We try to stop by the Carpenter Complex each day as our schedule permits to watch the progress of the Phillies minor league prospects. The minor league guys on the back fields are in constant motion from the older veterans destined for the AAA roster to the young Latin prospects who are quickly dispatched to the far reaches of the back fields over at the DiMaggio Complex. Even they eventually return back to the Carpenter Complex in time to allow us to watch them hit in the out door batting cages down the left field line of Carlton Field.
This morning it was the infield at Ashburn Field that first caught my attention. Working on infield drills and batting practice there was the cream of the crop of the Phillies young infield prospects. At third base were Zach Green and Jan Hernandez, at short was J.P. Crawford; second base was being covered by Andrew Pullin and Robinson Torres; big Art Charles was at first.
Where these guys wind up remains to be seen but all them are major league prospects. We watched Hernandez, a high draft pick last year play with the GCL Phillies. Zach Green, who has been taking field practice at first base as well, led the New York/ Penn League in homers with Williamsport last season and is likely to be ticketed for Lakewood. We watched the Phillies 2014 first round draft pick, Crawford, start last season with the GCL Phillies before ending up with Lakewood. Last year the right handed hitting Torres who has a quick bat was the GCL second baseman and the left-handed hitting Pullin was at Williamsport. We are hoping to see Art Charles in Clearwater this season after watching him hit some long drives in Instructs last Fall. All of them in my opinion have major league skill sets.
Then, I moved over to Schmidt Field to watch the ever exciting pitchers fielding practice drills. Two young pitchers were there who went a combined 18-1 last season in the Venezuelan and Dominican Summer Leagues. Who needs a Tanaka and his 24-0 last season in Japan when the Phillies have the likes of young pitchers such as Manuel Chavez and Gregorio Santos.
Chavez was 9-0 with a 2.18 ERA in 14 starts in the VSL last season. The lean, 6’3”, 20 year old left-hander from Mexico has a build similar to Cole Hamels. He struck out 72 in 74 innings while walking only nine and gave up only one home run.
In the VSL last season, Chavez had one of the highest strike out to walk ratios I have ever seen at any level at 8-1 and a 1.1 walks and 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings. (We have to remember the VSL is only a five team league with the Cubs, Tigers, Mariners and Rays in addition to the Phillies with teams.)
Even the great Tanaka had only a 4.5 strike out to walk ratio in Japan. It’s also a statistic that seems to be one of the best indicator for success in the big leagues.
Santos was 9-1 with a 1.47 ERA in 14 starts in the DSL last season. (All major league team are represented) He has a thicker build at 6’3″ than Chavez. The Dominican right-hander turned 21 years old on March 1st. He is more of a fly ball pitcher, striking out 57 in 85 innings but opponents hit only .190 off him last season.
We have yet to see the minor league pitchers throw live batting practice but Chavez and Santos will be two young pitchers to watch. They likely will start in extended spring training and wind up with the GCL Phillies when the Gulf Coast League season opens in mid June. But I would not be surprised to see Valdez in Lakewood to start the season.
The Phillies minor league camp at the Carpenter Complex is really the place to see the stars of tomorrow play today all at one time. And it was on the infield at Ashburn Field and around the mound on Schmidt Field where those future major leaguers were honing their skills this morning.
Below are several of Baseball Betsy’s photos from Tuesday morning’s workouts at the Complex.
Manuel Valdez simulates his pitching motion in PFP drills.
Jan Hernandez and Zach Green wait for fielding practice at third to begin.
Robinson Torres field a ground ball at second as Andrew Pullin watches.
J. P. Crawford is focused on a ground ball in infield drills.
Gregorio Santos simulates his pitching motion in PFP drills.