My Top 30 Prospects for 2011: Part 3

With prospects 1-6 in the books, we move on to the back of the top 10. Instead of only doing 3 prospects today, I’ll give you my reports for 7-10. Also, I had the idea that when I am finished with my writeups for all 30 prospects, plus sleepers, if anyone has specific questions about why I ranked so and so in spot X or Y, I’ll do a mailbag. So if I don’t reply to something in the comments in each post (and my time to do so is limited), I’ll handle everything at the end. Now, we move forward.

Volume 1
Volume 2

07. Jesse Biddle, LHP
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2010 Summary: After working his way steadily up draft boards in the spring, the Phillies took the local product at the tail end of the first round. While some people (me too, kind of) viewed this as a bit of an overdraft, it was unlikely he would have made it back to the Phillies with their next pick, so you can’t fault them for taking a guy they liked. He got his feet wet in the GCL before making three very brief appearances at Williamsport.

Strengths: Its been a while since the Phillies have had a lefty with Biddle’s ceiling (Cole Hamels….then go back a while before that), as he is tall (6’6) and well built now (225lbs), and has the chance to add a bit more velocity before he’s done filling out physically. He presently sits anywhere from 89-94, and figures to comfortably pitch in the 91-94 range at his peak, which is above average velocity for a lefthanded pitcher. His delivery is very free and easy, and he gets good extension toward the plate, which makes it seem like the ball is jumping out of his hand right on top of the hitter. He’ll flash an excellent slow curveball with good shape, but inconsistent velocity and sharpness.

Weaknesses: Like a lot of prospects from cold weather states, Biddle doesn’t have a ton of experience, with helps explain his raw command, control and secondary offerings. At 6’6/225, he may be maxed out physically, which means his current velocity may be close to his peak velocity. That said, if he pitches in the 91-94 range, he shouldn’t have a problem, and his fastball has good movement, so it will still be a plus pitch if he can command it.

Best Case: Lefties who regularly sit in the low 90’s with plus secondary pitches are super rare commodities, and if he is able to improve his command and control by repeating his delivery, he has all the makings of an upper echelon starter. His track record is minimal, and because he comes from a non-baseball hot bed, he hasn’t faced the best competition in high school. Still, hes a really intriguing guy, and the pick was definitely not a “just take the hometown kid” pick.

MLB ETA: Wayyyyy off in the distance. 2014? 2015?

Ranking Difficulties: I’ll admit, I briefly considered Biddle for the top 5, as crazy as that may sound. I absolutely LOVE his delivery, which you can see on his profile page here. He’s free and easy to the plate, he’s a bright kid, and he already has plus raw tools. Trevor May has a much deeper track record, but it wouldn’t shock me if Biddle ends up ranked above him on lists next year. In fact, the more I think about it, I can make a good case for putting Biddle above both Valle and May. But again, its personal preference and gut feeling.

Final Thoughts: As I mentioned, I really like what Biddle has to offer, moreso now than when he was drafted. I look at his delivery and see a mix of Barry Zito (before he lost his mojo), Andy Pettitte and JA Happ, just in the way his arm works, his fluid delivery to the plate, and his big breaking ball. His motion should take a lot of the stress off his arm, he incorporates his lower body really nicely in his delivery, and by all accounts is a really smart kid. Add it all up and you get a pretty special package.

08. Vance Worley, RHP
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2010 Summary: After hitting the wall at Reading in 2009, Worley rebounded with a solid effort at two minor league levels before getting his first taste of the majors. All of his peripherals, including strikeout rate, walk rate, and groundball rate went in the right direction, and unlike 2009, he didn’t fade in the 2nd half of the season.

Strengths: Worley’s physical tools don’t overwhelm, but he also doesn’t have a glaring weakness, and while he lacks the ceiling and upside of the pitchers ahead of him, his probability is higher than any of them as well. His fastball sits in the 89-93 range, but he is capable of touching 95 when he needs it, especially up in the zone. His control is excellent, and he showed at least average command, even when battling nerves in his brief big league stint. His breaking ball and changeup are average or very close to it, and as he gets more comfortable at the highest level, both pitches should be consistently average. He generated a good amount of groundballs in college, and has been right around 50% at the upper levels, which will serve him well in the majors. He’s been very durable, and he repeats his simple delivery in fine fashion.

Weaknesses: While he has no glaring weakness, he also lacks a dominating pitch, which means hes never going to be a #1 or 2 starter. His groundball rate isn’t elite, and lefties did have a bit of success against him, hitting .280 at AAA compared to just .243 for RHB.

Best Case: Worley looks poised to fill the #4 or 5 spots in a big league rotation for some time. In the ace-laden Phillies rotation, he’d be the obvious number 5 if not for the best #5 in the game in Joe Blanton. An opening could pop up at some point, and I expect him to handle himself well. Because he can dial up his fastball when pitching in short stints, he could also serve as a solid reliever if needed, where his excellent control would be a required trait.

MLB ETA: He’s already gotten there, but he may have to wait to get back. He looks (to me at least) to be a better long term option than Kyle Kendrick, and could be given spot starts this season or pitch out of the pen if needed.

Ranking Difficulties: I’m assuming most people thought I’d severely downgrade Worley because he lacks huge upside, but I think he has a lot to offer the big league club. He’s never going to be a star, but while hes making the league minimum, he’ll be a really valuable guy to have around. This is his high water mark for sure, and there are a few guys I considered ranking above him, but I like what he can do, and I feel fine with him here.

Final Thoughts: I think some people will look at Worley and think “hes just Kyle Kendrick v2.0”, and I guess I can see the comparisons, but I think Worley is superior to Kendrick in most every way. Worley has great control, but more importantly, he has much better command of his stuff than Kendrick. While Kendrick pitches in the 88-91 range, Worley should comfortably pitch in the 90-92 range as a starter, and while that may not seem significant, it is, especially because he can actually command his fastball and he can touch 95 when he needs it. Like Kendrick he has some issues with lefties, but I think it will be a less pronounced issue once he settles in. His secondary pitches also rate higher than Kendrick’s now, and his K rate in the upper minors is superior.

09. Tyson Gilles, OF
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2010 Summary: The player I was most excited about in the Cliff Lee deal, Gillies had a bit of a nightmare in 2010, starting with injuries early in the season, then a bizarre shirtless incident in Florida while rehabbing that resulted in a drug charge. He was cleared of any wrongdoing, and at this point, you really just have to hope it was all a misunderstanding and he got caught up with the wrong people at the wrong place and the wrong time. Looking at his statistics for 2010 is a pretty meaningless exercise, because he spent much of the season playing on a sore hamstring and also dealt with a hand injury. Like I said, a busted season. But time is on his side.

Strengths: I had one person close to the game tell me last spring that Gillies was one of the most impressive prospects in the entire Phillies system, and Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus quoted a scout as saying Gillies was close to Domonic Brown in terms of pure tools. He’s blindingly fast, which is an asset on the bases and in centerfield. He showed good plate discipline in both 2008 and 2009, and the same person who raved about him to me said that he actually has very good raw power, but it just hasn’t translated to games yet. Basically, he’s got all the tools, and his work ethic was also lauded before his “incident”, in that he is legally deaf, and has had to work extra hard every step along the way.

Weaknesses: Well, you can start with a lost developmental year in 2010, as he logged just 117 PA, and none of them really came when he was 100% healthy. While his tools are excellent, his game is still raw in a lot of ways, and he needs to polish all of his skills, including utilizing his speed on the bases and knowing which pitches to drive instead of just slapping the ball in play. More than anything, he just needs 500+ plate appearances in 2011 to get himself back on track.

Best Case: When writing up last year’s list, I was really excited about Gillies going forward, projecting him as a potential gold glove centerfielder who would hit at the top of the lineup, get on base, and create problems for pitchers once he reached first base. I don’t know why I’d change my mind now, since I don’t have any evidence that his raw skill set has changed.

MLB ETA: He looked to be moving quickly, but essentially losing all of 2010 will slow him down a notch or two. The Phillies outfield situation is fluid right now, as Domonic Brown looks locked into one corner spot, and Shane Victorino remains, but is nearing potential free agency. A big season from Gillies in 2011 means a September callup in 2012 is a possibility, with an eye toward him getting a full time job in 2013.

Ranking Difficulties: Where to start. In my initial ranking I had him in the low teens, then considered jumping him up and above Worley. I settled at #9, which I think is a good spot for him. The raw ability is there, and its tough to really even comprehend his 2010. How he responds will tell us a lot about his prospect status going forward. Obviously.

Final Thoughts: Having just turned 22, time is clearly on Gillies’ side. By all accounts, he’s a good kid who just ended up being somewhere he shouldn’t have been, and I haven’t heard a bad word about him from anyone, either before or after the incident. His makeup was praised at the time of the trade, and he seems to working real hard now to get himself ready for 2011. As with any speed based player, the health of his legs is key, and he really just needs a healthy 2011. There will still be bumps along the way as he refines his game, but the tools of an all star outfielder are there. You can follow him on twitter here.

10. Justin De Fratus, RHP
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2010 Summary: Converted to relief full time in 2010, De Fratus continued to put up excellent numbers, as he’s done since being drafted in 2007. A move to relief allowed his fastball to play up, which resulted in an improved strikeout rate, while also keeping his groundball rate at a solid level. After reaching AA, dominating in the Arizona Fall League and being protected on the 40 man roster this winter, he should get his first taste of the big leagues at some point in 2011.

Strengths: While he probably had the repertoire to remain in the rotation, he shows all of the tools needed to be a successful late inning reliever, starting with a plus fastball that comfortably sits in the 93-95 range in relief, touching 97 or 98 when he needs it. He hides the ball well, which creates deception as the ball comes out of his hand. His slider and changeup are both average pitches now, and they’ve both shown improvement over the last 2 years. If one of his secondary pitches develops further and becomes plus, I see no reason why he can’t close at the next level. His command and control are both very good, which will serve him well pitching in relief, and he has done a good job of keeping the ball in the park throughout his minor league career.

Weaknesses: At the current time, he lacks the one lights out secondary pitch you expect to see from a closer, but I don’t see it as a major concern, especially since he’s shown progress with both his slider and changeup. He’s done a good job against lefties and shouldn’t show a major platoon split, especially if his changeup continues to improve.

Best Case: Its really difficult to figure out the closer role. Some closers in the majors were relievers in college/the minors, some are guys who were just average starters and then converted to relief, some are hard throwers, some have wicked breaking balls, some have great changeups, there’s really no formula. Which is why I think De Fratus can be a big league closer. He doesn’t beat himself with walks, he doesn’t give up the long ball, and he has a near overpowering fastball with good life. If he can consistently sit in the 93-95 range and command it to all 4 quadrants of the zone, he’s going to be tough to hit. At worst, he’ll be a solid setup man.

MLB ETA: It should be this year, depending on need/injuries/ineffective performances on the ML roster. The Phillies seem committed (and wisely so) to building a younger, cheaper bullpen, and De Fratus will get a long look in spring training, and could be the first pure reliever called up when a need arises.

Ranking Difficulties: If you’ve been around here for a while, you know how big a fan I am of De Fratus. I’ve been his biggest supporter since he came into the system, and I’ll continue to be his biggest supporter for years to come. I normally do not place a ton of value in relief prospects, just because of the unpredictable nature of the position, but I feel differently here. He has excellent control and command, a pivotal trait for any successful, consistent reliever, and his raw arm is plus as well. I wouldn’t go higher than 10th, but I couldn’t really see ranking him lower either.

Final Thoughts: 2011 should be an exciting season for De Fratus. Its unclear how the pitching staffs at Reading and Lehigh Valley will work out, but he should end up closing games for one of the two affiliates, and he should get a September call-up at worst, since he is already on the 40 man roster. As long as he maintains his control and command and his changeup and breaking ball show small incremental improvements, I expect him to be a fixture in the Phillies pen, ala Ryan Madson, for years to come. You can follow him on twitter here.

93 thoughts on “My Top 30 Prospects for 2011: Part 3

  1. A great job, as always.

    I’m sure you get this a lot, but I’d be curious where some of the ex-Phillies prospects would rank if they were still in the system, like Taylor, D’Arnaud, Drabek, Carrasco, Cardenas, Villar, and Gose.

      1. You can’t list Carrasco and Cadrenas with the rest of those guys. Carrasco looks like a #4 starter and Cadrenas is a young Eric Bruntlett. Drabek is a future Ace, Knapp a future closer. Villar could be another all glove no hit SS (which the Phils already have in Glavis) and Gose could be the next Michael Burn (a player who finally put it together after getting out of the organization). Taylor had a down year, but I still think he has the potential to be a very good player (though not better than D. Brown) D’Arnaud is in a tough spot in Toronto; he’s got a few good catching prospects above him. Of all the players listed I think he’d be the most likely to crack the current Top 10 if he were still in the organization because of his potential and his position.

        1. Villar is the guy I hated to lose most.

          He seems to me to have all the qualities welcomed in a SS, defensively with great range and a strong arm, discounting his many errors which most minor lg SSs suffer from (lousy fields are part of the problem) on the way up. It seems to me that J-Roll had the same kind of record in the low minors; since he came to the bigs there have been few complaints around his fielding, in fact he has been one the best in the field.

          Villar is also fast. With coaching inh the next 3 seasons, I expect him to be the SS for the Astros then…near or at the top of the order, and become also one of the best. His oba will improve with each season’s experience: suggest his ba will be about .275 on up.

          Hated to lose him. He was really the key man in that trade because he underwent a severe analysis by Houston before the trade could be made.

  2. Vance Worley is going in the pen. That’s his future with the Phils and it should be bright. He looked great there last year and should have got more than three opportunities given his lights out performance. He’s certainly better than Chad Durbin, who was not re-signed and I expect Durbin’s innings to go to Worley.

    Vance Worley would not do well third time through a big league lineup. He could set-up for Madson by the end of the year if he’s as good as he was last year.

    Tyson Gilles problem is that he asked a cop for a ride and the cop tagged him with a bag of dope from one of the cops previous passengers. Tyson Gilles mistake was not staying away from the police.

    edit –> I’m not one to censor, but lets try and keep this on topic. Its a Phillies blog, not a blog to discuss the role of police in America. Thanks!

    1. That’s the story I got. If you know different then produce the source. Your post makes it sound like Giles is at fault. That’s the way everything is in this country, whatever the police and media say that’s the final story.

      It’s not, and usually what they say is a lie.

      Remember Jason Michaels out on the town and the next thing you know he’s in a fight with four cops just because he’s walking down a sidewalk in a supposedly free country in the city where the Liberty Bell is displayed and the Constitution was written and signed.

      It’s not my fault that cops attack baseball players and make a post like this on topic.

  3. I’m always hesitant to put a HS kid in the top 10. My prejudice. Biddle has the tools so I can’t fault your pick. Where does Biddle start next year? The obvious choice would be Williamsport but would Lakewood, to start the season, be out of the realm of possibilities? If he falters, he could be moved to Williamsport when that season starts. Do you take the chance of messing with the kid’s head?

    1. With Colvin in a similar situation last year they started him in Lakewood. So, if he impresses in Spring Training I see no reason for him not to start there.

  4. I was at Worley’s call up game last year. The Phillies played awful but he looked brilliant. They pulled him from the game after 5 innings despite doing perfectly fine and keeping the Phillies in the game, so I don’t think they want the lineup to see him more than twice, so he’ll probably stay in the bullpen. But he should be great there. When is Spring Training dammit!

    1. I don’t know where this stuff about Worley being better suited for the bullpen is coming from. Yes, I think he could do well there as a long relief, pre-setup type pitcher. But, having seen him, it seems entirely clear to me that his highest and best use is as a starting pitcher. He’s a big kid who looks to be an inning-eating horse and he throws multiple pitches that he can can command and set up in a variety of ways so that he can provide hitters with different looks each time he gets through the line-up. In short, his stuff and build are that of a classic starting pitcher.

      1. I agree that Worley is a horse and looks like a starter. After Blanton gets traded during spring training (to the Yankees?), he and Kendrick will fight it out for the last spot.

        1. Though I agree that Blanton is on his way out of Philly, but when is the issue for me.

          The plan seems to be to have him as #5 into the season with the hope he comes out of the gate much better than in 2010 when he was hurt and he spent his time thereafter trying to catch up…which he really never did. Should he show well, that would make him a very valuable trade piece to acquire prospects to fill the empty cupboard at SS and 3b, notwithstanding Altherr’s move to 3b.

          That, to me, is the best scenario for Blanton and the Phils.

  5. I think Biddle gets that shot to start the season at Lakewood. I hope Gillies stays healthy as I remember last spring where the Phils were gushing about him. Worley and DeFratus will both at some time this year pitch in Philly. I hope they cut ties with Baez and give one of the young arms a chance.

  6. Holy cow! You have the same top 10 guys that I have. I think, in my rankings, I flipped Worley with Biddle, although, frankly, if I had to do it again, I think I’d put Biddle at 7. And, yes, a relief prospect can and should make a top 10 list if that prospect has a reasonable shot of becoming a dominant closer.

  7. “… shot at becoming a dominant closer”

    Closer: One dominant pitch, a second plus pitch and plus command.
    DeFratus : plus command

    1. Here’s my counter to that.

      Last year, Lidge pitched well in the 2nd half of the season, with his fastball consistently in the 90-92 range, and his command of it was only average. His slider is a plus pitch, probably a plus plus pitch when he’s on his game.

      However, De Fratus, when he’s right, is 93-96 with plus control of his fastball. He won’t be a dominant closer unless his slider or changeup improve. But he can mow through the league one or two times with nothing but a 95 mph fastball if he can locate it to all 4 quadrants of the zone.

      1. Brad Lidge: Dominant Slider, plus Fastball (formerly ++)
        Joe Nathan: Dominant Slider, plus Fastball
        J Papelbon: Dominant Fastball, plus splutter
        K Rodriguez: Plus plus Change, Plus Curve, Plus fastball
        Trev Hoffman: Plus Plus Fastball, Plus plus change
        Brian Wilson: Dominant Fastball, plus breaking ball

        Ryan Madson: Plus Plus change, plus fastball

        Justin DeFratus: Plus fastball, average curve and below average change.
        Sounds like a dominant closer?

        1. I just re-read my assessment of De Fratus.

          I’m not sure where I said he’d be a dominant closer. In fact, in the comment right above yours, I just said “he won’t be a dominant closer unless his slider or changeup improve”

          I said a number of times in my writeup on him that he has the tools to close games. Guys with mediocre stuff (Kevin Gregg) have saved 30+ games in a season. A 93-96 mph fastball, with excellent command, is a weapon, and a plus pitch. IF, and again, IF, one of his secondary pitches becomes plus, he can be an above average closer. His secondary pitches were both below average 2 years ago, and both have improved as he has climbed the ladder.

          If you plugged him into the closer’s role in Philly to open the season, he might struggle. Because he has no experience and his secondary stuff is still improving. But I’m not projecting him to fill that role now. I said down the road he could be that guy.

          1. No you didn’t say DeFratus could be a dominant closer. That quote was from Catch22 above. But the fact that you acknowledge that he doesn’t have the stuff currently, to be a dominant closer is enough to justify my position.
            “IF” DeFratus’ secondary pitches improve from average to Plus, he can be a closer.
            “IF” Worley’s secondary pitches improve to plus, he would be a #2.
            “IF” Aumont improved his command to plus, he could be a dominant closer.
            Fact is, “IF” DeFratus’ secondary pitch doesn’t become plus plus, he will not be a closer.

            The 10th best prospect in the organization is relief pitcher without any special pitches. Got it.

            1. His fastball is a special pitch. 93-96 consistently, touching 98. That was where Lidge’s fastball was, in his prime, and he never really had the command of it that De Fratus has had in the minors.

              His slider has improved consistently over the last 2 seasons, and he was getting better reviews of his secondary stuff in the AFL, with Jason Grey at ESPN saying the pitch had good tilt. I don’t think its at Brad Lidge or Joe Nathan levels yet, but the fact that its steadily improved over the last 2 seasons indicates to me it will eventually be an above average weapon.

              This is an exaggerated example, which I’m admitting up front. Mariano Rivera only has a fastball. His cutter is basically a fastball, but his plus plus control of the pitch allows him to consistently get batters out without a breaking ball, and he rarely ever throws a 4 seam fastball. De Fratus gets good movement on his fastball, and he can locate it to all 4 quadrants of the zone. Like Rivera, his walk rate is very low. Not historically low, but still well above league average control.

              I’m not saying De Fratus is Mariano Rivera, or that he’ll become him. There’s only one Mariano Rivera. I’m simply pointing out that your assessment of my report is off base, and you appear to have some sort of issue with my assessment, or some desire to overrate current relievers’ abilities while downgrading De Fratus.

              The Brad Lidge of the last 2 seasons has lived in the 90-92 range, with below average command of his fastball. His only plus pitch remains his slider, and its a damn good one. But he’s made life harder for himself because he can’t throw strikes with his fastball in a consistent fashion, and he can’t locate the pitch in the zone where he wants it. De Fratus is on the opposite end of the spectrum. He has excellent command of an excellent fastball, and his secondary pitch is still improving.

              If you believe he’s going to flame out and never improve, then I guess you can assert that my evaluation is way off base. But his track record indicates that he’s shown consistent improvement, and that his slider should continue to improve.

            2. It should be noted that DeFratus has improved his peripherals with every promotion. That’s a huge indicator of future success. Lots of guys see them drop a bit or, at best, stay the same. DeFratus keeps getting better.

            3. DeFratus has very good peripherals and excellent command. That bodes well for a decent relief arm and decent major league career.
              I have just never heard of a dominant closer with a 95 MPH fastball and no dominant secondary pitches, and if Mariano’s cut fastball is the only example that can be found then you are proving my point.

              But you are right, DeFratus should be a decent MLB pitcher.

        2. You’d call Lidge’s fastball from last season “Plus?” You clearly were not watching the same game as I was.

          It was basically the fastball version of a ‘show-me’ pitch. Heck, if you look at Fangraphs, Lidge hasn’t had an above-average fastball since coming to the Phillies.

        3. He’s young yet. I said he has a “shot” – not that he is a dominant pitcher now or will be soon. But it’s definitely within the realm of possibility that he blossoms into that type of player. Of course, odds are that he does not develop into that kind of player.

          1. “Within the realm of possibility”

            The realm of possibility exists for all of the prospects. This thought that DeFratus will naturally develop a plus secondary pitch, could be applied to anyone. I’m not a big fan of Austin Hyatt because he’s a RH pitcher with below avg velocity and doesn’t have a good breaking ball. I have him ranked 30, but “IF” he had a Plus slider, I’d say he was easily top 10.
            The realm of possibility exists for him too, but he doesn’t get credit assuming it will happen.

            1. No, the realm of possibility (or, better stated, “reasonabl possibility”) does not exist for all prospects.

              Many future dominant closers arrive in the big leagues with little more than a plus fastball and a few “show me” pitches. If they are able to improve their command or refine those pitches, they may make it as a closer. DeFratus has the plus fastball and shows the makings of having good breaking stuff. He’s not there yet of course – that’s why he has a “shot” of developing into this type of player. It’s not likely, but it could easily happen.

            2. anon, It’s just discussion. I’m not being disrespectful to PP. I just don’t agree with his assessment.
              If he didn’t want more discussion, he would not have changed his top 30 format. He knew he would get disagreements when he chose to go against the grain and make Colvin #2 and chose to put a young reliever in the top 10.
              I’m also sure Catch 22 has been disagreed with before too. I’m sure he is not broke up about it.

        4. Mike77, I think that you are overlooking some facts in this analysis.

          Lidge did not have a dominant fastball late last year, but closed well.

          Hoffman pitched several years late in his career without a dominant fastball.

          Wilson seemed to throw nothing but fastballs in the playoffs against the Phillies last year and was successful. If he has a plus breaking ball, he didn’t need it.

          As PP stated, there are many ways to be a successful closer. I am pretty sure that, back in the day, Rich Gossage would throw nothing but fastballs, Sparky Lyle would throw nothing but sliders, etc. The game has changed, but these guys would pitch two or three innings with one pitch, because the pitch was that good.

          1. Key words: Later in their careers

            They didn’t come into the major leagues with average stuff. Those guys rode wicked stuff until they got older and learned to compensate. Unless DeFratus is some kind of prodigy, he can’t do what Trevor Hoffman or Brad Lidge can do as veterans.

        5. Trvor Hoffman’s fastball fell below plus level 6 years ago, Brian Wilson’s fastball is straight as an arrow and he feast on hitters chasing it out of the zone. When the Phillies have shown patience with him , they lit him up.
          Mad Dog had an ok fastball until 2007 when he worked in the offseason with Gordon’s guru to add velocity.
          Billy Wagner got by on a well commanded fastball for years before improving his slider.
          Ron Reed did a great job for the Phillies after they told him to throw fastballs almost exclusively which he commanded well.
          If De Fratus is unafraid to work in and commands the four zones he will be effective.

          1. Not to mention that we’re talking about some of the best closers in the league. I think that DeFratus can be a success, even close games, without being as good as Wagner or Hoffman.

        6. 93 to 96 fastball with command is a plus plus fastball. If that’s what DeFratus has then he has a plus plus fastball.

    2. I like DeFratus too. One problem for him, though, is being on the Phils.

      Phils are tough on young relievers breaking in or moving up the food chain. Take Madson for example. He got a few opps to close, but they feel they cannot afford to give him the ball as a closer and let him get comfortable for an extended period, which is probably what he needs to settle into that role. And Madson has a plus FB, with plus secondary pitch (curveball earlier in career, changeup now, but both plus).

      DetFratus seems a tick below in terms of stuff, and might have a tough time climbing the ladder from middle reliever to setup to closer.

      Here is the path on which I can see him doing that, albeit fraught with land mines:

      1. Continue his plus command of FB

      2. Continue incremental improvement of at least one secondary pitch (PP’s terminology)

      3. Bring the same steely demeanor into his first few opps in the majors that he has shown in the minors

      4. Have some good luck for an extended time during his trial period

      This can happen for him, but he will have to bring all of it together. He needs to show Phils he is special in his early games, not necessarily all based on stuff, but on his mound presence, demeanor, etc. Otherwise, he could hang out as a middle reliever for some time.

      Bottom line is cases like this are fun to watch, can be exceptionally rewarding to the team and fans. Go Justin!

      1. Didn’t the Phils sign Bruce Sutter as a roving instructor? Will he be in Clearwarter this spring? He should be able to help Justin & others BIG TIME!!!

        1. I believe he was brought in as a consultant to work with Mathieson over the winter. I’m not sure he’s a full-time Phillies employee.

        2. They hired him at the end of last year for a couple months. I haven’t read anything about him being retained. In addition, when they hired Sutter, they said they’d only consider using him with pitchers who’d had zero success developing a secondary pitch. Basically last shot guys for whom adding a second pitch is the difference between sticking in the majors and being AAAA. I wouldn’t want him anywhere near DeFratus.

          1. Agreed – let’s save Sutter for the guys who need an extra pitch to stay in the big leagues. I don’t want the Phils’ prospects to get into the general habit of throwing the splitter.

  8. How much better offensively is Gillies compared to Alan Cartwright, the guy we picked up in the Escalona deal who has not gotten much attention?

    Cartwright is a year older, but they are both at AA, they both have had a couple of good years out west, and they have been comparable base stealers in their minor league careers to date.

  9. PP, I like the list and I hope those who were “embarrassed” by the community rankings of RPs are feeling a little less red in the face.

    I was surprised to see you talk up Worley’s control; I thought his walk rate was his biggest problem the past two years. Maybe 2.9 BB/9 is still better than average?

  10. My only real difference with PP is that I have Altherr at #9 and slipped Worley to #14. I’ve watched Worley pitch two seasons at Reading and Allentown, and am one of the guys who sees him as Kendrick 2.0, primarily because although he pitched very well in 2011, he really doesn’t have great stuff. Like Kendrick, I don’t think his stuff is good enough to get by in the majors on the days when he lacks his best command. There’s no great crime in only being Kendrick 2.0. Kendrick has helped the Phillies a lot and I see him as a good #5 starter. If Worley is Kendrick or a little more, that is 5 –6 years as a cheap #5 starter or middle reliever. Worley definitely is a pitcher rather than a thrower, which isn’t a bad thing.

    Perhaps I over-value Altherr. For an 18-year old, I thought he did quite well in NY-P, with few Ks for a guy so young. Great size and decent speed and reportedly very athletic. Seems like the proverbial Phillies high-ceiling OF, but one with good stats.

    1. Worley seems to have better command than Kendrick, though and unlike Kendrick, his secondary offerings are passable, as opposed to Kendrick’s wretched change-up and cutter.

      That said, I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with referring to him as Kendrick 2.0 (although he might end up as Durbin 2.0 instead). Just that 2.0 is an improved version.

  11. Check out De Fratus’ DICE from season-to-season across 4 years and 5 levels, 2.13 to 2.38. Amazing. Nobody does that. That consistency is what I loved about De Fratus last year and he continues to produce excellent numbers across the board at higher and higher levels.

    1. The most impressive thing about DeFratus is that his peripherals have improved every time he’s gone up a level. That’s a great sign for his development as a pitcher.

  12. The one I disagree with here is Gillies. I see the reasoning of tools and performance in 2008 and 2009. I also agree that last year was lost because of injuries and a misunderstanding. He seems like a good kid caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Here is where I differ. I think his tools are good, not great. I always liked Gose a little more as a speed/power package when both were in the system. I also think his performance was vastly overrated by the parks he played in, especially in the California League. His walk rate is partially due to pitchers pitching around anyone in those parks.

    While he has the physical tools to show power, I really want to see it first. He has not had that Shane Victorino progression yet. I was not a Victorino fan until he started showing that power after he was at SWB. The scouts were correct in his case that it was there all the time. But I have also seen too many Reggie Taylor prospects who never realized the raw power in their tools. Until I see that, Gillies is more in the 15-20 range for me. Of course trading Gose makes him an important upper level prospect and he is a good kid that you want to root for. But if I had to pick our best OF prospect beyond Brown I would probably go with Santana over Altherr over Gillies at this point (counting Singleton at 1B for the moment).

    1. As much as I like Domingo Santana, he has many many more question marks about his game than Gillies, even with his age. His home parks did help him, but if he wasn’t showing a lot of power, I don’t think pitchers were pitching around him, especially because he had excellent speed on the bases.

      1. One of the questions raised by my post above is this: How much value should you place on Gillies’ performance at High Desert if Cartwright performed equally well offensively at Lancaster in the California League? If you cite Gillies’ offense at Everett in the Northwest League (SS), Cartwright also did well at Greeneville in the Appalachian League (R).

        I’m not touting Cartwright. Rather, I’m saying that Gillies hasn’t proven much on the field yet and, given his 2010 experience, he shouldn’t be ranked so highly.

        1. I don’t see how you can say Gillies has yet to show anything on the field. He showed a lot on the field in 2009. The California League is a legit league — although its parks foster hitting for power, many good major league players have been developed, in part, in that league. Guys who hit well, compared to the other players in the California League, can be credited with having shown something, just as much as pitchers who pitched well in the pitching-friendly SAL and Lakewood park can be said to have shown something on the field. In 2009, Gillies had the 3rd highest BA in the California League. Different geography might transform his .340 BA into a less gaudy .310, but it would still be third in the league. The guy who led the league in hitting was over a year older than Gillies. The guy who was second was his teammate, so in same park. Gillies walked a bit more than either of these guys, stole way more bases, but had far far less power. He clearly looked like the best future leadoff guy in that league. That’s showing something on the field. And he played good D. Still, he was only #13 prospect in the league that season.

          1. Where did minor league splits go?

            If I could find Gillies 2009 minor league splits I would look at the home/road splits. There was a huge difference in power for him. I think the HR was 1 versus 9. I know it is a small sample but it sure looked like Gilles’ power was a product of his home park and league that year. He could hit it over a 340 foot fence in a good offensive park but disappeared in normal parks.

            I don’t think park affects adequately captured how his home park added power to a guy that was basically a slap hitter. Nothing wrong with a speed guy who is a slap hitter that draws a fair number of walks. But I just have not seen evidence of power in a neutral environment.

            Look at what happened to his teammate Alex Liddi when he got promoted from High Desert at the same time:
            And Liddi does have decent power. Just less of it outside High Desert.

            1. I don’t doubt for a second that Gillies power was magnified by where he played in 2009. But his 2009 power, which was nothing to write home about 40 total XB in close to 500 AB. I give him little power credit for that. What made him stand out was his BA, obp, steals, and D. I seriously doubt the field that he played in changes that evaluation. He stood out against older competition on these measures. If you want to argue that he has yet to show significant power, I certainly won’t disagree with you. Despite his dismal AA showing in 2010, he actually had a slightly higher HR rate than he did in 2009, although total XB rate was down. I don’t think he showed adequate power either year, but again, power is not what makes him jump out at you. And it may well develop. At 6′-2″ he isn’t a little guy, although I thought his legs looked skinny.

            2. 5 HR in 800+ career AB outside of High Desert is not really showing power. I just think his CA league year would have been a .290 year with a .350 OBP in the FSL. Nice, but not really top 10 prospect worthy. Good speed but a mediocre SB % and decent defense make him a good prospect. But then he had a completely lost year and I drop him 5-8 spots for that.

              I agree that the entire league is a hitters’ haven. The home/road splits are useful because High Desert is the best offensive park by far in that league (or it was when Gilles was there). I just want to know where that historical split data went. MILB has current season. Maybe they are adding past this year – or baseball reference hopefully.

        2. Cartwright’s walk rate was inferior to Gillies’ in a big way, comparing his 2010 to Gillies’ 2008 and 2009. Gillies also has a lot more raw speed and better used that speed, as his SB% was higher. But the big factor is that Gillies did his damage in 2009 at age 20 in the CAL, while Cartwright was 2 years older. That’s a huge difference when evaluating performance.

          1. Cartwright and Gillies have about the same career SB% (71 and 70%), not particularly good.

            Gillies had a far superior walk rate in the CAL; Cartwright had a far superior slugging %.

            It’s true that Gillies was two years’ younger when he did his damage in the CAL, but then he turned around and produced nothing in 2010. I would drop him a few notches for the lost season, whatever the cause. The fact that Gillies’ game depends on his speed and that he had a severe hamstring problem last year should also raise red flags.

            I hope your rating of Gillies will be justified by his performance in 2011. I’m just skeptical.

            1. K rates were significantly different as well–14% for Gillies vs. 20% for Cartwright. I weight this heavily in light of the two years age difference.

              If you compare their respective California League seasons, Gillies hit for higher average, got on base at a better rate, struck out less, walked more, and stole more bases at a higher rate, all at a younger age.

              Now if you want to say that Gillies deserves a slight knock for his wasted year, I somewhat agree, but it has nothing to do with Cartwright.

            2. Just two more points, and I’ll give the comparison a rest:

              1. Cartwright is only a system player; whereas, Gillies is supposedly a top prospect; the fact that Cartwright had a higher OPS in his season in the CAL than Gillies had High Desert in 2009 reinforces the argument that CAL hitting numbers should be taken with a grain of salt; and
              2. Gillies stole 44 bases in 63 attempts at High Desert in 2009; at that rate of inefficiency (which parallels his career SB inefficiency), he shouldn’t be running at all.

    2. I’ve said it before but Gillies is the kind of guy that jumps out at you when you see him play healthy. You just can’t miss his obvious talent. As for his future power, there’s a misconception that Gillies is a little guy like Bourn. He’s not a little guy at all. He’s actually fairly tall and very muscled up and the power will definitely come. In BP, he has no problem hitting balls out. He could become a fan favorite in Philly for many years if he gets himself back on track this year.

  13. whether you believe it or not but i talked to jesse biddle yesterday. he is still in philly. i asked him where he thought he was gonna start and he said he hoped lakewood…i hope he is right! …pp thanks for the great work!

      1. Why would that be a red flag? What if they just want to limit his innings? He’s a young arm. Maybe they keep him in extended to protect him from the cold. That wouldn’t be a red flag.

        1. All of the Phils top teenage talent starts at Lakewood. It’s been that way for years. If someone goes to half season instead it’s because they aren’t that good.

          1. That seems to be the general way of it, but I wouldn’t say that that is completely true. Biddle may be a special case in that he pitched in the Northeast and came into the organization with much less experience than other top high school talents that the Phils have drafted. I think calling it a red flag is a bit overboard; I don’t think that a conservative placement would tell us anything about the organization’s evaluation of him or confidence in his abilities.

            1. Greg Golson
              Joe Savery
              Anthony Hewitt
              Jesse Biddle

              All first round picks, all consensus overdrafts.

              Of the four I’d rate Biddle the best of them followed by Golson and then either Hewitt or Savery. The last two I would have agreed on draft day to chop off a finger from my right hand if either made it to arbitration in the big leagues. Savery’s arm was clearly shot and you could read this from his hideous stats at Rice. Hewitt could not hit well at any prospect tryouts and was 19 years old.

              I am sick to death at these overdrafts in the first round. It is suicidal to continue to do this. It is even more sickening to comprehend how the Phillies have thrown away their gains in latter rounds by doing this. It’s like signing Pujols to play LF -great idea BTW- and then dumping Howard and Utley and replacing them with below average bats.

              To increase the agony I come on line and have to be attacked by LOSERS who defend the indefensible.

              Only in Philadelphia.

  14. For what it’s worth, MLB Fanhouse posted their top 100 prospects list today (the list done by Frankie Piliere). Four Phils made the cut — Brown is at six, Singleton is at 11 (!), Cosart is at 37 and Colvin is at 82.

      1. I think it’s too high for ANY player at his level – but that said – I think if anything people around her underestimate how special Singleton is as a prospect – especially if he can play the outfield. It’s high but not crazy high.

          1. Okay, amend my statement to say “virtually any player at his level, except maybe a number one draft pick with college experience who will likely be in the majors with the next year.” 🙂

            Or more seriously, “I think it’s too high for ANY player as far from the majors as he is.”

  15. You surprised me PP.
    I really did figure the ‘lower ceiling’ on Worley and the relief pitcher status of DeFratus would drop them to #11 and #12 with James, Altherr, Hernandez or Santana taking 9 and 10.

    However, your description of Worley sounds much better than my interpretation. I thought he was a slightly improved Carpenter: decent assortment of pitches without fear of using them. However, his command sounds better than I thought. I also thought he might become a two pitch (FB,slider) middle reliever. (Other than 5th starter status, I do not see much similarity to Kendrick who seems to have a single better pitch, sinker, and if he loses command with it will get rocked.)

    DeFratus is just a good pitcher. I would have preferred that he stay a starter for another year but my guess is that the organization figured he would never pitch deep into games and decided to make the switch in his last unprotected year to speed him through the system. He was excellent through 3 levels (A+, AA, AFL) but I think it is early to put him in the bigs. Let him close at AA then if AAA opens put him there. Sept callup to maybe see what he has, but I am looking at him to learn his relief role and ‘out pitch’ this season.

    More seasoned RP’s should be ahead of him initially: Mathieson, Zagurski, Herndon and possibly Schwimer if they can put him on the 40-man.

    1. I think there are a number of things that separate Worley from Carpenter:

      1. Worley’s delivery is cleaner, he doesn’t throw across his body, and this allows him to command the ball better in the zone
      2. Worley’s velocity is 90-92 consistently, but he can hit 94/95 when he needs a big strikeout. Carpenter doesn’t have that top out velocity, and his 88-91 comes with effort, which hinders his command.
      3. Worley’s breaking ball and changeup are both ahead of Carpenter’s.

      1. Thanks for the update. Those are all fairly important step-ups for Worley and I can certainly see why he is ranking higher than I had him. I just remember Carpenter doing so well at Clearwater as a ‘pitchability’ guy and I always root for those guys. Sounds like Worley has the talent and command to be a major leaguer.

    1. Yeah, so far it is tracking pretty close to the Readers’ picks with a couple of flip-flops. Who is influencing whom?

  16. I’ll quibble slightly on Worley, in that I think expectations created by his excellent 2010 should be tempered a bit by his mediocre 2009. I think there’s at least the potential for some regression to the mean there, though of course I hope I’m wrong. That said, I see your reasoning–proximity has its value too. As for the “his future is as a reliever” argument, I disagree. The Phillies have an excellent rotation, but also a middle-aged one, and it stands to reason that at least one of the big four is going to spend some significant time on the DL this year, as Lee did last year, and Oswalt did in ’08 and ’09. So I don’t think Worley is going to have trouble finding opportunities to prove me wrong.

    1. Worley’s 2009 is troubling. But he was good in 2008 as well. Looking at his overall record, 2009 really seems like the outlier.

        1. Although he obviously bounced back strong in 2010 so perhaps it wasn’t a big deal. He learned how to deal with adversity if nothing else.

        2. And double-jumping will be more or less what he’ll be doing if he ends up starting the season in the major leagues. I realize that the gap between Low-A to AA is a big one, but AA to the majors (a handful of Triple-A starts notwithstanding) is a huge leap for anyone who isn’t a Hamels-caliber specimen. The last starter the system developed, J.A. Happ, spent two years at Triple A before breaking into the rotation in 2009. I’m not saying Worley hasn’t progressed, and that we shouldn’t be excited about 2010–just that it may be asking a lot of him to throw him into starting every fifth day in the majors. That said, with the rotation the Phils have, they can afford to absorb his growing pains if they choose to go that direction.

          1. I would prefer to have Worley spend at least the first half in AAA. Hopefully he will prove he should be the next in line for a promotion.

        3. Double jump or not, it seems like eventually Worley ended up in the same place. Given a chance I think he can avoid the blowout games that KK is prone to have.

  17. Free AFC, why do you bother to post here if the Philies organization is such losers as you say. You can follow the Pittsburgh Pirates if you wish to compalin but I am certain they would tire of your negativism also. This is one of the few successful eras of the Phillie we have experienced so just enjoy it.

  18. An interesting Gillies tweet:

    “@mschwimer @JarredCosart @codyoverbeck hahaha! people tell me i cant pursue my dreams…and i tell them ” I cant hear you” hahaaa pow**”

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