The Philadelphia Phillies sent seven players to the AFL this year. Those seven were assigned to play with the Glendale Desert Dogs, a team which also features prospects from the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, and Pittsburgh Pirates.
With nearly two weeks of play in the books in the AFL, the Phillies’ prospects have performed with mixed results. The organization’s player contingent is led by shortstop J.P. Crawford, MLB.com’s #5 overall prospect, and the Phillies most promising minor leaguer. Crawford has also struggled in limited play during the AFL, currently batting just .150 with six strikeouts in five games.
Crawford is just 20 years old and had a strong 2015 season split between High-A Clearwater and AA Reading, batting .288 with 6 homeruns and 42 RBIs. There is speculation that the increase in his strikeouts and low batting average this fall can likely be attributed to the fatigue of a longer than normal baseball season.
22-year old pitcher Yacksel Rios spent the 2015 season with the High-A Clearwater Threshers, posting a 2.75 ERA with 71 strikeouts to 23 walks in 88.1 innings pitched. Rios is currently sporting a 3.38 ERA with 4 strikeouts and 4 walks over 8 innings pitched with Glendale in the AFL. While his ERA is solid, that K:BB ratio needs to improve as fall league play continues.
Pitcher Edubray Ramos, who turns 23 years old in December, began the 2015 season in High-A Clearwater, and was then promoted to AA Reading. Ramos posted a 2.07 ERA with 65 strikeouts to 15 walks in 69.2 innings pitched between the two levels.
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Ramos currently has a 3.00 ERA with three strikeouts and no walks in three innings pitched for the Desert Dogs. It is an extremely small sample size, but his walk to strikeout ratio is good and hopefully something he can maintain throughout and beyond the AFL.
22-year old pitcher Jesen Dygestile-Therrien split his season between Low-A Lakewood and High-A Clearwater in the summer of 2015. He posted a 1.43 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 17 walks in 63 innings pitched combined across both levels. The Canadian native currently has a 6.00 ERA in three innings pitched, with three strikeouts and one walk for Glendale.
Therrien’s high ERA is the result of one poor relief appearance in which he yielded two earned runs in just one inning. His other two appearances featured clean innings of work. Hopefully he can continue averaging a strikeout per inning while lowering his ERA as the AFL continues.
23-year old lefty Tom Windle spent the 2015 season at AA Reading, posting a 4.35 ERA with 64 strikeouts and an unacceptable 51 walks over 97.1 innings pitched. Windle’s first two AFL appearances were clean, but his last appearance on October 24th saw him surrender three runs, two of those earned, in one inning pitched. This caused a jump in his ERA from 0.00 to the 6.00 mark. The southpaw obtained as part of the package last winter for Jimmy Rollins could be close to carving out a spot in the big league bullpen.
Catcher Andrew Knapp had a breakout season for the Phillies in 2015, and was named the organization’s Paul Owens Award winner among position players this year. Knapp posted a .308/.385/.491 slash line with 13 home runs and 84 RBI between High-A Clearwater and AA Reading during the summer. He will turn 24-years old in two weeks, and has struggled early in the AFL, batting .222 with a double and three RBI. Knapp has just nine at-bats so far, so there is still plenty of time, but he could be tiring as well.
Outfielder Aaron Brown is having the most success in the AFL so far among Phils’ prospects. Brown spent the 2015 season at High-A Clearwater, where he posted a line of .254/.324/.406 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI. In three AFL games, he is batting .364 with four hits, including a double, and four runs scored over 11 at-bats. Hopefully Brown can continue to hit well, and build upon that success into the 2016 season.
There are still 21 games left in the AFL season, plenty of time for the Phillies prospects to get on a collective hot streak. Hopefully those struggling can turn things around and finish strong, and those who are playing well can keep it up and help lead the Desert Dogs to the AFL Championship Game in late November.