Each year leading into the season, we bring out our Road to Lakewood series, in which we look at players that could be with the BlueClaws when the team comes north in April. This is one of our favorite things to do on this blog. We hope you enjoy it.
This week in the Road to Lakewood series, we look at some potential BlueClaws infielders in 2013. This is the first part of a four-part series, which will include outfielders later this week, and starting and relief pitchers next week. That will lead us to March 12th, when the first Minor League Spring Training games are played.
Disclaimer: These lists are looks at players that could be with the BlueClaws this year, not who will be with the BlueClaws this year. That stuff all sorts itself out at spring training. Typically, the BlueClaws carry two catchers, but they have carried three. How many infielders might depend on if any can play the outfield, and vice versa.
SS Roman Quinn – Quinn skyrocketed up prospect lists after a tremendous 2012 season in which he led the NY-Penn League in stolen bases (30) all while learning shortstop for the first time and learning how to switch-hit for the first time. He hit .281 last year (.256 right-handed and .347 left-handed), while walking an impressive 9.5% of his plate appearances (including HBPs, he reached base 12.7% of his plate appearances without a hit). Baseball America ranked him second in the Phillies system and 100th overall in the sport. Quinn was a 2nd round pick in 2011 from Port St. Joe, Florida, who last year learned both shortstop and switch-hitting.
Here’s what Phillies Director of Player Development Joe Jordan had to say about Quinn when we interviewed him at the Phillies Winter Tour in January –
Moving Quinn to SS and teaching him to switch-hit in the same season – It speaks to the character and toughness and the ability of the player. Those are major things. What he was able to do left-handed is amazing. How much progress he made there – he made that or more progress at shortstop. We’ll see how it goes, but he’s heading in the right direction.
As we noted here, Quinn’s rating of 80 on the 20-80 scale in the speed category is not something that is handed out often. He’s quite fast, and will probably be the player that receives the most pre-season hype among those on this roster.
1B Chris Serritella nearly won the Missouri Valley Conference Triple Crown last year and the Phillies took him in the 4th round out of Southern Illinois. The everyday 1B for Williamsport, Serritella hit .297 with 6 HRs and 47 RBIs while leading the NYPL with 24 doubles, one more than teammate Cameron Perkins and two more than teammate Larry Greene.
Serritella just turned 23 (February 21st) and spent four years on campus at SIU, missing his junior season with an injury. He was drafted in the 31st round by the Royals in 2011 despite not playing, but wisely returned to school and significantly improved his draft stock. He’s the type of player that could certainly skip Lakewood for Clearwater with a good spring, especially considering the Phillies just added a first baseman, the next player on our list.
1B Art Charles – Charles was acquired by the Phillies over the weekend in the trade that sent RHP Michael Schwimer to the Blue Jays. A 20th round pick in 2010 from Bakersfield College, the 22-year old Charles split last year between the Appy League and the Northwest League, hitting .236 with 13 home runs in 212 at bats. That’s impressive power, though I’m not sure if either of his home parks is considered a heavy hitter’s park. The Phillies did trade a reliever who is close to the big leagues so they likely had a pretty good write-up on Charles.
1B Willie Carmona was drafted in the 11th round last year out of Stony Brook, where he helped the Seawolves reach the College World Series. Carmona spent time with the GCL Phillies, hitting .348 with a grand slam, before an August call-up to Lakewood, where he hit .227 with 2 home runs in 27 games. After starting 4-39, Carmona finished 19-65. He’s semi-local, from Hempstead, Long Island. He played both 1st base and 3rd base with Williamsport and if he doesn’t go to Clearwater, could be in the first base/designated hitter mix with Charles.
3B Mitch Walding – Walding, a 5th round pick in 2011 from a Lodi, California high school, is a left-handed hitting third baseman who hit .233 with Williamsport last year in 69 games (. Baseball America ranked him 16th in the system, liking his upside and noting he missed some time on the showcase circuit because of football and missed some time as a senior. The 20-year old got off to a blazing start (he hit .326 over his first 28 games, and had two four-hit games in his first five) before slowing down a bit but it was still a productive season. He signed with the Phillies out of a commitment to the University of Oregon.
Here is an interview with Walding from last January and here is a FanGraphs profile of Walding, who seems a solid bet to again share the left-side of the infield with Quinn.
(Note – among the corner infielders with Williamsport from last year was Cameron Perkins, a 6th round pick from Purdue. Perkins spent time at first base, third base, and the outfield. We are going to put him with the outfielders, as Joe Jordan mentioned to us at the Winter Tour that they like Perkins out there, and there, at least on paper, seems to be slightly less of a numbers crunch. We’ll have more on Perkins later this week.)