Some years we look forward to the release of Arizona Fall League rosters. Given the distribution of talent in the Phillies’ system (not in Clearwater and Reading, and pitching heavy everywhere) it promised to be a light year for major Phillies prospects. With the announcement of rosters today, things turned out a bit better than hoped. Here are the 7 participating names in order of how interested I am in them (not really prospect stock, but close).
OF Cornelius Randolph
The #10 in the 2015 draft played mostly in obscurity this year. It didn’t help that the 20 year old hit an uninspiring .249/.339/.394 for the Clearwater Threshers. On the positive side, he flashed some power with his 12 home runs. On the negative side his strikeout rate from about 20% up to 24.6%. Randolph won’t turn 21 until June 2018 so he has time to make improvements, but he is maxed out physically. He also had a much better second half where he lowered his strikeouts, walked more, and hit a solid .271/.367/.433. In an ideal world he is a better version of Andrew Pullin with a plus hit tool and above average power, but with much more on base percentage. That isn’t a star, but it is a solid regular. Worst case is he is a 1B/DH without the bat to make it work. This AFL stint is not overly important for Randolph who is likely to look overmatched after a long season, but if he can hold his own it would contribute to a stock rebound.
LHP Elniery Garcia
Garcia officially missed most of the 2017 season to a PED suspension, but in reality he spent his whole suspension rehabbing an injury. He has yet to be sharp since he returned and his stuff is back where it has always been, and the flash from the Eastern League playoffs. That means he looks like a #4/#5 starter with a fringe average fastball, an average curveball, and a fringy slider, and changeup. He is still only recently back from injury, so maybe there is more coming back with time. He has only pitched 24.1 innings this year, so the AFL workload will be needed.
1B/3B Zach Green
Green is one in a long line of attempts by the Phillies to find some 3B depth, but the 2012 3rd round pick has yet to play 100 games in a season due to a myriad of injuries. His arm appears healed enough that he is playing a decent amount of third base again after spending a lot of time across the diamond at first recently. Green has plus raw power, but his approach continues to be poor with low walk rates and staggering strikeout rates. The best hope for Green is that he can get a full healthy offseason in and try and have Mitch Walding’s 2017 Reading season in Reading next year.
RHP J.D. Hammer
Sometimes the move to pro ball and the bullpen can cause a small school starting pitcher to have a big jump in stuff. With the Rockies this year, Hammer saw his velocity increase to the mid 90s before going to the Phillies in the Pat Neshek trade. He can throw strikes at a rate needed to face low minors hitters, but he will need to refine his command and control as he advances through the minors. His slider is good pitch, but not a knockout weapon, meaning his ceiling is probably good middle reliever.
RHP Trevor Bettencourt
Trevor Bettencourt’s claim to fame this year is going to be his 6 walks to 72 strikeouts in 54.2 innings between Lakewood and Clearwater. His control is probably better than Hammer, but his fastball is more low 90s (around 93) rather than touching 97. He has a middle relief ceiling, but for each player that has a flash in the pan like Michael Stutes or Justin DeFratus, there are AAAA flameouts like Colton Murray.
C Edgar Cabral
Part of the AFL is that roster have to be filled out, and that is where Cabral comes in. Cabral is an interesting prospects as a catcher with a good arm, good game calling to go with some power, and a decent approach. He is nearly 22 and probably will start next year in Clearwater again. His ceiling is backup catcher, but he is probably org depth.
LHP Garrett Cleavinger
Cleavinger was the second best prospect to come back in the trade that sent Jeremy Hellickson to Baltimore behind “International Slot Bonus Money”. Cleavinger is 90-93 from the left side with a loopy curveball. His control has been a real problem and one that prevents him from even really having a LOOGY ceiling. It will be interesting to see if the Phillies alter anything in Florida Instructs before sending him to Arizona.