During an Instructional game at Bright House this week, the conversation turned toward the catching situation in the organization. Of course, as you should expect, there were as many opinions as there were people in the discussion. This topic has been touched on in several comment threads so far. So, let’s get the discussion out in the open where we cover all the possibilities.
The above is just a suggestion for this week’s discussion. This post is reserved for the discussion of the top prospects in the Phillies’ organization. You can tout the merits of your favorite prospects, instruct us on why your ranking is superior, talk about a prospect who intrigues/worries you, ask about prospects you haven’t seen and don’t know much about, or anything at all as long as it is about the top prospects.
We can’t start the discussion on where the prospects are assigned without discussing the parent club. The Phillies finished the season with three catchers on their roster. Carlos Ruiz (81) and Cameron Rupp (79) split most of the starts this season. Eric Kratz (2) was called up in September. Kratz has since been outrighted to Lehigh Valley and opted for free agency.
Ruiz is under contract for another year and is not likely to attract interest in a trade, coming off the worst season of his career. Behind the plate, Rupp posted a higher FPCT (.993 v. .984) and a better CS rate (37.7 v. 19.3). Offensively, Rupp had 9 HR to Ruiz’ two. Rupp’s slash (.233/.301/.374/.675) was poor but better than Ruiz” slash (.211/.290/.285/.575). I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ruiz as the starter in April, but a slow transition to Rupp as the starter and Ruiz as the back up as the season progresses.
The affiliates finished with the following catchers on their rosters.
- AAA – Gabriel Lino,Logan Moore
- AA – Rene Garcia, Andrew Knapp
- A+ – Willians Astudillo, Wilson Garcia, Chace Numata
- A – Joel Fisher, Deivi Grullon, Jose Mayorga
- A- – Austin Bossart, Greg Brodzinski, Jesus Posso, Gregori Rivero
- GCL – Edgar Cabral, Rodolfo Duran, Jorge Alfaro
- DSL – Nerluis Martinez, Luis Liriano, Robert Paulino
- VSL – Adrian Acosta, Rafael Gamboa, Lenin Rodriguez, Wilman Silva
Knapp and Alfaro are probably the top catching prospects in the organization right now. Their performance in the AFL and winter leagues could determine which level each begins next season. Rumors of a hamstring injury for Alfaro may already have settled that. Assuming both are healthy next spring, they should get the majority of innings and at bats next season. So, that they will start at different levels is understood.
Additionally, Joseph’s days as a catcher are probably at an end. He, Tomassetti, and Posso have been moved to first base. The organization appears deeper at catcher right now. FA Rene Garcia is likely to look for greener pastures. I would think that Lino and Moore would both be able to step in as backups if Rupp or Ruiz suffer an injury, making the signing of some AAAA retread at catcher unnecessary. (Although, I don’t believe the Phillies think this) With all that in mind, I think the starters would look like this when the affiliates break camp and move north next spring.
- Lehigh Valley – Andrew Knapp
- Reading – Jorge Alfaro
- Clearwater – Chace Numata
- Lakewood – Deivi Grullon
I would expect backups to be Lino at AAA, Moore at AA, Astudillo as a third catcher at AA, and Mayorga, Wilson Garcia, Bossart, and Fisher divvied up between Clearwater and Lakewood with some experiencing downward or outward movement after the draft.
I would expect that Nerluis Martinez and maybe Lenin Rodriguez would join Cabral, Rivero, Brodzinski, Posso, Duran, and Rafael Marchan in XST. When they break camp, the starters might be –
- Williamsport – Edgar Cabral
- GCL – Nerluis Martinez
I would expect Rivero back in Williamsport, Duran back in GCL, Marchan assigned to one of the academies and a couple or three drafted catchers to fill out the rosters. If Brodzinski sticks, it would be Williamsport or Lakewood as a third catcher. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lenin Rodriguez ended up back in the VSL in 2016.
- DSL – Luis Liriano, Robert Paulino
- VSL – Lenin Rodriguez, Adrian Acosta, Rafael Gamboa, Wilman Silva
As I started thinking about the locations of the backup catchers, I remembered Gregg included possible assignments in his catchers’ report card. Too late to scrap the idea. So, I just finished up quickly. If this is too soon to talk about this again, just take the comments in whichever direction you want.