The bad news about football season kicking off, and MLB kicking into high gear for its stretch run, is that it also marks the end of the minor league regular season. To some, it may sound like a small price to pay, but for prospect junkies like myself, it's a bit hard to swallow. Once the short season leagues start up, there can be up to eight Phillies box scores to check per day, and as Labor Day passes, they suddenly vanish. True, we'll get to see the Lakewood BlueClaws start their playoff run tomorrow, so we'll have something to wean us off of the en masse box scores that make up the latter part of the summer, but it's a tease more than anything else.
With that said, this year's box scores -- or, more accurately, the cumulative statistics they engender -- have told us quite a bit about the Phillies' farm system. Assessing the big picture isn't something that can happen overnight, but we now have a chance to assess the information that's out there, see what Baseball American and the like have to say in their forthcoming offseason prospect rankings, and form our own conclusions. Sure, it still stinks that there's no baseball to follow (instructs and the various winter leagues aside), but next season is only seven months away!
So as we meander through our last prospect roundup of the 2010 season, let's take a look at some of the 40-man call ups along with a few more guys.
Vance Worley, RHP, Philadelphia: Yesterday's spot starter was a tough luck loser, as he more than held his own in his first major league start (5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K). I think dajafi is onto something when he wonders aloud whether we've seen the last of Worley as a starter this year; Rich Dubee's displeasure with Kyle Kendrick aside, it's probable the Worley is a better option at the back of the rotation, plain and simple. He doesn't have Kendrick's platoon issues, he's been stingier with the free pass, and his curve and slider (while not exactly earth-shattering) give him legitimate secondary pitches to induce swings and misses. Put it this way: watch this space.
Antonio Bastardo, LHP, Philadelphia: Bastardo laid waste to the minor leagues this year, posting a 1.12 FIP and 4.5 K/BB in 20 Triple-A appearances, and after a couple of false starts with the big league club, it appears that the diminutive southpaw is finally finding his gear in the bigs. He hasn't walked a batter in his 2.1 innings since returning to the Phils, and aside from the bunt parade the Rockies dropped on him, he hasn't been terribly hittable either. Charlie Manuel should continue to deploy Bastardo cautiously, but if he's healthy and throwing strikes, he's really tough on left handed hitters, and could prove to be a valuable specialist this month and as part of any potential playoff roster.
Mike Zagurski, LHP, Philadelphia: See Bastardo, Antonio... no, I'm actually kind of serious. The erstwhile Kansas Jayhawk was likewise impressive in Triple-A (3.04 FIP, 11.9 K/9, 4.8 BB/9), and he's likewise struggled a bit in the majors. It's all about command for the Tommy John survivor, as two hit batsmen punctuated a rough outing yesterday against the Marlins. Zagurski's no world beater, but he's held hitters to a .225 batting average throughout his minor league career, and could prove to be an effective mop up guy with occasional LOOGY deployment.
Scott Mathieson, RHP, Philadelphia: In case you couldn't tell, September roster expansion is really about all the arms you can add to your bullpen for the stretch run, as the presence of Bastardo, Zagurski, and Mathieson attests to. The double Tommy John survivor has -- stop me if this sounds familiar -- had a bit of trouble throwing strikes while wearing red pinstripes, although he's only appeared twice this year for the Phils. Command issues should probably leave him confined to low leverage situations until he gets comfortable, but guys who can pop high 90s on the radar gun aren't exactly a dime a dozen.
Trevor May, RHP, Lakewood: It's been a weird season for the big right hander. He's continued to pile up the strikeouts at each stop, but his control problems became a big issue in Clearwater (where he walked 61 in 70.0 innings), necessitating a demotion to Lakewood. Back in Low-A, May has been nothing short of outstanding, and he'll take the hill for the BlueClaws tomorrow with a sparkling 2.00 FIP, 13.0 K/9, and -- best of all -- 2.9 BB/9. Kevin Goldstein recently raved about his upside; the question that remains is whether the mechanical issues that plagued him earlier in the year have been smoothed.
Domingo Santana, OF-R, Williamsport: The now 18-year old had a rough go of it in 2010, ending up with a combined .211/.329/.333 line across stops at Lakewood and Williamsport. I still think the Opening Day assignment to Lakewood was overaggressive and may have had something to do with his subsequent struggles (even in the NYPL), but that's pure speculation on my part. What we do know is that Santana is still very young, and he would still be age appropriate in Lakewood two years from now, so there's absolutely no need to panic here. I'm fascinated to see where he winds up on offseason prospect lists.
Cody Overbeck, 3B-R, Reading: The overall Reading numbers aren't awe inspiring -- .255/.333/.440, 8.8% BB, 30.8% K -- but he improved greatly as he adjusted to Double-A, including a .316/.404/.600 showing in August. The strikeouts are something of a concern, but even more of a concern is where Overbeck fits defensively -- he was a -5 TotalZone at the hot corner last year, and his .927 fielding percentage this year doesn't instill a ton of confidence. I still think Overbeck profiles as a four corners reserve a la Ty Wigginton (non-2010 edition), but he'll need to play at least a passable third base for that scenario to occur.
Eric Pettis, RHP, Williamsport: Pettis was the closer for UC-Irvine his sophomore and junior seasons before being shifted to the rotation for his senior year, and he likewise handled both roles for the Crosscutters this summer. Whenever he entered the game, though, Pettis was dominant, as a simple glance at his NYPL numbers show: 10.3 K/9, 1.1 BB/9, 0.00 HR/9, 45.3% GB, 1.30 FIP. He's obviously not the kind of monster prospect his numbers would indicate -- guys like that don't usually last to the 35th round, after all -- but he's certainly got a shot to make it to the bigs as a bullpen guy, which would be a great return on a pick that late.
James Klocke, C-L, Lakewood: Klocke is a guy I haven't mentioned before, and there's a chance I may never mention him again, but he was a later round draft pick that I really liked. A 31st round selection out of Southeast Missouri State, Klocke scooped up several All-American awards after a .370/.444/.635 campaign as a senior. Guys with great control of the strike zone always intrigue me, and Klocke has that in spades; his 111:66 BB:K in his college career carried over to a 6:8 BB:K in just 107 plate appearances in pro ball. A 15% caught stealing rate might indicate that he's lacking a bit defensively, but I'd like to see him get a crack at full season ball next year to see if he can develop into a backup catcher.
Julio Rodriguez, RHP, Lakewood: This is a classic case of, "We need to wait to see what the scouting reports say." On pure numbers, Rodriguez is easily a Top 10 prospect in the system, racking up 90 strikeouts in just 56.1 innings for the BlueClaws to go along with 36 in 34.0 NYPL innings. He's also rectified the gopher ball problem that plagued him last year, surrendering only 4 in his 90.1 innings. The real issue, as Phuture Phillies noted a few weeks back, is that there have been conflicting reports on his velocity, and if he's only sitting high 80s, that isn't a great recipe for success heading forward. We'll have to wait to make a judgment on this one, but I for one am fascinated to see what the scouting reports say.