Kilome Softly With His Curve (8/16/17)

Franklyn Kilome has been on my radar for a few years now and has been the one prospect that has eluded my scouting eye I’ve wanted to see in the system. Kilome was promoted last week from Clearwater to Reading and had a bit of a shaky AA debut last Thursday. Wednesday night, he would make his 1st start at Firstenergy Stadium and he had a very tough task vs a Bowie lineup that had a league best .787 OPS and three of the Orioles’ top five prospects (according to MLB.com).

Kilome’s first inning started with a single but was quickly erased by a 5-4-3 double play followed by a pop-up in a 10 pitch inning featuring primarily fastballs. The second inning did not start very well as he threw a fastball right down the heart of plate to Aderlin Rodriguez that cleared the CF wall for a lead off home run, followed by an eight pitch battle with DJ Stewart for a walk. Kilome would then get the next three, but threw 22 pitches in the inning. After a quiet a quick 11 pitch third inning that featured a double, Kilome struggled with the same two hitters to begin the fourth inning allowing a walk and a single to start the inning with runners on first and third. But a strikeout and a great throw by Chace Numata catching Stewart at 2B (49% CS) got Kilome out of any damage.

The fifth inning began with Jeff Kemp launching a rocket on fastball down the heart of the plate over the LF wall. Then Kilome would retire the next nine batters by throwing a steady diet of curves and sliders (19 of 33 pitches during stretch). During this stretch he would strike out three. He would allow a leadoff single to start the eighth before being removed after 98 pitches (68 strikes). Kilome would finish with a line of 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R (2 ER), 4/2 K/BB, 2 HR, but would be denied the win as Bowie scored two in the ninth and hold on to win 4-3.

If you’ve been following me on Twitter you might have seen me talk about what I think of Kilome without having seen him. My thought has been he’s currently the 3rd or 4th best pitching prospect (battling Seranthony Dominguez) and a fringe top 10 overall in the Phillies system. Yesterday basically confirmed that for me as I see plenty of potential, but still plenty of flaws. Let’s start with his arsenal. His fastball sat 94-97 mph in the first five innings of his start before finishing around 93-95 mph the last couple. It’s got decent armside sinking run from his 3/4 arm action, but it doesn’t show up as often as you would hope because his command of his fastball is pretty spotty. But it does generate plenty of groundouts when he gets it down (7 of 9 groundouts on fastballs). His best pitch is his curveball, which the Phillies brass has tried to get him to use less frequently from last year. It ranges from 78-81 mph and it’s got tremendous 12-6 break that just spins and dives quickly. In fact all four of his strikeouts came from his curveball last night. He’s got a change-up that’s 85-87 mph with decent tumbling action but he only threw the pitch twice and didn’t seem to have great feel on either one. The there is his slider, which initially I thought could be his change-up but it had a little more break to it and kept hitting it glove side between 82-85 mph. Clearwater pitching coach Aaron Fultz, in an interview earlier this year mentioned that he had a slider, which is contrary to many preseason scouting reports and that his change-up need a lot of work so this would make sense based on what I saw last night.

Kilome struggled early to get ahead of hitters which led to the many baserunners as of the first 6/14 were 1st pitch strikes and he allowed six baserunners. He would throw eight of the next 13 and allow just two baserunners. There were also plenty of breaking balls early on that were spiked in the dirt before he got away from that the next two times through the lineup. Overall, he did very well against a really good lineup that I thought would knock him out after five or six innings. His mechanics got inconsistent at times as I felt his landing foot actually pointed away from home plate, particularly out of the stretch. He couldn’t really repeat his arm slot either. I do think he drives well off his lower half creating velocity but also relieving his arm to some degree, making his delivery effortless. There’s  lot to like about Kilome. But getting him to repeat his mechanics and getting him to get a feel for his change-up so he doesn’t have to go to the breaking ball well every time would make the Phillies more comfortable about him being a mid-rotation starter. I do see that in him, but after just one start, I came off with a #4 ceiling instead of a #3. He had a big year last season in terms of strikeouts (10.2 K/9, 26% K), but I think he’s more of a groundball pitcher who can get strikeouts at an average rate. I do like the fastball/curve combination to the point where I do think he will contribute to a major league roster one day. Here’s some more stats on Kilome’s start

 

  • Threw 14/27 first pitch strikes; 10 on fastball, four on curveball; ahead 0-1: 0/14, 2K; behind 1-0: 6/11, 2 BB
  • Nine groundouts, four flyouts
  • 54 fastballs (55.1%), 28 curveballs 28.6%, 11 sliders (11.3%), two change-ups (2%)
  • LH hitters: 4/11, 2B, BB, 2 K (both swinging); RH hitters: 2/14, two solo HR, BB, 2 K (both swinging)
  • Eight swinging strikes (8.2%) (three fastball, five curveballs); all four strikeouts were on curveballs
  • Seven at-bats were five pitches or longer; six were two pitches or less

Other Thoughts

  • Carlos Tocci ended up going 1/4, singling and scoring in the fourth inning, but we mention him today because it was announced that he had been promoted to Lehigh Valley. Tocci had a heck of a performance for nearly a season’s work at Reading. In 474 PA, he would hit .307/.362/.398 with a 111 wRC+. Tocci didn’t hit for much overall power despite being in a hitter friendly ballpark in half of his games (2 HR), but the slugging difference is still significant (.444 home, .352 road). Tocci’s calling card at the plate is his contact skills and plate discipline walking 6.1% and striking out just 13.9% of his plate appearances. With his speed and natural instincts patrolling the OF, he’s got a real good chance to be somebody’s 4th or 5th OF who can play all three positions. The Phillies didn’t protect him and place him on their 40 man roster last offseason. Luckily he was passed on in the Rule 5 draft because nobody was going to take a chance on an incredibly skinny player who hadn’t played above high A. He has a chance to be a minor league free agent if they don’t protect him this year, and teams will very well be interested in him. Suffice to say, the Phillies are prepared for this after the moves they made at the deadline and will likely protect him this upcoming offseason.

  • Maikel Franco hasn’t performed for over two seasons now and the Phillies are light in minor league performers at 3B. Mitch Walding, Zach Green and Cole Stobbe are the guys we have talked about the most and they’ve had solid seasons but inconsistent ones, as they are high swing an miss candidates. The one 3B in the minors that has performed in full season ball is Damek Tomscha who collected two hits last night and scored a run. Tomscha, a 17th round pick in 2014, is a bit older for the two levels he’s played at this year (high A/AA), but he’s performed exceptionally well this year hitting .310/.401/.462 in 321 PA (numbers brought down a little by rehab stint in GCL). Tomscha’s calling card has been getting on base as he carries 9% career BB rate. He also doesn’t strike out much either, going down on strike three just 13.9% of the time during his career. He’s not the best defender at 3B (.898 fielding % this year, .941% career), but he’s certainly capable of being average. And he’s shown positional versatility playing LF and 1B during his career. Tomscha will be 26 years old at the end of the month and he may not be more than a career minor leaguer. But the plate discipline could carry him to a cup of coffee or at best being a versatile corner infielder off the bench in the majors.
  • Jiandido Candido Tromp was really the only source of offense yesterday as he drove in all three of Reading’s runs on a two-run HR (15th) in the 2nd and an RBI double in the 4th. The home run was an absolute blast, clearing everything in LF. Tromp has had a quietly strong season in AA, hitting .289/.336/.496 with not not much of a disparity between his home/road splits. Since breaking into full season ball in 2014, Tromp has a 754 OPS and a 112 wRC+. He is however a swing and miss candidate (23.5% this year). He’s 23 years old so he’s just under the league average. So while he doesn’t light the world on fire, he’s an intriguing power bench bat candidate going forward.

  • Finally we end on the pitcher who would blow Kilome’s chance for a win, Garrett Cleavinger, who was acquired just before the deadline for Jeremey Hellickson. A lot of the reports on Cleavinger were that he was very wild and didn’t really have a standout pitch between his fastball and curve. His curve flashed at times, but it didn’t have tremendous break. And his fastball was only 90-93 mph and was all over the place. He ended up spiking a pitch in the dirt that got through Numata’s five hole to allow the tying run to score in the 9th before allowing a single. Best case scenario he ends up being a LOOGY, but he’s got a ways to go from a command perspective before I see him anything more than just a minor league depth reliever.

Author: Jeff Israel