Williamsport Day 3 (7/9/17): The 2017 Class and a Final Barrage

Yesterday was one of those days where after getting kicked out of my hotel around 10:30 a.m., it was basically a “what do I do now” until the final game of the weekend series between Williamsport and Mahoning Valley at 5:05 p.m.. I decided to explore the beautiful sites of Williamsport and it’s surrounding area, like sitting in a Starbucks while I finished writing another article. Then I explored the site of the Little League World Series and its museum. Honestly it’s amazing how many people can walk around there when it’s crowded.  And then I would explore the wonders of the Lycoming Mall before making my way to Historic Bowman Field to finish off the weekend.

All the sites I explored aside (obviously more to do in the area), the final game would once again belong to the offense of Williamsport, which is definitely the best collection of hitters in the Phillies system outside of Lehigh Valley. Yesterday, the Crosscutters ended up scoring eight runs on 16 hits, half of them going for extra bases. And despite a late scare from the Scrappers who scored three in the 9th, they would hold on to win 8-7. There was a lot to take in from a number of players in the lineup, particularly four members from the 2017 draft class. So here are my thoughts on each of their performances and others from yesterday’s offensive onslaught.

  • The star of yesterday’s game was 17th round pick, Austin Listi, who entered yesterday with just 3 hits but 6 walks in 31 plate appearances. Yesterday would be his breakout game hitting 8th in the Crosscutters lineup. He would lead off the 2nd inning with a hard single into CF. Then in the 3rd with his team trailing 3-2 with two out and Jhailyn Ortiz on 2B, Listi  would jump on an offspeed offering and pound over the LF wall for his 1st career pro home run. He would then double in the 5th to LF, and would now be a triple away from the cycle. In his 1st attempt he would rip one down the LF line for an RBI double in the 7th. He would get another chance but popped up in the infield to end the 8th. Listi is yet another product of the Phillies pipeline from Dallas Baptist joining 2016 draft picks David Martinelli and Darick Hall both of whom are in Lakewood and are younger than Listi, who was a drafted as a 5th year senior. Like Hall, Listi’s calling card is his tremendous power, more so to his pull side as all of hits indicated yesterday. Every swing he takes is one with authority, as if he is trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark every time with plenty of loft to his swing. Early on he has shown good discipline, as all but one of his ABs yesterday were at least five pitches long. While he will likely be a swing and miss candidate and is limited to 1B, he would be an interesting power bat off the bench a few years down the line, who can also draw his fair share of walks. His career will likely end up being splitting time between the minors and the majors as a good depth candidate.

  • 7th round pick Nick Maton continued his hot mini stretch by being the catalyst once again in the leadoff spot. In the 1st inning, he kept his hands in and went above to catch a high fastball to bloop it in for a leadoff single, he would come around to score with the bases loaded when Cole Stobbe got hit in the elbow. The next inning, he would solidly hit a 1-0 change down the pipe around the same spot as his 1st hit. The very next inning, he would work a 6 pitch, two out walk. He would finish the day 2/4, R, BB, K. After starting 1/18 with 5/6 K/BB, Maton is 8/14, 1 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI 1/3 K/BB in his last four games. I like Maton’s short, compact approach and he gets good extension from his bat. As I have previously said, he is right now more of a singles hitter who plays a quality shortstop. That’s still decent value for a utility infielder, but he’s going to have to hit the gaps with power more in order to stick around long enough for a major league career.
  • Jake Scheiner, the team’s 4th round pick, is an interesting project in a couple of ways. He ended up having an impressive game yesterday going 3/5 with a double to center and a run scored. Scheiner’s big problem is that he gets beat pretty easily with offspeed down and doesn’t recognize it well enough. His swing can get pretty long at times but when he does make contact he shows average power. The intriguing part is the Phillies are trying him out at 2B, since Stobbe is entrenched at 3B and Maton at SS, two positions he also played in college. Scheiner is athletic enough to play 2B and he could actually be decent there. In the 1st inning, he would prevent a ball from going into CF that would have scored two and ended up being an infield single that scored one. The next inning he would range towards 2B and had the ball kick off his glove in what would have been a tough play had he gotten it anyway. There’s plenty of raw ability here to make him a super-utility player, but hitting consistently will be key to that.
  • Finally, the last 2017 pick to talk about is of course Adam Haseley. He ended up having a mediocre day after shooting a strong single to RF in the 1st inning. He finished 1/5, striking out twice. Once again he showed good plate discipline throughout the game seeing 24 pitches in five trips. The thing that struck me yesterday and during the weekend was how tough it was for him recognizing change-ups, particularly ones tailing away. My thought when the Phillies drafted him was that was the one thing I thought he would have trouble with because of his tendencies to over-rotate his front leg at times. This makes it tough to hit pitches on the outer third of the zone with much authority, especially if there a bit low. I was still overly impressed by the contact he made throughout the weekend to all fields, and if the Joe Jordan interview hinted at anything, his stay in Williamsport might not be for the rest of the season.
  • Jhailyn Ortiz didn’t annihilate the cover off the baseball like he did the first two games, but he continued to get on base. Despite going hitless, he would walk and be hit by a pitch to extend his on base streak to 12 games. The last time he didn’t get on base he wore the golden sombrero, striking out four times. During this streak, he has a line of .366/.519/.659. Being hit yesterday was the sixth time he has been hit this season, all during this streak. Despite all this, he will not give up his positioning at the plate. Ortiz’s production this season is similar to his numbers through 16 games last year, but his plate discipline is much stronger (10 BB in 2017, 4 BB in 1st 16 in 2016). He also showed off his “wheels” stealing his 3rd base of the year before Listi’s HR. While he still below average from a speed perspective, he’s athletic enough to surprise on the basepaths and play RF for the time being as he continues to mature into his body.
  • Cole Stobbe (2016 3rd Round) ended up with two RBIs on the day, one coming from being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. The other RBI came leading off the 5th inning, when he drove a 2-2 pitch down the middle over the left centerfield wall for his 5th home run of the season. I can see why Stobbe has tremendous value. He has a short, quick path to the ball and has tremendously quick wrists that he can create above average power, which profiles well at 3B. His issue, like all professionals coming out of high school is pitch recognition (32.1 K% this season). He took some really bad cuts on some really low off-speed stuff throughout the course of the game. Defensively, he made a couple of easy strong throws from 3B and with his athleticism, he should be at least average defensively.  Hitting consistently will be key, but the potential to be an average regular in the big leagues is there.

  • Finally a brief summary on yesterday’s starter Will Stewart. The 2015 2oth rd pick had an absolutely rough 1st inning throwing 34 pitches (18 strikes). He would walk the first two hitters before striking out the next two. A passed ball, two infield singles and a sharp single later it was 3-0. He would end up more in control his final four innings, as he threw just 40 pitches (28 strikes) retiring 12 of the last 13. His final line: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R (all ER), 5/2 K/BB. His delivery is a bit slingy, as ends up tilting back and then throwing side arm or low 3/4 slot. The first inning he was basically throwing darts with his eyes closed, which combined with that delivery makes him a future left-handed specialist.

Well guys, the last few days were really fun, and I enjoyed giving you all this information on all these prospects as they make their way through the system. And there will be a lot more of these coming from Lakewood, Reading and Lehigh Valley as well. Who knows I may make another effort to watch the kids from Williamsport. But the next two months, it’s all about giving all you Phillies fans hope for the future. And to quote the new phrase for the Phillies created by John Stolnis: TRUST THE PROSPECTS.

Author: Jeff Israel

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