And the Survey Says … (March 2016)

I occasionally receive and respond to survey requests.  My location in Clearwater, my ability to attend a lot of baseball activities from February thru November, and my continued involvement with Phuture Phillies provides me with the opportunity to actually see the players in person whom I write about.

Recently I received a request from Matt Winkelman of Phillies Minor Thoughts to respond to a series of survey questions.  Matt collects answers from a lot of people from across the industry who, “… either write about the Phillies,  write about Phillies’ prospects, see/think about Phillies’ prospects, or write about baseball nationally”, and builds an article from all the varied responses.

Matt’s article has posted and can be read at Phillies Minor Thoughts.  Twenty-six of the most knowledgeable Baseball and/or Phillies writers took part.

I put a lot of thought into some of my answers.  But with so many excellent answers from so many excellent writers, I expect that some of my work won’t make Matt’s final draft.  So, since I put a lot of thought into my answers, I decided to share them with you under my own byline.  If nothing else, this will give regular readers an idea where my head is.  I have often suppressed my thoughts on many subjects to protect my objectivity.  So, here’s a peak behind the curtain.

Text contained within (Parentheses and italics and bold) is a part of the answer I edited out before sending to Matt in an effort to shorten the answer or an update that occurred afterward.

  1. Who is your favorite prospect to watch in the Phillies’ system? I am fortunate to be able to get “eyes on” all the Phillies prospects as the pass through Clearwater each season. I see so many prospects, that there is no single answer to this question. However, over the past year, I have seen a lot of Cornelius Randolph’s at bats. Even I could see and appreciate his advanced approach for such a young prospect. (This past year has been a little tougher with so many new players added via trade who were directly assigned to higher classes and draft choices who were too advanced for the rookie teams and directly assigned to Lakewood.)
  2. Who is your choice for biggest breakout in 2016? Well, following the definition for a break out player that we used at Phuture Phillies last season, “… a player who is expected to perform well but who does so with a much better year than anticipated and comes from the upper tier of prospects, say from within the top 15-20″, I would expect Franklyn Kilome to have that breakout season.  In spite of his high ranking, a lot of my readers have questions about him.  He has reported to camp in better physical shape after attending a winter workout program in Clearwater. His FB has the same pop and downward movement, his off speed pitches still have good movement, his CB still snaps off.  If he can avoid the type of injury that slowed his development last season and can pitch through the rigors of a full season in Lakewood (where I expect him to begin the season, they are already stretching him out to 5 innings in ST), I would expect him to show the progress that will quiet any doubters. 
  3. Who will be the top rookie for the Phillies in 2016? Who still has rookie eligibility on the Active Roster? Darnell Sweeney? Daniel Stumpf? Tyler Goeddel? Who’s likely to be called up from the 40-Man Roster in time to have impact? Nick Williams, Roman Quinn, J.P. Crawford? Jake Thompson, Mark Appel, Zach Eflin, Jimmy Cordero, Elvis Araujo? Since Tyler Goeddel is likely to be starting in the outfield on opening day and will likely get a lot of ABs this season, I would think that he would be their top rookie. Not that I expect him to have the same type of season that Odubel Herrera had last season. But, it probably won’t take that kind of season to be this year’s top rookie.
  4. Which player MLB/MiLB are you most interested to see how their 2016 season plays out? Jorge Alfaro. He has looked very impressive down here in Clearwater. I have read about his deficiencies as a catcher. Either the reports were wrong or he was really bad and improved a whole lot. Sure he still needs work behind the plate. And he’ll need to improve on his whiff rate. But when you see the whole package, you salivate. I watched him run out a ground ball. He has the better than catcher speed where you could see him in the outfield. But, if he can stay behind the plate, his bat could lift him close to an elite catcher status.
  5. Who will be the Phillies best major league hitter in 2016? If he recovers from his finger injury and avoids the “sophomore jinx”, Odubel Herrera.  (I think as a top of the order hitter, he’s going to have more opportunities than Maikel Franco who will likely not be “protected” in the line up and therefore not have as many opportunities to see “hittable” pitches.)
  6. Who will be the Phillies best major league pitcher in 2016? Aaron Nola.
  7. Do Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz make it through the season with the Phillies? Yes.  (Although, I wondered if, in the wake of the Adam LaRoche stuff in Chicago, Matt Klentak didn’t place a call and say, “Hey I’ve got a 1B/DH and $30M.  Interested?”)
  8. Do the Phillies bring Mackanin back for the 2017 season? Yes.  (This one answered itself a couple days after I replied to the survey when the Phillies extended a contract thru 2017.)
  9. Who do the Phillies take with the #1 pick in the draft? BPA. I believe they have already made up their collective minds and that only an injury to or an implosion by that player will change their minds. I believe it will be a pitcher. I believe that they don’t care about the college v. HS debate as much as others. But, I believe their experience of having once drafted a local HS pitcher with a high pick may influence them a little. All that to say A.J. Puk.  (Note: Puk had a good start against Missouri and a bad start against Kentucky AFTER I responded.)
  10. Who will be the highest ranked prospect in the system next year, excluding the #1 overall pick? It could be Randolph by default if Crawford, Williams, and Thompson are all called up and lose their rookie eligibility. But, without going into a long dissertation, I’ll say Crawford.  (Long dissertation: Crawford didn’t look comfortable batting against the pitchers in the Grapefruit League games.  He still had the same patient approach I remember when he was in Clearwater.  He just looked like he would need more time than 3 months at AAA before forcing a call up.)
  11. What pick will the Phillies have in the 2017 draft? Not 1:1. I would say in the 3-5 range maybe as low as 7.  (Since responding, I have attended some more games and the Phillies’ probable everyday line up doesn’t look capable of scoring very many runs.  After the mirage of spring training is behind them, I expect the starting pitchers to starve for run support, and the bullpen to cost the starters and team victories.  Back to a top 3 pick.)
  12. How many games will the Phillies win to make that happen? I think they could win as many as 70 games. Certainly more than the 63 they won last season. But, I’m not prepared to believe that their Grapefruit League success is going to carry over to the regular season. The youth of their rotation, the questions in the bullpen, and the uncertainty that their spring offensive output will continue against a steady diet of major league pitching prevents me from being more optimistic.  (I will stick with 70, but I am beginning to think that is overly optimistic.)
  13. What year will the Phillies make the playoffs again? Make? 2020. Contend? 2018. And I feel I’m being optimistic saying 2020.

58 thoughts on “And the Survey Says … (March 2016)

  1. Great stuff Jim, I have very little to disagree with you about except I think it is Groome at 1.1, not Puk. In fact, if for some reason it is not Groome, I think it is a hitter because I am less and less in on Puk.

  2. I would have said JP for the top rookie. I think he is up and playing everyday somewhere around the trade deadline at the latest.

    Goeddel might stay on the roster all year and manage to keep his head above water but I still see JP having a great couple of months in Philly.

    I’ll buy the entire board lunch at Del Frisco’s if Puk is the pick 🙂

    1. Joe Jordan announced that Crawford (and Quinn, Cozens, and Alfaro) will start the season in Reading. Makes it unlikely that Crawford will get more than a cup of coffee in September.

      1. Again I don’t think JP is going to take that lying down. As he has done in previous seasons he is going to force their hand and if they want to play stubborn and not move him up it will be at their own peril.

        1. they are not going to move him to the majors until he is probably past being ready. I would expect a September call-up in 2016 and then a final move to the majors by mid-season in 2017.

          Other than to generate fan interest, there isn’t any reason for them to make the move earlier..

  3. Jim, I share nearly all of opinions and perspectives. However, regarding pick 1.1, I think its going to be Groome or Pint. I don’t see them selecting a hitter.

    DMAR – I attended three games this spring and Jim is right. JP is clearly a wonderful prospect but he does need some time with advanced pitchers. I think the club keeps him in AAA (even with an injury or two to Galvis, Hernandez and/or Blanco) until September. You should see him challenge for the starting SS job next year. Goeddel is the best bet for top rookie (maybe Thompson is second).

    I want to be on record for 67 wins in 2016.

    1. I respect that view of JP and maybe share it but he is far more advanced so when we say he needs more seasoning I’m thinking for him a half season at AAA will be all he needs before he is ready for his MLB debut.

      We’ll see I could be wrong and sitting down for more crow.

    2. Puk and Hansen have done nothing to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Let’s give some time to Groome and Pint to see if they can ascend and leave the College pitchers in the dust. Only time will tell. Can’t anoint anyone top dog right now.

  4. in that survey above:
    “What pick will the Phillies have in the 2017 draft? ”
    Eighth….behind NL teams of… Braves, Reds, Marlins, Brewers, and Padres and two AL teams…A’s, and WSox.

    1. Wow that is a bold prediction Romus. I’ll give you the Braves, Reds, Brew Crew, Friars and Rockies.

      My AL Team is the ChiSox and they are going to be the surprise team of the the AL Central.

      ……Pile on on the crow

      1. DMAR…I decided not to put the Rockies in the mix before the Phillies, rather the Padres….but that could go either way in the NL_West.
        Dodger, Giants and D-BAcks will beat up on the Padres and Rockies.
        As for your ChiSox……that division along with the remaining AL teams is a tough league. Indians could win that division with their pitching, and you cannot sell the Tigers short if Verlander stays healthy. The Twins are a team that could plateau at .500. Of course KC is the team to beat.

    2. Sorry m8 but they will still be in top 3. They aren’t any better. There pitching staff has no Hamels. The bullpen is all new and no one has stood out. Better outfield defense I believe will help. But as you know I am not sold on Bourjous I think he is a nice defensive player with a bad bat. Love Herrera. No catcher that will hit. No hit shortstop. good third basemen. Not a big ruf fan. so I don’t see the big improvement but that’s just my take on the team. Been wrong before..

  5. – I agree the top rookie will be Tyler Goeddel. If the Phillies get to their 8th starter before the trade deadline, then I switch my pick to Jake Thompson.

    – Vince Velasquez is the major league player and Nick Williams is the Minor League player I am most interested in following. Those two players seem to have just enough questions and high enough ceilings, that could wildly impact the length of the re-build.

    – Best major league hitter is Franco. Hererra will incur serious regression on his Batting Average this year.

    – Best Major League Pitcher will be Vince Velasquez, but he will be shut down in August, at 150 innings.

    – The Phillies having an Analytical leaning front office, understand probability, and will select the best available bat in the draft at 1:1.

    – Crawford will not get 130 ABs in the Majors this year, so he will again be the top prospect.

    1. Minor league player I most want to follow is Roman Quinn in order to see what he can do with his blazing speed and in developing as a hitter. JP and Hoskins come close behind.

      Major leaguer to follow: Maikel Franco. All-Star potential as a power hitter and he might achieve that this year.

      Really enjoy the Puk vs. Groome vs. et al debate on this board.

    2. Like everything with the exception of the Hererra regression. I personally think he has all star potential………just my opinion.

      1. A .387 BABIP, 5% BB% and 24% K% shouts regression. If his BABIP falls to a still other-worldly, .360, he will have a lower Batting average than Franco. Franco strikes-out half as much as Hererra and has 3x the power. Barring injury, there is no way Hererra is a better hitter than Franco this year.

        1. Anonymous there is NO WAY unless he gets hurt that franco who everyone on here knows I love, will have a higher average than Herrera. No way mark it down. and I hope you keep this post

          1. The question in the poll, wasn’t “who will have the highest batting average”. The question was: “who is the better hitter?”. Franco was the better hitter last year and he will be the better hitter in the upcoming year.

    3. Anonymous. I just don’t understand a person who watches baseball like you do. Can make that statement that Herrera will regress. That kid is special. And after a year of learning a new postion with that bat speed. he will be special. The kids a star maybe a allstar.

          1. rocco…..the team could surprise……not .500…..but maybe mid-70s. I like to think Hellickson and Morton will be more productive than Harang and Williams. Of course, that may also mean they will be traded in July.

  6. You guys can post your predictions on Matt’s site too. I don’t want to be all alone!

  7. My win total will go up as the rookies come up . More talent means more wins the Sp is better then last yr. The rookie between 3 Goebbel, Thompson, Williams . I think Knapp will be before long.

    1. Cozens all arms on that swing. Great power. If he learns the strikezone. really could be special. I want to see more of him, hard to judge on just last night

  8. One thing that will help the Phils Pitchers in 2016 tremendously will be the outfield/infield defense. Gone are the hideous days of Delmon Young, BR and DomBrown giving away run after run by misplaying or lack of ability to get after balls hit to the outfield. I always felt the greatest mistake RAJ made in assembling his great pitching staff was his underappreciation of needing a defense that could actually get to the balls put into play. The year you had those three in the outfield, we had a dead weight at 3b in MY and poor defense at 1B. About the only place you got good defense was the JR and Freddy combo up the middle. We shouldn’t be giving away runs with the inability to make defensive stops and I think we’ll gain a few games with this fact alone. I am in the 72-74 wins camp as I believe the young pitching depth we have this year will offset and be an upgrade over last years JW, Chad and rotating drek of a 5th starter. I see our starters adding 6 wins, I feel we’ll piece together a bullpen but we may be -3-5 wins in BP, our defense will add +6 wins and I believe our offense has 3 win upside over last year. Factor in the better clubhouse attitude without Ryan and Paps and with Pete M. And we will have a team I will actually watch.

  9. Great point facts, and I think this group understands that outstanding Defense goes hand in hand with good Pitching. I also love that they bunted more and Mackanin emphasized, so much, the squeeze and hitting behind the runners. Despite the HRs in ST, this team will have a hard time scoring. Franco will not get a lot of good pitches to swing at as there is no lineup protection for him. So, the improvement may not be wins, but what I am looking for, in addition to the progress of the prospects, is improved fundamentals and Defense at the Major League level.

    1. Charlie Manuel says that Odubel will provide the power numbers this year.
      It wouldn’t surprise me if he gets in the 17-20 HR range……but could slip in the BA/OBP to the BA .270/275 area.
      I like to see him in the 3-hole when the season begins in front of cleaner Franco and then maybe Howard/Ruf.at 5.

      1. Romus the more I see of Odubel. the more I think he has a chance to be better than Franco. The swing on that low inside fast ball was unreal. That was one of the pitches. Dom brown couldn’t hit. and good left-hand hitters kill low inside pitches. Its there sweet spot.

  10. Not to be contentious, and I understand the expectation for regression by Herrera, but isn’t it just as likely that Franco suffers some regression, too?

    1. No, it’s not just as likely. The indicators say the opposite. Franco had a .297 BABiP and a 15% K rate. Hererra had .387 BABiP and a 24% K rate. If anything, Franco should easily hit for more average. I don’t know why this is even up for debate.

      Franco is the rare hitter, who is both a contact hitter and power hitter.

      1. Against some heavy odds, both Franco and Herrera have a good chance of reaching and breaking through their original ceiling projections. Herrera has an incredibly unusual hit tool and he’s already a plus fielder who continues to improve. Herrera’s big X factor is that he’s so strong and it looks like he’s learning to lift the ball when necessary – if he does hit 17-22 homers, he’s a perennial all-star. And, if what we see is real (and, largely, I think it is), he has a chance to go down as one of the great Rule 5 picks ever.

        There are hardly enough superlatives to describe Maikel Franco, the hitter. He has tremendous hand-eye coordination and easy plus to plus plus power to all fields. If you put a pitch anywhere he can reach it, he can almost certainly drive it out of the park. And he also has improved plate discipline. When you watch him it’s an awful lot like watching a young Manny Ramirez – it sounds silly when you first think about it, but watch him carefully and watch how he swings and how the ball flies off his bat and, trust me, it’s not so nutty. So I’ve migrated my ceiling comparisons from Aramis Ramirez (a fine player in his own right) to Manny Ramirez (one of the great pure hitters of all time). Franco has a chance to be a truly special player.

        1. catch….you may want to curb your enthusiasm ever so slightly. It is refreshing to see it, but Manny Ramirez! This early on in his career….I will be happy with Aramis.

          1. I’m not saying he’ll be Manny Ramirez – that’s still highly unlikely. I’m saying my estimation of his ceiling has been altered and that’s now what his ceiling looks like. That said, I do think he’s going to be a better player at his peak than Aramis Ramirez, although whether he can play well for as long as Ramirez is anyone’s guess. One thing that is about impossible to judge is a player’s longevity. Who would think Chase Utley would get hurt and peter out by age 33 or so while big old David Ortiz continues to slug until his 40th birthday. It’s the most inexact science imaginable.

          2. Just dropped my kid at work. he works at xfinity. The people in phillies shirts looks like a sea of red.

        1. This is a surprising response to a post that was not insulting or nasty. A simple opposing view. I see that opposing interpretation is not welcome on what has become of YOUR site. Won’t happen again.

          1. Your answer seemed intended to cut off any discussion that was counter to yours. Now, your acting like a child with your “opposing interpretation” remark.

            This is not my site. I keep it going for readers and commenters like you.

            But I don’t like being dismissed when I ask a question.

            For the record, I’ve been a Franco guy from his days in Clearwater. One of my first comments was “what’s an arm bar?” because I didn’t know what it was or see what the problem was with him. If I had been dismissed back then the way I felt I was today, I would have not commented again. Then where would your outlet to condescend to people be?

            1. Well, you interpreted wrong. I did not dimiss you. I gave my opinion, which was different from yours. Using profanity and name calling me doesn’t make your opinion any more valid. It makes you look bad, not me. And if someone having an opposing interpretation of two players’ stats, is being condescending to you, then you have a problem.

            2. VOR,

              As a disinterested observer who hasn’t met either of you and has no axe to grind, I think you probably do owe Jim at least a little bit of a stepping back from the offending sentence. It was dismissive and disrespectful.

              I’m sure that wasn’t your intention, and you made a really, really great point in presenting the statistical contrast between Herrera and Franco. Thanks for that.

              One of the things that makes this site such a joy is the respect shown for differing opinions. It’s easy to unintentionally slip, but worth taking a little extra care in reading a post before hitting the submit button, IMHO.

              Finally, let me repeat what I’ve said many times: Thanks, Jim, for all the hard volunteer work that goes into publishing the best Phillies prospects site on the web. All of us benefit from it, but only you do the work to publish it.

  11. Because you are not watching the player. You are just going off last years stats . Do you watch them play? did you ever play this game. Do you know how hard it is to come to a team as a rule 5 player. not a top prospect and learn a new position and hit too which this kid did. Stats aren’t the only thing to judge a player. You sound like Larry and his we cant get that guy type comments. And if you read this site you know I was a big fan of Franco from seeing him in reading. and said that Keith law was nut with his comments. When he said this kid had a bar arm swing.. But as good as Franco is going to be this kid Herrerra has a chance to be better.

    1. ‘bar arm swing’….LOL rocco.,
      …..it was arm-bar swing, left arm did not have enough flexibility.

      1. Lmao sorry but you know what I meant. And I was on that kid. even thru laws remarks. Watching him, I just never understood laws comments.

    2. If you watch Franco, he does have that hitch in his swing. His bat is so quick, however, he catches up to everything anyway.

  12. Sorry one more thing. That swing last night on his first homerun. Was so impressive. I Just couldn’t believe how fast his bat is. watch him, instead of reading numbers from a first year in the majors and as I stated, he had to learn to play a new postion.

  13. I think both are going to be great hitters , I watched tonight’s game I was hoping to see a better bullpen . I didn’t also who’s going to be the bats that cover Herrera and Franco . If I’m the opposing pitcher I’D take my chances with the rest of the lineup . Nola did look good tonight best I saw him all Spring.

    1. MLB.com’s:
      Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 45 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
      Putting a timetable on when — or if — two-sport athletes start figuring things out on the baseball field can be a difficult task. Cozens was a Division I football prospect in high school who signed out of the second round of the 2012 Draft rather than head to Arizona. His progress had been slow, but 2015 might be the year people look back at as the one where he started figuring it out. Cozens has a ton of raw power and during the early stages of his career, he would sell out in trying to tap into it too frequently, leading to escalated strikeout totals. The Phillies asked him to forget about his power and focus on his hit tool and he responded, with a drastic reduction to his strikeout rate. The raw power is legitimate and the refined approach should help him use it more consistently. Cozens runs very well for his size and can even steal a base and he’s worked hard to become a capable corner outfielder. As Cozens hits the upper levels of the system full-time, he’ll need to show that the improvements he made in 2015 will stick. Doing so will prove the Phillies were right to be patient.

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