Hello, it’s me. I have a few brief thoughts on the first few weeks of the season and of course the upcoming MLB draft. My hope is that I will be able to start writing more frequently. Work and other obligations have kept me very busy recently, and I have quite a bit of upcoming travel, so it may be tough, but I am going to do my best.
On the players currently in our system, I have a few early thoughts. But again, as I’ve stressed many times before, do not get worked up (positively or negatively) about a prospect in the first few weeks or even the first month. I’d wait for at least 2 months before getting carried away. I know everyone will do what they do, but just a warning. We’ve all gotten sucked in before.
Lehigh Valley: Maikel Franco is raking. But that doesn’t tell us much, since we already knew he could hit AAA pitching. His 7 strikeouts to 4 walks is decent, and I think it is important that he learns how to work counts and put together good at bats. He looked anxious every time I’ve seen him in the bigs. That is natural, I think. I hope he settles in, and when he does get the call he just relaxes and does what he can do.
Reading: Roman Quinn is healthy and doing good things. I want to see how his contact rate looks in another 6 weeks or so. So far, he’s striking out in about 24% of his plate appearances, which is about the upper level for a guy without much power who is going to rely on putting the ball in play. Gabriel Lino (acquired in the Thome trade with Baltimore what feels like 15 years ago) is off to a nice start and is still only 22. Catchers are always late develop, so he’s still ahead of the curve at this point. Zach Eflin was great today, which is a good thing.
Clearwater: On the hitting side, I’m interested to see what Dylan Cozens can do in the pitcher friendly FSL. He seems to have positive raw tools, but a lot of rough edges, so he might require quite a bit of patience. Matt Imhoff should more than hold his own, as an advanced college arm pitching in a tough hitting environment. I expect he’ll move quickly, likely up to Reading when one of the guys in the Reading rotation gets bumped to AAA.
Lakewood: Somehow, Carlos Tocci is still only 19. He’s making a lot of contact, which is good, I just hope the coaching staff is cramming protein shakes down his throat so he can add a bit of muscle to his frame and make more solid contact. Cord Sandberg is the guy I am really interested to see here.
On the draft, it really does appear this is going to be a pretty rough crop this year. A lot of the high upside guys have gotten injured, and not many guys have really stepped up. Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs has a nice article up now talking about some of the early rumors linking players to teams, and then also a ranking of the talent in the draft. Check it out here.
The Phillies are likely going to be faced with an interesting quandary. Had Mike Matuella and Brady Aiken not gotten injured, they would likely have both been top 3 picks and gone long before the Phillies picked. As it stands now, both look like they might slide to #10. The question is, how lucky do you feel? Aiken’s TJ surgery might have been a bit more complicated, which means he may just slide indefinitely. Matuella has been injured quite a bit over the last 2 years. If you remove these guys, you are looking at a bunch of fringy players available at #10. You might get a pitcher who is a #3/4 or possibly even a reliever (someone like Kyle Funkhouser or Phil Bickford)
The two safest guys are probably Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman, and I’ve talked about both previously. Given the shakiness of this draft, I expect both guys to be taken in the first 5 picks. Mike Nikorak, a PA guy, has a lot of helium and is rising fast, and Ian Happ looks like a pretty safe college bat. Kevin Newman, a SS from Arizona, is also having a great spring.
Bottom line, I think it is going to be really tough to figure out what the Phillies will do at #10. They should take the most talented player they can get, who doesn’t have obscene red flags in his profile. At #10, you still expect to be able to take a player who projects as at least an average major league regular with a bit of upside. But that is in a normal draft. In this depleted, down draft, it might make sense to roll the dice on someone like Brady Aiken, if your doctors are confident in his rehab.
One final note. Kiley McDaniel has also written quite a bit about the July 2nd potential signings, and the Phillies are still being linked to one of the top players in the crop, a huge 1B named Jhailyn Ortiz. The rumored dollar amount is $4.2M, which would be a HUGE outlay for the Phillies, who have typically done their work in the $500k-1M range. Obviously the Phillies have to weigh up what they want to do, and if they sign Ortiz, that might be their only high profile signing. Of course Yadier Alvarez, the latest prospect to roll off the Cuban hype machine, may not be eligible to sign until after July 2nd, which means the Phillies could just obliterate their draft poll like the Red Sox did (and the Yankees last summer) and go all in. But of course, don’t hold your breath on that.
Until next time…