In general once a player graduates from their rookie status their time being covered on this site comes to an end as I hand them off to Phillies’ fans to hold and to treasure. The purpose of this series is to give them one last send off.
Not all prospects are destined to be stars. Not all are primed to be heroes on the next great Phillies team. Some players are going to be around for a year and depart quietly, others might stick around for years in a role with little glamour. Hector Neris straddles the line between both of those worlds. If he showed up to Spring Training next year and didn’t win a job, and never made it back to the majors, not many would notice. However, he is going to come into Spring Training with a chance to grab a spot in the Phillies’ bullpen and hold onto it for years.
What Was Written Before the Season:
Hector Neris – RHP (25)
Despite his dominance in the DWL this winter Neris’ ceiling is lower than the first group. He has a solid three pitch mix (FB more 91-93 T94), and the Phillies really like him. He is on the 40 man roster and should be part of the crowded competition this spring. More likely he goes to AAA and comes up later in the year. He should be able to do a lot of what Justin DeFratus does and be a solid reliever in the middle of the bullpen.
What Happened in the Minors:
Stat Line: 27 G 37.1 IP 3.62 ERA 24 BB 35 K
Neris walked more batters in his 27 AAA games in 2015 (24 ) than he did in his 58 inning in 2014 (19) while seeing a drop in strikeout rate. It was a similar issue that plagued him to start the 2014 season in AA, and his walk issues continued all the way up until his call up to majors. Overall his only saving grace in the minor leagues was that he managed to keep the ball in the park.
What Happened in the Majors:
Stat Line: 32 G 40.1 IP 3.79 ERA 10 BB 41 K
Major League Debut: August 5, 2014
Neris actually came up in 2014 and pitched 1 inning. He would be up and down a few times in 2015 before establishing himself in the bullpen over the summer. The underlying numbers for Hector Neris were pretty good as he didn’t walk may (5.9% BB%) while maintaining a good strikeout rate (24.1%), that is with exception of home runs. Unlike his time in AAA Neris allowed 8 home runs in 40.1 innings which contributed to a FIP of 4.72 on the season. Neris is fly ball prone, but he allowed more home runs per fly ball than we can expect going forward. Statistically if he can keep the gains in missing bats and not issuing free pass with a modest reduction in the home runs he can be a serviceable pitcher.
On the stuff side, Neris is not going to blow you away, but his fastball averages around 93.5-94 mph and can get to 96 mph. He throws it in a 4 seam and two seam version, with some good sink and run on the two seam version. His best pitch is his split finger fastball which has near identical horizontal movement to his 4 seam fastball but with a 10 inch difference in drop and 8-9 mph difference in velocity. Hitters missed 50% of the splitters they swung at this season. He has begun to work in a slider this season, but it has been his worst pitch with hitters hitting .345/.345/.759 off of it. He is going to need to improve his slider to give that extra angle of attack, but the splitter is a weapon he can lean on going forward.
Neris’ platoon splits are very interesting. Against right handed batters he (101 batters faced) he kept them off the bases with only 2 walks issued and struck out a fair amount of them with 26 Ks. However they managed 7 home runs off of him and posted .263 ISO on the year. He was able to limit the power of lefties more, but they walked at a high rate off of him.
Hector Neris is going to get a chance to compete for a chance in the Phillies’ bullpen next year. Right now Ken Giles and Luis Garcia seem to be the only two locks. Outside of that it seems like an open competition between Neris, Colton Murray, Nefi Ogando, Dalier Hinojosa, Justin DeFratus, and any FAs for those spots, and that does not include players like Jimmy Cordero and Edubray Ramos impressing in camp next spring. Neris has the stuff to stick around if he continues to refine his command (his control seems to be fine), but if he is slightly off he is going to have a hard time having sustained success. Neris has one more minor league option left so he could go to Lehigh Valley again for a period of time if he does lose out this spring.
Image by Cheryl Purcell