February 18, 2013; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Kyle Simon (75) poses for a picture during photo day at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Phillies Assemble Strapping Young Players for AFL Squad

Wow it’s… it is seriously Arizona Fall League time, huh.

Jesus.  That was quick.  Are we going to make the playoffs?  We are?  Good.  Well, here’s who will be heading out west while the Phillies head for the 2013 World Series.

Kelly Dugan (22, OF)

Australian outfielder extraordinaire.  Dugan was a background guy until this season, Threshing it up in Clearwater with a .318 average that got him a promotion to Reading, where he slipped a chunk, but that season long BA in 452 plate appearances is still sitting near .300 at .292, and his OPS plunge from level to level wound up at .870.  It’s a bump expected from a promotion as a guy starts getting more and more involved – he did just hit a walkoff home run last night – and the AFL seems the perfect place to see if his success can be maintained and how big a shot at contributing in the future he really has.

Because good god could we use an outfield prospect.

Cameron Rupp (24, C)

Well la dee da, look at you, mister catching prospect, climbing over the other, more advanced catching prospects to become the top one.  Rupp’s OPS was steadily rising from Clearwater to Reading, an 87 point difference, then hit a snag after his promotion to Lehigh this year, but not a big one.  Certainly more encouraging than anything Sebastian Valle or Tommy Joseph have done.  Poor Tommy Joseph.  Poor Tommy Joseph’s brains.

Rupp could very well just get called up to the Majors in September like Dugan.  IronPigs wrangler Dave Brundage has spoken previously on Rupp’s clear potential for the big leagues, though he included that ambiguous phrase, “…if he continues to improve,” meaning he’d probably benefit from some sort of minor league training camp during which his development can proceed come fall.  If only such a thing existed.

Aaron Altherr (22, OF)

Altherr is a four-year veteran of the Phillies minor league system, having joined up with the Gulf Coasters in aught-nine.  But he’s never gotten higher than Lakewood, spending two years there before journeying back down to the Florida State League for another go as a Thresher.  But he’s having his best season ever down there, sprouting an OPS over .800, putting him in the league’s top ten.  He’s also in the top ten in hits, stolen bases, RBI, and triples, and leads in doubles with 36.  But he’s fourth in strikeouts.  

So, what the hell?  The Phillies need outfielders, and why not start seeing if the guys showing a hint of something and are natural outfielders can do the job?

UPDATE:

Yeah, because the converted infielders are doing so poorly.

Ken Giles (23, RHP)

Giles has given up his share of runs in Clearwater as a reliever, though he did pick up a four-out save recently, giving up only a single hit.   And back in July, an eyewitness had this to say about an outing that the Threshers would eventually lose 11-0.

“When Giles struck out the side swinging in the eight inning, he had everything working.  The pitches he threw to those three helpless Tampa Bay Rays prospects were nothing but major league stuff: a high 90′s fastballs, unhittable low 90′s sliders to go with excellent command and control.  The best they could do was foul off a couple of his pitches.”

Baseball Ross

That save a weeks ago was his last, and his ERA is sitting just shy of 7.00, but you and I both know it’s kind of a circus that low in the minors anyway.

Mike Nesseth (25, RHP)

Nesseth was recently a big help at Lehigh, making a spot start that could potentially aid in the IronPigs’ playoff berth, whom he has only just recently joined following a promotion from Reading.  He fended off the Buffalo Bisons, who are the ‘Pigs’ biggest enemies at the moment, in the second game of a double header, the first game of which had already been lost.  He pitched four innings of no-run, one-hit ball, before giving former AFL-er Justin Friend the ball.

The reliever had a hell of a June-July, during which he threw 25.1 innings, allowing a mere one run on 19 hits and nine walks.  August has been a bit friendlier to his hitters, but they aren’t scoring – 12 hits in 13.1 innings, but only two earned runs to show for it.

Kyle Simon (23, RHP)

Mr. Simon is a returning member of the AFL, having spent last season using the small sample size to balloon an ERA to 108.00 and then settle on an even 9.00 by the close of business.  Simon came to us in exchange for Jim Thome, and at one point had both a Twitter account and mustache.  At least one of those is now gone.

In the Eastern League, his SO/9 is a lowly 5.3 and his SO/BB is closing in on 1.5, the best of his career.  The Phillies brought him up from Clearwater not long after his arrival, and stuck him in Reading, where he’s dwelled for 77.2 innings and a 3.71 ERA.  His best month this season was July (8.4 SO/9!) , when he also pitched the least (….5.1 IP).  He’s got the “potential reliever” thing down cold.  But we have enough guys like that.

Austin Wright (23, LHP)

Wright went seven strong innings a month ago, allowing four hits and a run on ten strikeouts.  In April he only allowed one hit in 6.1 innings, but… six earned runs?!  Yeah.  On 11 walks.  In 6.1 innings.  Made for some long afternoons in Reading.  His walks weren’t completely out of control for the rest of the year thus far, but if he doesn’t control issues, I’ll eat this laptop.

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Tags: Aaron Altherr Arizona Fall League Cameron Rupp Kelly Dugan Kyle Simon

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