10-29-2013 AFL Update

Zach Collier is really hitting well out there in AZ.  3 multi-hit games out of his last 5, and really bruising some right-handed pitching.  And Tommy Joseph back in action after a week off with the flu, as was first reported (I think) by Jay Floyd over at Phoulballz.com.

Anyway, here’s a link to all the stat lines for all of the Phils minor leaguers in off-season leagues.  Darin Ruf is killing him some baseballs.  His ISO is .500 (in a SSS of 50 ABs).  Even still…killing baseballs. 

32 thoughts on “10-29-2013 AFL Update

  1. Collier question: for those that have seen him, does he project as a CF long-term? It looks like he’s playing left in Arizona, which is a bit troubling. His lack of power won’t be a concern up the middle, but if he has to play a corner, 8 home runs in over 300 minor league games isn’t going to get it done.

    1. He projects as a CF long term Rich. He has clear cut CF speed and plays it well. I’ve watched him quite a bit through the years and he is an above average defender. As far as his power, Don’t expect to much obviously, but if you give him 550+ ABs i see him hitting around 10-15. He is going to be interesting to watch in 2013 he has all the tools but is yet to put them together.

    2. Watched him play all his home game in Clearwater this year…he is very smooth in CF and made a lot of tough catches

    1. Yeah, i’m assuming the off speed is getting to him, i’ll give him time to adjust but does it bother you that his last two games (4HRs) he has been DH? I hope playing OF isn’t affecting his hitting, which it does for some people that normally DH or just play 1B, just a thought though not to concerned yet.

      1. You have to laugh a little when we’re expressing concerns with strikeouts and where he is playing when he’s hit 8 home runs in fifty at bats and four in his last two games. As for the strikeouts, the one difference between AA and AAA is that AAA pitchers throw breaking balls more frequently and more frequently for strikes. I think it is reasonable to expect a small transition period for seeing more breaking pitches. As for playing DH, it’s not a big deal if he’s working out most days in the outfield and he gets his fair share of playing time out there.

        The cool thing is that Ruf is showing absolutely no signs of letting up in his power surge. He has big time power – like 70 on a 80 scale and what is more impressive is that he consistently gets good swings; he rarely looks foolish at the plate. The hope for Ruf is that he can develop into a 4-6 offensive WAR player and that he can improve his outfield play so that he is “only” a negative 1 to negative 2 defensive player. The good news on the fielding is that he seems to have good instincts given his lack of prior playing time. So, what I am saying, in not a very elegant way, is that the hope is that Ruf can develop into a player like Pat Burrell during his peak years.

        1. My man, he wouldn’t be the first guy to stop hitting while playing OF. He’s playing in Venezula not all AAA players also. About Burrell though yeah that would be great their fielding is definitely similar and if he could produce at the plate like Burrell that would be sweet, might be a stretch though.

          1. Yeah, that’s probably his ceiling, but it’s unclear whether he can improve his fielding and hitting to the point where his hitting can justify the lack of defense. Like Asche, by the middle of next year we should have a pretty good idea of how well Ruf will project both in the outfield and at the plate. This, of course, assumes that Ruf and Asche will be Phillies property by June of next year – that’s not at all clear.

            1. Yeah that’s true I would love to see Asches bat in Citizens, guy is a double machine, but hopefully he’s better than Wiggy in the field lol

        2. I don’t really put any weight – good or bad – on his winter performance for reasons which should be obvious to those who read my comments.

          But if you really do want to go there, why wouldn’t you be more concerned about the Ks than encouraged by the HRs? No one really doubts he has plus power. His fielding aside, which remains my main concern if we’re looking at him as a left fielder, and setting aside the obvious fact that some people are unreasonably expecting the AA performance to translate directly the major leagues, the main concern with Ruf is whether he’s going to be able to hit major league breaking balls. That’s something that the scouts have pretty universally expressed doubts on.

          Given that that is the real issue – as opposed to his power, no one doubts he can hit a fast ball a mile – why wouldn’t the high K rate be a real concern? I’m somewhat agnostic on the point, but a 36% K rate against less than major league pitching is concerning.

          1. Larry, I guess you’re right, it’s a fair point. We are going to have to see if Ruf can handle a steady diet of big league pitching, which will include knee-buckling breaking balls which come in combination with big league fastballs thrown by pitchers with big league command. That being said, the comment on the SSS K rate struck me as a little tough when Ruf’s SSS Hr rate is 16 per 100 at bats and his OPS is close to 1.100. We have to cut him a little slack don’t you think?

          2. It is a 31% K rate technically (BBs and HPBs count). And when you factor in the small sample size and adjustment period it is really nothing to worry about. I still have major doubts about how Ruf will progress, but his K rate for 2.5 weeks in a foreign league that he is leading in HR is the least of those doubts. He is probably not seeing many strikes now. I have a feeling he is about to start walking in a huge number of his plate appearances.

  2. Ol’ Phuture Phillie Travis Mattair subbed in for Asche yesterday. I guess they needed a 3rd baseman at the very last minute. Collier hasn’t played since last Friday. I wonder what’s up with that? I think Ruf is an interesting player and if the Phils were the Houston Astros, he’d be penciled in to their starting lineup. He could play LF, 1B or DH. Unfortunately, the Phils aren’t the ‘Stros, at least this coming year and Ruf has to prove himself beyond a reasonable doubt. The reasonable doubt is set very high for Charlie Manuel and the Phillies front office knows that sitting on their hands and wishing and hoping is a sure way to unemployment.

    1. ‘Stros Luhnow is looking for a right-handed DH who can play a corner position. Maybe they will look to the Phillies with an eye on Ruf.

  3. If ruf imo can’t hit breaking balls. he isnt anybetter than mayberry,who can field,imo mayberry inability to hit off speed has stopped. him from being a starter. The guy can field and hit the fastball,but the pitchers just keep feeding him offspeed stuff and you can see his hole in is game.

    1. To be fair, we really have no idea if Ruf is “struggling” with breaking balls down there. We are just having some fun guessing based on the small sample of stats that we have. I’m sure he will strike out more in the majors then he has in the minors but there’s really no solid evidence yet of how much more.

      1. You’re right, of course.

        My take on Ruf as a hitter:

        I use as a starting point his MLE, which, based upon last season’s minor league numbers, is: .261/.337/.481 with 28 HR in 513 AB. Now, that is a pretty darn good MLE. It’s less than what some of his fondest fans hope for, but it is a realistic starting point.

        Now, what reasons do we have to think it may be higher or lower?

        Higher – major league performance sometimes is higher than MLE because young players develop. In Ruf’s case, at 26 is probably at or near his peak. But every player us different; he may have some further development in him. I put the chance of this as quite low.

        Lower – the scouting reports. IF they are correct, he may have problems with major league pitching, above and beyond the normal lower numbers from facing major league pitching versus AA pitching. This could be a function of an older player beating up on younger players, and/or the breaking ball factor. I don’t know the chance that this turns out to be true, but I think this downside risk is signficantly higher than the upside chance that he excedes his MLE.

        So – a really very favorable OPS of .828 with some downside risk and little upside projection beyond that. IMO that is an optimistic take, not a pessimistic one. IF his left field defense is very bad, that might not be enough to make him a solid regular.

        1. I think this is a pretty fair, well considered analysis. The one thing I’d add in terms of the favorable evidence is that Ruf really “broke out” as a power hitter last year in the last month, and the break-out can be traced to a tangible cause–he changed bat models. If people don’t remember, his HR barrage started after he borrowed Tommy Joseph’s bat (and continued to use his model). When a player makes a quantum leap improvement, it can be a small sample size effect, or it can be a learned skill/style change. Pitchers learn new pitches or refine their mechanics; batters change stance or approach to certain hitting zones. Ruf got a new bat, which is like learning a new pitch to me. Makes it more likely the full-season MLE underestimates him a bit.

        2. If Ruf could put up that line that would be outstanding in my opinion. Given what I hope will be good pitching from Phillies, getting~30HR might win quite a few games.

          I figure his fielding will be similar to Burrell: Good arm, will make routine plays but have poor range. Using Burrell as a benchmark, I think Ruf’s best season will be near Burrell career average of .253/.361/.472. Ruf might hit for slightly higher average with a lot fewer walks.

          However, I think a Mayberry-like hitting career is more likely, though.

    1. he competed in the reading hitting challenge this year and he did poorly. everyone other than like 3 players did poorly though

  4. Do you guys really think that no AA pitchers throw off speed pitches? I can say with full confidence that Ruf has hit off speed pitches for home runs. Mayberry swings over the slider away all day from a righty, a pitch that Ruf spits at and takes. He has much better pitch recognition. I’m not sure Ruf will hit in the majors because I’ve seen a ton of minor league hitting stars flame out in the majors. Its not just the offspeed ptches, its the location of all the pitches that causes some guys problems. High fastballs don’t get hit usually and fastballs that move in on your hands are impossible to hit too. All things considered, I think Ruf will hit because he’s always hit, he’s improved each year, and his mechanics and timing are very good. As for playing LF, I’m not as confident….

    1. There’s a difference here between off speed pitches and breaking balls. They are not the same thing.

      AA pitchers throw breaking balls, but not as many and not as well.

      I think I’ve been pretty consistently agnostic on this point. I don’t KNOW that he can’t hit major league breaking balls. No one knows. The fact that several souts, with more experience evaluating hitters than you or I have, have raised this concern is at least a little bit of a red flag for me.

    2. To be clear, if Ruf was a guy who projected to be somewhere between below average and average defensively, as opposed to somewhere between below average and awful, I’d more inclined to say they should give him a shot at the regular LF job.

  5. Cosart and Singleton tied for 5th in a poll of AFL players on who is most likely to be a star in MLB. Only 4 players recognized ahead of them.

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