There has been a lot attention paid to the resurgence of two third baseman in the Phillies system in Maikel Franco and Zach Green. The shortseason Williamsport Crosscutters have been putting up some impressive offensive numbers as well. But there are a couple of players whose performances aren’t generating as much buzz.
Andrew Knapp in Lakewood:
When Knapp was drafted there was a collective sense of apathy, many though the Phillies were going to take Cord Sandberg with the pick, and frankly Knapp was rather boring and solid. Knapp then went on to hit .253/.340/.401 in the New York Penn League while catching a minimal amount of the time. It turns out there was an elbow injury and he needed to go under the knife for Tommy John surgery. Out of the draft Knapp’s calling card was supposed to be his bat, with the glove needing some work, so the time off set him back some. He returned as the DH for the Clearwater Threshers in early May where he hit an uninspiring .157/.222/.205. On June 2 the Phillies demoted him to Lakewood, and he caught his first game behind the plate on June 12. The Phillies have since gradually eased him back with him catching and DHing.
His hitting has taken off in Lakewood where is now hitting .295/.343/.465 and riding a 15 game hitting streak. He is still sporting a .366 BABIP and a strikeout rate of 23.2% in Lakewood so there may be some regression, but he has really turned his season around. If he keeps up this pace for another couple of weeks he could get a second shot at the Florida State League before the end of the year. The Phillies have plenty of time to let the 2013 2nd round pick develop behind the plate, and for now Knapp is showing a promising future in front of him.
Mitch Gueller Rebuilding Himself in Williamsport:
Mitch Gueller was the second player the Phillies took in the 2012 draft, the predraft report was a guy who was a good two way player with a fastball routinely up to 93 touching 94, he would flash and above average breaking ball and changeup. Gueller really disappointed in his first two years of proball as the stuff didn’t show its promise from his amatuer days, and when he stayed in Florida in spring, the calls for him to pick up a bat grew louder.
This year the Phillies have moved his slurvy breaking ball from being a curveball he had no confidence in, to a slider that is already flashing above average and possible plus potential. More importantly Gueller is showing confidence in the pitch. The changeup needs work, but there are hints of feel starting to creep into it. The fastball velocity is still depressed and he has been around 90 mph in most of his starts so far, but coaches think it will start to tick up as he continues to get a feel for his delivery and confidence in pitching.
On the year Gueller has a 2.77 ERA, but a 12:14 BB:K ratio though 26 innings. However, most of the damage came in his second start of the year where he lost his delivery and turned in a 4 IP 7 H 6 ER 5 BB 0 K debacle. In his other 4 starts Gueller has been stellar with 22 IP 15 H 8 ER 7 BB 14 K. If the velocity starts to tick up, he could be back on the right path with a spot in the 2015 Blueclaws rotation.
Kilome is a guy on no one’s radar who isn’t down in Florida. I first heard about him this Spring through Chris King who had the Phillies staff in Florida raving about his potential. Kilome is all projection, at 6’6″ 175lbs he oozes projection, though at 19 (as of a week or two ago) he is a bit older than many first year Latin prospects. Right now the fastball is 90-92, but that could tick up a grade or two once he fills out. The secondary stuff is a work in progress and has a long way to go. So far he has held his own statistically in the GCL, but more than anything he needs the innings, and with the Phillies giving him the start and 4 innings yesterday, they seem willing to give him the work. He may not break onto the scene this year, and it may not be next year, but this is a kid that could pop up quickly as the body matures.