Saturday, August 19, 2017

PhouBallz Interview: Joe Jordan talks Taveras, Hall, Irvin, Moniak, Haseley, Brown, more

Throughout each season, I get opportunities to chat with Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan.  The boss of the Phils' minors is always open and offers solid insight on his players. 

This time around I asked Joe to talk about loads of prospects including bust out pitching performers like Jose Taveras, Nick Fanti and Cole Irvin.  He also shared thoughts out the team's past three first round draft picks Adam Haseley, Mickey Moniak and Cornelius Randolph, a trio of outfielders.  Aaron Brown's conversion from outfielder to pitcher was discussed, as was Lakewood offensive stud Darick Hall.  Additionally, he spoke on the organization's acquisitions from the trade deadline, a pair of top performers for the Gulf Coast League team and plenty more. 

Read ahead of the interview.

Taveras w/ Lakewood in 2016, image- Jay Floyd
-Jose Taveras has had an excellent season and has been a lot of fun to watch.  Can you share some thoughts on him?

I think he's had a great summer.  The beauty of Jose is it doesn't matter what ballpark he's in, what league, what venue.  It doesn't matter.  He's gonna go do what he does.  Every now and again, you come across guys that they just have to prove it a little bit more than some other guys and I think he's been tremendous.  He's gonna pitch in the big leagues and I just-- a lot of guys get talked about way in front of Jose, but I think that he's been a huge plus for us this year and he's had a huge summer.

-Another guy that may not get as much attention, but also has drawn some at times because of the no-hitters in Nick Fanti.  What have you seen from him this year?

Yeah, I mean, I think Nick has-- he's obviously forced his way into the conversation as far as recognition and notice as far as what he has done.  But, I think in our industry left-handers have different rules than other guys.  He's not a guy that throws 95 miles an hour.  He's not a guy that a lineup worries about as far as getting beat with big stuff.  But what he can do is use a combination of three or four pitches.  And he's a guy that has a chance to pitch in a major league rotation one of these days.  This year, for the first time he got out of the complex (in Clearwater), got out of short-season ball and had a chance to go pitch and I think his body of work speaks for itself.

-Cole Irvin has had a fun-to-watch and rapid rise in the organization, reaching the Double-A level just a year out of the draft.  I got to talk with him last month.  He seems like a really positive guy.  Can you comment on him?

Well, from the left side-- I don't want to compare him to Taveras, but what I can say is that his approach to pitching is like Jose's.  He knows what he can do.  He studies the lineup he's facing and he's got a game plan every time his number comes up, every five days.  He can go up to 94 miles an hour on both sides of the plate and he has a great feel for his change up.  He's got a curve ball and a slider.  And he's left-handed and he knows what he's doing.  So, this guy, barring injury, is gonna pitch in the big leagues for a long time.  He's smart.  He knows who he is and he's got a lot ability.  I think he was a terrific pick by our scouting staff last year.  (Laughs)  It's hard to believe it was just last year!  But, he's a joy for me to talk to.  I get to sit next to our guys (while they're) charting and scouting in the stands a lot and he pays attention.  His time is coming, but he's a major league pitcher and that's what we're trying to build.  

Rios, image- Jay Floyd
-Another pitcher- just to go back to guys that may not get a lot of attention- Yacksel Rios has made a lot of progress in the last year or so.  Can you share some thoughts on Yacksel?

I think Yacksel is-- you know, if you look at it, you can kind of group him with Jesen Therrien.  Both guys have been in our system for a while, have shown major league stuff for many years.  I think consistency has been the key in 2017 for Yacksel.  He spent his time in winter ball trying to refine and gain consistency with his slider.  He's-- for the last two or three years, he's had the same type of fastball and confidence in his fastball.  It's the second pitch that has been the big key for him.  Obviously, Jesen's in the big leagues and Yacksel is doing everything he can to force his name into the conversation of the next group to come.  I give credit to our staff.  It's taken a while, but the kid's hung in there and he's really, really looking the part of a major league pitcher.

-How about the transition of a guy that's gone and converted from outfielder to pitching in Aaron Brown?  What went into making that decision to move on from hitting and give pitching a full go?

Well, I think that if you look back on his draft year, our scouts were basically split down the middle on how we should send him out.  I thought it made sense to send the guy out as a position player.  I agreed with those in the room that thought that.  And, you know, when I approached Aaron earlier this year about converting, he was really 100-percent on board and anxious to get started.  You know, if you read last night's game report from Clearwater, he had two major league pitches and his ability to use them is improving and I don''t know-- I'm really excited.  We're expecting him to pitch this winter in winter ball, just to gain more experience.  He needs some time on the dirt, mound time.  But, you know, honestly, it's very exciting what can happen here.

-I wanted to ask you about the pair of outfielders now with Lakewood, following the promotion of Adam Haseley.  He's this year's first round pick, joining last year's first round pick Mickey Moniak.

Moniak, image- Jay Floyd
I've had this conversation multiple time and I will speak first on Mickey.  Moniak was a high school player in last year's draft.  He's our first pick, the first overall pick taken and I, personally, have seen everything I've needed to see this summer from a young player that has a chance to be really, really good in the big leagues when it's his time.  He's physically got work to do.  He knows that.  It's a long season and he showed up early in spring training and he's been at this about six and a half months and you can't tell them what they're about to get into.  They've got to go and experience it.  And it's been a long summer, but I think he's shown our staff everything he needs to show us, it's just a matter of staying strong and being able to do it over the course of a six, seven month season.  So, for me it's all good there.

On Adam, he was taken a couple months ago and I was in the room listening to our guys describing the player and what he has a chance to do and what his strengths were and I've seen all that.  I've seen it.  I've seen everything that they described.  And this will be the first winter that he's got a chance to go be a position player in 2018 and so I'm anxious to see what he does and what he looks like in spring training.  

But, both guys have a lot of strengths.  They have a lot of things they can do and they're on the same club now.  We're gonna alternate them in center field.  We're going to expose them to the corner, use the DH spot.  They're going to finish the season there on the same club and, so you know, I think it's good that they're together.  I think it's good that Adam is with that club now.  And, for me, they're both going to be right in the middle of what we're doing when this organization is putting a major league team on the field that has a chance to compete for a world championship. 

-With the Gulf Coast League team, many people don't get to see that club, so exposure to those guys can be limited to just what you see in box scores.  Is there anybody on that team you feel is rave worthy that you've seen this year?

I can speak to the drafted guys-- well, it's hard for me to do.  I'm not looking at the roster, so I don't want to leave guys out.  Who do you want to talk about?

-Well, just when you look at stats, I see the good average and a lot of multi-hit games coming from Ben Pelletier.

Yeah, I mean, high school kid out of Canada.  I think historically, those guys are a year, year-and-a-half behind the high school seniors in the states.  Ben's had a great summer.  He's gotten stronger. He's seen good stuff day in and day out.  I think we can stack his numbers up against anyone there.  It's a good start to his career.  He's had a good summer.

-I know stat wise another guy that might stand out is Manuel Silva, who is undefeated at 5-0 for that pitching staff.  Thoughts on him?

You wish you could add three or four of these guys to your system every year.  Our Latin staff has proven that they can identify young player that have ability that just need to get in the system and progress.  It's left-handed, 94 with a breaking ball and a change up.  He just needs experience.  It would not surprise me two, three years from now if you start talking about our system that this guy's in the top six, seven guys that we're talking about.  He's got that kind of ability.

-I also wanted to just touch on the new additions from recent trades.  Mills, Hammer and others come in.  Have you gotten to see all of those guys? Is there any body you haven't seen that you're still trying to catch up to?

I think if you just start with (Alejandro) Requena and (McKenzie) Mills, both guys have had terrific summers.  I've seen them both.  They're both-- starting with Requena, for me, this is a kid that can pitch.  He's got now stuff.  He's the complementary pitches to go along with his fastball.  He's had a lot of innings this year and he's not going to pitch any more this summer.  But, I'm really, really excited to see this guy in spring training.  

I saw Mills this summer against our Lakewood club and we were really happy to trade for him because we had no answer for him.  But, it's left-handed, it's big, it's physical.  He's got a feel for kind of a four-pitch mix.  I think both guys are tremendous additions.  Great job by our scouts and, you know, I think Jose Gomez is a kid that can swing the bat.  All of these guys, for me-- we're going to bring them to instructional league.  We still have a lot of the process of getting to know them to do.  And what they need from us.  But again, I think our scouts did a great job in these trades, getting guys with ability that really have above average change to be major league contributors.  

Randolph w/ Lakewood in 2016, image- Jay Floyd
-In the Threshers outfield Jose Pujols is a guy that showed a lot of power last year in Lakewood and it hasn't translated up a level, average has been a concern as well.  And then Cornelius Randolph is there.  He's taken some strides this year to improve.  Any thoughts on those guys?

Cornelius, for me, has gotten better month to month all summer.  We knew going in that the Florida State League was going to be a challenge for him.  And I think that the progression, from month to month, he's done what he needs to do.  I really like the summer he's had.  Jose he's had a bad year.  I don't think I can sit here and dress it up any way other than that.  He's had a tough year, from an approach stand point and a consistency stand point, it's been a tough year.  So, we're looking to get through the year and we've got plans for him this winter.  We've got a place for him to play.  He hasn't forgotten how to hit.  He hasn't forgotten how to drive the ball.  He's just had a bad year, so we're going to use the winter to re-set him and get him back on track in 2018.

-I mentioned Jose having a good season power wise with Lakewood last year.  A guy there now that's doing it and is about to break Jose's single season home run record for that team is Darick Hall, a 14th round pick last year.  He's hitting for a lot of power there.  Is he as exciting to the team as he is for the fans?

Absolutely.  I mean, it gets back to our scouts.  You look at where he was taken in the draft, and he's got a chance to hit his way to the big leagues.  I think the thing that I'm excited about when you look at him is that he's an RBI guy and you take three weeks away in the first half where he was not with that club (due to injury), you know that club finished three one-hundredth of percentage points out of a playoff spot and it was basically due to he wasn't there.  He's been a stabilizer.  He's been consistent.  It's a very, very young roster and it has been all year.  And this guy has-- he's gonna be in a lot of conversations at this point in time next summer.  I think he's done a hell of a job and he's got a chance to win the MVP in the Sally League and we'll see where it goes from there.

-I know there have been lots of guys promoted throughout the year and that's just going to continue.  Players generally will get that news of a promotion from their manager.  Is there any part of you that misses out on getting to give guys the rewarding news of a promotion?

No, not at all and I'll tell you why.  I did not understand the importance and impact that the manager has on all of our clubs until I began this job.  I didn't get it.  I just didn't know.  And I think that the-- other than the players-- the most important figure at every level is the manager.  They set the tone.  They deal with the good.  They deal with the bad.  They have to release guys, the least I can do is let them take care of when we get to tell a player good news.  So, I really-- I've got a good relationship with our players.  I work really hard to get to know the players along with our staff.  And I always try to follow up with the players once they're promoted, but that's the managers' job and they've earned the right to do it. 

Joe also shared updates on several injured Phillies prospects, namely Roman Quinn, Alberto Tirado, Mitch Walding, Grant Dyer and Kevin Gowdy.  Click this link for all of those details. 
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