Phillies Prospects Q&A with Kevin Goldstein

One of the perks writing at Baseball Prospectus given me is access to Kevin Goldstein. There are a lot of prospect gurus on the Internet, but few are as widely respected as Goldstein. I asked Kevin if he could fit some time into his hectic schedule to answer a few questions about some Phillies prospects and he was more than willing to oblige. Enjoy the Q&A below, then do yourself a favor and check out Kevin’s writing and podcasting at Baseball Prospectus.

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1. Dom Brown is on his way back from a hamate bone injury. I’ve been quoting Keith Law, who said that it generally takes 12-18 months to regain power after such an injury. However, Brown hit 2 home runs immediately in Clearwater before jumping up to Lehigh Valley. Should Phillies fans be optimistic or pessimistic about Brown’s power?

I’d be quite optimistic, as he’s been driving balls consistently during his rehab. Keith is right, that’s generally the range, but there are players who got the power back right away, and unfortunately, there are some for whom it never returned. I still like Brown a ton, and think his big league struggles last year were more a result of an inability to adjust as a bench player than any sort of talent issue.

2. Vance Worley impressed a lot of people while filling in for Joe Blanton recently. Personally, I was impressed by his two-seam fastball, but did notice that his secondary stuff seemed lackluster. Is that an accurate portrayal of what he has to offer? Does he project any better than a back-of-the-rotaiton starter?

That’s dead on, what else can I say? He’s going to go 88-93 mph with his fastball, but he spots it very, very well and works both sides of the plate. He has a solid slider, and a slower, more slurvy version of it. His changeup is ok. More than anything, he’s a strike thrower and a battler and no more than an 4-5 starter.

3. Although his chances have been limited thanks to a hefty starting rotation, Michael Stutes has shown some moxie in his brief time up in the Majors. He was brought up as a starter, but made the transition to the bullpen last year with mixed results — lots of strikeouts, but lots of walks. Do you see him conquering the control issues? He seems like he could be a late-innings weapon if he manages to harness that control.

His control has never exactly been good in the minors, but it’s usually been manageable due to his ability to miss bats, and I think he’ll settle back into his four or so walks per nine rate of the past. That said, I think it’s more seventh-inning stuff than eighth or ninth.

4. Jonathan Singleton burst onto the scene last year, mashing 14 homers and 25 doubles as an 18-year-old in Clearwater. He came in playing first base, but after the Phillies extended Ryan Howard through at least 2016, he moved to the outfield. Can he play the outfield at a passable level? Even if he doesn’t, can his bat justify it?

I think he can become an acceptable left fielder, but let’s face it, that’s a very low bar. He’s a big dude, but he’s a good athlete for his size, and I think he’ll figure it out. I do think he got a little too much hype as a hitter, and still has some things to work out. He struggled down the stretch last year, and the Florida State League isn’t exactly helping his power, but we are not talking about a guy who hit 10 home runs in his first 41 games of the 2010 season and has hit five in 86 since. Pitchers have made adjustments on him, and now he has to adjust to the adjustments.

5. Recently, I wrote about the Phillies signing Jimmy Rollins to an extension, citing the dearth of depth at shortstop in the Phillies’ organization. The only name on anyone’s radar right now is Freddy Galvis. We all know he can field, but what are the odds he learns how to hit? Are there any other names out there in the Phillies’ organization we should be keeping an eye on when it comes to shortstop?

We have 420 games to evaluate Galvis, and we have a .234/.282/.300 line to show for it. He’s been consistently young for the level, but even with that mitigating factor I think it’s fair to say there are doubts as to him ever hitting enough to play every day. That said, he’s crazy good defensively, and if he ended up with some kind of Rey Sanchez career, I can’t say I’d be shocked. As for other shortstops in the organization, if you can’t say something nice . . .

6. In your opinion, who is the most underrated player in the Phillies’ system right now? The most overrated?

I’m not sure I want to go with Singleton here for the over-rated pick, but I do think it’s fair to say there are concerns and I do think people got way too excited about a two-month run and he still has plenty to prove. I also have questions about Sebastian Valle‘s long-term future until he gets an approach and improves his defense, but I do like his tools question a bit. As for under-rated, right-hander Julio Rodriguez continues to impress. Good frame, good fastball, good feel for his craft. I think he’s gone from a guy who a lot of people saw a s a future reliever to a possible starter.

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For players and topics that were not covered in our little Q&A, check out his take on the top-11 Phillies prospects from February as they may have been covered there.

Thanks again to Kevin for setting aside time to help shine some light on the Phillies Minor League system. Remember, Kevin covers the Minors extensively at Baseball Prospectus and also hosts the best baseball podcast around. Those are instant bookmarks for me, I’d suggest the same for you.