Up until this year, the minor league regular season ended on Labor Day. Since the 2021 season started a month late, 17 regular season games will be played during September with the regular season now ending on September 19th.
Bryce Harper said it was time “to turn it on” in August. He did. Last month he hit .337, with a 1.219 OPS, 10 homers and 22 XBH. For Phillies minor league players who want any chance to play in the major leagues someday, they need “to turn it on” in September as Harper did in August.
Right now, the hottest hitter in the Phillies system in no longer Bryson Stott. It is Logan O’Hoppe. He is finding no problem hitting in AA. Last night in the first game of a doubleheader, he went 2 for 3. His single in the fourth inning set up the first run. Then, he hit a 94 mph, letter high, fastball into the second deck in right in the sixth inning. That homer was icing on the cake in the 2-0 win over the Hartford Yard Goats.
O’Hoppe is taking to the easy life in AA for the Reading Fightin Phils. He has gone 7 for 19 with a double and two home runs in his first five AA games for a .368 batting average and an 1.137 OPS.
Below, I have listed my top position player and pitcher by minor league levels that interested me the most this season. I have seen them all play this season either in person or on MiLB.TV.
Low A, Clearwater Threshers: Position player, middle infielder, Luis Garcia. Pitcher, Andrew Baker.
Garcia made his High A debut last night with Jersey Shore going 2 for 4. He ended up in Low A going 22 for 46 ( .478 BA) in his last 11 games with 4 doubles, 2 triples, 4 homers and 14 RBIs. If he is for real, he should be starting next season at AA.
RHP, Baker was an 11th round ( 325th overall) draft pick in the 2021 Draft. Can’t figure out why he lasted that long. In five appearances (one start) he has pitched 8.2 innings walking 7 and striking out 14. Opponents are hitting .103 against him and he has allowed 3 earned runs. His got his strikeouts on a 95-97 mph fastball which sets up his slider.
In Baker’s most recent appearance since the above was written, he had a hiccup against Lakeland where he walked all six batters he faced throwing only three strikes in 27 pitches. Needless to say its back to the drawing board for Baker.
High A, Jersey Shore BlueClaws: Position player, catcher/first baseman/DH, Vito Friscia. Pitcher, Tyler McKay.
Friscia might be one the last players ever drafted in the 40th round (1,200th overall). Now the draft is limited to only 20 rounds. He is sorta like Hall of Famer Mike Piazza who was the last pick in the 1988 draft in the 62nd round (1,396 overall). Friscia hit .308 (.913 OPS) for the BlueClaws in August. Piazza’s lifetime MLB batting average is .308. Vito also caught one game at AAA in August hitting a double in three at bats. For some reason he did not play last night?
In two of his last three August starts, McKay has thrown two shutouts, a six-inning perfect game and a seven-inning five-hitter. Can’t do much better than that. He was a 16th round pick in the 2018 draft. Not overpowering but good breaking stuff. In his two shutout games he struck out nine and walked only one.
AA Reading Fightin Phils: Position player, catcher/DH, Logan O’Hoppe. Pitcher, Kyle Dohy
O’Hoppe is one of the top power hitters in the Phillies minor league system. He has hit 15 homers, 13 in high A and 2 in AA. He is hitting .272 with an OPS of .800 overall this season. Logan showed his power in five games at AA hitting a single high off the Maine Monster and a home run over it in four games in Portland. Last night in Hartford CT. He hit a tape measure home run into the seats in the second deck in right field. Also, the Phillies have used him in 25 games for Jersey Shore as a DH this season.
LHP Kyle Dohy has pitched effectively out of the Reading bullpen in August. He went 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA. He has struck out 20 in 10.2 innings in the month. In his last outing he struck out four of the five batters he faced. He struggled at AAA and has been forgotten about by the Phillies Front Office after being sent down to AA to start June. Last night, he got the save in the second game of a Reading doubleheader sweep.
At AAA Lehigh Valley it is former impactful major leaguers who need to put their games back together. Position player third baseman Alec Bohm has been a major disappointment this season with the Phillies. He did not even play last night in AAA. Not only was his fielding lacking but he has shown limited power. He has still not homered in 25 at bats with Lehigh Valley.
Seranthony Dominguez is attempting a comeback out of the pen. He has struggled as he rehabbed his way back up the Phillies minor league system. Last night he may have turned the corner striking out the side in his one inning of work. Prior to last night, in 10 innings he had allowed 15 earned runs on 15 hits. His return from Tommy John’s surgery has not gone well for the most part. We can only hope Dominguez will continue to turn his season around in September.
It still remains to be seen if the Phillies can win a playoff spot. If they can’t, they need to be looking to the 2022 season and beyond to see if the team can ever develop prospects in its minor league system to grow into a playoff caliber team.