Road to Lakewood: Infielders

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.)

IF Tyler Greene - If the name is familiar, Greene was not only featured in the 2012 version of this blog post, but he spent part of the early season with the BlueClaws, hitting .147 in 23 games. After some time back in extended spring training, Greene went to Williamsport where he hit .211 with three HRs in 61 games. Greene was a 9th round pick in 2011 by the Phillies who signed out of a commitment to the University of Georgia. He played shortstop with Lakewood but because of Quinn, second base in Williamsport. If he’s back with Lakewood, which seems likely, he would play second base in his second go-around with the BlueClaws.

Andrew Pullin could easily go with the outfielders (he played 27 games there last year compared to just seven at second base) but we’ll put him here as he might get a chance to play second base. That’s what Pullin told his local paper when he was drafted. In his debut, the 2012 5th-round pick hit an impressive .321 with 2 home runs in 140 at bats. FWIW he started 8-27 and finished 37-113 (.327).

From Centralia, Washington, Pullin was a high school rival of RHP Mitch Gueller, who the Phillies drafted 54th overall last year. The two could be teammates with the BlueClaws this year. Pullin, like Walding, turned down the University of Oregon to sign with the Phillies.

IF Zach Green would be one one of the youngest BlueClaws – he turns 19 on March 7th – but is an exciting prospect. He hit .284 with the GCL Phillies last year, adding three HRs in 169 at bats. The Phillies took green in the 3rd round last year, signing him out of a commitment to Oregon State. The Beavers offered him a spot before ever played on his high school’s varsity team, per BaseballSacramento.com. Here is a scouting report. Green played mostly third base with the GCL Phillies last year, and he seems to be a candidate for Williamsport, especially with Mitchell Walding likely on his way to Lakewood, but you never know.

SS Tim Carver was a 19th round pick of the Phillies last year from the University of Arkansas and spent the summer in Lakewood, hitting .210 in 50 games. His lone home run was a grand slam, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him back in Lakewood at the start of the season. If Carver, who turns 24 in May, goes to Clearwater, then maybe Gustavo Gonzalez returns. Gonzalez spent the first part of the year in extended spring training and spent time with the GCL Phillies, Williamsport, and Lakewood. While he hit below .200 in all three stops, he can play both second and short and is just 22 and can be a useful utility player.

If some reserves come from the Gulf Coast League, the two listed below seem to be the most likely options.

Angelo Mora is a recently-turned (Monday) 20-year old from the Dominican Republic who hit .271 in 40 games with the GCL Phillies, primarily at shortstop. He might get some time at Williamsport, but he’s in the mix. Francisco Silva played just 33 games with the GCL Phillies, hitting .241, mostly as a 2B or SS. He did steal six bases without being caught and had 11 walks against just 13 strikeouts in 79 at bats. He likely needs more time too but he will turn 22 on May 12th.

Williamsport had two catchers split the action, and it seems like a good bet that they will be here when April arrives. Logan Moore spent the first half of 2012 with the BlueClaws, hitting .177 in 30 games. With Williamsport, Moore, a 9th round pick in 2011, hit .277 in 38 games. Chace Numata was a 14th round pick in 2010. His 2011 was wiped out by a broken hamate bone. Last year, he hit .233 in 43 games, adding a pair of home runs. He struck out just 22 times in 163 at bats. A switch-hitter, he won’t turn 21 until August 14th.

Conceivably, there could be a catcher from the GCL Phillies. There are two likely candidates. Chad Carman was a 24th round pick last year from Oklahoma City University. He went 15-49 in 25 games. Willians Astudillo, a 21 year old from Venezuela, hit .318 in 45 games, striking out just five times in 148 at bats. He hit .361 in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2011 and .312 in 2010. He seems like a guy they might push ahead to Lakewood if there is space, which there may not be.

Josh Ludy, an 8th round pick last year from Baylor, hit.271 with a home run in 32 games with the BlueClaws. He started his professional career with Lakewood after signing, skipping Williamsport entirely.  He seems ready for a shot in Clearwater. On the other hand, Gabriel Lino, a well-regarded 19 year-old (will turn 20 in May) catcher acquired by the Phillies from the Orioles on June 30th, could return to Lakewood. He hit .227 with three home runs as a BlueClaw, though he did play his best baseball at the end of the season (.323 in August).

Part of the equation that we don’t know at this point is how many catchers will come north with the team. If it’s three, Lino, Moore, and Numata seem most likely to be the three – though it is hard to get at bats for three catchers.

That’s why they have Spring Training!



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