Wednesday, March 21, 2018

2018 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #3 OF Adam Haseley

Adam Haseley, image- Jay Floyd
Last year's first round draft pick, outfielder Adam Haseley, is a promising young talent that the Phillies have very high hopes for. 

Selected with the 8th overall pick, Haseley signed for a reported $5.1 million. A two-way player in college, Haseley was a very reliable pitcher and was an offensive standout at Virginia.

Upon making his pro debut, the lefty batting Haseley went 7-for-12 in three games with the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies.

He was swiftly promoted to short-season Class A Williamsport. With the Crosscutters, Haseley posted a .270 batting average with nine doubles, two home runs and 18 RBI in 37 contests.

Another promotion was in order and Haseley wrapped up the regular season with the full season Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.  In 18 games, he would tally a .258 average with three doubles, a triple, a home run and six RBI.

Following the regular season, the six-foot-one 195-pounder participated in the Florida Instructional League, learning from Phillies coaches and organization mates that he had not gotten exposure with until that point.  He also attended mini-camps that the Phils put on for strength and speed development in Clearwater.

While there, Haseley met former Phils hurler Roy Halladay the week of his death.  Halladay gave the youngster multiple books and offered lessons from his own playing days to to help with his mental approach to being an athlete.

Coaches like Haseley's ability to hit to all fields.  He features excellent bat speed and touts an inside-out swing.

Haseley, who turns 22 years old on April 12th, has drawn comparisons to Jacoby Elsbury throughout his playing career.  Haseley also was a fan of Elsbury's game while watching baseball throughout his youth.

On the bases, Haseley hasn't shown exemplary speed so far in his pro career, stealing six bases in 11 attempts.  Though, he is said to have above average speed.

Defensively, Haseley has played mostly center field, but he spent some time in left field as well once he joined the Lakewood team.  He shows very good range and has a strong arm to keep runners from taking too many liberties. 

Loaded with potential, Haseley should find himself opening the 2018 season with Class A Advanced Clearwater.

Haseley may be a few years away from making a true splash at the Major League level, but until he gets there, he is definitely a prospect worth keeping an eye on.

You can keep track of this year's Phillies prospect countdown at this link.

Friday, March 16, 2018

2018 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #4 OF Mickey Moniak

Mickey Moniak, image- Jay Floyd
Taken with the first overall selection in the 2016 MLB amateur draft, outfielder Mickey Moniak has garnered loads of attention with many eyes watching closely, in hopes he can live up to the high expectations that come with being such a high pick.

After signing out of La Costa Canyon High School for a reported $6.1 million, the lefty batting Moniak had a very good professional debut.

In 46 games with the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team, Moniak sported a .284 batting average with 11 doubles, four triples, a home run and 28 RBI.  He also showed some speed, swiping 10 bases in 14 opportunities.

Following the regular season, Moniak participated in the Florida Instructional League and spent time at the Phillies' training facility in Clearwater, where he worked to add strength and muscle to his six-foot-two 185-pound frame.

In 2017, as a member of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, Moniak tallied a .236 batting average with five home runs, 44 RBI and 11 stolen bases.  Coaches were pleased with the 19-year-old's output for the Claws, despite some fans already feeling like he is a bust based on last year's production.  Progress throughout the season was there in the eyes of the Phillies even though Moniak's stats (.721 first half OPS vs. .525 second half OPS) didn't prove the point.

His hitting coach last year, Nelson Prada, suggested that perhaps Moniak was chasing pitches out of the zone at times, due to statistical struggles impacting his approach.

At the plate, Moniak, who was committed to playing at UCLA prior to the 2016 draft, makes hard contact.  The California native is touted as a line drive hitter that can stroke the ball to all fields.

Described as a natural on the baseball field Moniak has the make up to be a strong performer that leads by example and showed enough last year, competing against much older pitchers with college experience, that coaches are confident he's still going to hit very well as a professional.

Moniak is a great contributor on defense as well, displaying solid range and a strong arm in center field.

He won't be the quickest player on most teams, but he will be speedy enough to help out with some steals.

It's possible Moniak will open the coming season back with Lakewood, but could move up to Class A Advanced Clearwater this year.

You can keep track of this year's Phillies prospect countdown at this link.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Major rule change in the minors

Image- Jay Floyd
The national pastime is changing.  At least at the developmental level for affiliated professional teams.

In a rule change announced by Minor League Baseball on Wednesday, all extra innings will start with a runner on second base.

The goal with the rule adjustment is to expedite games and reduce any over-usage of pitchers.

Specifics on the announcement from MiLB are listed below.

The runner at second base will be the player in the batting order position previous to the lead-off batter of the inning (or a substitute for that player). By way of example, if the number five hitter in the batting order is due to lead off the 10th inning, the number four player in the batting order (or a pinch-runner for such player) shall begin the inning on second base. Any runner or batter removed from the game for a substitute shall be ineligible to return to the game, as is the case in all circumstances under the Official Baseball Rules.

The extra inning rule change was tested in rookie level leagues (Gulf Coast League and the Arizona League) in 2017.  Also, the World Baseball Classic used the guideline in its tournament last year as well.

Reactions from fans regarding the modification throughout the minors haven't been good.  Baseball purists have expressed concern with alterations to the tradition of the game.  Others worry that the update will reach the big leagues at some point.  A certain spouse of mine, upon hearing the news of virtual ghost runners being inserted into a contest, asked if adding the 10-run rule, common in children's games, was next on the agenda.

In years past I have talked with Phillies minor leagues coaches that have advocated for an innings limit, with overall health and development concerns in mind.  Following a stretch in 2015 when Double-A Reading played into extra innings for three straight days, playing 45 innings and having to use three position players on the mound, coach Mickey Morandini expressed an interest in seeing games ruled a tie.

"I don't see a reason why there can't be a tie in the minor leagues," Morandini a former big league All-Star that went on to also coach in the majors, said at the time.  "They're really not going to affect anything really.  So, I hope it's being talked about a little bit.  I hope it doesn't come down to position players start getting hurt before they start making decisions and changing their minds and coming up with something to alleviate having to throw position players in a game."

Current players contacted for feedback were reserved with their replies, expressing minimal opinions on the matter.  However, former players with no worries about how their opinions will land on the ears of higher-ups in their organization were far more open.

Former reliever Stephen Shackleford, who set the Reading Fightins Phils' saves record in 2015, was outspoken on the matter.

"Honesty, I think it's stupid.  They keep trying to change the game to make it quicker.  This is completely changing the game.  It's no longer just a (pitch clock) to follow.  It is now a whole new rule that is changing baseball.  My opinion is if the game is too long for you, it's not for you and you're never going to get those viewers," Shackleford asserted.

Another former Phillies minor league reliever, lefty Zach Morris, also doesn't necessarily care for the new rule.

"I understand why they would propose this but at the same time it's taking away from the excitement of extra innings," Morris said.  "Some of the most exciting games I have been a part of have come on super late inning walk-offs and I feel that, as a fan, it would be less exciting starting with someone on base."

Additional changes to the minor league rule book for the coming season include a 15-second pitch timers for hurlers when there are no runners on base.  If the pitcher fails to begin his wind up in the time permitted, the batter will be awarded a ball.  Previously in the minors, the pitch clock was in place only when runners were on base.

Also there is a limitation on mound visits by coaches and position players, with Triple-A clubs allowed six total visits per team, Double-A clubs allowed eight visits per team and full-season Class A teams will be allowed 10 visits per team.

With the minors and its players serving as the testing ground for these rules, it'll be easier to adopt such changes at the top level at some point.  The pitch clock, in some fashion, will likely be the first rule change to graduate and reach the big leagues.  Until then, head on out to a minor league game and see the alterations to the game you love for yourself.

Monday, March 12, 2018

2018 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #5 RHP Franklyn Kilome

Franklyn Kilome, image- Jay Floyd
One of the most promising young pitching prospects in the Phillies organization is right-hander Franklyn Kilome. Armed with outstanding velocity and a remarkable repertoire, the talented hurler looks to be pushing his way toward making an impact in the big leagues.

Signed by the Phillies as an international free agent in 2013, Kilome would make his professional debut the following year.

With the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies, as an 18-year-old, Kilome would post a 3-1 record with a 3.12 ERA and a .235 batting average against in 11 appearances. He struck out 25 and walked 11 in 40 1/3 innings.

The Dominican Republic native opened 2015 in extended spring training, then joined the short-season Class A Williamsport team when their season began in June. He helped the Crosscutters storm into the postseason with a 3-2 record with a 3.28 ERA and a .230 BAA. He struck out 36 and walked 21 in 49 1/3 innings.

In 2016 Kilome would pitch in a full-season league for the first time and opened the season with Class A Lakewood, struggling out of the gate.  In his first three starts, as a 20-year-old, he posted a 0-3 record along with a 15.83 ERA and a .435 batting average against.  The cold early-spring weather was said to be a factor, but Kilome worked hard to iron things out.  For the remainder of the regular season, he sported a 5-5 record, a 2.74 ERA and a 10.5 K/9 mark over 20 starts and helped the BlueClaws reach the South Atlantic League championship series.

Last season, Kilome would notch a 6-4 record with a 2.59 ERA and a .264 BAA in 19 starts for Class A Advanced Clearwater.  In August, he was promoted to Double-A Reading to wrap up the season.  In five games, Kilome had a 1-3 record with a 3.64 ERA.  Overall last season, his K/9 mark was at 7.3.

His arsenal features a dominant upper-90's fastball that can get up to 100 MPH. Kilome also tosses an excellent curve ball and a solid change up that tends to fool opponents. 

Having walked 3.6 batters per nine innings in his professional career, the 22-year-old has plenty of room for improvement on that front.  Refining his command could be the main difference maker for how much Kilome can succeed at the upper levels of the sport.

Kilome has a slim six-foot-six 175-pound frame.  He's durable and could certainly still add some muscle.

For now, it looks like Kilome's path will continue as a starter, but with his exceptional velocity, he could possibly flourish as a reliever if the club ever wishes to change his role. 

A member of the Phillies' 40-man roster, Kilome has gotten some time with the big club in spring training.  It is likely that he will open the 2018 back with Reading with Triple-A on the horizon.

You can keep track of this year's Phillies prospect countdown at this link.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

2018 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #6 OF Jhailyn Ortiz

Jhailyn Ortiz, image-
The Phillies signed outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz at the age of 16 for a reported $4 million.  Teams don't make that sort of investment or shell out the largest signing bonus for an international player in organization history without a boat load of high hopes.  It seems the talented youngster is well on his way to living up to those expectations.

The powerful Dominican Republic native made his regular season pro debut as a member of the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2016.  In 47 games there, Ortiz batted .231 with eight home runs, 27 RBI and eight stolen bases.

In 2017 Ortiz was with the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters.  He sported a .302 batting average with 15 doubles, a triple, eight homers and 30 RBI in 47 contests.  Having turned 19 years old in November, he was among the youngest players in the New York-Penn League last year.  His .961 OPS would have been good enough to lead the league if he has notched enough plate appearances to qualify.

Ortiz, a righty batter, features boast-worthy power with plus potential. He can knock the ball out of any park he plays in and has the ability to hit to all fields.  He took strides toward becoming a more complete hitter, as was evidenced by the 71-point jump in his average from the previous campaign.  He makes excellent contact, barrelling up the ball in all areas of the strike zone.

Last season, working on plate discipline was key for Ortiz, as the Phils want to see him reduce his strike outs. At roughly a 26% strike out rate in the minors, he has a lot of work ahead to improve in that aspect.

On top of all the offensive praise, he also is a quality defender with a strong arm.  He has played strictly right field in the minors to date.

As a base runner, Ortiz likely will not be a regular stolen base threat, but he is quick-footed enough that he won't be a detriment to his club.

Listed at six-feet-three and 215 pounds, Ortiz is a strapping young man and could add even more strength as he progresses in the professional ranks.

Coaches think Ortiz is a special talent with a very bright future.  He'll likely be in the middle of the lineup for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws for much of this coming season.

You can keep track of this year's Phillies prospect countdown at this link.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

2018 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #7 RHP Drew Anderson

Drew Anderson, image- Jay Floyd
Righty hurler Drew Anderson earned a brief call up to the big leagues last season and is deservedly regarded as a valuable prospect in the Phillies system.  The promising 23-year-old is certainly a name that Phils fans should be familiar with by now.

The Reno, NV native was selected in the 21st round of the 2012 draft out of high school.  Upon turning pro, Anderson posted a 1-1 record with a 4.76 ERA in eight appearances with the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies.

The following year, his first full season as a pro, Anderson tallied a 6-3 record with a 2.00 ERA, a .214 batting average against and a 6.4 K/9 mark in 15 starts as a member of the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters.

In 2014, the six-feet-three 185-pounder posted a 4-4 record with a 4.68 ERA, a .266 batting average against and a 9.4 K/9 mark in eight starts for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.  He would miss time that year with an elbow strain and returned to action rehabbing with the GCL team in July but would miss the remainder of the season following a setback.

Rest and rehab did not do the trick and when pain returned in his elbow the following spring, Tommy John surgery took place in early April to repair his ulnar collateral ligament.

After missing the entire 2015 season, Anderson returned to action in late May 2016 after some rehab appearances in extended spring training.

As a member of the BlueClaws, Anderson would sport a 1-3 record with a 3.38 ERA, a .220 batting average against as well as a 10 K/9 mark in seven starts.  He would earn a promotion to Class A Advanced Clearwater where he continued to stand out. 

Upon joining the Threshers, he was the starter in a game in which the team notched a combined no-hitter.  For the Threshers in eight starts, Anderson put together a 2-1 record with a 1.93 ERA, a .217 BAA and a 10.2 K/9 mark.

In 2017, Anderson impressed with Double-A Reading, sporting a 9-4 record with a 3.59 ERA and a 7.2 K/9 mark.  Those overall numbers were good enough to earn him an All-Star nod, but his efforts early on were lackluster.  He tallied an 8.59 ERA in four April starts.  Following that, his ERA at that level was 2.81.  

Anderson would earn a promotion to the majors for two relief outings that didn't go very well (he allowed five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings) in August. Additionally, he wrapped up his regular season and went into the playoffs with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, allowing four earned runs and striking out 11 in 12 2/3 innings.

Prior to the surgery to repair his elbow, Anderson was mostly known as a control pitcher.  However, with conditioning work and improved strength in his lower half, he was able to add velocity following his return from injury.  Reports had him touching 97 MPH with his fastball at multiple times in 2016, regularly clocking in the mid-90's.

Also in his pitch repertoire are a very good curve ball that can miss a lot of bats and an improving change up that Anderson has worked to improve.

Locating pitches and his command will continue to be a plus for Anderson.  Coaches want to see him work to refine his pitches and improve his game calling.

The intangibles are what the organization likes about him the most.  Anderson is a focused and determined pitcher.  He is tough, wants to compete and loves to learn about the sport that is his career.

Anderson says he gauges his own success simply based on if he feels healthy the day after he pitches and if his team won.  His statistics, velocity and other things that key in reviewing baseball talent aren't details that he keeps tabs on at all.

With a bit of big league exposure under his belt, the talented youngster should be ready to contribute on a larger scale soon.

You can keep track of this year's Phillies prospect countdown at this link.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

2018 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #8 RHP Enyel De Los Santos

Acquired over the off-season in a one-for-one trade that sent Freddy Galvis to San Diego, Enyel De Los Santos is a talented hurler that instantly landed among the Phillies' top pitching prospects.

A native of the Dominican Republic, De Los Santos signed with Seattle at the age of 18.  He would make his professional debut in 2015 in the Rookie level Arizona League. There, he posted a 3-0 record with a 2.55 ERA in five starts.  The righty earned a promotion to Class A short-season Everett where he would notch a 3-0 record with a 4.06 ERA through eight starts.

During the following off-season, he was traded to the Padres in a deal for Joaquin Benoit. 

In 2016, making his debut in the Padres organization, De Los Santos would open the season with Class A Ft. Wayne.  In 11 appearances (seven starts), he tallied a 3-2 record with a 2.91 ERA and a .199 batting average against.  

De Los Santos was promoted to Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore in June.  As a member of the Storm rotation he would sport a 5-3 record with a 4.35 ERA and a 6.8 K/9 mark in 15 starts.

In 2017, he moved up to Double-A San Antonio.  There, he posted a 10-6 record with a 3.78 ERA, an 8.3 K/9 mark as well as a .237 BAA.  De Los Santos improved greatly as the season went on, seeing his 4.92 ERA in the first half improve after tallying a 2.75 ERA following the All-Star break.

Listed at six-foot-three and 170-pounds, the 22-year-old features a fastball that regularly clocks around 94-95 MPH and features sink to help draw ground ball outs.  Additionally, he offers a curve ball, a solid change up along with a nice slider that can present concern if he hangs it for the opposition. The slider was a new addition to his repertoire, so he's still working to refine it.

After quickly moving through the SD system, De Los Santos should land at the Triple-A level this year for the Phillies. 

Some may view De Los Santos as being far from a finished product, but he has all the tools to become a stable part of a big league starting rotation in the comings seasons.

You can keep track of this year's Phillies prospect countdown at this link.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

2018 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #9 OF Roman Quinn

Roman Quinn,, image- Jay Floyd
Outfielder Roman Quinn used his short stint in the big leagues late in the 2016 season as a chance to show that he belonged at the top level of the sport.  While he looked primed to get more opportunities at major league playing time with the Phils at some point last year, another ailment in a long list of injuries resulted in the youngster missing most of last season.  He hopes to ride a solid spring training campaign this year with the big club back to Philadelphia.

Selected in the 2nd round of the 2011 MLB amateur draft, Quinn was converted to shortstop upon making his pro debut.  It was an experiment that did not prove successful, however, as he has returned to the outfield.

Quinn would make his pro debut as a 19-year-old with short-season Class A Williamsport in 2012, posting a .281 average with nine doubles, a league-leading 11 triples, one home run and 23 RBI while swiping 30 bases in 36 opportunities.

Comfort was a big factor for Quinn in 2013, according to his Class A Lakewood coaches.  They saw things get easier for the talented youngster at the plate as the season went on and he displayed success with another experiment on the offensive side of his game...the assignment of learning to switch-hit.

That year, he got off to a rough start, batting .202 with a .556 OPS in 22 April games. In May, things began to look up, at the plate, for Quinn, as he notched a .304 average with an .874 OPS in 26 contests that month. His season would not last much longer, as the Florida native was hit by a pitch that resulted in a broken left wrist in June, ending his campaign with .238 average with seven doubles, three triples, five home runs and 32 stolen bases in 41 chances through 67 games.

Unable to compete in that autumn's Florida Instructional League, due to the slow healing wrist, Quinn continued to work out and suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon while running sprints. Surgery came soon afterward and Quinn missed considerable time while recovering.

Originally expected to miss the majority of the 2014 season, Quinn, who is listed at five-foot-10, 170-pounds, was back on the field by mid-May and impressed many with the strides that he took.

Playing in 88 contests, the most he's played in any of his three pro seasons to that point, for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, Quinn returned to post a .257 batting average along with 10 doubles, three triples, seven home runs and 36 RBI.

In the interest of making up for lost time, the Phillies wanted Quinn to see more action in the off-season and sent him to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. In 24 games with Scottsdale, he batted .250 with two triples, two home runs and nine RBI.

In 2015 Quinn opened the season with Double-A Reading, where he would tally a .306 batting average with six doubles, six triples, four homers, 15 RBI and 29 stolen bases in 39 opportunities through 58 games before he was sidelined with another injury. Initially diagnosed as a quad strain, the ailment was later revealed to be a muscle tear, which kept Quinn out of action much longer than was initially anticipated.

He reached full health in the off-season and spent some time with Licey in the Dominican Winter League, posting a .212 average with a pair of home runs, seven RBI and eight stolen bases in 25 games played.

In 2016, Quinn would continue to live up to his often-injured reputation, missing more than a month with an oblique strain.  He sported a .287 average with 14 doubles, six triples and six home runs while driving in 25 runs and swiping 31 bags in 71 games with Reading.

He was then promoted to the big leagues to wrap up their regular season after Reading was eliminated from the Eastern League playoffs.  In 15 MLB games, he posted a .263/.373/.333 slash line.

Last year, Quinn played with Triple-A Lehigh Valley prior to his latest physical setback.  In 45 games for the IronPigs, he tallied a .274 average with two home runs, 13 RBI and 10 steals.  He would miss the rest of the season after a sprain of his non-throwing elbow in late May.  The injury occurred during a slide on the bases.

Defensively, Quinn is primarily a center fielder.  He has a strong arm and has displayed excellent range in the outfield during his career.  This side of his game is a big strength.

At the plate, the 24-year-old displays gap power from both sides, as he continues to refine his switch-hitting ability.  Quinn is a natural right-handed batter, but has improved greatly, seeing his OPS as a lefty hitter go from .673 with Clearwater in 2014, to .755 with Reading in 2015, to .813 with Reading in 2016 and staying good at .751 last year.  He draws walks a fair amount, but will need to improve his contact in order to be most effective at the top of the order.

Coaches are fond of Quinn's personality. He plays smart, does all he can to get on base to score runs and displays a solid ability to adapt to whatever is thrown his way.

On the bases, Quinn's quickness returned following Achilles surgery, to where it had been prior to the injury.  Rated as having plus speed, he's a serious threat whenever he's on base and helps the rest of his team by getting in pitchers' heads.

In addition, he has a tendency to get into pitchers' heads while on the bases and can take advantage of lax infield defense with a keen ability to drop a bunt for a base hit.  He seems like a potentially prototypical lead-off man.

Quinn will get plenty of playing time in spring training with the Phillies over the next month or so.

With a high ceiling, Quinn still possesses the tools to become an impact player in the majors. Health will be the key factor in how much of a splash he may get the chance to make.

You can keep track of this year's Phillies prospect countdown at this link.

Monday, February 26, 2018

2018 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #10 OF Dylan Cozens

Dylan Cozens, image- Jay Floyd
Powerful outfield prospect Dylan Cozens hopes to shake the reputation of a free swinger and become a more complete hitter in order to fulfill his dream of reaching the major leagues.

At six feet six inches tall and weighing 235 pounds, Cozens has an imposing frame that was well-suited for the grid iron, as he was a two-sport star in his high school days. 

After he was chosen in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft, Cozens debuted in the minors with the rookie level Gulf Coast Phillies. In 50 games there, he notched 15 doubles, two triples, five homers and 24 RBI. Cozens also participated in the Florida Instructional League in 2012.

Following a productive spring in 2013, Cozens was retained in extended spring training and made his official season debut with the Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters when they began playing in June. Cozens was among the league leaders in many categories that year, placing second in doubles (19), extra base hits (30), and runs (50) while ranking third in slugging percentage (.469). Additionally, he batted .265 with two triples, nine home runs and 35 RBI in 68 games for the 'Cutters.

In 2014, with Class A Lakewood, Cozens had a solid campaign, posting a .248 average with 16 homers and 62 RBI.  He followed that up with a great effort in the Australian Baseball League in the off-season that followed. In 45 games with Melbourne, he tallied a .255 average with eight home runs, 23 RBI and 11 steals.

The 2015 season saw Cozens opening his year with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers.  In 96 games in the Florida State League, he sported a 282/.335/.411 slash line.  Despite missing a month with a foot sprain, he earned a promotion to Double-A Reading late in the season and found the transition easy.  He batted .350 with three homers and nine RBI in 11 regular season games before continuing to contribute into the Fightin Phils' postseason.

Cozens would spend a portion of the following off-season dealing with an arm injury, but he joined the Indios in the Roberto Clemente League in Puerto Rico for a stretch.  In 26 regular season games there, he posted a .275 average with three home runs and nine RBI.

The ailment did not present any issues for his 2016 campaign, which saw Cozens return to Reading and earn the Eastern League's Most Valuable Player Award.  In 134 games for the Fightin Phils, the Arizona native posted a .276 batting average while leading the league in both home runs (40) and RBI (125).  He also was honored as the co-recipient of the Paul Owens Award, an annual nod for the top position player and pitcher in the Phillies developmental ranks.

Over that off-season, Cozens played in the Dominican Winter League, tallying a .165 average with four homers in 25 games. His perceived troubling efforts there led to a notable conflict with a teammate.

In 2017 Cozens would make his Triple-A debut for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  Through 135 games, he posted a .210 batting average with 27 HR and 75 RBI.  While the average wasn't the most outstanding, he was solid enough overall to be honored as a mid-season All-Star.

A fluid swing, considerable hand speed and plus raw power for Cozens should allow him to stand out as a future big league talent, though his pitch selection still needs work. His 380 strike outs in 1128 plate appearance over the past two regular seasons make it evident that there is plenty of room for improvement there.  Cutting down on the strike out rate will be critical for his future.

On the bases, the 23-year-old isn't as slow as some might expect of a big-bodied masher type. He has proven to be a threat on the base paths, swiping 21 bags in 22 attempts two seasons ago in Double-A. He sports a 78% success rate in steal attempts as a professional and could continue to contribute with his slept-on speed.

Cozens, who has played a majority of his games in right field, has been praised for his adaptability and is a very capable fielder at all three spots. He covers a very good amount of ground on defense and has a rather strong arm in the outfield.

Despite having his path blocked by several talented outfielders such as Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams and converted first baseman Rhys Hoskins at the top level, Cozens could get an opportunity to fill a void if one comes up for the Phillies for any reason.  Otherwise, it's possible the best option to reach the majors for Cozens could be a trade elsewhere.  With the ability to impact the score with one swing of the bat, Cozens would be a welcome addition to the middle of the lineup for many teams.

He'll likely start the 2018 campaign back in Lehigh Valley, if an injury or trade doesn't happen. 

You can keep track of this year's Phillies prospect countdown at this link.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

2018 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #11 RHP Tom Eshelman

Tom Eshelman, image- Jay Floyd
Surprising success in the minors has earned righty hurler Tom Eshelman recognition among the Phillies' top pitching prospects.

Acquired as part of the trade that sent reliever Kenny Giles to Houston, Eshelman has dominated the competition since joining the Phils organization.

After becoming Houston's 2nd round draft choice (46th overall) in 2015 and signing for a reported $1.1 million, the Carlsbad, CA native started four total games at two levels of the Astros' system.

As a member of the rookie level Gulf Coast League Astros, Eshelman allowed two earned runs while striking out three and walking two in four innings of work. He was then promoted to Class A Quad Cities where he allowed three earned runs while striking out five and walking three in 6 1/3 innings.

After the trade, he opened 2016 with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers.  Eshelman would become a Florida State League All-Star in his initial campaign for the Phillies organization.  In 11 starts there he tallied a 4-2 record with a 3.34 ERA, a .251 batting average against and a 9.7 K/9 mark.  He would be promoted to Double-A Reading by mid-season.

As a member of the post-season bound Fightins, Eshelman wasn't as sharp.  In 13 starts for Reading, Eshelman posted a 5-5 record, a 5.14 ERA, a .307 batting average against and an 8.1 K/9 mark.  Those numbers weren't alarming, as it's important to remember that he was pitching at the Double-A level in just his second pro season.

In 2017, Eshelman opened the season back with Reading.  In five starts there, he would sport a 3-0 record with a 3.10 ERA and a .257 BAA while striking out 22 and walking five in 29 innings.

In early May the six-foot-three 210-pounder earned a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  In 18 starts there Eshelman tallied a 10-3 record with a 2.23 ERA, a .227 BAA and a 6.0 K/9 mark.

Eshelman was honored by the Phillies as their top minor league pitcher last year, being named the recipient of the annual Paul Owens Award.   
Coaches like his approach as a true pitcher. Equipped with a fastball that features late sink and can peak around 93-94 MPH, Eshelman can see plenty of swings and misses. He also throws a quality curve ball along with a slider and a change up, locating them all very well.  He's got an excellent feel for pitching.

The ability to locate his offerings helps Eshelman greatly, as he has the confidence and ability to throw any pitch in any count, so the concept of a "hitter's count" doesn't really apply with him.  He can even pitch out of the zone with success.

Control is definitely the big factor in Eshelman's game, as he notched a collegiate career record 0.4 BB/9 mark in three years at Cal State Fullerton, where he was a multi-time All-American. He possessed a 313-to-18 strike out-to-walk ratio in his college career.  Additionally, in his 2015 junior campaign, Eshelman sported a 1.58 ERA in 18 outings.

Scouts had Eshelman classified as one of the most polished pitchers in his draft class.

Look for the 23-year-old to open the 2018 season with Lehigh Valley.  He'll hope to put pressure on the Phillies to give him a shot at the big league rotation before long and there's no reason fans shouldn't expect to see this guy reach the majors.

You can keep track of this year's Phillies prospect countdown at this link.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

2018 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #12 RHP Adonis Medina

Adonis Medina, image- Jay Floyd
Widely ranked among the Phillies' top prospects by many outlets, right-handed pitcher Adonis Medina has already made a name for himself at quite a young age as coaches really like his potential while Phils' brass adores his ability.

Medina is equipped with a mid-90's fastball along with a curveball and a change up that are considered to have plus potential has used that arsenal to impress at the lower levels of the minor leagues as to date.

Signed in 2014 at age 17, Medina made his pro debut that year as part of the Phillies' Dominican Summer League team. In 11 games (two starts) he would post a 2-3 record with a save, a 1.27 ERA and a 7.5 K/9 mark along with a .220 batting average againts.

In 2015, the six-foot-one 185-pounder competed with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phils, sporting a 3-2 record with a 2.98 ERA, a .253 BAA and a 6.9 K/9 mark in 10 games (eight starts).

The following season, at the age of 19, he pitched with the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters and was the team's opening day starter. In 13 games, all starts, Medina tallied a 5-3 record with a 2.92 ERA along with a 4.7 K/9 mark.

In 2017 Medina would join the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.  In 22 starts he tallied a 4-9 record with a 3.01 ERA, a .227 BAA along with a 10.0 K/9 mark.

Medina is praised for having a great feel for pitching and a power arm. His fastball, which can reach 95 MPH, arrives at the plate featuring sink, helping to result in ground balls from the opposition. Additionally, both secondary pitches are strong. The Dominican Republic native already has the control of an elder pitcher, with consistency in the strike zone, and coaches cite that he embraces the learning process.

His ceiling seems to be a big league starter, but development will certainly shed more light on where among a team's starting staff he could land as a contributor.

Fans should look for the 21-year-old Medina to compete with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers this year where improved competition will help his development.

You can keep track of this year's Phillies prospect countdown at this link.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

2018 Philliies Prospects Countdown: #13 LHP Ranger Suarez

Ranger Suarez, image- Jay Floyd
The Phillies have a growing collection of highly regarded left-handed pitching prospects with Venezuela native Ranger Suarez leading the way among them.

Suarez, who stands six-foot-one and weighs around 180 pounds, was signed by the Phillies at the age of 16.

The exciting youngster would make his professional debut as a closer with the Venezuelan Summer League team in 2012. He tossed five scoreless innings and earned two saves in three outings there.

Over the next two seasons in the VSL, Suarez posted very solid numbers (5-4 record, 1.66 ERA) in 22 appearances. In 2014 he was converted to a starter.

Suarez pitched stateside in 2015, pitching in extended spring training that year and then sporting a 3-0 record with a tremendous 0.65 ERA in six appearances for the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies.

In 2016 with short-season Class A Williamsport, Suarez tallied a 6-4 record with a 2.81 ERA, a 6.5 K/9 mark and a .223 batting average against.

Last year, he opened the season as part of the Class A Lakewood rotation. In 14 starts with the BlueClaws, Suarez would notch a 6-2 record with a 1.59 ERA and a 9.5 K/9 mark in 14 starts.

He made the move to Class A Advanced Clearwater, earning a promotion on July 4th. With the Threshers, Suarez sported a 2-4 record with a 3.82 ERA and averaged more than a strike out per inning pitched over eight starts.

The pitch repertoire for Suarez features a fastball that peaks at about 94 MPH and has sinking movement. He also throws a diving curve ball, a slider as well as one of the premiere change-ups in the Phillies system. He touts excellent command with the ability to pitch to both sides of the plate at will and is an absolute leader for his staff.

Suarez's control helps him keep walks to a minimum. He surrendered one walk or less in 11 of his 22 starts last season.

Coaches describe the 22-year-old as having a tremendous baseball IQ. Suarez is a student of the game that works closely with those around him to develop on the mental side of the game just as much as the physical side of it. He is a cool and relaxed competitor that will control the pace on the diamond.

Expect Suarez to be a part of the potent Double-A Reading rotation to start the 2018 campaign, though he is in big league camp this spring and is getting an initial opportunity to impress much of the Phillies' coaching staff.   If his progress continues at a solid pace, Suarez could be an arm that the Phillies rely on by next year.

You can keep track of this year's Phillies prospect countdown at this link.