Post Season Report Card–Starting Pitching, LV, Reading and Clearwater

A reminder that grades are based on a players expected performance (in my mind) for 2016, not against others.  Next up: Corner Infielders

Lehigh Valley

Anthony Vasquez, Soon to be 30, Re-Signed as free agent in 2016; 28 games (27 starts) between Reading and Lehigh Valley; 12-4 with a 3.08ERA; 3 complete games; 172.1IP 168H 43BB 119K; 15 HR allowed; .261 opp avg; 1.22 WHIP; 0.88 GO/AO; 2.2BB/6.2K per 9; .244 opp avg last 30 days; Vasquez was once again excellent, with stats that were actually slightly better for Lehigh Valley than for Reading.  Grade: A-; 2017: Having thrown 300+ very good innings over 2 seasons for the Phils organization without getting a spot start in the majors, Vasquez will go wherever he has his last best shot at the majors.

Nick Pivetta, 23, Acquired from Washington in 2015; 27 starts, 12-8 with a 3.27ERA between Reading and Lehigh Valley; 148.2IP 128H 51BB 138K; 12 HR allowed; .235 opp avg; 1.20WHIP; 1.07 GO/AO; 3.1BB/8.4K per 9; For Lehigh Valley: 5 starts; 1-2 with a 2.55ERA; .233 opp avg; 1.22WHIP; Major steps forward this year for Pivetta who stayed predominately healthy, pitching very well all year. He should be protected on the 40 man roster in the off season and projects to be a mainstay of the ‘Pigs ’17 rotation.  If 2017 is successful, a September ’17 callup is likely.

Ben Lively, 24, Acquired from Reds in 2014; 28 starts between Reading and Lehigh Valley; 18-5 with a 2.69ERA; 170.2IP 118H 42BB 139K; .192 opp avg; 0.94WHIP; 0.85 GO/AO; 2.2BB/7.3K per 9; For Lehigh Valley: 19 starts, 11-5 with a 3.06ERA; .196 opp avg; 0.93WHIP; 2.1BB/6.9K per 9; .150 opp avg last 30 days; Simply outstanding this year. Lively took his game to another level, Grade: A+; 2017: I see him as the Phils #5 starter

David Buchanan, 27, Phils 7th round pick in 2010; 27 starts; 10-9 with a 3.98ERA; 167.1IP 163H 40BB 95K; 15HR allowed; .257 opp avg; 1.21 WHIP; 1.31 GO/AO; 2.2BB/5.1K per 9; .239 vs LHH, .266 vs RHH, .273 opp avg last 30 days; 6-4 with a 2.93ERA in 11 post all star game starts; Buchanan was just awful during the first part of the season but had a very strong second half and the whole body of work looks pretty good when it is all said and done.  That said, I don’t think (based on Buchanan’s experience) that he is more than a AAAA pitcher, and his days in the organization are likely numbered with the talent surrounding him.  Grade: C+; 2017: Another organization

Phil Klein, 27, Acquired off waivers in 2016; 14 games (10 starts) 5-1 with a 1.52ERA; 65.1IP 44H 13BB 76K; .190 opp avg; 0.87WHIP; 0.98 GO/AO; 1.8BB/10.5K per 9; .225 vs LHH; .193 vs RHH; Klein was picked up in late June and really opened some eyes putting together a string of excellent starts, going deep into games.  As a current member of the 40 man, I expect to see him in Philly after the minor league season concludes.  Grade: A;

Mark Appel, 25, Acquired from Houston in 2015; 8 starts, 3-3 with a 4.46ERA; 38.1IP 40H 20BB 34K; 4.7BB/8.0K per 9; .242 vs LHH, .284 vs RHH. Appel last pitched in May and needed season ending surgery that should have him ready for 2017.  Many believed he would join the Phils rotation at some point in 2016, so the season was a real disappointment.  2017: Lehigh Valley rotation

Alec Asher, 24, Acquired from Texas in 2015; 9 starts between Reading and Lehigh Valley; 4-2 with a 2.45ERA; 58.1IP 44H 8BB 40K; .198 opp avg; 1.2BB/6.2K per 9; Asher started out on fire, pitching far better than anything we saw in 2015 and then was suspended for 100 games for the use of PED’s.  Put simply, it will take time to work out if what we saw was real, or as a result of the use of PED’s.  Grade: D; 2017: Lehigh Valley



Tom Eshelman, 22, Acquired from Houston in 2015; 24 starts; 9-4 with a 4.27ERA between Clearwater and Reading; 120.2IP 137H 28BB 119K; 11HR allowed; .281 opp avg; 1.37 WHIP; 1.19 GO/AO; 2.1BB/8.9K per 9; 13 starts for Reading: 5-5 with a 5.14ERA; .307 opp avg; 1.57 WHIP; Eshelman was excellent in Clearwater and very mediocre for Reading dealing with multiple DL stints.  Reason for promise but plenty of work to do.  Grade: C+; 2017: Reading

Mark Leiter, 25, Phils 22nd round pick in 2013; 23 games (17 starts); 6-3 with a 3.93ERA; 103.2IP 91H 30BB 94K; .240 opp avg; 1.17WHIP; 0.97 GO/AO; 2.6BB/8.2K per 9; .253 vs LHH, .229 vs RHH, .277 last 30 days; Leiter missed the first five weeks of the season injured and it took him awhile to establish himself in the Reading rotation but when he did, he did a nice job.  He is Rule 5 eligible but I don’t expect him protected predominately because of limited up side with his age.  Still, even with “limited up side”, what the Phils may have is a competent middle reliever sometime in ’17 or ’18.  Grade: B; 2017: Lehigh Valley

Ricardo Pinto, 22, Signed as a free agent in 2011; 27 games (25 starts); 7-6 with a 4.10ERA; 156IP 150H 51BB 101K; 20 HR allowed; .253 opp avg; 1.29 WHIP; 1.06 GO/AO; .243 ve LHH, .261 vs RHH, .204 last 30 days; 2.9BB/5.8K per 9; Coming off an outstanding 2015, Pinto had an up and down 2016, but ending on an up note with several good outings at the end of the season.  The home run ball really hurt Pinto, a problem that will need to be addressed for a significant move forward.  Grade: B-; 2017: With an expected glut of starters at Lehigh Valley to start next season, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Pinto open ’17 in Reading with a call coming to Allentown in May after things shake out a bit.

John Richy, 24, Acquired from Dodgers in 2015; 23 starts between Clearwater and Reading; 8-8 with a 4.44ERA; 119.2IP 123H 42BB 78K; .270 opp avg; 1.38WHIP; 0.82 GO/AO; 3.2BB/5.9K per 9; For Reading: 13 starts, 4-4 with a 5.11ERA; .278 opp avg; 1.49 WHIP; 3.7BB/5.9K per 9; Richy was very average this season, allowed too many walks and failed to put away enough hitters; Was very hittable at times.  Grade: C; 2017: Reading

Tyler Viza, 21, Phils 32nd round pick in 2013; 25 starts between Clearwater and Reading; 10-6 with a 3.96ERA; 143.2IP 155H 31BB 113K; 17HR allowed; .274 opp avg; 1.29 WHIP; 0.97 GO/AO; 1.9BB/7.1K per 9; For Reading: 16 starts, 4-6 with a 4.69ERA; .274 opp avg; 1.31 WHIP; 0.93 GO/AO; 2.2BB/5.6K per 9; 2016 has to be considered a successful year for Viza who jumped two levels by years end and was performing generally well for Reading.  Still only 21, Viza has learned plenty during his time in the organization and has turned himself from 32n round pick to potential 2018 major leaguer.  Grade: B; 2017: Reading rotation


Drew Anderson, 22, Phils 21st round pick in 2012; 15 starts; 3-4 with a 2.70ERA between Lakewood and Clearwater; 70IP 55H 22BB 78K; 3HR allowed; .218 opp avg; 1.10WHIP; 0.82 GO/AO; 2.8BB/10.0K per 9; 8 starts for Clearwater, 2-1 with a 1.93ERA; .217 opp avg; 1.10WHIP; Anderson came back in late May off of Tommy John surgery and was outstanding throughout the year, progressing to Clearwater before he was injured during his last start of the year where he lasted just 0.2IP.  Grade: B..simply because of the question marks that now exist because of the late season injury.  2017: If he is healthy, he is likely to begin in Clearwater.

Eineiry Garcia, 21, Signed as a free agent in 2011; 20 games (19 starts); 12-4 with a 2.68ERA; 117.2IP 94H 36BB 91K; .219 opp avg; 1.10 WHIP; 1.03 GO/AO; 2.8BB/7.0K per 9; .215 vs LHH, .220 vs RHH, .213 last 30 days; Excellent year for Garcia who threw consistently well for Clearwater minus two short DL stints.  Grade: A-; 2017: Reading

Luke Leftwich, 22, Phils 7th round pick in 2015; 23 starts; 10-7 with a 3.38ERA between Lakewood and Clearwater; 122.2IP 119H 35BB 137K; 6HR allowed; .255 opp avg; 1.26 WHIP; 0.83 GO/AO; 2.6BB/10.1K per 9; For CW: 11 starts, 3-4 with a 5.07ERA; 55IP 64H 17BB 49K; .292 opp avg; 1.47 WHIP; 2.8BB/8.0K per 9; Leftwich dominated the SAL and was called up after 12 starts during which he was averaging 12 K’s per game for Lakewood.  It was bumpy in Clearwater for Leftwich, but the promise still showed pretty consistently.  Grade: B-; 2017: Clearwater

Brandon Leibrandt, 23, Phils 6th round pick in 2014; 6 starts, 4-1 with a 2.25ERA; 28IP 21H 10BB 21K; .216 opp avg; 1.11WHIP; 1.24 GO/AO; 3.2BB/6.8K per 9; .250 vs LHH, .205 vs RHH, .179 last 30 days; Leibrandt spent the large majority of the year on the DL, coming off at the beginning of August and throwing well in limited action.  He is slated to pitch in the Arizona Fall League and his performance there should be a good marker on what is to come in ’17 for Leibrandt.  Grade: Inc

Shane Watson, 23, Phils Comp Rd pick in 2012; 21 starts between Lakewood and Clearwater; 6-7 with a 3.67ERA; 110.1IP 110H 40BB 92K; .261 opp avg; 1.36 WHIP; 1.19 GO/AO; 3.3BB/7.5K per 9; For Clearwater: 14 starts, 4-5 with a 3.93ERA; .282 opp avg; 1.51WHIP; For the first time Watson showed glimpses of why he was a high draft pick. He finally moved passed the SAL league and had some occasional success for Clearwater but landed on the DL multiple times and was far from overpowering.  I don’t think Watson has done enough for the Phils to protect him on the 40 man.  Grade: C+; 2017: Clearwater


22 thoughts on “Post Season Report Card–Starting Pitching, LV, Reading and Clearwater

  1. There will be lots of competition for starters spots. Clearwater could have 7/8 starters. I’ll enjoy those discussions after the playoffs.

    1. Alec Asher pitches tomorrow night vs the Nats.
      Ricky Bottalico mentions last night after the Marlins game…..if the starts he gets this September are not up to expectations…he may be gone. Wink-winking….the PED situation this year may have played a role in his early improvement.
      IMO……I guess if he is not protected come two months from now, that may be a telltale sign

      1. Ricky Bo has zero inside info. Asher will likely be protected and be back. He developed a new two seamer that everyone wants to see.

        1. Hopefully Asher shows something new and improved these last few weeks. If so, the Hamels trade will have enhanced our future pitching outlook substantially.

          Eickhoff – check
          Thompson – check, as he continues to adjust
          Asher – we’ll see, without great expectations from the get go
          Harrison – a write-off, and the only one as of now
          Alfaro – so far he’s on course developmentally
          Williams – the x-factor

          By 2018 we should have a fair assessment of RAJ’s finale.

  2. This is kinda crazy all the pitching that’s in the farm. There are not a ton of top of the rotation guys but there are a few that if the stars aligned could be decent number 2s really good 3s (Garcia, Anderson, Pinto, Pivetta). The best part is we haven’t even got to Kilome, Medina, Sixto, Llovera, Irvin yet. But with the above group I honestly think Lively and Pivetta will turn out better than Thompson with Pivetta maybe being better than Eflin and Eickhoff, in my opinion that is.

    1. Eickhoff has been very good in his two years with the big club. Getting him before his break out was either great scouting or luck. At this point given his two year track record, I’d doubt either are better than Eickhoff.

  3. I think the guy on this list that disappoints me the most is Pinto. I honestly don’t understand why he is so hyped up. He sits low 90’s. seems to get hit hard and doesn’t K a lot of batters. Some have said that he is a possible #3 starter. I would love for someone to explain why that is.

    1. I agree. Maybe there’s something he does that’s special that you need to see to appreciate, but what I’ve seen so far is not all that impressive.

    2. The 20 HRs is just mind blowing. Add to that he’s only striking out 5.8/9 innings I’m wondering what all the hype is about.

      1. The hype was from 2014 in Williamsport and the first part of last year in Lakewood….his metrics, especially K/9 were very good. Climbing the ladder saw better hitters and approaches, especially this year in AA. Lets see how he adjusts. And those seeing him as a MLB #3 may be too optimistic. Like Severino Gonzalez evolved into, he may be relieving in two years.

        1. There were multiple reports of him throwing a plus to plus-plus change up which I think contributed to the hype. I also feel like his velocity was exaggerated because I swear there were reports of him sitting in the mid 90’s.

      2. One thing to keep in mind is the ballpark. He gave up 11 HRs in 67 innings at home. He had 9 HRs in 89 innings away from home. It doesn’t give a warm fuzzy feeling but a 22 y/o in his first season in AA, requires a little more time before he gets thrown out as a miss. He should see a drop in our top 30 and that’s all.

        1. Good point-we’re always cautioned to viewvthe HR stats of Reading hitters with a little skepticism; why not use the same skepticism for the pitchers?

  4. What’s most significant in the long term is that regardless many of these young arms turn out as big league pitchers, they could be huge in acquiring a major bat which could very well be the greater need within the foreseeable future.

    1. Can NEVER have too much pitching. It will take 3 projected #1 starters to make 1, and so forth down the line. 3 to 1. 1 gets injured and one performs 2 levels below expectations. Phils have no legitimate “aces” right now, but several who could develop into solid # 2’S with a positive surprise to elevate one or two to ‘ace’ status. I wouldn’t be too quick to throw Asher out. He’s unlikely to repeat the PED and his bb/ip rate is that of a pitcher.

      I look for a breakout year from Eshelman next year. This was his first go round in pro ball and he had a few descent outings in AA.

      Ven lively looks like he’s ready for the next level.

      With all these pitchers, what standard should the phils set to remain in the rotation, throughout the rotation? 4.00 ERA for all 5 spots.??!!……..over @ 6 starts?

      2.0 for ace, 2.50 for # 2, 3.00 for # 3 & 4, and 4.00 for # 5. 🙂

      Jesse Biddle, where are you?

  5. Asher may get several starts for Phillies with Klein maybe getting a couple. Wildcards are Pivetta (some what unlikely) and Lively being promoted for a start or 2 in September but at the cost of Buchanan or another fringe pitcher’s 40 man roster spot. I don’t count Buchanan out as he may be given 1 last chance on Phillies to show something but we will see. As for next year we will likely see a decent roster purge occur.

  6. I project the starting rotation to be VV, Nola, Eflin, Eickhoff and Thompson. I don’t think Thompson gains anything by going back to LHV. Nola and Eflin are rehabbing, so we can’t know what their status will be, so Morgan is probably next up. Although I root for him, I think his future is in the bullpen. Lively and Pivetta, Leiter, Asher and Appel should be the starters at LHV, with some veteran mixed in.

  7. If Gregg’s analysis is true and his projections for next year too, there are at least 4 starters for LHV (Pivetta, Appel, Asher & Leiter). Lively, Klein, Buchanan & Vasquez could be in Philly or another club or in LHV. Reading has 5 legitimate starters in Eshelman, Pinto, Richy, Viza and E. Garcia. CLW has 10 guys who could be making up their rotation. Arauz, Gilbert, Kilome, Tevares, Tirado, Irvin, Anderson, Leftwich, Leibrandt and Watson are the 10. LKW could have 7 people vying for the starting spots: Dominguez, Medina, Paulino, Romero, Suarez, Llovera & Carrasco. Wmsprt has at least 4 with Falter, Sanchez, Stewart and Fanti. GCL has Gowdy.

    That’s a lot of pitching. If someone falters there’s 4 or 5 guys ready to step up. This organization has never been this deep. Not even close.

  8. Surprised to see people commenting about Pintos possible role. Maybe the Phils were having him work on his slider or some other aspect of his pitching that made his numbers not look good? He’s still a top 30 for sure

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