I Didn’t Know We Had Zac Efron (It’s Zach Eflin, Mom)

No, my mom didn’t say that to me. But she might. (If I ever bothered to call her).

Did you know Zac Efron is a Dodger fan? I mean, I guess he is. Getty shows him at a Dodger game once, wearing a Dodger cap. Though it was hard to resist him standing with Barry Bonds on the Red Carpet for High School Musical 3. Anyway, Efron’s a Dodger guy, and so, for a minute, was Zach Eflin.

Eflin came through LA on his way from San Diego to Philly in the Jimmy Rollins/Matt Kemp maneuvering the Dodgers pulled off in late fall 2014. It remains to be seen whether the Phils long-time shortstop played his last big league game last week. But the young righthander who was the primary return for a year of his services will make his big league debut today for The Phils, and it should be a night to remember, except it’s the early afternoon getaway day game at Toronto today, (wait, what time is it? Oh, 12:37 EST), as The Phils and Jays do their annual Home and Home 2×2 series which should probably have a name and a trophy like College Football. “The Blue Jay Trophy” would be appropriate, except it seems to weight to The Present Day Jays. We’ll come up with something.

So who is this young man, and what are we to expect from this debut, his start of something new? Continue reading…

Phils Pick RHP Kevin Gowdy, Plus Day 1 Wrap and Sentimental Rambling

With the first pick in round two, and 42nd overall on the night, The Phillies picked RHP Kevin Gowdy from Santa Barbara High School in (wait for it) Santa Barbara, CA. He’ll be an overslot sign to buy out his commitment to UCLA, and he’s been ranked #24 overall by Keith Law, #33 by John Sickels at Minorleagueball.com, #39 by Baseball America, #37 by MLB.com. Sickels is right at the average, and pick 33 this year was worth $1.9M. So probably we can start there and go up. The club likely knows what he’ll take and is ready to nab someone else tomorrow morning at 3.1 with some or all of whatever bonus money’s leftover. Continue reading…

What To Expect When You’re Expecting (Too Much)

I trust you all read Corinne’s piece earlier, and so you’re up on the big picture. I’ll try to get a little more detailed and throw out some of the names that everyone who follows the draft closely has been discussing the last couple weeks and months.

We all have this problem right now. Our team has this very valuable commodity, and they want to turn it into the best player they can. In another year, you may turn that commodity into a Harper, or a Griffey or Rodriguez, or a grown-ass man named Chipper (eww) or Pat the Bat (hmm).

But alas, transcendent talents don’t necessarily come along every year. This year we have a choice between a couple very good college bats with differing levels of risk/reward at the plate and differing levels of defensive ability and speed, a couple prep guys with equally warty baseball complexions due to bust potential and “character” questions, and a Big Old Southpaw from a Big Old College Conference, who would probably be an easy pick if he weren’t so danged inconsistent with his danged command. Yes, I imagine everyone from Florida talks like that.

And such is the conundrum we face, as we wonder just who, in fact, the Phillies will take just after 7pm Thursday night with their hard-earned 99-loss first overall pick in the MLB Draft, (it sure was hard on all of us to watch). The club’s front office’s version of the problem is far worse, of course, as their jobs depend on the answer and the outcome in years to come, but one would hope they’re equipped to deal with it a little better than we are. If not, we all should start rooting for The Cubs or something.

So who is the pick? Continue reading…

Crash Landing: What Does A Phillies Shortstop Look Like?

The first time I saw J.P. Crawford in person was a little more than two years ago. Less than a year after Crawford had been selected sixteenth overall by the Phillies in the 2013 draft, I ventured out to Lakewood with Crashburn’s former prospect writer Eric Longenhagen to get a look at the shortstop who was generating a tremendous amount of hype in the first few months of his professional career. I’d read the reports and had a broad idea of what to expect: a smooth fielder with an advanced approach at the plate. But when the moment finally came and I laid eyes on Crawford for the first time, I was taken aback and overcome by a bizarre instinct that something was wrong. J.P. Crawford didn’t look the part.

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JP Crawford Moved Up To AAA

Are You Down With JPC, In The L.V.?

As reported publicly by the Phillies, top shortstop prospect and excellent dog-haver J.P. Crawford has been promoted to AAA Lehigh Valley. Crawford has played nearly a full year at Reading now, minus a little time off for injury, and put up combined stats that PhilliesMinorThoughts.com’s Matt Winkelman tweeted earlier:

That maybe doesn’t look like a wildly successful hitting campaign for someone touted as having an advanced bat, but the foundation of a very strong offensive game shows – he’s got enough power, plus the discipline and contact ability to keep pitchers working all day long.

Crawford becomes the only 21-year-old in the International League, taking over as the youngest position player from teammate Nick Williams, and the youngest player overall from teammate Jake Thompson.* By nearly a year. That team is stacked. Do you feel that? That’s anticipation. Couple more months and it’ll be downright excitement. Next spring, I may literally explode.** Tell my baby I died thinking about baseball players.

No word yet on whether the dogs will be joining him in Allentown. Hopefully someday they join him in a parade down Broad. (RIP Elvis).

*Update Neither Williams nor Crawford is actually the youngest position player in the Int’l League, it’s Ozzie Albies, and he’s a good bit younger than Crawford (guy’s still 19). He was not appearing on leader boards on BRef because his offensive stats haven’t been very good just yet – my fault. And it was Zach Eflin instead of Jake Thompson – BRef table sort by age totally hosed me there – but now Jose Berrios is back down and he’s younger than Eflin. Lesson for you all and myself – always just use “age” as the “stat” to sort by on BRef. Dang.

**Despite this age-related mess, my enthusiasm remains unbridled. I will still probably die next Spring.

Tommy Joseph Promoted, Darin Ruf Sent Down, Probably

(The original headline of this story implied Darin Ruf had been demoted, because it seems likely and because I am an idiot who forgot to fix it before posting. Sorry, Darin.)

Tommy Joseph, the primary return in the Phillies 2012 trade of Hunter Pence to San Francisco, had his contract selected from Lehigh Valley and will join the club as they begin a nine-game home stand tonight against Cincinnati, according to Jayson Stark and a bunch of the Philly beats. Joseph ever making his MLB debut was far from anyone’s mind just three months ago, but his play in Spring Training and the AAA regular season has certainly warranted the call-up, and his long struggle against injury makes his impending debut, likely tonight against Brandon Finnegan, quite the feel-good story. Really, I feel good about it. Not like, I just got an N64 for Christmas, but pretty good. Continue reading…

Bold Prediction: Tyler Goeddel Will Compete For NL Rookie Of The Year

Corey Seager, Steven Matz, Julio Urias, Trea Turner, Tyler Goeddel. That’s how I see the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year race. There are some studs in this rookie class, but Goeddel is a multi-tooled offensive player, and is not likely to be a defensive liability. If he gets hot, he could put up counting stats that make some of the voters for the writers’ annual Post-Season-Make-Your-Own-News (POSMYON) Awards take notice. Yes, the Posmyons. The statues are lovely. It’s a likeness of William Randolph Hearst orchestrating a war. Ok…maybe that’s a bad comp.

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2016 Phillies Top 30 Prospects

So as was the case in 2015, I am terribly late in writing up my rankings again. Last year I decided to compare my list with a sample of those from around the industry, as compiled by Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman), owner/operator of the terrific site PhilliesMinorThoughts.com. Once again this year, Matt pulled all of the results from around the web and made them available with averages and such. If there was an award for making my life easier, I would nominate Matt. Or the Boon Suds Bottle Washer. Either way.

Last year, my biggest variances from average were Andrew Knapp (I was 10 over the average) and Aaron Altherr (+9), so probably you should assume everything I say here is correct, (as always). Nevermind I had Ricardo Pinto way low (-8). NEVER YOU MIND. Continue reading…

Positional Preview: The Starting Rotation

When the Crashburn Alley crew received its year-end report card assignments for the 2015 season, I somehow managed to end up with the unenviable task of writing up Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, AND Sean O’Sullivan. You can read my thoughts on those three fellows here (Harang), here (Williams), and here (SOS). Without forcing you to relive the tire fire that was the 2015 Phillies starting rotation, I’ll simply say you’re in for a much more pleasant experience this season. Now, with no further discussion of that 2015 rotation ever ever ever, I present your shiny, new Phillies starting pitchers.

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Positional Preview: Prospects

So, let me clear something up here, right off the bat. Maybe you’ve already figured this out, but, technically, “Prospects” is not a position. However, on the 2016 Phillies, prospects are as important a subset of the roster as any. And so, if I haven’t completely blown your mind, I hope you’ll follow along with me as I take a look at a handful of guys who will be worth watching in spring training, and in their minor league seasons at Reading and Lehigh Valley.

Star Potential Up The Middle: J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams

It’s been said before about a thousand times, and I’m not sure I can add much to the conversation here, but let me try: JP Crawford has awesome dogs. Have you seen them? Beautiful. Here’s one of them.

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