Category Archives: Around the System

What to Expect in 2013: Right Handed Starting Pitchers (Advanced Edition)

The strength of the Phillies system for the past few years has been right handed starting pitching. In 2010 the Lakewood rotation of Trevor May, Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, Jonathan Pettibone, and Julio Rodrgiuez were dubbed the “Baby Ace”. Since then, the only guy to survive trades and decline has been Jonathan Pettibone, but he has been joined by some interesting arms.

As I started to write up the right handed pitchers it became clear that their is two sets of right handed starters in the Phillies system, one is more advanced, usually composed of pitchers in the high minors or college pitchers, the other group which will be addressed in the next post are the rawer younger pitchers who still haven’t made it above low A-ball.

Just a reminder that when evaluating any young pitcher that there are many things that can go wrong. We still do not fully understand what causes pitchers to break down and often it can be unpredictable and sudden. Additionally many starter will not develop the necassary control or secondary pitches to stay in a rotation and their future may be in a bullpen.


As always please read gregg’s end of season report cards for the upper and lower minors.

Ethan Martin (23) – Going into 2012 Martin was a failed prospect, a former first round pick who struggled greatly with his control. Martin rebounded in 2012 and was obtained from the Dodgers in exchange for Shane Victorino. Martin has a fastball that can sit anywhere from 91-97 and has good late life, this is paired with a sharp cutter-like slider, and a changeup that flashes good late life. Martin still struggles with control and his issues can come in spurts where he will overthrow his fastball and fail to keep it in the zone. If he can continue to improve his control Martin could be a mid-rotation starter who could be a #2 if he can also add consistency to his off-speed pitches, if not he has a future has a high leverage reliever with a good fastball/slider combination. Martin will start the year in the AAA rotation and could be ready by late 2013, but it is likely that he will need the whole season before being a contender for a rotation spot in 2014.

Continue reading What to Expect in 2013: Right Handed Starting Pitchers (Advanced Edition)

What to Expect in 2013: Center Field

Up the middle talent is always at a premium and center field is no exception.  Center field has not been a weakness for the Phillies up until the trade of Shane Victorino in July, this offseason the Phillies traded for a young center fielder in Ben Revere.  In the system there are some interesting toolsy players who have questions ranging from their hitting, to fielding, to their injury history.  Revere should give time for one of these players to unseat him as the center fielder of the future.

Like shortstop, it is not good enough to average defensively in center field and a player must be either plus defensively or plus at the plate.  If a player cannot stick in center field there hope is that they have enough bat that they can stick as a fourth or fifth outfielder that can play occasionally in center.

As always if you have not read gregg’s end of year recaps for would like the refresher here is the upper half and the lower half of all outfielders in the system.

Tyson Gillies (24) – Gillies was acquired in 2009 for Cliff Lee and his career with the Phillies has never really gotten off to a good start, having played only 129 games in those three years.  Gillies before the injuries had easy 80 speed and above average raw power, but his injuries have diminished both of those skills.  Gillies is still a plus defensive center fielder defensively, and he has a good approach at the plate.  Gillies still can drive the ball and has ok power for a center fielder (mostly gap and not home run power).  All of the tools add up to a major league regular but the injury history has hindered him from reaching his ceiling.  Gillies will likely be the CF in Leigh Valley to start 2013. Continue reading What to Expect in 2013: Center Field

What to Expect in 2013: Corner Outfielders

Corner outfield like the infield corners is where teams look to put players with power and limited athleticism.  Typically right fielders have to have a strong arm to make the throw to third base to prevent teams from going first to third on every single (and tagging up on fly balls), however having a plus arm in left is still a legitimate asset to a team’s defense.  Up until 2010 the corners had not been a major problem for the Phillies but since the departure of Jayson Werth the Phillies have struggled to fill RF, they got a successful half season out of Hunter Pence at a very high price but otherwise the replacements in RF have been disappointments.  In LF the Phillies historically have been willing to sacrifice defense in order to get a good bat into the line up.

On a whole the Phillies have drafted and signed toolsy outfielders with limited success to this point, highlighted by Dominic Brown’s current major league struggles.  It does however leave the system with a good amount of players who have high upside, both in the corners and center field, that could make the jump to solid prospects.

As always if you have not read gregg’s end of year recaps for would like the refresher here is the upper half and the lower half.

Darin Ruf (26) – Ruf has been the source of much discussion this fall after a torrid end to his AA season.  Going into the year he has a very good org first baseman that had some upside as a bench bat.  By the end of the season Ruf had put up one of the greatest AA in Phillies history, and had hit 3 HRs in the major leagues.  Ruf has been playing mostly in LF since the middle of August, where he has the tools to be average at best with an ok arm and poor speed, there have been positive reports so far from his time in winter ball.   In both the majors and winter ball Ruf showed more swing and miss to his game, but he still maintained his ability to hit for power.  At best Ruf can be a poor fielding, slugging LF who will provide RF power in a market where it as a premium.  Ruf’s best position is first base but that is blocked by Ryan Howard’s contract.  There is little to no precedent for a player of Ruf’s profile becoming a major league regular so there are no good comparable players to look at to judge how his future will project. Continue reading What to Expect in 2013: Corner Outfielders

What to Expect in 2013: Middle Infield

Up the middle positions (catcher, short, second, and center field) are some of the hardest positions to fill because the defensive requirements force many players off to the corners.  Shortstop and second base have been filled at the major league level for the past decade by Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, but they have moved past their prime and the organization needs to look to future at the positions.

Again for those that haven’t read it or would like to refresh themselves on the end of season discussion, here is gregg’s end of season report card

Second Base:

Second base is a tweener position, often second baseman are short stops that don’t have the range or arm or third baseman who have the defense to play second and do not have the offensive profile for third.  Teams recently have been moving players in from the outfield to second base early in their careers with some success.  Second baseman have to hit, because there are no back up second baseman on the major league level.  In order to be a back up a player has to be able to handle short stop to have a utility profile. Continue reading What to Expect in 2013: Middle Infield

What to Expect in 2013: Corner Infield

The next installment in the off season look at prospects are corner infielders.  Traditionally the corner positions are where teams stick pure hitters and is generally the source of power in a line up.  Overall offense has been down across the league, and it has become more important that a player has to be a capable defender as well as have a bat that profiles for the position, especially at third base.

Before jumping into the discussion of how these prospects line up next to one another I encourage everyone to read gregg’s end of season wrap up on the corner infield position.

First Base:

To be a first base prospect you have to rake at every level along the way, all the way up to the majors.  True first base prospects are rare and their bats are special, many impact first baseman are playing the outfield or third base in the minor leagues and will be forced to first when their defense does not cut it for their current position.  Many college first baseman drafted will sit in the middle of A-ball lineups for years and provide stability and coaching to prospects, while never getting their own chance in AA.  In the Phillies system there are possibly 3 actual first base prospects and one of them (Darin Ruf) is currently playing the outfield and will be addressed when that position comes up for discussion, otherwise the real hopes for a slugging first baseman for the Philles are playing corner outfield spots in the low minors. Continue reading What to Expect in 2013: Corner Infield

What to expect in 2013: Catchers

Traditionally Top 30 season begins with the Reader Top 30 right after New Years, to prime us for discussing the system as a whole, we are going to take a walk through the positional groups in the system.  The goal is to look at where they rank with regards to each other, how they profile going forward, and how they fit into the system as a whole.  I will try to post one of these every couple of days starting with Catchers, and then proceeding through the other positional groups (Corner Infield, Middle Infield, Corner Outfield, Center Field, RH Starting Pitchers, LH Starting Pitchers, and Relievers).  I am not James, nor am I a scout so I will be focusing on initiating the discussion rather than creating the narrative.

Additionally this will focus on “prospects” avoiding players who are organizational filler or minor league free agents.  If I have missed someone you think deserves to be on this list let me know and they will be added.

To start, if you have not read it all already, here is gregg’s positional recap of catchers.
Continue reading What to expect in 2013: Catchers

Around the System–Middle Infield

Lehigh Valley

Josh Barfield, 28, .267/.295/.390 in 292 AB’s; 5 HR 38 RBI; 8SB; .247 vs. LH, .276 vs. RH, .227 with RISP; 5%bb/17% k rate; .256 since June 1.  75 games at 2B with 6 errors; (.983); 4.57 RF. Solid but far from spectacular for Barfield.

Brian Bocock, 26, .228/.282/.299 in 224 AB’s; 3 HR and 24 RBI; 2/6 SB; 7%bb/24% k rate; .226 vs. LH; .226 vs. RH; .300 with RISP; .197 since June 1; 63 games at SS with 12 errors (.957); 4.37 RF. Not a good year thus far for Bocock who has had his traditional struggles at the plate and has struggled at times in the field. Continue reading Around the System–Middle Infield

Around the System–Corner Infield

Another month in the books since we looked at the corners….

Lehigh Valley

Jeff Larish, 28, .239/.330/.450 in 251 AB’s; 13 HR and 37 RBI; 12% bb rate, 30% K rate, .221 vs. LH, .246 vs. RH, .221 with RISP, .078 in July. 51 games at 1B with 2 errors (.996); 9.18 R/F; 18 games at 3B with 4 errors (.925); 2.72 R/F. Its turned into a disappointing season for Larish who is striking out a ton.  Continue reading Around the System–Corner Infield

Around the System–Relief Pitchers, Lower Half

Lakewood-Lendy Castillo, 22, 6 games (1 start), 0-1 with a 3.09 ERA; 11.2 IP 11H 3BB 17K; 1.25 GO/AO; .244 opp. avg., 1.20 WHIP; 13.1K/9.  Still very early in the season for Castillo, who has looked very good so far.

Mario Hollands, 22, 6-4 with a 4.10 ERA; 18 games (12 starts); 74.2IP 88H 23BB 58K; 1.48 WHIP; 1.05 GO/AO; .294 opp. avg., 2.8BB/9; 7.0K/9; .287 vs. LH, .298 vs. RH, .281 with RISP; 6 games as a reliever, 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 12.1 innings. After a solid start of the year as a starter, Holland went thru a deep slump and now has come out of it as a reliever.  Since he began relief work, has looked very good. Continue reading Around the System–Relief Pitchers, Lower Half

Around the System–Relief Pitchers, Top Half

Lehigh Valley

Michael Schwimer, 25, 32 games, 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA; 5 saves, 47.2IP; 33H 17BB 59K; 3 HR allowed, 1.04 WHIP; 3.2BB/9, 11.1K/9; 0.68 GO/AO; .190 opp. avg., .282 vs. LH, .126 vs. RH, .157 with RISP; 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA since May 1.  Has been simply awesome, and should be called up in  September, if not sooner.

Mike Zagurski, 28, 24 games, 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA, 10 saves, 27.2IP 24H 16BB 41K; 1.19 GO/AO; .250 opp. avg., 5.2BB/9, 13.3K/9; .267 vs LH, .242 vs. RH, .192 with RISP; 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA since May 1.  Has been very good at this level but his reverse splits and inconsistent control work against him for a callup. Continue reading Around the System–Relief Pitchers, Top Half