Phillies third base prospect Maikel Franco has always had qualifiers attached to any praise he had garnered over the past few years. Yeah, he can hit homers, but he has trouble with off-speed stuff. He has a strong arm at third base, but he doesn’t have the instincts of a great defensive third baseman. Not that those qualifiers didn’t have good reason behind their application, but it tamed an optimism for Franco that could have otherwise floated into the clouds and beyond.
It’s been a hot minute since we heard anything new pertaining to trade rumors involving starter Cole Hamels and the Boston Red Sox. No new players have been added to the Red Sox list of “untouchables” — it still includes Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Manuel Margot.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe still thinks the two clubs make for good trade partners, and suggests Margot alone would headline a package for Hamels. If you’re taking a sip of coffee, swallow first before reading it, lest you dirty your monitor with a spit take.
It’s been written here several times already this season, but it bears repeating often: manager Ryne Sandberg needs to stop abusing reliever Justin De Fratus. The Phillies, understandably, are short on starting pitching and need their bullpen to pitch in a bit more. They had called up Phillippe Aumont from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to start Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, but it didn’t go well: the right-hander threw 105 pitches en route to yielding six runs on five hits and seven walks in four innings.
Sandberg, as he often does, brought De Fratus into the game with the intention of pitching multiple innings. He has gone more than one inning in seven of 31 appearances this season and has thrown 25-plus pitches in eight of 31.
As the dust was settling from last week’s draft, I asked our old pal Eric Longenhagen from ESPN to do an email Q&A on the Phillies draft, and he and I wrote back and forth over the last week or so. I’m posting most of what was discussed below, with some notes about after-the-fact facts peppered in to Eric’s comments in italics for clarity. Big thanks to Eric, and if you missed his post-draft analysis on ESPN, please click through here and give it a look. Hope you all enjoy.
Have you seen first rounder Cornelius Randolph in person?
Yes, I saw him in person during showcases last summer and I liked what I saw, though at the time I had him more in the 15-30 range in my head. Continue reading…
Now on a nine-game losing streak following Wednesday’s loss to the Baltimore Orioles, the Phillies are 22-45, maintaining their two-game “lead” over the Milwaukee Brewers for the worst record in baseball. FanGraphs projects the Phillies to continue being the worst team between now and the end of the season, going 39-56 the rest of the way to finish at 61-101. They’re projected to finish with seven fewer wins than the Brewers, which would grant them the #1 overall pick in the 2016 draft.
The Phillies drafted 10th this year, taking 18-year-old high school shortstop Cornelius Randolph with the intention of converting him into a corner outfielder. They picked seventh in the 2014 draft, taking pitcher Aaron Nola out of Louisiana State University. The year prior, they took J.P. Crawford 16th overall out of high school. Nola and Crawford are highly-regarded and most in the know had positive things to say about the Phillies taking Randolph. After years of poor drafting, it appears they’ve done well in the last three drafts, but there’s work yet to be done.
The Phillies were embarrassingly pummeled by the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night, falling behind 6-0 before three outs were recorded in the first inning and ultimately losing 19-3. Phillies pitchers combined to allow eight home runs, a franchise record for the O’s. The Detroit Tigers were the last team to allow eight homers in a game, on September 4, 2013 against the Boston Red Sox. The last time Phillies pitchers did it was on September 4, 1999 in a 22-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
Starter Jerome Williams lasted only two-thirds of an inning as he suffered a hamstring injury covering home plate after uncorking his second wild pitch. Dustin McGowan relieved him and served up five home runs. Justin De Fratus served up a solo home run to Chris Parmelee to lead off the sixth, then was ejected when he intentionally threw a fastball at J.J. Hardy. Outfielder Jeff Francoeur came in to soak up an inning in the seventh and wound up going two, throwing 48 pitches. He enjoyed a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh, but tired in the eighth, allowing a home run, hitting a batter, and issuing three walks.
The Phillies dropped their seventh game in a row last night in Baltimore against the Orioles, losing 4-0. They’ve lost 10 of their last 11 games and 17 of their last 20.
Game over: Phillies lose 4-0. 3rd shutout in 4 games. Haven't scored in 21 innings. Haven't homered in 69 innings on road trip.
— Kevin Cooney (@KevinCooney) June 16, 2015
Towards the end of April, Ken Giles looked like an alarmingly diminished form of his 2014 self. At the time, I wrote about his decreased average fastball velocity, the corresponding increase in the quantity of contact he allowed, and a small sample size horrendous walk-rate. Fortunately for the Phillies, their presumed future closer has been gradually regaining his form over the past month and a half.
The next chapter of Domonic Brown‘s seemingly never ending saga of mismanagement, disappointing performance, and unfortunate health injuries has arrived. After today’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Phillies announced they are recalling former top prospect Domonic Brown and, in a corresponding move, sending Darin Ruf up the Northeast Extension to Lehigh Valley.
Scouts and baseball front office employees must tire of preaching patience when it comes to prospects. Player development in the game of baseball is an agonizingly slow process and even though the most informed and enlightened fan knows and accepts this fact, the impatience to see top prospects called up is innate in all baseball fans. If you love baseball, of course you want to see Kris Bryant, Joey Gallo, Joc Pederson, and [Insert Your Favorite Team’s Top Prospect Here] playing at the highest level.
“Patience is a virtue” is nothing more than a bullshit saying we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better about circumstances beyond our control. Waiting is frustratingly dull and in player development it doesn’t make the end result any sweeter. Baseball fans generally have to wait 2-5 years to see a drafted player finally reach the big leagues. Football fans see top draftees play in the NFL the very same year they are drafted. Does this give baseball fans a better appreciation for their players? Of course not, but it’s a necessary evil and so, we wait.