[Part III of a four-part series]
While we count down our Top 30 prospects here at TGP, Phuture Phillies is starting at the other end, introducing his prospects 1 through 6 over the past few days. If you haven't gotten your prospect fix after reading this, I'd highly suggest you head over there for some great in-depth analysis.
In the meantime, check below the jump as we find a place on our Top 30 for a couple of speedy switch-hitting second basemen, this past year's 20th round draft pick, and the next great hope for a home grown third baseman.
20.) Josh Zeid, RHP, Reading
On one hand, it's tough to read a lot into a 23-year old dominating Low A in a relief role. On the other, Zeid impressed in the Arizona Fall League, and reports have him moving consistently into the 93 to 94 range with his fastball out of the bullpen, so there's some back of the bullpen potential here. In 107.1 innings for Lakewood, the Tulane product posted a line of 9.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.59 HR/9, 45% GB, and a 2.85 FIP, and followed that up with a 12:1 K:BB in 14 AFL innings. The 6'5", 210-lb. righty only pitched 106 innings in his college career, so he strikes me as something of a late bloomer who could move quickly as he gets more innings under his belt.
19.) Harold Garcia, 2B-S, Reading
Bello, as TGP poet laureate Wet Luzinski is fond of calling Harold, had himself quite a 2010, setting a new Florida State League record with a 37-game hit streak en route to a .305/.365/.441 campaign split between Clearwater and Reading. Garcia has solid speed (29 SB in 2010 at a 72.5% success rate), a good glove (+16 Total Zone in his career), and enough pull power to turn on mistake pitches (.136 ISO last year), though he is a bit of a freeswinger (7.3% BB, 21.3% K in his career). Bello probably profiles best as a superutility guy, and in that vein, it would be good to get him some glovework both at the hot corner and in the outfield in 2011.
18.) Kevin Walter, RHP, Lakewood
If you're keeping score at home, Walter checks in as the highest ranked 2010 draftee behind 1st round pick Jesse Biddle. At 6'6", 220 lbs., the Colorado high school product has the projection the Phillies covet, so there's hope that his fastball will tick up from its current high-80s velocity as he matures. He throws on a downhill plane and has an advanced feel for two breaking pitches, and scouting reports have praised his athleticism, so he's got the raw tools to project as a front-end starter. The club has had recent success with lanky prep righthanders signed to above slot deals (see, e.g., May, Trevor; Cosart, Jarred; and Colvin, Brody), and Walter is the best bet to follow in that line.
17.) J.C. Ramirez, RHP, Reading
In installing Ramirez at #3 in last year's Top 30, I predicted a big bounceback from a shaky 2009 in the hitter-friendly California League. It never quite materialized, as while Ramirez was solid in 142.0 innings split between Clearwater and Reading, he was by no means spectacular, posting a 3.54 FIP to go along with a 7.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.82 HR/9, and a 37% GB rate. The pronounced platoon split is still there, indicating that Ramirez hasn't made much progress with his change up, and unless he can do that, he's hurtling slowly toward bullpen duty. Ramirez is still just 22, so it's too early to give up on him as a starter, but 2011 will be an important year for him.
16.) Matt Rizzotti, 1B-L, Lehigh Valley
2010 was an unqualified success for Rizzotti, who hit .343/.430/.545 across three levels, with the majority of those plate appearances coming in Double-A. It was in Reading that the 6'5", 235-lb. slugger finally found his power stroke, posting an impressive .271 ISO and clubbing 16 home runs in just 310 plate appearances, and putting himself firmly on the prospect map. As a first baseman with an iffy glove, Rizzotti's upside is limited to that of second division starter, but he's got a higher floor than just about anyone else on this list, and that's definitely worth something. Unfortunately for Rizzotti, Ryan Howard isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
15.) Cesar Hernandez, 2B-S, Lakewood
The Venezuelan speedster had a breakout 2010 campaign in Williamsport, hitting .318/.383/.384 (good for a 136 wRC+) and swiping 32 bases at an 82.4% success rate. Hernandez demonstrates excellent control of the strike zone (9.1% BB, 10.6% K last season), but like any slap hitter (.067 ISO), the worry going forward is that he'll get the bat knocked out of his hands by pitchers at higher levels. The switch hitter will take on full season ball in 2011, and while he's a couple of years away from the majors, he's got ultimate upside in the mold of an early career Luis Castillo.
14.) Domingo Santana, OF-R, Lakewood
Tackling the South Atlantic League as a 17-year old proved to be a bridge too far for Santana, who struggled to a .182/.322/.297 line in 49 games at the level. Unfortunately, the New York-Penn League didn't prove much easier, with Santana managing just a .237/.336/.366 line in 54 games there. The 6'5", 200-lb. Santana still has plus raw power, and even in the midst of his 2010 struggles he still exhibited a patient approach (12.5% BB) -- the key will be whether he can make enough contact to make the whole thing work, as his career 42.5% K attests to. More than anything, remember that Santana is only as old as a high school senior, so he has plenty of time to develop.
13.) Julio Rodriguez, RHP, Lakewood
The real question with Rodriguez is whether the late season velocity bump reported in some places is going to stick. The righthander's performance record in 2010 was impeccable, as across 109.1 Williamsport and Lakewood innings, he managed 12.6 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.40 HR/9, and 47% GB, all of which added up to an impressive 2.11 FIP. But righties who throw high-80s just don't make it as major league starters (a few outliers aside), so the radar gun in Lakewood will bear monitoring this season -- if Rodriguez's raw stuff has indeed taken a leap from his high school days, then he has definite starting possibilities going forward.
12.) Aaron Altherr, 3B-R, Lakewood
Altherr was yet another raw high school athlete the club took as an outfielder, but has showed surprising hitting aptitude thus far in his brief career, controlling the strike zone reasonably well (6.0% K, 17.1% BB in 317 career plate appearances) and managing a .297/.339/.411 across the Gulf Coast League and NYPL in 2010. It recently emerged that the Phillies are going to have the 6'5", 190-lb. Altherr try his hand at the hot corner, and as Phuture Phillies noted, it's not a stretch to think that the erstwhile high school shortstop has a shot to stick at the position. How he fares both offensively and defensively in full season ball will tell us a lot about his future.
11.) Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Reading
Moving the big Canadian righthander to the rotation and pushing him to Double-A backfired on the organization, as Aumont struggled with his new mechanics, repertoire and role to the tune of a 5.37 FIP and 38:38 K:BB in 49.1 innings in Reading. He was a bit more successful after demotion to Clearwater, but he still had command problems, and the whole year was a pretty forgetful one. He's back in the bullpen now, and if the club has him scrap the three-quarters delivery, both his fastball and breaking ball should really play up in short stints. He'll never be the front of the rotation workhorse that was projected for him out of high school, but he can absolutely be a back of the bullpen reliever.
* * *
Be sure to check back Friday as we count down to Dom Brown.