Weekly Notes Column, April 18th/19th

Welcome to this week’s edition of the weekly notes column. As I mentioned last week, I’m going to use this as my space to kind of tie a bow on the week that was, and more specifically, share my thoughts on what I’ve noticed and what I’m thinking about with regard to the Phillies minor league system. Its also going to give me a chance to talk about a few things I’m working on for the site, and lots of other stuff. So check below for this week’s column.

* I wanted to start at the top and say, simply, not to draw any conclusions from the first 10 or so games of the season. Its easy to get really excited early on, and at the same time, get really down on guys early on. My recommendation is an easy one….just wait. When you assess a prospect, you have to look at him as a commodity or a stock or something tangible. When you evaluate the stock of a company, you don’t just look at how it performed yesterday, or for the last week, you are looking at what its done over 3 months, 6 months, and in some cases, years in the past. Prospects evolve a bit quicker than equities in the stock market, but the concept is the same. For a player who has been in the system for 3 or 4 years, you have to trust your assessment of the player before the season before starting to alter it after 10 games. That’s not to say you shouldn’t get excited over breakout guys, or have some reservation about a guy really scuffling out of the gate, but basically I think its best to not even focus on numbers until May. Small sample sizes are prone to lots of noise and error, and that certainly applies in the early going. Nevertheless, I want to look at a few guys off to really good starts and a few guys who have gotten out of the gates slowly in chart form

First, batters who are Hot

…and Cold

And now the pitchers. Hot…

….and Cold

As I mentioned in the intro, these numbers don’t mean much of anything. But damn it sure is encouraging to see what Anthony Hewitt is doing early on.

* Another note I wanted to make is in regard to the guys that I focus on and the things I write about. My interest in the minor leagues is based on the development of prospects and how they will impact the major league roster. If Lakewood wins 20 games this year, but Anthony Hewitt turns into a superstar, hits .300 with 30 HR, then I’ll be elated with Lakewood’s season. This is somewhat selfish of me, but the reality is, I live in Boston and will maybe get to see a handful of games from all of the affiliates combined this year, and those will be games at away stadiums across the various leagues. For those who have season tickets to an affiliate and care about seeing winning baseball, I can understand you being interested in the career minor leaguers like Neil Sellers and Mike Spidale. I only really care about the legit/fringe prospects in the system, because my obsession with the Phillies still burns brightest at the major league level, and I’m not all that interested in guys who I don’t feel will ever make any kind of major league impact. Again, its a personal preference, and I can understand the other side, I just want to outline why I probably won’t be including career minor leaguers in my analysis or writeups, or in the various charts/stats packages you’ll see here.

* I have a number of interesting concepts I am going to be gradually integrating into the site over the next few months. One of these is a concept I dabbled in a few years ago; estimated pitch counts. While teams are generally very careful with young arms in the minors, I am curious about pitch counts, and how it relates to performance, both within a start and then a few starts down the line. For those of you who have been around here for a while, you probably know my stance on pitch counts. I think its important that young players are protected until they reach the age of 23/24/25. I was discussing this with a friend a little while back, and the perfect analogy is marathon running. If you’re an average person who isn’t overly active or overly inactive in your daily life, you don’t wake up one morning and decide to run a marathon that day. Your body is not conditioned to run 26.2 miles. If you were to do it, and you were in really good shape, you might be able to make it through the 26.2 miles. But there’s a really good chance that you would suffer some sort of physical issue, whether it be really sore muscles for weeks, some kind of ligament tear, or some other malady, and that’s if you make it through the entire run. Most people decide to run a marathon, or a half marathon, or a 5K, and they slowly build up their endurance through training. They’ll start with a 2 mile run, then build up, eventually hitting 5 miles, then 10, then 15, then 20, and then finally the full 26.2. These are the types of runners who generally become successful and who don’t have to deal with constant physical problems. The same applies to pitchers. You don’t take a kid who is 18, who has thrown maybe 60 or 65 innings in a high school season, and then have him throw 175 innings in his first full season. You don’t go from someone throwing 75-90 pitches in a high school game to 150 pitches in his first pro start. A lot of good young pitchers have their arms destroyed in college for this very reason, where coaches’ primary concern is winning, which boosts their recruiting, not the long term prospects of a kid they have on their pitching staff. Some coaches have begun to take more care of their pitchers, Tony Gwynn was a great example last year with Stephen Strasburg, but lots of guys are still getting battered and really damaging their long term future with massive overuse in college. The estimated pitch count tracker will monitor the pitches thrown per start for all the Phillies starters this year. I hope to have the first version up sometime this week, but I can’t make any promises. Also, and this is very important, if you go to a minor league game at Lakewood, Clearwater, or Reading, and you can jot down the number of pitches the starter throws, it would be a huge help if you could post it here on the Reader Submissions page.

* In addition to the pitch count estimator, another project I am working on is creating a page with all of the game logs for all of the Phillies prospects. Currently, minorleaguebaseball.com only lists the last 10 games played on each player’s page. My goal is to create a page the chronicles every player’s game logs. It won’t capture things like fielding errors or putouts, but it will capture batting lines and stolen bases, which should be useful to have. This again is coming soon, and I’ll add a quick post to indicate its presence when its complete and posted.

* Finally, I’m going to create a guide that outlines a bunch of helpful resources that people can use to follow the Phillies minor league system outside of just using this site for information. You can find tons of great stuff all over the interweb and there is lots to see/read. Here are my suggestions, and as I said, eventually this info will end up in a centralized place, but for now I’ll put it here.

A. An RSS Reader – RSS readers and subscription feeds are certainly nothing new, but I think they are still somewhat underutilized by the masses. Many sites offer free RSS readers, and Google Reader is the best of the bunch in my opinion, but your mileage may vary. A simple google search will reveal tons of options, and this site gives a decent overview. After you get yourself set up with a good RSS reader, you can begin subscribing to feeds. The benefit of this is that your reader will automatically check for updates for sites you subscribe to, and when new content is available, you will be able to read the articles. For Phillies minors-centric sites, you can set up your reader to receive those new feeds, keeping you up to date on the latest news in just a few clicks, without having to visit 10 different sites.

You can subscribe to the phuturephillies RSS feed by clicking here. Here are a few other great feeds for Phillies minor league news

Firstinning.com Phillies daily report (click here to subscribe)
minorleaguesplits.com Phillies prospects daily recap (click here to subscribe)
Lehigh Valley IronPigs News (click here to subscribe)
Reading Phillies News (click here to subscribe)
Clearwater Threshers News (click here to subscribe)
Lakewood BlueClaws News (click here to subscribe)

B. The aforementioned minor league splits daily report is an invaluable resource and a great place to get all of the previous night’s action condensed onto one page. You can bookmark this link and check it every day to get the updates. I’ve found that the updates from the previous night are usually made around noon or 1PM Eastern time.

C. If you’re into more advanced, sabermetrically slanted statistics, Stat Corner offers wOBA and tRA, two advanced metrics, on their website. I’m not sure how frequently they are updated, but I think its nightly. You can read more about it on their site.

* And to wrap up my notes column, and something I’m going to try and do every week, I’ll just post 5 random prospect related nuggets/stats/splits.

1. Jonathan Villar has hits in 8 of the 9 games he’s started this season.
2. Jiwan James has 4 multi hit games in his 10 GP so far
3. Yohan Flande has thrown 12 innings thus far, and has only 2 strikeouts.
4. For the bulk of his minor league career, John Mayberry has had a sizable platoon split, crushing lefties and putting up mediocre lines against righties. In a very small sample, he’s posted a .453 OPS against LHP in 2010 (12 AB) compared to a 1.333 OPS v RHP in 24 AB. Small sample size!
5. Anthony Gose has a .956 OPS in 30 home AB, and a .266 OPS in 15 road AB to open the season.

That’s all for this week. Our newest contributor here at phuturephillies, Dave, will have the Lakewood weekly affiliate report later on Monday, so tune in for that. As always, thanks for reading, and if you know someone who might be interested in this site, do pass along the link!

29 thoughts on “Weekly Notes Column, April 18th/19th

  1. Flande is gonna have to start striking out some guys to continue to really have success and stay on the prospect meter, but I think it’s worth noting that he also only has 2 walks to go with his 2 Ks. And I don’t think he’s allowed a run yet.

  2. Nick Hernandez is a guy I want to hear more about. He’ll be 22 in July. He was 8-1 in Wmpst last year. He’s continuing what he did last year in Lakewood. He’s got a baseball pedigree. His father was drafted in the 1st round as a catcher and his uncle is a major league umpire. Did I mention he’s a lefty? If Dave or anyone who has seen him pitch can chime in on what he throws and how hard, that would be great.

  3. I see Hernandez going to CLW if he continues this pace and JC Ramirez jumping to REA as he is looking good so far.

  4. Hewitt interests me ,did a light suddenly come on or is this only a 10 game hot streak. hope he isnt another d’myers.love all the new info you are posting, really enjoy the articles about the minors and your insight, thanks

  5. As nice as Hewitt’s slash line looks, he still has racked up 13 K’s in 39 ABs against only 2 BBs. I really want to believe but the continuing high K rate is worrisome.

  6. Have you thought of contacting the Front Offices of the minor-league affiliates for the pitchcount numbers? As the top Phillies minor-league site, they MIGHT be willing to work something out and provide such information to you.

  7. Three points:

    1. Hewitt also had 1 or 2 hot streaks last year, each just 2-3 games or so. This hot streak seems a little longer, better and at a higher level. Small sample size, but we should also keep in mind that if he keeps some decent level of performance going, even incremental improvement at a higher level is significant. That’s one reason I felt last year was a bit encouraging. Not a great year by comparative standards, but significantly better performance at a higher level. That tells me some real development is going on. So we know his physical talents can come through against certain pitchers or on certain good days. Now he has to be disciplined against better pitchers to gain the consistency needed to realize more of his potential.

    2. James seems to have some killer days mixed in with bad days. To Lakewood followers: Is there a pattern? Does he have bad days against guys with good breaking balls. Does he have a slow bat, so good FBs give him trouble. Would be nice for us to have more understanding of his gitting skill set and what gives him trouble.

    3. We have noticed Mayberry splits in previous years also. Pretty clear to me that he already has some value as a platoon guy and WILL get a chance in majors sooner or later to have a few decent years. Would not surprise me to see him bat .270 with a good SLG and maybe 18+ HRs in a full platoon year against righties. If he is truly becoming more disciplined and can take some walks, all the better. Anyone writing him off is way premature, IMO.

  8. 4. Also, with Naughton and 1 or 2 other “catch and throw” type catchers, I am hoping one of them can learn to put the ball in play consistently and take a walk when offered. There is value in a good defensive catcher who can hit .250 and contribute to the offense occasionally. Case in point is Carlos Ruiz, who has really not broken out with the bat yet, and may have a really good year in him (.290 BA, 15 HR, etc. etc.)

  9. PP – Do you consider German a fringe prospect at this point? I touched on him in one of the threads this week, but he seems like he could be a potential LOOGY guy.

  10. How many legitimate platoons do we see these days? It’s much harder to manage platoons given the size of modern pitching staffs. For that reason, someone with mayberry’s skills is less likely to have a real career than he would have 20 years ago.

    But I agree he’ll have a career, just maybe more as a backup than a platoon guy necessarily.

  11. Mayberry has 45 plate appearances this year. His overall rate stats are worthless at this point. Why are we looking at his splits?

  12. “Why are we looking at his splits?”

    I don’t think anyone is saying his splits THIS YEAR mean anything (in fact, quite the opposite as most of the comment assume he will revert to his normal platton differential). But he’s a guy that over his career has a huge problem hitting RHP. The fact that he doesn’t have a big platoon split so far this year, while almost certainly not meaningful, is an interesting little factoid.

  13. PP,
    Earlier in the week you said you had some thoughts on Aumont and Gillies you were going to share in the weekly notes. I guess you forgot about it, but I am interested in hearing what they were.

  14. Alan writes: “Why are we looking at his splits?”

    PP writes: “* And to wrap up my notes column, and something I’m going to try and do every week, I’ll just post 5 random prospect related nuggets/stats/splits. ”

    &

    “In a very small sample, he’s posted a .453 OPS against LHP in 2010 (12 AB) compared to a 1.333 OPS v RHP in 24 AB. Small sample size!”

    Reading comprehension helps sometimes.

  15. Matt i heard german tops out at about 84 miles per hour. to me I cant see him being even a fringe prospect, unless that velocity is wrong.

  16. Great stuff PP. To me, Hernandez is very impressive in what he has done and his stock is really rising. Just as impressive though is Hyatt. As far as Hewitt, he’s doing great and is working on identifying pitches this year. What you have to know about Hewitt is that he’s one of those guys whose bat makes a different sound when it hits the ball. He’s an extra base machine because of how hard he hits the ball. He’ll likely never be a .300 hitter but if he can hit .270, he could be a Ron Gant type hitter with lots of XBHs. I still have lots of confidence that Gillies will figure things out and that his 2 hits yesterday was a good start. D’Arby Myers needs to start hitting very soon because of what we’ve talked about regarding Collier coming back.

  17. mikemike – I assume that you’ve never seen him pitch live, but he has a real herky-jerky left handed motion. He reminds me a lot of Mike Myers (the pitcher), but not quite as dramatic. He went on to have a very successful career as a LOOGY. His velocity is irrelevant with those mechanics.

    For his career, he’s faced 158 LH’ers, has held them to a .141 average, 18 hits (only 4 extra base hits).

    Of course that doesn’t necessarily translate into a successful major league career, but for nobody to talk about him as a possibility just because he doesn’t throw 95 MPH is crazy, but typical of the “show me the velocity” snobs that are on here.

  18. NEPP, I am well aware of how to read thank you. It’s just that a lot of commentors on this site put way too much stock into early season results and splits. I won’t even look at rate stats until mid-May.

  19. Alan-
    If you read what James wrote he had exactly the caveat in there that should have been. He was trying to give you, the reader some information to discuss. There is certainly no reason to criticize the receipt of information. Take that information and do whatever you chose with it, including discard it, but to say you dont want it, is to say…” I want to be uninformed”.

  20. I posted because DiamondDerby also brought up the splits, not just because James wrote about them. I didn’t intend for this to be its own discussion point, and I don’t mean to insult James over it.

  21. Not to beat a dead horse, Alan, but DiamondDerby was talking about splits in prior years – large sample size – and positing that Mayberry would thereby be a platoon player.

    The tendency you identify is often present on this site and is annoying; I don’t really see it in this thread.

  22. Travis D’Arnaud is absolutely killing the ball right now:

    .442/.725/1.167 3HR 10RBI

    But is he Toronto Blue Jays’ $5million killing the ball, Mr. Montgomery?

  23. I’ll address some of the comments….

    Nick Hernandez is a guy I want to hear more about.

    I had Hernandez in my breakouts for 2010 column here

    https://phuturephillies.com/2010/03/22/breakout-candidates-for-2010/

    He’s an interesting guy. He’s not overpowering, so his margin for error will always be very small, but I think he probably creates a decent amount of deception in his delivery because he kind of hides the ball behind his body and then slings it from a low three quarter arm slot. He’s like a #4/5 starter if everything breaks right, but considering where he was drafted and what he required to sign, it would still be a nice bonus. He is 21 in Lakewood, a touch too old, but he won’t turn 22 until the end of July, so its not that out of line.

    PP – Do you consider German a fringe prospect at this point? I touched on him in one of the threads this week, but he seems like he could be a potential LOOGY guy.

    Everything I’ve ever read on him is that he’s basically an RJ Swindle clone, in that he barely cracks 84-85 MPH. His upside is extremely limited, and he’s already 25 going on 26. Barely on the fringe.

    PP,
    Earlier in the week you said you had some thoughts on Aumont and Gillies you were going to share in the weekly notes. I guess you forgot about it, but I am interested in hearing what they were.

    I guess I should have been more clear in my piece, but the Aumont/Gillies tie in was related to the not worrying about the numbers argument. Gillies has really struggled out of the gate, but just a month ago, scouts were saying the gap between him and Domonic Brown, a legit 5 tool prospect, was very small. He didn’t completely forget how to play baseball in 3 weeks, hence, not being alarmed by his slow start. With Aumont, the Phillies have overhauled his mechanics, and its going to take time for him to adjust and get comfortable with what he is doing. It’s not as drastic as going from an over the top delivery to side arm, but it is a big change, and he’s going to need time to refine and work on his delivery, hence, not worrying about his numbers.

  24. Alan, as Larry said, my comment on platoons was based solely on Mayberry’s historical splits, not his year AT ALL. He has had other years with pretty clear splits, seems to be a pattern. Got a bug up for something? Why make hasty assumptions? Hmmm . . .

  25. ” only really care about the legit/fringe prospects in the system, because my obsession with the Phillies still burns brightest at the major league level, and I’m not all that interested in guys who I don’t feel will ever make any kind of major league impact. ”

    EXACTLY!!!!!! This is about phuture phillies – not the progress of minor league teams.

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