Will The New 26th Roster Spot Mean More Rule Five Action For The Phillies? I Would Take Jhailyn Ortiz and Rodolfo Duran

For only a $100,000, a MLB team can select a Rule Five prospect but they must be kept on the MLB roster or put back on waivers.  If unclaimed, they are offered back to their original team for $50,000. The Phillies did not bother to protect outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz or catcher Rodolfo Duran. Usually pitchers are most in demand in the Rule Five draft. With the addition of an extra player on the MLB roster this season that might change.

Jhailyn Ortiz

We will know starting at noon ET when the Rule Five draft opens at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings. Ortiz is only 21 years-old and can hit a ball a country mile. He was second in the Florida State League with 19 homers in 2019. He hit 13 long balls in the Sally League in 2018. His specialty was hitting with the bases loaded where last season he went 3 for 9 with a homer and 10 RBIs with the sacks full. The problem is he hit only .200 for the season.

Ortiz is a good outfielder. He had 14 outfield assists including one from left, three from center and ten from right field. He played 89 games in the outfield.

Duran is a strong power hitter with 27 home runs in 160 games over the last two seasons including three in the 2018 SAL playoffs. He was injured swinging and missing at a pitch and was shutdown the last six weeks of the 2019 season.

All Duran does is catch nine-inning and five inning no-hitters. He caught the Spencer Howard nine inning “no-no” in the 2018 SAL playoffs. Last season with Clearwater, we watched him catch another nine-inning no-no game by three pitchers and a five-inning no-hit outing by Howard. He threw out 26 runners in base stealing attempts in the 64 games he caught for the Threshers.

Ortiz and Duran would be my Rule 5 picks from the Phillies but since they are not pitchers they might be safe. On the other hand you can’t buy two better young prospects for only $100,000 a piece in baseball.

 

 

 

 

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Phillies Get A Badly Needed Fast Start To the 2020 Season With New Manager Joe Girardi and the Addition of Zack Wheeler to the Top of the Starting Rotation

Phillies majority owner John Middleton is my hero. He made former manager Gabe Kapler the Giants’ problem and brought in an experienced manager in Joe Girardi. Below are my observations where the Phillies system stands as the team heads into the Winter Meetings this week.

The Phillies have signed free agent pitcher Zack Wheeler to a five-year deal.  It pays to “finish strong” as Wheeler did last season for the Mets. He has the potential to be a No.1, if he can put it all together for a full season. The first half of the 2019 season for the Mets he went 6-6 with a 4.69 ERA. In the second half, he went 5-2 with a 2.83 ERA, just the opposite of the current Phillies No. 1, Aaron Nola, when the Phillies lost his last seven starts of the 2019 season.

Still, the Phillies now have what should be two strong top-of-the-rotation starting pitchers with Nola and Wheeler. If Jake Arrieta can rebound from last season and Zach Eflin continues to develop all the Phillies needs is a strong fifth starter. My choice is Spencer Howard.

Howard has not pitched with the juiced up major league ball but who knows what the 2020 baseball will feel like.  Howard is the real deal and major league ready. His stuff is similar to Wheeler’s stuff. Wheeler’s four seam fastball averaged 96.8 mph. We watched Howard’s four-seam fastball sit in the high 90’s for the Clearwater Threshers last season.   Though he has pitched no higher than AA, Howard is easily the fifth best starter the Phils have in the organization.

Spencer Howard hits 99 for the Threshers

The Phillies need a left handed power bat to go with Bryce Harper to provide balance to a right handed hitting heavy lineup and they need another infielder now that Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez have been cut loose. Free Agent shortstop Didi Gregorius fits the bill. Put Scott Kingery at third and Jean Segura at second and the Phillies would add some pop in the infield with Gregorius. Don’t forget that the rumor mill says that the Phillies are prepared to go over the $208 million Competitive Balance Threshold to try to get free agent Anthony Rendon to play third.

At the same time, I would groom 2019 No. 1 draft pick Bryson Stott as the third baseman of the future and have him start the season at Lakewood. Then, move him quickly to Clearwater. After watching Stott hit one of the longest line drive home runs I have ever seen hit at Spectrum Field during Fall Instructs, I have little doubt he will become a power hitter at the hot corner. Eventually, Stott becomes the Phillies third baseman down the road.

Bryson Stott’s Home Run landed over three fences to right and out of Spectrum Field in a Fall Instructs game

I would not give up just yet on Luis Garcia as the Phillies shortstop of the future. I want to take a closer look at him this season in Clearwater. My second baseman of the future would be Kendall Simmons. Anyone who can hit 12 homers in only 171 at bats in 51 games as he did last season for Williamsport should have a spot on a future Phillies team.

At first base, if Rhys Hoskins continues to hit .165 as he did over the last two months of last season, I would take a look at Darick Hall or Alec Bohm at first base sooner rather than later. Hoskins has to produce or it is time for him to move on.

In the outfield Harper is in right field forever and Andrew McCutchen is in left. They proved a powerful duo until the season ending injury to Cutch costs the Phillies a chance for the post season. My centerfielder would be Adam Haseley. He showed enough last season that he deserves the starting job in center

I like Simon Muzziotti as the Phillies center fielder of the future.  Muzzy showed me last season in Clearwater that he can do it all.  I watched him blast two long home runs, steal some bags, run down long drives, throw out baserunners and finish fifth in the Florida State League in batting average. What more can any team want from a 20-year-old?

Simon Muzziotti

They can always move Scotty Kingery to left to eventually make room for Stott at third. I am still hoping that Jhailyn Ortiz can get it together and take over in left in a few years. Ortiz showed me he can field and has a great arm as he displayed playing right field for the Threshers last season. On the other hand, he hit only around .200 all season but he can hit a ball long way when he squares it up. He finished second in home runs in the FSL with 19 last season.  I want to see what he can do at Reading in 2020 hoping he becomes the big, right handed, power bat in left field in the Greg Luzinski tradition at some point.

Jhailyn Ortiz homers

Of course the Phillies must extend J.T. Realmuto. He is the best catcher in all of baseball but right now they control him for only the upcoming season. The best catcher I saw in the farm system last two seasons was Rodolfo Duran. He has long ball power and the best arm in the system. He hit 27 home runs combined in 160 games over the last two seasons, including the 2018 SAL playoffs, despite sitting out the last six weeks of the FSL 2019 season with an injury.

Rodolfo Duran homers

I still can not get over Duran and J.T. each having thrown out about the same number of runner in base stealing attempts over the last three regular seasons. Better yet, Duran has caught two of Spencer Howard’s no-hitters including his nine-inning complete game in the 2018 playoffs for Lakewood. Last season, he caught both the Howard and Kyle Glogoski five-inning no-hitters for the Clearwater Threshers. What more does Duran have left to prove? Watch below Duran catch the strikeouts in the Howard and Glogoski no-hitters last season.

 

In addition to Howard, the Phillies do have other starting pitching prospects but if Howard is not ready yet, neither are they. I like, as future Phillies starters, left-handed pitchers David Parkinson (Reading) and Erik Miller (Lakewood). They were both drafted out of college and Ethan Lindow (Clearwater), drafted out of high school. Other good, right handed, starting pitching prospects I saw last season were Connor Seabold (Clearwater/Reading) and Glogoski (Clearwater).

Watch Lindow and Seabold strikeouts in Clearwater starts last season:

 

Work remains to be done for the Phillies to compete for a playoff spot in 2020 but they have made a strong start. The Winter Meetings this week are likely to be only a continuation of what has been an interesting Phillies offseason so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Could This Be The Phillies Infield of the Future? Bryson Stott, Luis Garcia, Kendall Simmons, Rixon Wingrove and Logan O’Hoppe

It’s only the third week of Australian Baseball action but top Phillies prospects catcher Logan O’Hoppe and first baseman Rixon Wingrove were were rounding into mid-season form Friday night in the Australian Baseball League. They combined to drive-in 11 of the 25 runs in the Adelaide Giants 25-4 drubbing of Geelong-Korea. Read HERE.

O’Hoppe homered twice including a Grand Slam and Wingrove also chipped in with a Grand Slam. O’Hoppe went 6 for 7 with seven RBIs and Wingrove went 2 for 5 in Friday night’s game. Read HERE about an O’Hoppe interview prior to the start of the series.

These two, 19-year-olds are showing great promise. A Phillies infield in a few years could look like Bryson Stott, Luis Garcia, Kendall Simmons, Wingrove and O’Hoppe. Stott and Wingrove hit left-handed. Garcia is a switch hitter. Simmons and O’Hoppe hit right-handed. Wingrove led the Gulf Coast League in RBIs and doubles and Simmons hit 12 homers in only 51 games in the New York-Penn League. All of them are U20 except Stott who is baseball age 22.

The Phillies 2020 minor league spring training camp should be interesting! Below could be the Phillies infield of the Future?

Bryson Stott

Luis Garcia

Kendall Simmons

Rixon Taylor-Wingrove

Logan O’Hoppe

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dellin Betances and Connor Brogdon Would Solve the Phillies Bullpen Problems

Between Joe Girardi and Baseball Ross, the Phillies could solve their bullpen problems from last season. It looks like the Phillies Front Office is looking at free agent Yankees reliever Dellin Betances who pitched for Girardi with the Yankees and I am a big fan of another reliever, an overlooked 2019 Phillies minor leaguer, Conner Brogdon.

The New York Post is reporting that the Phillies are hot on the trail of formerly one of the best relievers in baseball, Dellin Betances. Betances is coming off an injury plagued season with the Bronx Bombers. If he could return to his former self, he would fill the big hole that was in the Phillies bullpen last season. From 2014 to 2018 he was a top reliever in baseball. Read about Betances, HERE.

I still can not figure out why the Phillies Front Office did not call up Brogdon for the September roster expansion. He sure earned it by allowing only one earned run for a 0.79 over his last 11.1 innings giving up only four hits and striking out 15 at AAA. However, the Front Office was not impressed enough to add him to the 40-man roster and a deserved September call-up. Read about Brogdon, HERE.

The Phillies bullpen could sure have used the help down the stretch from a guy like Brogdon. He finished the season at Lehigh Valley with two saves and a win in his final three relief appearances. In those games, he pitched four shutout innings allowing only two hits and striking out five.

We were fortunate enough to watch Brogdon pitch the early part of last season out of the bullpen for the Clearwater Threshers before his call up to Reading and eventually finishing the season with Lehigh Valley. What I will remember was him lighting up the Threshers scoreboard with 96 MPH fastballs. He excelled at all levels where he pitched last season.

Unfortunately, Brogdon did not get a chance to pitch at the final level. With controlling owner John Middleton likely keeping a welcomed closer eye on the Front Office, this season should be different. We can only hope!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The “Good” and “Bad” of November Phillies Prospect Baseball

It seems like the Phillies baseball season never ends and November is a prime example with some “good” and “some” bad prospect results.  The “good” is the play of Phillies minor league  prospects in the Australian Baseball League and the “bad” was the play of a former Phillies No. 1 Draft pick in the Premier12 Olympic qualifying tournament.

Last weekend, the five Phillies prospects all contributed to the four-game sweep by the Adelaide Giants over the Brisbane Bandits:

Catcher Mitch Edwards started it off in the first game by going 3 for 4  with 2 RBIs in the 10-3 win in Friday night’s game.

Right fielder Cole Stobbe hit a sacrifice fly Rbi to contribute to the 4-0 win in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday. Stobbe hit two Sacrifice flies and had four RBIs in the four games.

First baseman Rixon Wingrove hit a solo home run in the 8th inning and his base hit in the 9th scored two more runs for a 6-5 walk-off win in the second game of the doubleheader.

In the series final on Sunday, center fielder Ben Aklinski hit a solo home run in the 7th inning and catcher Logan O’Hoppe doubled to leadoff the 8th inning and scored on a grand slam to make the eventual winning score 6-5.

One of the top right handed Phillies starting pitching prospects, Kyle Glogoski, pitched well striking out four in a two inning start for Auckland, New Zealand to open the first game of the ABL season for them. However, he allowed one run on a homer and was charged with the loss.

The Premier12 tournament ended in Japan back on November 17th with Team USA unable yet to quality for the 2020 Olympics. Phillies No. 1 draft pick, Alec Bohm went 0 for 4  striking out 3 times in a 3-2 loss to Mexico in 10 innings. Bohm’s third strikeout came with one out in the top of the tenth with the bases loaded. A win would have qualified the USA for the Olympics. Now, Team USA will have to wait to try again until a qualifying tournament in March.

The baseball season seems to never end as key Phillies prospects continue get ready for the 2020 season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Phillies First Base Prospect Rixon Wingrove Comes Up Big With a Homer and a Walk-off Base Hit to Lead the Adelaide Giants to Victory

Rixon Wingrove led the 2019 Gulf Coast League in RBIs. He is just getting started driving in runs in the Australian Baseball League for the Adelaide Giants.

Rixon Taylor-Wingrove in Phillies spring training

The big, 19-year-old, first baseman homered in the eighth inning. Then he got two runs across on an infield single in the bottom of the ninth for the walk off in Saturday’s 6-5 win in the second game of a doubleheader against the Brisbane Bandits.

The Giants won the first game of the double header 4-0 to start the season by to winning the first three games over the Bandits.

Another Phillies prospect, catcher Mitch Edwards, went 3 for 4 in the first game of the series on Friday night to lead the Giants to a 10-3 win to start the ABL season.  The opening four-game series finishes up with one more game on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Once Phillies Potential Super Star Infielder Curtis Mead Traded in Deal With Tampa Bay Rays For A Six-Year Veteran Pitcher From the Rays Farm System

It did not take long for the Phillies Front Office to move a potential super star infielder to the Tampa Bay Rays for a marginal left handed pitcher. The Phillies traded the just turned 19-year-old prospect Curtis Mead for a pitcher by the name of Cristopher Sanchez.

Mead is currently waiting to open in the Australian Baseball League where he hit three homers including a grand slam in five recent ABL preseason games. Mead finished up the GCL season back in August hitting four homers in his final nine games.

Sanchez was pitching in the Dominican Winter League where, in five games in relief, he compiled a 10.13 ERA pitching in 2.2 innings giving up 5 hits and 3 earned runs.  He had pitched for six years in Rays farm system, according to Baseball Reference, compiling a 17-16 record with a 4.53 ERA in 90 games split between starting and relieving.

Read about Curtis Mead HERE.

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