Phillies Prospect Roundup: Wally Pipp edition

I'm back, and it seems like not a moment too soon, as Wet Luzinski was on the verge of Lou Gehrig-ing me with a solid series of prospect pieces. I can but hope that the TGP commentariat will readjust to a more left brain oriented roundup, lest I wind up shuttled off to a Cincinnati blog.

What's truly crazy is how much has happened in the intervening weeks -- and how little time is left in the minor league season.  Additionally, next Monday represents the signing deadline for the Rule 4 draft, so there will be plenty to analyze on that front, as we can finally take stock of the Phillies' 2010 draft class.  In other words, be prepared for a hectic few weeks of prospect-y goodness.

With that said, let's dive back in, shall we? Check below the jump for info on Dom, a behemoth, the local boy draft pick, and a Texas hotel that just cannot seem to move to Reading for some reason...

Domonic Brown, OF-L, Philadelphia: Anyone needing evidence of how difficult it is to make adjustments to the majors should look no further than Brown's first two weeks with the Phillies. His pattern has been a pretty standard one -- it takes Dom a bit of time after a midseason promotion to bring his plate discipline into line, as witnessed by last year's stint in Double-A (8.6% BB, 25.2% K), this year's brief stint in Triple-A (6.8% BB, 21.5% K), and his 33 plate appearance big league sample (0 BB, 11 K). There's nothing to worry about long-term here, as Dom can be counted on to make adjustments, but maybe this should show that certain people aren't crazy after all.

Matt Rizzotti, 1B-L, Lehigh Valley: The behemoth first baseman was promoted to Triple-A last week, and it came at a good time, as Eastern League hurlers had pretty much stopped pitching to him. Rizzotti finishes the Double-A challenge with a .362/.451/.638 line in 308 plate appearances -- a line that comes complete with a 12.7% BB and 21.1% K (batteries, and glove, sold separately).  The above mini-rant on the difficulty of adjusting to the majors applies to Rizzotti too -- Ross Gload and Mike Sweeney are better options in the short-term -- but that shouldn't diminish what's been an impressive campaign from the Long Island native.

Antonio Bastardo, LHP, Lehigh Valley: I was as frustrated as anyone with the tiny lefty's inability to throw strikes in major league action this year -- 9 walks in 12.1 innings is, quite simply, unacceptable -- but I think it's safe to say that Bastardo has absolutely nothing lefty left to prove in the minors. In 13.2 Triple-A innings this year, Tony the Bastard has allowed just 4 hits, 3 walks, and 0 runs, while whiffing 21. Yeah... that's an FIP of 0.70 with a BAA of .089. At the very least, he should be up when rosters expand, and I don't see any way that he doesn't make himself a solid major league reliever.

Harold Garcia, 2B-S, Reading: Our buddy Bello is looking like one of the more glaring omissions from last year's Top 30 list. The organization seems to love him, and for good reason: he hasn't skipped a beat after promotion to Double-A, and now sports a .339/.412/.463 line in 30 games at the level. He's got good speed, obviously has some hitting ability from both sides of the plate, and his glove is apparently excellent (which his +13 Total Zone mark from last year attests to).  Not sure if he'll be ready to challenge for a utility job on the big league club next year, but he certainly deserves a shot at it.

Julio Rodriguez, RHP, Lakewood: Speaking of omissions from the offseason Top 30... Rodriguez impressed in the Gulf Coast League last year, but 6 homers surrendered in 49.2 innings in a pitcher friendly league ultimately scared me off of including him. It turns out that fear was unfounded, as the 2008 8th round pick has been impressive at two stops this year, with a 3.17 FIP in 34.0 innings for Williamsport and a 2.18 FIP in 31.1 innings for Lakewood (including 47 strikeouts). He's also been nearly unhittable in his last 3 outings, surrendering just 9 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run over 14 innings while striking out 25. Let's just say, "stock: up."

Jesse Biddle, LHP, GCL Phillies: I mentioned in a comment a few weeks back that I like to compare Biddle to another local draftee the Phillies may have slightly reached on, 2008 2nd rounder Jason Knapp. After three strong outings in a row, Biddle's numbers (11.9 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.66 HR/9, 39.7% GB, 2.28 FIP) are actually a tick better than Knapp's 2008 sample (11.0 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 0.29 HR/9, 38.8% GB, 2.33 FIP). Knapp, of course, vaulted himself into the top 100 prospects in baseball with a breakout 2009 campaign, and while it'd be overly aggressive to predict anything like that for Biddle, it's at least fair to say that the pick is looking better and better with each start.

Justin De Fratus, RHP, Reading: I like De Fratus more than I probably should like a pure relief prospect, but his performance record speaks for itself. If anything, the right hander has gotten better after an early July promotion to Reading, as he's surrendered just 8 hits, 2 runs, one homer and one walk while striking out 13 in 13.0 Double-A innings. Baseball America reported that De Fratus touched 98 on the gun in the FSL All-Star game, so his stuff clearly plays up out of the pen. Between Bastardo, De Fratus, Scott Mathieson and Michael Schwimer, hopefully Ruben Amaro can to cobble together a low-cost bullpen over the next few years instead of resorting to Danys Baez type signings.

Cameron Rupp, C-R, Williamsport: The organization's 3rd round pick this year out of Texas, Rupp is a hulking (6'1", 240-lb.) catcher with a good defensive reputation, solid raw power, and big holes in his swing. His .235/.333/.402 line with 11.1% BB and 22.7% K through 37 games in indicative of his offensive skill set, though he's surprisingly struggled a bit with the leather in the early going (gunning down just 19% of base stealers). He reminds me a bit of Taylor Teagarden, both in background and skill set, and while his ultimate upside is probably as a second division starter, he strikes me as a good bet to carve out a lengthy career as an excellent backup.

Josh Zeid, RHP, Lakewood: Zeid won the organization's minor league pitcher of the month award back in April for his work as Lakewood's closer, but as a 23-year old reliever sporting meh peripherals (12:8 K:BB for the month), there didn't seem to be a lot to get excited over. The Tulane product has steadily improved over the course of the campaign, however, and his work since he was shifted to the rotation at the beginning of July has been impressive: 9.5 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 0.43 HR/9, 45.5% GB, 2.43 FIP. He'll obviously need to prove it at higher levels, but it's been a solid 2010 campaign for Zeid.

Austin Hyatt, RHP, Clearwater: It feels like we've been saying "Hyatt doesn't have anything left to prove in High-A" since May, doesn't it? Nothing's really changed on that front, as the righty surrendered just 1 run in 13 innings last week to move his season line (in 124.1 innings) to 11.3 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.36 HR/9, 34.8% GB, and a 2.06 FIP. Whether his future lies in the rotation or in the bullpen is an open question, but the fact that we're realistically talking about major league possibilities for a 15th round senior sign is a really good thing.

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