Prospect Discussion: Week of October 5th

Here’s an open discussion thread about minor league prospects.  Phillies’ talk and other non-prospect discussion should remain in the Open Discussion.

This is an open format for any minor league prospect you want to discuss.  The weekly top prospects article will be posted later in the week.  This week, I want to put the spotlight on Jesmuel Valentin.  Jesse had some personal problems that delayed the start of his season. When he was finally activated on July 31st, Coach Legg said Valentin would have to compete for playing time.  He must have impressed quickly because he started 31 of the Threshers 33 final regular season games plus both playoff games.

  • Jesmuel Jose Valentin, second baseman and shortstop
  • Bats both, Throws right
  • 5’9, 180 lb.
  • Born 5/12/1994 (age 21)
  • Drafted by the Dodgers in the 1st round (51st) of the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft from The Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, PR).
  • 2012; AZL Dodgers (age 18, -1.4 age dif) .211/.352/.316 in 197 PA (35 BB, about 18%)
  • 2012; Ponce in the PRWL (age 18, -8.3) 18 PA in 16 G, but look at that age dif
  • 2013; Great Lakes (age 19, -1.8) 5 weeks at full season A; .212/.325/.293, then
  • 2013; Ogden (age 19, -1.6) sent to short season A; .284/.379/.396
  • 2013; Ponce (age 19, -7.5) 27 PA in 14 G, .320/.370/.360
  • 2014; Great Lakes (age 20, -1.5) .280/.349/.430 in 462 PA before trade
  • 2014; Clearwater (age 20, -2.7) just 44 PA in 12 G; .205/.255/.250
  • 2014; Mayaguez in the PRWL (age 20, -6.3) 89 PA in 29 G; .278/.341/.367
  • 2015; Clearwater (age 21, -1.6) 118 PA in 31 G after activation; .273/.351/.424

Jesse Valentin remains an enigma for Phillies’ prospect followers.  He arrived too late in 2014 for us to get a good feel for what we could expect.  He was the 26th prospect in the Reader Top 30, 11th by Baseball America, 14th by Keith Law (ESPN), 8th by John Sickels (Minor League Ball), 22nd by Matt Winkelman (Phillies Minor Thoughts), 18th by Kiley McDaniel (FanGraphs, on 12/3/14 before Odubel Herrera, Zach Eflin, Tom Windle, and Ben Lively joined the organization).

When Valentin was activated this season, I thought he looked a little thick around the middle.  But, I honestly can’t remember with any reasonable accuracy his build when he reported in 2014.  I’m probably so used to seeing skinny LA middle infielders in the GCL that Valentin just looked “heavy-ish”.  In any case, he was in good enough shape to quickly win the starting second base position for the remainder of the season.  And it certainly made sense to play him every day for the organization to properly evaluate him.

Valentin started off 1 for 14, but finished with at least one base hit in 15 of his final 17 games.  He only walked 12 times in 118 PA, but it’s understandable if he was a little more aggressive after his return to the roster.  Valentin was utilized in the lead off position, batting ahead of Carlos Tocci in the final weeks of the season.

Valentin is not a speedster.  He tried to steal twice and was thrown out both times.  The Threshers’ speed game dried up with Dylan Cozens’ promotion to Reading.  (Seriously, he was 18 for 23.  Chase Harris was next at 15 for 21.  After them, the team was 52 for 100.) Valentin is competent on the base paths, but not as quick as I would have expected.

Valentin’s biggest asset was his glove.  He went error-free in 119 chances.  It is not unreasonable to suggest that he is the best fielding second baseman in the organization.

It will be interesting to see where the Phillies place Valentin in the organization next season.  Another good season of winter ball will help them decide.  Valentin has hit pretty well while playing with much older competition in Puerto Rico.  It wouldn’t be a stretch for Valentin to start in Reading, especially if Crawford starts in LHV and Mora moves from 2B to SS.

65 thoughts on “Prospect Discussion: Week of October 5th

  1. You say he “only” walked 12 times in 118 PA’s, as if that’s bad. That is a very good BB%.

    1. And he only K’ed 15 times. So the BBs and Ks are fine especially since he was getting back from a long hiatus … of his own doing.

    2. I didn’t mean to imply that it was bad, only that it was lower than in previous seasons. And that he may have felt some urgency to put balls in play rather than work the count as well as he had in previous seasons.

  2. A little late but the BA top 20 for the Eastern League was released a few days ago. Andrew Knapp was #14 and was ahead of at least three current top 100 prospects. This may mean BA considers Knapp a top 100 player.

    1. Perhaps – but it means he is highly regarded. I’ll tell you what, there are not a lot of switch hitting catchers around with a 60 hit tool and some power projection. He’s a guy who could be a very big surprise. It will be fun to watch him and Alfaro jockey for position over the next year or two.

      1. Yes. If he could just show an average arm and defense, that offensive profile is a possible all star at the catcher position. The bar is so low for catcher hitting.

        1. Knapp will probably never be labeled in Swihart’s class by BA and some of the others….but his numbers tell a different story.
          Knapp:
          24age season-2016
          6’1”, 190lbs switch-hitter….2013- 2nd rd draftee
          Games-278….PAs – 1173
          K-22%…BB-9%
          Slash- .280/.355/.435/.790
          HR-23…XBH-107….ISO- .155
          Note…TJ surgery Oct’13…lost developmental time

          Swihart:
          24age season-2016
          6’1”, 200lbs switch-hitter…2011- 1st rd draftee
          MiLB Games –329… PAs- 1344
          K-17%….BB- 8%
          Slash- .286/.340/.427/.766
          HR-22…XBH-116…ISO- .141

            1. v1
              Agree…..and his defense has improved according to Dusty Wathom. The gap strength now can become more of a HR threat latter down the road. AAA pitching experience should be a real test for him in 2016.

      1. He is in the same boat at Hernandez. If he can’t show adequate D at SS and 3B, he can’t be a utility IF. Can he play either SS or 3B even close to adequately? If he can’t, then he is in a fight with Hernandez, Sweeney, Kingery, Canello, and Galvis for the starting 2B job. Of the guys in that fight, I know that at least Blanco, Galvis and Canelo can be utility IFs, so the pressure is on him to win the starting 2B job if he wants to be a major leaguer in Philly. The character issue is already a strike against him.

    1. Best case scenario is an everyday 2B. He has a good glove and a good hit tool and should have enough power to be a regular.

  3. A look at 2B around the organization. Two Tyler’s, Henson and Pastornicky, were in LHV at end of season. Reading had Carlos Alonzo on the IR for most of the season, Brodie Greene and Mora played the most during the season. Valentin, Campbell and Stankiewicz played in CLW. Malquin Canelo can play the position and after his breakout season in LKW, I thought he might be the double play combination guy with JP in the big leagues. Kingery comes to the LKW team with a nice resume and lots of hype. Let’s hope a full professional season will change his hype into fact. Josh Tobias was a nice draft pick this year and probably would have been moved to LKW if Kingery wasn’t around. He’ll be a level behind Kingery throughout his career until he or Kingery stumbles. Gamboa and Arauz split the SS and 2B positions in the GCL. When one played 2B the other played SS and reversed. Arauz certainly opened some eyes in July but faded in August. All-in-all a great start for a kid who turned 17 on August 3. He could be the best of all of them but he’d be starting his senior year of HS in normal circumstances. He has a lot of chances to improve but also a large possibility of flame out.

    Interesting group of second baseman. LHV has some openings but possibly Sweeney comes down from the big club. Mora and Alonzo are two of my favorite guys. One of them could be at LHV. A lot of people were hoping Kingery would be starting his 1st full professional season in Reading but that seems far too optimistic. CLW is probably his starting spot. So Valentin will get his chance to make a name for himself at Reading. Tobias should handle LKW and whoever the Phils think is the better player at 2B between Gamboa and Arauz will get Wmsprt.

    A year ago, Valentin was the 2B of the future. Now there are some very interesting names on the depth chart. Someone will explode to the top in the next two years.

    1. And don’t overlook César Hernández! He’s still only 25. He’ll never hit for power, or be above-average defensively, but I can see him eking out a career as .275/.350/.725 with 25SB second division regular.

      1. But you said it yourself … second division regular. Of course teams can contend with a second division regular at a position or two, but:

        (1) They should aspire to better, and
        (2) The next Phillies team specifically might be a little lacking in star power – with a lot of solid and above average players. A team can contend with that sort of roster, but it makes it even tougher to have below average position players.

        1. I agree. That is why when I see someone post an entire team of current farmhands as the next Phillies contender, I cringe. Some of those guys are future above avg players (Franco and Crawford) and some others are a good bet to become a decent a regular (N Williams, Knapp) but some of those guys are 2nd division regulars at best. Most of the other guys are the same level player as (2nd division regulars Galvis, Hernandez, Asche, Altherr and Ruff) that the Phillies have now. They need 1or 2 more very good players, in order to carry a few 2nd division guys.

          1. Start with Franco & JP; if Quinn, Alfaro and Randoplh can perform to upside and stay healthy and one of our south of the border signees pans out, then we are looking at a team offensively (in that ballpark) that will be very interesting

            1. Williams in LF may well be the best of the bunch, apart from Crawford, until you get way down in the farm to Randolph and Ortiz.

    2. When it comes to the 2nd base of the future…seems Phillies would like first Kingery, then Arauz and maybe Canelo to emerge in the next 2/4 years. but Valentin and Tobias could make any decisions difficult.

    3. Good info but maybe they should take a second look at Pullin. He’s a good offensive 2B and showed power in Clearwater with 14 HR and 73 RBIs. I watched 8 games in Lakewood and he handled the job well. Looked at his stats and he only had 5 errors in Williamsport. Probably needs a little more discipline at the plate. Needs more development but worth a shot.

  4. From BA chat: Vincent Lara-Cinisomo likes Nick Williams more than Nomar Mazara.

    V LC: “No real knock… Mazara is a step below prospects such as Nick Williams and Lewis Brinson in terms of Rangers and ex-Rangers, but one who projects to be a solid right fielder if he reaches his ceiling.”

    1. Who put a thumbs down on this post? Is Free AEC back? It’s a general statement that a guy from BA, that he likes Nick Williams better than another Rangers’ product. Maybe if he said Nick was the best prospect in all of baseball, he’d left the likes/dislikes alone.

  5. Not sure if we can still talk about Nola, as he isn’t really a prospect, but as I was watching Dallas Keuchel last night, I was reminded of Nola.

    Now, I know that Dallas is a lefty. But I think a comp can still be made.

    Dallas doesn’t throw hard (90/91). He has good stuff, but not elite stuff. What he does have is amazing control and knows how to pitch. But the thing that I noticed was the low pitch count.

    The low pitch count is probably the one thing that impresses me the most about Nola and I am starting to think that it is a tell tale sign of a great pitching prospect. It is something that I want to watch.

    1. v1,
      Actually, according to Fansgraph Dallas Keuchel’s velo is pretty pedestrian. these last four years. Being a lefty and with command helps.
      2012-88.1
      2013-89.1
      2014-89.7
      2015-89.6

      1. There’s posters here who say that you can’t be successful if you don’t throw 90. Hmm, they must be wrong.

        1. I have a controversial view on pitching skills. IMO, the order of importance:
          – Command/Control
          – Fastball movement
          – Quality of breaking pitches
          – Velocity

          I think people put too much weight on velocity. high velocity fastballs that are straight and have poor command get hammered in the majors. even with elite velo

          1. Agree. Velocity (pitching) and Power (hitting) are game changers that’s why people are fixated with this. But velocity is nothing if don’t have command and control over it and power is useless if you can’t hit. That’s why I like the approach that Almaraz did in the 2015 Draft. Look for Batters who can hit and Pitchers who has good command. Draft pitchers in Rd1 and Rd2 only if they have #1/#2 potential.

          2. I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that control/command is as much the required base skill for a pitcher, just as the hit skill (including ability to recognize wht pitch has been thrown) is THE baseline skill for position players. Just like raw power and running speed are the sexy tools, without the hit tool they are nothing. FB velocity is the sexy pitcher’s tool, but it is far less important than it is made out to be, because far more HS and college pitchers pass the required FB velocity test than pass the required control/command or secondary pitches test and, as you correctly note, FB movement isn’t emphasized enough in evaluating FB. While it is important to have a necessary gap in velocity between FB and the off-speed stuff, pitchers with less than average FB can develop remarkably slow off-speed stuff to create an effective velocity gap. I saw other teams’ pitchers successfully handle the Allentown lineup with FBs that topped out at 85 and sat 82-84. They had off-speed stuff in the mid-60s. They found a combination which worked in AAA. I think they would need at least another 3-4 mph on these pitches to make them work at the MLB level, but there success suggests that good off-speed stuff, plus good control/command can get you buy as a #4/5 SP in MLB with a FB that never touches 90. Of course, if these guys encounter a poor command day, it can be 6 ERs before they get out of the first inning.

        1. I hope we can also say that to Adam Morgan. At times, Morgan looks like Cliff Lee in the mound – i hope he can pitch like Cliff Lee too!

      2. romus – dou think Imhof can be close to Keuchel being lefty with good command? i have high hopes on Imhof being a 2nd rounder but this year is concerning.

        1. Kurdt…actually Keuchel’s MiLB metrics are not explosive screaming ‘I am an ace in the making’….his K/9 and WHIP are average, but his GB% and command/control BB/9 are plus, along with his HR/9.
          IMO, could Imhof ‘s career progression shadow Keichel’s…..at this point it is more likely Keuchel then Kershaw.

    2. Keuchel has a big advantage over Nola besides being lefthanded: Keuchel is a sinkerballer who gets a ton of ground balls- about 59% for his career and over 60% the last two seasons.

      Nola’s GB rate was 47.6% this year and has always been known as more of a fly ball type. His GB rate by itself isn’t bad, but Keuchel’s is elite. It was actually the second highest among qualified starters this year.

    3. I just truly believe lefthanders get away with less velocity. I just don’t see that comp. When I talked about fister. all I heard was he is great with low velocity. well what happen. Righthanders need more velo than lefthander. in most cases. some can get away with less. but picking them is like finding a needle in a hay stack

  6. With regard to Knapp, who are the Coaches at Reading and LHV responsible for Catchers? It seems to me that a guy like Knapp, with athletic ability and a plus bat tool can be taught to elevate his Defensive game by good coaching. Maybe not develop a plus arm, maybe a better one, but the other aspects of the position, framing pitches, calling the game, handling Pitchers, blocking balls in the dirt. And that would make him a really good Catching prospect. Am I delusional? As this organization tries to progress, I think the teaching of fundamentals and the emphasis on Defense, needs to be improved throughout the organization.

    1. matt…can’t speak for LHV, but Reading’s manager Dusty Wathan was a career minor league catcher, so he knows a thing or two about catching and can teach some of his tricks to the catchers. And he was the one who said Knapp has progressed. I am sure some of that he needs to say, but have to trustt him at his word as one who has been a catcher.

      1. Mike Compton, who played for the Phils in the late 60’s n early 70’s has been their roving catching instructor forever. I think he still has that job today.

        1. Coach Compton is in Clearwater during XST. He is the coach who told me that they like what they see from Numata. I don’t know if he travels much any more, I see him at the Complex during the GCL season.

    2. And Stumps at the big league will probably work with them also, especially in the off-season and/or spring.

    3. I don’t think it’s the coaches as Rupp came through the system and he’s generally regarded as a good defensive catcher.

      1. And then he lost development time and time catching to the elbow injury. It’s not that he isn’t potentially good, it’s that he’s very raw and probably the arm is still recovering from TJ.

        1. He was shut down in Sep’13, then the TJ in October, and did not hit again in a game situation until May 2014

  7. Valentin needs to stay healthy and not have any more off the field issues. He’s a good depth piece to have in a rebuilt farm system.

  8. Valentin will get his shot in Reading next year, that will determine his trajectory as a prospect. I’m surprised he has become such a good fielder. When I saw him in spring training, he didn’t look smooth at all on defense. Hopefully he really improved.

  9. It’s funny how guys like Tobias, Mora and Valentin have so much competition that they don’t know where they’ll be placed the next year, even though they passed their levels. Then at 3rd base a guy like Walding, who does nothing, keeps getting promoted because there is nobody there to jump him.

  10. The several contenders for the 2b position could keep us entertained through the ’16 season. And watching Hoskins; Knapp; Williams; Alfaro; then Altherr with the big club. I do see Sweeney back at LV–needs refinement of his hit tool. 2b and/or supersub for him.

    On Nola: there were plenty of people here who named him as a #3 because of his lack of great MPH om his FB. I protested then and do so now since I saw and see him as a junior Maddox as he was described as having elite command which, to me, is a lot more important than velo. Command and changing speeds are tickets to a #1 in a rotation. The description given was fulfilled moving him rapidly to MLB. Aside from the drafting of another elite pitcher at #1 (and #2, too), Nola and Thompson IMO will contend for our #1 spot until the arrival of the two from the “16 draft and/or others.

  11. Anyone see the clip where Pete McK is addressing the changes in the coaching staff. He forgot Steve Henderson and needed help from someone on the side. Looked to me that upper management just pulled the plug on the two coaches. Would love to know why they were down on Nichols since the bullpen pitched so many innings this year with a large cast of characters.

    1. Romus…I bought that point up a few days back. They may already be at work on July deals. I hope they break the bank in July.

    2. i co-sign with that too. tell EJM to keep working out and Phils will sign him for $12M in july 2016.

  12. The end of an era. Justin De Fratus (James’ 1st man crush) removed from 40 man roster. Exhibit A for why you don’t rank Minor league Relievers at the top of the org chart. They become Fungible, minimum salary, middle relief arms.

  13. What is everyones opinion of Cameron Perkins?

    He didn’t have a great year this yr, but improved his power a little, steals a couple bases, has alot of assists and must play a descent lf.

    I had seen him, Franco, Pullin & Asche a few yrs ago and really liked his AND FRANCOS swing. He apparently is strikout conscience and had a li.e drive, doubles swing which led to a descent/good average.
    . The swing was a bit long compared to franco and asche, but he is 6’5″ compared to their 6’0-6’1″ frames.

    I’d say let him hit for average and doublesand let the HR’s come when they do. Could he be a 4th or 5th outfielder? Or better?

    1. i have a feeling that Perkins can be a Rule 5 casualty if the Phils did not protect him. IMO Perkins is a 4th or 5th OF that can be a good RH pinch hitter that can play 1B on some games.

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