Ending On a High Note

It’s been a wild and crazy last five days covering the end of minor league regular season for the Phillies affiliates. I went from Reading to Lehigh Valley to Williamsport and finally Lakewood for the last two days. I was originally going to end on Sunday, but weather had other plans and pushed scheduled starter Adonis Medina to Monday. After intently focusing on hitting in Sunday’s 8-0 win, Medina would be the focal point of the season finale. He didn’t disappoint in Lakewood’s extra inning win (more on the hero later on).

Medina’s outing can be described as extremely efficient and near perfect. He began the day needing only eight pitches to get through the first, which included freezing a batter on a change-up on the inside corner to a LH for his first strikeout. He would have a pretty identical second inning, needing only eight pitches again and recording a strikeout, this time ending the inning with a freeze on an 80 mph breaking ball on the outside corner to a RH. After getting the first out of the third, he would hang a breaking ball to Zach Remillard, who lined it back up the middle for Kannapolis’ first hit. Medina than got the next batter to hit a chopper off the mound on the first pitch, where Gamboa calmly got it at the 2B bag to start a 6-3 double play to limit Medina to just a ten pitch inning. From there Medina went into cruise control. The fourth inning: nine pitches, 1-2-3, two strikeouts on fastballs looking. The fifth inning: 13 pitches, 1-2-3, a strikeout swinging on a breaking ball. The sixth inning: nine pitches, 1-2-3, two strikeouts swinging at fastballs.

Medina’s final line: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K on 57 pitches (44 strikes)

Medina may have not earned a promotion like some of his other rotation counterparts from early in the season, but he was just as dominate, almost doubling his strikeouts per nine from last year, when his breaking ball wasn’t even an out pitch yet. So what made Medina so dominating yesterday vs a Kannapolis lineup with some pretty decent prospects?

Everything moves for Medina. His fastball had a lot run and sink in 92-94 mph range, topping at 95. What’s impressive is that he keeps the ball down consistently to generate weak grounders and has showed the ability to hit the corners with it. Supposedly he has two types of breaking balls, a slider and a curve, but what I saw yesterday didn’t show much difference and almost reminded me of how I see Kilome’s two breaking balls in which he manipulates them. His curve has got a little tilt and lot of spin on it hitting 75-77 mph, while his slider can cross up with that hitting 79-82 mph. The only difference might be it has just a little more sweep than his curve and in an interview with Lakewood pitching coach Brian Sweeney early in the summer, he believes he can separate it more and throw it harder, as good as it is now. So really he’s throwing a slurve, and it was tough to decipher between the two throughout the game. He also threw an effective straight change-up in the mid-80s with some fade. He uses frequently enough that it keeps hitters off balance between his breakers and his fastball. When nobody is on, he works really quickly. Mechanically, he’s fairly sound and repeats his wind-up delivery well. As for when he was in the stretch, he only threw a single pitch, so I’ll leave that alone for now.

Right now Medina is firmly cemented as the #2 pitching prospect in the system, with Sixto Sanchez as the top pitching prospect (and #1 overall) in the system. I will say that Medina is ahead of Sixto in terms of pitch-ability by being able to keep the ball down and hitting the corners. This is actually something Sixto needs to learn. As incredible as all three of his pitches are (fastball, change-up, curve), he needs to be able to move the ball in and out, up and down so he can stay out of the middle of the plate.  He also can’t throw a first pitch fastball down the pipe all the time. He needs to mix up the pitch and where it’s located. The reason Sixto is ahead of Medina is because of his pure stuff and control he has for a 19 year old. Medina, who will be 21 in December, is projected to have two plus pitches (fastball and curve) and has a good feel for his change-up to make it an average third offering  and a developing “slider”. Where Sixto has more of a frontline projection (#1/#2 starter), Medina has a chance to be a high end mid-rotation projection, firmly being a #3 starter with a fringe #2 starter mold.

Stats and Video from Medina’s Start

  • 13/18 1st pitch strikes; 11 fastballs, one change-up, one breaking ball; Balls were three fastballs, a slurve and a change-up
  • First pitch: 0/4; Ahead 0-1: 1/9, 4 K (two swinging, two looking); Behind 1-0: 0/5, 3 K (two looking, one swinging)
  • Seven groundouts, two fly outs
  • LH hitters: 0/8, 3 K (two looking fastballs, one looking change-up); RH hitters: 1/10, 4 K (two swinging fastball, one looking and swinging breaking ball)
  • 32 fastballs (56.1%), 16 breaking balls (28.1%), nine change-ups (15.8%); 0/10, 4 K on fastballs; 1/7, 2 K on breaking balls; 0/1, K on change-up
  • Seven swinging strikes (12.3%); three fastballs, two breaking ball, two change-ups; three of seven strikeouts were swung on and missed (one breaking ball, two fastballs)
  • Three at-bats lasted five pitches or more (0/3, K); Six at-bats of two pitches or less (0/6)

More Minor Thoughts from Lakewood

  • It was a good day for shortstops in the Phillies system. JP Crawford would be the main catalyst for Lehigh Valley in their playoff clinching victory, hitting a two-run home run in the 1st inning. He then got subsequently promoted to the big club. Then there is Arquimedes Gamboa, who is beginning to become a pretty attractive prosptect. We talked about him some last night, where he collected two hits and three RBI and flashed some leather in Lakewood’s blowout win. He didn’t have an RBI, but he reached base three times with two hits and a walk in five trips to the plate. He also stole two bases and made a heads up baserunning play in the fourth, staying alive long enough in a rundown to allow Adam Haseley to score before being tagged out in an inning ending double play. Gamboa ended the season on a 14 game hit streak. During that stretch he collected 23 hits, four home runs and hit a slash line of .418/.459/.765. With Crawford potentially starting the season with the big club in 2018, Gamboa has probably made it a tug of war with Jonathan Guzman as the organization’s top minor league shortstop.

  • Mickey Moniak went 1/5 yesterday and looked okay doing so. Today he had an ugly 1/5 as he struck out three times. Two of the strikeouts were egregious as one he swung at high cheese and another a change-up in the dirt. Moniak just never seemed as comfortable as he did early in the season and eventually the wear and tear mentally and physically in his first full season of professional baseball got to him and he couldn’t dig out of. From everything that I’ve read, he’s got a good head on his shoulders and knows what he needs to do now that he fully understands the rigors of being a professional. Here’s hoping 2018 is better for the #1 overall pick
  • Finally, we end with the final play of Lakewood’s 2017 season. Austin Listi was promoted about a month ago from Williamsport after being drafted in the 17th round in June. While he’s a strikeout candidate with a low walk rate, when he gets a mistake the ball screams for mercy. Listi’s swing is sort of “go-for-broke” type and it ended the season perfectly after the bullpen blew Medina’s masterpiece in the eighth inning. Listi, facing a junk ball pitcher, got a hanger and bang it over the LF wall to send everyone into the offseason in a good mood.

Well everybody, it’s been a wild, crazy ride and I want to thank you guys for following me on Twitter @JPhils90 for live in-game tweets and for reading my in-game recaps on the site the day after. Next up, I’ll be buried deep looking through notes and videos to create full season player evaluations, rankings, and more. Thanks again for reading!

Author: Jeff Israel