Early Season MiLB Mailbag

Let’s jump right into the mailbag.

Rei De Bastoni

1 – Why are command and control considered separate tools? Isn’t it impossible to have better command within the strike zone than ability to throw strikes in general?

2 – For pitch sequencing, is it enough that either the pitcher or the catcher has a good understanding of pitch sequencing, not necessarily both? What would be the advantages a pitcher has for pitch sequencing that his catcher would not be able to duplicate with the same understanding?

Command isn’t just about locating in the strikezone, it is putting the ball exactly where you want it.  It isn’t just painting the corner, it is starting the slider in the perfect spot so that it breaks out of the zone.

I can’t speak too much to pitch sequencing responsibilities, in low minors often the coach will call the pitches.  As for advantages, a pitcher knows how he is feeling, he can see how things are breaking and how the batter is swinging at them.  It is important for both players to be on the same page, but the pitcher has a better understanding of what is coming out of his body.

Romus

Pat Gillick mentioned that the Phillies will be looking offensive in this year’s draft, since he is please Ruben was able to get good arms this off-season. Seems I would go with the best available and not need but…..who am I to disagree with Mr Gillick.
With that in mind…who are some of the handful of top hitters coming out this year?

Lets first take HS SS Brendan Rodgers off the table because he isn’t falling to the Phillies.  Keith Law has Arizona SS Kevin Newman #2 on his board but I am struggling to find anyone with him anywhere near that.  That leaves the guys with the most press with are 2B/SS Dansby Swanson, 2B/SS Alex Bregman, and 2B/OF Ian Happ.  Happ is the best hitter of the 3, but he is the worst infield defender, Swanson might be able to stick at short, and BRegman is likely a second baseman long term but has a solid all around tool set.  After the college guys there are four HS OFs in Daz Cameron, Nick Plummer, Trenton Clark, and Kyle Tucker. I am not a huge fan of the high school bats, they are all fairly polished hit first average tools guys, and while that is safer than usual Phillies fare, they certainly don’t get me too excited at #10 overall.  I think the Phillies would love to see one of the three college middle infielder on the board at #10 as they fit need and value.

furtigan

– As a newbie to minor league ball, I’d love to hear sort of primer on things that the average fan can watch for at the game. i.e. I can’t sit there and say “oh, that was a 60 slider” … watching in person I can barely tell a hard slider from a fastball, and certainly not from the cheap seats. So what can I look for when I watch a game?

– I know we aren’t supposed to scout the stat lines, but we will anyway; 3 XBH in 6 games for Tocci has to be interesting. Any other specific player stats we can watch for?

If you aren’t in a position to see pitch movement, look to see how it affects the hitter, are they late on the fastball are they swinging through the changeup, things like that.  You won’t be able to make fine judgements from watching the stadium velocity reading, but you should be able to get the distinctions between a fastball, slider, curve, change.  Overall though I would say don’t focus too much on catching certain things, try and be relaxed and watch everything you can without hyperfocusing.

I tend to look at things that batters are doing differently (for example is the ball just carrying farther for Tocci or is there other things going on).  This early in the year it is extremely hard to make any statistical observations without context (not that one should really be making any minor league stat judgements without context).  I would also keep an eye open for unsustainable parts of a game (extreme BABIP, HR/FB).

Dave47

Looking down the road who is the Phillies center fielder Quinn or Tocci? Nice to see both have strong first weeks.

A lot of people responded to this in the comments, and they gave the right answer which is you worry about it when both are major league ready and that is a good problem to have.  Given that, lets talk about the two differences in the players.  I think they have similar defensive ceilings, Quinn has the speed to make up for mistakes (not that Tocci is slow) and Tocci has great instincts and route running.  Tocci might have a slight edge on arm, but it is very close.  Now we get to offense, I think Quinn has better raw power, and obviously has a big speed advantage.  That being said I think Tocci has an advantage in hit tool and I trust his ability to consistently make contact more than Quinn.  Quinn probably has the bigger ceiling and might be safer because he is in AA, but Tocci is still over two years younger than Quinn so we will see where he is in two years.  If you are looking for comps Tocci feels a bit more like a Denard Span type player and Quinn is a bit more Michael Bourn.

Eric D

My question is . . . Franklyn Kilome . . . If he has a great season where can we expect to see him next year, Clearwater? Also I know comps aren’t easy thing to do (and most ppl don’t like making them) but what would you say about his comp? I see the body and looseness of Chapman (obviously not the stuff), I mean he’s effortless throwing 93. Talk about Kilome as much as possible.

I could see Clearwater next year, but it depends on where he ends up this year and how many innings he gets.  It certainly isn’t out of the question.  Comping him is near impossible.  There just aren’t many 6’6″ pitcher with as easy velocity as Kilome who also have such a feel for downward motion and a sinker to generate lots of ground balls.  He is really primed for a jump forward as his fastball appears to be touching 97 in quite a few starts this spring.  He doesn’t necessarily look he will be a big swing and miss guy (unless the secondary stuff really jumps forward) but he should have great ground ball rates.  To top it all off he is apparently just a great kid, he could be really special.

MisterZoomer

Do you see Adam Morgan regaining his pre-injury velocity?

It is hard to tell, he was more 89-92 touch 94 pre-injury, this spring he has been 87-90 touching 91-92, but he is also really working back into shape.  I tend to think it won’t be back which interestingly puts Morgan about where he was when the Phillies drafted him

Andrew

1. Is Brady Aiken in consideration at #10 after his TJ surgery? Or would you write him off due to re-injury and missed development time? Who would you realistically like to see drafted at #10?

2. Do you think Biddle should focus on his somewhat established curve or his improving slide? Could he utilize both effectively?

  1.  It doesn’t appear so.  The indications seem to indicate it is more complicated than just Tommy John surgery and without knowing all the medical information I wouldn’t advocating drafting him at all.
  2.  I think he needs to use both, especially considering how poor his changeup has been.  This isn’t a comp in any way, but he is probably going to need to use both in a way similar to Clayton Kershaw whose change is a good bit behind his breaking balls and fastball.  The ability to change speed, eye level and horizontal movement will be important for Biddle keeping hitters off balance.

allentown1

I’ll be pushy and ask several questions. Thanks for doing the mailbag. It generally yields useful information which isn’t easy to find for those of us not as close to the farm staffers as you are.

1. Do we know how much weight Tocci actually gained over the winter and what he weighs today?
2. We’ve read a lot about the Phillies new scouting director. I’ve either missed or the local media hasn’t provided any info on changes to our roster of scouts and cross-checkers. Typically, wouldn’t a new scouting director bring some of his chums to his new organization?
3. I am hoping that some of the farmhands who have moved to lower value defensive positions will work their way back to the premium slots sometime this season. Any chance of Astudillo doing significant catching, Zach Green returning to 3B, or Pullin to 2B?
4. The return to actual pitching from the mound by Watson seems to have been delayed yet again according to the last article I read. How is his arm and are we likely to see him pitch in an actual game sometime this season?
5. What’s the latest on the persistent rumors that the Phillies are planning to blow out their international allocation this summer, including signing a $3-4 million slugger? To me, it only makes sense to go beyond the 15% above allocation (plus whatever additional allocation you can buy), if you are going to spend around $15 million or more, since you are losing two years of $300K signings and need to spend at least 3 years worth of allocation for it to make sense.

Lets take this one at a time:

  1. The report out of Lakewood was 11 pounds, but in general it seems that he put on somewhere in the 10-15 pound range.
  2. I actually don’t know, there hasn’t been much said, but it is important to remember that Almaraz comes from the international side and not domestic scouting.
  3. I think we will see some Astudillo behind the plate, but not significantly with Knapp on the same team, but his playing time will be determined by how well he does there.  I would expect Green to play while Walding is off, but Walding so far has been very good defensively.  Pullin will not be returning to second base.
  4. According to the latest from Joe Jordan, Watson is at or ahead of schedule.  Plan is for some Extended Spring and possibly some GCL before he goes to Lakewood, should start to be in games about the time he comes off his suspension.
  5. Kiley McDaniel has them only on Ortiz which they can do if they spend it all on him and trade for slots.  I am a bit confused as to what is going on, but it is important to remember that they always go off the radar with their signings and rarely get guys out of showcases (Daniel Brito and Jonathan Arauz are examples from last year).  Also if they go over it is important to remember that it would position them well for any Cuban amateurs over the rest of the year.

Slim

The Phils’ vaunted bullpen has been disappointing in the first 2 wks. McGowan and Diekman both have WHIPs over 2. Diekman is the only lefty, yet Jimenez was cut when they had to make a roster move. Who’s closest to being ready for the bigs, and when would it make sense to give them a shot rather than relying on a journeyman like McGowan?

Right now on the 40 man roster you have Ogando, Araujo, and Neris.  Neris is the closest but his ceiling is the lowest.  Araujo and Ogando could be impact arms, but they do need some time.  At this point no one has forced the issue and made the Phillies promote them.  If they needed a LH reliever desperately the move might be for Joely Rodriguez.  At this point the major league bullpen is down to just two journeymen in McGowan and Gomez and they are in the two lowest leverage spots in the bullpen.

I will take a Red Sox package headed by Betts or Swihart over anything the Yankees can offer.  I think I would take a package of one of the top lefties in Sox system (Rodriguez/Owens) and both Margot and Devers over that Yankees package, but after that I think I take that Yankees package.

I think Quinn stays put, I think you are right about Nola and Biddle, both are not long for Reading.  The question is how they fill those spots, I think Colin Kleven and Miguel Nunez take those spots and Victor Arano and Yoel Mecias fill out the Clearwater rotation.  Crawford should move up quickly once he is on a field again.  Aaron Altherr isn’t playing yet, but I would imagine a hot start will move him on up to AAA in short time.  I want to believe Tocci can force his way to Clearwater, but there aren’t a lot of open spots and it would require Jose Pujols being ready for Lakewood.  Ricardo Pinto I think could force his way to Clearwater because of his polish (hopefully with Kilome going to Lakewood).  That is a decent amount of names, and we haven’t touched on Maikel Franco potentially forcing the issue for major league time.  I don’t think we will see any movement until early May though.

 

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.

6 comments

  1. Thanks! I should have added what is a likely outcome for Morgan based on him back to his college velocity?

  2. Dave47

    Matt, thanks so much for doing all this work – I really appreciate your insights

  3. FWIW, a few notes from last night’s Lakewood game:

    Ranfi Casimiro was a mess. All over the place, especially with the curveball. Hagerstown actually bailed him with some over-aggressive swings, and left several walks out there. Was an interesting compare-and-contrast with having watched Maryland’s Mike Shawaryn eviscerate Cal State Fullerton the night before. Night and day.

    Both Tocci and Cumana had the night off, alas, so I spent a lot of time watching Deivi Grullon. I was especially interested in seeing if he called the pitches, given the discussion above, and it was an interesting pattern. Early on, he was looking into the dugout for every pitch, but starting in about the third inning, he was on his own about 80% of the time: he’d glance in the dugout, get the “you call it” sign (or just no sign; I couldn’t see most of the dugout), and then basically not look back over until the next hitter. But just when I thought they’d made a permanent switch, the dugout would take over for some seemingly random AB. Might have been for certain hitters, but I’m not sure.

    He looked good at the plate to me; struck out in the middle of a ninth-inning rally, but made hard contact in the other 3 ABs., including a double over the CF’s head and to the wall in one bounce. The ball may have been misplayed a bit, but still.

    I really wanted to see him make some throws; I only saw one, but it was enough. It was a successful steal of 3B — Casimiro had ignored the runner, and moreover I think the tag was missed — but Grullon’s throw was nearly perfect, a laser thrown to a spot twelve inches above the bag. There should be some kind of sound effect to an arm like that.

    Another play of note was one that should have been scored an error but wasn’t: runner went first-to-third on a single to CF, Tromp’s throw was too late and 3B Campbell misplayed it, runner broke for home while Campbell ran to the dugout to get the ball … and Grullon successfully blocked the plate long enough to get the throw. Goes in the books as a single and a 8-5-2 putout, but Grullon was the only one who looked good on the play.

    Finally, the most impressive play was on a charged PB. Another pitch in the dirt, and I guess maybe Grullon should have handled it, but it went rolling off to the left of home plate and the runner broke. Grullon runs to his left, snatches the ball with his right hand, twists his body, and tries to make a throw to 2B while in midair. It was a stupid thing to do, because he had no chance of getting the runner and a nonzero chance of an errant throw would have gone God knows where … but it was impressive from an athleticism and competitive attitude standpoint to see him even attempt it. In general, he does seem to have a real air of command and confidence to him. He probably doesn’t have a fat girlfriend.

    A few other notes:

    Hagerstown C Raudy Read has a gun, too, throwing out a runner at 2B from his knees.

    Calvin Rayburn has what looks to me like one of those “easy, repeatable deliveries” that nonetheless generated 93 mph on his warmup pitches (I was peeking over the shoulder of a scout). I really liked the way he looked, but so did the hitters apparently.

    Damek Tomscha just looks like a hitter. Can’t quantify why, but I really like his swing.

    I have the sense that Derek Campbell is a fine young man: intelligent, coachable, clean-living; the kind of guy you want in the clubhouse, and certain to do well in whatever it is he takes up after baseball.

    Jiandido Tromp is listed as not turning 22 until this fall, but he has a visible bald spot. I don’t think this is evidence that his passport is fake. I do think it’s evidence that professional athletes are people with problems just like you and me.

    • Romus

      Great report furtigan, and with the humor thrown in, a plus-plus rating.
      Grullon can be the man at the Bank, I would hope in 3/4 years.
      Anyway, what was your take on Sandberg and Hoskins?

      • No real impression of Sandberg. Hoskins is a big sonovagun, really looks the part. Swing looks more linedrivish than uppercut to me, which is good news/bad news since he is 1B only. Then again, I was sitting right behind home and that’s not the place to really see someone’s swing.

        • Romus

          Thanks furtigan for that update.
          I am hoping Hoskins, a power bat from college, can move thru the system fast…..also hoping he isn’t the next Rizz, Murphy, et al ….and stumbles at Reading (AA) level