Crash Bag Vol. 23: The One About Pitching

The MLB draft is this week. The Phillies will have the 8th overall pick and widely expected to take a college player. No one can really decide on whether it will be a hitter or a pitcher, so we will see some time Monday afternoon what direction they will go. Until then, let’s talk about some players already in the system.

For now the best place to ask questions is on Twitter, either @ me (@Matt_Winkelman or @CrashburnAlley). But you can also reply in the comments here and I will will have some sort of better way for future mailbags.

@twitrunner8: Know we have some high ceiling talent in lower levels, but what SPs above A-ball, have the best chance to be #1 or #2 starters?

I don’t think any of the Phillies starters in AA or AAA have the ability to be a #1 or a #2 starter. I like Drew Anderson, but if everything breaks right he is probably a #3. #3 starters are really valuable, and the Phillies will be very happy if Anderson is a #3, but that isn’t your question. The thing is, front of the rotation starting prospects are rare, and they are especially rare in the upper minors where some off the shine of future projection has worn off. I pulled up Baseball America’s updated Top 100 from May, and went through it for AA/AAA starting pitchers with #1 or #2 ceilings. Continue reading…

Is Odubel Herrera Back?

Odubel Herrera ended the month of May sporting a 51 wRC+ and just 0.3 WAR. After two seasons in which the Rule 5 pick was arguably the Phillies’ best player, Herrera received a five year extension that established him as the first building block of the rebuild to be signed long term. He was one of several Phillies, including Jerad Eickhoff, Maikel Franco, and Tommy Joseph, who have experienced significant drop-offs in production the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Monstars roamed the earth.

Since the calendar turned to June, coinciding with a several-game sabbatical imposed by Pete Mackanin, Herrera has done nothing but tear the cover off the ball. In five games, Herrera has hit .550/.571/1.300 including 2 home runs and 9 doubles. He also recorded his first walk in nearly a month. The outburst has raised Herrera’s wRC+ 31 points to a somewhat respectable 82. He’s accumulated 0.9 WAR in that time, and now rates middle-of-the-pack among centerfielders in terms of value. Continue reading…

Headline Writers Rejoice: Fien to the Majors

Last night it came out that the Phillies would be dealing with their bullpen debacle with designating Joely Rodriguez for assignment. Today they announced that they have brought up RHP Casey Fien to take Joely’s spot in the bullpen. The Phillies bullpen is populated with bad pitchers and while you can debate whether Joely Rodriguez is the worst of them, he is certainly part of the problem. This left the Phillies with Adam Morgan as the only left handed pitcher on the roster. Instead of calling up a left like Hoby Milner (who did pitch 2.1 innings last night) or a psuedo lefty like Pat Venditte, the Phillies went with Fien who they purchased from Seattle in early May. Continue reading…

Tommy Joseph is Having a Platoon Problem

With Odubel Herrera re emerging in June and Howie Kendrick returning to the lineup on fire, the number of questions facing the Phillies offense have reduced some. Maikel Franco continues to be an enigma, and one that probably deserves an entire week of columns to decipher the problems with his season. Meanwhile, Tommy Joseph has cooled off again, and Michael Saunders has been shoved to the bench. The problem is that both are not doing their primary job well. This seems a simple thing to say about bad players, but part of this season is about dealing with player’s strengths and weaknesses and finding who is at least a bit player on a good team. In the case of Joseph, he is not hitting left handed pitchers well, and it is dragging down his whole profile.

Last year, Joseph was mostly Ryan Howard’s platoon partner as the Phillies gave the veteran slugger his farewell tour. In that role, Joseph was masterful.

PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% BABIP wRC+
100 .281 .350 .562 10.0% 19.0% .281 140

Continue reading…

2017 DSL Phillies (Red and White) Season Preview

Even though their major league team is much improved (or looked like it would be), the future of the Phillies rests in their minor leagues. Not every prospect will come up to help the major league team, some will be traded, and some will stumble along the way. Today we continue Crashburn’s preview of the minor league system with the two DSL teams. The goal is to give a quick overview of the team and the top prospects.

For American fans, it is difficult to obtain consistent reports of complex leagues like the GCL. For the Dominican Summer League, there are no reports, there are only box scores. Occasionally there are one liners that trickle out through people like Ben Badler of Baseball America. For the most part we won’t know too much about players until they show up stateside. In this preview I am going to be heavily reliant on Badler’s work. You can read his full writeup of the Phillies’ signing period here.

Quick Pitch:

Because of Jhailyn Ortiz’s giant bonus, last year the Phillies had four prospects of note between their two teams (they signed a 5th in OF Simon Muzziotti after MLB punished the Red Sox). Two of those, SS Jonathan Guzman and C Rafael Marchan, took steps forward, with Guzman establishing himself as one of the top breakout prospects in the system. This past year, the Phillies had the largest international signing bonus pool. They didn’t end up spending the most, but they did spend all of their over $5.6 million pool. The Phillies also did not give any bonuses over $1M, instead they gave over $400,000 to 7 different players with significant bonuses to even more than that. Most of the Phillies signings came from Venezuela, but other countries have representation, with the Phillies returning a pair of Italian pitchers to their DSL rosters. While we might be reduced to scanning box scores, there are plenty of interesting players to watch for everyday. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 22: Gods and Rap Battles

So last week we celebrated a win. This week this best I can do is celebrate that it is no longer May.

For now the best place to ask questions is on Twitter, either @ me (@Matt_Winkelman or @CrashburnAlley). But you can also reply in the comments here and I will will have some sort of better way for future mailbags.

@StelliniTweets: Can the Phanatic beat Mr. Met in a rap battle?

The answer is of course, but keep in mind his words are more of the visual style. Continue reading…

The Phillies Have Starting Pitching Depth?

The Phillies were supposed to have a young rotation full of upside. They were supposed to have depth on the way to fill in any cracks. As we open June, the rotation is still young, with only Jeremy Hellickson over 26 years old. They have had cracks, as Vince Velasquez joins Clay Buchholz on the DL. They have had depth that has been shoved in the cracks in a desperate attempt to hold the whole thing together. Right now the rotation is Hellickson, a struggling Jerad Eickhoff, and a fresh off the disabled list Aaron Nola. Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin have had their shot at the rotation and have had mixed success, but both are in AAA right now. The Phillies have two rotation spots to fill and a lot of depth to fill them, but is it really going to hold back a complete collapse? Continue reading…

Jared Eickhoff’s Off Speed Struggles

It is hard to pinpoint positives in this year’s Phillies season. The hitters haven’t hit, the bullpen spent about a month blowing every game that was remotely close, and a young starting rotation has seen every member take a step back. Arguably the best pitcher of that group is Jerad Eickhoff, but through 2 months he has yet to really look like himself. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 21: Can the Phillies Develop Pitchers

The Phillies won a game!

For now the best place to ask questions is on Twitter, either @ me (@Matt_Winkelman or @CrashburnAlley). But you can also reply in the comments here and I will will have some sort of better way for future mailbags.

@babsell_champ: Do the Phillies have a pitching dev issue in the minors? Their top young starters Nola and Eickhoff came into the org fairly polished.

It is always difficult to figure out who is to blame for a lack of development. The coaching staff is always a good place to start, but sometimes guys lose or gain velocity, sometimes a pitcher’s big breakthrough is someone else showing them a pitch grip. It isn’t that it is all random, it is that it is all noisy. Another problem with judging all of this is the timeline, when the Phillies rebuild began in earnest, the system was essentially bare, so any homegrown pitchers are really just starting to reach to the upper minors. Before going into that group, let’s take a look at the minor league pitchers brought in during the various trades. Continue reading…

Howie Kendrick to Begin Rehab Assignment

The Phillies have been really bad. This has moved most discussions about the team to focus on how to fix the Phillies. In the wake of Daniel Nava’s injury and Michael Saudners’ poor start the focus has shifted to calling up Roman Quinn. It does appear the Phillies have some outfield help on the way, just not in the form of the 24 year old speedster. Instead this happened today.

Continue reading…