MLB System Check 2014: Philadelphia Phillies’ Top Prospects

April 29, 2014 by Mike Rosenbaum  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies System Check video offers a quick overview of the team's farm system, addressing its strengths and weaknesses and how it can improve moving forward. The video also provides a breakdown of the Phillies' top prospects for 2014, Maikel Franco, Jesse Biddle and J.P. Crawford, including each player's ETA in the major leagues and potential long-term role within the organization.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Stock Up, Stock Down for the Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects Entering May

April 28, 2014 by Zak Schmoll  
Filed under Fan News

We have almost made it through a month of the 2014 Major League Baseball season, and for each of the 10 men on this list, they are hopefully one month closer to breaking into the majors. It has not been an easy start for some of the Phillies’ top prospects, but you can see some of the pieces starting to fall into place.

On the other hand, you can see some players beginning to perhaps break out. They may be finally finding their stride and are ready to rocket through the farm system.

Let’s move ahead, though, and start talking about the top 10 prospects in the farm system and assess whether or not their stock went up or down so far this season.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

What Cole Hamels’ 2014 Debut Tells Us About His Season Outlook

April 24, 2014 by Mike Rosenbaum  
Filed under Fan News

Cole Hamels isn’t known for turning in strong season debuts. Since 2009, the Phillies left-hander is 1-4 with a 9.55 ERA in 21.2 innings.

On Wednesday night, Hamels took the mound for the first time this season after spending over two months on the shelf with tendonitis in his left shoulder, and he did so with a chance to ensure a series win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Earlier in the week, manager Ryne Sandberg mentioned on the WIP Morning Show that Hamels would have no restrictions in his season debut (via CBS Philly):

We’ll just watch him pitch and take a look at him and see how he does, but it’s great to have him in the rotation with the other guys we have. He’s going on Wednesday, so that’s a little strategy there, rather than pitching him on Tuesday breaking up him and [Cliff] Lee and having [A.J.] Burnett in the middle here for the Dodgers series. [I'm] anxious to watch him pitch and to see him and then go from there, but no restrictions. He threw all of his pitches in his last three outings.

While Hamels left the game after six innings with the Phillies trailing, 2-1, he did end his string of lackluster debuts by allowing two earned runs on four hits with five strikeouts and one walk. More importantly, the 30-year-old southpaw proved that he’s healthy and ready for another strong campaign.

Prior to facing Hamels, the Dodgers ranked 23rd in batting average (.248 ) and 28th in woBA (.300) this season against left-handed pitching.

In general, the Dodgers offense had been mired in a week-long slump headed into Wednesday, collectively batting .190/.249/.300 with 13 extra-base hits and 57 strikeouts in their last six games.

Basically, the Dodgers’ recent struggles made them the perfect opponent to help Hamels finally put an end to his half-decade of porous season debuts.

After setting down the Dodgers in order in the first inning, Hamels surrendered a leadoff double to Matt Kemp in the second and then a single to Scott Van Slyke to put runners on the corners with no outs. The next batter, Juan Uribe, plated Kemp on a sacrifice fly to give the Dodgers an early 1-0 lead, but Hamels was able to avoid a potentially disastrous inning by inducing a flyout from Justin Turner and then picking off Van Slyke at first with a span of five pitches.

Hamels found his groove in the third and turned in another one-two-three inning, capping the frame by striking out Yasiel Puig for the second time in as many at-bats. The left-hander retired five straight batters before allowing a two-out double to Kemp, his second of the game, in the fourth inning.

Hamels opened the fifth inning with strikeouts of Uribe and Turner, though neither batter went down without a fight; he struck out Uribe swinging on six pitches and then retired Turner looking on eight pitches. After that, however, Hamels began to show slight signs of fatigue, as he surrendered a two-out single to catcher Drew Butera and five-pitch walk to Zack Greinke to set up Puig for an RBI single to left field.

Hanley Ramirez doubled down the left field line to lead off the sixth inning, but Hamels ultimately left him on base by retiring the next three batters on seven pitches.

In terms of stuff, Hamels featured his entire arsenal Wednesday night, throwing a fastball, cutter, changeup and curveball. Specifically, 57 of the left-hander’s 86 pitches in the game were either fastballs or cutters, and he demonstrated his usual advanced feel for working it to both sides of the plate. Hamels' command of his heater, which sat 91 to 94 mph, in the outing wasn’t particularly sharp, as he frequently missed off the inside corner against right-handed batters. However, he still was able to establish the pitch early in the game by confidently attacking hitters inside, which in turn made his middle-away secondary offerings even more effective.

Hamels' changeup was as good as it could have been for his first start of the season, as the left-hander induced seven whiffs—including two strikeouts—while throwing it 20 times over six innings. The pitch featured excellent speed differential (compared to his fastball), registering anywhere from 78 to 84 mph in the outing, and, like always, he sold it incredibly well with his fastball-like arm speed and follow-through.

Hamels also threw eight curveballs in the game—five coming during the fifth and sixth innings with his fastball-changeup command waning—and showed a feel for generating tight rotation and sharp, downer break. But even though he induced a pair of whiffs with the pitch, he lacked control overall and buried many of them in the dirt.

The only times Hamels struggled was when pitching with men on base, as two of the four hits he allowed in the outing, as well as his lone walk (which he issued to Greinke), came when working from the stretch. However, considering opposing hitters own a career triple-slash line of .242/.296/.388 against Hamels with men on base, it’s reasonable to assume the issue will resolve itself as he continues to build arm strength and logs innings.

 

Overall Grade: B+

After making three rehab starts at High-A Clearwater prior to his season debut, Hamels looked as though he was in midseason form facing the Dodgers on Wednesday. The left-hander was poised on the mound and utilized his entire arsenal to execute a specific game plan against a lineup comprised of eight right-handed batters.

Assuming Hamels’ shoulder injury is behind him, then all signs point to the 30-year-old putting up numbers in line with his career averages—meaning 200-plus innings, an ERA and FIP somewhere in the vicinity of 3.0 to 3.5, and strikeout and walk rates of roughly 23.0 and 6.0 percent, respectively.

Unless the Phillies adjust their starting rotation, Hamels is scheduled to make his second start of the season at home next Tuesday against the New York Mets.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Stock Up, Stock Down for Philadelphia Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects Entering Week 4

April 21, 2014 by Mike Rosenbaum  
Filed under Fan News

It was a tough week for the Philadelphia Phillies, as they went 2-4 in six games and fell to last place in the National League East.

Thankfully, things weren’t quite as bleak down on the farm; many of the team’s top offensive prospects came out of their respective shells last week and put up impressive numbers, especially those players at Low-A Lakewood in the South Atlantic League.

The following is a look at the early-season performances of the Phillies’ current top-10 prospects, as ranked by Prospect Pipeline headed into 2014. This series is updated weekly, a with a stock “up,” “even” or “down” indication given to each prospect based upon what direction his performance is trending.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Early-Season Grades for Each Player on Philadelphia Phillies’ Roster

April 20, 2014 by David Cattai  
Filed under Fan News

Early in the 2014 season, the Philadelphia Phillies find themselves at 7-10 and in last place in the National League East.

For a team that many predicted to finish last in the NL East, the Phillies are doing better than many, including myself, had them doing early in the 2014 campaign.

In this slideshow, each player will receive a range of grades (A-F) that describe their overall playing as well as an in-depth look on how that player has fared in 2014. The Phillies are full of a mix of seasoned veterans and inexperienced role players. These early grades will be precursors to how the players will finish through the end of the season.

Obviously each grade can be interpreted differently, so if you have your own grades and opinions, feel free to leave a comment!

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Why Philadelphia Phillies Should Start Tony Gwynn Jr. in Place of Ben Revere

April 19, 2014 by David Cattai  
Filed under Fan News

A week ago, Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Ben Revere was sidelined with bruised ribs. Manager Ryne Sandberg made the decision to replace the speedy center fielder with another speed threat in Tony Gwynn Jr.

Gwynn was immediately slotted in the leadoff spot and was asked to be the table-setter. In his four starts this season, the Phillies are sporting a 3-1 record. Gwynn is currently hitting .304 following a 12-1 loss against the Colorado Rockies on Friday evening at Coors Field.

When you look at both players, you begin to think that they play the same type of game. But there are a few reasons why Gwynn deserves to start over Revere, and the reasons may surprise you.

The most important and glaring reason is that Gwynn finds ways to get on base more than Revere.

Gwynn has walked four times in his first 29 plate appearances this season, giving him a 14.3 walk percentage, according to FanGraphs.com. Revere, on the other hand, has walked two times in his first 59 plate appearances of the season, giving him a 3.4 walk percentage.

To make a comparison, Revere ranks last among position players on the Phillies roster while Gwynn is slotted behind Ryan Howard (15.2 percent) and Carlos Ruiz (14.5 percent) for the team lead.

The object of being a leadoff hitter is to get on base. That has beenand is stillthe goal of the table-setter. Revere hasn't done much "table-setting" throughout his brief career, which should raise red flags for Phillies management.

Revere's career on-base percentage (OBP) is .323. What needs to be taken into consideration is that a player who doesn't walk much will depend on his individual batting average to beef up his OBP. That's exactly what Revere has been doing over the first five seasons of his brief career.

Gwynn, on the other hand, sports a .313 OBP in eight seasons in the MLB. That .313 sounds more relaxing knowing that his career batting average is .245. A player who hits for a low average and walks should be more appealing for a manager than a player who relies on one stat to get on base.

Sandberg released a statement to Stephen Gross of The Morning Call regarding Gwynn's play and why he was still in the lineup.

He's doing a nice job at the top of the order. So I stuck with the same lineup and try to keep the momentum going. I like what he's doing. We'll give Ben one more day and see if I have to use Ben off the bench again. We'll just get Ben one more extra day.

It looks as if Sandberg isn't sold on Gwynn just yet. What the manager also said in the interview should stand out the most.

"I like what Tony has done out there on the defensive side," Sandberg stated. "I would say he shows experience out there. [He has] knowledge of the hitters and good jumps."

Experience, defensive knowledge and getting good jumps. All are signs of a good major league outfielder. Obviously, a person can make the argument that Revere can't get the outfield experience without playing games there.

Just for comparison's sake, Revere's last season in the minors was 2012. However, he was called up by the Minnesota Twins as a depth move, thanks to a few injuries. Revere put his name on the map after making a few Gold Glove-quality plays that made No. 1 on SportsCenter's "Top 10 Plays." Other than that, Revere wasn't much of a polished prospect.

Gwynn spent seven seasons in the minors before becoming a major league call-up and a depth signing for a few organizations. The argument trying to be made is that Gwynn is a more polished, more experienced option for the Phillies right now.

If the Phillies wanted to get Revere the real experience that he needs, a trip to the minor leagues would certainly be a perfect fit. However, given the Phillies well-documented plan to "win now," throwing a player into the fire is exactly what has happened.

Right now, it looks like Revere will be the Phillies' center fielder for the long haul. However, do not be surprised to see Sandberg slot Gwynn in center if Revere continues to make bad plays, take bad routes and fail to get on base.

Gwynn is a capable replacement for Revere and has all of the tools to be starting for the Phillies right now.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Early-Season Grades for Philadelphia Phillies’ Offseason Acquisitions

April 11, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies had a relatively quiet offseason in comparison to those of recent years. After making free agent splashes and major trade acquisitions for years, the Phillies have seemingly cooled on that methodology. Instead, in each of the last two offseasons, they've sought players with upside and value.

It's lead to a very different final product. What the Phillies look like they're doing is patching holes. While there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that, it doesn't exactly help the team in the long run.

Nevertheless, there's time for that aspect of things. Right now, the Phillies are concerned about winning in 2014, and they went into the offseason with that mentality. They signed two starting pitchers, two catchers and one outfielder to major league deals, while they also traded for a reliever.

Since Carlos Ruiz was a re-signing, he will be excluded from this list. But with the rest of the above in mind, here are the grades for the Phils' offseason acquisitions about a week and a half into the regular season.

 

Statistics and salaries courtesy of BaseballReference.com

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Stock Up, Stock Down for Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects for Week 1

April 7, 2014 by Zak Schmoll  
Filed under Fan News

Last week, I wrote an article about the top-10 prospects in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system, and now it is time for a progress report. With the regular season now underway, we can assess how the 2014 campaign has started for each of these 10 individuals.

Ideally, I would not make changes to this list so early in the season. After only a few games, it really would not be fair to start removing prospects from the list. However, four of the men on my list last week have not played so far this year due to injury. They are Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Roman Quinn, Aaron Altherr and Ethan Martin. As a result, everyone is going to move up accordingly, and I will include the next four-best prospects in the Phillies organization.

 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

5 Reasons to Be Optimistic for Philadelphia Phillies’ 2014 Season

April 4, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

Monday, March 31 welcomed back baseball into the hearts of fans everywhere. In Philadelphia, while that is certainly the case, how much love fans will give back to the sport is a different story.

The Philadelphia Phillies were the worst team in all of the majors in spring training. Cole Hamels is hurt. The infield is old and—depending on the player—overpaid. And the team put this all together following their worst season since the turn of the century.

Fortunately there is always reason to be excited at the beginning of a new season. Even if expectations are low, the field production can always defy the odds.

Here are five reasons to be optimistic for the Phillies' 2014 season.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies