2015 Lakewood Preview/Guide

Team Page

Overview:

The BlueClaws are far from the most stacked team in the system, the only top 10 prospects are defensive minded Deivi Grullon and Carlos Tocci.  The pitching staff is fairly unheralded, but features a pair of very interesting Latin arms in Ricardo Pinto and Elniery Garcia that join a pair of returning arms and two big college juniors signed/drafted in 2014.  The bullpen has a bunch of guys that throw hard paired with a couple of college seniors who really know how to pitch.  On the position player side, the BlueClaws can really play defense with an outfield that features 3 guys who started their careers in center field.  On the infield Malquin Canelo, Grenny Cumana, and Deivi Grullon give them three plus defenders.  At the corners Rhys Hoskins is a good defensive first baseman and third will be manned by some experienced college seniors.  There is some potential growth on the hitting side and plenty of speed to cause havoc on the base paths.  All together Lakewood is an incredibly exciting affiliate that could feature quite a few breakouts over the course of the year.  It will be my personal favorite team to follow this season.

Players:

Starters:

Ranfi Casimiro – RHP
Giant righty (6’8″) lives with a fastball in the low-90s.  Had a lot of problems in 2014 keeping his delivery in sync throughout starts.  He started to show a better curveball towards the end of the year and it showed in his ability to miss righty bats (61 Ks in 63.2 IP against RHBs).  If he can’t get his delivery together he will likely end up in the bullpen.  Overall he has a ton of potential if he can fill in is frame, but he is not as young as some of his contemporaries.

Elniery Garcia – LHP – Top 50 #16
Garcia was one of the most polished pitchers in the Phillies system last year, even though he was only 19 years old.  Garcia is a loose arm lefty with a fastball at 88-91 touching 92.  He has a potential plus curveball and a solid changeup.  He lacks some of the big upside of some of the other members of the rotation, but he might be one of the safest in the rotation.  If they need to promote a pitcher, he could be one of the first to move up.

Chris Oliver – RHP – Top 50 #36
Oliver was a bit of a project when the Phillies took him in the 4th round last year.  He has a plus or better fastball and a plus slider when at his best.  The Phillies took last year to really work to overhaul everything to get him to repeat his delivery in a way that would allow him to control his pitches.  If he works at his “lower” velocity he could be 90-92 touching 94, if he can go all out it will be more 92-95 touching 97.  If Oliver cannot work in the rotation he could be a dominant reliever.

Ricardo Pinto – RHP – Top 50 #20
Pinto was a real breakout prospect in Williamsport last year, with a fastball that is 91-94 touching 95 at his best.  His dominant pitch has been a plus changeup, but he will need to develop his slider to have a complete arsenal.  Pinto will attack hitters with his full arsenal and won’t nibble in the zone.  If he can develop a solid breaking ball he would be a mid rotation starter, though one small worry is that his career high innings pitched is 69, back in 2012.

Josh Taylor – LHP
Taylor was an amateur free agent signing last year after a good summer in the Northwoods League.  He has a starter’s frame and a fastball at 91-93 touching 94.  He will mix in an average breaking ball and changeup.  There is not a lot of mileage or instruction on Taylor’s arm so there could be some untapped potential here.

Tyler Viza – RHP
Viza had no business going to Lakewood last year, and even less business sticking around all year (as evidenced by his 17 losses).  Viza has a fastball in the 88-90 range and at times he showed the ability to generate a lot of ground balls.  He can fill the strikezone, but was very hittable last year and didn’t miss a ton of bats.  Regardless of his success it should go better for Viza in 2015 just based on having a better defense behind him.

Shane Watson – RHP
The Phillies first round pick in 2012 will begin the year on the restricted list after being suspended at the end of last season, but he will be spending that time ramping up from shoulder surgeries.  Watson has yet to really throw off a mound yet, but when he was healthy in 2013 he was 92-94 touching 96 with a plus curve, an above average cutter, and a developing changeup.  Given all of his injuries it will be nearly two years between starts for Watson so we have no clue what we will get from Watson going forward.

Drew Anderson – RHP – Top 50 #49
Anderson begins the year in Clearwater rehabbing from injury.  He spent half an injury shortened 2014 in Lakewood and had a good amount of success.  He has a low 90s fastball, an above average slider, and feel for changeup.  Anderson began to show the ability not just to throw strikes last year, but also the ability to miss bats.

Relievers:

Austin Davis – LHP
Davis was the Phillies was the Phillies 12th round pick in 2014, and while he was a starter at Cal State Bakersfield he will be making the move to the bullpen full time in 2015.  The big lefty was 89-90 touching 91 as a starter but was up to 94 as a starter early in the college season before wearing down.  It will be important to see if his stuff plays up out of the bullpen.

Joey DeNato – LHP
The tiny lefty was the University of Indiana’s ace in 2013 and 2014, but now is a full time reliever.  At his best he can ramp it up to 91, but is mostly 85-87 and won’t walk many while keep hitters off balance.  He will need to keep hitters guessing to have a long term future in the org.

Scott Harris – LHP
Harris will start on the DL before returning to Lakewood after a solid debut.

Matt Hockenberry – RHP
Another college starter moving full time to the bullpen, Hockenberry is one of the last players out of Temple University.  He will pitch leverage innings for the BlueClaws with a low-90s fastball and a hammer curveball.  Hockenberry will join with Rayburn to be the closer for the BlueClaws.

Calvin Rayburn – RHP
Rayburn is a side arming righty who made a mechanical change last year to get back to his college velocity of 93-95, which he pairs with a good slider.  He will be part of the mix for closer for Lakewood.

Alexis Rivero – RHP
Young righty (turned 20 last October), with a fastball that was 91-93 this spring.  He didn’t miss a lot of bats last week (7 strikeouts in 20.1 IP in GCL last year).  He will be a multi inning middle reliever for Lakewood.

Nick Rodesky – RHP
Rodesky was a summer 2014 signing out of independent ball.  The big righty had struggled with his control before signing, but after signing he showed better control (3 walks in 11.1 innings) while striking out a good amount of batters.  Rodesky brings a fastball at 90-92 touching 94 to go with a pair on breaking balls.  He had some shoulder issues this spring and will be a late addition to the team after he is done rehabbing in extended spring training.

Jesen Therrien – RHP
After struggling with control for much of his career, Therrien finally had it click last year after a demotion to Williamsport last year.  After the demotion he went 25.2 IP across the two levels (was promoted back to Lakewood) with only 15 hits, 7 runs, 8 walks, and 26 strikeouts.  Therrien’s fastball was up to 95 and he paired it with a hammer breaking ball.  Like many members of the Lakewood bullpen he could jump up if he can carry over the control he has shown in a small sample size.

Jason Zgardowski – RHP
Along with Josh Taylor, Zgardowski was one of a few undrafted amateur free agents signed last year by the Phillies.  Zgardowski was 92-94 touching 96 last year, he mixes in a slider and is working on a changeup and two-seam fastball.  The Phillies like his future potential because he has a loose arm and plenty of future projection.  He is on the border between starting and relieving and will likely get longer outings out of the bullpen.

Infield:

Corey Bass – C
Bass is the twenty-four year old 20th round pick in 2013 draft.  He is little more than org catcher at this point.

Joel Fisher – C
Fished was a senior sign and 23rd round pick in the 2014 draft.  He will be the primary back up to Grullon, but he hit fairly well in Williamsport last year and could hold his own long enough to stick around for a few years.

Deivi Grullon – C – Top #9
Grullon’s profile is built on defense, and it is a spectacular foundation.  Grullon has a plus plus to elite arm that is both quick and accurate.  Last year he showed a lot of ability to block pitches and control the game.  This spring he showed a quieter receiving glove and some ability to frame.  He won’t need to hit much, but he has some power and will show some feel for contact.  His numbers might suffer under a large workload and Lakewood’s park, but he could see his stock jump.

Derek Campbell – 2B/3B
A college senior, Campbell can handle second and third as a pro and has good doubles power.  He will pair with Tim Zier to fill in all the off days and holes in the infield.

Malquin Canelo – SS – Top 50 #41
Last year Canelo flew under the radar because J.P. Crawford forced him to stay in Extended Spring Training.  However, Canelo can really pick it at short and since a weak showing in Williamsport he has hit fairly well.  He isn’t as young as Freddy Galvis at the same level, but he could end up at a similar spot eventually.

Grenny Cumana – 2B/SS – Top 50 #50
One of my personal favorite prospects in the system.  He has very good tools for his size.  In other orgs he would still be at shortstop, but with better defenders he is pushed to second where he could be a plus defender.  At the plate he makes good contact and has more power than his size suggests.  He is also a plus plus runner who can wreak havoc on the bases.  His size and position draw obvious comparisons to Jose Altuve, though no one expected Altuve to hit as much as he did, but Cumana does do a lot of similar things on a field.

Rhys Hoskins – 1B – Top 50 #37
In any of the past few years Hoskins is the starting first baseman for Clearwater, but with Zach Green and Willians Astudillo in Florida Hoskins will get some time in New Jersey.  Hoskins was the Phillies 5th round draft pick in 2014 and has plus power and a good approach at the plate.  He ended last year hot and carried it over into the fall and had a good spring this year as well.  He is going to have to put up big numbers all the way to the majors to have a chance, but he is off to a good start.

Damek Tomscha – 3B
This past year was the second time the Phillies drafted Tomscha (they took him in the 50th round in 2010 draft).  Each team that has drafted Tomscha has wanted to put him on the mound because he has a cannon of an arm.  Tomscha looks like he will be the primary third baseman for Lakewood and features some power and plate discipline.

Tim Zier – 2B
Very similar to Campbell only with less power, but more contact and approach.  Zier will fill the utility role on the team and can handle second base better than Campbell.

Outfield:

Samuel Hiciano – LF – Top 50 #47
With three days left in spring training Hiciano suffered a bad ankle injury, he will likely miss the entire season.

Herlis Rodriguez – CF
Herlis has never really had a team to call his own since 2012 in the GCL, but it looks like he is in Lakewood to stay.  He should get a decent amount of starts as the 4th outfielder for Lakewood.  He can hit on out occasionally but is more gap than home run power.  He has been able to make a good amount of contact with good plate discipline.  Long term his ceiling is 4th outfielder.

Cord Sandberg – RF – Top 50 #19
It hasn’t been the best statistical start to a career for Cord Sandberg, but the right fielder did not have a lot of time playing baseball before signing in 2013.  Sandberg has the tools to be a 5 tool right fielder and is a good defender with a plus arm.  His approach has been a problem for him so far and his contact quality has suffered.  Towards the end of last year the Phillies worked on him going the other way and being less pull heavy.  Sandberg has big time potential, but it will be a slow journey for Sandberg.

Carlos Tocci – CF – Top 50 #10
This will be Tocci’s 3rd attempt at Lakewood and is amazingly only 19 years old.  Last year he saw his average go up .033, his ISO double, and his first two career home runs.  Tocci has all the pieces to be a good hitter, but lacks the strength to impact the baseball.  He is still a great defender in center field, but his career will hinge on his ability to add muscle.

Jiandido Tromp – LF – Top 50 #34
Lakewood has been Tromp’s kryptonite as 2015 will mark his 3rd attempt at the level and so far he has hit .181/.245/.283 with 53 strikeouts in 43 games (including 2015).  Tromp broke the Williamsport single season home run record last year with 14, but struggled with strikeouts.  Tromp has the speed for center field, but lacks the instincts for the position (and lacks the arm for right field).

The Rest of the Year:

They may not get promoted, but lurking in extended spring training are a pair of potential monsters.  On the hitting side, few players have as much raw power as Jose Pujols, but he has some real approach and pitch recognition issues.  On the pitching side, no pitcher has more upside than RHP Franklyn Kilome who is very rapidly actualizing his massive potential with a fastball that is now touching 97.  Outside of Pujols and Kilome, Jan Hernandez might get another shot at Lakewood sooner rather than later.  In terms of departures, Carlos Tocci is the most likely promoted out of Lakewood.

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.

2 comments

  1. “On the hitting side, the BlueClaws can really play defense ”

    I LOLed. know what you meant, but this sounds like a backhanded compliment. Hope that by the end of the season we can say that Tocci and Grullon are more than just gloves.

  2. Romus

    Hoskins intrigues me. I think playing in CLW or Reading his power bat would really play out. Lakewood will be a challenge and I am looking forward to seeing what he can do. Hopefully 15 HRs can be an achievable number.

    Matt…..you listed Sandberg as having a plus arm for. Reports I read from last year sometime, though he was a noted QB in a Florida HS, when it comes to throwing a baseball his arm was average, and not what one would expect with being a QB. Has he improved that area of his defensive game?