Mailbag 6/26/15 – Your Questions Answered

You guys asked a lot of questions and I answered them and had a ton of fun doing it.

Dash Treyhorn: What’s Aaron Altherr‘s ceiling?

At one point we regarded players of Altherr’s athleticism as having near infinite upside, but we know better than that.  Aaron Altherr presents a paradox that Eric Longenhagen once laid out nicely, he is 6’6″ and there really aren’t any center fielders built like him.  He isn’t a great defender in center fielder at the major league level (the defensive bar in center field has become very high), so he needs to hit, as he gets bigger to accommodate power he likely has to move to a corner.  The upside is whether he can either stick in center with the power or have enough bat to stick in right field with plus defense.  Right now he isn’t showing giant power, but he is showing a much improved approach.  I think he can play centerfield until Roman Quinn is ready to force him off the position.  He might be able to hack it as an average regular in right field, I do worry about major league pitchers busting him inside.  He is probably a bench guy long term, but the kind of guy who you get 300+ PAs a year and are always happy to have on your bench.

Michael Ferrier: Knock me off my Mark Leiter pedestal.  Or just talk about him.

In preparation for this I sat down and watched Leiter’s start yesterday and I don’t get it.  The 4 seam fastball is 89-91, which is a back end starter if everything else works.  I liked the splitter, it looked to have nice drop and deception from the fastball.  That was it.  The curveball is unusable for me, it is mid 60s and lobbed up there, no sharp movement or bit.  He throws a ton of strikes and opposing batters were able to figure him out on the second and third time through the order.  At best as a starting pitcher he is a back end innings eater.  I think he has a chance as a middle reliever to get some major league time.  He wouldn’t be in my Top 50 prospects in the system.

TAG: Franklyn Kilome.  Why?

Because he is really really good, and his ceiling is near unlimited.  He was 92-95 in his first start this year, and was mostly sitting 94-95, and he has room for more.  His curveball and changeup both look like plus pitches.  He is a giant and pounds the strike zone with a lot of downward plane and guys have no choice but to pound the ball into the ground.  He has more upside that Aaron Nola and most pitchers in the minor leagues.  They will take it slow with him to start, but he is already an easy Top 5 prospect in the system for me.

Steven Fisher: Any reason Feliberto Sanchez isn’t starting?

For the same reason Lewis Alezones isn’t and we have yet to see Tyler Gilbert and Luke Leftwich get shoved into a rotation that is already 6 men deep.  Too many starters in the low minors right now.  I am not sure how they will solve it, but there are some guys who might have short leashes.

Steven Fisher:  Best postion player thus far in the minors?

Crawford, not close, might be the best prospect in baseball.

Phillies Mind: Malquin Canelo has shocked everyone with his offense.  Any change Phils are looking to make him the 2B of the future?

Canelo’s best strength is his ability to play shortstop and play it very well.  He loses some value if he moves to 2B, enough that I would put him behind newly drafted Scott Kingery.  If he continues to progress and beats Kingery to the majors and needs a spot next to Crawford, they will then move him to 2B, but the team views him as a SS which means he might end up as trade bait if everything breaks right for others.

ComedicCPA: CBP starting corner OF’s in 2017 assuming Quinn is in Center?  Altherr? Dugan? Perkins? Herrera? Pujols? Randolph? Pickett?

If it is homegrown it is Dugan and Altherr.  Everyone else is too far off to help by 2017.  I had Pujols’ ETA at 2019 to open season and I sticking with that, Pickett might not get here until the 2020s if things go well.  If they are aggressive with Randolph he could have a late 2017 ETA, but they would need to be more aggressive with him than Crawford to just get him there that quick.  I think Dugan and Altherr can be major league regulars.  Most likely is that one of those corners is manned by a FA or trade acquisition.

Phillies Mind: If he is at A+ by end of year, is Rhys Hoskins where he needs to be considered a legitimate prospect?

The word legitimate is always strange because it is so subjective.  Is he a good prospect?  Yes.  But I am not going to go crazy about a first base only prospect until they handle AA at a reasonable age.  He is on the outside of the Top 10, but the reports have been very good, so he may be a legitimate prospect depends on your definition.

Tim: With the addition of Kingery how would you rank the 2B depth chart?  How many have big league profiles?

The depth chart is:

  1. Scott Kingery
  2. Jesmuel Valentin (who we have no clue about)

That list is a bit deceptive because there is a group of players who play shortstop right now, and can stick at shortstop right now.  Kingery is probably the guy, but Malquin Canelo is currently a level above and could play second base if needed, and could beat Kingery to the majors.  I wouldn’t worry about second base, just look at the shortstop depth chart.  In short term, Freddy Galvis could be moved if Crawford forces the issue.

DonMcG: The overall catcher situation, who takes over for Ruiz?

Currently Gabriel Lino is AAA, Andrew Knapp is in AA, Numata in CLW, Grullon in LKW, and then there are a lot of guys below it.  I know people want an anointed savior at catcher, but frankly it is super weak across the minors.  With Alfaro’s injury, Schwarber’s defensive questions, and the promotions of Swihart and Hedges, there are zero impact catching prospects that could step into a lineup in the next year.  Lino is still super raw, but he has the upside to be a major league regular, but is likely a back up long term (but he could beat that).  Grullon is the best catching prospect in the system, but he will take some time to reach the majors.  I think you are going to see a revolving door at catcher or pairs of an offensive based catcher and defensive based catcher until someone sticks.

Brian Bona: Where is Jon Pettibone?

Clearwater rehabbing, rumors of a setback.  I am not optimistic.

Eric DeBoskey: Who were the first group of Phillies prospect that you ever evaluated?  Who were some guys you were high, who were some that were low on that made it?

Was the offseason after the 2012 season, full top 30 here, but here is the top 10:

  1. Jesse Biddle
  2. Adam Morgan
  3. Roman Quinn
  4. Tommy Joseph
  5. Ethan Martin
  6. Maikel Franco
  7. Cody Asche
  8. Carlos Tocci
  9. Jonathan Pettibone
  10. Shane Watson

I was absolutely wrong on everyone in the 11-20 range.  I have no clue what I was believing in with Ethan Martin.  I wrote up Maikel Franco as a Top 4 prospect on the list and then didn’t have the guts to rank him like that.  I have always been high on Carlos Tocci and it is paying off, was never a fan of Severino Gonzalez.

SPerry: Phillies have found something in Jonathan Arauz who wasn’t on the Intl Top 30 at the time of his singing.  What your take?

He was widely hailed as the best prospect out of Panama last year, but almost no one saw him before he signed.  He might be the best guy they signed last year.  He can hit, has some pop, and can play shortstop.  Not to mention he is one of the youngest players in organized baseball.  He won’t be very high on lists this offseason, but in a year he could be quite high.

Michael Ferrier: How much does facing a top notch pitcher play into an opposing pitchers performance?

I think it plays very little.  I would be more worried if it did and would be wondering why the player doesn’t reach that gear in more appearances.

Michael Stubel: Which system prospects (including the most recent draft picks) do you see on the major league 25 man roster in 2019?

This is a near impossible question to answer so I will go slightly different way and do a “dream” team for 2019 of the all best-case scenario roster.

C – Deivi Grullon
1B – Rhys Hoskins
2B – Scott Kingery
SS – J.P. Crawford
3B – Maikel Franco
LF – Cornelius Randolph
CF – Roman Quinn
RF – Jose Pujols

SP – Aaron Nola
SP – Franklyn Kilome
SP – Zach Eflin
SP – Ricardo Pinto
SP – Jesse Biddle
CL – Ken Giles

spongehead69: What starting pitchers at clw/lkw are converted to relievers, are fast tracked and have success?

The last part here is the part that is impossible to answer, but the first two parts are quite interesting.  Miguel Nunez has already been converted with some success.  Colin Kleven is a reliever for me, good heat but no real secondaries, he is running out of time too.  Yacksel Rios is a loose arm righty who has been 93-94 out of the rotation, also doesn’t have the secondaries to start, could be very interesting in the bullpen.  Chris Oliver is likely a reliever, but if he can rediscover his stuff from college he could be a very good one.  Victor Arano has the stuff to start, but he has not been able to hold it together, they will give him every chance to start before moving him to the bullpen.

Jason Polinsky: Ranking of 1B in the org as of today?

  1. Rhys Hoskins
  2. Luis Encarncion
  3. Kyle Martin
  4. Zach Green
  5. Brock Stassi
  6. Brendon Hayden
  7. Art Charles
  8. Willians Astudillo

Still listing Jesus Posoo at catcher.

Tim Brogan: Are you worried about Eflin’s low K rate?

Not right now.  He is almost entirely fastball-changeup right now and pitching to weak contact with them (to great success).  As the slider develops the strikeouts will come for Eflin.  He is still super young so if the strikeouts aren’t there in a couple of years then it is time to worry.

Eric DeBoskey: Let’s say the hit tool for Canelo is a legit 50/55.  What kinda player COULD he be?

That is an above average major league regular, probably something in the Brandon Crawford (pre-2015) mold.  If you know it is a 50/55 then you have a serious prospect on your hands going forward.

Frank Visco: What kind of return do Phillies get for trade assets in general terms?  Do we touch top 100 guys for Pap or Harang? Hamels?

I do think they get a very back of the Top 100 guy for Papelbon, not sure whether it will be safe and low upside or risky and high upside.  Harang likely gets you something towards the back of the Top 200, maybe someone the equivalent of a Jesse Biddle type, guy with some upside but huge risk.  On Hamels, I fail to see the Phillies making a trade that doesn’t include at least 1 Top 25 prospect or an equivalent young player.  Anything below that and they are better just keeping him for their own future.

Adam: Outlook for Dylan Cozens?

Not bright unless he can get to the power again.  I never saw a big ceiling, so any step back is a big hit to his future.  He had started to show some adjustments before he got injured so maybe he starts to turn it around.  There is still big raw power, so if he can get a feel for some sort of contact he could carve out a major league role.  Back of the Top 30 type player.

Joel Irvine: Any info on Scott [Kingery] and if he is in the top 30?  How fast can he come up?

Scott is somewhere in the mix at the back of the top 10.  Nothing new after draft, limited power, can really hit, can really run, won’t win gold gloves but can stick at second.  He is starting in Lakewood, if he hits there he could put himself in position to start in Reading next year and make the majors by the end of 2016.  That is all ideal situation.  He doesn’t have a ton of developing needed, just needs to see pro pitching for a bit.

Mike Lacy: Is the Phillies’ 2017 starting catcher currently in the organization?

If it isn’t that means they are going Weiters or FA dreck.  I think that is entirely possible, but I will go with a 50% chance that one of Rupp, Lino, or Knapp leaves camp in 2017 with the starting job, batting 8th for the team.

Kenny Loggins: What does Walding stand right now?

At third base.  Joking aside, the only measurable skill he has shown is a good glove and arm at third.  His swing looks fine but lacks impact as evidenced by his .226/.293/.290 line this year.  His June has been his “hot” month where he has hit .270/338/.349.  He is likely to just fade to the side soon and possibly could be released unless he turns it around quickly.

Mike Sadowsky:  Franco, Nola, Crawford all seem like legitimate high end prospects (Franco obviously already up), why does it seem none of them are getting their due and are flying completely under the radar. Franco is having just as good of a season, if not better, than Kris Bryant in less games but I haven’t heard anything from any MLB analysis other than from the many Phillies reporters I follow.  Nola is running through the system and seems to be finding some success and Crawford, likewise, has been performing on all levels that he is on.

I think it is selectively looking at lists.  Franco was a Top 20 prospect for Baseball America after the 2013 season, his stock did fall some this season at least nationally.  He may be hitting better than Kris Bryant right now, but let’s not confuse that with being a better player than Kris Bryant going forward.  Crawford also gets a lot of love nationally.  The general consensus is that he will be a top 5 prospect on most lists and will be the #2 prospect to the Dodgers’ Corey Seager.  I do think Nola is underrated by everyone because his profile is so unique because players just don’t exist with his command, at least not in the minors.  Don’t get caught up in small MLB sample sizes on Franco, he is quite good and better than expected, but much like every time the talking heads compare someone to Harper or Trout, let’s not get carried away with unreasonable expectations.

Brian Jacobson:  Most overlooked prospect?

I am going to go with Luis Encarnacion.  He just has fallen off of everyone’s radars this spring, despite the fact that he was not completely lost as the youngest player stateside last year.  He will play the entire year at 17 and is now first base only, but has now launched 2 home runs in his first 3 games.  Encarnacion has the potential to be a first division first baseman or better, but he has been ignored because he was out of sight this spring, at least for public view.

Joseph Mancuso: Seems like there’s a glut of intriguing low level starters in GCL and Williamsport even beyond Kilome, its early, but curious how you see that working itself out in the next month or so?  Of the GCL and WPT outfield bats, excluding Randolph, who is most likely to make the jump into the top 50 for 2016?  Also, more a point of clarification, I believe saw you mention Kleven as a guy who’s a minor league FA at the end of the year, is that similar to how we got Aruajo? Other than adding him to the 40 man, any way to retain his rights? Tough to lose a guy throwing mid 90s as a potential bullpen guy. Anyone else eligible for FA or rule 5?

I think they are just going to work them all in on 80 inning stints, not really places for them to go to other levels, it looks like some guys will be used out of bullpen for now in an effort to keep their innings down.  Jose Pujols was already in my Top 50 (was in Top 20 actually), and he will be there again.  Otherwise Bryan Martelo (GCL) looks good so far, Juan Luis (GCL) looked good this spring, I have no clue what to make of Venn Biter (WPT) but he keeps hitting, Carlos Duran (WPT) has some interesting tools but a limited ceiling, and Zach Coppola does some fun things.  I think Martelo and Luis are the two guys to really watch for me, but that might be because they are two unknowns.

They have two paths with Kleven, one is to resign him when he becomes a FA (if he wants to come back), he won’t be on the 40 man and will be eligible for the Rule 5.  They could also put him on the 40 man and protect him from both FA and Rule 5, but they have to use a roster spot.  If Kleven had a useable secondary pitch I would be more inclined to protect him, but there are more important 40 man adds (will do a larger piece on 40 man soon).

Joe Cullen: What changes has Canelo made to hit better and for more power this year? How much has his stock risen and do you see him in the Phillies’ top 10?

A lot of it is strength for Canelo, he has loose wrists and great bat speed that allow him to make good contact.  He has started to develop an approach, but up until now he has been a bit more experienced for his level than is contemporaries so he has been able to survive on this.  His stock is way up, if he isn’t in the Top 10 he is very close to it.

SPerry: What did you end up having for dinner?

After complaining about the search for food I opted for a stir fry with peanut butter and tempeh.  It was delicious.

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.


  1. dlhunter

    Thanks for this Matt! Your work on GCL (and before that, XST) is great, guys we never knew existed before the internet…

  2. Jeff05

    Thanks, Matt. I really appreciate your insights.