Friday, February 28, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #5 OF Mickey Moniak

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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 along with being such a high pick.

After signing out of La Costa Canyon High School, where he was ranked as the top high school player in the nation by Baseball America, the left-handed hitting Moniak had a very good professional debut. 

In 46 games with the Phillies' Rookie level 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 188-pound frame.

In 2017, as a member of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, Moniak notched a .236 batting average with five home runs, 44 RBI and 11 stolen bases.

Coaches were pleased with the his output for the 'Claws despite disappointment from fans that come with high expectations. 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 with Lakewood, Nelson Prada, suggested that perhaps Moniak was chasing pitches out of the zone at times, due to statistical struggles impacting his approach.

In 2018, as a 20-year-old, Moniak took the step up to Class A Advanced Clearwater where he showed much better plate discipline and posted a .270 average with 28 doubles, three triples, five home runs and 55 RBI in 114 games over the long haul.  Moniak struggled early in the season, batting .213 in 22 April games, but he bounced back the rest of the way, batting .285 through the remainder of the campaign.  


Last season Moniak got some welcomed experience in the Double-A Eastern League with Reading.  In 119 games there, he posted a .252/.303/.439 slash line.  For the season, Moniak led the league in triples with 13, was second in the league in extra-base hits with 52 and was second in the league in total bases with 204.  He also swiped 15 bases.  His efforts at the plate earned Moniak recognition as an All-Star.
 

After Reading's postseason run, Moniak spent a month in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.  Fatigue could have very well been a factor for him, as the offense simply wasn't the same in the AFL as it had been throughout the regular season.  In 17 games with Scottsdale, Moniak notched a .186 average with four doubles, two triples and five RBI. 


Heading into the AFL last year, Moniak told me he felt that perhaps the experience there would launch him to much bigger heights in the sport, as it has for many of baseball's biggest names.

At the plate, Moniak, who was committed to playing at UCLA prior to the 2016 draft, makes strong 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 in his career, competing against older pitchers with college experience, that coaches are confident he's going to develop into a considerable offensive contributor.

With baseball in his lineage, Mickey's grandfather Bill Moniak played six seasons in the Boston organization and was also an outfielder.  

Moniak is a great asset on defense in center field as well, displaying solid range and a strong arm.  The athletic youngster also played a bit in right field last year as well. 

He won't be the most swift player on a team, but he will be speedy enough to help out with some quickness on the base paths.



Moniak, who is 21 years old until mid-May, is in spring training with the big league club, as the exhibition season opened this week.  This will be valuable experience for him, but it's safe to expect his 2020 season to begin at the Triple-A level. 

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospects countdown by clicking this link.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #6 RHP Adonis Medina

Adonis Medina, image- Jay Floyd
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Widely ranked among the Phillies' top prospects by many outlets, righty hurler Adonis Medina has made a name for himself, as scouts rave about his skills, coaches boast about his potential and Phils' brass adores his ability.

Medina, who 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 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 against.

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 would pitch 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 would put together a 4-9 record with a 3.01 ERA, a .227 BAA along with a 10.0 K/9 mark (3rd best in the league).

The following year, taking the step up to Class A Advanced Clearwater, Medina sported a 10-4 record with a 4.12 ERA, a .245 batting average against along with a 10.0 K/9 mark in 22 outings (21 starts). He was highly successful at home for the Threshers, notching a 2.86 ERA and .226 BAA in 12 appearances at Spectrum Field, while he tallied a 5.96 ERA and .271 BAA in 10 away games.

In 2019, Medina pitched at Double-A Reading.  In 22 outings (21 starts), he sported a 7-7 record, a 4.94 ERA, a .254 batting average against along with a 7.0 K/9 mark.

Medina, who has a reputation of a competitor, is praised for having a great feel for pitching and a power arm. His fastball, which consistently gets to 95 MPH and touches higher, 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 shown strong control, filling the strike zone, and coaches cite that he embraces the learning process.

The 23-year-old's projected ceiling seems to have taken a hit partl y due to a dip in strike out numbers and rise in runs allowed, so Medina still has development ahead to fulfill any high expectations.

A member of the Phils' 40-man roster, Medina should get plenty of action in front of the team's big league coaches this spring, but look for him to see action at the Triple-A level to open the 2020 regular season. 

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospects countdown by clicking this link.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #7 RHP Enyel De Los Santos

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Enyel De Los Santos, image- Jay Floyd
Acquired as part of the 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 notched a 3-0 record with a 2.55 ERA in five starts. The right-hander earned a promotion to Class A short-season Everett where he would post 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 pitcher Joaquin Benoit.

In 2016, making his debut in the Padres organization, De Los Santos opened the season with Class A Ft. Wayne. In 11 appearances (seven starts) with the Tin Caps, 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 through 15 starts.

In 2017, he moved up to Double-A San Antonio. There, he collected 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.  He finished among the Texas League leaders in strike outs, ERA, WHIP and innings pitched. 

The following season, making his Phillies organization debut, De Los Santos had an impressive campaign with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, getting named to the International League All-Star team. In 22 starts for the IronPigs, he collected a 10-5 record with a 2.63 ERA, a complete game shutout, a .226 BAA and a 7.8 K/9 mark. He also was named as the Phillies’ All-Star Futures Game representative.  His ERA was second in the International League behind only teammate Cole Irvin.

Additionally, De Los Santos made seven appearances (two starts) in the big leagues in 2018. With the Phillies, he had a 1-0 record with a 4.74 ERA while striking out 15 and walking eight in 19 innings.


In 2019, De Los Santos had his eyes set for a return to the majors, but opened the season with the IronPigs once again.  In 19 International League starts, De Los Santos produced a 5-7 record, a 4.40 ERA and a .232 batting average against.
 

Time with the Phillies didn't go as well as many hoped, as he appeared in five contest (one start), sporting a 7.36 ERA and a .317 batting average against. 

Listed at six-foot-three 170 pounds, the 24-year-old features a fastball that regularly clocks around 93-95 MPH and features sink to help draw ground ball outs. Additionally, he offers a curve ball, a great change up along with a nice slider. He’s got very good command and can throw each offering in any count. The slider was a new addition to his repertoire in recent seasons.

De Los Santos typically keeps his pitch count low, which can help with staying fresh throughout a contest. Also, he is a focused, intelligent pitcher that possesses and maintains a game plan for each outing.


The talented pitcher is dealing with a hamstring strain early in spring training, which will have his sidelined for the majority of a month, so it's likely that he won't get enough work during the exhibition season to make the big league team for opening day.

Described as fun to work with, De Los Santos seems to have the right tools to achieve success at the big league level. De Los Santos could be a top candidate as a contributor on the Phils' pitching staff this year if and when an opening pops up.

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Monday, February 24, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #8 Catcher Deivy Grullon

Deivy Grullon, image- Jay Floyd
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At the time of his signing with the Phillies at the age of 16, backstop Deivy Grullon was one of the top baseball prospects in the Caribbean. Following a lengthy tenure in the minors, Grullon made his big league debut last season and it could be very difficult to deny him a roster spot at the top level any longer.

Grullon, who signed for a reported $575,000 in July 2012, looked very good upon making his professional debut 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 saw action at three levels in 2014. Grullon started his season in mid-April with Class A Advanced Clearwater out of extended spring training. He notched two hits in ten at bats in two games there. A move to Class A Lakewood, where he would get more playing time, followed. In 24 games as a member of the BlueClaws, Grullon 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 notched a .225 average with nine doubles, a triple and 18 RBI in 53 games.

In 2015 back with Lakewood, the Dominican Republic native tallied a .221 batting average with eight home runs and 50 RBI in 107 games.  He closed out his season on a positive note, posting a .301/.370/.470 slash line in 25 August games after struggling at the plate in the South Atlantic League for much of the summer.

The following year, Grullon repeated Lakewood, posting a .256 batting average with six home runs and 45 RBI in 87 games.

In 2017 he would open his campaign with Clearwater, sporting a .255 average with eight homers and 24 RBI in 71 games there, earning a promotion to Double-A Reading.  He did fairly well at the higher level, as Grullon would sport a .229 average with four home runs and 13 RBI in 23 games.

Grullon would spend the 2018 season at Reading, standing out as an All-Star and winning the Eastern League's Home Run Derby, putting some power on display.  In 90 games for the Fightin' Phils, the talented backstop boasted a .273 average with a career-high 21 homers and 59 RBI.

He went 0-for-16 in eight Dominican League games in the off-season that followed, before he was removed from the Aguilas' roster.





Last year, Grullon opened the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  In 108 games, he tallied a .283 average with 21 home runs and 77 RBI, which earned him another All-Star nod.  In September, he graduated to the majors, seeing game action in four contests, going 1-for-9 overall with a double and a single RBI. 

A right-handed batter, Grullon had typically performed better against lefties (.969 OPS in 2018) than he does against righties (.778 OPS in 2018), but he made noteworthy improvements in that regard in 2019 with the IronPigs (.856 OPS vs. RHP and .833 OPS vs. LHP), closing the production gap.



Another short stint in the Dominican League was ahead for Grullon this off-season, as he played in four games and went 2-for-14 with the Aguilas.

Coaches view Grullon as an all-around strong leader, one of the key qualities for a catcher in the professional ranks. A player that teammates go to for assistance, Grullon is highly valuable to his club.  Additionally, the youngster himself has always had a reputation as a guy that is hungry to learn. 

Another plus for Grullon is that he's worked with so many of the Phillies' pitchers throughout their careers in the minor leagues.  Having bonds and knowledge of one another

With a frame that is well suited for the position, the six-foot-one 190-pounder has excellent tools on defense, is a great receiver and features an extremely strong arm that keeps opposing runners reserved.

The upside for Grullon at this stage may be a big league back up catcher, but with a talent like J.T. Realmuto in his way with the Phillies, where else is another backstop going to fit in?

It's possible Grullon could open the 2020 season back with Lehigh Valley, but the Phils may be ready to move on from the other main back-up catcher candidate Andrew Knapp, who batted just .213 with two homers last season at the big league level.

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect rankings by clicking this link.

Friday, February 21, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #9 RHP Connor Seabold

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Connor Seabold, image- Jay Floyd
Selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2017 draft, right-hander Connor Seabold made an immediate impact upon debuting as a pro and has continued to impress as he has moved upward in the developmental ranks at a swift pace.

In his college career at Cal State Fullerton, the California native tallied a 23-15 record with a save, three complete games, a 2.96 ERA and a 9.5 K/9 mark in 56 appearances (42 starts) overall.

After signing with the Phillies, Seabold posted a 2-0 record with a 0.90 ERA and a .143 batting average against while striking out 13 batters and walking two in 10 innings of work as a reliever for the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters.

He followed that up in 2018 by skipping the full season Class A level completely.  Seabold took quite a jump, opening the season with Class A Advanced Clearwater. In 12 games there as a starter, he notched a 4-4 record with a 3.77 ERA, a .213 batting average against as well as an 8.5 K/9 mark.

The six-foot-three 190-pounder earned a promotion to Double-A Reading in late June. With the Fightin Phils, Seabold would post a 1-4 record with a 4.91 ERA, a .241 BAA and a 9.8 K/9 mark in 11 starts.



In 2019, Seabold was set to be Reading's opening day starter, but was sidelined with an oblique strain late in spring training.  He began making rehab appearances in the Gulf Coast League in June and followed those up with two outings for Clearwater before returning to Reading for seven regular season starts and their postseason run.

Overall, in 12 regular season games Seabold notched a 4-2 record with a 2.24 ERA, a .224 batting average against along with a 9.3 K/9 mark.


To make up for some of the lost time last year, the Phils sent Seabold to the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where he dominated.  In four starts, Seabold posted a 1-0 record with a 1.06 ERA.  He struck out 22 batters while walking three in 17 total innings. 

Command is a big positive for Seabold, who features fastball velocity that generally resides in the low 90's, a very good change up and a serviceable curveball.  He can throw all three offerings for strikes and his walk rate is not a concern for the young hurler.  Said to have a great feel for pitching, Seabold mixes his offerings well and keeps the opposition guessing.

The ceiling for Seabold is a member of a big league starting rotation, which would be a valuable addition for an inconsistent club like the Phillies.  Look for the 24-year-old to open the 2020 season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.


You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #10 LHP Erik Miller

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 Left-handed pitcher Erik Miller was a 4th round draft selection by the Phillies last year and was immediately held in regard as one of the organization's most promising up-and-coming prospects.

A starter in college, Miller struggled the previous summer in the prestigious Cape Cod League, posting a 7.71 ERA.  The Stanford product was reportedly signed for $428,300 following the draft.

Once signed, he promptly debuted in the minors and moved up two more levels.

Initially, with the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies West team, Miller allowed an earned run in three innings over two appearances.  He was then promoted to Class A short-season Williamsport.  In six games (four starts) as a member of the Crosscutters, the 22-year-old tallied a 0.90 ERA, a .176 batting average against with no decisions while striking out 29 and walking seven in 20 innings.

Miller, a Missouri native, was then promoted once more, moving up to Class A Lakewood, where he would make his final three appearances of the season.  He'd post a 1-0 record with a 2.08 ERA, and a .208 batting average against  while striking out 17 and walking six in 13 total innings.

With a sizable frame at six-feet-five, 240 pounds, Miller is an impressive figure on the mound.  His repertoire features a fastball that typically reaches the mid-90's, a change up that features a nice variance of speed and a strong slider with plus potential.  He's a guy that can add velocity as the season rolls on.

The main critique on Miller around draft time, based on his college efforts, was that he needed to become more consistent with his mechanics.  He walked 4.7 batters per nine innings over his last two college seasons. The Phillies' developmental staff would generally find that sort of concern to be a simple fix for a bright, teachable hurler such as Miller.  Evidence of that: his BB/9 was down to 3.7 as a professional.
The ceiling for the big lefty is pretty high, as some think he could develop into a number two or a number three starter in the big leagues.  

His future role may ultimately be determined by how confident the Phillies coaches are in how Miller's change up will play at higher levels.  If he is reduced to a two-pitch menu, then the most ideal path for the talented youngster would be as a reliever. 

Look for Miller to kick off his 2020 season in the Class A Advanced Florida State League with Clearwater. 

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Interview Excerpts: Phillies RHP prospect Luke Leftwich

Luke Leftwich, image- Jay Floyd

Recently, I wrote a feature on Phillies pitching prospect Luke Leftwich and his recovery from a shoulder ailment that he experienced last season.  That piece can be found by clicking this link

Beyond his physical situation and his delayed start to in-game action this spring, the 25-year-old also talked with me about who has helped him stay positive, if he feels undervalued, a huge life event this off-season, some considerable coach turnover in the Phils system and more. 

Read ahead for exclusive interview excerpts with Leftwich.



-(I had asked about his shoulder injury and recovering from that.  Luke offered some feedback in addition to what appears in the article.)

That brings us to now.  With the time I took to do all the physical therapy to work out all the kinks in my shoulder, I got pushed back with the start of my throwing progression.  So, I would consider myself healthy, but I'm about a month behind where I normally would be going into spring training.  I'm on my normal throwing progression, I'm just a little bit behind everyone else that's in camp, so they wanted me to come down here early and technically be in the rehab group so they can monitor my time throwing and coming back because a third occurrence of this kind of injury is really not good.  So, that's where we're at now.

-You sound like you've got a positive tone as you explain it, so you would seem to understand and accept everything and you're good with it, so that's great.  Can you share some thoughts on who has made an impact for you during all this down time?  Is there a coach, a teammate, anyone that's been key in helping you maintain a positive outlook through all of this?

Yeah, it's kind of been a couple people.  Aaron Fultz has checked in on me every few weeks in the off-season and he was always a good person to talk to about basically just, "You're fine.  I know you're behind"- 'cause I was a little bit worried at first about being behind and he put my mind at ease.  And then getting here and being around these other guys, like Trevor Bettencourt, Ben Brown, those guys that had to get Tommy John (surgery) last year.  They've been down here for so long, really grinding their butts off, trying to get back to being healthy.  Honestly, those guys kind of set a good example of getting in, getting your stuff done, because it is such a day-by-day, step-by-step process.

-The Phils' minor league coaching staff announcements came out and some of these we knew about after last season wrapped up, and typically there will be some turnover with the coaching staffs each year, but this time it seems a bit heavier, with maybe more names than normal getting let go.  As a player, do you notice that it seems that way or is the turnover just part of the business, 'cause you'll see that happen with so many players that parting ways is just the nature of the business?

I mean, you do build bonds with coaches and I love a lot of the guys that we had last year that aren't coming back this year.  And it is like you said, I don't want to say you get numb to it after a while, because it sucks every time you lose a teammate, a friend or a coach.  But it is like part of the game, part of the sport, part of the business where you know you're not guaranteed tomorrow, so you kind of have to roll with the punches.  And sometimes you lose somebody that you really like and you gotta show up tomorrow and be the best you that you can be.  You feel for the guys that you lose, but a lot of those guys, especially these coaches, have had such good careers and have worked with so many good players and have done so much that those guys are all gonna land on their feet.  They're all good.


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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Pitching prospect Leftwich ready for 2020

Luke Leftwich, image- Jay Floyd
A tell and an injury raised concern for pitching prospect Luke Leftwich last summer, but the right-hander has a positive outlook and is confident he'll return to form in 2020.

Leftwich entered last year with a 3.18 ERA in four professional seasons including a solid campaign with Double-A Reading in 2018 in which he posted a 3-4 record with three saves, a 3.73 ERA and a .234 batting average against.  It was a scorching hot start with Reading in 2019 that opened plenty of eyes for the talented reliever.  He tallied a 2-0 record with a 1.02 ERA, a .073 batting average against and a 14.3 K/9 mark in 12 total relief appearances with the Fightin Phils.  His remarkable efforts against Eastern League competition earned him a promotion.

With Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Leftwich, who was the Phillies' 7th round draft selection out of Wofford College in 2015, appeared to experience difficulties on the mound from the start.  In 16 total appearances there, the six-foot-three 205-pounder sported a 0-1 record with an 8.28 ERA.  Fans, media members, those within the organization and Leftwich himself took notice and most would wonder if he could really handle competition at the highest levels of the sport.

The struggles at Triple-A caught nearly as much attention as the immense success Leftwich had at the Double-A level, but the 25-year-old got it all figured.

As Leftwich tells it, he was tipping his pitches and every other team knew it.  He points out that the inability to get outs upon his arrival at the Triple-A level left him feeling down and defeated.  The keen eye of roving outfield coach Andy Abad had the remedy.

"(He) told me that I had been tipping pitches for the past month or so and that was a complete eye opener for me because I had no idea," Leftwich stated.

"Once I figured that out, it gave me a confidence boost of like, 'I'm not as bad as I look right now.  I just need to fix this one thing and then I'm good again.'  And as soon as I fixed that I went on a little roll there for a few weeks, threw really well."

Once Abad took time to review video with Leftwich and offered insight on what do stop doing and what actions to implement instead, the statistics saw considerable improvement.

Through his first eight appearances with the IronPigs, Leftwich notched a 15.75 ERA.  After the huddle with Abad, in his next eight outings Leftwich recorded a 1.38 ERA.  

His season then took another downturn as shoulder discomfort set in and Leftwich was placed on the injured list for approximately a month as a result of bicep tendinitis.  He'd ramp things up in late July for a few more games, but the pain reemerged and more time on the shelf was to come. 

"With only like a month left in the season, they didn't take any chances with anything major happening, making sure I didn't have to get surgery or anything like that," Leftwich explained.  "So, I went to see a doctor to check it out.  (I was diagnosed with a) shoulder impingement, no structural damage.  Just inflammation getting in the way of things moving the right way."

Leftwich is behind in his throwing program compared to where he might normally be at this point in the pre-season.  Delayed start to his exhibition season aside, the excitement level is still at a high degree for Leftwich, as many of his friends and teammates have been invited to big league camp this year.

"Since I'm not going to be playing, it gives me an opportunity to go watch those guys and get to see my close friends basically pitch in the big league games," Leftwich said.  "That's exciting for me.  That's exciting for all of us."

It's fair to expect Leftwich, whose father Phil Leftwich and grandfather Tom Timmermann both pitched in the Major Leagues, to get another go at Triple-A this year.  Should he reach the big leagues, he'll be just the second third-generation pitcher in MLB history.  The Phillies hope he'll take strides toward making that happen this year.
Always an optimist, Leftwich took plenty of positives from his 2019 campaign despite the considerable ups and downs.

"The improvements that I made and the mentality shift more than anything, I really knew those last few weeks that I was good enough, confident enough, every bit deserving to be there and get hitters out."

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #11 LHP Damon Jones

Damon Jones, image- Jay Floyd
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Left-handed pitcher Damon Jones used an exceptional 2019 season to catapult himself toward the top of the list of names being discussed as top options to help the Phillies' pitching pitching staff.

An 18th round draft selection in 2017, out of Washington State, Jones began his professional career as a member of the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters.  In 13 appearances, all in relief, that season, the six-foot-five 238-pounder notched a 2-3 record with three saves, a 4.85 ERA, a .240 batting average against and a 13.2 K/9 mark.

The following year Jones had a strong campaign with Class A Lakewood.  In 23 games (22 starts), Jones tallied a 10-7 record with a 3.41 ERA, a .247 batting average against as well as a 9.8 K/9 mark.

In 2019, Jones opened the year with a stretch that earned him a promotion and loads of regard as a true up-and-comer for the Phils organization.  With Class A Advanced Clearwater, Jones would post a 4-3 record with a 1.54 ERA and a .188 batting average against in 11 starts.  He moved up Double-A Reading and made a splash in that rotation as well.  In four starts, Jones sported a 1-0 record, a 0.82 ERA and a .129 batting average against.

He would move upward a second time in mid-July, making his final eight starts of the regular season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  The statistical production came back down to Earth a bit there, as it took longer for Jones to adjust to the highest level of the minor leagues.  He would notch a 0-1 record with a 6.62 ERA, a 1.56 WHIP and a .214 batting average against as a member of the IronPigs.

Jones continued to deliver strong strike out numbers throughout the full season in 2019, as he posted a 12.0 K/9 mark.

Despite looking like a power pitcher with considerable K numbers, Jones uses his fastball that gets up to 96 and 97 MPH to induce plenty of ground ball outs.  His strong curve ball is the out pitch that garners most of the strike outs for the big man.  He also offers a slider that has good, horizontal movement and a change up that remains a work in progress, as he tries to refine it.

In May last year, Jones described to me how working his fastball to the inside and the outside against opposing batters was changing the look they were getting and helped him keep hitters off of his breaking pitches and his change up.

Command is a big positive for Jones.  It's a part of his game that impresses his coaches the most.

Jones has been invited to big league spring training, as a non-roster player.  He'll have the opportunity to work with the big league coaches and learn from the staff there, which is a major plus for the 25-year-old.

The ceiling for Jones is expected to be a big league starter.  He could make a splash with the Phils this coming season, when an opportunity opens up, but I would expect him to open 2020 back with the IronPigs. 

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #12 OF Simon Muzziotti

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Simon Muzziotti, image- Jay Floyd
Since joining the organization Simon Muzziotti has emerged as one of the Phillies' most promising outfield prospects. 

Signing infractions by his former organization, the Red Sox, lead the talented youngster to be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball approximately a year after he signed with Boston at the age of 16.  Muzziotti was subsequently inked by the Phillies and has been an attention grabber as he has moved up the developmental ranks with quickness.

In 2016, he played in the Dominican Summer League, tallying a .256 average with six doubles, two triples and eight steals in his combined time with the Sox and Phils teams there.

The following year, at the age of 18, the left-handed hitter notched a .269 batting average with four doubles, six triples and eight stolen bases in 33 games in the Gulf Coast League.  He also recorded two hits in seven at bats as a fill-in with Class A Advanced Clearwater.

In 2018, Muzziotti missed a couple of months with a broken finger, when he was hit by a pitch in April.  Despite the physical set back, the Venezuela native made outstanding impressions and began to stand out.  In 74 games, including a rehab stint in the GCL, Muzziotti posted a .250 average with with 12 doubles, two triples, a home run, 22 RBI and 19 steals, primarily as a lead-off batter.

Last year, Muzziotti spent the regular season with Class A Advanced Clearwater, continuing to hone his craft. In 110 games, he tallied a .287 batting average with 21 doubles, three triples, three homers, 28 RBI and 21 steals.  The efforts earned him the honor of being a Florida State League All-Star. 

He was called up to Double-A Reading for their postseason run last year after Clearwater's season ended, in case his talents were needed.  Ultimately, he was never officially added to their roster at any point during the playoffs.

The hit tool for Muzziotti is what prospect reviewers tout the most.  He is said to be among the best hitters in the minors for the Phillies.  With an ability to spray the ball to all fields, the six-foot-one 175 pounder has a knack for making contact and great hand-eye coordination.  However, he will likely not ever be considered a big power threat.

Last year, his left/right splits at the plate showed plenty of room for improvement.  Against righty pitchers, Muzziotti posted a .772 OPS while he sported a lowly .434 mark against lefty hurlers.

Defensively, Muzziotti boasts remarkable range and has a strong arm.  He is a plus contributor on that side of the ball and should be able to stick in centerfield as he moves upward in the system, though he does have some time in both right field and left field during his career in the minors.

On the bases, Muzziotti possesses excellent speed.  He's got some good instincts as well and is already a stolen base threat.

The ceiling for the 21-year-old may be questionable, but I would feel comfortable asserting he has a high floor, which would see him as a big league contributor in the coming years.

Look for the exciting speedster to see action with Reading this year and fully put on display what he can do at the higher levels of the minors.

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Phillies 2020 Player Development Field Staff Announced


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At long last, Phillies minor league coaching staffs began to trickle out via each team's news feed on Friday with a few notable additions to the organization's developmental field staffs.  Here is a complete rundown of each team's coaching staff.

The Class A Short-season Williamsport Crosscutters will be headed by Milver Reyes.  The 37-year-old Venezuelan played as high as the Triple-A level during his playing career before turning to coaching.  Reyes played with the CrossCutters in 2003 and 2004 as a member of the Pirates organization, before Williamsport was affiliated with the Phillies.

The Cutters' pitching coach is set to be a returning Hector Berrios while hitting coach duties will go to Joel McKeithan.  Berrios, a Puerto Rico native, is an eight-year minor league veteran hurler with a coaching career that dates back to 1998, including the most recent four seasons with Williamsport. McKeithan, an infielder during his playing days, McKeithan played collegiate ball with Vanderbilt and NC State before moving on to play professionally in the independent Frontier League.  The 28-year-old spent his first season as a pro coach, last year, with Williamsport as well.

Chris Adamson joins the Phillies organization to take the reigns as manager of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.  He'll be joined by a pair of returnees as well, in pitching coach Matt Hockenberry and hitting coach Christian Marrero.  Additionally, coach Geoff Jimenez will join the group as well.

Adamson is currently the skipper for the Adelaide Giants in the Australian Baseball League, where he manages a few Phils minor leaguers including catcher Logan O'Hoppe, outfielder Ben Aklinski and others.  Adelaide is currently playing in the ABL championship series.

The 31-year-old Adamson was mainly a catcher in his playing days and has professional experience as a player in the ABL.  Hockenberry and Marrero will each be entering their third season coaching in the system and their second year with Lakewood.  

At Class A Advanced Clearwater, Pat Borders will make the jump from Williamsport to take over as manager while Hector Mercado will be pitching coach and Chris Heintz takes on the hitting coach duties.  Mycal Jones is in place as the team's extra coach.

Borders, a former World Series MVP with Toronto, had managed Williamsport for the previous five seasons.  Jones, a former 4th round pick of Atlanta, played seven seasons in the minors and independent ball and previously coached in the minors with Houston.  Mercado has big league pitching experience with the Phillies and Cincinnati.  Heintz played parts of three season in the majors with Minnesota as a catcher. 

For Double-A Reading, Shawn Williams will return as the manager while Tyler Henson and Nelson Prada are back as hitting coach and assistant coach respectively.  Brad Bergesen moves up from Clearwater to join Reading as the pitching coach.

Prada has been coaching with the Phillies organization dating back to 2013.  Henson, previously a player in the Phils system, has coached with the Phils since 2016.  Bergensen has big league pitching experience with Arizona and Baltimore.  

At Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Gary Jones will be back as the team's manager.  Former Phils bullpen arm Aaron Fultz joins the IronPigs as pitching coach following a year with Reading.  Darryl Robinson, who played professionally for 12 seasons, joins the club as hitting coach.  Greg Legg returns as a coach as well.

For Jones it's his third season in that role and his 30th as a coach or manager.  Legg's tenure as a Phils developmental coach dates back to 1994.  Fultz has coached at A ball, Advanced A, Double-A and now Triple-A in the Phillies system.

Other minor league team staffs are as follows...

Gulf Coast League East:
Manager- Roly de Armas
Pitching coach- Pat Robles
Hitting coach- Rafael DeLima
Coach- Adan Ordonez
Coach- Mac Seibert

Gulf Coast Leage West:
Manager- Bobby Wernes
Pitching coach- Bruce Billings
Hitting coach- Zack Jones
Coach- Angel Peguero
Coach- Ray Ricker 

Dominican Summer League Phillies Red: 
Manager- Waner Santana
Pitching coach- Alex Concepcion
Asst pitching coach- Feliberto Sanchez
Hitting coach- Samuel Hiciano
Coach- Cristino Henriquez
Coach- Jesus Tiamo

Dominican Summer League Phillies White:
Manager- Orlando Munoz
Pitching coach- Les Straker
Hitting coach- Homy Ovalles
Coach- Felix Castillo
Coach- Silverio Navas

Other roving staff and instructors:
Field coordinator- Chris Truby
Director pitching development- Rafael Chaves
Asst pitching coordinator- Travis Hergert
Hitting coordinator- Jason Ochart
Asst hitting coordinator- Rob Segedin
OF coordinator- Andy Abad
Infield coordinator- Marty Malloy
Catching coordinator- Ernie Whitt

In other news, Reading announced on Friday that former Phillies backstop and 2008 World Series champion Carlos Ruiz will return to Baseballtown on May 30th to be present for a ceremony in while the team will induct him into the Reading Baseball Hall of Fame.  Tickets, which are sure to be a hot item, are already available to purchase at the following link.

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #13 RHP Connor Brogdon

Connor Brogdon, image- Jay Floyd
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Relief pitcher Connor Brogdon propelled himself into discussions about the Phillies' top prospects with another strong campaign in 2019 and could be on the verge of reaching the top level of the sport. 

A Lewis-Clark State product, Brogdon was drafted by the Phils in 2017 as a 10th rounder.  That year, the right-hander began his professional career as a member of the Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters.  

In 16 relief appearances for the 'Cutters that year, Brogdon would post a 3-1 record with three saves, a 2.34 ERA, and a .177 batting average against while recording an 11.7 K/9 mark.

In 2018, his first full professional season, the six-foot-six 192-pounder tallied a 5-3 record with five saves, a 2.47 ERA, a .228 batting average against and a 10.3 K/9 mark in 31 games (seven starts) with Class A Lakewood.  Since moving to the bullpen and working in that role exclusively after May that year, Brogdon has truly thrived in the relief role.

Last year, Brogdon opened the season with Class A Advanced Clearwater, where he posted a 2-0 record, a 1.80 ERA, a .164 batting average against and a 10.4 K/9 mark in 10 contests. 

He was soon promoted to Double-A Reading, where the stellar numbers continued.  Brogdon would post a 1-1 record with a pair of saves, a 2.65 ERA, a .150 batting average against along with a 14.8 K/9 mark in 15 appearances.  

Before July, Brogdon earned his second promotion of the year, joining the pitching staff of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  In 26 outings in the International League, the California native tallied a 3-1 record with two saves, a .193 batting average against and a 12.2 K/9 mark.   

Time with the IronPigs didn't go smoothly from the start.  Having posted a 7.71 ERA through his first six outings, Brogdon breezed through his next 20 appearances, as he notched a 1.78 ERA the rest of the way.

Brogdon, a slugging catcher and third baseman in his little league and youth baseball days, grew up as a fan of Barry Bonds, so he's got a great appreciation for the minds and bats of his opposition.
Described as a power pitcher, Brogdon can bring the heat and miss a ton of bats.  With a fastball that tops out around 97 MPH, a slider with good movement, a terrific change up and a spike curve ball which was a pitch with a refined grip that he learned from teammate Zach Warren in 2018.  

The approach for Brogdon is a simple one...come into the game, attack the strike zone and get outs.  With his long-armed, lean build, Brogdon gets a lot of extension and releases the ball closer to home plate than many pitchers, which is advantageous, as the offering appears harder to the hitter. 

He possesses very good control and has walked just 2.9 batters per nine innings in his minor league career.

Invited to big league spring training as a non-roster player, the 25-year-old has a true shot at making an impact with the Phillies this year, possibly to open the season if his Grapefruit League season goes well.

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #14 RHP Mauricio Llovera

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Mauricio Llovera, image- Jay Floyd
Righty pitcher Mauricio Llovera was signed by the Phillies in 2014 as an 18-year-old for a reported $7500.  Since then, Llovera has ascended at a steady pace through the developmental ranks and could prove to be a hell of a bargain at that price.

The Venezuela native began his professional career in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2015, recording a 2-3 record with a 3.23 ERA and a .209 batting average against in 11 games (10 starts).

The following year, the five-foot-11 216-pounder was outstanding in the Gulf Coast League, sporting a 7-1 record with a 1.87 ERA, a .205 batting average against and a 9.5 K/9 mark in 11 games (10 starts). The win total was tops in the league. Additionally that season, Llovera allowed one or no runs in eight of his 10 starts.

Moving to Class A Lakewood in 2017, the man that coaches call “MoYo” would tally a 2-4 record with a save, a 3.35 ERA, a .250 BAA and a 9.8 K/9 mark, splitting time as a starter and as a reliever in 30 appearances (10 starts). The move into relief seemed quite successful, as his ERA splits favored his shorter outings (4.31 ERA as a starter/2.13 ERA in relief).

In 2018 with Class A Advanced Clearwater, Llovera moved back to a full time starting role, posting an 8-7 record with a 3.72 ERA, a .221 BAA and a 10.2 K/9 mark through 23 games (22 starts).

He wrapped up his 2018 campaign with a string of six outstanding starts in which he notched a 5-0 record with a 0.96 ERA while striking out 48 batters in 37 2/3 innings.

Last season, Llovera opened the season with Double-A Reading.  The 23-year-old would notch a 3-4 record with a 4.55 ERA, a .243 BAA, a 1.35 WHIP along with a 9.9 K/9 mark in 14 games (12 starts).  His season was cut short in mid-July, as Llovera suffered an injury.

Llovera possesses a repertoire that features a fastball which typically resides in the mid 90's and can get up to 97 MPH. His fastball features some movement that can tail up and in to right-handed hitters. He also touts a very good slider, a nice change up and a curve ball to keep the opposition guessing.

Control is not a concern for Llovera, who keeps his offerings around the strike zone. The talented hurler averages 2.9 BB/9 in his minor league career to date.

Added to the Phils' 40-man roster over this off-season in order to protect him from December's Rule 5 draft, Llovera will be among the team's collection of hurlers in big league spring training this year.  He is, in fact, already in Clearwater getting in work and has been throwing bullpen sessions in recent weeks.

It's possible that Llovera could open the season in Triple-A with Lehigh Valley.  Some say his path to the majors is likely to be quicker as a reliever, but the Phillies may still want to give him a shot at proving himself in a starting role. 

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link

Monday, February 3, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #15 LHP Cristopher Sanchez

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Cristopher Sanchez, image- MiLB.com
Acquired in an off-season trade, lefty pitching prospect Cristopher Sanchez looks to be a possible contributor for the big league team in the near future.

The Phils sent infielder Curtis Mead to the Rays in a November trade in exchange for the promising native of the Dominican Republic.

Signed for a reported $65,000 by Tampa Bay in 2013 at age of 16, Sanchez would go on to make his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League the following year.  In 13 outings that season, he notched a 7.77 ERA.  The Rays would have him repeat the league twice.  In 41 total appearances there, Sanchez collected an 8-7 record with a 4.15 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9. 

In 2017 Sanchez split time between starting and relieving in the Rookie level Appalachian League.  With Princeton, he sported a 1-6 record with a 10.01 ERA and a .353 batting average against.

The following year, he opened the year back in extended spring training and went the short-season route with Princeton once more.  Pitching exclusively as a starter at this point, as a 21-year-old, Sanchez looked better, tallying a 3-2 record with a 4.60 ERA over 10 outings.  The Rays would promote him to wrap up there season and he joined Hudson Valley of the New York-Penn League.  In two regular season starts, he went 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA.  Overall that season, Sanchez collected a .302 BAA, a 7.8 K/9 mark and a 4.7 BB/9.

Last year, Sanchez played full-season ball for the first time.  He opened the 2019 campaign with Class A Bowling Green, where he again split time as a reliever and a starter.  In 11 games (four starts), he had a 3-1 record with two saves, a 2.01 ERA, a .190 batting average against and a 0.97 WHIP.  He would earn a promotion to Class A Advanced Charlotte and posted a 1-0 record, a 1.85 ERA, a .231 batting average against, as well as a 1.21 WHIP in 12 appearances (six starts).  He ended the season with an appearance at Triple-A Durham.  Overall, in 24 games, Sanchez recorded an 8.7 K/9 mark and a 3.1 BB/9 mark.

His splits last season did not clearly favor one role over the other, as with Bowling Green he tallied a 0.83 ERA out of the bullpen and a 3.38 mark as a starter.  Then with Charlotte his ERA was just about a full run better in the rotation (1.54 ERA as a starter, 2.53 ERA in relief).

Sanchez also played this off-season in the Dominican Winter League for the Toros.  He made just five relief appearances, none of which came after he was acquired by the Phillies. 

A valued talent, Sanchez was somewhat buried in a Rays farm system that is deep with promising arms.  Tampa Bay feared Sanchez could be lost at the Winter Meetings' Rule 5 Draft, so trading him made more sense.  The hurler with the lean six-foot-five frame quickly ranked among the top prospects for his new organization.

Opponents don't generally go deep off of Sanchez, as he's notched a 0.4 HR/9 mark in his minor league career to date.

He touts an exciting skill set highlighted by fastball velocity that steadily resides in the high 90's and features remarkable movement.  He regularly clocked triple digits last summer as well.  He also has a change up and a slider in his repertoire that he is looking to refine and get to a big-league-ready level.

A member of the Phils' 40-man roster, the 23-year-old will be in camp with the big league team in spring training this year, so he'll get plenty of opportunities to impress important team personnel.  He'll have a chance to make the team, but it is more likely to see him get additional time at the Triple-A level with Lehigh Valley, to open the 2020 regular season.   

It remains uncertain what role Sanchez will move forward with, but the Phils may want to see what he can do as a starter.  If so, his path to the majors may be a bit longer than if he was pitching in relief. 

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #16 Catcher Rafael Marchan

Rafael Marchan, image- Jay Floyd
I invite you to visit Patreon.com/PhoulBallz in order to support my work and get access to material like this before anyone else and get access to interviews as well as other exclusive content you can't get anywhere else.

At a valued position, backstop Rafael Marchan is one of the Phillies' most valued prospects as he builds a reputation as an intelligent and physically talented player.

Signed in the same off-season that the Phils dished out a $4 million signing bonus to outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz, Marchan inked a deal for a reported bargain price of $200,000, as a 16-year-old in 2015.

He made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2016, posting a .333 average with seven doubles, a triples and 34 RBI in 44 games.

In 2017, Marchan notched a .238/.290/.298 slash line in 30 games in the short-season Rookie level Gulf Coast League.

The following year as a 19-year-old, the Venezuela native played with Class A short-season Williamsport and began making a name for himself.  In 51 games there, Marchan tallied a .301 average with eight doubles, two triples, 12 RBI and nine stolen bases.  He was named a New York-Penn League All-Star for his efforts.

Last year, Marchan played much of the season with Class A Lakewood.  In 63 games, he posted a .271 batting average with 16 doubles and 20 RBI.  He would miss a few weeks with an injury in May, but bounced back to complete the season, earning a promotion to Class A Advanced Clearwater at the end of July.

As a member of the Threshers, the five-foot-nine 170-pounder would tally a .231 batting average with four doubles and three RBI in 22 games.

Splits would show plenty of room to improve for the switch-hitting Marchan.  He was 0-for-8 from the right side while with Clearwater last year and OPS'd over 200 points lower (.739 as a LHB vs .535 as a RHB) from that side with Lakewood.

Generally, Marchan possesses a line-drive approach with minimal power.  He has not homered as a professional hitter.  However, his hitting coach with the BlueClaws, Christian Marrero, saw loads of improvement throughout the season last year.  He asserted to me that he noticed progress with Marchan's approach, as the youngster displayed advancements with an ability to make adjustments in the box, evidence of being smarter as a hitter. 

Defensively, Marchan is a standout.  He has a strong arm with a quick release, he blocks balls well and he displays solid footwork.  With an outstanding knack for calling games, pitchers really like throwing to Marchan.  He had been a shortstop before signing with the Phillies, though he hasn't played any position besides catcher since coming to the States.

Coaches describe him as toolsy and athletic with big upside.  He's also made fans out of developmental personnel based on standing out with his leadership qualities, especially among his fellow Latin players.

Speed won't be a featured part of Marchan's game, but I also don't think he'll be a detriment to his team on the bases either.  Plenty of catchers happen to run like catchers. 

Marchan's ceiling could very well be an everyday big league catcher, if his offensive production can continue to develop.

It should be expected for Marchan, who will turn 21 years old this month, to return to Clearwater in the Florida State League to open the 2020 campaign.

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.