Top 30 Accountability : 11-15

This is a retrospective back on the Top 30 prospects list I wrote before the start of the season.  My opinion is that anyone who puts their opinion out there should be accountable for that opinion, in this case rather than just ask whether I was right or wrong, but more why was it right or wrong.  The goal is to explore things in the development of a prospect that can point to growth or regression.  Additionally just because a prospect fails to live up to or exceeds expectations does it mean the base analysis was wrong when it was written.

The 11-15 range was filled with disappointment.  There are a lot of high risk high rewards guys present and it did not go out well.  Additionally I was flat out wrong in my evaluation in some places.  As always the full list can be found here

15. Dylan Cozens

Cozens is a freak athlete with plenty of raw power.  He has a stiff long swing that will likely have plenty of miss in it, but he has some semblance of an approach.  In the field he can stick in right with his plus arm for now but as a giant already it is hard to project him long term in the outfield.  Even if he has to move to first the bat will play.  He is likely destined for Extended Spring Training and Williamsport but could find a way to Lakewood at some point.

Dylan probably was the best call of the bunch.  Cozens has almost no physical project left and so his season showed up as a more polished version of his 2012.  He hit for a little more power, struck out a little less, and walked a little less.  I am more confident than I was in the preseason that he will come up in the OF, but he reminds me a lot of Adam Dunn in that once he gets older he is going to stiffen and the speed and range will decrease dramatically.  That being said Cozens is an interesting prospect still likely just on the fringes of the Top 10.

14. Darin Ruf

There was no good place to rank Ruf.  The reason for ranking Ruf so low is there are concerns about the swing and miss against good stuff now, and that he sells out more for power than his previous high contact line drive approach, in addition to the defensive concerns.  At first base the bat is average to lower because he does not have stand out plate discipline and walk rates, and in left field he does not have the range or skills to be a good defender.  Ruf will have his uses on a major league roster and could start for many teams (and might for the Phillies), but can the bat be enough over a full season of adjustments and overcome the defense.

I am a noted Darin Ruf disbeliever and at this point I should probably cut my losses and say that his career 1.4 WAR already banked is better than some player around him.  But I still think he is a major league bench player with extreme holes in his swing and defensive deficiencies.  If Ruf was eligible he would not crack my Top 10 and might actually fall from this #14 ranking.

13. Phillippe Aumont

Aumont has the best raw stuff in the organization but the command and control have always been a problem.  Aumont should be a dominant reliever for years which earns him a spot high up on this list.  If Aumont can just keep the ball around the plate, it will make the curveballs he buries out of the zone more effective.  Overall, Aumont could be the best pitcher out of the Phillies pen as early as the end of spring training.

Everything fell apart for Aumont, he can’t find the plate and he is an absolute headcase with huge makeup questions on and off the mound.  I still believe in the raw stuff and I love the fastball/curveball combination and think he can succeed with the high walk rate due to his groundball tendencies and miniscule HR rate.  That being said he is going backwards and his chance is not going to come with the Phillies and now the projection is all on someone putting him back together.  That in a reliever is always desired but may not be that valuable.

12. Mitch Gueller

The case against Gueller is that he was not very good in his GCL debut.  The case for him is that he has a plus fastball that could be plus plus, and a changeup and slurvy breaking ball that both flash plus potential.  On top of that Gueller has a big athletic frame which suggests future projection.  His mechanics need work right now but the Phillies will work with him to smooth them out.  Gueller will take longer than fellow RHP Watson but the payoff could be greater with Gueller.

I have brought up Gueller a lot in conversation with Mitch Rupert and Gueller still vexes me.  He pitched with a 45-50 grade fastball for much of the year but showed plus velocity in the spring.  The breaking ball has good movement but he tips with the way he throws it by not showing confidence in his release.  He still has good feel for the changeup and it has good potential.  The problem on some level is he was exhausted by the time he got to Williamsport (I don’t know why) and he has no confidence in his pitches.  He takes to instruction well, is athletic, and gets good plane on his pitches.  Instructs are going to be huge for him in gaining confidence and feel for his pitches.  I am not ready to give up on his potential yet, pitchers have a lot more room for bounceback than hitters do, but he won’t be anywhere near this high up the list.

11. Larry Greene

I gave Greene the benefit of doubt because the power was still there in batting practice.  Greene showed much better plate discipline than expected, but it would do him well to be more selectively aggressive and look to drive his pitch.  Greene is an average runner and defender in left will be good for his future defensive value.  He likely will end up at first base long term but there is no reason he cannot come through the system in left field.

By far my worst call of the year.  I will have more in depth on Greene soon so I won’t launch into too much here.  It was a mediocre draft pick that was compounded by two years of set backs due to conditioning, and a profile where everything needs to be working right for him to be successful.  At this point Greene has BP raw power and not much else going for him.  The in-game Larry Greene is not the same as the practice Larry Greene and until the two of those converge he should not be anywhere near a prospect list.

About Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has previously appeared on Phuture Phillies and The Good Phight. You can read his work at Phillies Minor Thoughts

50 thoughts on “Top 30 Accountability : 11-15

    1. Darin Ruf’s strikeout rate is 31% higher than Pat Burrell’s and his walk rate is 37.5% higher than Burrell’s. Ruf has more power, but he is a worst defender both by range and a lot by arm strength. Ruf also cannot handle anything on the outside of the plate, struggles with breaking balls and is feasting on pitchers that try to beat him inside.

      1. I was with you on everything until the last sentence… That said, it’s a bit early to call anything for Ruf. He has 269 career MLB at-bats. He’s doing great so far, leave the kid be.

        I mean if you’re going to knock Ruf, for having holes in his game his first year in the majors, you should knock Burrell as well. His rookie year at the not all that young age of 24, he put up a 29% k rate, a very respectable 13% BB rate, an iso of .203, and an unsustainable BABIP of 349 while only hitting 10 points higher in BA then Ruf. His fielding run’s above average based on UZR was -8 and -10 his sophomore year.

        He had a .5 WAR his first year in twice as many AB’s as Ruf, and a 1.1 WAR the following year starting full time.

        Burrell has a career WAR of 18. A very respectable number, but not as good of a value as Ruf for a player drafted where he was. Will Ruf put up a career WAR over 18? I’d say that’s unlikely, maybe 10% chance it happens. What I would be more interested in betting on is that Ruf, if given at least 600 at-bats next year, will crush Burrells sophomore year WAR.

        *I use fangraphs

        1. It is a structural hole in his swing. His power is to the pull side and so he is at his best attacking balls inside. He cannot get to balls on the outside of the plate with anything more than a defensive swing. At for UZR Ruf comes in at -11.0. Since the middle of August Ruf has been a replacement level player by fWAR and below replacement by bWAR. Here are the graphs I like to look at here and

          More importantly Pat Burrell was 3 1/2 years younger than Ruf during their respective rookie seasons. Also different offensive times decrease Burrell’s WAR vs Ruf (meaning Ruf is more valuable by doing what he is doing but not a better player)

          1. Very interesting graphs, the optimist in me says the off speed graph is probably suffering a bit from small sample size, but there is a very obvious hole in the hard stuff graph. Interestingly it’s very small, but also very pronounced. If I had to guess, major league pitchers would have a very difficult time exploiting that, especially if he maintains high slug %’s just outside of that baseball sized hole which he currently seems to do. The more concerning graph is his ability to hit off speed pitches. We’ll see how that shakes out over another 400+ AB’s which I’m sure he’ll get next year.

          2. Both heat maps have ludicrously small samples. There’s no way to draw any meaningful conclusions from them. The best you can do is say that he might hit fastballs well and he might not hit offspeed pitches well. From those graphs alone, any comment on his ability to hit a certain pitch at a certain location is a misinterpretation of the data.

            Without running the numbers to be precise, the error bar is going to be something in the neighborhood of 300 points of SLG.

            Furthermore, it’s extremely unlikely that a hitter will have a tiny cold spot middle away but be able to hit pitches further outside. That doesn’t pass the smell test.

            1. And for the record, I’m pessimistic about Ruf being anything more than a nice role player off the bench. I’m just pointing out that these graphs do not contribute to the discussion.

      2. Looking at Burrell’s 27-32 years I can definitely see Ruf matching his production. Ruf is a much better 1B than Burrell and that is where I see Ruf playing in a couple years.

        1. Well .. defensively, Burrell was actually decent for about 4 years in his prime, including his age 27-28 seasons. Then again, he declined defensively pretty drastically after that … so maybe. Your point about first base may be true, but (a) there’s a darn good chance that Ruf will be well past his prime as a hitter by the time he moves to first, and (b) he does lose positional value at first. (Despite that I do agree that first base is his natural position.)

          As hitters, Burrell walked more and struck out less. In fairness, the offensive context was higher, so Ruf has a shot at being as good a hitter relative to league.

          All of which is to say that IF Ruf can maintain his current performance, the Burrell comp is decent assuming that we disregard Burrell’s first 4 seasons. But, while I am more optimistic than Matt, that’s still a significant “if.”

          1. Incidentally, the difference in positional value between LF/RF and 1B is only about 5 runs over the course of a season, so if you figure Ruf is a -5 run defender in a corner, and an average fielding first baseman, it’s just about a wash positionally.

  1. Good on Cozens. Ruf will be at least a platoon big leaguer for several seasons. I think he plays full time for the Phillies in 2014. I shared your continuing optimism on Aumont. The stuff is there, he just has never had consistent control of his body on the mound and cannot repeat his delivery. A very frustrating talent. He could still make it. Stuff like that doesn’t grow on trees, but in terms of the mechanics of pitching and consistency, he hasn’t made any progress since the Phillies traded for him.

  2. What are your thoughts on Gueller the hitter?

    Also, does “not anywhere near a prospect list” mean Greene is out of your top 30?

    1. Greene is out of my Top 30 unless I see some significant changes to the in game swing .

      Gueller the hitter is less of a prospect than Gueller the pitcher. At this point he hasn’t hit in over a year so he is behind developmentally (remember he was also a 3 sport athlete in HS so he is raw to begin with). It is plus power potential and a cannon arm but the hit ability is going to be lacking.

      I wouldn’t give him a glove until he either gets hurt or the velocity does not return to the 92-94 range consistently next year. He is still learning how to pitch and he is a guy with limited innings and experience up until now.

      1. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on how the phils have handled LGJ. I’ve only see him live a couple times, in those games he never really stood out for anything positive which made me wonder why he was at Lakewood and not moved back down a level. Do you agree with management keeping him at Lakewood all year?

        1. Absolutely. In Williamsport he could get away with bad habits, in Lakewood those same pitchers are exploiting him. They wanted to see if Morandini could work on things with him and I think there has been strides made in out of game action (Jay Floyd recently took some BP footage which will be in an upcoming article where the BP swing looks beautiful). It is hard though to make huge game changes during the season. Instructs will be huge for him to really make meaningful change with coaches working with him.

          1. The big ? with Greene is how he shows up to spring. If he is inshape then they can get good work in with the swing and he may still develop. If not then he is a bust

      2. One quibble about your write-up about Greene – .How can you call him a mediocre draft pick? He was a terrible draft pick, a complete miss by the Phillies’ scouting department, especially when you consider the players that the Phillies bypassed to select Greene.

    1. The issues for pitchers are much more correctable in my opinion and the margin for change outcome is a lot more. If Gueller is not tired and the fastball is even average all of the profile looks better because everything plays off of that, and it is not an advancement that will help him just in Williamsport. A hitter has a lot more to change and work on related to reps that missed time make it more difficult to make that fix.

      In the end a pitcher’s raw stuff governs them not their ability vs a certain level, this is part of the reason why age is much less relevant for pitchers than hitters, the profile is much more important.

        1. Pitchers are much easier to scout (not that it easy to scout and project them by any means). You can throw out the hitters and level and just look at a radar gun and the shape of the pitches to get at least a good base. Scouting and projecting hitters his really hard.

  3. I’m not sure why you think Cozens will stiffen up as he gets older? Looking at Cozens’ body, he doesn’t resemble a thick body builder of a football player. His body looks much more like Stanton than Dunn and he’s very athletic, just big and strong. I’m pretty high on him, he’s at 11 on my list (with Gonzalez at #2 who maybe doesn’t belong on the list and Martin still at #8 although I think he’ll make the big club next year in the pen).

    1. Well you have to remember that Dunn was at least 40 lbs lighter in the minors and used to swipe 20+ bases a season then. Plus he played college football for Texas but was stuck behind Major Applewhite and Chris Simms on the QB depth chart so Texas started trying to play him at TE to get his athleticism on the field.

      Point being that Cozens’ build right now is somewhat similar to Dunn’s at the same age, who was fairly athletic at the time as well. Now this does not mean that Cozens is doomed to become a statue like Dunn, but it does mean it’s not unreasonable to have concerns about that scenario down the road.

  4. Aumont and Greene are two peas in a pod. Both have “issues” they carry on to the field.
    Who can have any confidence that Aumont will take and follow through on any coaching? This guy insists he knows better/more about pitching than them, and is defiant about it. Any chance that he could be a good contributor to any MLB relief staff is diminishing at warp speed. List him as another failed trade piece we got; together with Gillies who is quickly attaining the same status. IMO, neither one will be part of this org soon, certainly after ’14 if not before.

    Not far behind both of them is Greene. Like Hewitt, he was believed to possess great bat power that would develop over a few seasons in the minors. Though Hewitt is supposedly has a good work ethic, that is not able to produce any progress in recognizing and contacting any pitch other than a fast ball from a right handed pitcher. In Greene’s case, he has shown an alarming distaste for conditioning during his few seasons in the org. Extraordinary skills are needed to overcome this casual approach to pro baseball. He has given no evidence of having that.

    It is clear that unless a miracle occurs, akin to the parting of the Red Sea, these guys are a plague on the system. Or, a cancer that could affect others around them. Patience, particularly with Aumont, is just about empty. Let some other team deal with him; a headache that no aspirin can cure. Grrene: still young and worth another minor lg season or two ONLY IF he shows the kind of dedication that any pro should give to his conditioning when he reports to ST in ’14.

    The only satisfaction obtained from this above group is in Cozens. With a limited baseball background, he does need time to adjust to the game’s details and the honing of his skills. He shows no attitude issues. ’13 has shown that he is making progress. IMO, in 2 more seasons he could have brought things together to represent a large plus in the system. Again, too bad he doesn’t hit right handed. Left/right field or 1st base.

    1. Package together Aumont, Gillies and Greene to the Cubs or Rangers for whatever International Allocation Bonus Money that either club has left for 2014.

  5. If he shows up next spring in anything short of tremendous physical condition I would give Larry Greene the Tyler Greene treatment.

    1. Why? They are paying him virtually nothing to play in the minors and they certainly don’t have great prospects whom he is blocking. He might even be able to go out and get another signing bonus if we cut him. With the amount of $ invested in Greene, why in the world would you cut him, before he even needs to go on the 40-man?

    2. To be fair to Tyler, he retired. It was a voluntary decision and I doubt the front office encouraged that decision

  6. I read a scout’s comment after the June draft this year and he was quoted as saying that it was a good draft for the Phillies because instead of taking projectable athletes who they could teach to play baseball —– they actually took real athletes who play baseball. He was referring specifically to PJ Crawford, among others. The problem with the Hewitt, Greene, J. James, Golson, etc., not to mention the “stuff” of Aumont which plays up but not “on” the field, is there was way too much projection and wishful thinking that athletic skills will evolve into baseball skills. In the case of the first two first rounders mentioned – they played for small private schools with little competition and were not subjected to the higher level of competitive play. Is it any wonder then that when playing with baseball players their skills are not as good ?

    1. I don’t remember who said it, but it was someone smarter than me: the difference between the 2013 draft and the 2008-2012 drafts was that they actually had a high draft pick this year. When your first pick is late first round or sandwich round, what’s available is unpolished athletes with high ceilings (and low floors) or polished baseball players with low ceilings. The Phils philosophy has been to take the boom-bust type players in the hopes that at least some may develop. Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out that way. There were no JP Crawford type players available to them in the 2008-2012 drafts.

      1. The Phillies have had sort of a systemic problem in those years. Their early picks weren’t as good as their cheaper later picks. Perhaps the first picks reflect infatuation and the later picks a clearer-headed search for value. However, it was often said that the Arby/Wolever types controlled the first picks, with the scouts being more pre-eminent in the later picks. Of all the OF we’ve drafted in recent years, the hits were on the later picks: Bourn, Brown, Ruf. Add Howard at 1B. Even in Latin America, Ruiz and Franco were cheap signings. Guys we loved far more didn’t pan out. Of the guys we really loved, we hit on Hamels, Utley, perhaps Biddle, likely Crawford. Gose and D’Arnaud were high, but not top, picks who may work out. So was Dugan.

    1. Looks like the old curve-ball bugaboo is beginning to bite Franco. If he can conquer that AND be more selective in not swinging at balls out of the K-zone, he could fullfil all of our dreams for a power right-handed bat mid-lineup. It seems he will have a full season at AAA LV to work on these items.

      According to the writer of the article, Franco’s very limited range to his left makes his remaining at 3rd base more problematical. Will he be moved to 1st base at LV…at least part of the time there?

      In the final analysis the writer finds a lot to like about his and Sano’s offensive talents, which, we should remember are still being polished. About equal in skills, the development next season might be telling as to which is #1.
      And, at what position will he be playing in the Hispanic climes over our winter?
      Thanks for posting the article.

      1. Move him to LF. He will join the long list of big bat ‘fleet-footed'(tic) LFs the Phillies have employed out there over the decades.

      2. prospect nation report. where did you see he cant go to his left??
        Fielding: Defense comes easy for him. Excellent first-step at 3B. Moves well to both sides with plus range for the position. Excellent hands that are very soft. Cradles the ball and regularly fields it cleanly. Good transfers to throwing hand and advanced footwork for his age. Needs to improve some plays deep at 3B but has tools for it to work. Easy plus defensive projection. Grade – 50/60
        Speed: Only tool that comes up short. Below-average home to first times and the frame/body type suggest he could slow down a tick as he matures physically. Grade – 40/30

  7. On the Franco / Asche crowded 3B position, never mind other prospects coming up through the very lower ranks – what might be others opiniions on Franco being one of 4 or 5 players traded to Miami for the great Stanton ? There was a recent article somewhere stating RAJ has tried to trade for Stanton ten times so far but keeps being turned down. That outcome would change the does he play 1B, OF, or 3B……or maybe Asche is traded instead ?

  8. Matt Gelb on Miguel Gonzalez:
    “I don’t think there is any necessity for him to go throw winter ball or anything like that,” assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. “We just want to see where he’s at. We want to get him assimilated into our organization and be ready to go for spring training.” Gonzalez, who turns 27 on Sept. 23, will remain a great mystery until next spring. The Phillies have him working with players in the Florida Instructional League this fall, but Proefrock said he was unsure whether Gonzalez will actually pitch in a game. “The main thing is to get him in a situation where it’s controlled,” Proefrock said. “We’ll see how it plays out. We don’t know exactly what he’s been doing.” Gonzalez’s three-year contract starts in 2014. He is not being paid a salary until next April, but received a signing bonus last August. Proefrock said Gonzalez is healthy. Concerns about his elbow lowered the guaranteed years and money he received. “Spring training is long enough where you can build him up and do what you need to do,” Proefrock said. “I don’t think there is any need to have him in a competitive situation before spring training. There is nothing set in concrete. There are a lot of unknowns as far as where he’s at and what he’s been doing.”

    1. Nice info. Should probably see if we can suggest a post guessing on his 2014 future.

      I could see Phillies starting him in the bullpen as a long reliever then moving him to a starter role based on those comments. It is possible he has not pitched enough recently to build arm strength to last through a full season.

      Much depends on how the pitching is contructed for 2014.

  9. So our #1 mystery may not be revealed ’til ST. One more item to ponder along what people will be removed and what replacements will there be for ’14.

    Identified so far are the needs for pitching, more pitching and also, pitching. Further, some kind of right-handed bat–preferable with some power–will be good added to the lineup though where on the field?

    We can see that Sandberg is committing himself to Ruiz with grateful results…setting the stage for his re-hiring. Add a secondary catcher (we have one nearby, just added to the roster!?), add some neatsfoot oil, mix well and yield-voila!-catching for ’14.

    Looks like the two infield “utility” players offered will be Galvis & Hernandez. Seems good to me. Surprise: Cesar is out there in center field! Who told him to play such a DEEP 2nd base? His speed on the bases and/or Revere’s seems to offer bases movements without power; in Citizens Bank Park?…the home of HRs? Or will Revere be trade bait?

    All beginning soon….

    1. I think diekman, defretis and Rosenberg are all close to solidifing bullpen spots for 2014. I am sold on Aschee, but still question if Ruf is. Good enough to play everyday. Starting. Pitching will. Continue to. Be the biggest challenge. For. Raj. Do. U. Think. Gap is will. Be. Allowed. To. Challenge for. Shortstop on. 2014

        1. Galvis now has a higher big league OPS than Rollins this year. He is certainly better defensively. Rollins currently is not our best ML SS. Rollins could bounce back in 2014, but his career trend is fairly sharply downward. Rollins was sub-.600 OPS for July and August.

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