ROTATION BOUND (I'm envisioning "The Final Countdown" as background music)
The start of the New York-Penn League last Friday, and the Gulf Coast League today, is a sobering reminder that I have still yet to produce any sort of draft recap for the blog, a fact for which I apologize. WholeCamels has already pointed you in the direction of Phuture Phillies' excellent (and extensive) coverage, and while it would be impossible (and redundant) for me to put something that detailed together, I still want to put together a piece looking at the thing holistically. The issue with doing that this year is that the club took a lot of high schoolers this time around -- so while we normally have to wait until the signing deadline on August 15 to make any sweeping judgments, that's even more the case in 2011. Still, it's in the works, I can promise you that much.
In the meantime, there was some pretty substantial roster shuffling at Lehigh Valley and Reading, and the first four names below the jump each found themselves promoted over the past few days. Let's check in on them, along with some other prospects (including some guys from Williamsport), and finally join the "Free Erik Kratz" movement.
Justin De Fratus, RHP, Lehigh Valley: De Fratus started spring training as an outside shot to begin the year with the big league club, but that possibility disappeared when he surrendered 5 runs in 4 spring training innings; he then even got off to a shaky start in Reading, surrendering 3 runs in his first outing and walking 6 in his first 7 innings. He's walked just 8 in 28.1 innings since, however, and posted otherwise sparkling peripherals: 11.7 K/9, 0.26 HR/9, 63% GB, 2.56 FIP. Similar success in Triple-A could lead to a September call-up, or at the very least, the inside track on a big league bullpen job in 2012.
Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Lehigh Valley: If Cliff Lee's early 2011 was a "Fun with DIPS theory" kind of deal, Aumont's 2011 has been a "Fun with Won-Loss Records" situation, as the big right-hander's 1-5 record belies how impressive he's been otherwise: 11.9 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 0.58 HR/9, and 54% GB, all good for a 2.55 FIP. Scouting reports have his command taking a significant step forward in the pen, and the raw stuff has always been there. He's a year-and-a-half younger than De Fratus and isn't on the 40-man, so a September look is less likely here, but again, a good run in Lehigh Valley makes an Opening Day bullpen job next year a very real possibility.
Cody Overbeck, 1B/OF, Lehigh Valley: Having turned 25 on June 5, Overbeck was definitely too old to be in Double-A, and he departs the level with the final cumulative line over parts of two seasons: .264/.332/.482, with a 7.8% BB and a 27.8% K. The power is certainly very real, but the approach leaves a bit to be desired, and it's not terribly encouraging to see Overbeck spend his first couple of Lehigh Valley outings at first base. He could turn into an intriguing bench bat if he shows some ability to fill in in the outfield (as it seems his days at the hot corner are pretty much over), so we'll have to monitor where he shows up on the lineup card going forward.
Joe Savery, 1B-L, Reading: We knew Savery was bound to cool down after his scorching start, and the real question was what shape his line would take after the inevitable regression. The answer is, unfortunately, a bit of a disappointing one, as while he's shown good natural hitting ability as part of a .307/.368/.410 line, Savery has yet to demonstrate the sort of secondary skills (9.2% BB, .103 ISO) that might cause us to get really, truly excited. That's not to say there's anything wrong here -- we should certainly cut Savery some slack as he transitions from the mound -- but the incredibly high offensive bar for first base prospects has to be acknowledged.
Trevor May, RHP, Clearwater: I worried a bit about May after his rough start (on the heels of his High-A struggles in 2010), and while he hasn't replicated his success at Lakewood last year, he has been much better than his first stint in Clearwater. In fact, it's actually eerie how much his 2011 numbers (11.2 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 0.51 HR/9, 0.51 HR/9, 34% GB, 3.02 FIP) look like his 2009 numbers from Lakewood (11.1 K/9, 5.0 BB/9, 0.35 HR/9, 41% GB, 2.99 FIP). The high-walk, high-fly ball style isn't always the best combination, but the important thing here is that May has made the adjustments necessary to succeed in High-A.
Freddy Galvis, SS-S, Reading: Heading into this season, the 5'10", 170-lb. Galvis had a grand total of 10 homers in 1,589 pro plate appearances (or one every 159 trips to the plate). He's been on a veritable power surge in 2011, though, with 3 long balls in the last week-and-a-half pushing him to 7 on the season (or one every 41 trips to the plate). The added slugging has pushed him to a .268/.316/.411 season line, which is essentially league average for the Eastern League (a 98 wRC+). The interesting thing to monitor is whether Galvis will stay the same plus-plus defender as his body fills out. For that, we'll have to rely on scouting reports, though it's an encouraging sign that his range factor is in line with 2010 and better than his 2009 campaign.
Scott Mathieson, RHP, Lehigh Valley: The 27-year old (not technically a prospect anymore) hasn't experienced as much success in 2011 as he did in 2010, with his BB/9 ticking up from 3.4 to 4.2, his K/9 dropping from 11.6 to 9.1, and his even fastball not showing the same velocity (averaging 92.4, per PitchFX, instead of 95.1). Maybe it's the threat of being stuck in AAAA purgatory that had Mathieson ask the organization if he could return to starting, and while the organization agreeing to it, didn't make one iota of sense to me at first -- this is, after all, a guy who's had two Tommy John surgeries -- I think Phuture Phillies has it right when he says that it's an opportunity for Mathieson to work on his secondary pitches. So far, so good, I guess, as Mathieson surrendered just a hit and a walk while whiffing 7 in 3.2 innings on Sunday.
Maikel Franco, 3B-R, Williamsport: We touched on Franco a couple of times last year, but he cooled off considerably as the season went on and finished with a cumulative .222/.292/.330 line. He's started hot again this year, going 4 for his first 8 with a home run, and it's helpful to remember that he's just 18, playing against a lot of college signs, so we're looking for progress in incremental terms here. With Overbeck's aforementioned shift off the hot corner, Franco and 2011 3rd round pick Harold Martinez (also a Crosscutter) are the closest things the Phillies have to a legitimate third base prospect, and it will be interesting to see how playing time gets divvied up between them.
Lino Martinez, LHP, Williamsport: I labeled Martinez a potential breakout candidate before the season, as he was something of a DIPS superstar last year, posting a 3.06 FIP but just a 4.93 ERA in 34.2 innings for the GCL Phillies. He delivered a (bare minimum) quality start in his first outing on Sunday, surrendering 3 runs and 7 hits across 6 innings while striking out 3 and inducing 9 groundouts to 4 flyouts. He's a 19-year old lefty who was lauded for his athleticism when he signed, and with the uncertain health of Nick Hernandez (and before 2011 3rd round pick Adam Morgan signs), he and Ervis Manzanillo look like the best left-handed pitching prospects in the shallow organizational pool behind Jesse Biddle.
Erik Kratz, C-R, Lehigh Valley: Sure, he's a 31-year old with just 36 major league plate appearances to his name, but Kratz is having a huge season with the lumber, hitting a robust .286/.380/.526 while getting the lion's share of the starts behind the plate for the IronPigs, and making a pretty persuasive case to be the club's No. 3 catcher. The reason given for Dane Sardinha's call up upon Brian Schneider's injury was his familiarity with the pitching staff. While I get that, at some point, the gigantic performance disparity (accounting for both offense and defense, mind you) should weigh in: would you rather have a guy who's hit .277/.359/.493 and thrown out 27% of base stealers over the past 3 years, or the guy who's hit .188/.251/.294 and thrown out 30% over that same span?