and so far I still believe in that projection. As I write this Ruf is hitting .258/.344/.509 with a .330 BABIP 9.1% BB rate, and a 31.7% K rate. He has shown good raw power but he has been a dead pull hitter who is feasting on fastballs. His OF defense is really bad especially his range (the arm is not great either) and so he is a R-R first basemen who can’t hit off speed pitches. Here are some links; spray chart http://www.brooksbaseball.net/h_spray.php?player=573131&gFilt=&time=month&minmax=ci&s_type=15&startDate=03/30/2007&endDate=08/30/2013&balls=-1&strikes=-1&b_hand=-1, in play SLG http://i.imgur.com/0dVN3Et.png, against FBs http://i.imgur.com/wIe03RW.png, and against offspeed pitching http://i.imgur.com/7qL9WaV.png.
I ranked him 14 coming into the system and I can’t see ranking him any higher than that right now.
Rei de bastoni says: Could someone provide a detailed definition of “polish” and how it can be measured, whether it be statistically or by sight? The term seems like it is thrown about with regard to anyone nearing the big leagues, and I was hoping to get a formal definition of how you can differentiate polish from other forms of growth. Thanks.
There was a nice explanation answered to this question in the original thread but to me polish is showing major league consistency and instincts. When you say a guy has a polished approach it is something that is repeated and refined. A polished SS is going to show you advanced footwork and body control. Essentially it is that transition from just raw talent and abilities to refinement.
PhxPhilly says: What scouting bucket does pitch recognition get ranked as a tool/skill?
Similarly related, would someone with great plate discipline have a higher ‘hit tool’ rating?
Both of these fall mostly under hit tool, especially with connection to making solid contact. The ability to walk really falls in it own category and the whole group I lump in as a skill that is as important as raw tools. The idea is are you maximizing your natural abilities by either laying off the right pitches and working walks or waiting for your pitch in your zone to drive, or are you wildly hacking and sacrificing both to some extent. This falls under the third part of the puzzle which is the approach at the plate.
Start with the basics. You are free agent eligible after 7 years in the minors including signing years if they are not on a 40 man roster (I mistakenly have mention Hewitt as a free agent). If you are 18 or younger at the time of signing you are Rule 5 eligible after 5 years, otherwise it is 4 years.
The first test for Rule 5 is, is this a guy I cannot afford to lose because his value to the team or in trade is immense. If the answer is no the next question is will this player help me over the next three years in a meaningful capacity (major or trade). If the answer is no, they are like not worth protecting. If the answer is yes then you have to explore what position they play and what level. A pitcher or SS is always at risk because you can hide their flaws on your big league roster. A catcher can be hidden if they have decent receiving skills to be a backup. Otherwise you are looking for one carrying factor whether it is platoon splits, defense, power, or huge upside and risk. This leads to some guys being on that borderline where you know that it hurts to lose them but you didn’t have a spot for them.
I am going to go with star as grade 70 upside or higher, or a guy whole will be a perennial All-Star giving you 4+ WAR a year (a #1 or #2 starting pitcher). In that case here is my list with caveats.
JP Crawford – ETA mid 2016 – Needs to find average to plus power while continuing to show all of his other skills.
Jose Pujols – ETA 2018 – Gigantic power and bat speed, he needs an approach before you can think about it. Could be a Stantonesque corner monster.
Cord Sandberg – ETA 2018 – Huge tools, huge risk, could be a true 5 tool corner OF in the mold of Domonic Brown with better defense.
Gabriel Lino – ETA 2017 – The raw tools are special, there is absolutely no utility of them, his risk is astronomical.
Carlos Tocci – ETA 2017 – If he suddenly fills out with plus power, with his instincts at the plate and in the field it could be special.
Luis Encarnacion – ETA 2018 – If it is truly a special bat it will play, but it will need to be either 60-70 or 70-60 power-hit.
Many people are going to be upset about the lack of Franco on this list, but he is gotten far enough that I don’t believe the bat will overcome the defensive deficiencies. That being said he has grade 60 (first division starter) upside (same could be argued about Biddle). All of the guys listed (but Tocci) have not played a full season yet and a year from now will likely not be on this list. By the time a player moves up and matures a lot of the upside has been lost (but so has a bunch of the risk).