To me the most fascinating players are the unsung guys who play day in and day out and just get the job done or come out of nowhere to leave a quick impression of the potential for something special down the road. Yes, we watched the last two, first round draft picks J.P. Crawford and Aaron Nola play for the Threshers this season but everyone knew who they were and what their upside is. But we have also seen players who are not listed on any top prospect lists but have left lasting impressions on us this season.
It is two of these type of players who I have chosen as the Baseball Ross Phillies Minor League “Unsung” Position and Pitcher players of the Year. Infielder Carlos Alonso had a career year with the bat for the Reading Phillies and left handed pitcher Josh Taylor was a late free agent signee who in only three relief appearances went 2-0, gave up no runs and struck out 13 in 9.1 innings in the final days of the Gulf Coast League season.
Alonso had to reacquaint himself to play third base this season as he split his time there and second base. He was the Rawlings minor league second base Gold Glove winner last year with the Clearwater Threshers.
This season he had a career year in hits, total bases, triples, home runs, RBI’s, runs scored, walks and steals while hitting .272 for the season. He finished strong hitting .395 in his final ten games of the season.
Carlos is the type of player a major league organization that has trouble scoring runs could use because of his ability to generate offense by getting on base and plating runs. In the field in 2013 he committed only two errors at second base all season. But this season the Phillies minor league department had him split his time between second base and third base and that cause his fielding percent to drop. But over his last 26 games at third base he committed no errors to end the season.
He will be playing at baseball age 27 next season as he enters his prime baseball years. He could play a valuable role for any team that wants an intelligent baseball player who knows how to play the game right. This season he showed he can play both at second or third and put up impressive offensive numbers hitting mostly out of the one or two hole.
It was back on August 22 that I decided to hang around and watch a new guy named Josh Taylor come on to pitch with two out in the fourth and then the fifth, sixth, seventh and eight innings in a GCL game at the Blue Jays Complex. He struck out five that day in picking up his first professional win. The big, 21 year-old 6’5″ 225 lbs. lefty was firing on all cylinders with a big 12 to six breaking ball and a low to mid 90’s fastball. He was throwing strikes and dominating the Blue Jays GCL hitters.
Where did this baseball man of mystery come from? It turns out that Taylor was overlooked earlier in the June Draft by all 30 major league teams when over 1,200 players were drafted. He was signed as a free agent by the Phillies Marti Wolever who was watching him pitch that day in Dunedin.
A native from the Phoenix, Arizona area Taylor pitched two seasons for Scottsdale Community College and this season pitched for Georgia College, a Division II team. He last pitched, before signing as a free agent with the Phillies, back in May in a NCAA Division II regional tournament game. He went 7-4 for the Bobcats as a starter, striking out 57 in 83.1 innings for a 5.62 ERA. Nothing to get too excited about.
The three month off must have done him wonders because Taylor looked like a No. 1 draft pick that day back in August against the GCL Blue Jays and in his two other relief appearances at the end of the season.
There you have it two unsung players, from the opposite end of the minor league spectrum. Onne who has been in the Phillies organization for five years and another who has pitched in only three professional games. One, who gets little notice in the Phillies organization but knows how to get on base and score runs and the other one that no MBL organization saw fit to even draft back in June. Carlos Alonso and Josh Taylor are the Baseball Ross 2014 Phillies Minor League “Unsung” Position and Pitcher Players of the Year.