Sunday notes, May 10th

Happy Mother’s Day. Call your mother and tell her you love her, if you can and if you do.

My random musings on our prospects and the draft are below the fold

Lets start with our current prospects. As I’ve said many many times in the past, I am not drawing conclusions, one way or the other, after 6 weeks of games, and I certainly won’t really get excited or dejected on a guy unless I read that something meaningful has changed in terms of the player’s ability or skill set. I recommend everyone exercise caution, at least for another 6 weeks or so, and then we might have a better idea of what we have.

The things I am most interested in seeing right now:

* How quickly JP Crawford makes his way to Reading. Picking up the oblique injury at the end of ST was unlucky, and I suspect he’d have probably gone straight to AA, but there is no harm in starting him in the warm weather of Florida to get him back up to speed. Given that he is not on the 40 man roster, he does not have to go on the 40 man roster until after 2017, there is no need to rush him. You figure he’ll finish the year in AA this season, start there in 2016, and then be in line for a September cameo before taking over the starting spot full time in 2017. 2017 seems like an eternity away, but so does 2011, to be honest. If he pushes the envelope before 2017, I’m sure the team will consider bringing him up sooner, but there is no need to rush him.

* On the other hand, Aaron Nola’s timetable could be escalated. When you pick the most polished college pitcher in the draft with one of the first 10 picks, you are taking him because you feel he can help you soon. Pitchers are getting hurt at an alarming rate, and every pitch he throws, he is at risk for an injury. That isn’t to say he needs to be in the majors now, though I think he’d probably be fine if he was, but I would not be shocked to see him in the big league rotation in August.

* The next 2 drafts, and the next 2 international signing periods, are absolutely vital for the Phillies. The major league team is B-A-D and it isn’t going to magically be awesome soon. However, the Phillies have the money to sign free agents, and if they choose, they can “re-launch” in pretty short order. As bad money comes off the books, the Phillies should restrain themselves in terms of giving out massive free agent contracts, unless the right target is available. In the modern MLB landscape, teams are locking up their superstars earlier and those players become free agents at 30/31/32 instead of 26/27/28, which means the Phillies absolutely have to nail the next few drafts. As they begin to spend again on free agents, they need to use their farm system as the base for the core of the team. They are a long way away from being able to do that right now.

Speaking of the draft….

A few of the people I trust on all things amateur baseball, Keith Law and Kiley McDaniel, have started to release updated draft rankings and early rumors about potential picks, especially in the top 10. Obviously a lot is going to change between now and draft day, but its something at least. In Kiley’s mock draft posted this week, he has the Phillies taking prep catcher Tyler Stephenson from Kennesaw Mountain HS in Georgia. Stephenson has intriguing tools, but high school catchers are just about the most risky asset you can take in the draft. If everything pans out, you’ve got a potential superstar, but actually being able to catch at the highest level is the toughest skill in baseball, and most catchers who have great bats in high school end up moving to a different position, and then offensive threshold for that new position immediately goes up by a power of 2. While Stephenson seems interesting, I think I’d probably go in a different direction this early.

The problem with this draft, in addition to the lack of high upside, there also seems to be a lack of depth at just about every position. There are 3 very good college middle infielders, in Kevin Newman, Alex Bregman, and Dansby Swanson, but there is a decent change that all 3 are gone by the Phillies pick, and a decent chance that none of them end up with all-star upside. If you want this year’s version of Aaron Nola, I’m not sure who it is. Carson Fulmer and Kyle Funkhouser both have a lot more question marks than Nola did at this time last year. Dillon Tate is the consensus top pitcher in the draft and will be gone in the first 4 picks unless something crazy happens. Daz Cameron, son of Mike, and Trenton Clark are intriguing prep bats, but neither have wow tools (70s) and both look like solid regulars.

There really appears to be a lack of established talent in the top of this draft. There will be lots of wildcards, prep guys who haven’t played much because of weather, guys who have been used in the wrong role (Tyler Jay), and guys who are raw and you can dream on, but that carry significant risk. The Phillies have about $7.05M to spend in this draft. Slot values:

#10 – $3,231,300
#48 – $1,259,600
#83 – $719,800

And so on…

The Phillies might be better suited taking a guy who figures to go in the middle to bottom of the first round who will take a below slot deal, something in the $2m range, which would basically give them an extra $1.2M to spend after the first round. Maybe you take someone like Jon Harris, a RHP from Missouri State, and offer him $2M, then spread the savings to a few high upside, raw high school guys that slide. I’ve commented before that I’d be happy for the Phillies to take a shot at Mike Matuela or Brady AIken, just because both guys offer more potential upside than the player that is likely to be there for them at #10. I’d still be in favor of that, though I’m not a doctor and I haven’t seen the medicals for either guy. Obviously.

Either way, this draft looks like a big disappointment. The good news is, the 2016 draft looks a lot better, and if the Phillies do what I think they’ll do, they should be in line for a top 5 pick in next June’s draft. A draft like 2015, where things look bleak, is where scouts make their money and prove their worth. There are gems to be had. And the Phillies look they are going to flex their muscles, relatively speaking, in Latin America this summer. So all hope is not lost, but this is a crucial 14 months or so for this franchise.

27 thoughts on “Sunday notes, May 10th

  1. Hey James. I agree with you regarding a strategy of selecting a lower ranked player who would agree in advance to sign for less than slot money, but I can’t help but wonder, if a number of teams selecting in front of the Phillies employ a similar strategy, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a player ranked in the 4-7 range falls to the Phillies at no. 10. There may be a value pick for the Phillies even if it costs them a full slot investment. Would love to see one of the collegiate MI’s fall to the Phillies in this scenario.

    Time will tell. Hard to believe the draft is less than a month away

  2. I think since the Tocci signing in 2011 the Phillies have invested more so now then between 2002 and 2010 in the international market. My guess, the next two years of international signings of 16-years old, will not produce any product at Citizens Bank until probably 2019/20 or beyond….seeing that Maikel Franco one of their best signees recently, has been in the system since 2010. Now Jhailyn Ortiz could be a fast mover, when he is signed in July…..but Phillies are reluctant to bring up LA kids before they are 21-years old.
    This brings me to my point……for the Phillies to get the maximum return on the international scene, they need to get a little more aggressive on the next Cuban defector of worth……maybe a Vlad Guiterrez as a pitcher or a positional player.
    The other factor not mentioned, is the establishment of the international draft, which Commish Rob Manfred is pushing.
    With that in mind, the Phillies may only have one more year of free-lance spending on the LA market.

  3. Nola sure is making a case for himself today….

    What are the thoughts on Art Charles???

    will be interesting to see the concurrent moves in the system when Franco gets called up next weekend….

    1. Nola 8 dominating innings of one run ball with 8Ks…LVH will finally have an ace.

      Art Charles – this guy has come out of nowhere. If he keeps anywhere near this pace in the next 20 games should move up to LHV.

      Crawford headed to Reading by the end of the month.

  4. Nola , Nola Nola, good job little nite Logan Morgan has throw out 4 for 4 in base runners in the last 2 days. Qiunn was throw out twice today, Ultey has a double . Too all treat your mother 100 % wonderful today tell her thank you and that I love you. Happy Mother’s day.

  5. Why are people thinking asche in left is going to help. He is a 250 hitter with limited power. I am not in favor of revere in center, that arm on a single hitter with no power, is not going to cut it, I think its time to see nola in starting rotation with Franco at third. if there is a future these two might be the foundation.

    1. rocco…in some respects I agree with you…..I am hoping Revere gets hot…gets showcased and is used in a deal as part of a trade chip in a package of some sort.
      Asche…lets see how it plays out for him in LF if that is the case. May be a platoon with Ruf for awhile. Asche may not turn out what some of us hoped for but it still is early in this season. Franco probably gets the call next week. Nola I would prefer to wait until a September call up or next season out of ST…whats the rush for an in season call up from Reading! I prefer to see the Gonzalez’…Sev and MAG and what they still can do, or maybe even Aumont for a later chip….Harang, Billingsley, and Cole are being showcased I would think. Williams has been thru the mill already with plenty of teams and may not draw any interest from a contender. And yes they are part of the foundation.

      1. Romus, here is a possibility if the Phillies trade Chase Utley when he gets hot(hopefully soon)- they move Herrera or Hernandez to 2B, move Brown to RF and Asche to LF and see what they can do. The loser of the 2B battle will rotate enough to get their fair share of batting chances.

  6. I don’t know what to make of this draft. I think you’re gonna see a lot of teams go for lower slot signings. I’ve been hoping for Swanson, Bregman and Happ for a while now. It’s looking less and less likely 1 of them will be there, though.
    Aiken is extremely interesting. If the team thinks he can come back from TJ, they should take him. He has true Ace potential if healthy.

    1. Happ is all over the draft mock expert boards.
      From a top ten pick, down thru 25.
      It may be the fact he decided to go as a corner OFer vs a 2nd basemen at Cincinnati.
      I like the fact he switches and is evenly adept from both sides according to Kiley McDaniel’s report.
      You forgot Rodgers in the mix of middle infielders that will go high…Rodgers probably at one.

      1. I just dont think Rodgers will be there. I think he goes 1 or 2 right now. Seems to be the fav to go first right now.
        From what I’ve read on Happ, he should be good enough to at least get a look at 2nd. He has some decent power. If he falls to 10 I’ll be very happy to get him.

    1. rocco….think back to the Vet days around the late 80s,,,remember the yellow seats in the 700 level under where the old Schimdt sign use to be in the 70s….some were empty I think.

  7. I had heard that the decision was made and that Crawford was told he would start the season in Clearwater BEFORE he suffered the oblique injury. Dugan suffered an oblique while batting during ST in 2013 and returned on 4/26. He was in Reading 10 weeks later on 7/5. Dugan, however, had not played at Clearwater the season before. I would expect that Crawford would not be in Clearwater for 10 weeks. I would be surprised if he was still here when they return from the FSL All-Star break on June 19-21.

    1. Phillies seem to make their moves/promos at all-star breaks…I guess it gets guys enough breaktime to pack and get ready for changing apartments and whatever adjustments that need to be made.

  8. is it a feasible strategy to intentionally not sign a first round pick so that you would get one next year in what appears to be a more talent rich draft? perhaps it is better to take a player now and start the process of grooming for the majors, but I do think there is at least an argument to say that a team like the Phillies could be patient and wait for higher and talent. I don’t know if it’s good analogy but it does seem like what Hinkie is doing with the Sixers.

    1. If you’re going to do that, you might as well sign a guy way under slot and throw the extra money at guys in the later rounds to get them away from their college commitments.

      1. I can see your way of thinking but there’s no guarantee that you will actually be able to buy those players out of their college commitments. also, my whole line of thinking was to get an extra pic in the better draft year of 2016. if we spread the first round allocation across more players, we are not necessarily getting another top end talent like we might at the top of the 2016 draft. bottom line, I am looking for ways to get greater potential for star power.

    2. Bedrock. This draft is weak. I would love to see the Phillies draft a scott boras client and low ball him, and get a top pick next year. sound like the right move.

      1. Astros did it with Aiken, and the Blue Jays did a few years ago…but wasn’t draftee health/injury concerns a part of the issue?

        1. I no teams have failed to sign their first round picks in the past, but I don’t recall does it appeared to be a strategy to pick the following year in a more talent rich draft. I think those teams were actually trying to sign the player they selected and just failed to come to an agreement. if next years draft class is supposed to be that much better than this years, I am just advocating intentionally failing to sign the 2015 pick so that we have an extra pick in 2016. I am Not sure that Ruben and the Phillies brass would think along those lines but it might be the smart move if there’s only mediocre talent this year.

    3. In theory it is a viable strategy. However, it is a very impractical one. For one you have to be in a position as a GM with near infinite job security, no GM is going to pass on making a pick knowing they might not be around to make the follow up pick. The second is that you are betting on the unknown, and the baseball draft is particularly volatile. This draft wasn’t great but it cratered at the top due to a couple of injuries. The third is that it isn’t actually #10 pick this year vs #11 pick next year. It is actually #10 pick plus a year in a major league system for the #11 pick, so you are actually betting against your own abilities to develop talent.

      At the very top of the draft (picks 1-3) it makes some sense if you realize you aren’t getting the elite talent you thought you were (but it also makes a lot of sense to go really underslot and spend later), but by the time you get to 10 the differences are a bit more slight and even in a down draft I don’t think the difference is that huge to risk it.

      1. I think ur answer speaks a lot to the fact that there should not be a lot made of the talent difference between this and next draft. If there is such a slim difference, why do people keep writing about how good 2016 looks compared to 2015? It is so frequently stated that I am surprised that the belief only applies to the top 5 or so picks. To read the posts and articles one might believe 2016 draft will be like shooting fish in a barell.

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