Watching New Young Pitching Prospects In The Phillies Organization

Baseball Betsy and I like Saturday morning baseball.  Up early and by noon we can get in our baseball by watching new young prospects in action.  However this Saturday morning this was not the case.  Against regular Saturday morning rival, the Blue Jays, we watched three innings of Shane Watson and even more innings of Mitch Gueller.  They  pitched effectively in the game but we have seen them so many times in the past.   Watson is on the restricted list of the Lakewood BlueClaws serving a 50 game suspension and Gueller is still on the Williamsport roster.  We did get to see young 18-year old Edgar Garcia work an inning.

Edgar Garcia

Edgar Garcia

However, we did watched three new young pitchers this week who impressed us in extended spring games. They were Jhon Nunez, a 17-year old lefty, Seranthony Dominguez, a  20- year old right hander and the best of the bunch another 20-year old right hander, Felix Paulino.

 

Jhon Nunez

Jhon Nunez

Nunez showed good composure facing the Yankees on Monday at Carlton Field.  He is not overpowering, has a nice breaking ball and throws strikes.  Watch Here, Here, Here.

Paulino pitched last season in the Dominican Summer League.  He came on after Nunez and struck out four in the two innings we watched him. He was overpowering.  Watch Felix’s strikeouts from his first inning  Here, Here.

On Friday we went over to the Blue Jays minor league complex to watch Seranthony  Dominguez.  He was a reliever last year for the GCL Phillies.  It appears he is being stretched out to start this season.  It was like back to the 2008 World Series with Dioner Navarro batting against the Phillies only this time on a rehab assignment for the Blue Jays.  Dominguez got him to hit ground balls in the infield in his two appearances.  See Here, Here.

Dominguez pitches to Navarro

Dominguez pitches to Navarro

Look for Nunez, Paulino and Dominguez to likely start for the GCL Phillies when the Gulf Coast League season opens up on Monday, June 22nd.  They are impressive young pitching prospects that have a bright future in the Phillies system.

 

 

 

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Mark Leiter Jr. and Andrew Knapp Are Phillies Stars Of Tomorrow Playing Today!

The Threshers Mark Leiter Jr. and Andrew Knapp formed a nice battery last night in Palm Beach in the 7-0 win against the Cardinals in Florida State League action.   Leiter pitched an eight inning, six-hit shutout and Andrew Knapp hit a three-run homer for his first long ball of the season.

It goes without saying the Phillies need both pitching and catching.  On point the Phillies last two starting pitchers did not strikeout even one batter in either games.  Catcher Carlos Ruiz is 36 years old and is in the twilight of his career.

The 24 year-old Leiter has been the best pitcher in the Phillies organization this season even though he started off the season in all of April in the bullpen as a middle reliever where he won a game and then a backend of the bullpen guy to pick up a save.

He forced the minor league department to put him in the starting rotation and in May has been nothing short of spectacular.  In his four starts this month, he has gone 2-0 with a 1.01 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP while striking out 24 in 26.1 innings.  For the season, he is second in the Florida State League in ERA, third in WHIP and fifth in strikeouts.

The 23- year old Andrew Knapp is battling to become the Phillies catcher of the future.  He has hit over .300 batting left-handed this season but has been hitting only around .200 right-handed.  But his bat has come to life in the last several games against left-handed pitchers.  Saturday night he hit a walk-off single through the five-six hole to beat Daytona SEE HERE and last night hit his first home run of the season, both against left-handed pitching.

Andrew Knapp walk off base hit

Andrew Knapp walk off base hit

It appears that next Wednesday night will be must see baseball at Bright House Field as Mark Leiter Jr. is the probable to take the mound for the final time in the month of May and Andrew Knapp will likely will be his battery mate.  As they say, “minor league baseball is where the stars of tomorrow play today”.  In this case it might be on Wednesday at 6:30.

 

 

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The Phillies Top First Base Prospect Rhys Hoskins Leads the Sally League In OPS

Maikel Franco is only seven months older than Rhys Hoskins but he has been called up to the major leagues by the Phillies to be the every day third baseman for probably the rest of his controlable career.  On the other hand Hoskins is still stuck at the lowest rug of full season minor league baseball, the low A South Atlantic League despite leading that league in OPS with an on base percent over .400 and a slugging percent over .500.  Hoskins’ OPS of .912 compares to Franco’s .923 OPS when he was with AAA Lehigh Valley.

It’s not that Hoskins’ way is being blocked at the next level of the Phillies minor league system in Clearwater.  The Threshers lost its light hitting first baseman Zach Green to an ankle injury a couple of weeks ago and his two replacements at first are both only 5’9″ in height.  Clearly they will never play that position if either of them ever make the major leagues.

Hoskins is having a great season with the Lakewood BlueClaws with five homers and three triples and a .310 batting average after the first six weeks of the season.  His right handed power would seem to position him to be the Phillies first baseman of the future.  With an infield of Franco at third and Hoskins at first the Phillies would be set with two power bats on the infield corners if he can start moving up the Phillies organization soon.

Hoskins was a fifth round draft pick out of Cal State Sacramento in the 2014 draft.  The same round of the amateur draft that brought Ryan Howard into the Phillies organization back in 2001.

Back in the first weekend of this month, Baseball Betsy and I had the privilege to watch Hoskins in action for the BlueClaws against the Mets farm team for three games in Savannah Georgia.  He was a model of consistency getting two hits in each of those games, going six for 13 in and driving in five runs as Lakewood won all three.   Watch below the triple and double in Hoskins at bats from the Sunday May 3rd game in the Savannah series:

Watch Hoskins triple and double Here and Here.  Note how he uses the whole field.  This is why he hits for average.  When both Hoskins and Tocci are hitting Lakewood is hard to beat.  See Tocci hit the ball hard to the opposite field HERE.   Tocci is currently leading the SAL in hitting at .358.

So far on the season Hoskins is hitting .357 with runners in scoring position and in addition to leading the SAL in OPS he is tied for third in RBI’s with 26 to go with his five homers.   The punchless Clearwater Threshers who have hit only eleven home runs as a team to date, which is next to last in the Florida State League, could use a 6’4″, 225 power bat in the middle of their lineup sooner than later this season just as the Phillies will need the same thing in the middle of their lineup by the 2017 season to team with Mike Franco on the infield corners.

 

 

 

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Phillies Starting Pitching Prospects Leiter, Kleven and Casimiro Have Been Blocked In The Organization

Everyone was excited when the Phillies General Manager  Ruben Amaro Jr. acquired young minor league starting pitching over the winter in the Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd deals.  But for every action there is an opposite reaction and the likes of Mark Leiter Jr., Colin Kleven and Ranfi Casimiro have been blocked from moving up in the Phillies minor league system because of the additional pitching.

Zach Eflin picked up in the Rollins deal with the Dodgers and Ben Lively in Byrd deal from the Reds have been good starting pitching for the AA Reading Fightins.  Both have the ability to pitch deep into games but do not have “swing and miss” stuff.

On Monday night Eflin picked up a win pitching eight innings of one run ball but striking out only two.   Lively did much of the same thing last night going 8.1 innings but again only striking out two.  It’s hard to believe that these two guys will be anymore than bottom of the rotation starters at the major league level.

The third pitcher picked up over the winter TomWindle who came along with Eflin in the Rollins deal, has had control and command issues and has struggled for the most part in the Reading rotation.

In four starts in May for Reading, Eflin has a 4.33 ERA and Lively a 5.11 ERA and Windle has a 5.71 ERA.   Nothing to get excited about at this point.

On the other hand, three of the pitchers who were blocked from moving up in the Phillies system are having a strong month of May.  For the Clearwater Threshers.  Mark Leiter Jr. and Colin Kleven have pitched well .  In three starts each this month Leiter has pitched to a 1.45 ERA and Kleven has a 2.25 ERA.   Ranfi Casimiro in three starts this month with Lakewood has pitched to a 1.42 ERA.  All  three are with the same team with whom they ended last season.

All three of them finished strong in the final weeks of the 2014 season but did not get the chance to move up to the next level to start the 2015 season.  In fact the best of the blocked threesome, Mark Leiter, was in the Clearwater bullpen for his first six appearances to start the season in April.  Unlike Eflin and Lively in his three starts, Leiter has averaged a strikeout an inning.  Watch several of his strikeouts from his last start for the Threshers:

Watch Mark Leiter Jr.’s “swing and miss” stuff: HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

It will be interesting to watch Eflin, Lively and Windle in the Reading rotation as the season progresses.  Then compare them to the starting pitchers at Clearwater and Lakewood whom they have blocked from moving up in the Phillies system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Phillies Extended Spring Training Pitcher Franklyn Kilome Might Be The Best Young One They Have

It was one of those special days at the Carpenter Complex’s Ashburn Field.  A day when you see a future major league pitcher on the mound in a lowly extended spring training game.  It was 6’6″ Franklyn Kilome, who will turn 20 years old on June 25th, on the mound for the Phillies vs. the Pirates extended team up from Pirate City .

Kilome went only three innings in the start but struck out three, walked two and gave up no runs or hits.  His curve ball was his out pitch today.  A big 12 to 6 breaking ball that dropped into the strike zone.  The Pirate hitters were simply overmatched.  Watch Here, Watch Here, Watch Here.

A top minor league baseball prospect analyst, Chris King who saw Kilome pitch last season for the GCL Phillies, tweeted from the game just after Kilome finished up:

Chris King's comments about Kilome

Chris King’s comments about Kilome

So it was another dominating outing for Kilome.  He is on pace to be the starting pitcher for the Williamsport Crosscutters when the New York-Penn League opens on June 19th.  He, by far, has been the most impressive young pitcher we have seen in extended spring training.

His fastball location and curve ball were excellent. His change-up is a work in progress. His two walks were borderline ball fours.  If he can continue to pitch as he has so far this spring he could be the top Phillies pitching prospect in the system and quickly make his way up the Phillies organization ladder.

Had the opportunity to show  him the eight inning of the  Phillies game yesterday afternoon on my Phone as Aaron Harang was just finishing up pitching a no-hit, no-run eight inning game against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park.  It was one of those moments where 37 year old Harang just pitched eight shutout innings against the Pirates and Kilome had an hour earlier just pitched three shutout innings against a Pirates team.  Someday sooner than later Franklyn Kilome will pitch his shutout innings too at CBP.

Pat Gallick said when he was the Phillies general manager that they need to develop a No. 1, top of the rotation pitcher rather than always trying to buy one on the free agent market. Frankly Kilome represents the Phillies best opportunity to do just that!

 

 

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The Phillies Gillick and Amaro are Working Overtime to Get Ready For the June 8th Draft

With the amateur draft coming up in another month reports are surfacing that the Phillies Front Office is off scouting the draft prospects.  FanGraphs Kiley McDaniel has a mock MLB draft up from this past weekend and the recent whereabouts of team President Pat Gillick and General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. And  somewhat surprising  he and the scouts have no idea of what they are going to do in the draft.  Read Here. 

That being said McDaniel is projecting the Phillies are looking for a catcher and it appears to him that a high school catcher named Tyler Stephenson from Kennesaw Mountain HS in Georgia is his best guess as to what they might do with the tenth overall pick.

Here is his mock draft as it relates to the Phillies:

7. Red Sox – Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt
It’s long been rumored that Boston has been hoping that Bregman makes it to their pick and he doesn’t in this scenario; it’s a 50/50 proposition at this point that he gets here. I’ve also heard them on Daz Cameron, Dansby Swanson and Dillon Tate and they all don’t make it here as well. RHP Carson Fulmer has been scouted by Boston’s top people and is the other option I’ve heard mentioned at 7. If the Red Sox draft Bregman, he will be compared to Dustin Pedroia for the rest of time by the Boston media, so prepare yourself.

9. Cubs – Trenton Clark, LF, Richland HS (TX), Texas Tech commit
The Cubs have been tied to a number of players at this pick, either college pitchers (RHP Jon Harris, RHP Carson Fulmer, RHP Walker Buehler) or prep hitters (Cameron, Tucker, Clark). The buzz is a little stronger that they go bat here and the Clark rumor has been around for awhile, but I hear they really like Harris as well.

10. Phillies – Tyler Stephenson, C, Kennesaw Mountain HS (GA), Georgia Tech commit
The Phillies had four scouts, including GM Ruben Amaro in to see Stephenson two nights ago when he caught both games of a double header and hit two homers. They had Pat Gillick in southern California to see another prep catcher, Chris Betts, last week. The Phillies are also on Tucker and he and Stephenson will both go quickly if the Phillies don’t take them here. Amaro saw another Georgia prep product, 3B Cornelius Randolph, earlier in the day Wednesday before Stephenson’s game; Randolph won’t get past the 21st pick most likely, so he could also be an option here if their board blows up.

Amaro saw Vanderbilt vs. Florida last night, so there’s some talk that Carson Fulmer could be a target here. There’s also a (kinda crazy) rumor that the Phillies are looking at Stephenson’s teammate CF Reggie Pruitt for one of their top picks as well. The Phillies have also been connected to Trenton Clark and it wouldn’t shock me if they were on Whitley, too. What I’m saying is scouts don’t know what Philly is going to do.

11. Reds – Kyle Tucker, RF, Plant HS (FL), Florida commit
The Reds scouting director, Chris Buckley, lives in Tampa and has seen plenty of the local prep product Tucker, who is a superior version (as an amateur prospect) of another local prep pick Buckley made, Reds top prospect LF Jesse Winker. Tucker is also the guy in this mock draft that I like more than the industry and think he’s a great value at 11. The Reds were also heavy in to see Stephenson last week and I’d expect them to take Stephenson if he gets here.

12. Marlins – Garrett Whitley, CF, Niskayuna HS (NY), Wake Forest commit
I haven’t heard a ton of teams tied to Whitley other than the D’Backs, but he probably doesn’t get much farther than this. I’ve had many scouts tell me the Marlins won’t pass on Tucker, so this is likely his floor.

Based on McDaniels comments about the only conclusion I can draw is that the Phillies Front Office does not not appear to be looking for more pitching with the tenth pick.  So what we see at the minor league level is what they are going to roll the dice with in the future.  The only minor league starter I have seen so far with a potential No. 1 arm is Franklyn Kilome and he is only 19-years old and still in extended spring training.  Aaron Nola at AA has  No. 2. potential if he can keep the ball in the park and Brandon Leibrandt is a No.3 at A+.  The future No. 4 and No. 5 rotation spots are still up for grabs.

 

 

 

Posted in May 2015 | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Phillies Prospects Pitcher Seranthony Dominguez and Center fielder Juan Luis Standout in Saturday Morning Extended Spring Training, Baseball America’s Handbook’s Tenth Best Phillies Prospect Franklyn Kilome Takes On The Yankees Tuesday

We always like to get up early on Saturday mornings to watch Phillies development baseball. The extended spring training team plays either at the Carpenter Complex or the Blue Jays Complex in Dunedin on Saturday mornings.  In any event we live about equidistant from both facilities.  We are always on the lookout for new talent who catches our eyes in the Phillies system.  If they can make it on Saturday mornings after a full week of workouts and games they can make it it any day.

These guys are playing for their next assignments.  Some will go to the two short season teams, Williamsport in the NY-Penn League which begins play on June 19th or the GCL Phillies at the Complex starting up June 22nd.  Others will go back to the Dominican or Venezuelan Academies.  Still others might be release.

The Phillies will be drafting tenth in the June 8th North American draft which means that over 20 more prospects will be reporting to the Complex or heading directly to Williamsport.  The Phillies are expected to the active in the international free agent market with them being linked to a big right handed power hitter Jhailyn Ortiz. Read Here.  They are reportedly ready to pay him a reported four million dollars to sign on July 2nd. Read Here.

Seranthony Dominguez

Seranthony Dominguez

Many of the guys we were watching Saturday morning are just fighting for jobs in the Phillies system.   One who stood out was 20-year old pitcher Seranthony Dominguez.  He is in his fourth season in the organization and was used exclusively in relief for the GCL Phillies last season.  He was a starter in his first two years in the Dominican Summer League.  He started in the game and pitched four innings of shutout ball striking out five.   His fastball was sitting at 94-95 and topped at 96 mph against the Blue Jays. I was able to get on video a swinging strikeout in the third inning on what looked to be a sinker.   Watch Here.   He also showed an excellent slider to get his last strikeout in the fourth inning.

Juan Luis

Juan Luis

Another player who has caught my attention in extended spring training has been 19-year old center fielder Juan Luis.  He hit a long home run in a game on Wednesday.  Saturday morning he hit a hard ground out to first in one of his at bats on Saturday. Watch Here.  Also in the same game he threw out a runner at the plate who tagged up on a shallow fly ball to center.

Extended spring training games ends for the Phillies the second week of June but still big games remain of interest as these guys fight for roster spots for the start of the half season leagues.  One of the most interesting games will be 1:00 pm Tuesday at the Carpenter Complex when Baseball America’s No. 10 top Phillies prospect Franklyn Kilome is scheduled to start against the Yankees.  That will be a must see game.

 

 

 

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