Phillies Claim Jerome Williams off of Waivers

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday that the Phillies claimed pitcher Jerome Williams off of waivers from the Texas Rangers. Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Phillies are sending $20,000 to the Rangers as compensation. To make room for Williams on the roster, the club designated Sean O’Sullivan for assignment. Williams is expected to start Tuesday.

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The Return of Jimmy Rollins’ Power

A year ago, eulogies were being penned –the once great Jimmy Rollins was done. The former MVP and once elite shortstop hit a paltry .252/.318/.348 with just six home runs as defensive metrics began to sour on a man who had once been among the league’s best defenders at shortstop. Rollins set career lows in ISO, HRs and RBI. His rWAR (-0.2) was far and away the lowest of his prodigious career. All of this combined with the fact that he was a 34-year-old playing one of the most physically demanding positions on the field and the Rollins’ Demise narrative was defensible but, as it turns out, also wholly inaccurate.

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Game 060 - RDG vs HBG-2655 Nola

Aaron and Jesse (Wait, Aaron Paul = Jesse Pinkman…Whoa)

What a night to be alive and a fan of Phillies Minor League baseball. Aaron Nola made his AA debut in Reading in front of a huge contingent of media and a couple members of the Phils’ front office. And Jesse Biddle made his return to starting at Single-A Clearwater after about six weeks on the inactive list and throwing only a couple innings in the rookie Gulf Coast League.

Nola was, by all accounts, quite good, if not dominant.  For a guy who was still playing college ball two months ago, and despite it being predicted by professional evaluators the sport over, his rise to Reading and successful night there is pretty remarkable. Nola’s career path seems to be lining up similarly to the Cards’ Michael Wacha, with some work the summer of his draft, and an eye towards a mid-season call up from AAA the following year. If that’s how it turns out, he won’t be on many prospect lists for very long, but to be sure, he’ll be on all of them this winter. I would guess he’s in the 30-50 range most everywhere, but a very strong showing in his AA stint could puff that up some.

I’ve followed Phillies prospects closely for going on six years now, and there’s never been an Aaron Nola in my world. Continue reading…

Two Months Later, Roberto Hernandez Still Getting It Done

At the end of May, I took stock of starter Roberto Hernandez‘s performance. He had, to that point, compiled a 3.76 ERA over 12 starts. In the four starts after that, he struggled, ballooning his ERA to 4.52, but he was the least of the Phillies’ concerns at the time.

Since then, in his last seven starts, Hernandez has notched five quality starts (missing a sixth by one-third of an inning) with a 2.85 ERA, lowering his overall ERA on the season to 3.87, only a smidge higher than it was the last time we checked up on the right-hander.

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What to Watch for in the Final Two Months

The Phillies are enjoying a much-needed day off today, after having been dominated by Nationals pitching over the weekend. They were shut out in each of their last two games and haven’t scored since the sixth inning of Friday’s 2-1 win. They’re 49-63, tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the third-worst record in the National League.

You’re not alone, and certainly not to be blamed if you’ve already found better things to do with your weekend evenings than watch a bad team play bad baseball. But for those of you who, like me, will watch no matter what, there are still a few points of intrigue with two months of regular season remaining.

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Hottness In July

A whole mess of Phils minor leaguers had a very strong statistical July, highlighted by six guys who were often ranked in the Top 15 last offseason and will be again, and two more who should easily join them this year.

Maikel Franco and Aaron Nola are the two guys you’d have to guess are either #2 or #3 in the system in pretty much every professional evaluators’ eyes right now, behind only J.P. Crawford. Franco came off a hellish June, where he OPSed a dismal .435. In July, he stroked 15 XBH, including four home runs, and struck out a reasonable 15 times in over 100PAs. He’s been pulling the ball with authority, as the spray chart below shows. His 2013 statistical red flag, BB rate, came back this month, as he drew just five. But as I’ve wondered in the past, who’s trying to draw a walk when they’re slugging .596 for the month. Not I.

franco spray chart july 14

RHP Aaron Nola was drafted this year with the seventh overall pick and signed quickly. Continue reading…