Mandatory Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports via US PRESSWIRE

Arizona Fall League to Feature Recently Spectacular Phillies Prospects

The Peoria Javelinas!  A seasoned, historic collection of MLB prospects, gathered each yeah to compete against their peers one of the last pockets where the earth is still warm.

This time, the Arizona Fall League team will be a conglomerate of Reds, Twins, Padres, Mariners, and Philadelphia Phillies youngsters who are looking for more at-bats, further observation, or a quiet place to pitch without being constantly monitored by internet nerds (We found you though!  We always… find you…)

Dusty Wathan will take control of an AFL franchise that has seen graduates excel in the form of Mike Scioscia, Jason Giambi, and Todd Helton; playing their home games in the Peoria Sports Complex, home of the Mariners and Padres Cactus League games, as well as collections of wailing teenagers pretending to be on ecstasy at the Vans Warped Tour for the past decade.

But this is all mindless fluff as we circle the real questions.  For instance, what is a “javelina?”  Well, it’s a mammal from the peccary (pig) family that is predominantly killed and turned into leather gloves.  Let us turn from this devastatingly depressing factoid and focus on what’s really going on in Arizona: Kevin Kolb’s MVP season the amazing display of young Phillies farmhands.  Now, no one’s going to sit here and tell them that this franchise has been criticized for being too old and giving long term deals to aging, slow players, and in dire need of a youthful explosion of talent immediately, please.  Because that’s an amount of pressure no person would believe.

No, instead of crippling them with expectations, let’s just sit back and look at who is going to be traded for B.J. Upton what we have.

Matt Gelb has already put together a thoroughly researched piece of journalism on the matter, so go check that one out if you can.  Then, with the remaining two minutes of your lunch break, come back here and read our dog shit jokes about what will essentially be the same thing.

Jay Johnson (LHP)

The most difficult Phillies prospect to Google due to the commonplace nature of his name, Johnson has sadly spent most of his career in a state of recovery–guy was getting Tommy John’d at age 13.  And he didn’t even have a Washington Nationals front office to wrap him in bubble wrap.  Two more elbow surgeries later, the last one occurring in 2008, Johnson’s velocity spiked upward by 10 miles an hour.

Drafted by the Orioles and Blue Jays in 2009 and 2010 respectively, Johnson’s left elbow issues kept him from breaking through.  A former coach got him a tryout with the Kingmaker, Pat Gillick.  Soon enough, the Phillies handed him a pen in 2011 and inserted him into the Lakewood BlueClaws lineup, where in 4o appearances he posted a 2.94 ERA with five saves.  Of course, Johnson wasn’t about to let the completion of the baseball season end his baseball-playing, as he latched on to the Canadian National Team, winning bronze at the Baseball World Cup and gold in the Pan American Games.

He opened 2012 in Reading, where in April his fastball was kissing 94 mph.  But more importantly, no one was distracting him by mislabeling the meats of his homeland.

Kyle Simon (RHP)

When Kyle Simon’s coach told him not to get dressed on a day he was starting, he assumed he’d been suspended, “or something weird.”  Then the call came in from Phillies director of development Joe Jordan, and it became clear there was no frame-up afoot.  Simon was just being traded in exchange for Jim Thome, something that’s happened to countless prospects over the years.  And the glacial reboot of the Phillies’ farm system has been somewhat of a success because of players like Simon, who notched 35 K’s and a 1.36 ERA in 39 2/3 games as a reliever.

His embrace of the bullpen role has given him a cocksure, ballsy mentality that is Vance Worleyian in nature and Cliff Lee-esque in mentality.

“(He’s a) guy that throws the ball over the plate and says, ‘Here, hit it.’”

–R-Phils manager Dusty Wathan

A guy can do that when his power sinker is fueled by confidence and mindfuckery.

Tommy Joseph (C)

 Your instinct, with a guy with two first names, is to assume he’s some kind of jerk, like that mean old Barney John from middle school.  But put aside your childhood for trauma for just one god damn second, please, and take a look at the catching prospect that Hunter Pence and the Giants placed gently into our farm system.

Widely considered a top catcher in the minors before and after the Pence trade, Joseph may have taken a step in front of Sebastian Valle as the farm system’s favorite backstop.  As previously stated, the Phillies have historically raised their catchers to be long term leaders, and Joseph fits that mold, as long as he keeps being incredible.  With power to all fields, an improved defensive set, but a few backward steps offensively in the past year, he’s reached the point where the AFL will be the catalyst for his placement in 2013.  One scout… scouted… that Joseph’s raw talent is in there are a three-hitter, he just lacks plate discipline.

In other words, he’s young.  Opportunities like playing the AFL exist to trim some of the fat off Joseph’s skillset.

Speaking of fat, did you see how fat Barney John got?  Ha ha ha what a loser, he probably doesn’t even have a Phillies web site.  I mean he probably wouldn’t have time for one really with all the millionaire philanthropist-ing he’s doing but still what a fat-ass.

Cody Asche (3B)

Cody Asche graduated from the Darin Ruf Academy of Players Who Really Banged It Out in 2012 I Mean Damn.  Of course, as a 3B prospect, that was bound to raise a lot of eyebrows, given the lack of Polanco and any kind of stability in the hot corner at this point.  Of course, with any sort of success comes theories about sustainability, age, and talent, and although his output is encouraging, it is probably very early to consider Asche the Hot Cornerman of the near future.

A Nebraskan spawn, Asche is fueled by both delicious corn and the ghost of Richie Ashburn.  His Florida State League batting title went up in smoke this year despite his .349 average, thanks to his promotion to Reading in June.  What appeared to be a disaster eventually became an awe-inspiring performance, as things usually are with we in the strictly reactionary crowd.  After struggling in AA, Asche suddenly began to display power that hadn’t even existed a level below.  So far he’s a third baseman by definition only, as he hasn’t really been asked to play anywhere else yet.

Zach Collier (OF)

Whether it’s wrist injuries or 50-game suspensions caused by his ADHD medication, Collier has had a rough shake.   In high school, he clinched a spot on Baseball America’s 2nd Team All-American, despite having open damn heart surgery after collapsing at practice.  In the 2008 in which the Phillies selected him, he was ranked the 22nd best HS player in the country.

His fairly average .255/.328/.349 season in Lakewood was not without its Jay Bruce comparisons, though he apparently hasn’t had a ton of luck and/or experience with the breaking ball.

Tyler Knigge (RHP)

Good lord, Knigge just let three runs cross the plate in 44 2/3 innings.  As a closer in Clearwater, he brutalized everybody, turned heads, raised eyebrows, and did other things to human bodies that really shouldn’t be described any further. Regardless, like a lot of Phillies prospects, he hadn’t really been heard of before now.  But after a critical conversation with Joe Jordan, the Phillies realized Knigge’s mental makeup was better than the numbers he’d been putting up.

“When he got through telling me about himself, I told him, ‘You got a chance to be a lot better than that off what I’m watching.”

–Joe Jordan

This season saw an outpouring of dominance and a promotion to Reading–a common theme in the farm system this year.  Is there anybody left in Clearwater?

Colby Shreve (RHP)

He got everywhere in 2012, from Jersey, to Florida, to Central PA.  Where else would a hot young prospect want to be?  Las Vegas?  No, because to Colby Shreve, that’s just a hometown he had to work hard to get out of.  Why, he’s even got Bryce Harper’s number in his phone!  Hope he’s not planning to call him to borrow some eye black!  Because there’s not a lot left.  On the east coast.  When Bryce is done with it.

With a 3.69 ERA in 78 innings up and down the coast, Shreve is, like Zach Collier, on the fringe.  Eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, his performance this fall could dictate whether or not the Phillies offer them that magical sphere of protection conjured by Ruben Amaro wearing a wizard’s hat.

Hopefully, Shreve comes through.  If not, he’s got a lucrative financial mind to fall back on.  Part of his $400,000 signing bonus went into buying and renting out condos in Vegas.

Tags: Arizona Fall League Philadelphia Phillies

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