The Roll of the Dice Guys

I hadn’t made the trip to Williamsport since my weekend escapades in July when Adam Haseley hit his 1st professional home runs, Kyle Young struck out 11, Spencer Howard made his professional debut and Jhailyn Ortiz made my eyes pop out of my head with his power. And being this a Phillies minor league weekend, I decided to head on up to Williamsport for their final home game. None of the four mentioned above were to participate in this game. Haseley had been promoted to Lakewood (where I’ll be the next two days), Ortiz has been dealing with a hamstring injury the last few weeks (though he played earlier in the week) and it wasn’t Young or Howard’s turn in the rotation. So yesterday goes to the guys who don’t have the highest (or unknown) ceilings, that the Phillies can use as future depth and take a “roll of the dice” on. So who shined in Williamsport’s 3-1 win?

The Starter

Let’s begin with the yesterday’s starting pitcher, Ramon Rosso. He was promoted nearly a month ago to Williamsport after dominating the Dominican and Gulf Coast leagues. He had 82/16 K/BB, 0.78 ERA and .189 AVG in 57.2 IP prior to the promotion. His first three starts in the New York-Penn league were shaky as he had walked nine and allowed six runs in 12 innings, but he was still getting his strikeouts (15). Yesterday, he would have his best start as a Crosscutter. He started the outing allowing a leadoff single then retired the next six, four via strikeout. In the third inning, he would have his only runner in scoring position (leadoff single, sacrifice bunt) and would be backed by Nick Maton on two solid plays to end the inning. He would hit the leadoff batter in the fourth but fielded a quick chopper back to the mound, spun and started a double play.It was pretty much smooth sailing from their as he retired seven of the final eight batters he faced, four via strikeout. Rosso would throw 75 pitches (53 strikes), completing six shutout innings allowing just four baserunners (two hits, two hit batsmen). He would finish with eight strikeouts and no walks.

Rosso is pretty much a two pitch pitcher, relying on keeping his fastball down and hitting the corners. His fastball has good cut and run to it, staying consistently between 89-91 mph, topping at 92. He really liked to run his fastball in on right handed hitters and work it away to lefties.. His command of his fastball complements his slider well, which has a 10-4 tilt and dives away quickly at 79-81 mph. He threw his change-up very rarely, but it ranged 82-84 mph. Rosso is 21 years old and was an older international signing with the Dodgers in 2015 before he was released a year later and picked up by the Phillies. This has been a very impressive first pro season for him, but he may not provide much more than depth since he doesn’t have feel for a third pitch nor elite velocity. There is room for added velocity in his 6’4″, 215 lb frame (visually he looked like he could add more). Still at 105/25 K/BB in 75.2 IP this year, his season is worthy of applause and at worst he’d be good starter depth much in the way I view Jose Taveras. The numbers and video from Rosso’s outing:

  • 12/21 first pitch strikes; ten on fastballs, two on sliders
  • First pitch: 1/2, SAC, HBP; Ahead 0-1: 0/8, 5 K, HBP; Behind 1-0: 1/8, 3 K
  • Six groundouts, one fly out
  • LH hitters: 1/10, 2 K (swinging on fastball and slider); RH hitters: 1/8, 2 HBP, 6 K (two looking on fastball/slider; four swinging three sliders/one fastball)
  • 59 fastballs (78.7%), 13 sliders (17.3%), three change-ups (4%); 2/12, 3 K, HBP, SAC on fastball; 0/6, 5 K, HBP on slider
  • Nine swinging strikes (12%); four on sliders, five on fastballs; six of eight strikeouts were swung on and missed (four sliders, two fastballs)
  • Seven at-bats of five pitches or more (1/7, 4 K); Eight at-bats of two pitches or less (1/5, 2 HBP, SAC)

The Position Players

  • Apparently Nick Maton enjoys when I come to Williamsport (as does the team, 4-0 when I make the trip). In his first pro six games, Maton had just three hits in 28 plate appearances. Then I arrived for three games and he went 6/12, BB, 3 R. Yesterday, he would have another good game. After striking out his first time up, he would hit a groundball down the 1B line that should have been picked by Reynolds at 1B which resulted in an RBI double; he would come around to score on Jake Scheiner’s. He would fly out to left his next time before singling just over the second baseman’s head for his second hit. So that brings him to 8/16 in eyewitness games. Maton’s only hit .257, but some of that is due to his first week struggles. Since my first time watching him (7/7) he’s hitting .273. He’s shown a good balance of attacking pitches early and working counts, drawing walks at a 12.3% rate, while striking out just 18.2%. He’s mainly a singles hitter at this point (11 XBH in 220 PA) and still has room to grow (6’2″, 165 lb). And he’s been solid at SS throughout the season, but could be versatile player moving forward. The Phillies could have a little something here with Maton.

  • Yesterday, Williamsport gave out it’s end of the season awards. One of them was a fan favorite award and the fans voted for the catcher Rodolfo Duran. He showed why with the bat, collecting two singles in three at-bats. The first one was a bullet back up the middle that led off Williamsport’s three run third inning. After a ground out to 3B in the fourth, he would lead off the seventh with a sharp knock that kicked off the diving first basemen’s glove. He’s hit’s decently as a 19 year old (.253) and he’s got a solid swing and decent barrel control, so there’s offensive potential there even if the walks are low (4.9%) and the strikeouts are just a bit below league average (21.6%). But the real potential is behind the plate. Mitch Rupert, who covers the team daily, has recorded pop times of 1.76 and 1.83 as some of his best. Combined with his plus arm, he’s thrown out 49% of basestealers this season. While he has committed 12 passed balls and eight errors, manager Pat Borders (a former MLB catcher himself) has raved about his receiving and pitch calling. To be honest, sitting behind home plate yesterday as close as I was, I could see why. He frames pretty well and is decent going side-to-side at balls in the dirt. With Alfaro and Knapp probably taking the helm for the next few years, Duran can be given proper time to develop his overall game. If he remains with this organization and Alfaro or Knapp doesn’t put a stranglehold on the position by 2021, I wouldn’t be surprised if Duran was given the chance.

  • We will end on Jake Scheiner, the Phillies fourth round pick this year, who went 1/4 with an RBI double in the third yesterday. Scheiner has had an interesting season. He’s been versatile for Williamsport splitting his time between 2B and 3B and playing admirably at both. He got off to a solid showing to start by hitting .259/.344/.414 in his first 29 games (131 PA). Since the start of August he’s hit .212/.250/.283 in his last 27 games (104 PA). Some of this is probably attributed to fatigue as most players who debut the summer they are drafted aren’t used to this kind of workload. And while he’s scuffled, he’s been better at making contact down the stretch striking out just three times over his last 12 games (he was at 23.6%K prior to that). Still he’s only 10/42 during that stretch. I like his line drive approach and I think he can hit the gaps with power, so he’s an intriguing bench bat at the least moving forward.

Author: Jeff Israel