Philadelphia Phillies

Scouting Report: The NL East is oozing with young shortstop talent

The NL East is loaded with young shortstop talent. While they have been acquired through different means, these four young prospects are sure to excite fans up and down the east coast for the next decade and a half. Sorry Marlins fans, this one isn’t for you.

  1. Trea Turner, Washington Nationals

Acquired in a 3-team deal in December of 2014:

Nationals Acquired: SS Trea Turner, RHP Joe Ross (from SD)

Padres Acquired: OF Wil Myers, RHP Gerardo Reyes, RHP Jose Castillo and C Ryan Hannigan (From TB)

Rays Acquired: C Rene Rivera, RHP Brunch Smith, 1B Jake Bauers (From SD) and OF Steven Souza and LHP Travis Ott (from WAS)

2016 Review:

Trea Turner, despite Dusty Baker’s best efforts to keep him in the Minors for all of eternity, was an absolute stud in his rookie campaign. Turner burst on to the scene to the tune of a .342 AVG., 13 HR’s, 40 RBI’s and 33 SB’s in only 73 games.

Turner finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting while playing out of position. While Turner appeared in 45 games in CF and 42 at 2B last year, he will take over at SS this season. The fact that Turner was playing a new position (CF) and still producing offensively tells me that the kid is mentally tough.

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Trea Turner by Keith Allison

In 2015, MLB Pipeline rated Turner as a 55 Arm and 50 Fielding, which equates to him being an average to above average MLB shortstop. Combine this with his unique offensive skill set, Turner is sure to be an All Star caliber player in the nation’s capital.

2017 Preview:

Turner is primed to lead the Nationals from the top of the line-up as they look to defend their NL East crown. With hitters like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy following Turner in the line-up, he should be in the mix to lead the National League in runs scored this season. I would not be surprised to see him finish in the top-10 of the NL MVP voting this year, the kid is that good.

Comparison:

Turner’s skill set makes me think of Jose Reyes in his prime, with the potential to be a Jimmy Rollins type of game changer. (By the way, check out J-Roll’s numbers, he is a borderline HoF candidate. Seriously.)

2. Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves

Acquired via trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks:

Braves Acquired: Swanson, RHP Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte

Diamondbacks Acquired: RHP Shelby Miller and Gabe Speier

2016 Review:

Swanson made his MLB debut last season and ended up starting 36 games. In that time, Swanson hit .302 with 3 HR’s and 20 runs scored.

In 2016, MLB Pipeline rated Swanson with:

        Hit: 60         Power: 45          Run: 60         Arm: 55         Field: 55          Overall: 65

While the pressure of being a #1  pick will always follow Swanson, he handled the pressure well last season. Swanson displays a level of grit and leadership that is rare at such a young age.

2017 Preview:

As the Braves open SunTrust Park this year, Swanson is destined to be the face of the franchise. The Braves won’t compete this year, but with their #1 ranked Minor League system, they are not that far away. Swanson will flash a stellar glove, provide some pop and keep the southern belles wanting to run their hands through his serious flow. This guy plays hard and will lead the Braves in their rebuilding process.

Comparison:

Swanson reminds me of a more talented Brandon Crawford, but not quite a Derek Jeter. I think that the fans in Atlanta (East Cobb, whatever) would love if Swanson could be Robin Yount. 

3. Amed Rosario, New York Mets

Acquired by the Mets via International Free Agency in July of 2012 (1.75 million dollar signing bonus).

2016 Review:

Rosario continued to dazzle in his fourth season of professional baseball. Rosario, as he has throughout his career, competed against players who were much older than him in A+ and AA, but he excelled. Rosario hit a combined .324 AVG with 5 HR’s and 19 SB’s.

Rosario was recently ranked by MLB Pipeline as:

Hit: 50         Power: 45          Run: 60         Arm: 65         Field: 55          Overall: 60

While he is projected to have a better arm than Swanson, he is not seen to be as good of a hitter. However, Rosario has continued to hit at a higher clip as he climbs through the Minor Leagues (.342 AVG in AA in ’16) and is making noise in Mets camp this spring.

2017 Preview:

Despite hitting well in Spring Training (currently 5-for-16) Rosario is destined to head to the Minors to start 2017. He is only 21 years old. But with the long history of injuries to nearly all of the players that Mets have penciled in for their infield, Rosario could find his way to Flushing sooner rather than later.

Comparison: Rosario reminds me a bit of a young Edgar Renteria or Starlin Castro. I think that is his basement, with the potential to be a Barry Larkin type of player.

4. J.P. Crawford, Philadephia Phillies

Acquired via the 2013 MLB Draft, 1st Round, 16th Pick.

2016 Review:

Crawford is listed by MLB Pipeline and a number of other scouting services to be the Phillies top prospect, but he struggled in 2016.In his age 21 season, Crawford scuffled to hit .250 between AA and AAA while socking just 7 HR’s. Because Crawford fell short of expectations, he never made it to the Majors last season as many had expected.

Crawford was recently ranked by MLB Pipeline as:

Hit: 60         Power: 40          Run: 50         Arm: 60         Field: 65          Overall: 60

If all else fails, Crawford should provide gold glove defense up the middle for the Phillies sometime this summer. Not bad.

2017 Preview:

While it was disappointing to see Crawford flatline in 2016, the Phils are hoping it was a temporary setback. Crawford is destined to be in the Majors by mid-June and should play everyday for a team that is a few years away from competing. Crawford will dazzle Phillies fans with his glove, but must advance with the stick this season. Crawford is hitting under .200 in Spring Training, but this should not delay his promotion. Crawford has more pressure on him in 2017 than any of the aforementioned shortstops. 

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J.P. Crawford by Ian D’Andrea

Comparison: This one is tough after such a letdown of a year. Best case, maybe Omar Vizquel? A common comparison could be someone like Adrelton Simmons. I see more of a Shawon Dunston or Royce Clayton type of career for Crawford.

Conclusion: 

As a fan of the NL East, I am drooling just thinking about not one, but two of these guys on the same field on a regular basis. While all have serious talent, Turner is the most proven, Swanson the best all-around, Rosario with the highest ceiling and Crawford seems (at this point) to be a step behind. It sure will be fun to watch.

Comment below if you have any thoughts or opinions to share.

**Rosario photo credit to slgckgc of Flickr **

Baseball is Back: Spring Training notes and more

Good Morning and happy Friday! There were three Spring Training games yesterday, all pitting Major League clubs against college teams. Thankfully, all were able to avoid an embarrassing loss to their amateur opponents. While the scores are largely irrelevant, it is fun to report a score and a few statistics. Spring Training action continues today with six games, five of which are exclusively Major League teams.

Back to yesterday:

Phillies 6, University of Tampa 0

Is that Mark Leiter? Yes! Mark Leiter, Jr. is a prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies and started the game yesterday. Leiter spent all of last year at AA, going 6-3 in 17 starts and 23 total appearances. Leiter pitched one perfect inning yesterday.

Leadoff hitter Roman Quinn spurred the Philadelphia offense, going 2-for-3 with a solo HR in the third. Quinn is listed as the Phillies 7th Overall Prospect by MLB.com, and even earned a cup of coffee in the Bigs last season. With an impressive spring, Quinn could be in Philadelphia sooner rather than later.

This game saw a collection of Phillies prospects, including JP Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, Dylan Cozens and Scott Kingery take the field.

Red Sox 9, Northeastern University 6

The hometown (…kind of home away from home?) fans were treated to a number of Major League players yesterday when Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland and Pablo Sandoval played against Northeastern University.

In his first game action for the BoSox, Moreland hit a three run HR in the third. The Red Sox will be counting on Moreland to replace some of the power that retired when Big Papi retired at the end of last season.

I really wanted to write this article without talking about Pablo Sandoval. I’m sick of reading about how many calories he ingests in the fifth inning of Thursday games played after a double header…UGH. But give Panda credit, he is only 30 years old and is looking to bounce back after only playing three games last season.

LHP Brian Johnson (26 years old) started the game for Boston, hurling two no-hit innings while striking out three.

Tigers 8, Florida Southern College 0

Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus penciled in a number of Major League players in his starting line-up on Thursday, as the team defeated FSC.

Third baseman Nick Castellanos doubled and catcher James McCann drove in a run as the Tigers pitching held the Moccasins (the snake, not the footwear) scoreless.

 

Check back tomorrow for a comprehensive review of the games that are going on today and sometime this weekend for a preview of the NL East- the land of topflight shortstop prospects. Good day!

 

Phillies Farm Report: Crawford and Williams have a lot to prove before making the jump

Earlier today, MLB.com announced their top-30 prospect list for the Philadelphia Phillies. Ben Harris (@Ben27Harris) of Crashburn Alley published a comprehensive review of the MLB.com’s evaluation and offered his own feelings on the prospects that were discussed. Check out the article, it is really well done.

Taking a look at a couple of the top prospects in the organization, I am less than impressed. As Harris noted, J.P. Crawford (#1) and Nick Williams (#3) seem to have flat lined in 2016.

After hitting .288 between A+ and AA in 2015, Crawford scuffled to the tune of a .250 AVG. between AA and AAA. Crawford’s OBP also fell from .380 to .349. To be fair, Crawford was only 21 years old last season and competing against players that are much older than him at both levels.

While a dip in numbers would be expected, especially for a young player at the upper levels of the minor leagues, it is a bit troubling. When comparing Crawford’s numbers to those of Mets top-prospect Amed Rosario, they are rather pedestrian. Rosario was hitting .309 before his promotion from A-ball to AA, where he then went on to hit .341 in 214 AB’s. Rosario was only 20 years old last season.

Trea Turner, another superstar shortstop prospect from the NL East (article coming on that tomorrow), also adjusted to AAA ball better than Crawford. Turner was 22 years old when he made the jump to AAA in 2015, and he continued to hit for a high AVG (.314) and hit .302 for a few months at AAA in 2016.

As for Nick Williams, his first season at AAA was pretty average. Hitting .258 with 13 HR’s and a weak .287 OBP. Williams also struck out 136 times in 497 AB’s. Throughout his career in the minors, Williams has struck out in more than 25% of his AB’s.

While Mickey Moniak, Sixto Sanchez (great baseball name) and Daniel Brito all made the list and seem to have plenty of upside and momentum, they are years away.

Crawford and Williams will need to improve in 2017 to legitimize their place at the top of the Phillies prospect rankings and ultimately earn their place on the Major League roster. This is a year of transition for the organization, and both should be playing a role in the show by the All-Star break. Spring Training and the first few months of the season will be pivotal in their overall growth.

Check back tomorrow for an analysis of the next generation of shortstops in the NL East (minus the Miami Marlins).

 

 

 

Lackluster MLB Debut for Phils’ Thompson

Jake Thompson, the 69th ranked prospect by MLB.com, made his Major League debut for the Philadelphia Phillies in San Diego yesterday. The 22-year-old righty, who had dominated AAA earlier this year (11-5, 2.50 ERA and 1.09 WHIP) was shelled by the Padres, giving up 6 ER and 7 hits in just 4.1 innings pitched.

Thompson, who was sent to the Phillies from the Texas Rangers as part of the Cole Hamels deal last season, was recently scouted by Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs. Longenhagen noted some control issues and average potential for most of his pitches. “It’s a league-average starter’s profile for me,” Longenhagen noted.

While Thompson may not be the next Roy Halladay, it looks like the Phils may have something here based on his success in AAA and his projection. Every team needs a quality 4th starter.

NL Rookie Report: Glasnow struggles, Story makes history

On Saturday the Pittsburgh Pirates sent rookie Tyler Glasnow to the hill against the Phillies for his second career start. The 6’8″, 22-year-old rookie struggled, allowing four hits, three walks and maybe of utmost concern, five stolen bases. Glasnow was pulled in the top of the 4th after allowing the first two runners to reach base and with a pitch count nearing 80. Although the rookie had only allowed one earned run, the reputation of not having the best control has reared it’s ugly head in the Bigs. It’ll be interesting to see if the Pirates stick with Glasnow in the rotation going forward as they are in the midst of trying to catch a playoff spot.

In Colorado, fellow NL rookie Trevor Story mashed his 25th home run, breaking the NL rookie record for home runs in a season by a short stop. The record had been held by former Rockies Troy Tulowitzki, who hit 24 home runs in  2007.

Story burst on to the scene this season, catching many across the country by surprise with his ten home run outburst in the month of April. As the Rockies look to unload more of their higher priced players (Carlos Gonzalez, 16.4 million or Jorge De La Rosa, 12.5 million) at the deadline, Story has been a great sight for the home town fans. With some talented pitchers in the minors, Story could be a focal point that of the Rockies rebuilding process.

Morning Six Pack: Eflin blanks the Buccos, Fowler returns with a bang

Two Beers: Zach Eflin, Philadelphia Phillies

Eflin was a beast last night. The 22 year old rookie threw a complete game shut out in Pittsburgh. Only surrendering three hits as he struck out six without walking a single batter. Eflin is 3 and 3 on the year and may be shut down at some point due to inning limitations, but he is quickly proving that he belongs in the long range plans of the Phillies.

One Beer: Tyler Lyons, St. Louis Cardinals

In the 16 inning marathon that was the game between the Cardinals and Dodgers, Lyons entered the game in the 11th inning and was sensational out of the ‘pen. Lyons went 4.2, only allowing one hit and striking out two. Lyons’ effort allowed the Cardinals to keep all of their starting pitchers fresh for the rest of the weekend, while the Dodgers were forced to use starter Bud Norris for 1.1 in relief. The Cardinals won on a walk-off home run by slugger Matt Adams.

One Beer: Matt Kemp, San Diego Padres

Kemp blasted two home runs in the Padres 5 to 3 win over the NL East leading Nationals. In the nation’s capital, Kemp took starter Tanner Roark deep in the 1st and 5th inning. Kemp finished 2 for 4 with 4 RBI’s.

One Beer: Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins

Kyle Gibson was brilliant in Boston last night, holding the Red Sox to only two hits over eight innings. Gibson struck out six on his way to his third win of the season. The Twins won the game 2 to 1.

One Beer: Dexter Fowler, Chicago Cubs

Folwer returned from the DL in a big way on Friday night. Fowler blasted a lead-off homer off of Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson and would go on to add two more hits, including a double. He finished the night 3 for 4 with two runs scored and three RBI’s. The Cubs won the game 5 to 2 in Milwaukee.

BoSox blow out Twins, Yelich stays hot against Phils

Dustin Pedroia went 5 for 5 and David Ortiz mashed his 24th home run of the season, leading the Red Sox past the Twins 13 to 2.

Pedroia had two doubles and scored three runs in the rout. Knuckleballer Steven Wright threw eight innings against the last place Twins, surrendering four hits while striking out nine to improve to 12 and 5 on the year.

Twins starter Tyler Duffey did not make it out of the third inning and saw his record fall to 5 and 7.

The Red Sox have won nine of their last ten and are a half game ahead of the Orioles in the AL East.


The Miami Marlins punded out 16 hits against the Phils in the City of Brotherly Love this evening, cruising to a 9-3 win.

Christian Yelich slammed a solo shot in the 4th off of Jared Eickhoff. Yelich had six hits in the four game set in Philadelphia and two home runs. Tom Koehler went eight innings and only allowed two hits and one earned, bringing his record to 7 and 8 on the season.

The Marlins head back to Miami for a big weekend series against the Mets and will throw southpaw Adam Conley against Logan Verrett in the opener.