September Call-Up Preview

Tomorrow is the first day of the utter madness that is September baseball. For better or worse, in-game strategy is thrown on its head for the final month of the regular season due to active rosters expanding from 25 roster spots to 40. For a rebuilding team like the Phillies, this can be an exciting time as it often means prospects will be called up for their first taste of the major leagues. This year, however, due to trades and starting rotation woes, most of the Phillies’ would-be September call-ups — Jerad Eickhoff, Alec Asher, Darnell Sweeney, Aaron Altherr — are already wearing red pinstripes.

As a result, Phillies beats writers indicated that the September call-up list tomorrow will be relatively small.
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Utley Retrospective – The Minors and Rookie Campaign(s)

I’m going to take a close look at Chase Utley‘s minor league career and rookie season(s), much like I did with Jimmy Rollins when he was traded to The Dodgers. When I wrote about the franchise-best shortstop last winter, I called James Calvin Rollins “the rarest of the rare”. Damned if we didn’t have two gems surrounding the Keystone Sack in the Keystone State for more than a decade. This is how we got from the draft to a big-league superstar named Chase Cameron Utley. Continue reading…

An Updated Look at the Phillies’ Minor League System

The Phillies made three trades leading up to the 4 PM EST deadline on Friday, sending closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Washington Nationals, starter Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers, and outfielder Ben Revere to the Toronto Blue Jays. Coupled with trades made last year to eschew Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd, and Roberto Hernandez, the Phillies continue to bolster a minor league system that should now rank among the ten-best in baseball.

Just how much progress have the Phillies made? Let’s take a look at their updated top-30 from MLB.com.

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Cole Hamels Traded To Texas

We knew it was a real possibility, but any hope that the Phillies ace would remain in Philadelphia after the trade deadline has been extinguished. According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the deal is final:

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Phillies 2015 Draft Wrap-Up With ESPN’s Eric Longenhagen

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…

Is It Time To Call Up Aaron Nola?

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.

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Thoughts on Cornelius Randolph and Second Round Pick Scott Kingery

As Bill reported earlier, The Phillies grabbed Georgia HS bat Cornelius Randolph with the tenth overall selection in the 2015 draft on Monday night. Randolph played short in high school, but like many high school shortstops, he doesn’t project to stay there in the pros, and Johnny Almaraz has already stated the club will force him off the infield in his pro debut, likely at Williamsport in the rookie level New York Penn League. That’s a fairly aggressive assignment for a high school kid, and it speaks to his hit tool being one of the strongest among prep players in this year’s draft. The club obviously feels he’ll handle himself at the plate while he works on ramping up his defense in left field. Continue reading…

All Signs Point To Kyle Tucker (Maybe)

It’s been a kind of Magic Eight Ball draft season for the Phillies, who pick number 10 tonight. We heard Vanderbilt RHP Walker Buehler’s name at that pick a couple times, mostly a couple weeks ago now, and that’s tapered off as his stock slips a little into the mid-teens. We’ve more recently been hearing the Phils like Tyler Stevenson, a catcher from Kennesaw Mountain HS in Georgia, or maybe a college bat (Cincinnati 2B/CF Ian Happ has been mentioned, and Scout.com still has him as The Phils pick as of their last mock). But the rumblings started last night when FanGraphs Kiley McDaniel (@KileyMcD) tweeted that several lower names could be picked in the Top 10 based on signability issues.

Then this morning, for the first time, we have mock drafts with a player from the seven or eight guys at the top of most boards available when the Phils pick tonight. That someone is Kyle Tucker. BA’s John Manuel and MLB.com‘s Jon Mayo and Jim Callis all have the Plant HS (FL) OF falling to the Phils. For the record, I would be totally fine with that turn of events. (FYI – McDaniel has yet to release his final mock, though follow him on Twitter and I’m sure you’ll hear about it this afternoon, and since publishing this post, Keith Law put his Insider Mock up at ESPN with Tucker the pick as well).

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Promotion Time

The start of June has typically signaled the start of promotion season in Minor League baseball. Two months at a level is a pretty good benchmark for many guys – everyday players are generally approaching 200 PAs, starting pitchers have 8-10 starts under their belts, and relievers are often 25+ innings into their campaigns. And mid-month is the draft, the end of Extended Spring Training, the start of short season/rookie leagues, and the mid-point of the five month full-season leagues. So lots of opportunity for movement.

In many cases, what it amounts to is an organizational question, not necessarily a prospect question. Some of the guys mentioned below are not really “prospects” in the sense that you look at them to have an impact on the big club in the future. But don’t discount them all; the players who surprise from the rank and file, the non-prospects, are often the same guys having big seasons like those organizational guys I mention below.

Lehigh Valley (AAA) – Aside from thinking it’s a waste to have Dom Brown spending time at AAA when we need to see if he can do anything at MLB, I don’t see much going on at AAA that would warrant a promotion. Continue reading…