Thirteen prospects in the books, we’ll cover 3 more today. No clowning around, lets get to it.
14. JC Ramirez, RHP
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2010 Summary: With Tyson Gillies and Phillippe Aumont struggling/injured, Ramirez ended up having the best season of the 3, posting solid numbers in the FSL before earning a promotion to 2A. Though he had an uneven season, he did manage to improve his control at both levels after getting out of the CAL League.
Strengths: Ramirez continues to confound. His arm strength is still there, his fastball can still sit in the 91-94 range, and he’ll show promise with his changeup and curveball. He struggled in AA, but was only 21. He has a prototypical pitcher’s frame, built to absorb innings. He has no major red flags in his delivery, and generates good power with his lower body.
Weaknesses: His major issues stem around his command, his secondary offerings and his consistency across the board. As you can see in his delivery here (wait till the video turns right side up mid way through) he has a high leg kick and breaks his hands early, which could lead to him getting out of sync and not repeating his mechanics. For a guy with a power arm, he doesn’t miss as many bats as you’d think he should, and his flyball tendencies were punished at the more hitter friendly Reading.
Best Case: Having just turned 22 in August, Ramirez still has time, especially because pitchers can move fast when the light goes on. His power arsenal is well suited for late inning relief, but he could still be a starter if he can refine his changeup and find consistency in his mechanics.
MLB ETA: Probably 2013 at this point.
Ranking Difficulties: In a way, I’m kind of still willing to bet on Ramirez in the same fashion as I’m betting on Domingo Santana. He has a power arm, but he’s still unrefined. The light may never turn on, but if it does, he has all the tools needed to pitch in the middle of a big league rotation. I could have dropped him a bit lower, but I have a decent feeling about him in 2011.
Final Thoughts: This is the first spot on the list where I really debated 4-5 guys. I ended up going with Ramirez because he reached AA before his 22nd birthday, and because his raw arm and frame point to a potentially solid starting pitcher, and his fallback option, an 8th inning reliever, isn’t the worst outcome. If he can put together a solid 2011, improving his secondary stuff and his consistency, I think he’s an easy top 10 guy next year.
15. Aaron Altherr, OF/3B
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2010 Summary: Altherr had a solid 2010 season across 2 levels, and it was just confirmed that he will be moving from the outfield to 3B in 2011, as long as he has a solid showing in spring training.
Strengths: Altherr’s athleticism has been praised since high school, as he was the shortstop on his team and also a basketball recruit. At 6’5/190, he’s the poster boy for projection, as he should fill out and add strength to his frame, which should mean more power. He stole 12 bases in 2010, and in a full season, he should steal 20. If he can re-adjust to the infield, he becomes the Phillies top 3B prospect by a wide margin.
Weaknesses: While Altherr offers lots of projection, his now skills are limited. He made good contact in 2010, but he didn’t show much power, his 12 SB were a decent total, but not plus, and and its unclear how his bat is going to progress. He didn’t show a ton of patience at the plate, though his walk rate did improve at Williamsport.
Best Case: Its hard to say what Altherr will become at this point. He hit for average, but not much else, though the projection is still there. If he fills out in the same mold as Domonic Brown, obviously he’ll be an every day player. I guess I’m just somewhat hesitant at this point, because I’m not sure I see him being more than a 20 HR guy per year, or a 20 SB guy per year.
MLB ETA: Altherr was already a long way away from the majors, and the position switch, if its a go, will likely slow him down a bit as well. At this point, he’s 3+ years away.
Ranking Difficulties: Numerous difficulties. Altherr didn’t do anything “wrong” in 2010, but I also struggle right now to see a potential star. The move to 3B is intriguing but I’m not quite sure it enhances his overall value, as CF is probably slightly more valuable in terms of the defensive spectrum, though the Phillies lack anything resembling a 3B prospect in the system. I suppose I could have ranked him a few spots higher, certainly no lower, but I just don’t really know what to feel about him going forward.
Final Thoughts: I may be selling Altherr short, but I just don’t really know what to make of him. His ability to make contact is impressive, but the rest of his performance was average in terms of his peripherals. The NYPL isn’t an easy hitting environment, and he held his own, but I don’t see one knockout tool in his box. That sounds weird. But I’m keeping it. I hope he proves me wrong and takes off in 2011, because from everything I’ve heard, he’s a bright kid with a solid work ethic.
16. Jon Pettibone, RHP
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2010 Summary: Pettibone had a strange season in many ways. After dealing with injury issues in 2009, he stayed healthy in 2010, logging 131 innings at Lakewood. He showed much improved control, and also posted a solid 50% groundball rate.
Strengths: Pettibone’s control improved significantly in 2010, and his groundball rate increased, those are two important traits to have. After not pitching much for 2 years, it was nice to see him log innings. At 6’5/200, Pettibone has a perfect frame and should be durable going forward. While I tend to go back and forth on his delivery, he repeats it well, which will help him maintain consistency. Reports had his velocity improving from the 88-90 to the 90-93 range.
Weaknesses: For someone with a power frame, Pettibone struck out only 5.77/9 in 2010, and he did allow 10 HR in 131 innings, a highish amount considering Lakewood’s very pitcher friendly confines. Though he repeats his delivery well, he comes from a very high arm slot, which limits the movement he gets on his fastball. His changeup is still a work in progress.
Best Case: Its hard to say. With his frame, he could continue to add velocity, as he just turned 20 in July. If he bumps his fastball up to, say, 92-94, and he refines his secondary pitches there isn’t much that separates him from a guy like Trevor May. He repeats his delivery well and he’s improved both his control and his groundball rates. He really has to start striking out more hitters though.
MLB ETA: Its a ways off in the distance. 2013/2014 is realistic.
Ranking Difficulties: Pettibone is a bit of a mystery. He’s a big guy, yet he hasn’t translated the frame and stuff into swings and misses. I considered ranking him as low as 18 or 19, and as high as 10 or 11.
Final Thoughts: 2011 is a vital year for Pettibone. I mean, every year is a vital year for every prospect, but it will be interesting to see how he progresses. The walks and groundballs went in the right direction, the strikeouts went in the wrong direction. The velocity seemed to go in the right direction. If he continues to make progress and starts missing bats, he looks like a potential #3 starter.