Two-thirds of the minor league season is over. Only about 45 games or so remain. It has not been a good season for the Phillies minor league full season teams. Yesterday, all four of them lost again. All of them are currently in last place in their respective divisions except the Clearwater Threshers. They are next to last in the second half standing but overall have the worst record in the Florida State League.
With the minor league season starting to wind down I am simply amazed about the lack of long ball power in the organization. I can find only Jim Murphy, Pete Lavin and Dylan Cozens with double digits in home runs as the 2014 minor league season is nearing an end. Cozens leads with 11 and six of Levin’s ten homers were at high A Clearwater.
It’s hard to paint an optimistic picture to be honest. The only two players whose OPS percents are above average and have improved significantly from 2013 are Carlos Alonso and Pete Lavin at AA. At baseball age 26, they should both be at AAA right now.
The biggest question that remains unanswered it how can Maikel Franco can go from hitting 31 home runs with a combined batting average of .320 at high A and AA in 2013 to hitting only 6 home runs and .230 batting average at AAA with two-third of the 2014 minor league season over? I suggest even at only 21 years of age he is just worn out playing year around without a break. When he did get a few days off this month he went on a tear hitting for Lehigh Valley. Let’s see how he does in today’s Future’s game.
Pitching in the Phillies system has been dominated by older guys in their 30’s guys released by other organizations over the years. The best young starter hands down has been Aaron Nola. The No. 1 pick is probably the fourth best starter in the entire organization right now behind Hamels, Lee and Burnett. But we must think inside the box and let him work his way up the farm system.
In the bullpen the only one in the minors who has begun to stand out is Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. His velocity has increased and his control is somewhat better but the last time I saw him pitch in Clearwater his curve ball was still spinning like a cement mixer coming into the hitters.
I am also interested to see which players the Phillies select to play in the Arizona Fall League. This league begins action in the second week of October. It has been a good proving ground for the likes of Ken Giles last year and Cody Asche in 2012. Both were selected to the AFL Stars game and Cody led the AFL in double during his season there.
The spotlight will be on the guys the Phillies choose to send this year to the AFL to see if they actually have any major league prospects in the upper levels of the farm system. I’d like to see them send outfielders Aaron Altherr, Kelly Dugan, Cameron Perkins catcher Tommy Joseph again to the AFL give them a chance to prove themselves as major league prospects.
It would be great for even Jesse Biddle to get some work in the desert to get a different coaching perspective. Roman Quinn, J.P. Crawford and Colton Murray, who has set-up stuff ,would benefit also from AFL action. Maybe they send Perci Garner to the AFL to see if they want to protect him in the Rule Five draft now that he is pitching out of the bullpen for Reading.
The good news is that both the short season A level Williamsport Crosscutter and the rookie league GCL Phillies are Not under .500 yet. Though the GCL Phillies lineup has seen two or three rehab players from higher levels play in most games so it is really only a partial rookie team.
With about 45 games to go the only direction for the Phillies farm teams to go is up. They have hit bottom! Here are some of the young players I will be watching to see it they can finish strong for the 2014 minor league season: outfielders Cameron Perkins (Lehigh Valley), Kelly Dugan and Aaron Atherr (Reading), Roman Quinn (Clearwater), Dylan Cozens (Lakewood); infielders Maikel Franco (Lehigh Valley), J.P. Crawford (Clearwater), Zach Green (Lakewood), Andrew Pullin (Lakewood) Andrew Knapp (Lakewood); catcher Tommy Joseph (Reading) pitcher Hoby Milner (Reading), Severino Gonzalez (Reading), Aaron Nola (Clearwater).
The next 45 or so games will determine a lot for these players. No longer does it matter much what it shows on the back of their minor league baseball cards but it does matter what the 2014 season will show for each one of them on their Baseball Reference pages. Unlike baseball cards which get thrown out in the trash over time, Baseball Reference pages will live for ever around the world on the internet.