2014 Reading Fightin Phils Recap

Team: Reading Fightin Phils
Record: 66-76
Standing: 6th in the Eastern Division

Top Hitter Stat Lines:

Cameron Perkins – 52 G – 3 HR – 5 SB – .342/.408/.495
Jake Fox – 78 G – 22 HR – 0 SB – .308/.383/.591
Kelly Dugan – 76 G – 5 HR – 1 SB – .296/.383/.435
Tommy Joseph – 21 G – 5 HR – 0 SB – .282/.345/.551
Carlos Alonso – 127 G – 10 HR – 8 SB – .272/.367/.396

Top Pitcher Stat Lines:

Ken Giles – 15 IP – 1.20 ERA – 5 BB – 29 K
Adam Loewen – 103.1 IP – 3.31 ERA – 53 BB – 75 K
Colton Murray– 59.0 IP – 2.29 ERA – 22 BB – 60 K
Severino Gonzalez – 158.2 IP – 4.59 ERA – 34 BB – 115 K
Aaron Nola – 24.0 IP – 2.63 ERA – 5 BB – 15 K

Top Hitting Prospect – Kelly Dugan

I am a big believer in Kelly Dugan and his ability to hit.  Some evaluators prefer Cam Perkins who set the Eastern League on fire to start 2014.  For me the only outstanding question with Dugan is whether he can stay healthy over a full season.  The walk rate rebounded for Dugan this year as his strikeout rate also decreased.  His power numbers were down, especially in the second half of the year, but it appears part of it was a concerted effort to drive the ball to all fields (per Jay Floyd interviews with hitting coach Rob Ducey and manager Dusty Wathan).  In addition to going the other way Dugan was working on having less uppercut to his swing and creating a more level plane for hard contact.

Here is his batted ball break down:

201320142nd Half 2014

And here is the percentage of balls to the outfield hit to each field:

2nd Half31.338.730.0

As you can see he is elevating the ball less than he has in the past, but he is becoming a more complete hitter able to drive it to all fields.  The key in 2015 is can he continue to put the two approaches together into a plan at the plate that allows him to both drive the baseball with power but be able to take the ball to all fields.  Dugan is still learning to be a full-time left-handed hitter, and I really believe in his ability to make contact.

Top Pitching Prospect – Jesse Biddle

Given that Aaron Nola qualified as my top pitching prospect for Clearwater this leaves this to Jesse Biddle mostly by default.  On the surface Biddle’s season line of 94.1 IP 4.58 ERA 51 BB 92 K is concerning for the preseason #3 prospect, but May 27 Biddle was hit in the head with a piece of hail, after missing a start, Biddle returned to the mound for 4 disastrous starts.  In retrospect based on interviews Biddle gave, he was struggling due to post-concussion symptoms, and the Phillies shut him down for over a month.  When he returned he showed mixed results from both rust and a hamstring issue.

Before Concussion: 63 IP 3.14 ERA 3.7 BB/9 9.14 K/9
After Concussion: 31.1 IP 7.47 ERA 7.18 BB/9 8.04 K/9

When he is on, Biddle looks like a #4 starter with an outside chance at a #3.  He is at his best when he stays over top of the ball and he can command the FB away to lefties and down and in to righties.  When he is like this the curveball goes from a fringe average loopy pitch to being more down and hard, he can get it at the bottom of the zone and bury it in the dirt, additionally you can start to see the changeup separate itself out of the arsenal.  He still needs to polish up the control overall, and even when healthy he still sometimes will lose his release point up and hang his pitches.  But Biddle only turns 23 this August and when healthy is a guy who could factor into the 2015 Phillies.

What is Severino Gonzalez:

A year ago Severino Gonzalez was all the rage as he came from obscurity to put up a video game walk to strikeout rate and a 2.00 ERA, while ending the year in AA.  In 2014 the diminutive RHP put up a 4.59 ERA in a career high 158.2 IP, but allowed a concerning 23 HRs.  So who is Severino Gonzalez?  The fastball velocity was the level it was in 2013 as he sat 89-92 on the year, but was able to hold the velocity deeper into games.  He showed the ability to have 3 average secondary pitches in a curveball, changeup, and a slider/cutter.  He still has good control, though maybe not the command some thought he had.  He was unable to miss as many bats in the upper minors as he did in the lower minors, and the lack of overpowering stuff and height (coupled with a lower delivery) led him to being homer prone across AA.  Overall what you have is a #5 starting pitcher, that may get bumped to a long relief/spot starter role.  If he can get one of his pitches to take a step forward (and at 22 years old it isn’t impossible) he could stick in the back of a rotation.  He is unlikely to add more velocity as he already as a thick lower half, but he can continue to get stronger and more durable.  He isn’t the high ceiling guy some people mistook him for last year, but he is a nice prospect for a skinny kid from Panama who was an international after thought.

Next Wave Relievers:

This year saw Ken Giles vault himself from Reading to the show, but the cupboard is not bare in AA.  Colton Murray emerged this year with a 92-94 mph fastball and a plus curveball, he may not be a lights out reliever like Giles, but he may be able to slot into a Justin De Fratus role, by the middle of next season as a reliable middle reliever/7th inning arm.  Nefi Ogando has the raw stuff to get close to Giles, but he lacks the idea of where it is going.  The RHP can run his fastball up to 100 and a slider up 90, but he also put up a 6.27 ERA while walking 28 in 56 innings and being prone to explosive outings.  But if he can get the control in line he could be an impact late inning arm.  Austin Wright is a big bodied LHP, who also has no idea where is stuff is going.  In the past he could run the FB up to 94, but was more around 92 in 2014, but the curveball is still a solid second pitch.  If he can get healthy Wright could be a LOOGY sooner rather than later.  It seems like Tyler Knigge has been around forever (12th round 2010 draft), but the RHP put up a solid year in the high minors this year.  He still doesn’t miss enough bats, but he has a plus fastball and doesn’t walk to many while maintaining a good ground ball rate.

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.