Crash Bag, Vol. 12: Gym Teachers and BlueClaws
This is my first attempt at a Crash Bag and I am already off to a great start with posting it a day later than intended. In the past I have done mailbags more focused on answering lots of questions and talking about many topics about the current team and minor league system. That is not the Crash Bag, the Crash Bag is something different, it is more tangential, it is more fun, and that is what I plan on having here. It may take some time for me to grow into my own voice, but that is really all part of the fun of it.
For now the best place to ask questions is on Twitter, either @ me (@Matt_Winkelman or @CrashburnAlley). But you can also reply in the comments here and I will will have some sort of better way for future mailbags.
@nurseintime: Which minor league team will be the best to watch after the draft?
Lakewood and it isn’t really close. The BlueClaws are going to be absolutely loaded with high upside talent. They aren’t going to roll through their league Lehigh Valley might, but that will be because they are going to be so young. Right now my best guess is that the starters are.
C – Henri Lartigue
1B – Darick Hall
2B – Daniel Brito
SS – Arquimedez Gamboa
3B – Cole Stobbe
OF – Mickey Moniak, Juan Luis, David Martinelli
SP – Sixto Sanchez, Adonis Medina, Bailey Falter, JoJo Romero, Felix Paulino, Ranger Suarez
If the Phillies take a college starter or hitter they could join this team (Faedo, Wright, McKay, Bukauskas, Kendall, Houck, etc.). Then throw in rumors that Jhailyn Ortiz might start there, and that Kevin Gowdy could join them after starting the year in Extended Spring and you have a team that will be incredibly intriguing. They should be great on defense where Gamboa, Moniak, and Brito are all plus defenders at their position. On the mound, Sanchez is already sitting 96-98 with an electric fastball and Adonis Medina is also drawing good reviews. The one weakness of the team will be the lack of power, with only Hall having above average power.
@StelliniTweets: Why is Tommy Jospeh the best gym teacher on the Phillies?
There are maybe 1-3 pictures of Joseph on the internet where he doesn’t look like he coaches one of your high school teams. It is unfortunate because Joseph does not seem like he is an old man, he just looks like he is part of the coach staff. The problem is that he isn’t the best gym teacher on the Phillies now that they have hired Matt Stairs. Stairs is the gym teacher who jumps into the game when there are uneven teams and lulls you into a sense of comfort before reminding you that he is a world class athlete (or at least hits like one). But back to Joseph, the good news is that he seems frozen in his early 40s and has been there for at least 5 years now, so there is hope he can stick there into his 40s. Either that or he will need to consult with Freddy Galvis on how to look like an awkward teenager forever.
@Long_Drive: If Watson is truly sitting at 94-96 mph what can we consider his floor/ceiling in your opinion (assuming health)
The Phillies’ drafting in the years leading up to their decline is well chronicled and the 2012 draft class was the last in a line of disappointments. The 2016 season saw a revitalization of the draft class. Dylan Cozens and Andrew Pullin had breakouts at Reading, Hoby Milner looked like a competent LOOGY, and Drew Anderson returned from injury to flash a lot of promise. The top of that draft was a pair of high school pitchers. One in Mitch Gueller never developed and seemingly went backwards every year until being released in 2016. Watson missed most of the 2013 and 2015 seasons and all of the 2014 season before having a rebound season in 2016. He has gotten a lot of buzz this spring as more people have had a chance to see him. By the end of last season Watson was sitting 90-95 with his fastball, this spring he has been reportedly 93-96 and according to the Phillies his breaking ball is back to where it was pre-injury (the reports last year were not as optimistic). Watson still lacks the changeup to start, even if he has built back up to the arm strength, which probably pushes him to a relief role.
This leads to an interesting thing going on with many Phillies pitchers and that is that there are only 5 major league rotation spots and only so many trade that can be made. That means pitchers are going to need to move to the bullpen and that is not always a bad move. The majors are moving towards a heavier focus on relievers and the level of pitcher needed in that role has only increased. If the Phillies can turn pitchers like Shane Watson into useful relievers they are going to make things much easier in building their next competitive team.
To answer the original question, Waton’s floor is AA washout, just a guy with some velocity but not the other skills to get good batters out. His ceiling is solid major league starter. The range of outcomes for an arm like Watson is so wide because there are singular skills like his changeup that are all or nothing skills that allow him to either be a starter or not, without any in between outcomes.
@NachosVegas: With the lack of LHP and 3b in the system should that be a focus in the coming draft? or do you still just take BPA?
Always best player available. The Phillies lack high level 3B prospects, but they have Franco in the majors. Maybe Stobbe provides more depth at the position, but does a team really need more than one 3B. The LHP shortage is a product of availability across baseball and not just for the Phillies. They do have much more depth there in the low minors with pitchers like Kyle Young, Bailey Falter, Cole Irvin, JoJo Romero, and to some extent Nick Fanti and Will Stewart. The other key of all of this is that you can trade for what you need. This really is the key, you can always trade talent for what you need. What you can’t do is to take inferior talent, because a bad 3B or LHP is not going to help you even if they are at a position of need.