Best Tools: 2016 Clearwater Threshers

Hey guys, I am Kirsten Karbach, play-by-play broadcaster for the Clearwater Threshers. I look forward to contributing some of my thoughts on Threshers baseball here on Phuture Phillies, and would love to hear any suggestions you may have for future articles. My thanks to Jim Peyton for welcoming me aboard.

To kick things off – a look at my picks for “Best tools” amongst Threshers players in 2016.


Best Fastball: Victor Arano
Sits mid-90’s out of the bullpen, frequently hit 97-98.

Best Breaking Ball: Drew Anderson
Good break and good command, even when he didn’t have his best stuff he was still able to use it effectively to keep guys off balance.

Best Changeup: Will Morris
Not many guys at this level relied a ton on their changeups, but Morris mixed his low-80’s change well with a low-90’s fastball and used it as a put-away pitch.

Best Control: Tyler Viza
Viza – who throws five pitches (fastball, cutter, slider, curve, changeup) – walked only eight batters total in nine starts for Clearwater. His K to BB was nearly seven in 49.2 innings with the Threshers.

Best Speed/Baserunning: Scott Kingery
Kingery by far led the team with 26 stolen bases, and was successful 83.9% of the time. In his two-year career, Kingery is 41-of-49 (83.7%) in stolen base attempts.

Best Strikezone Discipline: Chace Numata
Numata struck out just 41 times in 94 games, while his 37 walks were third-most on the team. Had he amassed enough plate appearances to qualify, Numata would have led the league in plate appearances per strikeout ratio at 9.00. The leading qualifier was Kevin Taylor of St. Lucie, at 8.44 TPA/SO.

Best Power Hitter: Kyle Martin
Martin slammed 19 home runs, which tied Art Charles for the highest single-season mark by a Thresher, and tied for fourth-most all-time by any Clearwater batter.

Best Outfield Arm: Carlos Tocci
More for accuracy than for strength. Tocci generally shows very good awareness and led the team with nine outfield assists, good for fourth-most in the FSL.

Best Defender: Kyle Martin
Martin broke the FSL record for consecutive games without committing an error (95) at first base, and tied the mark for highest fielding percentage on record for FSL first basemen (.998). He did not commit an error until August 25 – on a wind-blown, dropped popper behind first base – and fell just nine games short of becoming the only FSL first baseman on record to turn in an errorless full season.

Under the Radar Prospect: Drew Anderson

Anderson returned from Tommy John Surgery this year to make seven strong starts in Lakewood, before debuting with four no-hit innings in Clearwater’s combined no-no over St. Lucie on July 10th.

The right-hander showcased some of the best stuff of any Clearwater arm in 2016. His fastball – which sits 92-95 and hit as high as 97 mph – and curveball are both big-league caliber pitches. Anderson also has a slider and a changeup but threw them rarely because he simply did not need them to be successful in the Florida State League. Anderson is still just 22 years old, and the development of at least one of those offerings as well as his ability to stay healthy will key his rise as a prospect moving forward.

34 thoughts on “Best Tools: 2016 Clearwater Threshers

  1. Kirsten….welcome on board, a good information.
    Also, you have seen up close daily Carlos Tocci now for almost two years….thoughts and possibly projections going forward for him?
    He has been the subject of some discussion on the board, for many years now.

    1. I can tell you everyone I’ve talked to as far as scouts and coaches seems to believe that Tocci will be a big leaguer once he matures physically and is able to put on some strength. He put together quite a solid year this year. His power numbers were basically identical to 2015 overall (31 xbh vs 29 total last year) but it seemed he did show a little bit better ability to drive the ball as the season went on, and that’s what it’s going to come down to. Otherwise I’d guess he profiles as a fourth outfielder, no question he has the defensive ability. Baseball-wise he has the tools, physically he’s not there yet.

      1. Kirsten, this is a question that you could never never get a straight answer from seasoned ballplayers but interesting to get a reading on from younger players, even if they answer anonymously:

        Based on what you’ve seen and from your discussions with friends playing in other organizations, how much difference is there in the ‘personality’ of the 30 baseball franchises?

        This takes in conditioning and other development, individual attention, learning to be a pro, game preparation, internal competition, developing a winning attitude, etc.

        It’s hard for me to think players wouldn’t rake note of these considerations and that they would have a perspective, even if they’ve only experienced one organization. The challenge is getting players to respond candidly.

      2. Kirsten,

        Thanks. I’m in Southwest Florida so I get to see the Threshers when they visit Ft Myers or Charlotte (Phils in the spring, too), and I share your observations on Tocci. He seemed to be driving the ball more in the games I saw, plus he did the other solid baseball things like his sacrifice flies and lay down good bunts when he needed to.

      3. Kristen – just a fair warning – don’t dive too deeply into the Carlos Tocci pool on here. He is easily out most polarizing prospect in terms of poster opinions. Personally I see him as a borderline 4th or 5th outfielder. I believe the defense is real but I don’t think he has the frame or musculature to develop into a proficient major league hitter.

        1. Of course my warning is in jest. We all love to spar on this site and will appreciate all of your contributions

  2. That’s awesome Kristin. I’m all on board with your Drew Anderson below the radar comments – he has the chance to jump up the prospect boards and I’ll probably put him somewhere in my top 30 based on your reports. Arano is also drawing quite a buzz these days.

    Enjoy next year – you may see the best group of starting pitching prospects who have ever spent time and Clearwater, but be warned, the group coming the following year (or the year after) might even be better. We’ve all kind of fallen in love with Sixto Sanchez.

    1. Nice, succinct report, Kirsten. Good job, and I look for more of the same. Incidentally, my daughter’s name is Kirsten….

  3. Welcome to Phuture Phillies Kirsten. You will find a large group of loyal followers and actually some pretty good insights from folks. I look forward to your reports, and would, with Romus, love to hear your views on Tocci. Thanks!

  4. Martin and Anderson are two players I am watching next year. Hopefully both make it to Reading before July, if Hoskins moves up.

  5. Kirsten, I’ve never been to the complex down there. Could you do an article that describes the stadium and the field, ie. height of outfield walls, any short porches, prevailing winds to aid or hinder flight of the ball, etc.

    1. Second this notion. As someone who would like to make a trip to ST at some point would be interested on your insights into the stadium, surrounding area, how ST is run by the team, etc.

  6. Kirsten is the name who broke my heart one time – but she’s a Mets fan so I get over her right away and I know it’s not you.

    Good way to start with a piece that you know like the back of your hand. With you and Jim around, we’ll have better coverage in CLW/GCL especially for the guys up here in Philly area.

    I like Drew Anderson a lot and hope that the Phils can hide him in the Rule V draft — I dream of Anderson as the Phils version of Jacob deGrom — young pitcher with TOR potential but flew under the radar.

  7. What about Leftwich? I would’ve thouht that Leftwich would be above Anderson prospect wise. I guess Leftwich fb is percieved as flat and hitable as he goes up.
    It will be a ton of fun to see the Lakewood pitchers being evaluated by Jim and Kristen next year.

  8. I was kinda on Anderson before the TJ surgery but after wow he’s really showing some special . I’m also like Kingery alot I think he could be a mlb regular for a long time. Ty welcome

  9. Kirsten – thanks for the write up. I’ve heard your work on the radio and you do a great job. I hope you get promoted within the organization as well. I agree that Anderson has an arm worth watching. I do believe he will be taken in the Rule 5 draft if not protected for just that reason. How excited should we get on Martin? 19 homers plus stellar defense at first is not bad. Next season in Reading should be telling.

  10. Welcome Kirsten. Off to a great start with a very good post. You asked for some suggestions and so I will share some thoughts:
    1. Ignore any criticism, especially from my posts. It is never personal. I like to take to play devil’s advocate to further deepen a debate. But I always appreciate the hard work you all do for nothing but the love of the game.
    2. Don’t mistake player criticisms for “hating.” Being a major leaguer is really hard. So I hold players to a really high standard. I don’t go along with groupthink. But I always respect the player.
    3. This group LOVES scouting reports, tool grades, pitch speed numbers, and stats to back up claims. You did a great job of this in your first post!
    4. This group also loves player comps.
    5. This group tends to overweight performance over scouting reports. Although some in this group (not myself) feel they are scouts (which they are not). So backing up stats with scouting reports you hear would be highly valued.

    Anyway, just some friendly advice. I think you will make a great contribution to our community. Thanks for sharing your insights.

    1. Kirsten,

      I was interested in your comments on Chace Numata and Kyle Martin. A couple of questions:

      What do you think of Numata’s future? I’ve liked what I’ve seen of him the past two years and he certainly had a strong season offensively this year. He also strikes me as a decent catcher, despite the passed balls.

      Likewise, how to you project Martin? Is he just a power hitter who doesn’t advance beyond AA or AAA or can he develop into a more all-around hitter and a future MLB starter?

      1. I agree with your thoughts on Numata – the offensive numbers this year have started to bring him some attention after playing behind guys like Andrew Knapp and Gabriel Lino for a year and a half. He’s always been quick with a strong arm behind the plate. He was one of the top guys in the league in CS %, and improved in terms of blocking as the year went on. In fact, almost all of his PBs came in the first half and he did not have any in the last month-plus.

        Martin’s going to be an interesting one to watch because the raw power is obvious, but somewhat similar to Dylan Cozens, there’s still a lot of work to do for him in developing as a hitter and achieving consistency.

  11. Kirsten Karbach. Exciting.

    So Kristen, I’m happy to read of KMartin’s master with the glove. Having only seen a handful of Thresher’s games this season, I was wondering if you could comment as to whether KMartin had a knack for making difficult plays, robbing base hits, etc., or if he was merely exceptionally consistent on routine plays.

    1. I would say he was more exceptionally consistent than he was flashy. He made a few (diving stops, over-the-shoulder in foul ground) but what was more impressive was his ability to pick it and save errors while not committing miscues of his own.

  12. Good to see Arano’s FB as rated the best…he was my pre-season sleeper/break-out guy……at some point thru mid-season next year….he (7th inning) along with Ramos (8th) Neris (9th) could be the 1-2-3 punch next season for the Phillies. His chances will depend plenty on how Jimmy Cordero’s production comes around next season.

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