Phillies Prospect Roundup: Dead-Ball Era in Lakewood

If you haven't yet had the chance, be sure to check out The Dark's Fanpost (since promoted) on the Clearwater Threshers, which he had the chance to catch in action against the Brevard County Manatees. As we say in our "The Minors" section, statistics can only tell us so much, so any firsthand reports we can get our hands on are greatly appreciated.

With that said, let's go ahead and get this shindig started. Check below the jump for an update on the 2010 1st round pick, the Reading double play combo, and a couple of Dominicans worth monitoring from the offensively-deprived Lakewood club.

Phillippe Aumont, RHP, ReadingWe speculated just before the season started that the move to the bullpen and assignment to an appropriate level could lead to a big year for the big righthander, and his first four appearances have done nothing to convince us otherwise. Through 5.2 innings, Aumont hasn't allowed a hit, has struck out 8 while walking just 1, and has a spiffy 8.00 GO/AO. Small sample size caveats and all, but the early returns are definitely promising, and Aumont could yet turn into the solid power reliever we projected back when the club first dealt Cliff Lee for him.

Jesse Biddle, LHP, Lakewood: Biddle's final line on Sunday (5.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 6 K) looks a lot worse because of a rough 3rd inning, where a bunt base hit and an infield hit contributed to a 4-run frame for Bryce Harper's Hagerstown Suns. The good news is that he's controlling the things he can control: the strikeouts, walks, home runs, and ground balls, which is obviously a good sign going forward (yahoo for DIPS!). 2011 is really just about getting Biddle innings, so so far, so good.

Freddy Galvis, SS-S, Reading: A .278/.350/.278 line through 10 games doesn't exactly jump off the page at anyone, but it represents a fairly encouraging start for a kid with a career .232/.282/.294 batting line in his pro career. If he's still the defender scouts always said he was, then the bar for his offensive output isn't very high, and he's a major league caliber player if he can OPS in the neighborhood of .700 or so. Still a long way to go before we know if that's feasible, but it's worth reminding ourselves that Galvis is still only  21 years old.

Aaron Altherr, OF-R, Lakewood: Altherr's on here by virtue of being the highest ranked BlueClaw hitter on the offseason Top 30, and the point isn't to focus on him in particular -- although his .133/.161/.167 line with a 3.2% BB and 33.3% K isn't pretty -- but, rather, the entire Lakewood offense. Before the Claws busted out for 8 runs on Saturday, they had scored a grand total of 11 runs over the season's first 6 games. The team still has a cumulative OPS of .489 (!), as Altherr, Domingo Santana, Cameron Rupp et al. have made perusing early season Lakewood box scores a harrowing experience.

Harold Garcia, 2B-S, Reading: Galvis' double play partner has hit well in the early going, with his early season .326/.356/.535 representing an upgrade (especially in the power department) over what he did in a 55-game stretch in Reading last year  (.281/.340/.403). The one area of concern is Garcia's approach at the plate, which hasn't really improved -- 5.8% BB, 24.7% K in 2010, and 4.4% BB, 23.3% K thus far in 2011 -- in his second go around in Double-A. That may not catch up with him at this level, but it's an area to monitor as he continues to climb the ladder, as Bello will need to tighten his approach a bit to continue to project as a major leaguer.

Travis Mattair, 3B-R, Clearwater: The club's 2nd round pick in 2007, Mattair spent 2010 out of baseball and was reportedly contemplating retirement after hitting just .245/.323/.331 line across two Lakewood campaigns. He rejoined the club and was sent to Clearwater this year, and is hitting a little bit early, with a .278/.333/.417 line through 11 games. Mattair's a fantastic defender at the hot corner and is a big, athletic kid with good raw power, but his hitting approach and swing mechanics have thus far conspired to hold him back. The 0:9 BB:K isn't a great indicator, but he's at least hitting a bit at this point, and after 2010, the Phils are playing with house money here.

Justin De Fratus, RHP, Reading: Aumont isn't the only relief prospect anchoring the R-Phils' bullpen. De Fratus surrendered 3 runs in the first inning he pitched this season, but bounced back with 3 hitless innings last Tuesday in which he whiffed 6, then hurled a pair of scoreless frames Sunday (though he uncharacteristically issued three free passes). The 23-year old righthander had a bit of a tough go if it in spring training, surrendering 5 runs in 4 innings, but there's no doubt he's got major league caliber stuff out of the bullpen, so it's just a matter of De Fratus learning how to retire higher level hitters.

Geancarlo Mendez, 3B, Lakewood: While none of the Lakewood regulars are OPSing higher than .665, Mendez has had some success in his 5 appearances, going 5-for-14 thus far with a pair of doubles, a pair of stolen bases, and 4 walks to just 2 strikeouts. The young Dominican did hit .264/.329/.477 for the GCL Phillies last year, but as a 20-year old who played primarily in left field, it looked like a case of an older hitter taking advantage of the younger competition. Now he's taking some reps at third base (where he's yet to make an error through 5 games), and if he can play that position adequately and continue his early success with the stick, we could suddenly have an intriguing prospect on our hands here.

J.C. Ramirez, RHP, Reading: The Nicaraguan hurler's surface numbers look great in the early going (2-0, 2.02 ERA 0.83 WHIP), but there's a bit of a smoke-and-mirrors act going on here, as Ramirez has notched just 1 strikeout through his first 13.1 innings on the season. For a guy whose raw stuff is supposed to be pretty good, that just doesn't add up. It's still early days in the 2011 season, but this is an important campaign for Ramirez, so it would be good to see him start missing some bats.

Hector Neris, RHP, Lakewood: The only things we know about Neris are that he spent 2010 in the Dominican Summer League with solid but unspectacular results (41.2 IP, 7.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.22 HR/9, 3.18 FIP), received an invite to the club's Instructional League in December, and got an Opening Day assignment to Lakewood as a 21-year old. He's one to keep an eye on in that BlueClaws bullpen, as he's already whiffed 12 and walked just 1 in 5.2 innings pitched so far. Low A relievers are obviously a long, long way from the majors, but Neris has at least put himself on the prospect radar.
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