2014 Nationals Q&A with Harper Gordek

This week, we’ll be previewing the Phillies’ NL East opponents for the 2014 season with a brief Q&A session with various team bloggers.

Harper Gordek runs the blog Nationals Baseball, which is a fellow member of ESPN’s Sweet Spot blog network. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few Nationals-related questions to help preview the upcoming season in the NL East. Give him a follow on Twitter @HarperGordek.

1. The Nationals appeared to steal Doug Fister away from the Tigers over the winter, but now he’s dealing with an elbow problem. If he isn’t ready for the start of the season, how big of a blow is it for the Nationals, and who takes his place in the rotation?

Continue reading…

2014 Mets Q&A with Toby Hyde

This week, we’ll be previewing the Phillies’ NL East opponents for the 2014 season with a brief Q&A session with various team bloggers.

Toby Hyde is a contributor to SNY.tv‘s Mets Minor League Blog.  He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few Mets-related questions to help preview the upcoming season in the NL East. Give him a follow on Twitter @TobyHyde.

1. The Mets jumped back into free agency by signing Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million contract. Do you think this was a wise signing by GM Sandy Alderson?

Continue reading…

2014 Marlins Q&A with Michael Jong

This week, we’ll be previewing the Phillies’ NL East opponents for the 2014 season with a brief Q&A session with various team bloggers.

Michael Jong is a contributor to SB Nation’s Marlins blog Fish Stripes.  He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few Marlins-related questions to help preview the upcoming season in the NL East. Give him a follow on Twitter @MRJManiac.

1. The Marlins’ big off-season addition was Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a three-year, $21 million deal. Was this a good signing?

Continue reading…

2014 Braves Q&A with Franklin Rabon

This week, we’ll be previewing the Phillies’ NL East opponents for the 2014 season with a brief Q&A session with various team bloggers.

Franklin Rabon is a contributor to SB Nation’s Braves blog Talking Chop. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few Braves-related questions to help preview the upcoming season in the NL East. Give him a follow on Twitter @fjrabon.

1. The Braves spent the off-season signing their core players to contract extensions rather than shopping for free agents. Are you happy with what the Braves accomplished over the winter?

Continue reading…

Phillies Prospect Conversations: Keith Law (ESPN)

Two and a half weeks ago I was fortunate enough to spend most of my Saturday with Keith Law as I took in that afternoon’s tilt between East Carolina and Virginia. We sat basking in the glow of the first vibrant sun either of us had seen in months, wearing the same clothes we had the day before (at least I was), drinking up every ounce of pleasing stimuli emitted by the world around us. The warmth from the sun, the sights and sounds on the field, the smell of the barbecue stand behind us. It was perfect. And then, as if the baseball gods had decided we were having too nice a time, a little, blonde, southern boy proceeded to kick the seat between Keith and I for the next seven innings with what had to be a heavy pair of BK Ratch Techs. Keith, who was filming swings and needed the kid to cease and desist, politely asked him to stop several times while I spent most of the game hoping Pai Natal actually existed and that this child would be butterless on Christmas Eve.

You probably don’t need an introduction to Keith and his work, which can be found on ESPN.com and is well worth a subscription to Insider on its own. Keith’s Phillies top 10, headlined b J.P. Crawford, is here. Our conversation follows. Continue reading…

Phillies Prospect Conversations: Josh Norris (Baseball America)

Better than anyone, Baseball America has been providing comprehensive coverage of all levels of America’s Pastime for over three decades. Whether you’re a subscriber to their website, magazine or purchase the annual Prospect Handbook (which you can find here) you’re going to get well written, informative, dynamic content. I visit their site on a daily basis and encourage you to do the same. The July 2 coverage is second to none, they do outstanding reporting (like Aaron Fitt has on the Phillies/Ben Wetzler story) and generate content with excellence in all forms of media. I’ve been purchasing the Prospect Handbook since my senior year of high school (when Phil Hughes was on the cover) and have been a subscriber ever since I left the IronPigs and could no longer steal the new mag issues from the Coca-Cola Park press box. This year the BA writer covering the Phillies list is Josh Norris, formerly of The Trentonian. Our conversation follows. Continue reading…

Phillies Prospect Conversations: Chris Crawford (MLBDraftInsider and ESPN)

And so we begin a new season’s worth of conversations with the internet’s best prospect writers. We’ll examine those writers’ lists and talk with them about the Phillies system. Our first participant this year is Chris Crawford, he of ESPN’s MLB Draft coverage and MLBDraftInsider.com. Chris does really terrific work and his readership is deservedly growing at an exponential rate. He’s currently mowing through farm systems as he pumps out reports with his Top 14 in ’14 series. The Phillies list is here. It’s free and it includes meaty reports on all fourteen guys he ranks as well as present/future tool grades. If you like his work (you will) and you’re interested in the upcoming draft (you should be) then I’d encourage you to buy Crawford’s excellent Draftbook. It’s just $1.99 and for that you’ll get 150 amateur scouting reports in a neat and clean PDF whhich will be emailed to you within an hour or two of purchase. You’ll also get an updated version of the book closer to draft day. It’s a terrific resource, one I used to build my preliminary amateur schedule for this spring, and it can be ordered here.  Let’s get to my chat with Chris. Continue reading…

Phillies Prospect Conversations: Jonathan Mayo (MLB.com)

This will be the final installment of our series of conversations with some of the prospecting industry’s most prominent scribes. It is a discussion I had with MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo over lunch last week. Mayo has the unenviable task (ok, maybe I’m a little envious since he gets to talk about prospects for a living and all) of spearheading coverage of both minor league prospects and the draft for MLB.com all on his own. It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer volume of work Mayo does over at MLBPipleline.com. He’s a Penn grad, so none of us should be surprised. At this point in my process it didn’t make sense to ask Jonathan about guys we’ve already beaten into the ground here, like Ruf, Brown, Biddle and Morgan (ok, so maybe he brings up Morgan on his own). Instead I asked Jonathan about guys he had ranked in atypical places (Ethan Martin at #2, Sebastian Valle at #8). I didn’t often bring these guys up in previous conversations because I’ve known I was going to ask Jonathan about them the whole time. Aren’t you impressed?

I’m starting on my own top 10, 12, 15….I don’t know how many I’m going to do just yet. Anyway, I’m starting to write up my list this week so you can expect that relatively soon. I’m also continuing chip away at a piece that’s been in the works since the Phillies acquired Delmon Young. I haven’t received an optimal amount of cooperation from people inside the game to this point, but the article is coming along and it’s very strange. Here’s my chat with Jonathan Mayo:

Continue reading…

Phillies Prospect Conversation: Keith Law (ESPN)

Keith Law and I have interacted with each other a total of three times. Once was during my first trip to the Arizona Fall League in 2010. Nervous and paranoid, I held a door open for him as we entered Scottsdale Stadium via the front office, where scouts can pass through before a game to see batting practice and infield work. I wasn’t nervous that Keith Law was behind me as much as I was nervous about being caught in a place where I had absolutely no business being. It’s amazing what you can get away with at a ballpark when you wear a face of feigned confidence, tuck in an ugly polo shirt and carry one of those very adult looking, over-the-shoulder bags.

Not long after that, Keith and I got into a spirited, but short, “Audrey Hepburn vs. Grace Kelly” debate on Twitter. We chose to argue with words instead of just sending pictures back and forth to one another so we both lost that one as far as I’m concerned. Our most recent encounter is our discussion concerning the Phillies farm system which you’ll find below.

I don’t need to tell you about Keith’s experience or credentials. His voice’s rationality is only exceeded by its influence on modern baseball discourse. Make a list of who you associate with baseball statistics and a separate list of who you associate with prospects and scouting. Keith’s name will be the first you see on both lists. He broke Rob Parker. I encourage all of you to head over and grab an ESPN Insider link account now, even if it’s for Keith’s work alone. We emailed back and forth about the Phillies system for almost two weeks and exchanged about forty total correspondences.

Continue reading…

Phillies Prospect Conversation: Hudson Belinsky

My baseball “career”, if that’s what you want to call it, started in what was a brand new Coca-Cola Park  in Allentown, PA. The drive to work was 8 minutes from home. I interned, which means, “I did everything nobody else wanted to do.” Like vacuum. Little did I know that somewhere in one of the ballpark’s concession stands lurked someone as hungry as those to whom he was serving Pork Nachos. Someone who, like me, was deriving utility from work by looking over his shoulder every few minutes to see the field and getting lost for a moment before remembering to make sure the kids on the bouncy castle in left field weren’t wearing shoes.

That person is Hudson Belinsky, whose credentials are impressive before you consider his age and then, once you learn he’s not even old to toss back a Yuengling, make you feel like you’re…I don’t know….only reaching Double-A by 26. Most impressively, Hudson has already been offered internships with teams and has written things for Baseball Prospectus. Most relevantly, he’s composed a top 30 list for Lindy’s Phillies Annual, a project being spearheaded by Liz Roscher.

I’ve contacted Liz about plugging the book, which just went to press. Where to buy it, what’s all in it…that sort of stuff. She’s insanely busy right now and still needs to get some of that information herself, from Lindy’s. I’ll update this post when that information becomes available to me, but for now, I need to publish this talk I had with Hudson.

My conversation with him lasted nearly two hours and we covered, literally, the entire system. I omitted some things to a) make this piece more readable and b) so we didn’t usurp value from the Annual.

Continue reading…