Today at 12:00pm Eastern, the GCL season begins. It marks the start of summer and of hope eternal. So with not much time to spare, lets jump into the roster.
Francibel Alejo, Lewis Alezones, Austin Davis, Jacques Degruy, Seranthony Dominguez, Jared Fisher, Scott Harris, Matt Hockenberry, Matt Imhof, Denton Keys, Franklin Kilmone, Brandon Leibrandt, Samuel McWilliams, Angel Mejia, Chris Oliver, Edubray Ramos, Alexis Rivero, Gregorio Santos, Matt Southard
Lets start with the obvious studs here (at least for the GCL) in Austin Davis, Matt Imhof, Brandon Leibrandt, and Chris Oliver. All were Top 10 round talents and all are starters going forward. Due to both velocity and control I expect them all to be able to carve up the GCL on fastballs alone.
Then there are the kids. Denton Keys was the Phillies big overslot guy a year ago with the Phillies paying him $400,000 in the 11th round. He is still a project, the fastball was sitting in the hi-80s with fringe off speed pitches, but at 6′ 3″ 190 lbs from the left side, he offers plenty of projection. This year the only high schooler the Phillies took in the Top 10 rounds was 6’7″ 190 lb Sam McWilliams, McWilliams is another project who would touch 94 some days and never break 85, there is some feel for a curveball. Lewis Alezones is making a return trip to the GCL this year and will be playing the whole year at age 18, the 6’3″ right hander has a low 90’s fastball and a feel for a three pitch arsenal, last year the Phillies severely limited his innings so they may not turn him loose until next year. This year the Phillies brought over Franklin Kilmone and the 6’6″ Dominican right hander has generated some buzz, he is pitching at 92-94 and has room at only 165lbs to add more in the next few years.
Jesus Posso has seen time with many teams this year and will be 19 years old all season. Gregori Rivero is interesting, a converted infielder with a good hit tool, the Phillies gave him $100,000 2 years ago and he just turned 18 a month ago.
It is a bit of a surprise Williams got left behind, but with Hoskins and Hernandez in Williamsport there was no room. He likely plays mostly at first base in deference to Luis Encarnacion. Encarnacion was the Phillies big LA spending last year and will spend almost the entire year playing at age 16, there plenty of offensive potential there, and no clue where he will play.
Duran makes his stateside debut after hitting .305/.403/.438 with a 29:33 BB:K ratio in the VSL last year. He will be joined by Jose Pujols who tied for the GCL lead in HRs last year at age 17, Pujols has reportedly improved greatly on his pitch recognition and just missed the cut to head north to Williamsport, with 80 grade raw power he could lead the league in HRs again this year. Jake Sweaney will be in the outfield full time as the Phillies move him off the catch position, he didn’t hit well last year in the GCL, but the reports out of the 2013 draft were very positive about his potential.
Aaron Nola continues to not be on a roster, given the buzz he is likely headed to the Threshers eventually, but for now it appears the Phillies are holding him back after a long season. In the DSL, Phillies 18 year old German signee Julsan Kamara made his professional debut on Tuesday.