Since last we looked around at the Phillies minor league system over a month ago, much has changed down on the farm. Top pitching prospect Aaron Nola made his MLB debut, and both he and fellow rookie Adam Morgan have become ensconced in the Phils’ rotation.
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Also since that time, the club traded away three veterans: Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, and Ben Revere. The haul for those three big leaguers was substantial in its effect on the minors. New premium outfield and catcher prospects, and a half-dozen new arms.
The end result is that the Phillies have three of the players listed in Baseball America’s midseason Top 50 prospects list, and 6 of MLB’s midseason Top 100 prospects, including 5 of the top 70 on that latter list.
Not only has the talent increased in the system, but that increased talent is showing in greatly improved results on the field. The combined record of the organization’s five top minor league affiliates is 265-231 at present, and all but AAA Lehigh Valley have a winning record.
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The AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs may indeed have a losing record, currently sitting at 52-63 and in 4th place in the International League North Division, but the team has improved as the season has moved along.
After a miserable 9-23 start, the club has played to a 43-40 record over the last three months. All of that recovery happened after the promotion of 3rd baseman Maikel Franco, who was leading the club offensively, to the big leagues.
Leading the offense has been veteran left fielder Brian Bogusevic, who leads the team’s regulars with a .292 average and 8 homers. 24-year old outfielder Aaron Altherr appears on the verge of some September playing time in Philly. The center fielder is hitting .289 with 7 homers, 35 rbi, and 33 runs in just 173 AAA at-bats. 2nd baseman Chase d’Arnaud is batting .281 with a team-high 65 runs and 24 steals.
On the mound, 28-year old Anthony Vasquez has fashioned a 7-4 record with a 3.87 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. He has gone 81.1 innings over 15 starts, allowing just 72 hits. 23-year old lefty prospect Jesse Biddle has now made a half-dozen AAA starts, going 2-2 with a 4.88 ERA, and has allowed 30 hits in 31.1 innings.
The Phillies just called up 31-year old lefty Adam Loewen to the big club. In 33 games, Loewen had registered 10 Saves with the IronPigs, allowing just 29 hits in 46 innings, with a 60/32 K:BB ratio. Two of the arms acquired in the Hamels deal, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff, were sent to Lehigh Valley. 23-year old Asher is 1-0 in his first 2 starts with a 2.77 ERA, allowing 12 hits in 13 innings. 25-year old Eickhoff won his lone start, allowing 6 hits over 6 innings, striking out 7 and walking just one.
The AA Reading Fightin’ Phils are leading the Eastern Division of the Eastern League by 1.5 games with 27 left to play. The club is hot, having won 6 straight, and 9 of its last 11 to recapture the division lead.
The Reading offense got a boost when a key bat acquired in the Hamels deal, outfielder Nick Williams, was sent here. In 5 games since his arrival, Williams has hit to a .435/.480/.783 slash line, with 2 homers and 8 runs scored. He’ll slow some, but has made a great first impression.
1st baseman Brock Stassi just turned 26-years old on Friday. He has been a key offensive cog, hitting to a .312/.396/.471 slash line with a team-high 11 homers and 74 rbi. 22-year old center fielder Roman Quinn is hitting .306, leads the team with 29 steals, and has scored 44 runs in just 58 AA games.
The organization’s top all-around prospect, and a consensus Top 10 prospect in all of baseball, shortstop J.P. Crawford, also plays with the Fightins. While he has had his moments, he has also shown that he still has work to do before he is ready for Philly. Crawford is hitting .251 with a .344 on-base percentage. He has 4 homers, 24 rbi, 37 runs, and 2 steals in 251 at-bats at AA.
On the mound, some of the organization’s best pitching prospects, and closest to the Majors, are found at Reading. Two who could push for a spot in the Phillies rotation by next spring are righthanders Ben Lively and Zach Eflin. The 23-year old Lively is 8-7 with a 3.87 ERA in 123.1 innings. The 21-year old Eflin is 6-6 with a 3.67 ERA in 100.2 innings. Both came in the off-season, Lively in the Marlon Byrd trade, Eflin in the Jimmy Rollins deal.
A lefty from that Rollins deal, Tom Windle, has gone 3-5 with a 4.67 ERA in 86.2 innings. He has begun the transition to the bullpen, where many feel he will ultimately thrive and reach the big leagues. 26-year old closer Stephen Shackleford has 23 Saves and a 4-1 record, with a 2.68 ERA and 1.19 WHIP across 41 games.
The High-A Clearwater Threshers have an overall 63-50 record, an incredible one-year turnaround from their abysmal 2014 performance. The Threshers won the first-half crown in the Florida State League North Division, and so will take part in the league playoffs in September.
The Clearwater offense is led by 22-year old 1st baseman Rhys Hoskins. A 6’4″, 225 lb masher, Hoskins has 4 homers, 17 rbi, 28 runs and is hitting to a .311/.399/.473 slash line in 148 at-bats since a promotion from Lakewood, where he was also tearing the cover off the ball.
Also promoted from Low-A was center fielder Carlos Tocci, still a teenager for another two weeks. Tocci has struggled a bit, and is hitting just .275 with 22 runs in 178 at-bats with the Threshers.
23-year old catcher Willians Astudillo has been solid with a .317 average and 47 rbi on the year. 21-year old outfielder Andrew Pullin leads the team with 11 homers and 62 rbi. 21-year old outfielder Dylan Cozens is hitting .279 with 5 homers and 39 rbi.
On the mound, Clearwater has Brandon Leibrandt at 7-3 with a 3.11 ERA and just 83 hits allowed in 101.1 innings across 17 starts. Mark Leiter Jr is 4-1 with a 1.81 ERA and 0.96 WHIP, allowing just 54 hits in 74.2 innings. Matt Imhof, the club’s 2nd round draftee in 2014, is 6-4 with a 3.21 ERA, allowing just 47 hits in 56 innings.
The Low-A Lakewood BlueClaws have an overall 57-53 mark on the season, but are 24-19 in the 2nd half, sitting tied for 2nd place in the South Atlantic League’s North Division, just 4.5 out of first with 27 games to play.
21-year old outfielder Herlis Rodriguez, who is hitting for a .299 average, leads the club with 9 homers and 51 rbi, and has a dozen steals. 2nd baseman Scott Kingery, the Phillies’ 2nd round selection in this year’s MLB Amateur Draft, is at Lakewood. He is hitting .247 with 3 homers, 3 steals, and 30 runs in his first 166 at-bats.
On the mound at Lakewood, 23-year old Ranfi Casimiro is 7-6 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, allowing just 99 hits in 107.1 innings. 20-year old Tyler Viza is 4-7 with a 3.53 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, allowing 105 hits in a team-high 117.1 innings. 23-year old reliever Joey DeNato has been outstanding, with a 1.49 ERA and 0.96 WHIP, allowing just 37 hits in 54.1 innings with a 52/15 K:BB ratio.
Finally, the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters bolted out fast in the Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League. The Cutters won their first 10 games, and were 13-1 after the first two weeks of play. They used that hot start to build their current 6 game lead, and are 30-18 with 28 games to go in the regular season.
3rd baseman Jan Hernandez, a 20-year old, paces the club with 7 homers and is 2nd with 20 rbi, but he is struggling badly with a .212 average. 21-year old outfielder Zachary Coppola may be the club’s most consistent threat, hitting .304 with a .383 on-base percentage, 26 runs, and 14 steals. 20-year old center fielder Venn Biter leads the club with 21 rbi.
On the mound, 21-year old Mitch Gueller is leading the staff, and absolutely due for the challenge of a promotion, and fast. Gueller was the club’s 2012 selection at 54th overall in that year’s MLB Amateur Draft. He is 6-1 with a 1.93 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, allowing just 33 hits in 46.2 innings.
Franklyn Kilome, a 20-year old out of the Dominican, has shot up prospect boards, and rightfully so: 7 starts, 31 innings, just 20 hits allowed, with a 25/13 K:BB ratio. He carries outstanding 1.74 ERA and 1.06 WHIP marks.
21-year old Venezuelan Alejandro Arteaga is 4-0 with a 3.07 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He has a 36/12 K:BB ratio, allowing 39 hits in 44 innings. 21-year old Dominican Jose Taveras has gone 4-2 with a 2.83 ERA, allowing 33 hits in 35 innings. 22-year old Anthony Sequeira has registered 4 Saves, allowing 10 hits in 21.2 innings with a 24/6 K:BB ratio, a 2.08 ERA, and a 0.74 WHIP. 23-year old Robert Tasin has 9 Save, allowing just 7 hits in 17 innings with a 1.59 ERA and 0.65 WHIP.