Sunday, February 1, 2015

Hewitt excited for fresh start, would not change a thing about time with Phils

Anthony Hewiit, image- Jay Floyd
Considered a bust by many for failing to live up to first round draft pick expectations during his tenure in the Phillies organization, Anthony Hewitt is looking for a fresh start with a new team after signing with Baltimore last week.

Selected with the 24th overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft out of Salisbury High School in Connecticut, Hewitt was selected as a shortstop and converted to an outfielder. He spent six seasons in the Phils developmental ranks and did not develop into the offensive threat that the team anticipated he could become.

After signing for $1.38 million, the six-foot-one 190-pounder went on the tally a .223/.264/.370 slash line in 595 career games, highlighted by an All-Star campaign for Class A Lakewood in 2011 in which he posted a .240 average with 14 home runs, 55 RBI and 36 steals in 119 games.

Last season, in his second campaign at Double-A Reading, Hewitt sported a .140 batting average with one homer and eight RBI through 34 games when he was demoted to Class A Advanced Clearwater. After heading south, Hewitt proceeded to strike out 15 times in 31 plate appearances before the Phillies decided to part ways with the once highly regarded prospect.

Despite the rocky road, the righty batting Hewitt asserts that he's pleased with his time and his efforts with the Phils.

"My time with the Phillies was a learning experience. I would not change a thing," Hewitt stated.

Prospect Nation 2015: #14 LHP Tom Windle

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Tom Windle, image- MiLB.com
Acquired by the Phillies this off-season, left-handed pitcher Tom Windle joined a new organization and quickly jumped into their top ranked prospects.

Part of the return from the Dodgers in the swap for Phillies all-time hits leader Jimmy Rollins, along with right-hander Zach Eflin, Windle is a promising hurler with tools that scouts have long been high on.

A 2nd round pick in 2013 (56th overall), the Minnesota native debuted in the minors the same year with Class A Great Lakes. In 13 games (12 starts), Windle posted a 5-1 record with a 2.68 ERA while striking out 51 and walking 20 in 53 2/3 innings. His excellent initial pro effort followed a strong junior campaign at the University of Minnesota that year which saw the youngster sport a 6-4 record, a 2.14 ERA with a .208 batting average against and 86 strike outs in 92 2/3 innings in 14 games.

With Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamongo last year, the six-foot-four 215-pounder tallied a 12-8 record with a 4.26 ERA while striking out 111 and walking 44 in 139 1/3 innings over 26 games (25 starts).

Friday, January 30, 2015

Prospect Nation 2015: #15 RHP Ethan Martin

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Ethan Martin, image- Jay Floyd
Following a year in which he experienced shoulder problems and struggled at the Triple-A level, hurler Ethan Martin has fallen off many people's radars when it comes to Phillies prospects. Despite his physical setbacks and an adjustment period after moving out of the starting rotation and into the bullpen, the righty still has an arm that could make an impact for the team.

Originally selected by the Dodgers in the 1st round (15th overall) in the 2008 amateur draft out of Stephens County High School (GA), when scouts weren't sure if he would proceed as a pitcher or a third baseman in his career, Martin had not posted great numbers in the minors prior to 2012. He was acquired in the trade that sent Shane Victorino to LA.

In his first three years as a pro, Martin posted a 24-29 record with a 5.42 ERA. He missed action in 2008 due to a knee injury and officially began his pro career in 2009 with Great Lakes of the Class A Midwest League.

In 2012, with Double-A Chattanooga, Martin began to show why the Dodgers drafted him so early, as he tallied an 8-6 record with a 3.56 ERA en route to becoming a Southern League All-Star. Following his trade to the Phillies for Shane Victorino, Martin seemed unbeatable, posting a 5-0 record with a 3.18 ERA and a .206 batting average against in seven regular season starts for Reading in the Double-A Eastern League.

Martin also pitched very well for Reading in the EL playoffs that year, striking out 11 batters while walking none over 7 1/3 innings in a loss to Trenton, in which he surrendered three runs (one earned).

Phillies sign RHP Billingsley

According to reports, the Phillies have signed righty starter Chad Billingsley to a one-year $1.5 million contract.

Out with an elbow injury last season, the 30-year-old did not pitch in 2014. He last pitched in 2013 when he appeared in two games for the Dodgers.

A former 1st round draft pick of Los Angeles in 2003 (24th overall), Billingsley, who stands six-foot-one and weighs 240 pounds, sports an 81-61 record along with a 3.65 ERA and a 7.94 K/9 mark in 219 career games. Billingsley was named an All-Star in 2009 and appeared in six postseason games for the Dodgers in his career, sporting a 1-2 record with a 6.33 ERA in those outings.

Performance bonuses are said to take the deal to the $8 million mark.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Prospect Nation 2015: #16 Catcher Deivi Grullon

Deivi Grullon 2
Deivi Grullon, image- Jay Floyd
At the time of his signing with the Phillies in July, 2012, backstop Deivi Grullon was one of the top baseball prospects in the Caribbean. Following two years in the minors, the 18-year-old is looked at as an even more promising player.

Grullon, who signed for a reported $575,000, looked very good with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2013, posting a .273 batting average with eight doubles, a home run and 14 RBI in 41 games at the rookie level.

He followed up that campaign with a season in which he split time at three levels in 2014. Grullon started his season in mid-April with a promotion to Class A Advanced Clearwater out of extended spring training. He notched two hits in ten at bats in two games there. A demotion to Class A Lakewood, where he would get more playing time, followed. In 24 games as a BlueClaw, the six-foot-one 180-pounder posted a .237 average with five doubles, a home run and seven RBI. Grullon would be demoted once more to short-season Class A Williamsport when their season began in June. With the Crosscutters, he batted .225 with nine doubles, a triple and 18 RBI in 53 games.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Franco wraps up Dominican League in torrid fashion

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Maikel Franco, image- Jay Floyd
Phillies prospect Maikel Franco wrapped up an excellent off-season campaign in the Dominican Republic on Sunday, helping his team, the Gigantes, lock down the Dominican Winter League championship with a 3-for-4 effort that included a grand slam, a solo homer and seven total RBI.

Through 38 regular season games, the six-foot-one 180-pounder posted a .272 average with eight doubles, seven home runs and 29 RBI. His homer total was tied for second in the league.

Franco wrapped up the postseason with four home runs and 16 RBI to go along with his .337 average in 22 games.

The 22-year-old split his time evenly between first base and third base for the Gigantes through much of his time there.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Prospect Nation 2015: #17 LHP Adam Morgan

Morgan MiLB
Image- MiLB.com
Lefty hurler Adam Morgan is fully healthy after recovery from shoulder surgery last winter and is hoping to remind fans why he was ranked among the Phillies’ top prospects just two years ago.

The six-foot-one 195-pounder was the Phillies’ 3rd round draft selection in 2011 out of the University of Alabama. Upon making his pro debut that same year, Morgan tallied a 3-3 record along with a 2.01 ERA and a 7.27 K/9 mark in 11 starts for short-season Class A Williamsport.

The following season, at the age of 22, Morgan skipped Class A Lakewood and had a solid campaign with Class A Advanced Clearwater. In 21 games (20 starts) the Georgia native posted a 4-10 record with a 3.29 ERA and a 10.24 K/9 mark. He was promoted to Double-A Reading in August, for their playoff push. In six starts to wrap up that season, Morgan notched an impressive 4-1 record with a 3.53 ERA while striking out 29 and walking 11 in 35 2/3 innings.

In 2013 Morgan began his second full season in the minors with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. After eight outings there, Morgan had a 1-4 record along with a 4.97 ERA and a .283 batting average against when he experienced shoulder discomfort and was sidelined. Following some time on the shelf and a pair of rehab appearances with the Gulf Coast League Phillies, Morgan posted an outstanding 1.59 ERA through his first seven starts after returning to the Lehigh Valley rotation, before he wrapped up his season with a troubling outing in which he allowed four earned runs in 1 1/3 innings.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Prospect Nation 2015: #18 IF/OF Odubel Herrera

Odubel MILBcom
Odubel Herrera, image- MiLB.com
Selected by the Phillies last month in the big league portion of the annual MLB Rule 5 draft, muti-positional prospect Odubel Herrera is primed to make the team's opening day big league roster.

The 23-year-old Venezuelan spent this off-season proving the Phils were right when they plucked him from the Rangers' system. With a league-leading .372 average, six homers, 27 RBI and eight stolen bases in 58 games for La Guaira, Herrera was named the Venezuelan Winter League Most Valuable Player as well as the league's Rookie of the Year.

In the summer of 2008, Herrera signed for a reported bonus of $160,00 at the age of 16. He would begin his pro career the follow year in the Dominican Summer League. Herrera moved at a steady pace in the Texas developmental ranks, but was behind some of the Rangers' other top young infielders (Hanser Alberto, Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar) on their depth chart, making him expendable to that club.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Prospect Nation 2015: #19 RHP Nefi Ogando

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Nefi Ogando, image- Tug Haines
Acquired from Boston in a late season deal in 2013 for infielder John McDonald, righty hurler Nefi Ogando has shown loads of potential since joining the Phillies organization.

The Dominican Republic native was signed by Boston as an amateur free agent in 2010, debuting as a pro that same year with the organization's Dominican Summer League club. In 11 DSL games (four starts), Ogando tallied a 3-1 record with a 2.91 ERA and a .248 BAA.

The following season, the six-foot-two 185-pounder posted a 1-5 record along with a 2.83 ERA in 15 games (two starts) for short-season Class A Lowell. In 2012, Ogando pitched exclusively as a reliever and notched a 4-4 record with two saves and a 3.70 ERA in 38 outings.

With Class A Advanced Salem in 2013, Ogando posted a 2-3 record with three saves, a .238 batting average against and a 4.09 ERA mark in 33 appearances. Last year, in his first campaign with the Phillies, the youngster had a 5-1 record with a 6.27 ERA, seven saves and a 9.16 K/9 in 48 games for Double-A Reading.

Armed with a top notch fastball that normally registers in the 98-99 MPH range and has been clocked in triple digits, a slider with nice movement that sits in the 89-92 MPH range as well as a change up that features a solid drop in velocity from the fastball, but is still comparable to other hurlers' best offerings at around 87 MPH.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Prospect Nation 2015: #20 Second baseman Jesmuel Valentin

Jesmuel Valentin MiLBcom
Jesmuel Valentin, image- MiLB.com
A product of last season's post-trade deadline deadline that sent Roberto Hernandez to the Dodgers, infielder Jesmuel Valentin has loads of potential and could be an eventual successor to six-time All-Star Chase Utley at second base for the Phillies.

Selected with the 51st overall draft pick in 2012, Valentin was quickly a well-hyped prospect in the Los Angeles system. Upon signing his initial professional contract, the five-foot-nine 180-pounder debuted in the rookie level Arizona League, posting a .211 average while lacing two homers and driving in 18 runs in 43 games.

In 2013 he began the season in the rookie level Pioneer League, where he batted .284 with four homers and 24 RBI in 62 games. A promotion to the Class A Great Lakes team followed and Valentin, as a 19-year-old, struggled a bit, batting .212 with six doubles, a triple and five RBI in 33 games.

Last year, Valentin repeated Class A and proved ready for the challenge. In 108 games for the Loons, he batted .280 with seven home runs and 47 RBI in 108 contests, making himself a desirable commodity to the Dodgers' potential trade partners. After joining the Phillies' organization in August, Valentin was assigned to Class A Advanced Clearwater where he posted a .205 average in 12 games.

A switch-hitter, Valentin produces better from the left side, posting an .826 OPS against righty hurlers with Great Lakes last year, compared to his .660 OPS mark from the right side. There's not a great amount of power in his bat, but as a contact hitter that can spray the ball to all fields, the youngster could develop a prototypical middle infield bat.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Prospect Nation 2015: #21 RHP Severino Gonzalez

Severino Gonzalez
Severino Gonzalez, image- J. Floyd
A break out season in two years ago garnered righty pitcher Severino Gonzalez a lot of attention and had some touting his potential as sky high. He followed that up, however, with a campaign in 2014 that brought him back down to Earth a bit.

After signing with the Phillies as an amateur free agent in 2011, Gonzalez made his pro debut that same year in the Venezuelan Summer League, putting together a 1-1 record with a save and a 2.11 ERA in 17 games as a reliever. The following season in the same league, Gonzalez tallied a 7-3 record and a league best 1.65 ERA in 14 starts. He also led the league in strike outs (86), innings pitched (92 2/3) and complete games (two).

In 2013, at the age of 20, Gonzalez came to the United States for his very first spring training and showed no great issues when dealing with the cultural change. He was able to bond with countryman Carlos Ruiz, who was serving a drug suspension at extended spring training which helped Gonzalez adapt. His comfort level was clear, as he was impressive enough to earn a spot with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers by early May and shined brightly in the months that followed

The six-foot-one 155-pounder went on to post video game numbers, through his first 11 outings in the Florida State League, allowing just one earned run in 26 1/3 innings while striking out 32 and issuing just two free passes. A rough appearance (four earned runs in one inning) on June 22nd was followed by a demotion to Class A Lakewood, which was designed to get Gonzalez into a starting role.

With the BlueClaws, Gonzalez continued to dominate, going 3-0 with 1.69 ERA while striking out 31 and walking three in 21 1/3 innings in four starts.

After a return to Clearwater, during which he tallied a 2.23 ERA in eight starts, Gonzalez closed out the season with a start on Labor Day for Double-A Reading, allowing two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out six and allowed no walks in that outing.

Gonzalez's exceptional season saw him post 7-5 record, a 2.00 ERA, a .224 batting average against along with his 10.33 K/9 and his 1.91 BB/9 combined at three levels. For his efforts, the youngster was named as the Phillies' Paul Owens Award winner, an honor given to the top minor league pitcher and the top position player in the organization annually.

Last year, Gonzalez's numbers took a dip. In 27 games started with Reading, he sported a 9-13 record with a 4.59 ERA, a 6.52 K/9 mark and a .270 batting average against. His 1.93 BB/9 remained on point.

Gonzalez showed that he still had the skills that made him a buzz worthy prospect in 2013 by continuing to display command and by closing out his 2014 season with a 2-1 record and a 2.16 ERA while striking out 19 and walking six in 25 innings in four starts after missing a start for some necessary rest in early August.

The repertoire for Gonzalez includes a cut fastball that peaks in the low 90's, a curveball with really nice movement and a an improving change up. The fastball features movement as well, with the pitch running away from righties and in toward lefties. The change up was something that he was forced to throw at increased rates last year, in order to improve the offering as a go-to option for his arsenal. His big strength is his command and his ability to keep pitches down in the zone.

Phillies brass and coaches would like to see the thinly built 22-year-old add some muscle. A more developed frame could help add some velocity to the fastball.

Gonzalez is loaded with promise at this stage, having seen success as one of the youngest hurlers in his league during each of the past couple seasons. Look for a repeat assignment in the Reading rotation for the coming season.

To follow along with this year’s full countdown, click HERE.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Prospect Nation 2015: #22 Outfielder Cam Perkins

CameronPerkins
Cam Perkins, image- Jay Floyd
Since he was drafted by the Phillies with their sixth round selection in 2012, outfielder Cam Perkins has been one of the organization's most promising prospects. The right-handed batting Perkins has displayed excellent skills in many aspects of his game and is closest to the big leagues out of all the players from that year's Phils draft class.

Perkins signed quickly in 2012 and upon his pro debut he batted .158 with three RBI in five games for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies. Following a promotion to the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters, Perkins shined. In 67 games, he tallied a .304 average with 23 doubles, one triple, one home run and 38 RBI.

The following season, Perkins was a top performer in the Class A Advanced Florida State League. The year, he was sidelined with a fractured wrist after being hit by a pitch on May 31st. At the time of his injury, Perkins was among the league leaders in several offensive categories.

Five weeks later, Perkins was back in action and completed a solid season with Clearwater following two rehab outings with the GCL club. Overall that season, he batted .299 while notching 30 doubles, five triples, six homers and 53 RBI.

In 2014, the Indiana native reached the Triple-A level in his second full professional season. After starting his campaign with Double-A Reading, where he posted a .342/.408/.495 slash line in 52 games. Following a promotion to Lehigh Valley, more experienced pitching presented some concern for Perkins and his production declined. In 74 games with the IronPigs, he batted .216 with two home runs and 17 RBI.

Coaches and Phillies brass aren't worried about the dip in numbers at the higher level, though. Director of player development Joe Jordan cited Cody Asche and Maikel Franco as players who went through the same struggles upon first arriving in the International League.

This off-season, the Purdue product batted .292 with a triple and an RBI in eight games with La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League.

The six-foot-five 195-pounder is an aggressive swinger that puts the ball in play. He's a hitter and doesn't walk a great deal. Ideally, being more selective at the plate should be a goal for Perkins.

Coaches rave about his hand-eye coordination. Former Phillies OF and last year's Double-A Reading hitting coach Rob Ducey asserted to me in an interview that Perkins, with his frame and abilities, reminds him of a young Dale Murphy.

Perkins isn't a big speed threat, having stolen 17 bases in 30 minor league attempts. The 24-year-old does, however, have excellent instincts on the bases and is a guy that could impact a game with his feet by taking an extra bag in the right spot or by going first to third with ease.

Defensively, Perkins has played a great majority of his games in corner outfield positions, but has played 34 contests at first base, 14 at third base and three in center field. He performs well in each role and could have a future as a utility guy in the big leagues, but obviously he hopes to continue being an everyday player.

Another turn in Triple-A will certainly be in order for Perkins this upcoming season and will be a key reason for fans to get out to games at Lehigh Valley's Coca Cola Park this year.

To follow along with this year’s full countdown, click HERE.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Prospect Nation 2015: #23 RHP Victor Arano

ProspectNationAcquired in the August trade that sent Roberto Hernandez to the Dodgers, right-hander Victor Arano is a talented pitcher that has made some considerable impressions in his young career. As a 19-year-old, the Mexico native looked sharp at Class A full season Great Lakes last year and now appears to be primed to be a buzz name in the Phillies’ developmental ranks next season.

Signed as an amateur free agent in 2013 by Los Angeles, the six-foot-two 200-pounder made his professional debut with the rookie level Arizona League Dodgers that same year. In 13 appearances (eight starts), he tallied a 3-2 record with a 4.20 ERA while striking out 49 batters and walking 13 in 49 1/3 innings.

He progressed well last year, in the Class A full season Midwest League. With the Loons, Arano sported a 4-7 record along with three saves and a 4.08 ERA in 22 games (15 starts). Additionally, the youngster displayed considerable control and command of the strike zone. He posted an 8.68 K/9 mark and just 2.09 BB/9.

This off-season in the Mexican Winter League, Arano recorded no decisions, but had a 4.76 ERA in 14 regular season relief outings for Obregon. In 17 innings there, he struck out 17 and walked four while allowing 10 hits.

Arano is equipped with a three-pitch menu, including a low-90’s fastball, an improving change up and what seems to be a quality slurve with nice movement. There’s no doubt that he’s got potential to add ticks to his velocity as he progresses. Thanks to their strength and conditioning programs, the Phillies have seen some of their hurlers add velocity as late as age 25. See: Buchanan, David and Hollands, Mario.

Keeping the ball on the ground is a plus for Arano as well. His ground ball rate of 41.6% for his career is definitely better than most.

Advanced for his age, look for Arano, who turns 20 years old in February, prior to spring training, to possibly lock down a spot in the Class A Advanced Clearwater rotation this upcoming season. Otherwise, local fans will be able to see him on the mound for Class A Lakewood.

Ultimately, the ceiling for Arano could be someplace between Tyler Cloyd and Kyle Kendrick. Add some “velo” along with a mastery of his off-speed pitches and that roof could be raised quite a bit.

To follow along with this year’s full countdown, click HERE.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Prospect Nation 2015: #24 OF Carlos Tocci

Carlos Tocci
Carlos Tocci, image- Jay Floyd
Since he was signed by the Phillies for a reported signing bonus of $759,000 in the summer of 2011 on his 16th birthday, Carlos Tocci has been followed by a tremendous reputation that he’s yet to live up to between the lines on a pro field.

Despite being retained stateside at the Phillies’ spring training home in Clearwater in recent winters to work out under the supervision of the Phillies’ training staff, the Venezuelan born Tocci has failed to bulk up his gaunt six-foot-two 160-pound frame. The right-handed batter has displayed minimal power in his three professional seasons, slugging just two home runs and tallying a .291 slugging percentage in 281 contests at two levels.

After participating in the Phillies’ fall instructional league following his signing, Tocci debuted in the minors with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2012, batting .278 with two doubles, nine RBI and nine steals in 38 games. The following year, as a 17-year-old, he played the entire season with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. Struggling against more experienced pitching, Tocci posted a .209/.261/.249 slash line in 118 games.

In a repeat campaign with Lakewood last season, Tocci, who grew up admiring MLB slugger and fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera, continued to adapt to the more mature hurlers, seeing some improvement at the plate with a .242/.297/.324 slash line in 125 games.

Often praised for his speed, Tocci’s yet to utilize that skill to his advantage on offense, averaging just a 47% percent success rate in stolen base attempts over the past couple seasons. In center field, that’s a different story, as he uses his quickness to cover great amounts of ground and displays outstanding range on defense. His arm is strong and keeps eager base runners honest.

There are some positive notes related to Tocci’s abilities at the plate. He has quick hands, shows a solid ability to get the barrel of his bat to the ball and can hit to all fields. Strength is needed to help the raw teenager's batted balls miss the defense's leather.

The Phillies not only want Tocci to add muscle, they have expressed a desire for him to become a better athlete overall. Tocci is well aware of his organization's wishes for his physical evolution. While expressing intentions to comply, the results elude him.

Already having played two full seasons in Lakewood, Tocci hasn’t shown enough offensive prowess to be ready for Class A Advanced Clearwater. With the youngster entering his age 19 season, it’s not farfetched to presume a third turn in the Class A South Atlantic League could be the most suitable assignment for him in the coming season. He’ll still be younger than a hefty portion of the players on that league’s rosters.

Ranked in the Prospect Nation top 10 in each of the past couple years, Tocci has dropped considerably based on lack of offensive production and physical development. A guy’s proposed potential and notoriety can only get him so far.

To follow along with this year’s full countdown, click HERE.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Prospect Nation 2015: #25 C Andrew Knapp/OF Aaron Brown

This year’s list of top 25 Phillies prospects includes 26 names. I’ll place the blame for that one on the Phillies for making the process of narrowing things down quite difficult with all of their youthful off-season acquisitions. To make things a tad easier on me in locking this list down, I’ve declared a tie for the number 25 slot.

Andrew Knapp, image- Jay Floyd
Catcher Andrew Knapp made a quick recovery from off-season Tommy John surgery last year and was back in action in the minors by early May. The six-foot-one 190-pound righty batter joined the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers during the fifth week of the season. Entering the lineup as a designated hitter allowed Knapp to see game action sooner. It was mid-June by the time he would play defense, as his elbow needed additional recovery time before he could throw at 100-percent.

Upon joining the Threshers, Knapp struggled. He posted a .157 average with a home run and seven RBI in 23 games. After a 5-for-48 (.104 avg) stretch that wrapped up on June 1st, Knapp was demoted to Class A Lakewood, where he would rebound offensively. In 75 games with the BlueClaws, the California native tallied a .290 batting average along with five homers and 25 RBI.

Knapp asserted to me in a mid-season interview that his comfort level fully returned once he was able to get back behind the dish. That was evidenced by his numbers, as he batted .320 beginning with the day he started playing both halves of each frame, June 12th.

A switch-hitter, Knapp fared better from the left side with Lakewood, sporting a .309/.371/.487 slash line in 191 at bats. From the right side he produced a .250/.317/.337 line in 92 at bats.

Coaches and scouts praise Knapp's leadership abilities. His battery mates love his sharp defensive skills and his superior arm, helping to wrangle any errant pitches and keeping opposing base runners in check.

The UC Berkeley product was selected by the Phillies in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft. Look for him to return to the Clearwater lineup to open the 2015 season.

The other prospect coming in at the number 25 spot is outfielder Aaron Brown, who made some considerable impressions upon his professional debut last season.

A 3rd round pick out of Pepperdine in 2014, Brown was drafted as a positional player, but was an exceptional pitcher for the Waves during his collegiate career. In his junior season last year, the California native posted a .310/.349/.539 slash line with team highs in homers (12) and RBI (47). Also as a lefty hurler, Brown tallied a 12-1 record with a 2.07 ERA and an 8.28 K/9 mark in 16 contests.

Splitting time at short-season Class A Williamsport and full season A level Lakewood last year, the 22-year-old lefty batter posted a .268 average with four home runs, 21 RBI and eight stolen bases in 61 games.

Upon debuting as a pro, Brown displayed a quick bat and an ability to drive the ball quite a bit. His manager with Lakewood last year, Greg Legg, stated to me prior to the BlueClaws' final game of the season that Brown had hit three of the five hardest hit balls Legg had seen launched off of players' bats for the entire season. Brown played for Legg for just two weeks.

The six-foot-two 220-pounder has a passion for playing hard. On the field, Brown's focus is on out-hustling every other guy on the field and he is steadily focused on taking strides to improve each day at the ball park.
Defensively, Brown has very solid range and a strong arm. He played 42 of his 52 pro games on defense as a center fielder with his remaining contests being played in right field.

Brown cites New Jersey's own Mike Trout as a player he watches and tries to emulate.

Look for Brown to take a step upward on the developmental ladder, manning the outfield for Class A Advanced Clearwater this year.

To follow along with this year's full countdown, click HERE.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Prospect Nation 2015: The Prelude

ProspectNationThe dawn of a near year brings along with it the annual Phillies Nation “Prospect Nation” countdown, running down the organization’s top 25 up and coming players. In the coming weeks, as a brand new season approaches, I’ll be bringing you player reviews for each of the top developmental talents that appear to have the brightest futures for the Phillies.

Always taken into consideration when compiling the list is age, minor league performance relative to levels played, value to the organization as well as future potential and proximity to the big leagues.

These rankings do not include players over 25 years old or individuals that have spent lengthy stretches in the big leagues. As such, infielder Carlos Alonso, who played his age 26 season at Double-A last year, will not make the list, despite deserving some consideration. The same applies 28-year-old to relief pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who debuted with the Phillies late last season. Additionally, a guy such as infielder Cesar Hernandez that has played considerable chunks of two seasons in the major leagues won't be regarded as a prospect any longer.

A youngster that I felt was very close to this list and certainly would have placed among the top 25 if not for the solid group of off-season prospect additions that the Phillies acquired is second baseman Andrew Pullin. The 21-year-old converted outfielder showed loads of development as a middle infielder and was one of Class A Lakewood’s most consistent offensive contributors last year, tallying a .270 average with nine home runs and 61 RBI in 129 contests. Pullin, a 5th round draft selection in 2012, is a player that coaches are thrilled by, as they cite his adaptability and improved approach at the plate, making more contact and having a better plan as the season progressed. The six-foot 190-pounder has loads of potential to develop into a talented contributor at his position.

Also a near miss was multi-positional fan favorite Willians Astudillo. The 23-year-old catcher/first baseman/third baseman/outfielder placed second in batting in the Class A South Atlantic League last season as a member of the Lakewood BlueClaws. He posted a .333 average with four homers and 61 RBI in 117 games. Described as an extremely skilled contact hitter, Astudillo’s physical build leaves some critics doubting his ability to do what he has done at higher levels. Generously billed as five-foot-nine and 182 pounds, it is likely that Astudillo is multiple inches shorter and multiple pounds heavier than media guide claims. With just 20 strike outs in 465 plate appearances last year, the youngster impressed his teammates, his coaches as well as his opponents. This year in the Class A Advanced Florida State League should be very telling for the Venezuelan with a career .772 OPS in 328 affiliated pro games.

Another player missing from the rankings is right-handed hurler Franklyn Kilome, who is held in high regard by many prospect heads. The 19-year-old Dominican sported a 3-1 record along with a 3.12 ERA while striking out 25 and walking 11 over 40 1/3 innings in 11 appearances (eight starts) in the rookie level Gulf Coast League. Projections and upside are the key factors in reviewing this talented youngster. At six-foot-six and 175 pounds the frame seems mighty thin for now, but as his body matures his quality repertoire should improve as well.

Players currently still in the Phils’ developmental system that were ranked last year and will not appear in 2015 include righty pitcher Shane Watson along with catchers Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp.

Watson, the Phillies’ top draft selection (40th overall) in 2012, underwent his second shoulder surgery in a year recently, to correct a nagging issue with the capsule, trying to clear room for the bone to move around within the joint. He also made headlines this off-season when it was announced that he’d be facing a suspension due to an apparent positive recreational drug test. The 21-year-old is slated to begin a throwing program in February under the watchful eyes of the Phillies trainers and staff in Clearwater. Watson, a six-foot-four 200-pounder hasn’t pitched since 2013 when he tallied a 4-6 record and a 4.75 ERA in 16 starts for Lakewood.

Joseph is another player that’s dealt with repeated injury concerns. Once the prized return from San Francisco in the deal that sent Hunter Pence out west to increase his jewelry collection, Joseph hasn’t shown the type of bat he was touted to have prior to being dealt. In 91 games sprinkled over two-plus concussion plagued seasons in the Phillies’ organization, the 23-year-old has notched a .222 average with 11 home runs and 46 RBI.

Rupp, who would have aged out of the rankings at 26 years old, fizzled in 2014, after making his big league debut the previous September. In 59 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the Phils’ 3rd round draft choice from 2010 posted a .165 average with six homers and 19 RBI. What’s worse is that Rupp began his minor league campaign last year with a homer in each of his first four games, so after April 6th, the six-foot-two 250-pound Texan batted .157 and laced two homers in his next 55 games for the IronPigs. In 18 big league contests last year, Rupp sported a .183/.234/.250 slash line.

As pitchers and catchers report date approaches, check back here regularly for the unveiling of this year’s countdown of the top 25 ranked prospects within the Phillies organization.

Friday, January 9, 2015

PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 74: HoF Voting, Revamped Phils Farm & Carlos Alonso Interview

On the 74th edition of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast, Tug and Jay discuss the recent Hall of Fame voting including thoughts on Pedro Martinez and Barry Bonds. The guys also pour through the revamped Phillies prospect core thanks to last year's amateur draft, trades and December's Rule 5 draft, reviewing Jesmuel Valentin, Zach Eflin, Odubel Herrera as well as plenty more. Also minor league infielder Carlos Alonso joins the guys for the fun segment Nine Silly-Ass Questions.

Use the media player below to stream the full episode, or simply download it by clicking HERE.

You can also check out previous episodes and subscribe on iTunes.

Thanks also for making the previous episode of the show featuring live call-in guest Matt Imhof the most downloaded edition ever!