Lakewood Observations

Nothing is as good for observations as seeing games in person.  This week we got the next best thing from the Lakewood team, a video broadcast of their series against the Lexington Legends.  It is impossible to glean everything from a single series and a single video feed, but you notice plenty of things that don’t appear in a box score.  I didn’t have time to watch all 7 hours of video, but I did watch all of the offensive trips to the plate and all of Drew Anderson‘s time on the mound.

J.P. Crawford – He is everything he is talked up to be.  The patience is there at the plate.  He and Tocci are attempting a decent amount of bunts in sac bunt situations, however the goal seems to be get hits, not sacrifice, and in game 2 of the series Crawford placed a bunt perfectly between the first and second baseman.  The power is not there yet, I won’t be able to say how much it will be there later, but the contact is there if the strength can get there.

Carlos Tocci – He is still really skinny, but he no  longer looks like the bat boy.  He is going to the plate swinging for the fences or bunting, he is laying off pitches, but for the most he is looking for contact.  The swing itself is not that of a light hitter, it won’t have the loft or strength for big time home run power, but it is a swing geared for hard line drive contact all over the field.  If the strength is there Tocci is a guy who is going to be peppering the gaps for doubles and triples.

Willians Astudillo – He knows how to make contact, but it didn’t feel like he was really driving the ball.  He is hitting a lot to the opposite field that are dropping in for singles.  I really don’t have a good feel for Astudillo, my gut says he makes a ton of contact and low-A defenses aren’t very good.  It is intriguing behind the plate, but at 1B that isn’t a guy.

Jan Hernandez – He is overmatched in Lakewood.  The contact skills aren’t there and he is working deep counts and ending up with a lot of walks and strikeouts.  The good news is he got a hold of a pitch on Thursday night that he took to right center and it was an absolute bomb on a really easy swing.  Hernandez will likely bump back to Williamsport for the year, he isn’t ready, but he is going to be fine.

Deivi Grullon – I have no clue how far Grullon’s homer traveled, but it was a no doubter off the bat.  He is still a bit aggressive at the plate and the contact isn’t great yet.  In the field, Grullon is still too aggressive with his throws.  He acts like it is his sacred duty to remove all base runners and he is gearing up to gun out base stealers and back pick at various bases.  Grullon has the raw talent to be a huge weapon on defense, he needs to slow the game down a bit and pick his spots better.  Overall I love the fearless mindset and I think he could stick all year if the Phillies want him to.

Mitch Walding – Looks good in uniform, still does not impact the ball with the force you want.  The swing is compact and direct to the ball, but what you expect to be a hard double is a soft liner.  It is still really early, and he looked to be moving well.  It will be interesting to see what he is like going forward.

Dylan Cozens – Cozens had a quiet series from an observational view point.  When he makes contact the ball goes far, but the contact isn’t there yet.  He is not fast and I had him with a home to first time that would point to 40 speed.

Drew Anderson – Anderson was great in his second start of the year.  It isn’t flashy, but a fastball at 91-92 all over the zone and a ton of strikes.  Unless he magically finds a grade + jump in fastball velo and the feel for a plus secondary pitch, Anderson is more of a back of the rotation starter.  He likely won’t up lists until he is knocking on the door to the major leagues, but he is now the top healthy pitching prospect below AA.


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

24 thoughts on “Lakewood Observations

  1. Thank you for the observations! Love hearing about Grullon’s aggressiveness behind the dish.

    1. I think people are still a bit blindsided by his appearance high on prospect lists this spring. Additionally, it is hard to box score scout a defensive catcher. But from what I saw in his games behind the plate he is a must see just for the arm. I guarantee at least one back pick to 1B a game that you will miss if you blink.

      1. It should not really surprise people. I would say that whenever we sign a Latin American prospect for $500K+ (Tocci, Grullon, Pujols, Encarnacion in recent years) we need to be treating them like 2nd round picks in the draft in terms of expectations (maybe higher expectations for Encarnacion). Grullon’s defense is exciting, especially as we watch all the upper level catching prospects get hurt or fall apart ahead of him.

        Glad to see the impression on Anderson (though I might quibble and say Viza is the top healthy prospect currently playing below AA). Anderson sounds much like Pettibone or Kendrick and one can never have too many guys who can fill a back end rotation spot. We have so little depth now on the pitching side that more possibilities are always nice.

        1. I will take Anderson over Viza right now. Viza is younger, but his now stuff is worst (FB a tick worse, secondary pitches less refined). Viza has a deceptive delivery and room for more growth, but Anderson has the polish now.

      2. I agree with the ‘box score scouting’ theory. But even with that, Grullon is a year younger than JP Crawford, and also younger than Carlos Tocci. The fact that the Phillies have him anywhere near Lakewood, as a Catcher, should jump out to everyone.

    2. Probably because A) he hasn’t played much; only 140 ABs in his career and B) as Matt alluded to, there’s usually less excitement about guys who are standouts based on their defense.

      To me it still seems likely that he’ll end up in W-port. If he has a good year there offensively then more excitement will build up.

    1. If he gets a hold of one he can take it out (he only has 2 HRs on the year). But if you watch his ABs normal contact does not travel that far. Right now without any growth you are looking at a player with 10-12 HR a year power.

      1. I was kinda kidding about the power thing, more like a dig on the rest of the team for not hitting more , but I do appreciate your insight , thanks

  2. I was at lakewood games and Matt assessment looks spot on.Really wished I had seen Grullon thought. Tocci is hitting for average and is likely more aggressive then when I saw him to start year. Crawford was everything you hear about. Although I would like to see him drive thru his throws little better as opposing SS had better arm.

      1. I heard he touched 96 as well. He was 94-95 in extended spring training before he came up to Lakewood

  3. Do you see Astudillo as a Placido Palanco type player…if he ever does get above AAA.?
    Incidentally…he is listed at 5’9″, if that….and also 185 lbs…the weight seems a bit low judging by the appearance in uniform.

      1. Not if he can learn to be an adequate defensive catcher. I realize, that is a fairly big if.

  4. Regarding bunting – as much as modern analysis has rightly disparaged the sac bunt, bunting for base hits is a great skill to have.

    There’s an assumption that the key to a high BABIP is hitting line drives, and there is some truth to that, but at least as important are avoiding IF pop ups and getting IF hits. Being able to bunt for hits obviously helps the latter.

    I would assume someone has run a regression to try to separate the components of a high BABIP – would be pretty simple to run – but I haven’t seen one. Might try to run one myself if I have time.

    1. The great advantage of being able to bunt for a base hit is that it makes the IF guard against it and increases the odds of hard hit ground balls making it through the IF. IF play deeper than ever before and cheat more out of normal position in shifts or semi-shifts. You don’t need to be super fast to bunt for a base hit. The way the IF plays against him, Howard could easily get a bunt single down the third base side if he keeps it fair and gets it past the pitcher. When your ground balls follow too consistent a pattern of location and you can’t do something like bunting to make up for it, IF positioning will eat your BABIP alive. Once the pitchers and defenders have adjusted to your approach, the same-old, same-old approach at the plate has zero chance of yielding good results.

      1. Interesting stat I read concerning IF hits, not bunts mind you, was that the majority were by righthanded batters vs the lefthanded batter, as one would think.

  5. I’m curious about Pullin. His numbers aren’t pretty. One positive is that he is walking a lot more. But is that a case of improved plate discipline, or is he just over matched and not swinging at pitches? And how is his defense?

    1. he looked like one of better players on field for lakewood. Has also has a nice swing…I would even venture to say he looks like one of the advanced players on that team (I would include Crawford). Pullin numbers just aren’t there yet but he is definite break-out candidate in next year or two.

  6. Beat writer doesn’t trump the visiting teams pitchers who were behind home plate ans said anderson touch 96. Pitching at 92-93

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