I have been slowly build mailbag questions for a while waiting until I had enough to answer them all, and here it is. Like always there great questions here.
Christopher Smith (@shindaga7225): Next prospect to make an impact that has not been placed on 40 man roster ie Franco?
Dan (@Sixers_Fan1243): Chance Nola pitches for Philly next year?
I have to go with Aaron Nola as the answer to the first question. Jesse Biddle will get his 40 man spot this offseason, but Nola has more impact long term. In an ideal world Nola has 100% chance to arrive in Philadelphia in 2015. He was the most advanced starting pitcher in the 2015 draft. The reason this is not 100% chance is that there is a small chance he won’t be ready, but a slightly larger chance he gets hurt. Nola is a freak in his delivery it works really well for him, but pitchers get hurt for entirely mysterious reasons. But if Nola stays healthy next year there is probably a 90%+ chance he ends up in the majors at some point. If everything goes fairly well I would expect him to debut at some point between the middle of June and the All-Star game.
If you are looking for the sleeper guy, Crawford should be in AA next year and the jump over AAA is always in play. If Crawford tears it up in AA and shows above average defense, there is a chance he could make the majors in 2015 if there is a major Rollins injury or trade. It is much more likely he doesn’t get there until 2016, but he is so advanced he could make the majors early and then develop there.
Jason Polinsky (@Jay_Poozle): Your projected Phillies starting outfield for 2016?
I will start by saying I think the Phillies go in big on Tomas and sign him, so that is one outfield corner. In the other corner your options are Brown, Dugan, Perkins, Altherr, or a FA. I would love to see Tomas pair with a Stanton or Heyward in the other corner, but it will be tough to bet on anyone doing that. So I will go with a Perkins/Dugan platoon. I really like Kelly Dugan and I think he is going hit and is going to produce some power and solid defense too. Perkins is a perfect 4th outfielder and bench bat. So that leaves center field where it is year 4 of Ben Revere or you rely on Aaron Altherr, Roman Quinn, or FA. I am going to lean Altherr here, with the hope that Quinn forces the issue late in the year. In the end I think Revere and Byrd will be traded, Brown will either be buried on a bench or traded. In an ideal world the prospects are forcing their way past a revived Brown, but that seems as unlikely as projecting a giant Stanton contract. I would personally like to see a 2016 outfield with Tomas-Quinn-Dugan starting and Altherr and Perkins on the bench, but that is asking for a lot of development and team growth and spending at other positions.
Matt Sigafus (@nurseintime): What are the pros/cons of having more farm teams like the Yankees and why don’t more teams do it?
For everybody’s reference, the Yankees have announced they will be adding an Appalachian League affiliate, bringing their total number of teams to 10 (it remains to be seen whether it will actually be 9 as they go down to 1 GCL team). The Phillies currently have 8. The advantage of more teams is more playing time, the caveat being that you really can only teams below the A-ball level. Each team is going to have a low and high A affiliate, a AA team, and a AAA team. So you are only adding this added evaluation and playing time at the lowest levels. You then have to stock these teams with players, the domestic player supply is limited so it is really a large influx of Latin talent.
So what you get is a lot more in game playing time to evaluate a lot more players. The downside being you have diversified your dev staff to work with players. You do have another relationship you have to maintain as well. I personally think 8 is enough, especially with the way a team like the Phillies operates around their complex (they carry a lot of players on GCL, VSL, and DSL rosters who aren’t always in games but are always working). I think skimping on teams is a bad idea developmentally, but I am not sure going big on number of affiliates doesn’t also carry diminishing returns.
Jesus Zoidberg (@JesusZoidberg): Is there a guy in the minor leagues that might be a surprise candidate for a starting pitching spot at the start of 2015?
Adam Loewen. Loewen doesn’t have the big time upside he once had on the mound, but he has shown there might be at least back of the rotation upside. The biggest surprise to his season was his ability to log innings. In his first year pitching since 2008 he averaged 6 innings a start for Reading and Clearwater. He still is getting a feel for all of his pitches, but if it comes down to him vs prospects like Adam Morgan, Jesse Biddle, or Aaron Nola this spring I could see him winning the #5 pitcher spot as a stopgap while the others develop more. There is a chance he keeps getting his feel and velocity back and the Phillies really have something here.
Corinne (@Ut26): Now that Kenny Giles has arrived, are there any potentially quick moving reliever to keep an eye on?
The next reliever I like a lot is Colton Murray. Murray is more De Fratus than Giles, but he could arrive in the majors next year. It is hard to find the next Giles given that Giles was a consensus Top 20 prospect coming into the year. But if you are looking for someone to be more of the next Jake Diekman who arrives out of nowhere, I am going to tout Ethan Stewart. He magically found his command and good stuff after moving to the bullpen in Clearwater, and it is big time stuff. As we have seen recently, once a reliever finds their grasp on stuff and command, the path to the majors is often very short. The other guy who is control away from being quick moving is Nefi Ogando who touched 100 this year and will flash a 90 mph slider with plus potential, but there are plenty of warts there.
If you want to go a bit deeper and not look at 2015, Jesen Dygestile-Therrien is a RHP who has been all over the place this year, but he is only 21 and can get his fastball up to 95 and match it with a good curveball. But From July 18 with Williamsport (his second appearance for the Crosscutters) through the end of the year in Lakewood he pitched 23.2 innings (he went as long as 3 innings in some appearances) gave up 4 runs, walked 7, and struck out 23. He is a guy to keep an eye on. Another RHP to watch is Manaure Martinez a side arming 22 year old in Williamsport who is finally finding his control, but was 94-98 with a wipeout out slider this year.
Ethan Witte (@ethan_witte): Can you see any more of an emphasis on the system on flamethrowers in the bullpen? Seemed to work with Diekman, Giles.
I think it comes down to what you have in the system. Velocity is great, but you need to locate it. That is the difference between someone like Giles who has been dominant in the majors and Nefi Ogando who can’t consistently get AA hitters out. The Phillies certainly are looking for velocity, but I don’t think you are seeing it emphasized any more than the past. What has started to happen again is pitchers moving out of the rotation into the bullpen earlier in their careers. This was a hallmark of the development of Diekman, De Fratus, and Stutes but it is a model that as slipped away when pitching depth dictated keeping these guys in the rotation even longer.
Mat Sigafus (@nurseintime): Do you prefer BA, BP, or another website for information on prospects?
Just like any information on the internet it is important to know the strengths and weaknesses of all sources of information. When it comes to prospects I will get my information from as many sources as I can. No one source is going to give you a single opinion that you should follow blindly. I do think BP has a current advantage in off-the-radar prospects because they see so many games in person, but BA has a lot of history behind them and a lot of really hard working guys, then you have Fangraphs building a full scouting staff like BP (overall this model is one of the best things to come to internet scouting), Keith Law is still good, the Perfect Game guys are great follows, and there are countless others (especially on individual team levels). This doesn’t even cover Twitter where you can find all of these writer to follow individually for their opinions in real time. Keep your ears and eyes open, and don’t be afraid to question somebody’s opinion, they may teach you how they got there. In addition to all of that, I watch a lot of video, I dig through stats, and I just watch baseball. I know that isn’t a clear cut answer, but if someone had all the answers I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing.
Photo of 2010 Maikel Franco taken by Tom Hagerty