Team: Lakewood Blueclaws
Standing: 6th in Northern Division (1st Half), 7th in Northern Division (2nd Half)
Top Hitter Stat Lines:
Willians Astudillo – 117 G – 4 HR – 2 SB – .333/.366/.433
J.P. Crawford – 60 G – 3 HR – 14 SB – .295/.398/.405
Andrew Knapp – 75 G – 5 HR – 3 SB – .290/.354/.438
Andrew Pullin – 129 G – 9 HR – 6 SB – .270/.332/.374
Dylan Cozens – 132 G – 16 HR – 23 SB – .248/.303/.415
Top Pitcher Stat Lines:
Yacksel Rios – 102.1 IP – 3.69 ERA – 40 BB – 73 K
Yoel Mecias – 33.2 IP – 3.21 ERA – 9 BB -23 K
Jon Prosinski – 96.2 IP – 3.82 ERA – 24 BB – 52 K
Mark Leiter Jr. – 84.1 IP – 4.28 ERA – 22 BB – 85 K
Julio Reyes – 81.1 IP – 3.65 ERA – 24 BB – 55 K
Top Hitting Prospect – Carlos Tocci
(J.P. Crawford was counted with Clearwater Threshers for this exercise)
I have been a noted supporter of Carlos Tocci the past two seasons and I will continue to be so has he gets stronger and starts to put up results on the baseball field. Once again this year, Tocci’s stat line of .242/.297/.324 was uninspiring, but Tocci hit his first 2 home runs as a professional and showed other signs of growth. In July Tocci put together a monster month, hitting .293/.339/.448 with 6 stolen bases to only 2 caught stealings. He was unable to build on this success as he tired in August and the stats dropped off. Beyond July Tocci saw his ISO on the year go up .042 from 2013 and his BABIP increased to a more normal .297 as he impacted the ball better. His triple slash line is fairly similar between the first and second half was fairly similar (a .020 increase in ISO aside). However, his walk rate had a slight uptick from 4.2% to to 5.3% and his strikeout rate fell from 20.1% to 15.9% as he made better contact at the plate. In the outfield Tocci is still an excellent defender and could see his speed return as he gets stronger, which could enhance the range part of the profile. This Phillies have him on a mandatory workout plan this offseason with a focus not only on just getting bigger, but adding muscle to his lower half to help him maintain his results over a full season and get better results out of his natural speed.
Top Pitching Prospect – Yoel Mecias
All offseason we are going to be debating Yoel Mecias vs 2014 second round pick Matt Imhof. Both pitchers will be 21 next month (Mecias is 15 days older), they are both left handed, and both had fastballs with similar velocity (89-92 T 94). Mecias is coming off Tommy John surgery last July and Imhof has the unproven track record of a recent draftee. When it comes to the secondaries, both have a pitch that will flash plus (Mecias’ changeup and Imhof’s slider), but of the two pitches Mecias’ changuep might have the higher ceiling. Both are working to master their third pitch, and both will show average potential there. Imhof as the larger workhorse frame, but Mecias offers projection, and that is why he wins out for me here. Imhof can work the secondary pitches and control to improve, there is a chance with Mecias as he is more removed from surgery and he puts on more muscle will have a fastball that is sitting plus velocity with even more in there. If he can do that and pair it with the pre-injury changeup he has a ton of upside. Both pitchers should be in the Thresher’s rotation to start 2015.
Talking about Astudillo:
Lets start off with the good, Willians Astudillo is the best pure hitter in the Phillies system, his strikeout rate was the best in the minor leagues and it wasn’t close. He is extremely tough for pitchers to get out and can put the bat on nearly any pitch. The bad is he doesn’t have a defensive home. Since the devastating knee injury in 2013 he has not been able to show enough defense behind the plate to be a regular, at first base he lacks the power you want, and he is short, in left field there is once again the lack of power and the range is suboptimal. This has the left the Phillies to try everything with him as he has seen practice at 2B and 3B now, with the hope that he can either stick at one of the positions or fake it enough that he can become a super utility bat. It is an interesting experiment since Astudillo is more athletic than he looks, has some bad weight he can lose, and will be one more year removed from knee surgery. If he is limited to 1B/LF he is not really a prospect as the lack of power limits him to a fringe bench role. But if he can be a guy who can play C/1B/2B/3B/LF at a level that won’t kill your team that is certainly a guy who should be on a prospect list somewhere. For now I am going to take a wait and see approach on him as a whole to see how the positional flexibility develops.
Back From Nowhere:
One of the most pleasant surprises of the Blueclaws’ season was third baseman Mitch Walding. A former 5th round pick, the Phillies signed Walding for $800,000 in 2011 and he has been a disappointment since. He missed the start of the year due to surgery to remove a rib (which was cracked during the 2013 season) and started out by hitting .208/.283/.260 in the first half on the season, including 40 strikeouts in the month of May. In the second half the year Walding experienced a real turn around hitting .258/.325/.452 with 6 HRs and 20 2Bs over 62 games. The strikeout rate is still high, and the power is still behind what you would like from third base, but he is a very good defender at the hot corner. He is still behind Zach Green in the third base depth chart and prospect rankings for me, but he has come a long way to redeeming some prospect value.