Archive for December, 2012

BA Phillies Top Ten Q&A

Monday, December 31st, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, Baseball America released their annual Phillies Top Ten prospect rankings. As we’ve done in years past, we went deeper into those rankings by talking to Matt Forman, the Baseball America writer who compiled them.

As a refresher, 2011 BlueClaws LHP Jesse Biddle topped the list, and likely 2013 BlueClaws SS Roman Quinn was second on the list.

You can follow Matt on Twitter here. Onto the Q&A:

Q: What were the biggest strides Jesse Biddle made over the past season?

Jesse Biddle, the Phillies’ No. 1 prospect entering 2013, has had an incremental climb throughout his young professional career. Really, and the Phillies’ brass has said this multiple times, he has done everything — and more — that’s been asked of him since his signed as their first-round pick in 2010. Last year, Biddle took significant strides in a number of areas. In terms of stuff, Biddle better pitched to both sides of the plate with his fastball. His changeup developed into a swing-and-miss offering. He gained consistency with his curveball, especially in controlling its knee-buckling depth. He also added a slider and a two-seam fastball to his arsenal. All the while, in terms of statistics, Biddle cut his walk rate, improved his whiff rate and bettered his groundball-to-flyball ratio — all positive indicators. When the stats and stuff align, that’s a good sign for any pitching prospect. If Biddle continues progressing the way he has, he could out-perform his projected mid-rotation starter upside.

Q: Roman Quinn ranked #2 on the list and in the write-up you said he was a legit 80-speed on the 20-80 scouting scale. In general, how rare is that 80 designation?

Extremely rare — 80-grade tools are not offered liberally. The 20-80 scouting scale is based on the mathematical normal distribution curve, where 50 is Major League average and every 10-point differential falls one standard deviation from the mean. By literal definition, then, Roman Quinn’s speed should roughly rate among the top 0.1 percent of players — but the system isn’t quite that scientific. That is, probably between 15 and 20 percent of big leaguers have “average” or 50-grade speed, because players slow down (age, size) and speed isn’t as big a part of the game as it once was, though that’s changing. Regardless, Quinn is on the short list of the fastest players in the minor leagues — arguably the fastest player not named Billy Hamilton, of Cincinnati’s system. Quinn’s speed is game-changing, impacting play in the field, at the plate and on the bases.

Q: Quinn was listed in the middle of the pack in the 2012 ratings. What stood out about his 2012 performance and were you surprised about his jump?

I’d say I was somewhat surprised by Quinn’s jump, but not totally shocked. Quinn barely missed the Top 10 last year, coming in at No. 11 on the pre-2012 list after being selected in the second round of the draft, and that ranking was at least partially influenced by the fact that he signed late and made his professional debut in instructional league, so we were largely relying on his amateur reports. In instructs, he impressed observers with his first-step quickness, but he had just committed to switch-hitting and playing shortstop full-time. Really, that’s what stood out about his 2012 performance — his development on the infield dirt, where scouts seem encouraged he’ll be able to stay, and his improvement hitting left-handed. He’s got a plus arm and good actions at short, and he could be a solid-average hitter from both sides.

To your original question: Quinn was the New York-Penn League’s No. 3 prospect, and when I started the reporting/researching process for this list, I expected him to fall somewhere in the middle of Top 10. But quickly, Quinn received consideration for the list’s No. 1 spot, and it wasn’t necessarily an easy decision to go with Biddle over Quinn. Ultimately, Quinn has a higher ceiling, but Biddle is the safer bet to reach his ceiling after spending his age-20 season pitching for high Class A Clearwater.

Q: Jonathan Pettibone was here in Lakewood in 2010 on a staff that had Brody Colvin, Jarred Cosart, Trevor May, and Julio Rodriguez and he always seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Obviously he had a tremendous season and beat all of those guys to Triple-A (save Cosart who was an injury fill-in there with Houston). Did his move and year surprise people and what’s his projection going forward?

You’re right about Jonathan Pettibone being overlooked among the “Baby Aces” rotation that pitched in Lakewood in 2010 and Clearwater for half of 2011. That’s likely because Pettibone doesn’t have (and didn’t have) the pure stuff of Colvin, Cosart and May, and he hasn’t posted (and didn’t post) the outrageous strikeout totals of Rodriguez. But Pettibone has the best pitchability among that group, and that’s why he has progressed more quickly through the minor leagues.

I’d say Pettibone’s 2012 was marginally unexpected, at least in the sense that I didn’t anticipate he’d make seven starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year, and I don’t think many others would’ve made that prediction. But Pettibone entered the year as the system’s No. 4 prospect, and he’ll enter next year occupying the same spot. So the more surprising jump happened two seasons ago, but it was encouraging to see him have another strong season.

Pettibone’s projection: a mid-rotation, innings-eater, probably as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter. Some scouts still worry about his lack of a swing-and-miss pitch. For his solid stuff and advanced command/control, Pettibone has never missed many bats, though his strikeout rate bumped up at Lehigh Valley. That said, Pettibone likely will be given a chance to compete for the Phillies’ fifth starter spot in spring training, and either way he could see time in Philadelphia at some point in 2013.

There’s a lot more below the fold…


Annual BlueClaws Bowl Guide

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

This is one of our favorite posts of the year – the Definitive BlueClaws Bowl Guide. Who should you root for in all of the college football bowl games this year (I think there are only 451 left to be played)? We go through the list with the BlueClaws connections!

If we missed one, which is possible, leave in the comments or email

Poinsettia Bowl San Diego State/BYU – Quintin Berry (2007) and Troy Hanzawa (2009) went to San Diego State.

Beef O’Brady’s Bowl Ball State/Central Florida – Chris Duffy (2012) starred at Central Florida before being drafted by the Phillies. Perci Garner, drafted in 2010, who skipped Lakewood, went to Ball State.

New Orleans Bowl East Carolina/UL-Lafayette – Stephen Batts (2010/11) played at ECU.

Las Vegas Bowl – Washington/Boise State – I know you remembered 2003 BlueClaw Andre Marshall, who played at Washington. Trevor May (2009-10) committed there but signed with the Phillies out of high school. Travis Mattair (2008-09, 11) never played baseball at Boise State but he did spend a year there as a walk-on on the basketball team, so that counts.

Hawaii Bowl – SMU/Fresno State – Phillies broadcaster Scott Franzke went to SMU and Steve Susdorf (2009 BlueClaw) went to Fresno State.

Little Caesars Bowl Central Michigan/Western Kentucky – We found a draft pick from WKU – Ryan Hutchison, a Phillies pick in 2001, played that year with Batavia but skipped Lakewood, going straight to Clearwater in 2002. Matt Payton was with Lakewood very briefly in 2011, playing three games, but he too went to Western Kentucky.

Holiday Bowl – UCLA/Baylor – Tyson Brummett (2008) and Garrett Claypool (2011) went to UCLA. Anthony Hensley (2001), Josh Scott (2002) as well as Josh Ludy (2012) went to Baylor.

Independence Bowl – Ohio/UL-Monroe – 2012 BlueClaws OF Gauntlett Eldemire went to Ohio.

Armed Forces Bowl – Air Force/Rice – Karl Bolt (2008) went to Air Force. Former Phillies first round pick Joe Savery went to Rice.

Pinstripe Bowl – Syracuse/West Virginia – Zac Cline (2004) went to WVU.

Fight Hunger Bowl – Navy/Arizona State – Tuffy Gosewisch (2007) is a Sun Devil, as is 2012 RHP Jake Borup.

Alamo Bowl – Texas/Oregon State – 2011 BlueClaws C Cameron Rupp and 2012 LHP Hoby Milner both went to Texas. Mike Stutes (2008) and Andrew Baldwin (2005) both went to Oregon State while 2012 BlueClaw Kyrell Hudson committed there before signing with the Phillies.

Music City Bowl NC State/Vanderbilt – Josh Zeid (2010) went to Vanderbilt.

Sun Bowl – Georgia Tech/USC – Jeremy Slayden (2006) went to Georgia Tech.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl – Clemson/LSU – Herm Demmink (2007) went to Clemson while on the LSU side, we have 2010 BlueClaw Brody Colvin, who committed here but didn’t sign. 2006 BlueClaw Clay Harris played at LSU.

Gator Bowl – Northwestern/Mississippi State – 2005 LHP JA Happ and 2006 RHP Dan Brauer both went to Northwestern. We couldn’t find anyone from Mississippi State except Travis Chapman, a 2000 Phillies draft pick who played in Batavia and skipped Lakewood.

Heart of Dallas Bowl – Purdue/Oklahoma State – 2012 BlueClaws LHP Blake Mascarello pitched at Purdue along with 2012 Williamsport 3B Cameron Perkins, who could be a BlueClaw this year. Three alums went to Oklahoma State: John Urick (2006), Michael Dabbs (2010), and Jason Jaramillo (2005).

Outback Bowl – Michigan/South Carolina – Michael Floyd (2002), Andrew Cruse (2007), Mike Cisco (2008) and Aaron Rawl (2006-06) all went to South Carolina.

Capital One Bowl – Nebraska/Georgia – Mike Nesseth (2012), Luke Wertz (2009-10) and Trevor Bullock (2001) played here. Jacob Diekman (2008-10) committed here as did Tyler Cloyd (2009), though both signed with the Phillies. Cody Asche, who skipped Lakewood, was drafted out of Nebraska in 2011.

Rose Bowl – Wisconsin/Stanford – We have one from Wisconsin. From the first ever BlueClaws team in 2001, Chad Sidowsky, while 2008 BlueClaw Michael Taylor went to Stanford.

Orange Bowl – Northern Illinois/Florida State – 2007 LHP Matt German went to Northern Illinois while Aaron Cheesman (2006) and Robby Read (2003) went to Florida State. Potential 2013 BlueClaw Roman Quinn committed to Florida State before signing with the Phillies.

Sugar Bowl – Louisville/Florida – 2009 BlueClaw BJ Rosenberg is a proud Louisville Cardinal. 2012 BlueClaw Matt Campbell is the lone Gator, though 2007 BlueClaw Adrian Cardenas committed here before signing with the Phillies.

Fiesta Bowl – Oregon/Kansas State – No Oregon alums though Jesse Biddle (2011) committed here before signing with the Phillies, and nothing from Kansas State.

Cotton Bowl – Oklahoma/Texas A&M – Will Savage (2006) and Ryan Duke (2011-12) went to Oklahoma while Ryan Wardinsky (2003) went to Texas A&M.

BBVA Compass Bowl – Pittsburgh/Ole Miss – Evangelista (2004) went to Pittsburgh. 2006 teammates Cooper Osteen and Matt Maloney both went to Ole Miss, as did 2011 BlueClaw Austin Wright.

BCS Championship Game – Notre Dame/Alabama – 2010 BlueClaw Jeremy Barnes went to Notre Dame while Austin Hyatt (2009) went to Alabama (as did Phillies draftee Adam Morgan who skipped Lakewood and finished last year with Reading).

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Catching Up – d’Arnaud to the Mets

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Obviously you knew this already but we just wanted to share our best wishes and congratulations to Travis d’Arnaud, 2009 BlueClaws catcher, who was traded from Toronto to the Mets, a deal completed on Monday which sent RA Dickey to the Blue Jays.

d’Arnaud has now been a centerpiece of two trades for Cy Young winners (he was sent to Toronto in the Roy Halladay trade in December, 2009) and he hasn’t even played a Major League game, though that will surely change quickly.

In this Daily News article, Andy Martino talks with d’Arnaud’s Lakewood manager, Dusty Wathan.

“He didn’t take his offense to his defense,” Wathan recalls. “That is when you can tell when a guy is young that he is going to be a good catcher.”

That’s similar to what he told us in this podcast from way back in August of 2009. Remember, he hit just .207 in the first half but d’Arnaud then hit .302 in the second half and led the BlueClaws to the SAL title.

d’Arnaud becomes the 5th former BlueClaw to be traded this off-season (Trevor May and Vance Worley from Philadelphia to Minnesota; Lisalverto Bonilla from Philadelphia to Texas; and Jason Donald from Cleveland to Cincinnati).

49 BlueClaws have gone “From The Shore, To The Show,” and d’Arnaud would be the first player to make his big league debut with the Mets.

Another Alum On The Move

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Several BlueClaws alums have been traded in the last week (Trevor May and Vance Worley to Minnesota and Lisalverto Bonilla to Texas), and the movement continued last night with Jason Donald traded from the Indians to the Reds as part of a three

-team trade headlined by Shin-Soo Choo (Cleveland to Cincinnati) and former #2 overall pick Trevor Bauer (Arizona to Cleveland).

Donald was a 3rd round pick of the Phillies in 2006 (U of Arizona) and played two months with the BlueClaws in 2007, hitting .310 with four HRs in 51 games, earning a promotion to Clearwater.

He was a part of the trade in 2009 that brought Cliff Lee to the Phillies (the first time), going to the Indians with Jason Knapp, Lou Marson, and Carlos Carrasco, all former BlueClaws themselves.

Donald made his big league debut in 2010 and played 170 big league games over the last three seasons, splitting time between Cleveland and Columbus.

“There’s a definite excitement on my end,” Donald said. “I’m thrilled for the opportunity. There are a lot of close relationships that I’ve built in Cleveland. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the organization and the people in it.”

We wish Jason the best.

Another BlueClaw Traded

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Two former BlueClaws were traded to Minnesota last week and another was traded on Sunday. The Phillies acquired Michael Young from Texas to take over as their 3rd baseman and 2011 BlueClaws RHP Lisalverto Bonilla was sent to the Rangers along with RHP Josh Lindblom.

Bonilla joined the BlueClaws in May of 2011 and went 4-5, 2.80 with 95 strikeouts in 106 innings. He moved into the rotation after starting his time with the BlueClaws in the bullpen, and even threw nine shutout innings in one game, but is back in the pen. This year, he gave up just eight runs in 44.1 innings between Clearwater and Reading and made the Futures Game, though got hurt at the event and didn’t pitch the rest of the season.

Lindblom was acquired from the Dodgers in the Shane Victorino trade and is on the move again.

Todd Frazier, Jersey Strong

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

I thought this video was excellent and worth sharing – Toms River’s Todd Frazier, who had a great year with the Reds in 2012, is profiled by Buster Olney on

Click here to view

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