2015 Threshers Preview/Guide

Team Page

Overview:

Last year the Threshers were possibly the worst team in minor league baseball at the start of the season.  They had no players in my Top 30 Phillies prospects and even beyond that it was mostly filler to make out of a roster.  Eventually Roman Quinn and J.P. Crawford arrived, and they got some starts from Aaron Nola, so everything looked a bit better.  This year the Threshers have more Top 50 prospects than any other affiliate in the farm system.  Three of the top 4 players will start on the disabled list, but beyond them, the Threshers roster goes deep with interesting players.  The rotation is a bit backlogged by the offseason trade acquisitions, and the infield will be thin until Crawford returns, but overall it is a much better squad than 2014.

Players:

Starters:

Matt Imhof – LHP – Top 50 #13
What Imhof lacks in stuff, he makes up for in deception and control.  The lanky lefty had a fastball at 89-91 in college with the ability to run it up to 94, and he can command it around the zone with natural run.  He is working to master his secondary pitches, his breaking ball was above average in college, but has been passed by a changeup he saw feel for in pro-ball.  The big problem has been that Imhof has been more 86-88 touching 90 in pro-ball, and that isn’t going to get it done.

Colin Kleven – RHP
Kleven was close to the Top 50 after having a bounce back 2014 campaign.  Kleven missed almost all of 2013 after fracturing his back, and it took him a bit to get going last year.  However in the second half of the year he had a 4.32 ERA with 21 BBs and 61 Ks in 66.2 IP (he had 46 Ks in 69.1 IP in the first half).  Kleven’s fastball will sit in the low 90s (he was up to 97 a couple of times early in his career), and he will also use a slider and changeup.  Kleven probably should have moved up to Reading, so he could make the jump when a spot opens up.

Brandon Leibrandt – LHP – Top 50 #48
Leibrandt is about as standard a command lefty profile as you can get.  His fastball is 87-89 and will bump to 91 occasionally.  He has a solid breaking ball, but has been able to dominate the minors with a plus changeup.  It’s a profile that will work in the lower minors, his big league ceiling will depend on whether he can add to his frame and find another 2 mph of velocity.

David Whitehead – RHP
Whitehead had Tommy John surgery soon after being drafted in 2013 and will be making his full season debut.  Whitehead has a fastball in the 88-90 range, getting up to 92 at times.  The pitch has great sink and he will pound the strikezone with it.  Unless his stuff steps forward, he is probably destined for the bullpen long term.

Miguel Nunez – RHP – Top 50 #46
It has been an up and down career for Miguel Nunez after signing for a large bonus in 2009 as he missed but 2011 and 2012 due to injury.  He reemerged with a solid 2013 at Lakewood before blowing up early in the year at Clearwater in 2014.  He was demoted and the Phillies worked to get his mechanics back in order.  He responded with a dominant June and July where he pitched 54.1 innings allowing only 40 hits, 14 earned runs, while walking 19, and striking out 45.  The big righty brings a fastball at 90-92 touching 93 with feel for a good curveball and solid changeup.  If he can keep it together he has back of the rotation upside.  Much like Kleven, he probably would have gone to Reading before the trade.  Nunez will pitch the whole year at 22, so he still has time to put it all together.

Victor Arano – RHP – Top 50 #14 (DL)
One half of the return for Roberto Hernandez, Arano will start on the disabled list with shoulder tightness (he did pitch in the Threshers exhibition game on Tuesday).  Arano is the youngest member of the Thresher’s staff, having just turned 20 this offseason.  He might have the loudest stuff though, his fastball is 90-94 in the rotation (he can get to 96 out of the bullpen), and he pairs it with a potential plus curveball and an above average changeup.  His size and delivery do have some worried he will end up in the bullpen, but for now he has #3/#4 starter upside when he is healthy on the mound.

Yoel Mecias – LHP – Top 50 #4 (DL)
Mecias was on pace for a big breakout in 2013 before he had Tommy John surgery.  For the most part his stuff was back in late 2014, but this spring he has had some setbacks in terms of shoulder soreness.  At his best Mecias is 89-93 touching 94 with a plus to plus plus changeup with big armside run and sink.  Mecias has shown the ability to control his pitches, though his command still needs some work.  If he is healthy Mecias has mid rotation or better upside and could rush through the system.

Relievers:

Alejandro Arteaga – RHP (DL)
Arteaga worked out the rotation last year to mixed success.  He can throw strikes, but has struggled to miss bats.  HE can get his fastball up to 96 so the bullpen is probably his long term home given the rest of the Phillies depth.

Cody Forsythe – LHP
Forsythe gets numbers that someone with his stuff has no busy getting, but with a fastball around 90 Forsythe really knows how to pitch.  The soft tossing left handed reliever is not the rarest profile, he just need to keep getting batter out.

Steven Inch – RHP (DL)
Inch had Tommy John surgery last July and will likely miss most of the season.

Ulises Joaquin – RHP
Diminutive RHP has shown pedestrian results past two seasons, but has a fastball at 93-95.

Mark Leiter Jr. – RHP
Former starting pitcher has below average velocity (87-90), but brings a tron of pitches that he can mix and match for strikes.

Lino Martinez – LHP
Small lefty with fastball in the hi-80s, misses bats, but also misses the strikezone.

Edubray Ramos – RHP – Top 50 #38
Ramos is the potential breakout star of the Thresher’s bullpen.  He has a fastball at 92-94, touching 96, that he can spot and a wipeout breaking ball (will mix in both a slider and curveball).  He will top that off by mixing in a changeup.  Ramos has the chance to move very quickly if he can repeat his 2014.

Lee Ridenhour – RHP
Ridenhour brings a low-90s fastball and wipeout slider.  He is a bit older and doesn’t have overwhelming number so at best you are looking at a middle reliever if it all clicks.

Yacksel Rios – RHP (DL)
Rios has been a bit of a swing man for the Phillies in the past.  He is a loose arm righty with a decent fastball and some feel for secondary pitches.  Likely will continue to be out of the bullpen unless the Threshers have a ton of injuries.

Reinier Roibal – RHP (DL)
Minor league journeyman signing, high-80s fastball.

Kevin Walter – RHP
Walter was once a big money signing back in the 2010 draft.  This past season was his first healthy and effective.  Out of the rotation he had a fastball in the low 90s and some semblance of secondary pitches.  Much like Rios it looks like all his work will come in the bullpen.

Infield:

Willians Astudillo – C/1B/LF – Top 50 #39
Stocky catcher has been bad behind the plate since he blew out his knee.  Has an incredible feel for contact, though he lacks big time power.  He is a really interesting prospect and is ultimate ceiling will depend where he can play defensively.

Andrew Knapp – C – Top 50 #23
Former outfielder and 2nd round pick, Knapp is now a year and a half removed from Tommy John surgery and has looked better behind the plate, though his arm continues to be a bit weak.  His calling card is his bat, and he is beginning to show more power though mostly as a left handed hitter.  He will need to continue to work on his receiving, but could be a breakout prospect if he does show defensive growth.

Jose Mayorga – C
Mayorga is a good defensive catcher with a good approach and feel for contact, but absolutely no power.  He is best suited as good org catcher.

Chace Numata – C (DL)
The Phillies like Numata who is a converted infielder.  His defense has come a long way since he was drafted.

J.P. Crawford – SS – Top 50 #1 (DL)
Not much more to say about Crawford than has been said many times.  He could be a plus defender with a plus arm, plus hit tool, average poor, average speed, and very good instincts and feel for the game.  Could be a superstar.

Zach Green – 1B/3B – Top 50 #21
After injuring his hip Green has played more first base than third base, and it looks like that will be the case in 2015 as well.  Green has plus raw power, and has worked to cut down on his swing length and improve his approach.  There is a lot more pressure on his bat to perform at first base, will be key to see if he can perform.

Devin Lohman – SS
Org shortstop picked up to fill in while Crawford is out.

Angelo Mora – 2B
More makes a return trip to Clearwater, but at this point is little more than infield depth.

Drew Stankiewicz – 2B/SS
Stankiewicz is a college shortstop making the transition over to second base.  He lacks any standout tools, but is a bit of gamer who makes a lot of contact, works counts and occasionally hits one hard or steals a base.  Second base prospects are risky so Stankiewicz will need to just hit all year long.

Jesmuel Valentin – 2B – Top 50 #22 (DL?)
Valentin was the first part of the Roberto Hernandez deal to come over and was able to play 12 games in Clearwater before the end of the year.  He is a second baseman going forward (though he can field almost any position).  He has a decent amount of pop for his size, is not a fast base runner but a smart one, and has a good approach at the plate.  He will need to really hit to be a regular at second base, but his versatility gives him a good chance to carve out a major league career.  Valentin will start the year on the restricted list for an unknown reason.

Mitch Walding – 3B
First things first, Walding is an excellent defender at third base, with smooth actions and a plus arm.  The problems have been at the plate where he has racked up large strikeout numbers, low walk numbers, and until late 2014, limited power numbers.  In 46 first half games for Lakewood last year, Walding had 6 extra base hits, in 62 second half games he had 28.  He will need to show those second half numbers going forward, and if he does he will climb right back up prospect lists.

Brodie Greene – 2B
Org second baseman picked while Valentin is out of games.

Outfield:

Aaron Brown – CF/RF – Top 50 #26
A two way player at Pepperdine, the Phillies put Brown in the outfield in pro-ball and so far the results have been mixed.  For now he can handle center field (and will do so for the Threshers), but long term his home is in right field where he could be a superb defender with a plus to plus plus arm.  Brown also has plus raw power, but the big problem has been and over aggressive approach that lead to him walking just 7 times in pro-ball while striking out 60 times.  Counting on players to improve their approach is always a risky proposition, but if Brown does he could be an above average regular in the not too distant future.

Dylan Cozens – RF – Top 50 #18
Cozens is a massive human being with big plus raw power.  However, due to his size and length of swing he has a lot of swing and miss to his game.  He has also continued to get bigger and stiffer which has some people worried about how he will continue to hit, and his future in the outfield.  Long term his outlook is looking more like a platoon first baseman, but he will need to master lefties and breaking balls first.

Chase Harris – CF
Harris is a bit of an afterthought after being drafted in the 14th round last year and then struggling in Williamsport.  However, he can play all three outfield positions and can really run.  Harris is coming off a great spring, but it will be interesting to see how many at bats he gets with the other three guys he is sharing an outfield with.

Andrew Pullin -LF – Top 50 #35
This year will mark the first year of Pullin’s return to the outfield after spending the last three at second base.  Pullin is a bit of a tweener, not fast enough for center, not enough arm for right, probably not enough power for left, but he has shown in the past that he has a good feel for hitting.  What is working in Pullin’s favor is that he has bulked up some and the offensive standards in left continue to drop.  It will be interesting to see how he hits now that he is no longer in Lakewood, and just how good his defense can be in the outfield.

The Rest of the Year:

The big help for the Threshers this year will come from the DL as Arano and Mecias return on pitching side, and Crawford returns for at least a cameo appearance.  The most likely promotion from Lakewood is center fielder Carlos Tocci who is starting his third year in Lakewood.  Tocci would likely bump Brown to right and Cozens to left while Pullin was juggled around.  The other potential additions will be in the bullpen with Lakewood having some college relievers and hard throwers currently filling up its bullpen.  Outside of Crawford, the prospects most likely to make a midseason move up to Reading include Willians Astudillo, Miguel Nunez, Colin Kleven, and Jesmuel Valentin, but any of the college hitters (mostly Brown or Knapp) could force the issue.

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.