A Glimpse of Maikel Franco

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Phillies are bad. They’ve been bad for quite a while, and as the calendar flipped from August to September, they were…still bad. So when rosters expanded this month and top prospect Maikel Franco was summoned to the big leagues, it made sense to expect the Phillies to give Franco a good, long look at third base.

Yeah, not so much. In 20 games this month, Franco has 48 at bats (for those wondering, that’s 50 plate appearances; he’s not the most patient guy at the plate). The franchise that has so little in the way of young, projectable talent, and so little to play for as the season winds down, has given its best young position player not named J.P. Crawford a whopping total of 50 plate appearances this month.

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It’s Minor League Recap Season!!!

On Tuesday, Jeff Moore from Baseball Prospectus and MLB Prospect Watch posted, to the latter site, his Organizational Recap of the Phillies 2014 Minor League Season. He highlighted J.P. Crawford, Jesse Biddle, Maikel Franco, Willians Astudillo and Aaron Nola for various positive, and in Biddle’s case, negative reasons. With that in mind, I’d like to take some time to talk about a bunch of deeper Phillies high and low lights that someone from a national publication might not find interesting enough to mention, but that you ought to know about or I wanted to mention in order to make a joke.

Best Surprise/Still Most Confusing:

Brian PointerI talked about Pointer extensively earlier in the year on this site, when he was white hot. He cooled a bit but finished strong, capping off a monster of a second half with a really solid .866 OPS in August, to finish with a wRC+ of 117 at age 22 in a league with plenty of 22-year-olds. His K Rate is a big issue in his game, as is whether the bat profiles in a corner OF spot. My big issue remains that I have seen no scouting on him all year and he’s not slated to play in the Arizona Fall League or even the Florida Instructional League (FIL). So for now, I will pretend like I’ve seen a whole mess of scouting on him and it’s all good. Sometimes fooling myself is just easier than trying to put logic to my gut feelings. I am not ashamed.

Best Comeback:

Roman Quinn – This is a tough category, as two well known guys made strides after significant injuries. Willians “ISOed Less Than Erick Aybar” Astudillo came back from knee surgery to have a fine year at the plate, and caught a fair number of games, (which is huge for his value), but really, Quinn has to be the pick here. Continue reading…

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…

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…

Swing Appetizer: Cord Sandberg

Hey everybody. Obviously with me in Arizona I can’t see your guys and therefore can’t give you longform reports or updates on the guys in the Philadelphia system.  But the magic of the internet gives me access to video and the little Buncha Crunch sized scouting goodness it provides. Do you guys like Buncha Crunch? Me too. Stick some in the next batch of brownies you make or straight up mix it with your popcorn when you next go to the movies. We need Dark Chocolate Buncha Crunch. Anyway, no amount of video provides you with enough information to write full scouting reports, but it gives me the opportunity to do little pieces like this that zoom in on a few dots of the Georges Seurat painting that is scouting.

So what we have here is video are some short snippets of batting practice in Williamsport that was shot by Mitch Rupert who covers the Crosscutters for the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. Go find and follow Mitch on Twitter, he’s posting more and more pop times and run times every day. Let’s talk about each of these swings and what clues they give us regarding our overall assessment of the player while keeping in mind that these are just BP swings, and in-game swings are always a better source of information than these things are. Again, this is but a miniscule part of the scouting process. Here is the video. I’ll spread these out, doing an individual player in each post. We start with Cord Sandberg, whose session lasts from the 7 second mark in the video until about the 50 second mark. Refer back to the video and my text constantly as you read, this piece should be consume slowly and indulgently if you’re going to extract any real value from it. Continue reading…

dog in uniform

A Pointer In Heat (Eww…sorry)

The image I was hoping to find was a Pointer holding a baseball. Instead I found what you see here. I’m a huge fan. And it’s only $10 on Etsy. Anyway…

Sometimes guys get hot. Sometimes it means nothing. Sometimes it means everything. Sometimes you have no way of knowing until a scout gets there and gets a look, or two or three. But there’s plenty for the rest of us to look at in the meantime.

Brian Pointer is a 22-year-old, lefty-hitting corner outfielder. He was a relatively high dollar sign in 2010, out of the 28th round of the draft. He took a $350k bonus to skip his commitment to Oregon State (and perhaps saved himself a snitching to the NCAA). Continue reading…

Phillies Sign Teenagers From Foreign Countries

The Phillies signed three notable players from the International Amateur Free Agent market yesterday. I’ll run them down, and give you a bit of an overview of how the system works.

It’s been widely reported that Venezuelan SS Arquimedes Gamboa signed for $900k. He was BA’s #8 overall July 2 prospect, and Baseball America’s Ben Badler said that at his bonus level, he could “end up being one of the better values at the top of the market”. His 70 grade name aside, (it’s no Rock Shoulders), the “pen to paper” image of him makes him seems like a pretty small dude. Not uncommon for a shortstop.

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Cord Sandberg: Shiny New Thing/Fast Car/Lion/Rose

Sometimes, when you’re looking at a shiny new thing, the “thing” blinds you for a little bit. Because of the shininess.

– Soon-To-Be-Popular Modern Saying

Cord Sandberg is like a 2013 Roadster. He’s maybe lost some of that “new car smell” from a summer spinning his tires around the Gulf Coast of Florida, but his engine still alternately purrs like a kitten and roars like a lion. He’s currently sitting on an every-game-of-the-young-season hitting streak of 12 games, which has gotten some around the internets all abuzz with J.P.-Crawfordian good-time super-happy feelings. And while Sandberg and Crawford came out of the same draft class, and had far different levels of success in 2013, both have put together hot streaks in 2014 that make you look up and wonder if the kitten is actually a lion cub growing up before our very eyes, and lying in wait to ambush and eat his opponent…which I’ll readily admit, would get either of them suspended for nine FIFA matches or released by the Dodgers. Resist the urge, Boys. Continue reading…