The only Phillies minor league player selected in the 2017 Rule 5 draft was outfielder Carlos Tocci. He was taken by the Chicago White Sox. They sent him on to the Texas Rangers. We wish him the best with his new team and hope he sticks with them.
In order to likely acquire even more Latin players, the Phillies reportedly traded their pick in the Rule 5 Draft for $500,ooo in international slot money from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
A total of 61 players changed teams in the two phases of the Rule 5 draft. Tocci was the only then current Phillies player among them.
In last year’s Rule 5 Draft the Phillies did not participate because they had so much talent that they had a full 40-man roster going into the Draft.
Last year when the Cleveland Indians took lefty reliever Hoby Milner only to return him after he failed to make the Tribe at the end of Spring Training. This year the Phillies have wisely added the talented Milner to the 40-man roster after pitching well for them last season in his major league debut.
The Phillies had a few players not protected this year that I would have taken a second look at them to see if they could contribute to another team but they were not taken.
- This guy is not an over powering lefty. Reminds me of a Jamie Moyer type. Has the best pick-off move to first in the minor leagues. Went 11-5 last season split between Reading and Lehigh Valley. He will turn 25-years old on Wednesday.
- A tall 6’3″ starting pitcher who has never pitched above AA. Watched him pitch for the Threshers in 2016 where he went 6-2 in nine starts striking out better than one an inning. A workhorse who has made 51 starts pitching 283.1 innings, going 20-18 in the last two seasons for Clearwater and Reading.
- A big 6’4 power lefty out of the pen. Watched him pitch in the low to mid 90’s at Clearwater last year where he went 2-0 striking out better than a batter an inning. At Reading he gave up only one earned run to left-handed hitters to pitch to a 0.61 ERA against them. The 24-year-old would make a great LOOGY out of a major league pen for some other MLB team.
- This guy came into his own late last month in the Arizona Fall League. A corner infielder, he went 7 for 13 with three doubles and a homer in his final three AFL games. He has had problems with injuries but now he has said he is fully healthy. He turns 24 in March. Watch out for him in 2018.
- This guy was a quarterback in high school but turned down college offers to sign with the Phillies. He finished strong hitting .314 in August for Reading as he came into his own. He turns only 23-years-old on January 2nd.
- A native of Aruba, he hit an amazing .354 for 1.033 OPS against left-handed pitching for Reading in 2017. He has power, hitting 18 homers last year and a total of 38 long balls combined in his last two seasons. He can run stealing 24 bases over the last two years. He can throw playing all three outfield positions where he has had 10 assists combined from 2016 and 2017. That’s shows he is toolsy who can hit, hit with power run, throw and field but apparently not for the Phillies.
If you said Pitchers 1) Brandon Leibrandt, 2) Tyler Viza, 3) Austin Davis and hitters 1) Zach Green, 2) Cord Sandberg, 3) Jiandido Tromp, you know the Phillies minor league system but no other major league organization was impressed enough to take them in Rule 5.
Watch an Austin Davis 95 mph fastball paint the black on the outside corner of the plate for a called strikeout HERE.
We have reviewed ten young Phillies pitching prospect who have not yet pitched at the final level in 0ur three previous blogs. In today’s blog we add four more prospects. We believe these 14 arms have the best opportunity to pitch effectively as starters in the major leagues sometime soon.
This time we are reviewing two left-handers, Kyle Young who just turned 20-years-old this week and Bailey Falter. The two right-handers, Adonis Medina will turn 21 in two weeks and Felix Paulino who is 22.
They all finished strong over their last ten starts in 2017. Young went 5-2 with a 2.96 ERA striking out 57 in 51 innings for Williamsport. Falter was 5-4 in his last ten with a 2.77 ERA striking out 60 in 55.1 innings for Lakewood. Medina pitched to a 2-3 record with a 2.24 ERA striking out 57 in 56.1 innings for Lakewood and also for Lakewood Paulino put up a 3-3 record with a 2.98 ERA striking out 45 in 48 innings.
Read about Young HERE. Then watch him pitch in the GCL finals in 2016 HERE.
Watch Falter pitch HERE and HERE.
Read about Medina HERE. and HERE.
Watch Medina strikeout the side in 2017 spring training game HERE
Read about Paulino from the 2015 GCL season HERE. Felix was pitching winter ball in the Liga Colombiana De Beisbol Profesional. He was removed recently in his last start after two strikeouts in the first inning. He had struck out 30 in 21.1 innings up to that point.
The 2018 major and minor league camps in Clearwater will be buzzing with all these outstanding lefty and righty Phillies pitching prospect in the system.
A 90 mph, strike thrower, a lean, lanky converted starter and a 100 mph flamethrower are three more Phillies pitching prospects to keep an eye on from the right side this spring.
Tom Eshelman always surprised us when we watched him pitch. Much like Jose Taveras, Tom usually put up 90 mph on the scoreboard speed gun with his fastball. His strength is throwing strikes to commands the strike zone. In his final five starts in AAA for Lehigh Valley he pitched 33 innings going 3-0, allowing only two earned runs while striking out 20 and walking only two. Watch HERE.
The one who surprised us the most last season was 6’6″ Jacob Waguespack. We watched him develop from a Florida State League middle reliever to start the season in April to a Lehigh Valley starting pitcher in a September elimination game in the AAA playoffs. He lost the game 1-0 but struck out seven AAA Yankees in a seven inning outing in the game. His fast ball topped at 94 mph. Watch HERE. In his final three starts including the first two at AA Reading he allowed only three earned runs in 21 innings to end his 2017 season.
Sixto Sanchez looks up at the scoreboard to see 100 mph in his Clearwater debut
We have all heard about Sixto Sanchez. He is as advertised. He made his Florida State League debut back in August. His first strikeout for the Clearwater Threshers was on a 100 mph fastball. He ended his five inning debut on a 99 mph fastball strikeout. The guy has a power arm. Now the 19-year-old just needs to develop it. Even with his great power stuff he still needs to develop other pitches and command them to average better than a strikeout an inning. Watch his four strikeouts in High A debut HERE.
In this blog and in the two prior blogs we have listed ten pitching prospects to watch in spring training either in the major league or minor league camps. In our final blog on the future starters we will review several more starting pitching prospects who have the potential to have breakout seasons in 2018.
The Phillies have gone a long time since a left-handed pitcher started a game for them. Not since Adam Morgan started a game on September 28th of 2016 did the Phillies have a southpaw start a major league game. Read HERE.
At some point this is about to change. I have come up with three lefties who should move up quickly in the Phillies system in 2018. But all of them only started in A ball last season. Still the Phillies did move up two right handed starters, Jose Taveras and Jacob Waguespack, from high A ball to AA and then to AAA last season.
Jo Jo Romero
The top left-handed starter in the system is Jo Jo Romero. In his ten starts for Clearwater last season, the 21-year-old went 5-2 with a 2.24 ERA. He pitched a six inning, one hitter, striking out nine against the Dunedin Blue Jays on July 8th, watch HERE. This came after a ten strikeout, 6.1 inning FSL debut six days earlier against the Yankees. Watch HERE.
Nick Fanti had a special season for Lakewood. The lefty pitched an 8.2 inning no-hitter in May and then followed that up with a nine inning no-hitter in July where he struck out 12. Fanti turns 21-years-old December 30th. Watch HERE and HERE. He finished the season with 21 starts for the BlueClaws going 9-2 with a 2.54 ERA averaging a strikeout an inning.
The final Phillies lefty starter that caught my attention in the full season minor leagues in 2017 was MacKenzie Mills. He turned 22-years-old earlier this month. He made only three starts for the Threshers after being acquired at the trade deadline in the Howie Kendrick deal. Watch HERE his final start where he struck out 7 in 4.2 innings including Tim Tebow twice.
He pitched several gems in the Washington National organization for Hagerstown in the Sally League earlier in 2017 where he went 12-2 averaging better than a strikeout an inning.
Unless they make a deal, Romero, Fanti or Mills are the most likely pitchers to break the long Phillies streak of not having a left-handed pitcher start a MLB game for them.
We have videos of game action from last season for each of the four Phillies pitchers just added to the 40-man major league roster: Jose Taveras, age 24, Seranthony Dominguez, age 23, Franklyn Kilome, age 23 and Ranger Suarez, age 22.
Watch Taveras, HERE and HERE
Watch Dominguez, HERE.
Watch Kilome, HERE.
Watch Suarez, HERE.
Looks like we will be going to more Phillies major league spring training games in 2018 than we have in previous seasons just to see them pitch. We have been watching them pitch every year since they have come stateside to the Phillies facilities.
My favorite saying watching minor league baseball is “finish strong”. And that is what the Phillies minor league farmhands Zach Green, Cornelius Randolph and J.D. Hammer did in the Arizona Fall League.
Zach Green lines a double in his next to last AFL game. (Photo courtesy of MLB.com)
Green and Randolph finished strong just in time because most of the AFL season they were hitting closer to the Mendoza Line than .300 up until the last two or three games.
Cornelius Randolph finishing up strong in the AFL (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Stewart/MLB Photos)
In his last three games to close the AFL season Green went 7 for 13 with five runs scored, a homer and three RBIs while Randolph went 5 for 8 with three RBIs in his last two games. Overall Green hit .258 with a .743 OPS with two homers in 62 at bats. Randolph hit .239 with a .639 OPS. with no homers in 71 at bats.
They did save their AFL seasons by “finishing strong”.
J.D. Hammer working on backside loading in an AFL bullpen session. (Photo courtesy of MLB.com)
The real standout star for the Phillies in the AFL was J.D. Hammer. In ten relief appearances he had three saves and two holds and pitched to a 0.66 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP. He allowed only one earned run in 13.2 innings.
His ERA was tied for first and his WHIP was first in the AFL.
Combining his Florida State League and AFL numbers, J.D. allowed only two earned runs and 12 hits while striking out 31 in 29.1 innings. He is my Phillies AFL player of the 2017 season.
Read HERE for the latest J.D. Hammer AFL report.
The Arizona Fall League teams have only two more games to go. With the exception of reliever J.D. Hammer, none of the eight Phillies there have stood out until yesterday when Zach Green went 3 for 4 and was a triple short of the cycle with two RBIs. Also yesterday, Cornelius Randolph had a couple of RBI singles and Trevor Bettencourt struck out four in two shutout innings for a hold.
Coming into today’s action, Green is hitting .246 with a .721 OPS in 57 at bats. Randolph is hitting .209 with a .558 OPS in 67 at bats. Bettencourt has not allowed a run in his last three relief appearances but in three appearances before that he hit a rough patch allowing nine earned runs in two innings. Still, in eight outings total he has a save and three holds.
Zach Green touches ’em all
The 2018 season will be big make or break year for Green who had 45 at bats for Reading last season but 20 of them resulted in strikeouts. Also, he needs to be able to put the ball in play more often.. He has hit two homer in 57 at bats but also has 20 strikeouts in the AFL. He hit nine long balls combined in 198 at bats between the GCL, FSL and the Eastern League last season. See Zach Green’s interview HERE.
If Zach can get off to a strong start at AA by going deep, cutting down on his strikeouts and staying healthy look for him to move quickly to AAA next season.
He has been playing the infield corners in the AFL and turns 24-years-old in March.
Likely, both Randolph and Bettencourt will need more work in Clearwater to start the season. You can see Randolph’s interview HERE. Randolph turns 21 in June and Bettenc0urt turns 24 in July.