A huge thank you to Mitch Rupert, who authored the piece. For those of you who do not know Mitch, he is the WIlliamsport beat writer for the Sun Gazette and simply does an outstanding job of research, analysis, and writing. Its very clear through his authorship and analysis, this is a guy thats works very hard at his craft. I encourage all of you to follow Mitch on Twitter (@Mitch_Rupert)and read his work online, and hopefully Mitch will be willing to write an occasional piece or do an occasional Q and A for us.
Maybe no player in the Phillies’ system has started a back and forth banter like Williamsport Crosscutters outfielder Jiandido Tromp has this year. One thing everybody on either side of the discussion can agree on is he doesn’t belong at Williamsport. He came into this week’s road trip to New York OPSing just under .900.
But what has become the usual disagreement about Tromp is where he ranks in the Phillies’ system, and how much of a legitimate prospect he really is. One thing you can’t argue about with the 20-year old Aruban is that all of his individual tools are exciting.
– At just 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, he still packs some of the best power on a Crosscutters team loaded with offensive talent two and three years his senior. The kid is a 5-foot-11 ball of muscle who generate power with quick hands and strong forearms.
– At best the hit tool is average at this point. When he gets going good, as he did to start the Williamsport season, he can tend to get pull happy and start pulling off outside pitches and put himself into funks.
– As a runner he’s stolen 21 bases in three seasons at a 75 percent success rate and averages 4.1-4.2 seconds to first base from the right-hand batter’s box.
– Defensively, one of the minor league coordinators in the Phillies system rated his defense just a tick behind Carlos Tocci, who may be the gold standard of center field defense in the system. And he’s capable of playing either of the three outfield positions at a far above average level.
– His throwing arm is above average, but not elite. He’s accurate whether throwing from left, center or right, but would probably profile better in left field if he were to be blocked in center field.
All of this adds up to a player who should be considered for a spot in the Top 15 among prospects in a farm system needing impact players. So why isn’t he universally lauded?
That’s pretty easy. He’s playing his second consecutive season as an everyday player at Williamsport. Last year as a 19-year old, Tromp was an all-star in the New York-Penn League, displaying all of the characteristics above, with the exception of the power.
As was to be expected, Tromp started the 2014 season in Lakewood with results (.224/.287/.329) which didn’t match his success with the Crosscutters from a year ago (.299/.353/.430). After being demoted to extended spring training in early June in preparation of joining the Crosscutters yet again, Tromp didn’t hide his displeasure for being back in the confines of Bowman Field.
But he understood the reasoning. It was his chance to play everyday, something he wouldn’t be able to do with the likes of Dylan Cozens, Tocci and Samuel Hiciano, and after recovering from his injury, Larry Greene Jr. taking up the majority of the playing time in Lakewood.
“It’s not easy, but you have to do whatever they tell you to do,” Tromp told me at Crosscutters media day in early June. “They want me to come back here and play every day, and that’s what I’m going to do and do my best. Hopefully I have a good, or even great, year maybe.”
Tromp played in 27 of the Crosscutters’ 31 games entering Wednesday’s series opener at Staten Island. He’s displayed all five of the talents listed above on an almost daily basis. His hit tool looks a bit more polished than it did a year ago, although his strikeout rate is still high at more than 22 percent. But to be fair, his strikeout rate is down from his seasons past.
So this all begs one question which I debated with a poster on another message board a week or so ago: Why is Jiandido Tromp succeeding so much in Williamsport and not at Lakewood?
My answer comes down to playing time. From talking to Tromp and watching him on an almost daily basis for the past two seasons, I see him as a rhythm player, someone who succeeds the more often he is in the lineup. Playing once in a while just doesn’t suit him.
The poster I quickly debated with asked how I know that he’s a rhythm player and that he’s just not overmatched at Lakewood?
It’s a fair and good question, and the truth is, I don’t know. I’ve never seen Tromp play even an inning in Lakewood. And if I were a betting man, I would guess that by the time Tromp was promoted to Lakewood last year in early August, he was overmatched with the Blueclaws. A .150/.227/.275 slash line coupled with a 36.4% strikeout rate just screams of being overmatched.
But I decided to look into it more closely, with BradinDC’s help, breaking down Tromp’s performance over the past two seasons in games where he played in at least back-to-back days versus days where he just played games surrounded by days off. What I found was quite startling.
In the last two years, in games where he’s played multiple games in a row, Tromp had a batting average of .278. In situations where he just played one game here and there, he hit .114. In fairness, the sample sizes were totally different (273 at-bats in consecutive games vs. 35 at-bats in single games).
If you want to look at on-base percentage, in consecutive games played over the last two years, Tromp is sporting a .335 OBP, versus just .298 after a day off.
When Tromp was promoted to Lakewood a year ago, he was primarily an everyday player with the Blueclaws even though he was overmatched by the level at 19 years old. If I really wanted to skew the numbers even more and eliminate his everyday struggles from his trip to Lakewood a year ago where he was 2 for 41 in consecutive games played, Tromp would be hitting .319 in consecutive games played between Williamsport in 2013 and 2014, and Lakewood in 2014.
So, where does this leave us in the Jiandido Tromp discussion?
There are a number of indisputable facts which can’t be ignored:
1. At just 20 years old (he doesn’t turn 21 until after the season has ended in late September) he is still more than a year younger than the league average and is still age appropriate for the New York-Penn League where he once again is succeeding.
2. Jiandido Tromp is too good to be playing every day in Williamsport. But until Lakewood moves one, or even two, pieces to Clearwater from its outfield, this is where he’s going to be.
3. While the data is minimal and likely inadequate, it does suggest that Tromp’s best bet for continued success as he comes through the Phillies’ system is to be an everyday player.
4. He’s a damn good player. Just how good is yet to be determined.
Tromp is a player whose ceiling might be as a major league regular, and whose floor could be that of Leandro Castro’s. To be honest, I just don’t know. The individual tools add up to player capable of being a big leaguer, but there’s so much we just don’t know.
But possessing the tools to get him to to the higher levels of the system some day gives him a chance at helping the Phillies.
The debate about Tromp is going to continue to rage on until he either succeeds or fails at higher levels. But based upon the data we have available along with reports on his abilities, he’s still a player to be optimistic about, albeit cautiously.