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.

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7 comments

  1. SABR

    May 13, 2011 07:08 AM

    What is the consensus on the timeframe for Dom Brown to be called up? Early June?

  2. Dan

    May 13, 2011 07:19 AM

    I don’t know if there is a specific timeframe on Brown in the majors. It probably comes down to a combination of him being healthy and productive enough in the minors and the major league team’s ability to get him consistent ABs. Ibanez’s mini-resurgence has probably bought him at least another month’s worth of struggles before getting benched by Charlie and as long as Francisco/Gload/Mayberry are in the mix for playing time at corner spots and being somewhat productive, I don’t know how Brown would get much playing time. If that’s the case, he’s better off playing every day at AAA.

  3. hunterfan

    May 13, 2011 08:26 AM

    I questioned how Singleton was given such a top ranking since all he had was a good first half of the season last year…and that good first half, as good as it was, wasn’t Bondsian-type prodigious. Sure, he was young for the level and he deserved to have some hype but top 50? I had trouble seeing it.

    Nevertheless, I was told by Phillies prospect watchers that my caution was misguided, I was a moron and to STFU.

    Nice to see Goldstein has a reasonable caution about him as well.

  4. sean

    May 13, 2011 10:58 AM

    it was cool to actually see these guys last night. singleton, jiwan james, and valle played. also zack cox is a big dude, i don’t know how he’d stick at 3rd, looks more like a 1st base or DH. singleton and james were both toolsy

  5. MplsPhilsFan

    May 13, 2011 11:37 AM

    My guess is Dom Brown will be called up in late May,as Ibanez’s hitting cannot continue. The best move for Brown would be to call him up at the same time as Utley, relieving the pressure and focus on Domonic.

    On Singleton, I am pretty optimistic about him as a prospect. first, he is young for Clearwater, as he does not turn 20 until September. Second, his OBP numbers are very good, over .410 currently. That kind of discipline is a good indicator of future success at higher levels. His power numbers are not there yet, but he is still filling out so I would not be too concerned about his sluggging numbers right now

    Jiwan James concerns me using the same methodology as I used on Singleton. He is 22 already and has had a low OBP throughout his career. Sorry, I just do not see him developing into a major league player

  6. Sundar

    May 13, 2011 03:14 PM

    It appears that the Phils have turned into a pitching organization from the top-down. It’s not 2004 anymore.

    Overrated and underrated are about as abstract a concept as there is; you still have to be excited about a prospect like Singleton who isn’t even 20 yet and has shown serious power coupled with solid plate discipline.

  7. Joe Redden

    May 14, 2011 12:53 PM

    I gotta admit, from watching Singleton down here in Clearwater, he doesn’t seem like much. He is an average outfielder at best. But as an upside, he and Savery will look real good to attach to Blanton as trade bait around the deadline. Both of these players are kind of useless to the Phillies organization because they would normally play 1st.

    If we could attach them with Blanton instead of eating some of Joe’s salary, that would probably work out pretty well. So I’m all for people keeping them over-rated in the sense that we will get more in a trade.

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