Weekend Recap: 7/20

Pitcher Spotlight #1: Jesse Biddle 7 IP 3 H 0 R 1 BB 7 K
There could not have been a more different second start for Biddle after the disaster of his first AAA start.  At his peak prospect value Biddle was 89-93 with a plus curveball and feel for a decent looking changeup.  Now he is 89-91 T92-93, his curve is more loopy, his change is poor, and he has now mixed in a slider and two seam fastball.  His success is now contingent on working all of the pitches together to keep hitters off balance.  On days like Friday he can command his pitches to his glove side (in to RHBs and away from LHBs) and he can keep hitters off balance.  He still struggles to command armside and will often elevate into the middle of the zone.  When his command isn’t there he will fall behind batters, he then doesn’t have the stuff to not get hit when he has to force strikes (still lacks ability to throw quality strikes).  The ceiling for Biddle is lower than it was a few years ago, but there is still a major league pitcher in there, but that ceiling is far from safe.

Pitcher Spotlight #2: Victor Arano 7 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 5 K
After missing time this spring, Victor Arano got off to a poor start to the season and showed a real inability to turn over a lineup.  Over his last 6 starts Arano has been on a tear, with 5 spectacular starts and 1 clunker.  All season he has limited his walks with only 3 walks over those 6 starts (2 were in the clunker) which has helped limit the damage.  For the most part he has struggled with the big inning, but recently he has kept hitters off balance throughout his starts.  The only black mark so far has been his strikeout rate, but that should come as he continues to polish his stuff.  Speaking of stuff, Arano has plenty, his fastball has been consistently 91-94 and has reached 95, he pairs that with a curveball and changeup that will flash plus.  Arano is still very young, so it might not be smooth sailing going forward but there is a mid rotation starter here if he can keep it together.

Pitcher Spotlight #3: Ricardo Pinto 8 IP 3 H 1 R 0 ER 1 BB 4 K
Ricardo Pinto is now firmly entrenched among the top 10 prospects in the Phillies’ system, but he still does not get the same attention that some of his fellow pitching prospects.  Pinto brings a plus fastball and plus changeup to the mound to go along with a mindset that has him just attacking hitters.  He is walking almost no one after his promotion to hi-A and has not given up much hard contact.  His strikeout rate has dropped because he still doesn’t have a great third pitch as the slider is still below average, but they should come back as the slider improves.  The org loves Pinto’s mindset and stuff and he is going to move quickly.  He will likely spend more time in Clearwater but I wouldn’t rule out a start or two in AA.  A 2016 major league debut is not out of question for Pinto.

Hitter Spotlight #1: Cord Sandberg 6-11 3B 1 K 2 HBP
Cord Sandberg is killing the baseball in July (.407/.433/.475)  and is coming off a solid June (.300/.330/.456).  However, when I looked at the numbers last week there was nothing to say that he was doing anything statistically significant.  He is not walking at a high rate and he is still showing below average power (though it is improved).  This isn’t to say that Sandberg isn’t on a positive trend, because his improvements have turned a poor season into an ok season.  There is still a long way to go for Sandberg, so it is well worth celebrating and looking at the successes, but they do not make him a different player by themselves.

Hitter Spotlight #2: Carlos Tocci 4-11 BB 2 K CS HBP
It wasn’t the most peak weekend ever for Carlos Tocci, but he is putting up an interesting debut in hi-A with a good average, increased strikeouts, lower walks, no power, and lots of hit by pitches.  But he crushed his first home run this past week giving a hint as to the future potential.  Tocci still lacks a lot of the strength he will need in the future, but he is starting to put up numbers for the first year in his career.  He is still an incredible defender and that will be his calling card going forward.  He won’t move quickly but at this point the Phillies aren’t going to hold him back to wait on the physicality to come.

Image 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. Handzus

    Glad to see Pinto doing what I thought/hoped he would do as a pitcher with an excellent fastball-changeup combo in A-ball. Has his slider improved much or at all over the course of the season, or since last year? How confident should we be that it can grow into a viable third pitch?

  2. Steve (Tampa)

    Cord Sandberg is becoming an interesting story. I had all but written him off as a serious prospect but the proverbial light certainly appears to have come on. Despite the unproductive slash, Sandberg’s K rate has never been a problem (18.4% and 19.8% in 2013 and 2014 respectively) but it has dropped to an excellent 14% in 2015. Makes you wonder how he managed a Mendoza flirting BA most of the year until you look at the dismal 14.1% LD rate he posted in May. After making a good amount of contact most of the season, although not necessarily hard contact, his LD rate has gone from putrid to above average the past two months. He’s striking out less and squaring up more which is a good formula for success. Still, that BB rate will need to increase from its current 4.7% if he’s to have success at higher levels

  3. dag5

    Matt- Biddle is throwing a lot more sinkers this year, and that’s the reason for drop in velocity. His 2-seamer is 89-91, whereas his four seamer is 93-95.I don’t know if you watched his last start, but his changeup, curve, and slider were very good in that game. We’ll see if he can build on that tonight.

    • Romus

      Perhaps he took some pointers from Eflin, who prefers going the 2-seamer route, though he can go with a 4-seamer, but with a 2-seamer he can stay in the game longer. I guess it is that pitch-to-contact methodology.
      And if batters fail to barrel it up…it works with plenty of GBs