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.
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