Phillies Prospect Roundup: On Dom, and a Reshuffled Top 10

Douglas MacArthur : Philippines :: Domonic Brown : Philadelphia

We took a look over the weekend at the trio of prospects the Phillies shipped out to acquire Hunter Pence, and now, we want to take a minute to focus on who's still here. Most importantly, Domonic Brown is still a Phillie, and Ruben Amaro insisted that Brown was never available in the first place. Obviously we here at TGP are relieved to hear that, and while Brown isn't prospect eligible anymore, he's still a 23-year old who's in Triple-A and is a big part of the club's future, and I think it's helpful to take a minute to analyze what we've got.

Brown was a raw but talented athlete when he was drafted in 2006, so the organization has brought him along relatively slowly, as your classic "one level per year" type of guy. He spent 2006 in the short season Gulf Coast League, 2007 in the short season New York-Penn League, 2008 in the Low A South Atlantic League, and started 2009 in the High A Florida State League. On that schedule, he'd have spent most of 2011 in the Triple-A International League, but he hit well enough to earn some midseason promotions starting in 2009, so let's cherry pick some stats from that point onward, paying particular attention to the plate discipline numbers (i.e., BB% and K%):

2009

Level

Games

AVG/OBP/SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

wRC+

A+

66

.303/.386/.517

12.1

17.1

.214

156

AA

37

.279/.346/.456

8.6

22.8

.177

125

It's pretty clear to see what happened here: Brown tore up the FSL, and held his own while adjusting to the Eastern League. Sent back to Reading to start 2010, here's what happened:

2010

Level

Games

AVG/OBP/SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

wRC+

AA

65

.318/.391/.602

10.7

18.8

.284

164

AAA/MLB

63

.296/.340/.485

6.9

25.0

.189

120

The jump in Brown's Double-A numbers from 2009 to 2010 is astounding. Upon promotion, he fared well in Triple-A and less well in the majors, and just like in 2009, we can see the adjustment period reflected primarily in the plate discipline numbers. Injured to begin 2011, he spent just a brief time in Triple-A, and returned there over the weekend, and while there are obvious caveats about small sample size, let's see what happened:

2011

Level

Games

AVG/OBP/SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

wRC+

AAA

12

.348/.467/.522

16.7

16.7

.174

154

MLB

54

.246/.335/.393

12.0

16.3

.148

103

Once again, a year of consolidation means that Brown has had zero difficulty in hitting Triple-A pitching. Furthermore, the best news about his major league sample is that while he's been just a tick above league average as an offensive player overall, he's controlled the strike zone surprisingly well. If we analyze this through the lens of Brown moving one level per year, 2011 is his Triple-A year, and he's absolutely killing it at the level while holding his own in the majors.

While it's obviously not quite as simple as the above numbers hint at, the trend is very clear, and very encouraging. Brown certainly has some things to work on (most notably his glove work), but given the proper amount of time to adjust, he's proven that he can hit pitching at any level. There's absolutely no reason to panic or rush to snap judgments on a kid with obvious talent and less than 300 major league plate appearances. Dom will be up in September, he'll be penciled in as the starting left fielder in 2011, and unless something goes wrong, he'll be a stalwart of the Phillies lineup for years to come.

With that, I think it's time to move on to the guys who do still have prospect eligibility. The departures of Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton make it a good time to reassess the minor league system and see what's left on the farm. Check below the jump as we give a post-trade deadline snapshot of the Top 10 Phillies prospects.

1.) Jesse Biddle, LHP, Lakewood
There was some hand wringing earlier in the year as the club's 1st round pick in the 2010 draft got off to a slow start, then became the subject of some reports of a dip in velocity. I have it on pretty good authority that those reports were erroneous, and in any case, he was clocked as high as 97 just a few weeks ago, so there shouldn't be any concern at all about the raw stuff. The full season numbers are pretty good, with control (4.7 BB/9) the only bugaboo, as the southpaw otherwise has a line of 8.9 K/9, 0.25 HR/9, and a 43% GB, all good for a 3.21 FIP. For a 19-year old lefty that's Biddle's size (6'4", 225 lbs.) and hails from a cold weather state, it's not out of the ordinary for it to take a bit of time to harness the stuff, so barring any major late season setbacks, 2011 has been a really successful campaign for the local kid.

2.) Trevor May, RHP, Clearwater
While May came into the year as the clear third choice among the trio of he, Cosart and Brody Colvin, he's had a much better season than the other two. The big right hander is still a bit on the wild side, issuing free passes to 4.1 hitters per 9 innings, but he's generating tons of swings and misses, with his 159 on the season (in 119.1 innings, a rate of 11.6 per 9) putting him second among all minor leaguers. May is big and physical, holds his low to mid 90s velocity deep into games with the ability to touch 97 on occasion, and shows potential with a curve ball and change up that can both flash as above-average pitches when his command is on. He's been effective against both righties and lefties, and projects as a really nice mid-rotation starter if he can throw strikes on his way up the ladder.

3.) Brody Colvin, RHP, Clearwater
You don't want to read too much into an 84 inning sample, especially when a guy has spent a chunk of that time recovering from an injury, but there's no way to classify Colvin's 2011 as anything but a disappointment, at least from a statistical standpoint: 6.3 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.43 HR/9, a 43% GB, all for a 3.88 FIP. The reason he doesn't tumble all that far down the list is because, well, it's an 84 inning sample, and Colvin's a projectable soon-to-be 21-year old with well above-average stuff (a solid fastball, curve ball, change up mix) and a good performance record in 2010. He'll need to earn his way to Double-A, which means I wouldn't be surprised if he starts 2012 back in Clearwater.

4.) Sebastian Valle, C-R, Clearwater
A Mexican catcher who just turned 21, Valle is having, by all accounts, his best year defensively, and has thrown out a respectable 34% of would be base stealers. He's also got a .316/.337/.431 line on the campaign, but -- and I know I sound like a broken record here, if you've ever read me riff on Valle -- guys who never walk, like at all, scare the bejesus out of me, and Valle has 9 walks in 288 plate appearances on the year (a 3.1% BB). He's a good natural hitter, and he's flashed power in the past (a .174 ISO in Lakewood last year, and a .224 ISO in Williamsport the year before that), and the offensive bar for catchers is so low that you can plausibly project him as an above-average regular -- but you can be certain that his approach will be tested all the way up the ladder.

5.) Justin De Fratus, RHP, Lehigh Valley
The 6'4", 220-lb. right hander really found his niche with a move to the bullpen last year, rocketing through Clearwater and Reading, impressing in a stint in the Arizona Fall League, and earning an invite to big league spring training this year. He picked up right where he left off in Reading in 2011, posting a 2.56 FIP in 34.1 innings there in 2011 (on the strength of 11.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.26 HR/9, and a 63% GB), and while his surface numbers don't look great after his promotion to Lehigh Valley, that's primarily the result of an unlucky BABIP and strand rate over a 23 inning sample. De Fratus slots in ahead of his IronPig teammate, Aumont, primarily because of his durability, as both have true back of the bullpen potential.

6.) Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Lehigh Valley
I had Aumont pegged as a reliever immediately when the Phillies traded for him back in December 2009, so while it was unfortunate to see him struggle in the Reading and Clearwater rotations last year, he was always an obvious candidate to have his stuff play way up out of the pen. He just got off the DL after spending a few weeks out of commission with an elbow injury, but his peripherals this year are truly excellent: he's struck out 58 in 41.0 innings, surrendered just 2 home runs, and is running a 51% GB. It's easy to forget that he's still just 22 years old, but as long as the big Canadian stays healthy, he should be a real asset for the Phillies bullpen, possibly as early as Opening Day 2012.

7.) Freddy Galvis, SS-S, Reading
This is where things start to really shake up. This looks a little bit high, even to me, but consider the following: Galvis is, unbelievably, still just 21 years old, so he's still the youngest player on the Reading roster (despite this being his third season there), and one of the younger players in the Eastern League. His .273/.326/.400 line (with 6.0% BB and 15.1% K) is right in line with the .260/.330/.396 league average, and keep in mind, what passes for an acceptable offensive shortstop in the suddenly pitching-dominated major leagues is, well, someone hitting .262/.316/.376. Now, I'm under no illusions about the lack of upside with the bat, so Galvis doesn't have the ceiling of a lot of the names behind him, but a plus defender at short who could potentially be a league average hitter is a pretty valuable player.

8.) Maikel Franco, 3B-R, Williamsport
Franco makes a drastic move from off of the offseason Top 30 to in the current Top 10, and I'll be the first to admit that it's probably a bit of a rash jump based on a 40 game sample, but something about Franco really intrigues me. As an 18-year old in the college draftee-dominated New York-Penn League, he's holding his own offensively (.273/.339/.383) on the strength of a solid idea of the strike zone (9.4% BB, 15.2% K). Mitch Rupert, who covers the Crosscutters for the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, raved about his defense and his polish, and praised Franco as having the best bat speed on the team. We'll ultimately want to see more power, but I'd much rather a young hitter learn to control the strike zone first then incorporate power into his game later, than sell out for power from the get go.

9.) Julio Rodriguez, RHP, Clearwater
An 8th round pick of the organization back in 2008 out of a Puerto Rican high school, Rodriguez really burst onto the scene in 2010, posting an eye popping 126-to-37 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 90.1 innings split between Williamsport and Lakewood. He's spent the entire year in the Threshers rotation in 2011, and while his numbers aren't quite as good as last year, they're nonetheless very solid: 8.8 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 0.81 HR/9, a 33% GB, and a 3.60 FIP. As his body has filled out a bit, his fastball has ticked up more consistently into the low 90s, and he gets swings and misses by challenging hitters up in the zone with his fastball and fooling them with a slow curve. The high fastballs help lead to the biggest red flag, the high fly ball rate, which you'd ideally like to see drop as he moves through the system.

10.) Domingo Santana, OF-R, Lakewood
Raw power is Santana's calling card, as he's a 6'5", 200-lb. youngster with the best power potential in the system now that Singleton is plying his trade for the Astros. Just three weeks younger than Franco, Santana turns 19 on Friday, and he's had himself a solid year thus far in Lakewood, hitting .266/.338/.439 while splitting time between right field and designated hitter. The major red flag is his plate discipline, which has taken a step backwards even from the tenuous position it was in in 2010, with Santana walking in just 6.1% of his plate appearances and striking out in 32.7% of them. His age and upside leaves him in the Top 10 for the time being, but he'll need to make some headway with his approach if he's going to stay here.

* * *

This was a bit more difficult to put together than I had initially anticipated, and as I've often said when it comes to making prospect lists, exactly where guys rank is less important than having an understanding of their ceiling, their floor, their tools, etc. There were a number of guys who could have snuck onto the back end of the list -- in no particular order, Michael Schwimer, Lisalberto Bonilla, Jiwan James, Matt Rizzotti, Brian Pointer, Jonathan Pettibone, Aaron Altherr and Tyler Greene all got left on the cutting room floor for various reasons. As I've stressed a number of times, prospect analysis is a fluid process, and as more information comes in (in the form of both statistics and updated scouting reports), the above Top 10 could look radically different when we do the offseason rankings this coming winter.

So with that, I'll end this opus. Feel free to have at it in the comments regarding Dom, the state of the system, or anything that strikes your fancy.

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