2015 IronPigs Preview/Guide

The goal of this series to give a quick one stop look at each affiliate with a guide to the overall feel of each team as well as a quick look at all players, not just the prospects on the team.  These rosters will be changing throughout the year so keep up to date on who each player is on the team page under rosters as well as each of the individual player pages.  I will be working to make sure they are all at least up to date with preseason information.

Team Page

Overview:

Much like previous years, Lehigh Valley remains the holding pool for major league fill-ins.  While there are more prospects than past years, the overall talent level remains low to start the year.  The good news is that there are some very interesting players on this team trying to reclaim some former top prospect value.  Additionally, there should be some reinforcements from the stacked AA rotation at some point along the way.  Overall, the IronPigs probably have the weakest roster in terms of intrigue in the system, but they can look down at the rest of the system for a hint at how things could look in Allentown in a few years.

Players:

Prospects:

Severino Gonzalez – RHP – Top 50 #30
Gonzalez brings relatively pedestrian stuff with a fastball at 89-91 T92, but he has a whole host of pitches in his arsenal that he can throw for strikes.  The Phillies like his feel for pitching and think that he can be a back end starter in the majors.  I am a little less optimistic about whether he can miss enough bats to make it as a starter in the majors.  He does have a chance to pull a 2012 Tyler Cloyd season out in AAA.

Adam Morgan – LHP – Top 50 #45
Adam Morgan’s Top 50 ranking hides some of the true talent here, as Morgan was prospect 1B for me two years ago.  He is coming off two years of injury and is starting to flash some of his former stuff.  His fastball is more 89-92 right now, but he may be able to regain the 91-93 that was the hallmark of his breakout.  He has shown a plus slider and plus changeup in the past, and the slider is beginning to show bite again.  His curveball is a step behind the others and has become more of a show me pitch.  If he can regain previous form he could be a #3 starter, but he may be more #4/#5 these days.

Joely Rodriguez – LHP – Top 50 #24
Rodriguez’s stuff is better than his numbers and he will unleash a fastball at 91-93 with good sink.  The slider is the best secondary pitch with good two plane movement, and the changeup has some good fade to it.  Rodriguez generates a ton of ground ball contact, but doesn’t miss bats because he nibbles more than attacking hitters.  His potential outcome is huge as he has the stuff to hang in the middle of a rotation, but it is likely he will eventually move to the bullpen where the stuff plays up.

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez – RHP – Top 50 #33
Gonzalez is an interesting case.  He is not young, he has not been consistently healthy, but has decent stuff with some fatal flaws.  His stuff doesn’t fool anyone in the rotation due to a lack of command, feel, and sequencing.  In the bullpen last year he was dominant in the minors and showed premium velocity in the majors (average 94.9 mph, touched 98).  In the rotation he is not really interesting, but in the bullpen you have an interesting breakout candidate

Maikel Franco – 3B – Top 50 #3
Franco has some real flaws stemming from a swing that is long coupled with plate discipline that is really lacking in patience.  For Franco it is going to be about process more than results.  He should be able to put up big numbers in the modified park this year, but the key will be whether he is working pitchers to his pitch and punishing mistakes.  If Franco can get hot for a month or two he could be back in the majors in short time.

Tommy Joseph – C
When healthy, Joseph is an easy Top 20 prospect in the system because he has big time power and offensive potential behind the plate.  The good news is that Joseph is healthy right now, and at only 23 years old he may be primed to jump back up rankings.  Joseph still has some work still to do on the baseball field, his receiving can be a bit rough, especially at blocking low pitches.  On offense his hit tool needs some work, he has a lot of swing and miss, and while he will never be an elite contact guy, he does need to make enough contact to let the power show.  His ceiling is major league regular.

Hector Neris – RHP
Neris is a prototype middle relief prospect.  His fastball is in the low-90s and he pairs it with a splitter like change and a breaking ball.  There is not a lot upside here, but since he is on the 40 man roster he could end up sticking in a major league bullpen for a while if he can command his pitches consistently and not just throw them in the zone.

Shot at Major League Role:

Phillippe Aumont – RHP
Aumont showed the best stuff of his career this spring.  The big righty obviously has big problems and potential.  He doesn’t need command of his pitches, he just needs to throw enough strikes to have hitters respect all of his pitches.  Could be back in the majors by midseason or out of the org, equally likely to swing either way.

Paul Clemens – RHP
Clemens brings a fastball in the mid to high 90s and a curveball with good movement.  However, he lacks both control and feel so he is very hittable and doesn’t miss bats.  He will flash stuff to bring you hope, but he needs to learn how to pitch to have a major league role.

Tyler Knigge – RHP
Knigge brings a plus fastball with good sink, and a workable slider.  Much like Clemens, the lack of command makes him very hittable.  There is the stuff to be a middle reliever in here somewhere.

Adam Loewen – LHP
Besides being a great story, Loewen has a decent amount of value as a lefty who can start and relieve with a low 90s fastball and a power breaking ball.  Last year he showed some returning feel for his changeup, but it lags a bit.  Given his age Loewen is not part of any future plans, but he is a fun guy to keep an eye on, especially given the lack of lefty relief options on the big league club.

Sean O’Sullivan – RHP
SOS brings the straightest fastball ever, and two other pitches that resemble a breaking ball and a changeup.  He doesn’t belong in a major league rotation, but he will get some shots because he can throw a full workload and his stuff will get him some outs in between the shellings.

Seth Rosin – RHP
Last year was a whirlwind spring for Rosin after being selected in the Rule 5 draft and then being returned to the Phillies.  His stuff did not play up as much in the bullpen as hoped, but he throws a ton of strikes with a sinking low 90s fastball and fringe average slider and changeup.  He has future middle relief upside.

Edgar Duran – SS
Duran is a light hitting, good fielding shortstop that can handle second and third.  He probably never reaches the majors because he can’t hit, but he can probably do 90% of what Andres Blanco and Wilson Valdez have given the Phillies.

Cord Phelps – 2B
Phelps nearly made the Phillies this spring.  He is a bit older and lacks upside, but he is a more competent defender than Cesar Hernandez who continues to hold on to a major league roster spot by a thread.

Jordan Danks – CF
Danks really struggles to make good contact, which is a pity because he has some pop and is a good defender in all three outfield positions.  He has the profile to be a major league bench outfielder, but he might just end up being put on waivers.

Others:

Jason Berken – RHP
High 80s fastball and a long history of making AAA starts gets Berken a spot in the IronPigs bullpen.  Berken joins with Loewen to form the emergency starts for this team.

Rene Garcia – C
The Phillies liked the way Garcia caught games this spring, he is a backup and would likely get call over Joseph if Ruiz or Rupp went down to injury.

Russ Canzler – 1B/3B/OF
At this point Canzler is stuck in AAA, he just lacks the complete package to stick on a major league bench.  He should be an offensive force for the IronPigs after posting a .286/.360/.545 line a year ago.

Chase d’Arnaud – 2B/SS/3B
Despite sticking around for a while this spring, d’Arnaud has proved that he can’t really hit major league pitching.  He is purely AAA depth for a team lacking in high minors middle infielders.

Tyler Henson – 2B/OF
Some will cite Henson’s .272/.331/.415 line last year in AAA has a reason he should get a major league shot.  However, Henson misses a lot of pitches (27.1% K% in 2014) for a guy with ok power and speed and suspect defense.  Henson is already 27 and 2015 might be his last chance to get the plate discipline under control.

Chris McGuiness – 1B
Once an intriguing Rule 5 pick, McGuiness’s power is pretty much gone making him org filler at first base.

Chris Nelson – IF
Nelson hit well in AAA last year (.279/.355/.389), but with little power and horrible defense I wouldn’t be surprised to seem him pushed out at some point.

Brian Bugosevic – OF
If he was right handed, Bugosevic is probably in the majors right now.  However, he is now in his age 31 season and his power continue to decline leaving him with a limited overall skill set.

Darin Mastroianni – OF
Another journeyman with limited power, Mastroianni is also nearing the end of the line.  Given the lack of outfielders on the IronPigs he likely stick around for a bit.

The Rest of the Year

The IronPigs outfield will get a boost when Kelly Dugan returns from injury, but his timeline remains unclear.  It is also likely that Aaron Altherr will be up from AA by midseason to man center field.  On the pitching side Aaron Nola and Jesse Biddle should be up fairly quickly, though Nola may not stick around Allentown very long.  In the bullpen lefty Elvis Araujo and righty Nefi Ogando could move quickly up to AAA, as could righty Colton Murray.  Araujo and Ogando are more dominant back of the bullpen types, Murray is more middle relief.  By the end of the year the IronPigs could also see any of the other Reading starters (Eflin/Lively/Windle) if they have a good year, with Ben Lively being the most likely.

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.

9 comments

  1. nik

    Any chance we see JPC in Lehigh Valley this year?

    • Matt Winkelman

      Very low, with slow start to year it is more likely they just send him to Reading and not mess with him. His earliest ETA is mid-2016 anyway so this wouldn’t accelerate him much if any

  2. Matt, could you give a clearer idea of what you mean by “feel” for a pitcher. I tended to think of it as “sequencing and command,” but clearly its more than that.

    • Matt Winkelman

      It is both of those, I think of it also as knowing where to command it too, the overall knowledge of what you are doing. But a lot of overlap

  3. Romus

    Phillies should seriously start to think of MAG as a reliever/closer.
    Concentrating on his three best pitches, whatever they are on this day, he could dominant for that one inning.

    • I agree. It seems like the multitude-pitch thing and the innings are both not effective and harmful to his health. Pick your best two or three pitches, get out there and let it rip for an inning or two. I don’t care about the contract at this point–just get something out of him if it’s possible.

  4. First, agree with Romus on MAG: Seems like the 7 different pitches thing and the starter wear and tear is both not effective and hard on his arm. If they can get him well, I think the ‘pen is where he belongs. Pick the two or three best pitchers and let ‘er rip for one or two innings at a time.

    Next, even though the team seems like the least exciting from a prospect standpoint, there are a fair few established hitters on this team–perhaps of a slightly higher pedigree than in the past. We’ll see if it manifests, but I am expecting to win games pretty regularly as the season begins. From there, though, it will depend on when the guys start to filter up from Reading, and how they do when they get here–and how the tragedy unfolding in Philadelphia impacts our roster as they start to bring up the 4A guys.

    One final thing: I never quite took notice of it on Adam Loewen’s player page, but the dude is every inch as tall as the 6’6″ he’s listed. Gonna be interesting to see how they use him this year. He told me he’ll take the ball any way he can get it. Meanwhile there’s no way Jason Berken is 6’ tall. 5’10” in cleats, maybe.

  5. Rei De Bastoni

    Hey, Matt, I had a question: How much responsibility for pitch sequencing is on the pitcher vs. the catcher? It seems like both need some, but if one has a lot better feel for it than the other, then it would still work out with a good sequence as long as the less experienced one trusted the other.

  6. The Original Will

    For me on Franco, this year is as much about results as it is process for me. If we are giving him a pass on his mediocre overall results last year, it is solely because of process, which saw a significant uptick on productivity as the season progressed. If his OPS anything less than .900 this year, than I think we have to come more in line with some of the more pessimistic national writers who have been less keen on his overall potential.