Report Card–Starting Pitching, LV, REA and CW

The next several weeks will feature a report card for every player in the organization.  The “grade” that will be given is a grade that is based on my pre-season expectations on how that player would perform against what actually happened.  Included are players currently on the Phils that bounced back and forth between LV and Philly.

Lehigh Valley

Tom Eshelman, 23, Acquired from Houston in 2015; 23 starts between Reading and Lehigh Valley; 13-3 with a 2.40ERA; 150IP 128H 18BB 102K; .233 opp avg; 0.97WHIP; 0.91GO/AO   ; Eshelman was consistently outstanding all year.  Not overpowering but is a consistent strike thrower that keeps hitters very off balanced. He has a high pitching IQ and having watched Eshelman start probably a dozen games live over the last 2 years, I believe he will be a very solid major league starter.  Grade: A; 2018: Will compete for the #4-5 spot in the Phils rotation, but importantly does not need to be added to the 40 man until the end of next season.  With that, I think a start to the season with the ‘Pigs is more likely than not.

Henderson Alvarez, 27, SIgned as a free agent in 2017; Started three games for Lehigh Valley during the last two weeks of the season and was 2-0 with a 2.84ERA; .268 opp avg; 1.32WHIP; 2.8BB/3.8K per 9; Alvarez was a much needed addition late in the season to a Lehigh Valley rotation decimated by injury and callus.  He did a very nice job but likely not a long term future for ALvarez here.

Mark Appel, 26, Acquired from Houston in 2015; 17 starts; 5-4 with a 5.27ERA; .284 opp avg; 1.76WHIP; 5.8BB/6.6K per 9; .326 vs LHH, .253 vs RHH, .292 with RISP; Another partially lost season for Appel who was shut down in July with arm problems once again.  It was much of the same for Appel with a combination of command issues and injury problems leading to another disappointing season for the former #1 draft pick.  He has begun getting rehab innings in and I would expect him to participate over the Winter in game action.  Grade: D; 2018: On 40 man roster, with 2 options left currently, much depends on how he may prove his health over the winter.

Brandon Leibrandt, 24, Phils 6th round pick in 2014; 25 starts between Reading and Lehigh Valley; 11-5 with a 3.62ERA; 136.2IP 136H 47BB 105K; .265 opp avg; 1.34WHIP; 0.96GO/AO; 3.1BB/6.9K per 9; For Lehigh Valley: 12 starts, 5-3 with a 3.94ERA; 64IP 59H 24BB 53K; .244 opp avg; 1.30WHIP; 3.4BB/7.5K per 9; After missing most of 2016 injured, Leibrandt showed very nice progression this season, proving he was a more than capable AAA starter.  Grade: B; 2018: Lehigh Valley rotation

Jose Taveras, 23, Signed as a free agent in 2013; 25 starts between Clearwater, Reading and LV; 9-5 with a 2.22ERA; 154.1IP 122H 39BB 140K; .215 opp avg; 1.04WHIP; 0.62 GO/AO; 2.3BB/8.2K per 9; For LV: 7 starts, 3-1 with a 1.32ERA: 41IP 26H 15BB 37K; .176 opp avg; 1.00WHIP; 3.3BB/8.1K per 9; Taveras went from the Lakewood rotation in 2016, ascending all the way to AAA in Lehigh Valley without missing a beat.  His  body of work is comparable to any in the organization this season. Grade: A; 2018: Lehigh Valley

Jake Thompson, 23, Acquired from Texas in 2015; 22 games, 5-14 with a 5.25ERA; 118.1IP 136H 47BB 90K; .293 opp avg; 1.55 WHIP; 3.6BB/6.8K per 9; .265 vs LHH, .318 vs RHH, 12HR allowed, .252 opp avg post all star.  Just a dismal season for Thompson who took a major step backwards after looking like he would be the first pitcher called up if the Phils needed help.  He struggled 90% of the year for Lehigh Valley was extremely hittable and pitched with little confidence.  A successful September with the Phils could salvage his season.  Grade: D-; 2018: Lehigh Valley rotation to begin

Ben Lively, 25, Acquired from Cincinnati in 2014; 16 starts with Lehigh Valley; 7-5 with a 3.15ERA; 97IP 91H 22BB 82K; .243 opp avg; 1.16WHIP; 0.70 GO/AO; 2.0BB/7.6K per 9; .327 vs LHH, .174 vs RHH; For Phils as of 9/1: 10 starts, 2-5 with a 4.22ERA; .283 opp avg; 1.37WHIP; 2.7BB/5.1K per 9; Lively continued dominating at the minor league level and has received a chance to pitch regularly in the majors.  While the transition has been bumpy at times, Lively had earned his reputation as a “bulldog”, not backing down when behind and providing competent, #4 or #5 starter production.  Grade: B+; 2018: Fighting for a spot in Philly rotation

Zach Eflin, 24, Acquired from Dodgers in 2014; 11 games in the minors (10 starts); 2-4 with a 3.74ERA; 55.1IP 54H 15BB 50K; 2.4BB/8.1K per 9; .260 opp avg; 1.25WHIP; For Phillies: 11 starts; 1-5 with a 6.16ERA; 64.1IP 79H 12BB 35K; .309 opp avg; 1.41WHIP; 1.7BB/4.9K per 9; Perhaps the most important thing for Eflin in 2017 was to stay healthy.  That didn’t happen.  There were times that he showed the form to that made him a top prospect but the season culminated with another long stint on the DL.  Grade: D+ 2018: Lehigh Valley rotation

Drew Anderson, 23, Phils 21st round pick in 2012; 22 starts; (21 with Reading, 1 with Lehigh Valley); 9-4 with a 3.46ERA; 114.1IP 86H 42BB 93K; 14HR allowed; .207 opp avg; 1.12WHIP; 3.3BB/7.3K per 9; .209 vs LHH, .205 vs RHH, .173 opp avg post all star game; Anderson had a very good year where, most importantly, he stayed healthy.  The opposition batting average says alot.  While Anderson’s cup of coffee in Philly didn’t go smoothly but plenty to be excited about long term.  Grade: B+; 2018: Lehigh Valley rotation and 40 man roster (2 options remaining)


Tyler Viza, 22, Phils 32nd round pick in 2013; 26 starts, 10-10 with a 5.22ERA: 139.2IP 152H 48BB 100K; 20HR allowed; .277 opp avg; 1.43WHIP; 1.17GO/AO; 3.1BB/6.4K per 9; .294 vs LHH, .263 vs RHH, .285 last 30 days; 4.38ERA in 11 starts post all star break; Viza had significant problems at the beginning of the year but settled down to put together a decent second half.  An innings eater this year more than anything else.  Grade: C; 2018: Reading

Cole Irvin, 23, Phils 5th round pick in 2016; 25 starts between Clearwater and Reading; 9-9 with a 3.39ERA; 151.1IP 140H 38BB 118K; 14HR allowed; .244 opp avg; 1.18WHIP; 2.4BB/7.0K per 9; For Reading: 5-3 with a 4.06ERA; 84.1IP 72H 24BB 66K; .228 opp avg; 1.14WHIP; 2.6BB/7.0K per 9; .148 vs LHH, .255 vs RHH, .197 opp avg last 30 days; Irvin had a very good year, solidifying his position as a true prospect.  While not overpowering, Irvin knows how to pitch and has several plus pitches. Grade: B; 2018: Likely to start in Reading rotation with a shot at the majors come 2019

Tommy Bergjans, 24, Acquired from Dodgers in 2015; 13 games (12 starts, 1 for Lehigh Valley); 1-7 with a 6.53ERA; 55.2IP 67H 19BB 42K; .302 opp avg; 1.51 WHIP; 3.0BB/6.6K per 9; .268 vs LHH; .367 vs RHH; .355 last 30 days; Bergjans was predominately used when a starter was desperately needed because of injury or overwork and ate some innings.  His numbers were awful and I doubt he will be back.  Grade: D-; 2018: Not in organization

Franklyn Kilome, 22, Signed as a free agent in 2013; 24 starts, 7-7 with a 2.83ERA between Clearwater and Reading; 127IP 121H 52BB 103K; .259 opp avg; 1.36WHIP; 1.05 GO/AO; 3.7BB/7.3K per 9; For Reading: 5 starts, 1-3 with a 3.64ERA; .238 opp avg; 1.35WHIP; 4.6BB/6.5K per 9; A season of progress for Kilome who was successful in Clearwater before being promoted to Reading for the last month of the season; Not as much excitement about Kilome as their once had been but still has a lot of upside.  Grade: B; 2018: Reading rotation

Jacob Waguespack, 23, Signed as a free agent in 2015; 31 games (16 starts) between Clearwater and Reading, 9-7 with a 3.42ERA; 105.1IP 100H 40BB 108K; .251 opp avg; 1.33WHIP; 3.4BB/9.2K per 9; For Reading: 7 games (6 starts): 3-2 with a 3.65ERA, .262 opp avg; 1.43WHIP; 3.9BB/8.5K per 9; .239 vs LHH, .286 vs RHH; Waguespack is a guy that made himself noticed this year, first successfully transforming himself into a starter for Clearwater and then continuing to pitch well for Reading in the rotation.  Grade: B+ 2018: Reading

Elneiry Garcia, 22, Signed as a free agent in 2012; 5 starts, 2-1 with a 1.75ERA: 25.2IP 17H 17BB 10K; .193 opp avg; 1.32 WHIP; 6.0BB/3.5K per 9; .261 vs LHH, .169 vs RHH; Garcia was suspended the large majority of the season for use of performance enhancing drugs and when he came back his peripherals were head scratching to say the least. 6 walks per 9 will be disastrous long term.  Grade: D-; 2018: Reading


Edgar Garcia, 20, Signed as a free agent in 2014; 27 games (15 starts); 3-4 with a 4.47ERA; 88.2IP 95H 31BB 89K; 10HR allowed; 3.1BB/9.0K per 9; .310 vs LHH, .240 vs RHH, .227 with RISP.  Garcia transitioned from the bullpen predominately last year with Lakewood to the rotation with Clearwater this year.  Garcia, at 20 in High A, shows some real promise.  Grade: B-; 2018: Clearwater rotation to begin

Seranthony Dominguez, 22, Signed as a free agent in 2012; 15 games (13 starts); 4-4 with a 3.61ERA; 62.1IP 51H 30BB 75K; .230 opp avg; 1.30WHIP; 1.04GO/AO; 4.5BB/10.8K per 9; .312 vs LHH, .186 vs RHH, .286 opp avg last 30 days; Domniguez saw limited action this season but threw well, albeit with command issues while on the mound.  Grade: C+; 2018: Likely back to Clearwater to start

JoJo Romero, 20, Phils 4th round pick in 2016; 23 starts between Lakewood and Clearwater; 10-3 with a 2.16ERA; 129IP 104H 36BB 128K; .223 opp avg; 1.09WHIP; 1.78 GO/AO; For CW: 10 starts, 5-2 with a 2.24ERA; .223 opp avg; 1.11WHIP; .215 vs LHH, .227 vs RHH, 2.6BB/8.4K per 9; Romero was the whole package this season, dominating the large majority of his starts for both Lakewood and Clearwater; Multiple plus pitches that he throws for strikes consistently; Grade: A; 2018: Clearwater until June, then Reading

Ranger Suarez, 22, Signed as a free agent in 2012; 22 starts between Lakewood and Clearwater; 8-6 with a 2.27ERA; 122.2IP 95H 35BB 128K; .215 opp avg; 1.06WHIP; 1.76GO/AO; 2.6BB/9.4K per 9; For CW: 8 starts, 2-4 with a 3.82ERA, .293 opp avg; 1.43WHIP; 2.6BB/9.1K per 9; Other than being hit around a bit during his last 3 starts of the season, Suarez was consistently excellent this season increasing his IP from 73 to 122 from ’16 to ’17 and moving multiple levels.  Keep a close eye on him. Grade: A-; 2018: Clearwater rotation to begin

Sixto Sanchez, 19, Signed as a free agent in 2015; 18 starts between Lakewood and Clearwater; 5-7 with a 3.03ERA; 95IP 73H 18BB 84K; .210 opp avg; 0.96 WHIP; 1.18 GO/AO; 1.7BB/8.0K per 9; For CW: 5 starts, 0-4 with a 4.55ERA; 27.2IP 27H 9BB 20K; 2.9BB/6.5K per 9; .252 opp avg; 1.30 WHIP; Sanchez was overpowering for Lakewood, took some time off mid season because of innings restrictions and was promoted to CLearwater late in the season. He put together 3 good starts for Clearwater, combined with 2 poor starts.  Grade: B+; 2018: Clearwater rotation to begin the season

McKenzie Mills, 21, Acquired from Nationals in 2017; 12-3 with 3.22ERA in 21 starts between Hagerstown (Nationals Org) and Clearwater.  120.1IP 98H 22BB 134K; .222 opp avg; 1.00 WHIP; 0.53 GO/AO; 1.6BB/10.0K; For CW: 0-1 with a 4.60ERA, .323 opp avg; 1.34WHIP; 0.0BB/9.2K per 9; The BB/K numbers all year are eye-popping including with the promotion to Clearwater (High A); Mills was hit around a bit in his 3 starts with Clearwater, but the command is recipe for long term success; Grade: A-; 2018: Clearwater rotation to start


19 thoughts on “Report Card–Starting Pitching, LV, REA and CW

  1. Awesome review. The rotations at all three levels will have a number of interesting stories to watch for next year with some exciting prospects especially at Clearwater.

    I wish questions about Efflin, Thompson and Appel had been answered in 2017. That’s what this year was for. That they are still questions in 2018 suggests it is unlikely we will see any longterm value out of any of them. I think Efflin has the best chance since he seems to atleast have an arsenal of pitches and velocity to have some success at the next level

  2. Great write-up!

    Now for my nitpick: Given that Sixto is so young and has such impressive skills, a B+ almost seems a bit harsh. By no means am I criticizing, but or of curiosity what were the preseason expectations for him?


    1. I think given the expectations, a B+ is pretty fair. He’s shown he still has TOR potential, but he has things to work on – he’s done very well in his progress, but he hasn’t yet taken his whole game to the next level or begun missing bats the way we think he should. I like that grade.

      1. Fair enough. He definitely is far from a finished product.

        I think the assessment that his strikeout numbers should be higher is good. I think what is most impressive is the low BB numbers

  3. One piece of information you might want to think about adding in the future if you have it is the average velocity of their fastball since there have been many discussions throughout the year about whether a pitcher has the velocity to succeed at higher levels of the system or will he plateau at a certain level.
    You look at a pitchers info and they look great and then find out their average fastball is 88 and you know theyre not going to translate to the next level
    just a thought

  4. Thanks for the write-up. You currently have 6 starters beginning the year in Clearwater. Do you see a 6 man rotation from the jump? Any chance Romero starts in Reading?

      1. True … I was only looking at what was shown above. Who comes up? Definitely Medina … anyone else? I’m not sure, but that would be 7, at least … some of the guys from current Clearwater roster needs to be moved up.

  5. I’d also like to give Jim an “A” for an outstanding season running the site. Thanks also to all the frequent commenters who make this an interesting place to go multiple times a day. Thanks everyone! It’s always sad to me when the minor league season ends and the boxscores stop. Oh well, we have a few more games and then a few guys in the AFL.

  6. Nice work on the write up

    Question on Appel – I thought he was set to be a FA after this year? I’m I mistaken? I hope so. I know he has hard a rough go, but I believe he eventually figured it out to be a serviceable MLB pitcher. I’m the optimistic type , yes I know it is a weird combo being a Phillies fan.

    I’d appreciate the correct answer, from anyone who knows.

    1. Mark Appel is not a minor league FA until after 2018. If he is not put on the 40 man roster, he will be subject to the Rule V draft.

      1. Sorry, my bad. He is on the 40 man roster. So he won’t be a FA until he starts earning service time or the Phillies decide to DFA him. Then he will be subject to the waiver process.

  7. The Clearwater rotation looks very full. There will be some starters from Lakewood coming up to Clearwater that will force guys up to Reading. Medina, Fanti, Falter, Requena, and maybe even Llovera all deserve to move up to Cwater rotation. I think Romera will be in Reading for sure. There may be others to go up or into the pen because we can’t have an 8/9 man rotation. Good problem to have but still, it needs to get resolved.

  8. The FO did a good job accumulating large numbers of AAA starting pitchers in the hope that 1 or more would grab the bull by the horns. But injuries and horrible results shot that plan to sh!t.

    1. Maybe we can take one usable quality off each of the pitchers at AAA and build one good starter like a modern day Frankenstein.

  9. I see AA rotation as Irvin, Kilome, Elienry, Suarez, and Dominguez (If latter two are protected or not selected). Waguespack and Viza to bullpen until injuries.

    CLW will include Romero who might get pushed to REA quickly, Sanchez on innings limit, then Mills, Medina. Not sure who gets next spot since Falter, Fanti, Requena, and Llovera deserve innings. I’d put Fanti as starter and get the others time throughout, or got to 6man rotation to start the year by player roster tag with fake assignments to WPT.

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