Archive for the 'Road to Lakewood' Category

Road to Lakewood: Relief Pitchers

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Today, we look at potential 2013 BlueClaws starting pitchers as part of our annual Road to Lakewood series. This series is one of our favorite things to do on this blog. We hope you enjoy it.

This is the last part of a four-part series.

Previously: Infielders, Outfielders, Starting Pitchers

(EDIT – Obviously we copied some text from the starting pitcher post that didn’t fit this one. We edited that out. Apologies.)

Keivi Rojas had a stellar 2012 in the GCL and is primed to join the bullpen of the BlueClaws in the upcoming season. In 17 appearances for the GCL Phillies the righty posted a 4-1 record with a 1.67 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 32.1 innings pitched. The Venezuela native made an appearance with the Clearwater Threshers last season and pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.  He finished the season on a 4-game winning streak 7/28-8/16, averaged 11.88 K/9, and held opponents to a .191 BAA.

Matthew Sisto landed with Williamsport following the draft in 2012 (20th round pick) and pitched well in his first pro season. The California native made 24 appearances for the Crosscutters and logged 41.0 innings with a 1-3 record and a 3.51 ERA. He was a four-year letterman for the University of Hawaii and finished his senior season with an 8-4 record and he allowed just 11 walks in 14 starts with the Rainbow Warriors.

Steven Inch, a 6th round pick in 2009, is a very likely member of the BlueClaws bullpen this year. With Williamsport in 2012, the righty made 22 appearances and logged 43.1 innings while posting a 3.74 ERA. The Alberta, Canada native continues to make his way back from missing the entire 2010 season with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder. Drafted in 2009 out of high school, Inch enters his fifth season as a pro and should be in Lakewood to begin the 2013-year with a good spring training. Draft article.

Andrew Aizenstadt was signed by the Phillies out of the Independent American Association in 2012 and made eight appearances between Williamsport and Clearwater. The Hudson, Massachusetts native went 1-0 with a 2.65 ERA in 18 total relief appearances between Wichita (Ind.), Williamsport, and Clearwater.  A 2012 Graduate of Virginia Tech University, Aizenstadt was one of three Hokies named to the All-ACC Academic Team in his only season with Va.-Tech. He spent the first three years of his collegiate career posting a 17-4 record with the Babson College Beavers.

20-year old Delvi Francisco is a former infielder who was converted to pitcher in 2012 and gave up three ER in 17.1 innings pitched (8 hits, 24 strikeouts, 9 walks). The Phillies have had some success with these conversions recently with Lendy Castillo pitching now for the Cubs (Rule-5 pick) and Luis Paulino making his way through Lakewood. We would not be surprised at all to see Francisco with the BlueClaws in 2013.

Marek Minarik won’t turn 20 until June 28th and only threw 17 innings in the GCL last year, but we did want to mention him here. He’s a native of the Czech Republic and signed with the Phillies out of a tryout in Prague at the MLB European Academy. He only walked two in 17 innings last year.

Andre Kinder played at three levels last year without pitching in Lakewood. That could change this year. Last season the southpaw made 23 appearances between, Williamsport, GCL Phillies, and Clearwater.  18 appearances came with the Crosscutters, in which he posted a 3.48 ERA in 31.0 innings. The Albion, New York native was selected in the 2011 draft out of Peru State College (NE) where he was named to the All-MCAC First Team his senior season.

Chris Nichols made a brief stint with the BlueClaws in 2012, but could secure a spot in Lakewood’s bullpen to begin the upcoming campaign. Nichols was picked in the 31st round of the 2012 draft and went 3-0 with a 3.67 ERA in his first professional season among three squads, Lakewood, Williamsport, and the GCL Phillies. The Colorado native attended the University of Sioux Falls (SD) and had most of his success with the Crosscutters last season. In 10 appearances he picked up three straight wins (7/17-7/26), and posted a 3.54 ERA in 20.1 innings. He is the son of former BlueClaws pitching coach and current Phillies bullpen coach Rod Nichols.

Geoff Broussard made one appearance with the BlueClaws last season (as a fill-in when the BlueClaws were in deep need of an extra bullpen arm) and hopes to return to the Garden State to open the 2013 campaign. Last season the righty made 20 appearances, all in relief, between Williamsport and Lakewood and he went 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA. In 33.2 innings the California native allowed nine earned runs and eight walks, while he struck out 36. As a senior at Cal Poly Pomona, Broussard went 11-1 with a 1.58 ERA, and earned numerous All-American honors for Division II. Over the course of his four years with the Broncos, he compiled a 23-7 record.

Among those that pitched with Lakewood last year, Felix Santos and Zach Cooper both joined the BlueClaws in July and either could conceivably be back, though both figure to be with Clearwater with a good spring.

Road to Lakewood: Starting Pitchers

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Today, we look at potential 2013 BlueClaws starting pitchers as part of our annual Road to Lakewood series. This series is one of our favorite things to do on this blog. We hope you enjoy it.

This is the third part of a four-part series, which will finish up with relief pitchers. Minor league spring training games start on Tuesday.

Previously: Infielders, Outfielders

We’ll start this list with two pitchers who have not thrown that many innings, but would be exciting to see in Lakewood after both were selected high up in last year’s draft.

Shane Watson was picked in the supplemental first round by the Phillies last year, the 40th overall selection. He only threw seven innings with the GCL Phillies last year, but they were seven good innings (gave up five hits, one run, struck out eight, and walked one). But even before he threw his first inning, Watson went through a health scare, which ended with him learning he was a type-one diabetic, as detailed here in the Morning Call. After some time off, Watson made a few appearances by the end of the summer, and then pitched in the Florida Instructional League.

“At the end, he was our best pitcher in camp,” (Phillies Director of Player Development) Joe Jordan said. “He physically looked great. In his last outing, he threw 25 pitches in three innings, and it was over before we knew it.

A California native who committed to USC, Watson will be the 2nd Lakewood High School alum to play for the BlueClaws (answer below). He was ranked 12th in the system by Baseball America.

Mitch Gueller was picked by the Phillies 14 spots after Watson, at 54th overall out of high school in Washington (state). That Pacific-Northwest area has been mined by the Phillies over the years (Trevor May, Matt Way, Jim Murphy, Kyrell Hudson, Travis Mattair, Colin Kleven, Ethan Stewart, etc) for players that either played either high school or college baseball there.

Gueller had a 5.27 ERA in 27.1 innings, walking 12 and striking out 19. Here is a story on Gueller from his local paper at draft time. Gueller had committed to Washington State before signing with the Phillies. Scouting director Marti Wolever compared Gueller to Trevor May, who needed a couple of months in extended spring before joining the BlueClaws in June of 2009, but of course each player’s situation is completely independent. He ranks 18th in the system per Baseball America.

Of the two, maybe Watson is a bit more likely to open with the BlueClaws as he likely was a bit more ready for professional baseball coming from Southern California, compared to the colder climate in the Pacific-Northwest, but we’ll find out in a few weeks.

We should also note that the Phillies have not been at all afraid to send high school draft picks straight to Lakewood to open their first full professional seasons, having done so in 2011 with Jesse Biddle (33 innings in 2010) and in 2010 with Brody Colvin (two innings in 2009).

Trivia Answer – Shane Watson would join Travis d’Arnaud (2009) as players who played at Lakewood High School in California and then for the BlueClaws.

Some other starting pitchers that could be with the BlueClaws next year…

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Road to Lakewood: Outfielders

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Earlier this week, we looked at potential BlueClaws 2013 infielders as part of our Road to Lakewood series. Today, we look at potential 2013 BlueClaws outfielders. This series is one of our favorite things to do on this blog. We hope you enjoy it.

This is the second part of a four-part series, which will include starting and relief pitchers next week.

Previously: Infielders

By the end of next week, we will have finished all of our positional previews, and then Minor League Spring Training games will begin the week after, on March 12th.

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 five outfielders, but often times they carry four, if one of the infielders can play out there.

Larry Greene is poised to make the BlueClaws after making his pro debut in 2012. In 70 games with Williamsoprt, he hit .272 with two homeruns and 26 RB, while finishing third in the league in doubles with 22 (Williamsport’s ballpark is cavernous). Greene struck out 78 times, but walked 41, an impressive 14% of his plate appearances. The Nashville, Georgia native was a first-round supplemental pick by the Phillies in 2011 and opted for baseball over football even though he was being courted to play linebacker by Nick Saban and the University of Alabama.

Here is a write-up on Greene, who has immense power, power that wasn’t really shown in his HR numbers in Williamsport because of the park, but with another year of development, could take a big step forward in that category this year.

Greene ranked 11th in the system per Baseball America, and Greene just turned 20 on February 10th.

On a side note, we are already looking forward to seeing Greene play in Asheville (April 26-29) and their cozy right-field corner, just 297 feet from home plate (with a 35 foot high wall).

We could have put Cameron Perkins with the infielders (he played both first base and third base last year), but Phillies Director of Player Development Joe Jordan noted he liked Perkins in the outfield. Perkins played college ball at Purdue University and earned unanimous First-Team All Big Ten honors in his junior season, where he was a teammate of 2012 BlueClaw Blake Mascarello. The Phillies took him in the 6th round last year.

The Indianapolis native hit .304 in 67 games with the Crosscutters with 23 doubles (second in the league), a triple, a home run, and 38 RBIs. Perkins was a 43rd round pick of the Mariners out of high school before enrolling at Purdue.

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Road to Lakewood: Infielders

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

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.)

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Road to Lakewood: Outfielders

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

This week in the Road to Lakewood series, we look at some potential BlueClaws outfielders in 2012. This is the final part of the four week series, and then next week, we’ll start with some recaps from the minor league spring training games.

Previously: Starting Pitchers, Relief Pitchers, Infielders

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 five outfielders, but that number can vary to four or six based on any number of factors.

We also have a few comments from Phillies assistant director of minor league operations Steve Noworyta.

OF Kelly Dugan: He hit .284 in 47 games with two HRs and 21 RBIs. It was a strong follow-up to a season which saw him limited to 28 games between Williamsport and the GCL Phillies in 2010. He was a mid-season NYPL All-Star last year. A 2nd round pick from 2009, he’ll likely be one of Lakewood’s starting outfielders this year, though he can also play first base. Here is a Q&A with Philly.com’s Ed Barkowitz from last year.

Says Noworyta: “Sometimes the young players have to take a step or two back before they realize what they have to do to get it done. Kelly had a nice little season.”

OF Aaron Altherr is someone with whom BlueClaws fans are familiar. He started last season with the BlueClaws and hit .211 in the first half before joining Williamsport. He hit .260 with 5 HRs and 26 stolen bases with the Crosscutters. Baseball Ameirca ranked the 21-year old at #15 in the system. While with Lakewood last year he played primarily centerfield, with Williamsport he was mostly the left-fielder because of the next player on the list. He was a former basketball player in high school who had some division-1 interest.

OF Kyrell Hudson could be another in the line of tremendous defensive outfielders that BlueClaws fans have seen (Anthony Gose, Jiwan James, Altherr, Zach Collier), and last year, his bat made significant strides. He hit .275 with 28 stolen bases with Williamsport after hitting below .200 in his first two pro seasons. A former 3* safety who committed to Oregon State out of high school, Hudson was a 3rd round pick in 2009. Like Altherr, he was a mid-season NY-Penn League All-Star last year.

Says Noworyta: “He is starting to turn the corner. He’s the athlete they drafted and signed and he’s starting to feel the success with it. Once that train gets going, who knows what you have? No doubt. Defensively he can cover a lot of ground, and he’s got some power.”

OF Peter Lavin was a 20th round pick last year from the University of San Francisco. He opened the year with the GCL Phillies and hit .299 in 32 games before a promotion to Williamsport, where he hit .314 in 32 games. Lavin was 13 for 14 stealing bases between the two levels. Tagg Bozied, who has played with Reading the last two years, also went to the University of San Francisco (as did Bill Russel).

OF Brian Pointer was a 28th round pick in 2010 from Reno who only had seven at-bats as a rookie (GCL) because he signed at the deadline and last year hit .278 with 6 home runs as a member of the GCL Phillies. Not sure if the Phillies would have him skip Williamsport (possible but our guess would be no as the guys listed ahead of him are both older and more experienced).

OF/IF Matt Holland was a 22nd round pick last year from Texas A&M Corpus Christi who signed for $1,000 and a plane ticket. Holland played a lot of first base and DH but also played a lot of outfield (and since we didn’t list him with the infielders, we are listing him now). He hit .236 with 4 HRs in 110 at bats with the GCL Phillies last year.

OF Gauntlett Eldemire was a 6th round pick in 2010 from Ohio University who has not yet appeared in a game due to injury. While he might not be ready to open the year with Lakewood, it’s possible that we see him in the summer. He turned 23 on February 28th.

A few notes: We did not put any 2011 BlueClaws in here…First round pick Larry Greene Jr, who did not play last year, probably opens the year in extended spring training so we did not put him here either. Any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Road to Lakewood: Infielders

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

This week in the Road to Lakewood series, we look at some potential BlueClaws infielders in 2012. Each week, we’ll look at a different positional grouping. After starting pitchers and relievers the last two weeks, we’ll continue with infielders today, outfielders next week, and then it will be time to start the minor league spring training games the following week.

Previously: Starting Pitchers, Relief Pitchers

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 13 position players. The exact breakdown depends on a number of factors (two or three catchers, can anyone play both the infield and outfield, can one utility infielder play second, third, and short, etc).

We also have a some quotes sprinkled in from Phillies assistant director of minor league operations Steve Noworyta. At the bottom we’ll look at a few 2011 draftees that did not see significant playing time last year, largely because they signed very late.

One of the most obvious choices for this list is 3B Maikel Franco, who played three weeks with Lakewood last year but was primarily Williamsport’s third baseman, hitting .287 with 2 HRs and 38 RBIs. He also walked 25 times and fanned just 30. With Lakewood, however, he went 8-65 with 15 strikeouts and 1 walk. Franco, who doesn’t turn 20 until August, will be one of the youngest regulars in the Sally League this year. Franco also hit what we thought was the most impressive home run of the year here last season: a laser over the LF wall that got out of here in about 1.5 seconds as Franco turned around a 96 mph fastball from Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon.

Says Noworyta: “We sent him to Lakewood just to give him a taste, to feel what it’s like. He played well in Williamsport. Sometimes you need a little time like Aaron Altherr. If you get that time, you adjust to that level.”

3B Harold Martinez was a 2nd round pick last year from the University of Miami (90th overall) who hit .256-2-31 with Williamsport playing third base and DH. Here’s an article on Martinez from the Williamsport Sun-Gazette around the start of the Cutters season last year where he said he was surprised the Phillies drafted him in the 2nd round.

The 1B who played the most for Williamsport last year was Brock Stassi, who hit .200-1-14. He was a 33rd round pick last year from the University of Nevada. He was drafted the year before in the 44th round by the Indians as a pitcher.

1B Patrick Murray was a 34th round pick in 2010 from Lewis & Clark State, where he was a teammate of 2011 BlueClaws RHP Tyler Knigge. Murray was drafted by the Phillies before, back in 2006′s 44th round. He hit .313 with the GCL Phillies in 2010.

The other main 1B option is Chris Duffy, who was on this list last year but repeated GCL, hitting .297 with 6 HRs (to lead the team) and 27 RBIs. A 26th round pick in 2010 from Central Florida, Duffy was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award his last year with the Knights. Here is an interview with Duffy, drafted out of high school in the 9th round by the White Sox, from Phuture Phillies.

(NOTE – Kelly Dugan, a 2nd round pick in 2009, can play 1B and OF, and might play 1B here because, as you’ll see next week, there are a lot of potential outfielders. However, we’re going to list him with the outfielders as he’s just played a lot more games there).

Says Noworyta: “This offseason was big for him to see how he prepared himself. He has all the tools to be a very good defensive third baseman with some power.”

2B Cody Asche was a 4th round pick last year from Nebraska and was the highest Huskers position player drafted since Alex Gordon (Royals) went 2nd overall in 2005. Asche played third base at Nebraska but with Franco and Martinez, he played second base with Williamsport, hitting .192 with two HRs.

Says Noworyta: “He had a great instructional league. Sometimes these players get off to slow starts and they get a little rest after the season, come in fresh and there’s a lot of difference.”

SS Tyler Greene was a 9th round pick last year who was considered somewhat of a gamble to sign, but the Phillies signed him for a reported $375k. He had been committed to Georgia and this was a big signing for the Phillies. Greene, from West Boca, hit .276 and stole five bases with the GCL Phillies last year. Because he got some seasoning in (17 games, he signed on July 25), it wouldn’t be a huge stretch at all to see him here on Opening Day.

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Road to Lakewood: Relief Pitchers

Friday, February 24th, 2012

This week in the Road to Lakewood series, we look at some potential BlueClaws relief pitchers in 2012. Each week, we’ll look at a different positional grouping. After starting pitchers last week and relievers this week, we’ll continue with infielders and outfielders in the next two weeks.

Previously: Starting Pitchers

Going every Friday for the next four weeks takes us right through March 9th, and the minor league spring training games are slated to start on March 12th.

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 a 12-man pitching staff, with five starters and seven relievers, and there are more than seven listed here.

Also – we have some comments sprinkled in here from Steve Noworyta, Phillies assistant director of minor league operations, who we spoke to earlier this week. On with the list:

RHP Gabriel Arias, a native of the Dominican Republic, finished second on Williamsport with seven saves last year and pitched to a 2.97 ERA, striking out 31 hitters in 36.1 innings pitched. He spent the previous four seasons with the Dominican Summer League Phillies and turned 22 in December. He was a NYPL All-Star last year.

LHP James Birmingham is from Pine Hill, NJ (71 miles from Lakewood and just southeast of Philadelphia) and posted a 1.72 ERA while splitting time between the Gulf Coast Phillies and Williamsport. He did not allow a run in his final five outings for Williamsport which included 8 strikeouts in 6.1 innings. Graduated from Coastal Carolina University in 2010, helping the team to the NCAA Super Regionals before being eliminated by eventual-National Champion South Carolina. Birmingham spent one year at Penn before transferring to Coastal Carolina and was spotted at a tryout held here at FirstEnergy Park.

LHP Austin Brough did not allow an earned run his last 11 appearances with Williamsport (21.2 IP). Though he surrendered 7 unearned runs in that time, his ERA dropped from 1.10 on July 22 to 0.47 when the season ended. He began the 2011 season with the Windy City Thunderbolts of the Frontier League before being signed by the Phillies on June 21. He had 23 strikeouts against just five walks last year.

Brough, who was released by Windy City after four years at Western Illinois, almost gave up baseball, as Mitch Rupert details in the Williamsport Sun Gazette. He had spent the previous winter washing cars.

RHP Matthew Campbell , a 2011 graduate from the University of Florida, was the 24th-Round selection of the Phillies in last season’s draft. He made one appearance for the Gulf Coast Phillies before being transferred to Williamsport. He made 14 total appearances for the CrossCutters, but went 3-0 with a 0.61 ERA (1 ER in 14.2 IP) in the month of August. Article on his signing.

RHP Cody Fick began his career with short-season Williamsport, making 15 appearances—including two starts for the Crosscutters. In 13 bullpen outings he held batters to a .202 BA and had a 3.82 ERA. He pitched 2.0+ innings in 14-of-15 appearances in 2011 after being selected by the Phillies in the 23rd round out of Evansville. He thought he would have been drafted as a position player, and gave up rooting for the Cardinals right before they won the World Series.

RHP Juary Gomez is a native of Aragua, Venezuela who converted 10-of-13 save opportunities for Williamsport in 2011, and he got the win in two of the three blown save opportunities. He spent 2008 and 2009 with the Phillies Venezuelan Summer League before splitting time between the Gulf Coast Phillies and Williamsport in 2010 and spending all of 2011 in Williamsport. In 68.0 IP out of the bullpen since the start of the 2010 season, Gomez has allowed 14 ER which accounts for a 1.85 ERA. He’s from the same hometown as 2011 BlueClaws LHP Ervis Manzanillo.

RHP Colton Murray was a 13th round pick last year from the University of Kansas. In the summer of 2010 he posted 0.49 ERA and 8 saves in 18 appearances for the Brewster Whitecaps and was named to the Cape Cod League All-Star Team. In his first professional season, he allowed 10 ER in 30.0 IP after being sent to short-season Williamsport.

He was ranked the 91st player in the country prior to the season by College Baseball Daily.

RHP Jesus Pirela went 3-0, 4.34 out of the Williamsport pen last year, with 31 strikeouts in 29 innings. He moved to the bullpen in 2010 after starting for two years in the Venezuelan Summer League. Pirela is a native of Maracaibo.

Those are the guys from Williamsport that make the most sense. Plus, Bryan Morgado who we mentioned last week with the starters could also be added. Below, find a few others.

RHP Rye Davis joined the BlueClaws at the tail end of the year and pitched in one game. He gave up five runs in 24 innings with the GCL Phillies after signing with the Phillies out of Western Kentucky. Here is his WKU bio.

LHP Fabian Cota went 1-0, 3.52 with the GCL Phillies last year, striking out 25 hitters in 23 innings. He will turn 20 years old on April 13th, the day of the second home game. Cota signed his contract in September of 2010 and made his pro debut in the GCL. He’s from the same town in Mexico (Los Mochis) as former BlueClaws C Sebastian Valle.

RHP Paul Cusick went 3-2, 4.14 in the GCL last year and pitched two games with Williamsport at the end of the season. He was a 29th round pick in the draft last year from…UPenn, becoming the first Penn player drafted since 2004.

“It is surreal,” Cusick said. “I was home watching the Phillies game with my family and we had the computer up as well with the Draft on. We heard my name called and all looked at each other in amazement and we were all just so happy.”

RHP Ian Durham had a 3.62 ERA in 18 games with the GCL Phillies last year, striking out 24 and walking 10 in 36 innings. He was a 28th round pick from Cal-Lutheran and the 18th Kingsmen player ever to be drafted.

That’s 12 guys there, and as we said, probably seven relievers will be on the Opening Day roster. Enjoy, and we’ll continue the series next week.

Road to Lakewood: Starting Pitchers

Friday, February 17th, 2012

road-to-lakewoodWe do this every year, and with about seven weeks left until the start of the 2012 baseball season, it’s time to kick off our Road to Lakewood series for 2012! Each week, we’ll look at a different positional grouping, going from starting pitchers to relief pitchers to infielders and concluding with what should be a crowded outfield group again this year.

Going every Friday for the next four weeks takes us right through March 9th, and the minor league spring training games are slated to start on March 12th.

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. The BlueClaws will have a five-man starting rotation as always but this list is obviously going to exceed that.

Also – we have some comments sprinkled in here from Steve Noworyta, Phillies assistant director of minor league operations, who we spoke to earlier this week. On with the list:

LHP Adam Morgan was a 3rd round pick in the draft last year from the University of Alabama. He had an excellent season in the NY-Penn League, going 3-3, 2.01, an ERA that would have ranked 3rd if it qualified. He gave up two runs or less in nine of his 11 starts, and just three in the other. Morgan turns 22 on February 27th and it wouldn’t surprise us at all if he went straight to Clearwater. Baseball America has him 29th in the system.

Said Noworyta: “He came into camp when we signed him and he seemed more polished – his secondary pitches had command to them and he was really able to handle that level. He knew how to pitch when he entered the minor leagues.”

RHP Perci Garner made a few headlines last week when he was ranked in Keith Law’s Phillies top ten (at #9, Insider). He was 21st in Baseball America’s list (not saying either is right or wrong). He was a 2nd round pick in 2010 from Ball State and after being limited to four innings that year, he threw 30 in 2011, striking out 30 and having just a 1.20 ERA.  The former QB, who passed for over 8,800 yards in high school, has a fastball that touches 96 on the radar gun and figures to be in the Lakewood starting rotation this year.

Said Noworyta: “He’s the one that’s made the biggest strides from the draft. The velocity is back. His work ethic is unbelievable. He’s the guy we thought we had when we drafted him. He’s down in camp now (we talked to Steve on February 14th) and this is going to be a big year for him.

LHP Lino Martinez was Williamsport’s Opening Day starter last year and went 6-2, 2.79, an ERA drop of 2.14 runs from 2010 in the Gulf Coast League. He will not turn 20 until September 17th, so if he comes to Lakewood, which we figure he will, Martinez will be one of the youngest pitchers in the league, like Ervis Manzanillo was last year. Like Manzanillo, Martinez is from Venezuela.

Said Noworyta: “He had a lot of developing to do when he first came to us but we saw the ability for a left-hander that with a little more size and strength and with some time he would be able to have some success.”

RHP Colin Kleven was a 33rd round pick in 2009 from British Columbia, Canada. He turns 21 on April 15th and last year went 4-6, 4.84 with Williamsport. He’s a groundball pitcher (1.49 groundout/airout ratio) and a hard thrower. In a July 16th game, he threw seven shutout innings on three hits, no walks, and got 15 groundball outs. Last year, one BlueClaw came up from extended spring training and was asked who was playing well and he said, without hesitation, “Kleven looks awesome.” Local article from spring training 2010.

Said Noworyta: “He did a real nice job last year. He’s a big, strong kid that needs to put a little more size on him. He’s trying to get used to his body size and develop that and he should be a pretty good package.”

RHP Mike Nesseth was a 17th round pick in 2010 out of Nebraska who was drafted in the 15th round in 2009 by the Angels. He didn’t pitch for the Phillies in 2010 after having Tommy John Surgery and went 3-6, 3.21 with the Crosscutters last year, making the All-Star team. Marti Wolever saw Nesseth as a sophomore and thought he might be a 1st round pick (article) before his surgery. Read that whole article, it’s excellent, and Carlos Ruiz has a nice comparison for Nesseth. Baseball America has him listed under relief pitchers, but all 14 of his appearances last year were as a starter.

That’s five, all from Williamsport. Here are two more who pitched in the Gulf Coast League in 2011:

RHP Ramon Oviedo is a 21 year old from the Dominican Republic who signed as an amateur free agent in April of 2010. He pitched three games last year after a full summer in 2010 with the Dominican Summer League Phillies before joining the GCL Phillies. In the GCL, he went 4-2, 3.86 in 56 innings pitched last year, being only one of two pitchers (the next player listed) to start ten games for the GCL Phillies.

LHP Ethan Stewart was a 47th round pick in 2010 from New Mexico Junior College. He didn’t pitch in 2010 and last year, went 4-4, 3.62 with the GCL Phillies (54 Ks in 54.2 innings, 1.97 groundout/airout ratio). He got a cup of coffee in Williamsport, allowing two runs over nine innings in two outings. Stewart, who is Canadian like Kleven, turned 21 in January. Baseball America had him 16th among GCL prospects, called him a “potential steal in his pro debut this summer” (here, subscription) and he keeps a detailed book on opposing hitters.

One tweener:

LHP Bryan Morgado was a 4th round pick in 2010 from the University of Tennessee, where he was friends with 2010 BlueClaws LHP Nick Hernandez. He began last year with Lakewood but finished it with Williamsport. With the Crosscutters, he went 2-0, 2.36 with 39 Ks in 34.1 innings. Most of his work has been as a reliever (28 of 31 career appearances). There are a few reasons we list him here, however. One, he made three starts at the end of last year for Williamsport, allowing 6 ER in 15 IP with 13 Ks, which shows the Phillies might decide to make him a starter. Two, he’s only thrown 59.1 innings in two years so he needs the innings. And three, Baseball America lists him as a starter in their prospect handbook.

And one potential returnee:

LHP Nick Hernandez was outstanding for Lakewood at the start of the 2010 season, going 3-1, 1.61 in eight starts. However, his last start was on May 16th, 2010 and he took a no-hitter into the 8th inning. However, he was injured between starts, made a few rehab appearances with the GCL Phillies later in the summer, and didn’t pitch at all in 2011. Had he not gotten hurt, he wasn’t going to be with Lakewood too much longer, perhaps only through the end of the first half, but because of the layoff, we could see him for a little bit at the start of 2012.

There’s nine potential Lakewood starting pitchers.

The Handbook Has Arrived

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

handbookblogThis is always one of the books I am most eager-to-open each year – the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, which you can order online through Baseball America. They release their top ten prospects each year and in the fall we did a Q&A with Matt Forman, who handed the Phillies list. Today, however, we go from 1-10, all the way up to 30.

11-20: 11 – Roman Quinn, SS (2nd round pick in 2011); 12 – Lisalberto Bonilla, RHP (2011 BlueClaw); 13 – Carlos Tocci, OF (16 year old signed with Phillies on August 23rd, his birthday); 14 – Cesar Hernandez, 2B (Played last year with Clearwater after skipping Lakewood); 15 – Aaron Altherr, OF (split last year between Lakewood and Williamsport and could be back with the BlueClaws); 16 – Ervis Manzanillo, LHP (2011 BlueClaw); 17 – Julio Rodriguez, RHP (2010 BlueClaw heads to Reading this year); 18 – Kyrell Hudson (3rd round pick in 2009 could open with Lakewood this year); 19 – Harold Garcia, 2B (2009 BlueClaw missed most of last year with torn ACL but could open this year with Lehigh Valley); 20 – Larry Greene, OF (Phillies supplemental first-round pick in 2011).

21-30: 21 – Perci Garner, RHP (2nd round pick in 2010 likely joins Lakewood this year); 22 – Austin Hyatt, RHP (2009 BlueClaw heads to Lehigh Valley this year); 23 – Mitchell Walding, SS (Phillies 5th round pick in 2011); 24 – Leandro Castro, OF (2009-10 BlueClaw); 25 – Joe Savery, LHP (made Phillies debut in September, never played here); 26 – Austin Wright, LHP (2011 8th round pick went 1-2, 2.67 in seven BlueClaws starts); 27 – Zach Collier, OF (played here in 2009 and 11); 28 – JC Ramirez, RHP (acquired in Cliff Lee trade from Seattle); 29 – Adam Morgan, LHP (3rd round pick in 2011 from Alabama went 3-3, 2.01 with Williamsport); 30 – Michael Schwimer, RHP (made Phillies debut in September).

(Yes, my desk is a little messy. Yes, that’s my Atlantic-10 Tournament pamphlet – Go Fordham! Yes, that’s my Big Brown bobblehead doll).

Franco, Altherr in BA’s NYPL Top 20

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

francoaltherrTwo 2011 BlueClaws – Maikel Franco and Aaron Altherr – were ranked among the top 20 prospects in the NY-Penn League by Baseball America, who released their annual league rankings yesterday.

Franco, a 3rd baseman from the Dominican Republic, ranked 4th, started the year with Williamsport and made a cameo with Lakewood during the summer. He hit .287 with two home runs with Williamsport, mostly as an 18-year old (he turned 19 on August 25th). With the BlueClaws, he went 8-65 with one home run, an absolute laser over the left-centerfield wall off of a 96 mph fastball from 2nd overall pick Jameson Taillon of West Virginia. Presumably, he will be Lakewood’s Opening Day third baseman next year.

Altherr, an outfielder from Arizona, ranked 20th. He began the year with Lakewood, hitting .211 with one home run in the first half before going to the NY-Penn League, where he hit .260 with 5 home runs. He ranked 15th on the same list last year and entered 2011 as a top ten prospect in the organization as also ranked by Baseball America. Altherr played mostly centerfield with Lakewood (all 39 of his games played were in center), but was the left-fielder with Williamsport (61 games in left vs 11 in center) as Kyrell Hudson (former 3rd round pick who hit .275 with 28 stolen bases) played center. We would expect Altherr to man left and Hudson center for Lakewood in 2012 as well.

Previously: Gulf Coast League Top 20

Road to Lakewood: GCL Top 20

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

H/T to Phuture Phillies for the heads up…Baseball America puts out their annual top 20 prospects by league, and yesterday they released their report on the Gulf Coast League.

The only Phillies player on the list was LHP Ethan Stewart, a 47th round pick in 2010 from New Mexico Junior College, who ranked 16th.

Stewart made his pro debut in 2011 and went 4-4, 3.62 in 11 starts (54 Ks in 54.2 innings) and then gave up two runs in nine innings with Williamsport at the end of the season.

Only three 2011 draftees made the list, in part because many sign much closer to the August 15th deadline, too late to make a major impact.

He’s 6-5, 210 from Canada.

Last year, Jesse Biddle and Aaron Altherr were both on the GCL Phillies top 20 list and both opened the season with the BlueClaws.

Road to Lakewood: Relief Pitchers

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Here’s out last positional grouping of potential 2011 BlueClaws, the relief pitchers. We’ve looked at starters, infielders, and outfielders, and today we round out a potential roster. Obviously not everyone on this list will be here (we listed nine for probably seven spots and that doesn’t include some potential starters who could be relievers), but these are a few of the guys we’ll look for when the spring training games start.

Note: The Road to Lakewood is presented by Viridian Energy. Click here for information about how you can “Go Green” and save money on your electric bill. It’s fast, it’s easy, and you save, all with Viridian Energy…Power with Purpose.

Previously in this Series: Road to Lakewood, The Infield, Road to Lakewood: The Outfield, Road to Lakewood: Starting Pitchers.

Bradley Blanks: Bradley was undrafted out of University of South Carolina Upstate back in 2008. He played Independent league ball in Evansville after graduating for one year, took a year off of baseball in 2009, then started back in Independent ball in 2010 for the Windy City Thunderbolts. The Phillies noticed him and signed the 25-year-old to a contract last July. He reported to Williamsport where he pitched in relief in 16 games, going 4-1 with a 2.71 ERA and 1 save.

Jacob Borup: The Phillies nabbed Jake with the 23rd pick last June as a redshirt sophomore out of Arizona State. He has started and pitched in relief in his career, but we have him with the relievers here (guess). He was a starter at ASU, and then he went 2-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 16 appearances (4 starts) last year with Williamsport. Great read on Borup from the ASU student paper who has a pretty interesting back story. He graduated Mountain View High School in Mesa, AZ in 2005. Jake redshirted his first year as a Sun Devil, following his freshmen year he headed to Charleston, WV to complete a two year Mission through the Mormon Church. He returned to school, pitched well for two years, and the Phillies took notice selecting him in the 23rd round.

Garrett Claypool: Garrett was a 32nd round pick by the Oakland A’s in 2009, decided to return to UCLA for his senior season, and it turned out to be a smart move. He had his best season as a collegiate going 8-3 with a 2.29 ERA and limiting the opposition to a .174 batting average, best on the team and second-lowest among Pac-10 pitchers, and the Phillies nabbed him in the 11th round last June. He reported to Williamsport and went 3-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 12 appearances (4 starts). He also struck out 45 over just 34 innings for the Crosscutters. Here is a profile on the 6’2, 170 pound righty over on PhuturePhillies.com. Garrett is another young guy with experience starting and relieving and we did put him in the starter list too. He was throwing in the high 80’s at UCLA, but was up to 92-93 in Williamsport.

Juary Gomez: Gomez is a very raw 20-year-old out of Aragua, Venezuela. After two seasons with the Phillies Venezuelan Summer League team, he came to America last season and dominated. He started out with the Phillies Gulf Coast League team and pitched to the tune of a 0.66 ERA in 27.1 IP over 20 appearances. Juary also closed out 17 games and collected 9 saves. He made one appearance for Williamsport late last season and could certainly come right to Lakewood this year.

Matt Hutchison: Matt was picked by Philadelphia in the 25th round last June out of UNLV. He started and closed for the Rebels, going 6-4 with 4 saves and a 4.46 ERA as a senior. Beginning with the GCL Phillies, he threw 34.1 innings over 13 appearances with a 2.36 ERA and a 4-0 record. He made a few appearances with Clearwater at the tail end of the season. Matt is a 22-year-old native of Lancaster, CA. Here is his UNLV bio.

Chase Johnson: The Phillies nabbed Chase in the 21st round of the amateur player draft back in 2009 out of South Mountain Community College. He is a big, bulky righty who just looks like a closer at 6’5”, 245 pounds. In 2009 with the GCL Phillies, he threw 29.2 innings over 15 appearances, striking out 35 and finishing with a 3.94 ERA. Then he followed that up by spending 2010 as the closer for the Williamsport Crosscutters. In 26 appearances he threw 29 innings, posted a 2.79 ERA, and collected 15 saves. With experience the past two years closing out games, he very well could anchor the back end of the BlueClaws bullpen in 2011.

Eric Pettis: We had Eric with the starters, but we’ll put him here too…Almost immediately after being drafted by Philadelphia in the 35th round out of UC Irvine last June, he was thrust into the starting rotation for Williamsport. He started 5 games, pitched in 20 games total and finished the regular season a dazzling 8-0 with a 1.37 ERA (67 Ks and 7 BBs in 59 IP). Williamsport got knocked out on the last day (Sunday before Labor Day), and on the bus home, Chris Truby told Pettis he was coming to Lakewood for their playoffs, and he appeared in three of the seven playoff games. Here is a great interview with Eric over at PhuturePhillies.com and one with BlueClaws Blog in which he talks about Tweeting. His 2011 is kind of a mystery. He could be in Lakewood’s rotation or bullpen (he pitched in the pen to limit his innings), or he could be in Clearwater’s bullpen too. Considering how dominant he was with Williamsport, it wouldn’t be shocking if he skipped Lakewood this year.

(more…)

Road to Lakewood: Starting Pitchers

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to preview different units on what could be the 2011 BlueClaws. Today’s our third look, the starting pitchers. Obviously not everyone on this list will be here (we listed 11), and some will be here in the bullpen, but these are a few of the guys we’ll look for when the spring training games start.

Note: The Road to Lakewood is presented by Viridian Energy. Click here for information about how you can “Go Green” and save money on your electric bill. It’s fast, it’s easy, and you save, all with Viridian Energy…Power with Purpose.

Previously in this Series: Road to Lakewood, The Infield, Road to Lakewood: The Outfield.

Starting Pitchers (in alphabetical order)
Jesse Biddle: Jesse’s story is one straight out of a Disney movie. A hometown kid from Mount Airy, PA, the Phillies drafted him 27th overall in the 1st round in the 2010 Amateur Draft. He signed quickly and went to the Gulf Coast League and pitches well. He got bumped up to Williamsport (very rare for a high school draft pick to get to Williamsport in their rookie year), and again he pitched well. Here is a BlueClaws.com article on Biddle from the Winter Tour earlier this month, and another from Phillies.com. He was a combined 4-1 with a 3.92 ERA in 12 starts last season between the Gulf Coast League Phillies and Williamsport. Baseball America has him 8th in the system. Considering we’ve seen a number of second-year pros open with the BlueClaws (Jason Knapp, Anthony Gose, Brody Colvin for example), he has a good shot. He said at the Winter Tour his first goal was to start here.

David Buchanan: David was a 7th Round Pick by the Phillies in last June’s MLB Amateur Draft out of Georgia State University. He started all 13 game he pitched in with Williamsport last season, and went 3-1 with a 4.21 ERA. A native of Peachtree City, GA, David pitched for two years at Chipola Junior College in Florida before finishing his college career after one year with Georgia State. Here is an article from Georgia State’s Athletics website after he signed with the Phillies. The article notes that he was the highest drafted GSU player, behind Scott Youngbauer (10th rd, 2000). Youngbauer is also a former BlueClaw (2001-2002). A The 6’3”, 190 pound right-hander, Buchanan throws a mid 90’s fastball to go along with a curveball.

Lendy Castillo: A 21-year old from the Dominican Republic, he pitched quite well last year for the GCL Phillies (3-1, 2.22). He struck out 51 in 44 innings and opponents hit .212 off him. Moved into the rotation for the final month, he’ll have to earn a spot but that was a very promising US debut.

Garett Claypool: An 11th round pick from UCLA, Claypool went 3-3, 3.18 with Williamsport last year, 12 starts and four relief appearances. Like others, his bullpen outings could certainly have been related to a heavy workload from the spring season, which for UCLA lasted into the College World Series. Was a 32nd round pick in 2009 by Oakland. He gave up three runs in 1/3 of an inning in his final appearance, raising his ERA from 2.41.

Percival Garner: 2nd round pick of the Phillies last year from Ball State, where he went to play QB for now Michigan coach Brady Hoke. He switched his focus to baseball (wisely, obviously) after being ranked the top pitching prospect in the Great Lakes summer collegiate league in 2009. He made just two appearances with Williamsport last year (he was shut down for precautionary reasons), but touches 96 with his fastball. Baseball America has him 21st in the system.

Nick Hernandez: One who you wouldn’t think would be here except for a loaded Clearwater rotation (Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, Jonathan Pettibone, Trevor May, Colby Shreve). He was 3-1, 1.61 with the BlueClaws, including taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning on May 16th at Greensboro. That was his final appearance of the season, however. He was with the BlueClaws (inactive) during the playoffs and said he felt great, 100%. I would be surprised if he’s with the BlueClaws when the season opens, and the only reason its even a consideration is the Clearwater potential rotation. But again, I think he’s pitched his last game as a BlueClaw.

Mario Hollands: A hard throwing (see a trend?) left-hander, Mario is another 2010 Philadelphia draft pick. Chosen in the 10th round out of UC Santa Barbara, Mario is a California native. PresidioSports.com did a nice write up on Hollands after the Phillies selected him last June. The 6’5”, 205 pound lefty hopes to build upon his first taste of pro ball at the end of last year where he went 4-4 with a 4.57 ERA in 14 starts with Williamsport. He throws 5 pitches: a four seam fastball which tops out around 91 mph, two seam fastball, curveball, slider, and a changeup.

Craig Fritsch: The Phillies plucked him in the 16th round last June out of Baylor University. He was an 8th round pick by the Detroit Tigers in 2009, but decided to stay in school. A 6’5”, 190 pound right hander, he finished 2-0 with a 4.38 ERA in 16 games (7 starts) with Williamsport. Faded at the end (8 ER in last 3 IP), raising his ERA from 2.65. Three-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Role. Not sure exactly what the Phillies plans are for him, as in starter or reliever. Certainly possible (likely?) that his relief appearances were related to a heavy workload from the long college season.

Ervis Manzanillo: A 21-year old lefty from Venezuela, Manzanillo split 2010 between the GCL Phillies (3-0, 2.16 in seven starts) and Williamsport (1-2, 6.29 in six starts). Seems like a big difference, but basically in the Penn-League he just started walking guys. With the Crosscutters, he only allowed 19 hits in 24 innings, to go along with 23 strikeouts, very good numbers. However, he walked 18, compared to 11 (in 33 IP) with the GCL Phillies. Don’t know much else about him beyond that, but certainly you can put him in the mix.

Eric Pettis: Almost immediately after being drafted by Philadelphia in the 35th round out of UC Irvine last June, he was thrust into the starting rotation for Williamsport. He started 5 games, pitched in 20 games total and finished the regular season a dazzling 8-0 with a 1.37 ERA (67 Ks and 7 BBs in 59 IP). Williamsport got knocked out on the last day (Sunday before Labor Day), and on the bus home, Chris Truby told Pettis he was coming to Lakewood for their playoffs, and he appeared in three of the seven playoff games. Here is a great interview with Eric over at PhuturePhillies.com and one with BlueClaws Blog in which he talks about Tweeting. His 2011 is kind of a mystery. He could be in Lakewood’s rotation or bullpen (he pitched in the pen to limit his innings), or he could be in Clearwater’s bullpen too. Considering how dominant he was with Williamsport, it wouldn’t be shocking if he skipped Lakewood this year.

Julio Rodriguez: On the surface, he shouldn’t be back here. From the time he re-joined the BlueClaws in July (he was here for a few weeks in early June) through the end of the season, his line was as follows: 39 IP, 3 ER, 19 H, 11 BB, 68 K. He could not pitch better. However, when Clearwater’s rotation could conceivably be: Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, Jonathan Pettibone, Trevor May, Colby Shreve (plus Matt Way, maybe Nick Hernandez too), Julio could be here for a few months at the start of 2011. He was an 8th round pick by the Phillies in 2008 out of his native Puerto Rico. Check out this nice read on Julio written a few weeks ago by Jay Floyd at PhoulBallz. Rodriguez also pitched over the winter for Puerto Rico in qualifying for the Pan-American games, and he went 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 11 games for the Gigantes of the Puerto Rican Winter League. Baseball America has him 25th in the system.

Road to Lakewood: The Outfield

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to preview different units on what could be the 2011 BlueClaws. Today’s our second look, the outfielders. Obviously not everyone on this list will be here (we’ve listed seven), but these are a few of the guys we’ll look for when the spring training games start.

Note: The Road to Lakewood is presented by Viridian Energy. Click here for information about how you can “Go Green” and save money on your electric bill. It’s fast, it’s easy, and you save, all with Viridian Energy…Power with Purpose.

Previously in this Series: Road to Lakewood, The Infield.

Outfielders (in no particular order)
Zach Collier: Zach, a supplemental first-rounder in 2008, split 2009 between Lakewood and Williamsport, hitting .221 with 20 stolen bases as an 18-year old. Last year, he had hand surgery and missed the entire season. He just turned 20 (in September) and we’d expect him back with the BlueClaws.

Gauntlett Eldemire: The Phillies took the outfielder in the 6th round out of the University of Ohio, where he led the league in on-base percentage and was second in the league in slugging percentage. However, Eldemire did not play at all last year (after the draft, he played his college season) because of a wrist injury suffered when he was hit by a pitch in April. Here is an interview with Eldemire from Phuture Phillies. Because of a large number of potential outfielders and the fact he did not play last summer, it’s possible he starts in extended and joins Lakewood later on, but that could certainly change with a big spring.

Miguel Alvarez: A 21-year old from Santo Domingo, Alvarez burst onto the scene last year with Williamsport, hitting .329 in 258 at bats (and playing all three outfield positions). That’s 69 points higher than he hit in the GCL in 2009 and 41 points higher than he hit in 2008, his final season in the Dominican Summer League. He stole 32 bases in 2008 and 13 last year despite reaching base 15 times more, so he found it tougher to read the pitchers. That said, in the NYPL, most of the pitchers were 22-23 year olds just drafted out of college, so last year was certainly a big season for Alvarez.

Domingo Santana: Baseball America has had Santana among the top 10 Phillies prospects each of the last two years. In 2010, he opened the season with Lakewood at age 17, becoming the youngest player in team history (nine months younger than Freddy Galvis on Opening Day 2008). If he opens with Lakewood this year, he’ll be among the youngest players in the league again. His high point with Lakewood last year was a 14th inning home run at 11:56 pm on April 23rd to end a 14-inning game. He hit .182 with Lakewood and .237 with Williamsport, with 8 combined home runs, as the youngest player in each league.

Geancarlo Mendez: Don’t know much about Mendez, a 21-year old from the Dominican Republic. He hit .264-6-40 with the GCL Phillies and played a few games in Williamsport at the end of the season. He’s also useful defensively. In three years (two in DSL), he’s played 64 games at first, 42 at second, and 51 in the outfield (where he played last year).

Anthony Hewitt: A first-round pick in 2008, Hewitt was with Lakewood last year and hit .202 with 11 HRs. According to this report in the Philadelphia Inquirer from September, he could be back here this season.

Drew Rundle: A 23-year old from San Diego, he was a 14th round pick of the Cubs in 2006 and the Phillies signed him in August. He played the last month with Williamsport, going 12-46.

That’s a bunch of OFs right there, but don’t forget about two other players: Aaron Altherr and Kelly Dugan. Both well regarded players spent last year primarily in the outfield. We listed them with the infielders (Altherr at third and Dugan at first) based on reports that they would move in this year. But we certainly wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if either of those two guys also spent time in what figures to be a crowded outfield.