Another lesson on patience

Its not a surprise for me to log on and see people ranting about Antonio Bastardo, and of course you only have to go back to last summer to see this lesson, which will be explained again, in the case of Tyler Mach. I had a few posters vocally ranting about Mach needing to be promoted to Clearwater, because he was clearly a better prospect than I was giving him credit for. This was when he was hitting a ridiculous .400+ after a weeks of the short season. Of course he cooled down dramatically, and now he’s still MIA and pondering retirement. Of course those calls about how off base I was, and how I was “disrespecting his prospect status” have died down. Now it looks like history is getting ready to repeat itself with Antonio Bastardo. So, again, I ask you to be patient, and here’s why…

As you know, if you’re a baseball fan, baseball is a funny game. A guy can look completely dominant for one game, for 3 games, maybe even for 2 months, but he can just as easily come undone. Just look at Kyle Kendrick. He went from relatively under the radar prospect to the big leagues, and posted an ERA under 4.00 despite having very poor peripherals. And this season, when everyone panned me for saying I thought he was going to really regress, he’s largely struggled and gotten knocked around in all but one of his starts. The latest guy to be anointed as the “disrespected prospect” is Antonio Bastardo. Bastardo came on the scene last year at Lakewood, posting big strikeout numbers, and no one really knew what to make of it. I gave him his due, I wrote him up in my Top 30 and placed him at #24. I stressed his downsides, I explained why, but people still assume that I don’t like him, or don’t think he can succeed. Thats not the case, but it looks like I’ll have to explain it all again.

I don’t want this to seem like a completely negative piece, so I’ll even start with the positives on Bastardo. Last season, his first full season, he struck out more than a batter an inning at Lakewood (9.67/9) and also was tough to hit, allowing only 6.22 H/9 in 91 innings. He also kept the ball in the park, allowing only 3 HR in those 91 innings. Past the numbers, he has good velocity for a left handed pitcher, ranging anywhere from 87 up to 92, depending on the day and the report, and it appears he also has some deception in his delivery which adds a tick or two to his fastball. Kevin Goldstein likes his changeup and says its a very good pitch (no scouting grade, but we’ll try and get that), while Baseball America seems less enamored with it. But that could have changed from this past season.

But Bastardo is not without his negatives. First, his stature. The common conception is that shorter pitchers have a tougher time “staying on top of their pitches”. This basically means throwing on a downward plane. It makes sense to think about this practically. If you are 6’6, you’re naturally going to be throwing on a more downward angle than someone 6 or 7 inches shorter. Its easier for a guy like Roy Halladay, who is 6’6, to throw downhill and get sink on the ball than someone like Roy Oswalt, who is only 6’0. This is more important when it comes to throwing a breaking ball, which is easier to “get under” and leave up in the zone. This doesn’t mean Bastardo can’t be effective, it means he might have less of a margin for error, and must really focus on “staying on top” of the ball and keeping the ball down. Last season at Lakewood his groundouts to air outs ratio was 0.76, and this was largely a result of a line drive rate of 17%, which is very high. His 3 percentages were; 43% groundballs, 39% flyballs, 17% line drives. That’s not a dominant ratio, and pitching in Lakewood, a very pitcher friendly park, kept lots of those fly balls in the park. This season, he’s given up 2 HR in 12 innings at Clearwater and 0 HR on the road in 18 IP. His air outs to groundouts ratio is 0.40 this season, which is even “worse” than last season. Minorleaguesplits has not updated their 2008 database yet, so I can’t give you exact percentages yet. But this is something that is going to be worth watching. He’s also 22 and pitching in A+, so he’s older than the average prospect. But older prospects should be dominating their level, and he is.

The thing with Bastardo is simple. He’s dominating at A+ right now, and he should probably move to Reading. But the jump from A ball to 2A is the biggest jump in the minors outside of short season ball to a full season league. Is he ready for it? Probably, but we also need to realize that this is one month’s worth of baseball. Last season he walked 42 guys in 91 innings (4.14/9), more than you want to see. This season, he has improved that number to 10 in 30 innings, or 2.98/9, and thats a step in the right direction. Bastardo has improved his stock this season, but its one month. To compare him to pitchers like Joba Chamberlain or Tim Lincecum is ridiculous, and really unfair to everyone involved. He does not offer the complete package that a guy like Savery or Carrasco does. That isn’t to say that he can’t be a big leaguer. That isn’t to say he can’t be an above average starter, and that isn’t to say he won’t end up being a better big leaguer than any other pitcher in our system. It means that he’s not there yet, and we need to be patient. Right now, it appears that he is a 2 pitch pitcher, with a great fastball and a good changeup, but without a reliable breaking ball. This may change, it might not, but we have to see how he does against more advanced competition before anointing him the next Cole Hamels.

Last season, it was Tyler Mach. Lots of people were quick to tell me how wrong I was. I just don’t want to have to constantly explain why I don’t think Bastardo is the second coming of Steve Carlton. He’s pitching really well right now, lets just leave it at that and forget the “disrespect” concept. Everyone, especially me, is pulling for him to succeed, lets enjoy his success and see what happens next.

46 thoughts on “Another lesson on patience

  1. Good piece. It’s easy to get excited by gaudy K totals. I have a couple questions though.

    First, does it really matter that he’s a flyball pitcher? Obviously, the ultimate pitching prospect is one who strikes out a ton, walks few and gets GBs. But there have been a lot of successful pitchers who allow a lot of homers but aren’t hurt too badly because they don’t allow a lot of baserunners overall. Curt Schilling comes to mind. And Bastardo’s fly balls are mostly staying in the park anyway.

    I guess a corrollary question would be whether HR/FB percentage is persistent — in other words, if Bastardo has allowed few homers despite allowing a lot of fly balls, is that something that can be expected to continue?

    My other question is whether a 2-pitch pitcher can succeed as a starter. My sense is that a fastball/changeup combo with good location is probably the best two-pitch combo you can have, and it’s probably good enough for bullpen work, but can a starter get by with it in the long term?

  2. Mach is not a fair comparison. Mach played one good month and then disappeared. Bastardo already has a full season in which he flat out dominated. Sub-2 ERA over a full season, and in one start in Clearwater, gave up some runs but K’d 12 guys in 5 IP, which is flat out ridiculous. He apparently has both a good fastball and a good changeup, and has a slider.

    There are two legitimate questions at this point. The first is whether or not he’s actually found control or if he’s just had 2 really good starts and will regress back to a 4+ BB/9 ratio. The second is if his stuff is good enough to play at higher levels. This we should know soon, as we may even get video of him pitching if he moves up. Regardless, you’re not going to find many pitchers dominating like he is. It’s hard to say who he should be compared to because nobody knows how good his stuff really is.

  3. Damn James, there you go hatin’ on Tyler Mach again. 8^)

    I think that Bastardo has been pretty dominant, and deserves a promotion to Reading based on the fact that he has been blowing people away. If he continues to dominate in AA, well then we can really start getting excited. The fact that he is a fly ball pitcher may not bode well in Philly though.

    As for only being a two-pitch pitcher, I’ve always been under the impression that a pitcher should have at least three pitches to be a starter. I think Bastardo could be a nice reliever, coming in and missing a lot of bats. Plus, he could have Primus’ “Here Comes the Bastards” as his walk in music.

    I actually thought this posting was going to be about the Phils double jumping Mattair to Lakewood, which surprised a bunch of people. Even though he’s got his average “up” to .200, he is still struggling mightily and seems to not even be playing full time at this point. I hope he turns it around

  4. Agree that Li’l Bastard has shown more over a longer period of time than did Mach (and for the record, I was never really buying the Mach hype), but also that he has a lot yet to prove.

    The last time we saw a Phillies pitching prospect put up these kinds of video game numbers in the minors was about two years ago. It was Cole Hamels doing it at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Hamels then was the same age Li’l B is now, but he was dominating two levels up and, fair or not, had the pedigree of a first-round pick to add scouts’ imprimatur to the numbers we preterite types could see.

    I’d send Bastardo to Reading, letting him take Model Dictator’s slot as Castro goes to the Stink Pigs. If he dominates at AA, then around mid-June the organization will have a difficult but wonderful decision to make.

  5. I honestly can’t figure out how you judge prospects. No disrespect, I am truly trying to figure it out. You are gaga over people like Mattair and D’Arby who are on the all airport team but perform like crap, and pour cold watter on a guy who has dominant numbers and who’s manager sings his praises. This is a professional manager who is saying publicly that this guy is throwing great stuff well above his level. it was the manager who suggested that he could be in the majors this year.

    That being said, I agree with you about patience. Lord knows us phillies fans are so starved for a good minor leagues that we definitely jump at any successes we see.

    I just want to understand how you judge when someone is a real prospect.

  6. I honestly can’t figure out how you judge prospects. No disrespect, I am truly trying to figure it out. You are gaga over people like Mattair and D’Arby who are on the all airport team but perform like crap, and pour cold watter on a guy who has dominant numbers and who’s manager sings his praises. This is a professional manager who is saying publicly that this guy is throwing great stuff well above his level. it was the manager who suggested that he could be in the majors this year.

    Well if his manager says he’s an elite prospect, it must be true.

    I don’t think its all that difficult to understand how I evaluate prospects. Bastardo lacks projection and he’s a 2 pitch pitcher. Myers is a 5 tool centerfielder, Mattair is a 4 tool 3B prospect. Its not difficult to see why I’d envision big things for both of those players. Will they get there? Who knows. But Bastardo is blowing away A ball hitters. He hasn’t gotten there either.

    I’m not pouring cold water on anyone. Do you want me to just be a rah rah guy and go nuts over a month’s worth of performances when I still have reservations? It seems like some people here don’t actually want my opinion or analysis, they just want me to be an extension of the Phillies PR machine who never has anything negative to say about any of our prospects.

  7. And the Mach comparison was chosen because a few people told me I didn’t know what I was talking about when I expressed reservations over his fast start, and said he needed to be double jumped to Clearwater midseason. They are not the same type of prospect, but Im making the comparison because people are already comparing Bastardo, who was on no one’s radar at this time last year, to guys like Tim Lincecum and prospects like Carrasco and Savery.

  8. Just a thought in comparison to bastardo having only 2 reliable pitches. My understanding is that Hamels really only works off of 2 good pitches, His fastball and his changeup. Yes he has a curve ball but throws it very sparingly and only enough to keep hitters aware that he has it. So if bastardo does a have a third pitch that isn’t as refined why can’t he just use it in the same manner as hamels curve just to keep hitters off balance

  9. Shines did mention a slider in that article. Maybe it’s just for show, maybe it’s still “in development,” but my hunch is that how well it comes along will determine whether Li’l Bastard is ultimately a mid-rotation starter or a good LOOGY.

    Speaking of which, there’s an article in one of the Philly papers today quoting Gillick about wanting to add a second lefty reliever. Just sayin’…

  10. Its not fair to compare every lefty with a fastball and changeup to Hamels. Hamels doesn’t just have a changeup, he has one of the best changeups in baseball, and his fastball is a plus pitch. Bastardo might get to that point, the odds are against it, but the odds are against any pitcher becoming one of the 5 best pitchers in baseball. Its a very small group at the top.

  11. My point is if hamels can be considered on of the 5 best pitchers in baseball with just 2 pitches, why can’t bastardo be a good mid-rotation guy with just 2 pitches, not saying he’s there yet, but I see no reason why he can’t be…..

  12. Well, he certainly can be. Its just that Hamels has one of the best changeups in baseball and a very good fastball. And hes even been throwing more curveballs this season, so even hes not completely satisfied with just being a 2 pitch pitcher.

  13. I like the discussion. I think it’s thought provoking. I think AB should be moved up to AA but he’s a long way from starting the 3rd game of the World Series. If he improves and develops as he moves up, we’ll see him in the bigs soon enough. There are so many variables that make up a guys upward trajectory. How strong is his arm? What’s his mental make-up? Can he stay healthy? Will he get homesick? Will success go to his head? These are some of the questions that may decide if we’re cheering for him at CBP in a couple of years.

    Talk about downward planes… how about Matt German?
    At 6′ 8′, he’s got to be scary lookin’ down at you from the mound.

  14. “I’m not pouring cold water on anyone. Do you want me to just be a rah rah guy and go nuts over a month’s worth of performances when I still have reservations? It seems like some people here don’t actually want my opinion or analysis, they just want me to be an extension of the Phillies PR machine who never has anything negative to say about any of our prospects.”


    What makes this site both enjoyable & valuable is the “semi-unbiased” opinion & knowledge of the author. I use the word “semi-unbiased” only because we are all human and we all bleed Phillies’ pinstripes, which naturally lends to a tendency to sometimes overrate our prospect’s short-term performances.

    Most of the time, I have found James’ comments to be both informative & intuitive BUT no one is right all of the time and when it comes to projecting prospects, no one is right even 20% of the time.

    For the past 2 seasons, I have been high on both Bastardo & German but I would not be surprised if neither were successful in AAA or AA. If one or the other ever becomes a useful piece in the the majors, I will be thrilled.
    “Myers is a 5 tool centerfielder, Mattair is a 4 tool 3B prospect. Its not difficult to see why I’d envision big things for both of those players. Will they get there? Who knows. But Bastardo is blowing away A ball hitters. He hasn’t gotten there either.”

    Again, I agree with the assessment that both Myers & Mattair are “real” prospects but I am not a believer of comparing position players to pitchers. To me they very different animals that should rarely be compared as prospects or major league players. In many cases they develop on different time schedules and may have very different values to a team; e.g., it is possible to have an extremely valuable (and highly paid) major league situational pitcher but it is rare to have an extremely valuable (and highly paid) positional player that plays less than 1 inning per game.

  15. James didnt say that either

    Once again Hamels has one of the BEST PITCHES IN BASEBALL
    and the best changeup…. this is at the Major league level

    Bastardo is doing this at A ball at the age of 22, we all know the jump from A to AA has killed a lot of prospects…. being Bastardo is a little old for his level, only has 2 pitches AND known BB tendencies, we have to atleast wait and see what he does at reading before we annoint him a top 10 prospect. What he is doing now is great, wonderful, excellent…. It’s going to earn him a promotion, and we can root for him the whole way, but reserve ultimate judgement till he performs at reading. He will see much better hitters and finally be truly age appropriate. If having only 2 pitches is indeed a problem it will have a better chance of being exposed facing AA hitters.

  16. Its only April and I wouldn’t promote anyone yet. However, if Bastardo pitches this well for another 3 weeks or so and Reading has someone to send up to help AAA (Outman comes to mind although Fabio has probably earned it more), I’d make the move then. I’d also move Michael Taylor to Clearwater then but that’s me.

  17. Re the Bastardo/Hamels comparison, as phuturephillies says, his curveball should not be ignored. Perhaps it’s not a plus pitch (although I have no idea how these things are judged), but he’s gotten much better at controlling it and can get strikeouts with it. I don’t know what Bastardo’s third pitch is and whether it has any potential, but even sparse use of a good third pitch can make a huge difference.

    (Also, as an aside, Hamels started 2005 in Clearwater at the same age as Bastardo is now. But to be fair, he probably would have started in at least Reading had the Phillies not wanted him to start in the warm Florida weather to help preserve his arm.)

  18. I am encouraged by the talk of Bastardo as more of a 3-pitch guy than a 2-pitch guy. Still, as others have said, he does not have as much projection as some other prospects. I do think he needs to be challenged with AA. The key thing to watch is his control. The last couple of starts have been great, but it has been a problem in the past.

    The other thought on Bastardo is that he might make excellent trade bait this fall if his stats continue to be stellar. He might be overvalued in the trade market this year. Plus, when you add the fact that he is a fly ball pitcher that is not really ideal for CBP, he is certainly one to consider dealing.

  19. I don’t think it’s fair to say that Bastardo has less projection than other guys when we don’t even know what he has. He may have 2 average pitches and a below average slider and he just has deception in his motion that throws off young hitters but won’t play at all at higher levels, and he might have 2 plus pitches and a slider that’s good enough to throw without getting burned and will continue putting up great numbers. Nobody here knows, and the only person who’s seen Bastardo pitch multiple times and has commented on the situation says he could pitch in the Majors at some point this season. While that opinion might be biased, it is from an experienced minor league coach who likely isn’t pumping up prospects just to pump them up. It’s not like he’s said that about every pitcher to come through Clearwater. The truth is that we simply don’t know how Bastardo projects because there’s woefully little info available right now.

  20. This entire discussion thread is far too meta. The real question is how should Bastardo be rated? Not whether some unidentified group of other people is overrating him or underrating him.

    It seems to me that everyone is pretty much in agreement about the merits of the issue, which is really all that should matter. Bastardo is performing very well, and his stats don’t immediately look flukish. Peripherals look fine, age is fine. There are also reasons for skepticism – A ball, height, the fact that he sort of came out of nowhere last year. On the other hand there are reasons for skepticism for nearly all players in A-ball; that doesn’t necessarily preclude them from being considered prospects.

    Personally, I’d rate Bastardo at this moment as a borderline top-ten prospect in this organization. I also think he should be promoted to AA by midseason if he continues to pitch anywhere near as well as he’s pitching right now. And if he initially struggles at AA, I don’t think that should be reason to lose hope in him – he should be given as much of an opportunity to adjust and improve over time as any other prospect. I doubt that anyone here would disagree vehemently with any of those statements.

  21. Bastardo is doing very well, but projections must be tempered by his size and age — not real old for league, but older than a top prospect normally comes through as a HS/international player. Still, I think he has a very good shot to make it to majors if he stays healthy. He has the velocity and he has the off-speed pitch. That makes him at least a middle reliever, possibly a 4/5 starter.

    I think a lot of folks who challenge the evaluations on this site ignore age in evaluating prospects. Mattair is very, very young for full season ball. Myers is young and coming off a wrist injury. It is definitely possible to over-rate a player based on raw skills that will never be developed, but a guy who can barely hold his own in a league where most players are two years older, may well have a big future if he has been tagged by the scouts as having multiple plus skills. Mitchell is a lot older than Myers or Mattair, so the lousy numbers Mitchell has put up mean a lot more than what Mattair is doing in a jump from GCL to Lakewood. That is a huge jump. The Phillies wouldn’t move a young player that fast unless they were really impressed. Same for Freddy Galvis. The raw performance numbers don’t always tell the whole story.

    In the Mach case, he was an old college draftee, so his performance deserved a bit of a discount. Still not at all sure why he retired so soon after being drafted. If he wasn’t even going to give one full season to pro ball, why even indicate that he was interested in being drafted? He seemed like a real penny-pinching pick when the Phillies took him so early in the draft, and he signed well below slot. That and not signing our 3rd rounder made the 2007 draft class a lot shallower than it should have been.

  22. You know, I think people took the Tyler Mach analogy and went the wrong way with it. One can argue about how analogous this situation is to the prior situation (I don’t think it’s very close), but the point of our host was that nobody should be jumping to conclusions about how good he is or is going to be – at least not yet.

    Here’s what I think – we don’t need to jump to conclusions, we need to be focused on where Bastardo is now and what the next steps are going to be. To me, this is pretty simple – he is no longer being challenged in A+ ball – it’s time to move to the next level. Once he is there for a month or two, I think we’ll know a lot about whether or not the “Clearwater Experience” was a real indicator of his abilities.

    Now, for the fun part – what do we think? Last week I said that, although I’m not enamoured of A+ pitching statistics as a great indicator of ability, I do take note of high strikeout rates. This ability translates well to success at that level and higher level. Well, Tony the “B” is making me look good – obviously, the strikeouts were huge. I would venture a guess that he is going to do very well at AA.

  23. Are we really still talking about how tall Matt German is? Let’s just say he’s taller than Bastardo and leave it at that.

  24. Hey…that’s really WEIRD!

    In Baseball America’s 2008 Almanac he is listed as 6’8″ and 240 lbs.

    There is something awry here.

  25. Baseball Cube has Matt German at 6’0 185 and has the same birthdate, so I’d guess the 6’8″ IS a misprint.

    Kinda takes some of the sheen away.

  26. “Why should we evaluate his rating at all one month into the season? Why should we evaluate anyone’s prospect rating after only one month’s worth of games?”

    Huh? Because it’s fun, that’s why! Isn’t that one of the main purposes for why this blog exists? It’s not as if anything any of us say is going to have any actual effect on what the Phillies’ front office decides to do. We’re all just attempting to formulate and exchange accurate opinions about these guys.

    I don’t understand your question at all. What do you want us to talk about if not our opinions on how good Prospect X is and what the Phillies ought to do with Prospect X? How is your original post not, substantively, an evaluation of Bastardo’s prospect status? Why is it any less legitimate to rate a prospect one month into a season than it is to rate a prospect before the season has even begun?

    All I’m saying is that in evaluating the prospect, we should focus on the prospect and not on our perceptions of what other people think about the prospect. If we have a point of disagreement, that’s where it is. I would hope that all of us would agree that evaluating the prospect is a worthy point of discussion. If there’s uncertainty about that issue – if the bell curve is wider at this time of year than it is at other times – then it’s still legitimate to have an opinion about where the midpoint of that curve is as long as you recognize the level of uncertainty. It’s certainly legitimate to have an opinion about what the Phillies’ plan or mindset ought to be, given what both we and they know at this time.

  27. Anyway, on substance, I think Catch 22 is basically right. On a broader philosophical note, I think that if a prospect who seems to have great tools goes out and puts up stats* that underperform what his tools suggest he’s capable of, then his organization should give him a longer leash than it otherwis would, in the hope that the tools will eventually make themselves evident. But the reverse isn’t true: if a prospect puts up stats* that overperform what his tools suggest he’s capable of, then the organization should act as if he isn’t incapable of doing what he’s doing, until he actually proves that he is. Treat him as if his stats are legit. If they aren’t, it’ll eventually come out, but why assume?

    * By stats, I mean “real” stats – peripherals and what not – as opposed to cosmetic stats.

  28. Anyone got any footage of this guy pitching? Would be interested in seeing this “deceptive” delivery…

  29. I hope they don’t promote him too soon… I’m going to Clearwater in may and will try to catch a game if he’s pitching. He seems to be generating some buzz outside of our organization which is always good. No matter how you splice it, numbers like those can’t be ignored. I’m just not going to get my hopes up too much… even though I would kill for the chance to wear a jersey with a name like his on it.

    So, is there anyone else in the pharm system worth talking about? cuz we’ve been beating the Bastardo thing like a dead horse.

    And damnit, I’m so jealous, I wish my name was taco pal. You sir are a pioneer.

  30. james – you didn’t answer my question. honestly, how do you judge a prospect? how do you say that mattair is a 4 tool prospect? what has he done to show that he can hit for average, power or play defense. he has struggled at everything since being drafted. i am asking not because I

    “don’t actually want my opinion or analysis” or becuase i “just want me to be an extension of the Phillies PR machine who never has anything negative to say about any of our prospects.”

    I am asking because i want to understand. to learn. i just don’t understand why people get so hung up on “projectables” and lose focus on actual production.

    also, i think the focus on AB’s size is a silly point. more important than anything is his ability to locate a pitch. 2 pitches, 3 pitches, 8 pitches. if you can change speeds and hit a location consistently, that is 99% of what matters. hitting the location!

  31. I’m not going to take the time to really go into it, because its honestly not worth it. You don’t agree with me on Bastardo. Thats fine, lets just leave it at that.

  32. ” just don’t understand why people get so hung up on “projectables” and lose focus on actual production.”

    because you have to keep in mind what domininating A ball means with stuff that doesn’t project to dominate at higher levels. If the phillies sent Fabio Castro to Clearwater right now- I bet he’d dominate on par with Bastardo, would that get you as excited about Castro as it does Bastardo? Hopefully not- because what he brings to the table has been put in the spotlight for what it is- pretty decent stuff for a lefty, but put into perspective about the realities of his chances of developing into something special.

  33. I like Bastardo but I’m not in love with him yet…I’d like to see him in Reading to see if he’s for real. The stature and only 2 legit pitches are issues but not career enders…he might end up being an excellent reliever for a long time with that skill set… Crap look at Mike Stanton’s career. Left handed relievers are like vampires…they cannot be killed by conventional means.

  34. I really don’t want to have a debate on this. Its fine that you posted those links to explain it.

    Basically, your MLB superstars are gifted 4-5 tool players. You dont need to be a 5 tool guy to be a star, but you also find fewer stars that lack tools. Derek Jeter was a 4.5 tool player in the minors despite a lackluster debut. Everyone was critical of Justin Upton’s debut in 2006, when he put up lackluster numbers in the Midwest League. Now he’s already being talked about as one of the best players in the game, and being compared to the likes of Ken Griffey Jr.

    Tools are very important. Performance is very important. You can be successful without having plus tools across the board if you have one very special tool. Ryan Howard is an example of that. But Howard is an exception, he’s not the rule.

  35. Okay, I admit I know very little about all this technical stuff. But BA has been wrong a ton of times. And some of the bsst players ever, have had ‘shortcomings’ according to the experts.

    The Phillies are loaded with scouting professionals that analyze talent, yet their farm system constantly under-produces. I wonder if anybody knows what they are talking about.

    A couple of years ago, Bill Giles told me (in a letter) that they were very high on a 5-tool player, Michael Bourn. Another time he told me they were very high on a five-tool player, Chris Roberson. Neither guy is with the team any more. Neither ever had five tools.

    Everyone rates Carrasco at the top of the Phillies prospect list. Well maybe he is but he sure isn’t impressing me so far. He is 21 now moving toward 22, yet in six starts this year, he has an ERA of about 4.0 and a WHIP of 1.38. I know he is young but he did spent half a year in Reading last year so I expected him to dominate this year if he is truly our #1 prospect. So far, he hasn’t done that.

    Outman is another guy being touted. Well maybe and I hope so but he was at Reading last year too and this year he is hust so-so. He is older than Carrasco with an acceptable ERA of 3.20 but a WHIP of 1.73 which is just too many men on base. That’s the one stat I watch in young pitchers because if you continue to put a lot of men on base, sooner or later that is going to kill you. And this is minor league baseball where probably 75% of the players you face won’t ever make it to the big leagues. So you should dominate there if you are a future major leaguer.

    To me, Joe Savery is a better prospect than Carrasco or Outman. And I like Monasterios. He is 21 now but he is showing signs of getting it right. He had a shaky start last out and it has skewed his numbers but this is a kid with what appears to be a lot of steady talent. Not sensational mind you, but consistent. But time is moving along with Carlos and with Antonio and Jushua. It’s time to put some heat on them. (What ever happened to Drew Carpenter???)

    If I were the Phillies I’d do some moving around.

    Lehigh Valley needs help and being a new team, they should get it. Move Castro, Outman and Swindle up. Move Donald and Golson up. Bring Spencer to Double AA along with Savery and Bastardo. If Monastrios does well this year, I’d promote him in August. I really think you have to start demanding more when a kid passes 21.

    I know there are always the Phillip Hughes situations (he looked so great in the minors that they rushed him ala Cole Hamels and he apparently he moved too fast. But Hamels is doing fine. It depnds on the guy. the real good ones can handle it.

    You mention that Bastardo should dominate because he is 21 at Hi-A. Well look at the others in the Phillies system. Triple AAA has a team average of about 28 or so. Reading’s top four average 23. So if you move Bastardo up, he will fit right in.

    Finally, there are pitchers who do very well putting the ball into play. The trick is to make them hit ’em where the fielders can catch ’em.

    And that’s a knack in itself.

    So who do I like? Savery (September, 2008), Bastardo (Spring, 2009), Carrasco (Spring, 2009), Monasterios (September, 2009), Outman (September, 2008).


  36. Jay–

    If Savery is in the Majors in ’08 than we probably aren’t going to the playoffs in ’08. There are several other options the Phillies would go with before even considering Savery. It’s nice that you believe so many of our prospects will taste the majors, but lets be honest, 5 pitchers in 1 yr from Sept.-Sept.!!!!??? That’s not likely.

    -The Phillies have a better farm than they get credit for, but that’s still not saying much. Just look at our MLB team, and you can see how good the farm is. Yes it lacks the power bats and always seems to mess up some of our solid pitching prospects, but when 1 team can say they drafted Howard, Utley, JRoll, Ruiz (signed), Burrell, Madson, Myers, Hamels, and Kendrick AND still control them than that’s impressive.

    -We shouldn’t just move these guys up just to make moves. Golson needs to be handled with care. He needs to build up more confidence and then moved up.

    -We shouldn’t demand more of these kids at 21 because that’s not how they are being groomed prior to that. They have been too carefully led down their current paths than to be potentially ruined because of impatience and incompitence! How did Prior and Woods fare being moved up and throwing tons of inns? The Marlins? How many young pitchers ala Floyd move up too early? I honestly think you need to go to Lakewood and watch games there. You could know very little about baseball and still see the huge difference between a pitcher in A ball dominating and a pitcher in the Bigs dominating.

  37. I have a lot of respect for your website, and your knowledge. However, I disagree with your statement about Kendrick, “And this season, when everyone panned me for saying I thought he was going to really regress, he’s largely struggled and gotten knocked around in all but one of his starts”. Now with the benefit of 2 more months of data since you wrote this piece, we know that Kendrick has made the adjustments necessary to be an effective major league pitcher. He is now 8-3 this year, with a 4.39 ERA, compared to 2-2, with a 5.13 ERA when you wrote this piece. He is one of those special pitchers who appears to have the intellectual horsepower to out think hitters, and put his team in a position to win. I have always believed that that is a much more important ability than having a 95 MPH fast ball.

  38. Well, I’d like to wait and see where he ends up at the end of the season, but his slider has improved, which is a change from the time I wrote this. He’s still living dangerously, and he gives up lots of hard hit balls. I think its clear he’s still capable of keeping the team in games, but right now he’s our #3 starter, and he’s still a bit miscast.

  39. I believe, by the end of the year, Kendrick will have won 12-16 games, with an ERA in the 4’s. That is a solid major league pitcher. For example, only 11 pitchers in the entire NL had 15 wins or more last year. I have been saying since the beginning of the year that Kendrick has a chance to be a solid pitcher. So far, he has performed exactly as I had expected.

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