A good way to determine if prospects are for real is go to the MLB.Com Top 30 Prospect List and then go to the MiLB Top Five Leader category list by levels. If prospects are on the MiLB list they are having a good season. If not, they better get hot in the second half and finish strong.
Today, the first half of the Sally League ends and two Phillies prospects find themselves on the Top Five List for the Low A level but only one of them is on the Phillies Top 30 List.
Perhaps the hottest pitcher right now in the minor leagues is Luke Leftwich of the Blue Claws. He won his seventh game last night. Below is what the Lakewood game story said about him:
“Leftwich was dominant again for the BlueClaws. Leftwich, named an All-Star on Friday, threw five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. In his last three starts, he’s thrown 20 scoreless innings with no walks and 27 strikeouts. He heads to the break with an ERA of 2.00 and leads the league with 88 strikeouts this season.”
The 22- year-old was a seventh round draft pick in 2015. His numbers at low A have improved dramatically from Williamsport last season where went 2-2 after the draft. In his last ten starts he has pitched to a 1.66 ERA, going 7-2 for Lakewood, a team that otherwise has struggled much of the season.
On the Top Five Low A Leader Board, Leftwich leads in strikeout with 88 and is tied for the second most in wins with seven.
After hitting only one homer in his last 20 games prior to Friday night, Jose Pujols has hit a long ball in each of his last two games. He is now is tied for first place in all of Low A with 12 homers for the season. He is ranked as the 24th top prospect in the Phillies system by MLB.
The 20-year-old is on pace to hit 24 homers for the season, playing in a ballpark in Lakewood which has been rated one of the most difficult to hit homers anywhere. Last night he hit a grand slam in Lakewood’s win.
While Leftwich appears ready to move up the Phillies chain to join 21-year-old Elniery Garcia, now at high A, as the two top 22-year-old and under, righty/lefty starting pitching combinations in the system.
Garcia picked up a “hold” in a 12 pitch, one strikeout, shutout inning last night in the Florida State League All-Star game as the North beat the South 1-0. Garcia’s fastball was reported at 93 mph in the game.
Pujols will likely work on his skill set for the rest of the season at Lakewood. He still has another year before he would be exposed to the Rule Five Draft in 2017, if not protected on the 40-man roster after next season.