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…

Crash Bag, Vol. 94: Ben Wetzler Lightning Round

NBA trade deadline, labor strife, Little Big League…we’ve got it all this week.

@truelladelphia: “How great is Sam Hinkie?”

Pretty great. Early in the season, I had an expectation of getting at least one first-round pick (either this year or next) for Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes, but that stopped being realistic a while ago, thanks to the quality of this year’s draft and the NBA’s inscrutable player movement rules, which gridlocked the draft pick market to a certain extent. Hawes and Turner were both going to walk as free agents this summer anyway, so getting literally anything for them was a win. I would’ve liked to see Hawes go to either Oklahoma City or the Clippers, where I think he could’ve played a significant role on a title contender as a rotation big, but Hinkie got a return on Hawes and Turner while not panic trading Thaddeus Young for 50 cents on the dollar. Second-round NBA draft picks are one of the most useless commodities in sports, but this is where the Astros comparison I’ve been harping on all year comes in–if you take over a team without serious assets, you bide your time by placing a bunch of long-shot bets until you can get some assets. Anyway, Hinkie got rid of three veterans (including Lavoy Allen) for which he had no use and took on a net of either five or six (almost certainly six) second-round draft picks. A smart team can get one rotation player out of six second-round picks, or trade them for something else. This is the guy trading the red paper clip for the house.

Continue reading…

Phillies Prospect Conversation: Kiley McDaniel (ScoutingBaseball.com)

We continue our discussions on the Phillies farm system with Kiley McDaniel, he of MSN’s ScoutingBaseball.com and formerly of ESPN, Baseball Prospectus and some front office work, all before the age of 30. Based in Florida, McDaniel does an enormous amount of in-person work on amateur and Latin American talent and, for our purposes, sees plenty of Florida State League action as well. He provides excellent video content, rock solid scouting opinions and even breaks an occasional news story once in a while, including this doozy. You can also make the case that he has a better head of hair than I do. I wouldn’t, but you could. While Kiley’s stuff is mostly behind a pay wall (it’s absolutely worth it if you’re a hardcore baseball geek) his Phillies list is not. Lucky you. Here’s our discussion: Continue reading…

Longenhagen’s 2014 College Scouting Schedule

I did this last year so I figured I might as well publish it again. This is my college baseball scouting schedule for the spring. In addition to these games (most of which are probably withing driving distance of Eastern Pennsylvania readers) I’ll also be seeing a handful of prep players (Liam Sabino, Joe Gatto, Devin Smletzer, etc.). Now I won’t get to all of these games and I don’t expect to write about any of these kids for Crashburn so I’m only posting this is for you, the readers. If you’re looking for a reason to see more baseball this spring (including baseball in late February and March when there isn’t any other way to get it) or to expand your horizons as an observer by watching baseball in a strange and interesting environment, this list is a nice guide for you to follow.

The chart is fairly self-explanatory. Players are sorted by conference and then by school. I have the dates those players are within driving distance of me and, in the next column, the schools at which they play for those dates. I have notable players emboldened. The first date on the list? East Carolina’s Jeff Hoffman comes to Virginia on February 21st. Some people think Hoffman has a case to go 1-1 in the upcoming draft. I’ll find out whether or not that merits consideration when, on March 21st, I go to College Park to see Carlos Rodon. There’s more going on in the northeast than usual this year and I encourage you to get off you ass and check it out. If anyone has questions I’ll answer them in the comments. Happy scouting. Continue reading…

The Future is Unwritten: Yoel Mecias

“So, who’s your guy?”

This is the question that former Baseball Prospectus prospect writer and current Houston Astros Scouting Director, Kevin Goldstein, would ask current BP prospect writer, Jason Parks, as they were about to finish discussing a team’s farm system on the now defunct Up and In Podcast. The vague simplicity of the question is a bit misleading. Really what the question means is, “What player deep in Team X’s system do you like more than the rest of the industry and media seem to? Who’s your favorite sleeper in the system?”

Yoel Mecias is my guy. Continue reading…

The Future is Unwritten: Zach Green

A regularly discussed factor in prospect evaluation is risk. The youngest prospects, while often possessing tremendous upside, have a long developmental road to travel before they can reach the Majors. Often, somewhere along the way they take a wrong turn and end up lost, short, an organizational player. AS we project prospects we have to be mindful of the number and degree of difficulty of the developmental hurdles a teenage player must clear on his way up the farm system. Third baseman Zach Green is no different. Green’s ceiling is quite solid, that of an above average everyday player. If everything breaks right for him the Phillies are looking at a decent defensive third baseman with well above average power, enough to make up the acceptable amount of swing and miss in his game. The great, yawning chasm between that optimal outcome and where Green is now will take years to close. 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…

Scouting Notes from Nine Baseball’s MLK Invitational

This past Martin Luther King Day I had the opportunity to attend Nine Baseball’s invitation-only tryout for East Coast high schoolers at the Pocono Dome. I’ve included my notes on most of the notable young men in attendance below. I wanted to get these up sooner but a death in the family has prevented me from doing so until now. Amateur baseball in the northeast is generally poor because the weather only lends itself to favorable baseball conditions for maybe 5 months. As such, I have a tendency to be optimistic about even the most mediocre pro prospects in the area because there are so few of them at all. Keep that in mind as you read. Also, there were 60 players in attendance and I regretfully couldn’t write up every one of them. There were several players whose names are underlined and starred on my scouting sheet that don’t get mentioned here because of time and space, but they are noteworthy nonetheless. Kids like Luke Bonfield, Kyle Stinson, Gavin Sheets and Endy Sanchez, just to name a few, are all really interesting young baseball players who I liked quite a bit but decided not to include bulky reports on in the notes that follow. If you’re one of the players from the event and don’t see your name below I encourage you to bust your ass in school and at practice to make me look like an idiot. Until then, let’s discuss the kids that stood out to me. Continue reading…

The Future is Unwritten: Larry Greene

I enjoy violent contrast in tone and mood in my entertainment. There’s just something about it that tickles me. In high school, I wrote a very uplifting short story called, “Charlie’s Bucket,” for Mr. Whitehead’s sophomore English class. In that story, a little boy named Charlie is new at school and is struggling to make friends. He decides, in desperation, to “make” himself a friend using some things he finds lying around in his family’s shed. As you may be able to guess based on the story’s title, he uses a bucket for the head. He returns to school and starts to talk about his new friend, who sounds awesome, around the other kids. The other children at school start to think, “Gee, if Charlie has such a cool friend, he must be pretty cool.” They start to take to Charlie before learning of the bucket. By then, however, they realize that when Charlie was talking about how nice and fun his “friend” was, he was actually describing himself. The kids at school realize this, totally understand and embrace Charlie. The End. Continue reading…