Often short season ball is the place where the current crop of college draftees go to get their feet wet. However, in recent years, the rise of the Phillies’ Latin Program has made it a place of breakouts for unknown players both from the Caribbean complexes and from the GCL. That trend should continue in 2015 as the Phillies fill in around a promising group with some American high schooler from the 2013 and 2014 drafts as well as some new 2015 college draftees. Given this formula the Crosscutters could have some premium prospects.
Before discussing the roster implications let’s start with the roster itself.
Franklyn Kilome – RHP – Top 50 #50
Kilome’s stock is already way up and he hasn’t thrown a pitch in a real game yet. This spring the tall, lanky righty went from a project sitting 89-92 with a fringy slider to a guy with a consistent mechanics, a fastball at 93-95 touching 97, a potential plus curveball, and a good looking changeup. He is an easy Top 5 prospect in the organization for me and could be a top pitching prospect in baseball very soon. If he puts it together early in Williamsport he could be on his way to Lakewood very soon. Easily the top prospect on this team.
Lewis Alezones – RHP
Alezones feels like a right handed Elniery Garcia in many ways because it is more feel than stuff. I do worry that he is like Severino Gonzalez too much in terms of physicality where just isn’t a good place to put more productive weight. He looks to be out of the bullpento start the year. He will show a fastball in the high 80s, touching 90-91. He has a decent looking slider and changeup, but neither are impact pitches yet. He will be 19 all year, so there is no rush for him yet.
Luis Morales – RHP
Morales started last year in the GCL rotation before losing his spot to some pitchers with higher upside. Last year was also Morales first year back after missing a year to injury. He pitches in the low 90s and was an extreme strike thrower last year. But he has good size and at 22 he isn’t ancient. He will work out of the bullpen.
Mitch Gueller – RHP
Mitch Gueller checks all the Physical boxes, but the 2012 first round pick has never shown the potential 3 plus pitches he had when he was drafted. The Phillies still like him and his slider has given him a usable pitch, but it isn’t good so far. He is only 21 and will get a shot at the rotation again this year.
Alejandro Arteaga – RHP
Arteaga gets another shot at the Williamsport rotation a year after washing out of the Lakewood rotation and struggling in the Williamsport rotation. He throws a lot of strikes in the low 90s (though has reportedly touched 96), but he lacks a pitch to miss bats with. He will be 21 years old this year and is running out of time to hold down a rotation spot.
Denton Keys – LHP
Keys was an overslot 11th round pick in 2013 (he got 5th round money). The numbers are good, the feel is good, and the command is there, but to this point he has not filled out to get his stuff to match. He has been mostly in the high-80s, but if he can get to the low 90s he has a bright future. He is 20 years old and 6’3″ 190 so there is room for the strength to come over the next few years.
Jose Tavares – RHP
While Ranger Suarez was putting up video game numbers in the VSL, Taveras was matching him in the DSL. Last year over 85.1 innings he had a 1.05 ERA while allowing 61 hits, 8 walks and 70 strikeouts. Unlike Suarez who is small and in the mid-80s, Taveras is 6’4″ and was 90-91 last fall in Instructs. He could be a pop up guy if the stuff continues to increase a bit along with continuing to attack hitters.
Feliberto Sanchez – RHP
Sanchez missed time due to injury this year and will be out of the bullpen and not the rotation this year. Sanchez brought a fastball at 89-92 last year and this year they have lowered his arm slot. He can work multiple innings in an outing.
Juan Figueroa – LHP
Left handed reliever out of the Dominican Republic.
Will Morris – RHP
Williamsport is the 4th level Morris has played at this year. Originally was a 24th round pick in 2013 draft out of Junior College. Big projectable RH reliever, doesn’t have stuff to match yet.
Jason Zgardowski – RHP
Zgardowski is an incredibly intriguing arm who the Phillies sign last summer as an non-drafted Free Agent. He is ultra-projectable and will routinely run his fastball to 94, the Phillies think it could touch 98 eventually. He is only 21 and is 6’5″ 190. He lacks in both polish and secondary stuff, but it is an arm that is well worth watching closely. The Phillies experimented with him as a starter last year, but it looks like he might be Williamsport’s closer this year after being a middle reliever in Lakewood to start teh year.
Tyler Gilbert – LHP – 6th round 2015
The Phillies 6th round pick in 2015, Gilbert is a low-mileage college junior. He spent time in both the bullpen and on the mound, the Phillies will use him as a starter. Gilbert has a low-90s fastball and there is some debate about which off speed pitch is better. There is some projection here for Gilbert, but not huge upside.
Luke Leftwich – RHP – 7th round 2015
The Phillies had Leftwich at 92-95 this spring while other sources had him more in the low-90s. Most think his breaking ball has above average potential. He put up great numbers in the rotation (which is where the Phillies will use him). Due to the lack of usable third pitch some think his long term home is in the bullpen.
Andrew Godail – LHP – 26th round 2015
Godail would have been a top 10 round pick if he was 3 inches taller. Godail has an easy delivery and sits 90-92. If his stuff ticks up in the bullpen he could be interesting reliever going forward.
Skylar Hunter – RHP – 12th round 2015
Hunter set all sorts of relief records in his three years at The Citadel. He has a low 90s fastball and good breaking ball and could move quickly in the bullpen.
Kenny Koplove – RHP – 17th round 2015
Koplove’s fastball is only in the 90-94 range, but with big fastball movement and a good slider and changeup there is some upside here. Koplove played both ways at Duke, so there might be even more upside here. He probably has the most upside of any college reliever the Phillies took in 2015 draft.
Anthony Sequeira – RHP
Another two way player going to pitching full time. Sequeira is a giant at 6’6″ who struck out 40 in 32.2 innings this past season.
Rob Tasin – RHP
Tasin held down the Oklahoma rotation this year, but the small righty lacks the impact to stay in the rotation. But he will bring a low 90s fastball and solid slider to the bullpen. Another guy who could see his stuff tick up.
Wilson Garcia – C
Garcia makes a return to Williamsport after hitting .220/.272/.283 there last year. He might be the third catcher on this team, but is only 20 years old with a good arm.
Jesus Posso – C – Top 50 #40
Posso looks to split time between first base and catcher this year, but should see more time at first and DH because of the catcher backlog. He has shown good defensive skills behind the plate enough that he could be an above average defender there. His bat has been even better, showing a good feel for contact with some power as well. As a catcher he has good upside, at first base he is a fringe prospect, so we will see how they use him.
Gregori Rivero – C
Rivero was a mid-money signing in 2012 out of Venezuela. He is a good defender behind the plate (converted infielder) with a line drive, low power swing. He should be in line for money of the starts behind the plate.
Austin Bossart – C – 14th round 2015
Despite being a post 10th round senior, Bossart has enough defensive potential along with a solid bat to be a major leaguer. It is difficult to see how the playing time will work out, but Bossart could be someone who could equal or surpass the path that Cameron Rupp set.
Jan Hernandez – 3B – Top 50 #42
Hernandez had a rough year last year which is why he is back in Williamsport. He has plus power, a quick bat, and above average defensive potential (fueled by a great arm). The pitch recognition and approach have been poor in the past. All of his contact last year was to the pull side, but he has worked on that and could force his way to Lakewood at some point this summer.
Andrew Amaro – IF – 35th round 2015
Amaro can play all over the diamond (though not great). There is the frame and tools here to be some sort of utility player, but there is a reason that he ended up at a D II school and lasted until the 35th round. Amaro will be struggling to hang on to playing time, but if he can play 1B/2B/3B/LF/RF then he could stick around for a bit.
William Cuicas – 2B/SS
Cuicas reunites with 2014 GCL double play partner Grenny Cumana. Cuicas will likely play second base most of the time, but could get some starts at short and third at times. Last year he made a ton of contact (.310 average) and good approach (21 BB 19 K). He just doesn’t have the frame to hit for power. If he can grow into some strength there is an interesting profile here, but likely just a utility infielder.
Grenny Cumana – SS – Top 50 #50
Cumana stuck around Williamsport all spring where he struggled to not have the bat knocked out of his hands. However, in Williamsport he shifts from second base to his natural shortstop where he is an above average defender with a rocket arm. At 5’5″ Cumana is tiny, but he makes a lot of contact and can occasionally get a large amount of pop out of his frame. He is a plus plus runner who stole 11 bases in 11 attempts for Lakewood. It may take a little bit, but he could be a major league regular down the line, though likely at second base due to the organizations depth at short.
Brendon Hayden – 1B
A college first baseman who has seen his numbers tick up in the two years since stopping pitching. He is a prototype college first baseman taken as a senior.
Dylan Bosheers – SS
Bosheers is interesting because he hit very well the past two years. But he went to a small school and is not a lock to stay at short. It is a utility profile, but a middle infielder with power could be interesting profile if he proves he can hit pro-pitching.
Jose Pujols – RF – Top 50 #17
For my money Pujols has the most raw power in the Phillies’ system and he still has room to add another 20-30 pounds of muscle. He is incredible bat speed and strong wrists and is capable of incredible BP showings. He has the bat control to be a good hitter, but his swing can get messy and his approach is a mess despite some pitch recognition skills. The consensus is if he can get to a 30 hit tool he could hit 20-30 HRs a year, if he gets to 40 hit tool he could be a major league regular, anything beyond that and he is a monster. In the field it is similar to at the plate, he has an absolute cannon, but his routes are an adventure at best. It could be an up and down year for Pujols, but if it clicks his stock will rocket.
Carlos Duran – CF
Duran has a bit of a teener profile, but the Phillies are going to see if he can handle center field. He has solid contact abilities and could hit 10+ home runs a year at his peak. Long term he has major league bench outfielder upside, but he is an interesting name to watch. He mashed in the GCL last year to the tune of a .299/.390/.393 batting line.
Venn Biter – CF
Biter is the poor man’s 5 tool outfielder, only instead of 5s it is 45s. His arm might be above average and he can fake center field, but his contact has struggled and there is not big power. Biter is a “gamer” so maybe he gets a bit more out by going all out, but it will be a bit of stretch. It is an elite level name though.
Gustavo Martinez – LF
At age 21, Martinez is the experienced one of the non-draft guys. He has bounced around the system after actually playing well in Williamsport in 2013. He is a low power left fielder which is a tough profile to overcome. He will steal bases if given a chance though.
Zach Coppola – CF
Coppola is all speed and no power. Coppola can really fly, both on the bases and in the outfield. He has a strong arm in the outfield which does separate him a bit from the Ben Revere comp. If he can play defense well enough to overcome the lack of power he could make it far. Otherwise he is an interesting bench outfielder or pinch runner if he can stick around for a few years.
Quick Rough Top Prospect List:
- Franklyn Kilome
- Jose Pujols
- Grenny Cumana
- Jan Hernandez
- Jesus Posso