Monday Morning Roundtable: Trying to be Optimistic About Young Pitching

We are kicking off a new series here, well really an old series just reborn. It is the return of the roundtable where the writers here weigh in on some topics about the Phillies. The goal is touch on some things that don’t fully warrant a bunch of words or might be too depressing to sit down and write a piece about. This week we attempt to be positive about the Phillies.

Since the injuries to Clay Buchholz, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez we have gotten a chance to see two of the Phillies’ young starters in Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta. What are your initial impressions of the pair and does either of them give you any confidence about their future?

Michael: I haven’t yet watched a Ben Lively start, so I’m not going off much visually. But I don’t think I need much visually to realize that a 5.9% K% is bad. Or that a 3.4% HR/FB% isn’t sustainable. Or that walking three guys for every two you strike out isn’t a recipe for success. I’ll have to actually watch him before I get too in depth, but the early returns are far from encouraging, despite the 70 ERA-. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 24: Did You Know the Phillies Drafted Some Baseball Players?

The draft was this week and I am struggling to think about things that are not the draft.

In draft news, but actually on the topic of the Crash Bag, this will no longer be just me writing the Crash Bag after this week. Instead the Crash Bag will be written by a different Crashburn writer each week, including some appearances by some Crashburn writers who are too busy with actual real world things to regularly contribute. You can still send your questions to me on twitter and I will forward them on, you can also send them to the Crashburn Twitter or whichever writer is doing over for the week. If you aren’t on twitter you can send post them in the comments here until I figure out a good email address for them.

@DashTreyhorn: Are the Phillies *really* this bad?

No, but they are pretty bad. Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong, has gone wrong for the 2017 Phillies. They have lost Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez, Clay Buchholz, and Cesar Hernandez to injuries at various points in time. Their big free agent signing in Michael Saunders has been incredibly bad. All of their young players other than Aaron Altherr are having worse statistical seasons. Their young pitching has been ineffective when it has come up. The bullpen picked the only good stretch by the team to be a complete disaster. Jeremy Hellickson just stopped being about to pitch competently. Continue reading…

Phillies Draft Day 2 Recap

After taking Virginia’s Adam Haseley and Caly Poly’s Spencer Howard in the first two rounds, the Phillies faced 8 rounds of picking players. Yesterday was a lazy jaunt, today was a slow descent into madness. By the 7th round Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis were glued to their phones hoping scouts would bail them out with reports on players that they had never heard of. It only devolved from there as teams took college seniors to save money to spend later. In the end the Phillies walked away with a mixed group of players and the greatest mystery of the draft so far.

So who did they take?

3rd Round – Connor Seabold – RHP – Cal State Fullerton

Seabold comes out of the same college as current IronPigs starter Thomas Eshelman, and draws a lot of similar reviews. Seabold has slightly more velocity than Eshelman, but his command might be a step his fellow Titan. Unless he makes a sudden unexpected improvement, Seabold should be a quick moving back end starter, and he could reach the majors as soon as 2019 if the Phillies want to push him. Continue reading…

Phillies Take Cal Poly RHP Spencer Howard with the 45th Pick

Phillies Scouting Director Johnny Almaraz said they liked this year’s college pitching crop, and they used their second pick to dip into that group. Howard was not rated highly by public scouting sources with MLB Pipeline coming in the highest at #99. The Phillies came right out and called him a potential front line starter.

This would put them much higher on him than the public sources. The general consensus is that he sits 92-94 touching 96 and that he has good slider and then a usable cutter and changeup. Many seen him as a reliever, and potentially a quick moving one. Continue reading…

Phillies Take Virginia CF Adam Haseley with the 8th Pick

Mickey Moniak, Cornelius Randolph, Aaron Nola, J.P. Crawford, Shane Watson, Mitch Gueller, Larry Greene Jr., Jesse Biddle, Anthony Hewitt, Zach Collier, Joe Savery, Travis d’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, Adrian Cardenas, Greg Golson, Cole Hamels, Gavin Floyd. The thing those 17 names have in common is that they were taken in the first round of the draft by the Phillies in the 17 years between when the Phillies selected a hitter out of college (the last was Chase Utley out of UCLA in 2000). In that time period the Phillies have been one of the worst drafting teams in the majors. There are some hits, but a lot of guys who couldn’t hit. In Adam Haseley the Phillies have the guy we always wanted them to take. He combines high level hitting ability in one of the best conferences in college as well as the scouting reports to back it up.

On the scouting side here is what the internet had to say about him. Continue reading…

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…