For the 7 people that read these things on Monday morning, I apologize for the two week hiatus. The Internet is now back up and running in the PhillyFriar household, so no excuses this time around.
You've probably already seen the Jesse Biddle game report that Five-Tool Tool* shared with us via Fanpost, but if you haven't had a chance yet, be sure to check it out. It's good news in there, and confirms a lot of what we've heard before -- Biddle's rough around the edges, but the tools are all there.
*Nice guy, that Five-Tool Tool, taking time out of his day to share that on a Phillies blog. Mets fans may not be as classy as Braves fans -- no one is, of course -- but this moved the group up a collective notch in my book.
Anyway, let's get down to brass tacks: check below the jump for an update on the toolsy toolshed 2008 1st rounder, Lakewood's ace, and the reason behind the ridiculous picture to the right.
Domonic Brown, OF-L, Lehigh Valley: With Chase Utley on the verge of returning to the big league club and Carlos Ruiz already back in the fold, it's easy to forget that the Phillies' sagging offense could also get a boost from the reemergence of the club's top prospect. Alas, a sprained thumb will sideline Brown for up to a week, which is a shame, since he has a spiffy .358/.426/.642 line in 14 games split between Clearwater and Lehigh Valley at the time. With Raul Ibanez and Ben Francisco sporting .230/.288/.348 and .222/.336/.357 lines, respectively, a healthy Dom could find himself back in red pinstripes sooner rather than later.
Jarred Cosart, RHP, Clearwater: The organization's top pitching prospect turned in his best performance of the season on Sunday, whiffing 8 and carrying a perfect game into the 7th inning en route to 7 shutout frames, with just 1 hit and 1 walk surrendered. The right-hander had been struggling a bit with his control so far in 2011, and his strikeout rate still sits at just 6.8 per 9 innings, but he's healthy and logging innings, which is the most important thing for him. It's easy to forget how raw Cosart still is, but outings like Sunday's show what the upside is if he can put it all together.
Sebastian Valle, C-R, Clearwater: The backstop has been on an absolute tear since the calendar flipped to May, going a cool 17-for-35 with 6 extra base hits over that span to boost his season totals to an eye popping .337/.350/.520. That said, Mike Newman from Scouting the SAL (who's been a big believer in Valle) pointed out the fly in the ointment: he's got one measly walk in 100 plate appearances. That kind of approach doesn't work for anyone but extreme contact hitters (and often not even for them), so before we get too excited here, we'll need to see Valle start taking his walks.
Julio Rodriguez, RHP, Clearwater: The 20-year old right-hander continues to building on his breakout 2010 campaign, as he's 5-1 in 7 starts with an impressive 2.17 ERA. While the underlying peripherals aren't quite that good, they're still pretty good (9.2 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 0.24 HR/9, 34% GB). Two things to keep an eye on here: Rodriguez has been much more fly ball inclined in 2011 (after a 47% GB mark in 2010), and he's had a bit of trouble with left-handed hitters (just a 13-to-10 K-to-BB in 2011). At just 20, the latter is likely due to the rawness of his change up, but there's plenty of time to work on that.
Anthony Hewitt, OF-R, Lakewood: The club's 2008 1st rounder is now 22 and is repeating Low A, and while a .240/.292/.438 line isn't exactly lighting the world on fire, it still represents a marked improvement over his .202/.243/.327 performance last year. While the power spike is nice, the issue here is still the approach, where a 4.5% BB and 40.0% K simply isn't going to cut it going forward. It's an open debate whether plate discipline can be learned, and for Hewitt's sake, I'm hoping that it can, because it'd be a shame to see tools like these go to waste because of an inability to make contact.
J.C. Ramirez, RHP, Reading: The Prince of Paramus' strange 2011 season continues, as he tossed 8 innings of 3 run ball on Sunday, allowing 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4. Those 4 strikeouts represent nearly a third of his season total, so while the 2.81 ERA and .212 BAA are nice shiny numbers, the underlying peripherals (2.9 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9, 44% GB) indicate that a pretty drastic BABIP regression is coming. One bit of good news: it's a small sample, but Ramirez has fared much better against left-handed hitters this year, which we flagged as a crucial area for improvement heading into the season.
Tuffy Gosewisch, C-R, Reading: An 11th round pick in the 2005 draft out of Arizona State, Gosewisch has been a good organizational soldier for the Phillies, spending time at five levels across seven seasons and earning a reputation as a good defensive catcher and solid handler of pitching staffs. Now in his Age 27 season (and in Reading for the third year running), the All Name Team member and career .235/.311/.359 hitter is having a surprising campaign with the bat, as he sits at .266/.310/.468 with a 6.0% BB and 18.7% K through 25 games. This doesn't exactly vault him into prospect territory, but if it represents some sort of real improvement, it could make him a better Quad-A option than the Dane Sardinhas and Paul Hoovers of the world.
David Buchanan, RHP, Lakewood: The Georgia State product has quickly emerged as the BlueClaws' most dependable starter, following up his complete game gem from Saturday a week ago (9.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K) with 7 shutout innings on Thursday in which he surrendered just 1 hit and 3 walks while striking out 4. Currently sporting a 5-1 record and a stellar 1.51 ERA, Buchanan's underlying peripherals show a great walk rate (1.7 BB/9), a decent ground ball rate (45%), and no homers surrendered thus far, but the strikeout rate (just 5.5 K/9) is the early red flag.
Austin Hyatt, RHP, Reading: Facing Double-A hitters hasn't slowed down Hyatt, who's reeled off three quality starts in a row and has season numbers that fit in with what he's done in the rest of his brief pro career: 8.4 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.91 HR/9, 3.70 FIP. His fly ball tendencies (just a 32% GB) mean he's susceptible to the long ball, but with a K/BB of better than 3, he's keeping guys off the bases, so the whole thing works. He's about to turn 25, and it's still an open question whether he's a starter or reliever in the end, but he's increasingly looking like a major leaguer of some sort.
Garret Claypool, RHP, Lakewood: The 2010 11th round pick was a solid midweek starter for UCLA over his junior and senior years, and he's put up good numbers in pro ball thus far as both a starter and reliever: 11.7 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.33 HR/9, 31% GB, 3.64 FIP. He's similar to Hyatt in some ways, particularly in the fact that his performance against Low A hitters doesn't really tell us anything. Still, all you can do as a pitcher is retire the hitters you're facing, so while we don't yet know if Claypool's an org guy or a potential middle reliever, it's at least nice to see him getting the job done for the BlueClaws.