Phillies Player Development Director Speaks on Prospects’ Futures

Outfielder Nick Williams, obtained by the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade from Texas last season, comes in at the #2 spot on our TBOH Top 10 Phillies Prospects list. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Outfielder Nick Williams, obtained by the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade from Texas last season, comes in at the #2 spot on our TBOH Top 10 Phillies Prospects list. (Photo Credit: Getty Images) /

Phillies assistant director of player development Steve Noworyta gave insight into the team’s plans for several prospects heading into the 2017 season.

Multiple Phillies gathered at short-season Williamsport’s annual Hot Stove banquet, including manager Pete Mackanin and outfielder Roman Quinn. Each spoke about the team’s future at what to expect in the team’s future. Assistant director of player development Steve Noworyta specifically spoke about multiple prospects and what the team has in store for each of them.

Noworyta talked extensively about 2016 No. 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak. He talked about the outfielder adding size this winter, saying “it’s coming” according to Mitch Rupert of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. Noworyta continued, saying “right now what he’s doing with how he’s swinging the [bat], it’s fine.”

Adding muscular strength is important for Moniak because it will help him survive the wear and tear of a full baseball season. Through July, Moniak posted a .322/.394/.425 line in the Gulf Coast League, but hit for a .245/.287/.394 line from there. This indicates that he faded down the stretch, likely due to fatigue from the longest continuous stretch of playing games in his life.

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Noworyta confirmed that, saying “A long season like that might be tough on him because of his weight, but we just have to keep an eye on him as the season goes on.”

Noworyta also stated that Moniak will start the season in Low-A Lakewood despite the fact that he will still be 18 when the season starts. He said Moniak “has the makeup and tools” to handle the aggressive assignment.

Noworyta continued to compliment the California product, saying “Moniak’s very mature in the way he handles himself. He’s a young high school guy who I think will move quickly through the system.”

Moniak would join a slew of other top prospects poised to make their full-season debut with Lakewood next season.

Turning towards other prospects, Noworyta discussed outfielder Nick Williams. As we all know by now, Williams disappointed in 2016, hitting for a .714 OPS as his plate discipline regressed. Due to his poor play, he failed to earn a cup of coffee at the major-league level at the end of the season.

Noworyta attributed Williams’s struggles late in the season to self-inflicted pressure. He said “Williams saw he was close to being in the big leagues and put way too much pressure on himself at the end of the year.” In his last 32 games of the year, Williams posted a .176/.202/.320 line for a poor 42 wRC+.

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Alberto Tirado has bounced between being a reliever and a starter since joining the Phillies organization in 2015, but Noworyta maintained that Tirado will continue to be a starter in 2017. In 13 starts with Lakewood, Tirado struck out 36.3% of opposing hitters, allowed a .204 batting average, and carried a 2.31 ERA. He also has an electric fastball-slider combo that provide solid groundwork to becoming a starter.

However, Tirado has struggled with his command throughout his minor-league career. In the same stretch as mentioned above, Tirado still walked 11.1% of opposing hitters, which is beyond awful according to Fangraphs.

Even with most prospect evaluators expecting Tirado to transition to the bullpen at some point in his future, the Phillies remain adamant about keeping him in the rotation. After making Low-A hitters look silly in 2016, a promotion to High-A Clearwater is likely.

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One last prospect discussed by Noworyta was shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa, whom Noworyta said would head to Low-A Lakewood as well next season. The 19-year old has posted an OPS of .550 or lower in both of his professional seasons, but it should be noted he was extremely young for both the GCL and New York-Penn League. Gamboa will still be one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League, and it will be interesting to see if he can apply his raw tools to in-game action.