In place of our usual weekly minor league review where we glance at statistics of players that are on a roll or ones that are performing in the opposite manner, we'll let an inside man have a go at providing information on some Phillies prospects of importance. Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to sit down with Gorman Heimueller, the Phillies' minor league pitching coordinator.
Heimueller, who has been the Phils' minor league pitching coordinator since 2002, pitched 14 seasons as a pro, including parts of two with the Athletics. Prior to his current position, Heimueller was a pitching coach at the Double-A and Triple-A level for the Phillies.
On Saturday, Heimueller offered his thoughts on several young hurlers in the organization's developmental system. Those quotes lie ahead.
On Class A Lakewood RHP Colin Kleven, who is the team's lone South Atlantic League All-Star representative...
"His career, the way he's come, from when we drafted him, he's made big strides in his delivery to allow him to become more consistent. He's taken advantage of his size, where he's trying to throw the ball downhill. His velocity- he's got a live fastball that has some life at the end of it. His breaking pitch has gotten better, and now, if we get him to trust his change up more, he just needs game experience, continue to get a lot of innings and just watch the improvement."
On Lakewood RHP Gabriel Arias, who sports a fastball that regularly reaches 94-95 MPH and struck out five batters in 2 1/3 innings against Hickory on Saturday...
"Gaby threw the ball fine. He attacked the zone with his fastball and he's got a real good arm. His off-speed stuff tonight wasn't as sharp as I've seen it. But, like I said, he's throwing the fastball fine and he put up two zeroes for us after coming in for Colin to finish his inning."
Asked if he feels like Arias has a bright future...
"Yeah. Oh, yeah, definitely. And I was really please with Yari Sosa coming in there. You know, he's a kid that came in from extended (spring training) and it's his first year over here. Part of it was that he had a nice 8th inning, but another part of it was that it's not easy to pitch the 9th inning. It's not easy to get that last out and he went right after them and got some...pitched to contact, got early contact, and got them (out) 1, 2, 3 and that's gonna do worlds for his confidence."
On Class A Advanced Clearwater LHP Mario Hollands, who was recently promoted from Lakewood and has posted wins in each of his first three starts with the Threshers...
"I saw the game in Clearwater when, I think, he went six no-hit innings. When we drafted him and he pitched in Williamsport the first year, that's the guy we saw. And he came (to Lakewood) last year and he did a good job for us but he didn't quite have the life on his fastball that he had the year before. And he came to spring training this year and he did a couple things that helped his delivery, because his key is his deception, the way he throws. And he just made a little, minor adjustment and he's always thrown strikes. He's got a good cutter, he's very smart and everybody's thrilled with the way he's throwing because he's a good guy.
"I'm pleasantly surprised- I knew it was in there. I know last year was not the one we saw in Williamsport, so I'm happy he got back to where I thought he could be. He's got a chance, he's really good, because he's left-handed and he can throw a breaking ball. He keeps taking the ball, he's a guy, too- and I've talked to him about it- he's a guy that you can put in there to start and give you some innings, you can put him in the middle and (he'll) give you some innings, and he might be a guy to come in and face a lefty and that's it. So, his versatility, that he can have, just increases his value."
On Double-A Reading RHP Colby Shreve, who began the season in Lakewood and has jumped two levels this year...
"Sending him back to Lakewood was a hard, hard thing to do. Because the thing, coming out of spring training, that I was real happy with was how many arms we had, especially going from Triple-A all the way down. And Colby got caught up in numbers, pure and simple. There were some things we wanted him to work on as far as his angle with his pitches, trying to create more of an angle and to use his fastball more. And we told him, Joe Jordan told him, 'You're not going to be (in Lakewood) very long.' Because things happen. In a perfect world, nobody gets hurt, everybody does great, but that's not the game. And I know it hurt him tremendously. I know it was tough for him, but to his credit, he (went down to Lakewood) and worked his butt off and did some of the things we were trying, you know, through the pitching coaches and video, showing him what we wanted him to do, and it wasn't a big change, it was just small little things in his mechanics. But, you've seen him. His velocity's up to 95.
"He threw good the other day too, in Reading. And, you know, his first game (at Double-A), it doesn't matter what level you're at, it's always a bit of an adjustment period.
"I saw him pitch up there, in Clearwater, a couple times and he was outstanding. His whole demeanor and his confidence, you could just see he was riding a high as far as believing and trusting his stuff. So, he's- we drafted him with high expectations, knowing he had Tommy John (surgery), and, so it's taken a year or two, but now this is the guy that we were expecting to see. It's taken a tad longer than we thought, but he's definitely on the radar."
On Double-A Reading RHP Lisalberto Bonilla,who began the season with Clearwater...
"Bonilla has got tremendous stuff. He's got a plus fastball and a plus change up and a slider that we're working on, to get better. And, again with him, as with Colby, trusting the fastball. They've got good enough fastballs because everything comes off of that. Sometimes he gets a little change up happy, but he's learning, with Reading, that he can use his fastball because hitters are smarter and he's doing fine up there. He's doing a real nice job."
On Triple-A Lehigh Valley RHP Tyler Cloyd, who has a 9-1 record and a 2.06 ERA overall in 13 combined starts at Reading and with Lehigh...
"He has broken out. He's opened some eyes. He's having a tremendous year in Double-A and Triple-A. He's been the most consistent starter there in Triple-A. He's always been a strike thrower, from day 1, when we signed him. He's always been a strike thrower and he's always learning and tinkering around to try to make himself better with the stuff he has. We've got a lot of guys with better fastballs, but I don't think we've got many guys with as good as command and knowing where he wants to throw the ball.
"He's come up with a cutter he can throw to both sides of the plate and his change up's getting better. And he loves baseball. I mean, he's a baseball player. He loves the game, so it's really fun to see that. I thought you were gonna mention the other Tyler...Tyler Knigge, he's throwing the heck out it. He's got a sub-1 ERA and I saw him pitch a few days ago, he made the (Florida State League) All-Star team, he's excited about that. He has done a whale of a job. He lost about 15 pounds coming into spring training. He's always been focused, he always gives you good effort. It's fun. That's what's great about this job is seeing these guys get better."
On Reading RHP Julio Rodriguez, one of the well-touted Baby Aces....
"Julio...he just keeps getting people out. You talk about Trevor May and Jon Pettibone, who are very good pitchers, and Julio's been right there with them. He doesn't have the fastballs those guys have, doesn't have the breaking balls some of those guys have. But he gets people out. He's got a fastball that naturally cuts. You just look at the radar gun and you watch him, and you watch the hitters' reactions and there's something there, I wish I could teach it. He hides the ball, he's got nice, loose, long arms and the ball has some movement on it. And his breaking ball's getting better and the one thing he does do very well- he don't like to lose. He's very competitive. He goes out there and he expects- he doesn't hope to get you out, he expects to get you out."
On Clearwater RHP Brody Colvin, who recently was moved to the bullpen and then back to the starting rotation...
"He hasn't been moving back and forth. He struggled a little bit and the ball was coming out fine, his stuff was fine. We just thought (he should) take a little break, go to the bullpen. We wanted him to have fun, wanted him to not know when he was gonna pitch. And he got in about four games or so and the ball was coming out good and he pitched well. It was never, ever the intent to keep him in the bullpen. I told him that from day 1. It was just kind of a little, 'Take a breath here. Go out to the bullpen and mess around, have some fun, laugh a little bit. You know, when the phone rings and it's for you, get up throw the ball and get in there. Don't think.' And then, I saw his first start back in Clearwater last week and he threw the ball real well."
Heimueller then asked me if I saw the type off effort Colvin put forth when he became a highly regarded prospect with Lakewood in 2010. I answered affirmatively.
"I still believe it's there and I believe he's going to be a good major league pitcher."
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