Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Now We Wait To See How The Prospects Pan Out

GAME RECAP: No Game Yesterday
Phillies took the day off to get acquainted with the new environment brought about both by trades and an unusually excellent record in the second half.

  • It will be interesting to see if Ryan Howard starts for the Phillies against Wood and the Dodgers. On the one hand, Howard has hit safely in his last eight games, his longest streak since April 17-30, 2013. On the other hand, Howard normally sits against left-handed pitching and Wood is no exception. Howard has only faced Wood four times despite the amount of times Wood has faced the Phillies. Wood has gotten the best of Howard as he is 0-for-3 with a walk.

Jimmy Rollins played 1,047 games in Philadelphia wearing red and white. Tuesday he'll make his first appearance in blue. Traded to the Dodgers in the offseason, the player with the most hits, most doubles and third-most runs scored in Phillies history will return to Philadelphia as a visiting player when the Phillies host the Dodgers for the first contest of a three-game series. This won't, however, be the first time that Rollins plays against his former team. The Phillies and Dodgers played a four-game series in early July, a series in which the Dodgers took three out of four games. In that series, Rollins went 5-for-15 with two doubles, a home run, five RBIs and four runs scored. Alex Wood will be making his Dodgers debut Tuesday after Los Angeles acquired the pitcher from the Braves before the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Wood, a 24-year-old starting pitcher in his third season in the Majors, was 7-6 with a 3.54 ERA in 20 starts with Atlanta this year. Wood is having the worst season of his career by WHIP, as he is allowing 1.408 men on base per inning and is allowing 10 hits per nine innings. As a former Brave, it is no surprise that Wood has an extensive history against the Phillies. The left-hander has made seven starts and 12 appearances with a 3.07 ERA over those 44 combined innings. Wood tossed his only career complete game against the Phillies in 2014.


Preparation Pays Off – General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. took a seat in his box Sunday morning at Citizens Bank Park, and he spoke for more than 20 minutes about everything that happened in the days, weeks and months before Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline. And Amaro never checked his phone. He checked it constantly before the Deadline. Amaro had text discussions with teams as late as 5 in the morning on Friday, trying to find the best return for the Phillies' talent. "Nobody really sleeps when you're talking to teams on the West Coast," Amaro said. In the end, Philadelphia sent Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman and $9.5 million to Texas, Jonathan Papelbon to Washington and Ben Revere to Toronto for eight Minor League prospects and one big league pitcher. Including the prospects the Phillies received in December for Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo, they have added 12 Minor League players to the organization in the past seven months, including 10 that rank among the Top 24 in their system and three in the Top 69 in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com. "You've got to give quality to get quality," Amaro said. "We think we did that." The process started in October, weeks after Phillies president Pat Gillick announced the team planned to rebuild, untethering Amaro from the pursuit of the postseason with a core of aging veterans. The Phils quickly identified a list of teams that could be a fit for Hamels and others, and they scouted those organizations thoroughly from Spring Training through last week. "This was as well prepared as we've been," Amaro said. "There were no shortage of suitors, and when you're talking about five or six teams to cover all those players and all those prospects … we started to target some of those guys during the offseason. The scouting and the addition of the analytics portion of these evaluations put us in the best position to be ready to make the trades." Quality is key. Some folks considered the Phillies' farm system to be among the bottom third in baseball before this season. Following the 2015 Draft and the prospects they received from Texas, Washington and Toronto, some believe they have catapulted into the top half, if not the top third. But quantity is key, too. "They always say to get five if you need 10," Gillick said. "It's a numbers game. We think we got the numbers, and we think we got the quality. Hopefully out of that group, we'll get four or five of them that'll be able to perform in the Major Leagues." "You want to dream as much as you possibly can, but you also have to be realistic about the players," Amaro said. Think back to the trades the Phillies made for Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence. How many of those prospects came back to haunt Philadelphia? Carlos Carrasco? Travis d'Arnaud? Jon Singleton? Jarred Cosart? If one of the two hitters the Phils acquired for Hamels (outfielder Nick Williams and catcher Jorge Alfaro) and one of the three pitchers (Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher) become above-average big league players, the trade will be considered a win. If any more produce, it will be a bonus. "We're not going to hit on every player," Amaro said. "Very, very rarely does that ever happen. We wanted to create as much depth as much as we possibly could, so if we have two or three guys fall by the wayside, we still have a chance with four or five of the others guys." * * * * * The Phillies were in a unique situation leading up to the Trade Deadline, with Gillick in his final couple months as president, Amaro in the final couple months of his contract and Andy MacPhail as the president-in-waiting, observing and offering opinions throughout the process. "He did an excellent job," Gillick said about Amaro. "He's going to do things in a professional manner. He's going to do things he thinks are in the Phils' best interest. People might think he's doing something to save his job, but I've always said I have confidence in him that he's going to carry out his responsibilities in a professional manner." Of course, MacPhail will have the final say on Amaro and others in the front office. What does he think about Amaro and his team's performance at the Deadline? Few know that answer, because MacPhail has not commented publicly. "Andy has been here a month or so, so he knows what's transpired," Gillick said. "I don't have to go to bat for [Amaro]. Andy is observant. Andy takes everything in, so he'll make his own decision." Said Amaro: "I'll never change the way I go about my business, regardless of my job status. It's not about me. It's about our organization, trying to move it forward. My job now is to get us back to the point where we're doing that again. And to do it in an efficient way and to do it with a more long-term effect." * * * * * The Phillies could still upgrade their system this month in an August waiver deal. There is interest in Chase Utley. Ryan Howard, Aaron Harang and Jeff Francoeur could be options, too. But Gillick and Amaro already see a stronger farm system than a year ago. "I think it's made a tremendous jump from a depth standpoint and quality standpoint," Gillick said. "This day and age, you never know how quickly things can develop," Amaro said. "[Astros GM] Jeff Luhnow did a fantastic job with his organization. They're a contending team a year or two before they thought they'd be a contender. Now they're going for it."

Knapp Makes The Team – Left-hander John Means barely snuck onto MLBPipeline.com's Orioles Top 30 Prospects list, checking in at No. 29. While he may not have the highest profile in Baltimore's system, he's raising it after his performance in July. Means allowed just six earned runs in six starts last month, saving his best outing for last. He tossed low Class A Delmarva's first no-hitter in 17 years on Friday, striking out nine in seven innings to beat Charleston, 4-0, in the first game of a doubleheader. Just three RiverDogs runners reached base, one each on a walk, a hit batter and an error. Means' gem earned him Prospect Team of the Week recognition for the second time in three weeks. Here are the rest of the top performers for the week of July 27 - Aug. 2: C: Andrew Knapp, Phillies (No. 17 prospect): 7 G, .444/.500/.778, 5 R, 6 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 6 SO. The first college catcher selected in the 2013 Draft (second round), he got displaced as Philadephia's top catching prospect when Jorge Alfaro arrived from the Rangers via the Cole Hamels trade. Knapp, who's batting a combined .292/.368/.431 with four homers in 91 games between high Class A and Double-A this season, still might beat Alfaro to Citizens Bank Park. 1B: Bobby Bradley, Indians (No. 7 prospect): 6 G, .381/.500/1.048, 9 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 6 BB, 9 SO. A year after winning the Rookie-level Arizona League Triple Crown in his pro debut, he leads the low Class A Midwest League with 18 homers and a .486 slugging percentage. Bradley has a sweet left-handed swing that should translate into hitting for average as well, though he'll have to cut down on his strikeouts (113 in 79 games). He's batting .253/.343/.486 overall. 2B: Jose Peraza, Dodgers (No. 4 prospect): 6 G, .435/.435/.739, 6 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SO, 2 SB. Part of a 13-player deal with the Braves and Marlins last week, he went 5-for-10 with a homer in his first three games in his new organization. The speedy Peraza, who could take over at second base in Los Angeles if Howie Kendrick departs as a free agent this offeseason, is hitting .299/.322/.389 with 27 steals in 99 Triple-A games. 3B: Austin Riley, Braves (No. 18 prospect): 7 G, .393/.433/.857, 7 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 1 BB, 7 SO. Though scouts liked him more as a pitcher coming into the 2015 season, he was more impressive as a hitter as a Mississippi high school senior and signed for $1.6 million as the 41st overall pick in June. Though Riley was promoted to the Rookie-level Appalachian League on Friday, he's still tied for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League lead with seven homers and is batting .267/.343/.517 between the two stops. SS: JaCoby Jones, Tigers (No. 13 prospect): 6 G, .409/.440/.818, 7 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO, 2 SB. The Pirates promoted Jones to Double-A last Monday, then traded him to the Tigers for Joakim Soria on Thursday. Jones homered three times in three games with his new organization, and he is now hitting .253/.313/.396 with 10 homers and 14 steals in 99 games between high Class A and Double-A this year. OF: Lewis Brinson, Rangers (No. 4 prospect): 6 G, .458/.440/1.083, 4 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 5 SO. He becomes just the fourth prospect to earn PTOW recognition in consecutive weeks, joining Cubs catcher Kyle Schwarber, Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes and Astros second baseman Tony Kemp. Brinson ranked second in the high Class A California League in all three slash stats at .337/.416/.628, and he also had 13 homers and 13 steals in 64 games there before getting promoted to Double-A on Friday. OF: Max Kepler, Twins (No. 7 prospect): 6 G, .292/.357/.792, 5 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 6 SO. Signed out of Germany for a then-European-record $800,000 bonus in 2009, he's still just 22 and is beginning to deliver on the offensive promise that Minnesota saw in him. Kepler tops the Double-A Southern League in hitting (.328), ranks second in on-base percentage (.408) and slugging (.543) and has 41 extra-base hits (including six homers) in 80 games. OF: Tyler O'Neill, Mariners (No. 7 prospect): 7 G, .379/.387/1.000, 8 R, 3 2B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 1 BB, 8 SO, 2 SB. He went deep in five of his seven games last week and eight times in his past 11 contests to take over the Cal League lead with 24. O'Neill is still raw at the plate, as his .258/.297/.554 line and 100/15 K/BB ratio would attest, but his power is for real. LHP: John Means, Orioles (No. 29 prospect): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 GS, 1 CG, 1 ShO, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO, 0.143 WHIP. An 11th-round pick out of West Virginia in 2014, Means is a finesse left-hander who relies heavily on his changeup and control. In 20 starts this year, he has gone 8-7 with a 3.48 ERA, has a 78/22 K/BB ratio in 103 1/3 innings and a .290 opponent average. RHP: Luis Severino, Yankees (No. 1 prospect): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 GS, 6 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO, 0.167 WHIP. His 1.91 ERA and 0.929 WHIP easily would lead the Triple-A International League if he had enough innings to qualify, but New York's top prospect probably won't get the chance to accumulate them. The Yankees announced that they'll call up Severino to start against the Red Sox on Wednesday. He has nothing left to prove in the Minors after going 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 19 starts between Double-A and Triple-A at age 21, including a 98/27 K/BB ratio in 99 1/3 innings.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 41-65. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance so far this season, this could end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 50-61-0 on this day.

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