Spring Training 2016 Phillies Mailbag

Spring training is upon us.  There are pitchers throwing baseballs, hitters taking batting practice, and hope in the air.  So what better time than to speculate wildly answering your questions.  Thank you all for giving me things to write about.  I did combine some similar questions.  I hope you enjoy it.

Chris Gold: Thoughts on the Phillies getting the Gurriel brothers? Either, neither, or both?

I would bet against it, but I am always going to take the field on something like this.  Both will likely be outside the bonus pool by the time they are ready to sign and that opens their market up to everyone, and while I think the Phillies will have the money to make a deal happen I just wouldn’t bet on them.

tom zmijewski: Any initial thoughts on what Phils approach with Appel will be?

I doubt they make any sweeping changes early, he knows he needs to improve.  I think letting him return to being relaxed and himself will be a big first step.  After that you can start working on improvements, but I wouldn’t force anything.  The clock is ticking on him, but they have the pitching depth that they can take the time to make it work.

FrankV: How early would you be willing to deal from upper level pitching to fill MLB needs or get higher upside lower level guys?

Mike Bradley: Where do we have enough organizational depth (position-wise) that we can maybe trade from to upgrade needs in the future?

I am going to combine these two questions.  I think you look to trade when you have too much major league ready and your needs are clearer.  That second part is key, and we really aren’t going to have a good read on it for a little bit.  I am sure if there is a player that is a good value Klentak won’t hesitate to move some of their prospect depth to get a deal done.  I don’t think you are going to see them trading MLB guys for minor league guys unless they don’t think a guy is a part of their future.

Paul Moses: Curious what you think the odds are JP is up before September?

Quite high.  Crawford is an incredibly advanced hitter.  His biggest weakness is probably his physicality, and at only 21 years old, that is going to take years, not months, to work on.  The Phillies have no reason to rush him, but if he is ready for the majors, they also have no incentive to hold him back.  I will say that if it gets to September and they haven’t called him up, he is unlikely to come up.  He doesn’t need a 40 man roster spot this winter and a lot of players do, that coupled with no postseason aspirations make it unlikely they use a roster spot to give him a couple weeks of ABs if they didn’t think he was ready earlier.

Alex: If the draft was today, who would you want the Phillies to take?

Brian Jaay: Your prediction for 1st overall pick? Candidates for 2nd round pick?

Groome.  He is young for his draft year, won’t turn 18 until August, and is really advanced for his age.  His stuff is close to matching Puk, and Puk is over 3 years older.  He will likely move a bit slower, but I think he is the best chance you have of getting a superstar in this draft.  As for second round, it is going to be a long time until we really know who looks to be going in that part of the draft.  I am interested in Stanford’s Cal Quantrill, he was a favorite to go 1:1 in this draft going into last season.  He had Tommy John last spring and the draft with be about 15 months removed from that, so he should throw some before the draft.  He is the kind of guy who could slip to the 2nd round with big bonus expectations, but I wouldn’t count too much on it.

David Wilson: Who is a mid-level Phillies prospect who could surprise everyone and make a huge jump this year up the ladder?

Normally I would take this opportunity to talk about Jose Pujols, but I won’t.  Malquin Canelo is not going to suddenly become a top prospect in baseball, but he could really jump up lists next year.  He can really field it at shortstop which gives him a strong floor.  He has a quick bat and strong wrists, he doesn’t use his lower half at all and could use more strength.  He struggled in the Florida State League, but he flashed some serious ability in the South Atlantic League.  If he can get back to that he could be a plus shortstop with a decent average 5-10 home runs, a ton of doubles, and a good amount of stolen bases.  That is not a star, but could he get to a point where he is an above average major league shortstop.  He is of course blocked by Crawford.

Brian Jaay: What are benefits and risks in drafting HS players over college players? College over HS?

College players come with a much longer track record, they are more finished products as much of their physical development is already complete.  A college player is going to be a lot safer and closer to contributing.  High school players tend to have more upside, mostly because you can still dream on them accomplishing anything.  They have yet to fail at anything, and so their possibilities are endless.  You are also going to find more pure athletes in high school because teams keep taking high school athletes because there are fewer pure athletes from colleges because teams keep taking high school athletes.  In the end, the goal is to get the best major leaguer and you need to weigh the individual player’s upside and chance of reaching it.  I won’t say one is better than the other, they are different than each other.

Brian Jaay: With tradeable pieces gone, how best to add to prospects?

Draft and internationally.  Trades are shots in the arm to a system, but to be sustainable you need to develop players without them.  The good news is the Phillies are showing some ability to draft and develop hitters, and even more ability to find and develop Latin American arms.  This year’s draft and international signing period are going to be huge.

Nautical Capital: Three part guess, starting rotation on each of these dates, opening day, July 1 and Aug 15th please.

I think there is a lot of smoke to Vincent Velasquez winning the #5 starting job over Brett Oberholtzer, so let’s go with Opening Day as: Nola/Eickhoff/Hellickson/Morton/Velasquez.

Someone is going to get hurt, and I am going to bet on Morton, making the July 1 rotation: Nola/Eickhoff/Hellickson/Velasquez/Thompson.

Finally, I think if he is healthy in late July, Hellickson gets moved for something, opening up the last rotation spot to give us a August 15 rotation of all young players: Nola/Eickhoff/Velasquez/Thompson/Appel

Moerms: Is there a Touki Toussant (sp?) trade you could envision the Phillies pulling off w their extra $ this year?

No.  The Phillies will be positioned to make a deal like that, but predicting one of those to happen is a lot cause.  Not to mention I think the DBAcks have solidified themselves at this point.

Phillies Mind: If there was one prospect you could choose to hit on 100% potential, who is it?

J.P. Crawford.  I think Nick Williams has star upside, but Crawford’s upside is franchise altering.  He could be a perennial superstar at the toughest position on the field, really hard to pass that up.

baseball hurts: Your best guess as of right now who the better major leaguers will be: Alfaro or Knapp. Altherr or Herrera?

I will go Alfaro and Herrera, based on my rankings this winter.  I think Herrera can really hit, and if he can do that in center field he is going to have a long career.  I think Knapp is the safer bet to be a major leaguer, but I am not sure he is that much safer to have a career as a regular than Alfaro.

baseball hurts: Who do you expect to eventually win the battle for CFer of the future?

Steven Fernando: who would you guess as CF in 2017:Williams, Quinn or Herrera. Also, is Herrera moving to 2nd viable?

Kevin Schmidt: what do you think about odubel long term?

Let’s talk center field and Odubel Herrera.  I think the winner of the CF battle is probably Roman Quinn or Nick Williams.  Altherr can play everywhere really well and has the arm best suited for right.  I think Quinn has the biggest defensive potential of the group, but his bat is the most questionable.  Williams has the best bat, but probably the worst glove, even though he is perfectly fine out there.  If Quinn hits, the job is probably his.  As I mentioned earlier, I think Herrera can really hit, and I think his best defensive position valuewise is center field.  That being said, if they have too many center fielders, he is the one most able to fake second base to keep everyone’s bats around.  It is a nice problem to have, but the Phillies will be lucky if they walk out of this with at least 2 viable long term outfielders.

brian pillion: thoughts on possible Phils J2 strategy RE: intl budget & risk/reward of going over in NYY LAD BOS CHC-less signing period

Dan Callos: I hate the international signing rules… Will Phils ever go over pool to get a number of top signees

At one point I was convinced they would, but they managed to get Ortiz while staying below last year.  This year they can get near $9M just by trading for slots.  That should be enough to bring in a large talent haul without jeopardizing themselves in whatever the new system is under the new CBA.  If a player comes along that they can get who will take them over, I am sure they will be interested, but it is going to take a superstar type, because right now they can bring in a large group without going over.

Travis Crump: Why do minor league free agents switch teams? money? playing time? present team doesn’t want them? chance at majors?

All of these, plus things like training routine, major league situations, and coaches.  Pretty much any reason you would change jobs for one that you think fits you better.

Philly Phoursome: Favorite non Phillies prospect?

It used to be Lindor, that guy can really play defense, but he graduated to the majors.  I probably lean Joey Gallo of guys still with prospect status.  I like many things about baseball, but home runs are cool and I will remember him and Kris Bryant taking BP at the 2014 Futures game for a long time.

Philly Phoursome: Appel or Thompson who plays for the MLB Phils first ?

Thompson.  Appel pitched in AAA last year, but I think he has more things to work on.  Thompson could probably handle the majors from Day 1, but some time in the minors would make him much better prepared for when he is promoted.

Tim: If you could mash-up any two position player prospects to form a super prospect, which two and why?

I think one of the players has to be Crawford, because he gives you shortstop defense,  a great hit tool, and amazing feel for the game.  The question then becomes, how do you make him more impactful, and so you look at speed, arm, and power.  Speed you could go Quinn, but you don’t get gains elsewhere.  That leaves us with two players, Jorge Alfaro and Jose Pujols who both give you a big arm and huge raw power (Cozens could be close here but his arm is a step behind the other two).  You go with Alfaro if you want more arm strength and more current raw power.  Pujols gives you plenty of arm, and he can nearly match Alfaro in power, but he does come with premium bat speed.  I think I lean Pujols here, because I think Crawford with that type of power and bat speed to go with his approach would be amazing.

The correct pitcher answer is Thomas Eshelman and Alberto Tirado by the way.

Tim: What will you look for this year to know whether Eshelman’s unique skill set translates to pro ball?

It will come down to how he gets hitters out.  Is he just throwing strikes and locating the ball well, or is he actually seeing his stuff improve to the point where it can miss bats on its own.

Jonathan Murray: What prospects outside of top 10 have the highest upside?

Let’s list a bunch here, because I love talking upside (all ranks from my Top 50)

  • Adonis Medina (13) – Potentially 3 plus pitches and he is only 19
  • Jose Pujols (16) – Plus to plus plus raw power, elite bat speed, 70 arm in right field.  Still really raw at the plate.
  • Jhailyn Ortiz (22) – Do you like power, because Ortiz is 17 and can match anyone on that front.
  • Alberto Tirado (26) – Can’t find the strikezone, but the Phillies are going to try him as a starter again because he can throw 95-98 T100 with a plus to plus plus slider and a plus changeup.  Could be a top of the rotation pitcher if he hits his upside.
  • Arquimedez Gamboa (35) – Premium athlete and defender at shortstop.  Plus runner, with the tools to hit, but he hasn’t done the hitting thing yet.  Will only be 18 on opening day, so he has time.
  • Bailey Falter (42) – Lanky lefty only pitches in the high-80s right now, but has room to add velocity.  Shows feel for a nice changeup and some feel for a breaking ball.
  • Greg Pickett (UR) – 2015 8th rounder has tons of raw power, but no feel to hit.

Keith Winder: What would surprise you more: breakout by Dylan cozens or cody asche?

Cozens.  Asche at one point in his career showed a good approach and feel for hit in the high minors.  I think Asche is going to improve as a defender and maybe he can catch lightning in the bottle.  I really hate Cozens swing.  He just has no way to adjust due to his physical size and lack of quick twitch athleticism.  I think he could hit a lot of home runs, but I just don’t see where the room for a breakout is for him.  I could be wrong because he could mash, but I just think you can beat him inside and you can beat him high.  To be honest I will be very surprised if either breaks out, I just don’t see it in either of them, but give me the guy who at least put up .150 ISO last year in the majors.

Thinks he can dance: If Hoskins has a bad/mediocre year, would you trade for Votto, or is he too old for our core? If so, what’s your offer?

I love Joey Votto, but I am not touching that contract, he will 7 years and $179 million remaining on it after the 2016 season.  I am sure he as 3-4 more really good years in him, but I would prefer to not touch that deal.

Photo by Baseball Betsy

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. Nick M

    On a follow up to the Votto questions, what if Alther shows he isn’t an everyday player, do you sign Josh Reddick. He is 28 right now and would like nice in the middle of the order going forward. Will cost you but no anywhere close to Votto. (but…..they might have to give up a draft pick. So now that I think about it, forget it. never mind lol)

    • Nick M

      and now that I thought some more, those top picks are protected if bad teams sign type A free agents. So yeah, I do think they’ll be in a position to sign a guy like Reddick and put themselves in a position to be in the wild card hunt into mid September 2017

    • I’d rather not lose even a second rounder in the 2017 draft. If the Phillies have money to spend, there are non-comp FA, and over-23 Cubans and Asians. The future is not dependent upon Altherr. He probably is just a 50-50 shot to be an average or better MLB corner OF and he’s also likely, if he makes it, to continue improving after 2016. It would certainly speed the Phillies rebirth if Altherr has a great 2016, but Williams is the better corner OF prospect.

      • Nick M

        In regards to Reddick, I was thinking adding him to an outfield of Herrera and Williams. (or a healthy speedy Quinn, Williams and Reddick with Herrera at 2B)

        Regardless, the nice thing is they will be able to spend and add talent after they have some questions answered in 2016. It’s exciting.

  2. Alberto Eshelman would be a god among men.

  3. dlhunter

    “Cozens. Asche at one point in his career showed a good approach and feel for hit in the high minors.”

    I think you mean the answer here to be Asche? Confused.