Phillies 2012 Minor League System Check: Lakewood Blueclaws

Phorman - Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Lakewood has a whole lot of interesting players. When you get to Low-A almost everyone is a bit of a prospect, so let's take a look.

This is the Fourth in a series of prospect focused reviews of the Phillies Minor League system. We'll go club by club and look at the good, the bad and the ugly. The focus is on players who may help the Phillies, so I won't be discussing the positives of Troy Hanzawa or Scott Elarton, for example.

Aaron Altherr - 6'5" 190 lbs OF 21 years old. Missed some time to injury, but spent most of 2012 in Lakewood. 109 G, .250/.318/.394, .144 ISO, 21.8% K, 8.1% BB, 26 doubles

Altherr came out in 2010 and had a great debut in the Short Season leagues (GCL and NYPL), he was age appropriate and hit for a very respectful average in both leagues. The Phillies toyed with making him a Third Baseman briefly in 2011 Spring Training, but backed off that experiment pretty quickly. Since then he's pretty much remained a low batting Average/OBP guy with good doubles power. I expect we'll see some further improvement in his power as he matures and adds further muscle. I can live with his K rate if he develops that power, but it would be nice to see a BB rate keep improving to close to the 10% range. He'll move to Clearwater next year, but I wouldn't rule out a few weeks spent in Lakewood to start.

William Carmona - 5'11" 185 lbs 1B 21 years old. Carmona split his time between the GCL and Lakewood. R: 24 G, .364/.408/.557, .193 ISO, 12.2% K, 8.2% BB, .395 BABIP A-: 25 G, .230/.280/.340, .110 ISO, 23.4% K, 5.6% BB, .288 BABIP

Carmona killed it in the GCL, a league filled with teenagers that has a competition level just above a top high school league. As a 21 year old, he probably should kill it in that league. The challenge in Lakewood was steeper, and it showed in Carmona's numbers. He struggled mightily his first few weeks in Lakewood, but by the 17th of August he seemed to start figuring things out. Small Sample Size warning, but from then out he had only one game when he didn't safely reach base at least once and had several multi-hit games. We'll see next year if he's adjusted to the level, as he'll almost certainly start the year in Lakewood. Carmona's value is entirely in his bat. If Carmona's only 185 lbs, then I'm Brad Pitt. He looked pretty bad defensively when I saw him August 18th and he has no speed, so everything rests on his power. If it develops he's a prospect, if not he doesn't have much value.

Kelly Dugan - 6'3" 195 lbs OF 21 years old. Dugan spent the season in Lakewood 116 G, .303/.390/.474, .171 ISO, 24.6% K, 9.8% BB, 12 HR, .395 BABIP

For 3 years I kept predicting a breakout season for Dugan and every year he was injured, or held back in extended spring training. This year was a successful one for Kelly, a former top pick of the Phillies (Second Round, but as has become the norm, they had no First Rounder that year) has the tools to be a top prospect. He's got a cannon arm strong enough to play anywhere in the outfield, good enough speed for the corners and he has enough power potential for the corners. I will be curious to see how his ability to hit for average holds up as he moves up the ladder, he's had a good average the last few years when he played, and he's been appropriate for the levels age-wise, but his BABIP has been on the high side. On to Clearwater in 2013.

Maikel Franco - 6'1" 180 lbs 3B 20 years old Spent all of 2012 in the SALLY. 131 G, .279/.335/.437, .158 ISO, 14.5% K, 6.9% BB, 14 HR

Franco is part of that suddenly long line of 3rd base prospects the Phillies are suddenly sporting. Franco may be the most promising of the bunch. He's been young for the level every step of the way and the line you see above is very good for a 19 year old in the SALLY (He turned 20 the last week of the season). A look at monthly splits shows improvement after early struggles adjusting to the level: a .235 BA at the end of April; .222 at the end of May; .216 at the end of June; .249 at the end of July; .273 at the end of August and obviously .279 a few days later when the season ended. His defense gets good reviews as being solid enough to stay at the position and look at the power. Power often develops late for prospects, so 14 HRs is a pretty good number (to undersell things) for Franco. Now, if the power continues to develop along with a very, very good K rate and respectable BB rate? The Phillies could be set at the hot corner for quite a while, given a few years of patience.

Kenneth Giles - 6'2" 190 lbs RHP 21 years old Spent most of his season in Lakewood with an encore in Clearwater. A-: 67 1/3 IP, 3.74 ERA, 3.61 SIERA, 3.84 FIP, 11.50 K/9, 5.88 BB/9, 1.54 WHIP, 5 Saves A+: 13 2/3 IP, 3.29 ERA, 1.92 SIERA, 2.25 FIP, 14.49 K/9, 3.95 BB/9, 1.10 WHIP

Kenny Giles is a fairly raw thrower with a rocket arm. He works in the mid-90's, but is capable of touching the upper reaches of the 90's. The reports on his secondary offerings still show them all below average, but improving. With that powerful an arm there's always potential, but Scott Mathieson also had a cannon arm and a flat fastball with middling secondary pitches. I'm not saying that's his future, but without developing a complementary changeup or slider he'll get killed at the upper levels. That said, he did well in a brief debut at Clearwater, and he's plenty young enough to be able to spend a few years developing that secondary pitch. If he can avoid injury, he won't lose that development time the way Mathieson did. That arm strength is pretty special and with all the young bullpen arms the Phillies have, there's no need to rush Giles. I would give him all of 2013 in Clearwater. I don't care if he gets 60 saves and strikes out 60% of the batters he faces. The only way he gets to Reading in 2013 is if he develops an average to above average change or slider (50-60 on the scouting scale). Of course, that doesn't mean the Phillies will follow that path. I followed Giles with a good bit of interest this year, he's part of the very exciting 2011 draft class, The BB rate and developing secondary offerings concerns me, but in the end the Phillies organization knows him best.

Colin Kleven - 6'6" 200 lbs RHP 21 years old Spent the year in Lakewood (aside from 2 days in Reading as part of roster shuffling). 151 IP, 3.99 ERA, 3.95 SIERA, 3.90 FIP, 7.09 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 1.30 WHIP, 43.1% GB

Kleven likely won't make many top prospect lists, but there is a lot to like here. He works in the mid-90's, and while the K rate is respectable, the BB rate is very good and the Ground Ball rate is certainly respectable (though its gone down at each successive level). He projects to be a mid-to-late rotation starter, but he can be dominating at times. So it's not crazy to dream that perhaps he can one develop into something more.

Gabriel Lino - 6'3" 200 lbs C 19 years old Acquired in the Jim Thome trade (boy that looks like a pretty good trade right now), he spent the whole year in the SALLY. I'm combining the stat lines since it's the same level and league (the numbers aren't dissimilar if you look them up separately). 93 G, .222/.293/.352, .130 ISO, 25.9% K, 8.0% BB (these last 2 stats did improve in Lakewood), 29% CS, 28 PB (in 88 games as a Catcher)

Well, at least Lino is young. He has plenty of arm for the position, but when I saw him he had 2 Passed Balls which were not difficult pitches (he says from the stands). They weren't low or outside, he didn't have to move anything but his glove for the first one. Those PBs are, by far, the biggest red flag for Lino. Teams might live with a light hitting Catcher or a power hitter with a low BA, but a great glove. But you can't average a passed ball every 3 games and stay behind the plate. That puts more pressure on the bat if he has to move. Still he's young (younger than Franco), so I think another season of Lakewood is best for Lino.

Josh Ludy - 5'10" 210 lbs C 22 years old Drafted in June and went to Lakewood after signing. 30 G, .262/.361/.408, .146 ISO, 15.6% K, 11.5% BB, 27% CS, 2 PB

Small sample size, but a fairly promising start for Ludy. The K and Walk rates are fantastic, the ISO is respectable and it's hard to get too worked up over the caught stealing percent given the small sample. The Phillies have nice depth at Catcher right now, so Ludy has his work cut out for him to avoid getting lost in the mix.

Lino Martinez - 6'0" 160 lbs LHP 19 years old Spent the whole season in Lakewood. 121 2/3 IP, 5.55 ERA, 5.24 SIERA, 4.62 FIP, 5.03 K/9, 3.55 BB/9, 1.54 WHIP

Lino had a pretty good season in the NYPL last year, but he struggled in 2012 moving up to the SALLY. Lino isn't a hard thrower (I saw him late in the season and he broke 90 MPH one time during that game), which is okay, as there is less pressure of Lefties to work in the mid-90's. It's certainly reasonable that Martinez could add MPH as he moves up the ladder, but it's unlikely he'll ever be a flame throwing high strike-out Pitcher. That makes it even more critical that he not walk so many guys, since he's likely to give up a lot of contact, it's the best way to limit baserunners. For 2013, I expect to see Lino Pitching to (Gabriel) Lino in Lakewood next year. Both are young for the league and could use a season of, well, seasoning.

Colton Murray - 6'0" 195 lbs RHP 22 years old Split the season between Lakewood and Clearwater. A-: 37 2/3 IP, 4.30 ERA, 3.98 SIERA, 4.02 FIP, 8.12 K/9, 3.19 BB/9, 1.73 WHIP, .359 BABIP, 50% GB, 4 Sv A+: 21 2/3 IP, 2.49 ERA, 2.07 SIERA, 1.91 FIP, 11.63 K/9, 2.08 BB/9, 0.92 WHIP, .271 BABIP, 42% GB, 4 Sv

It's tough to get too excited about a 22 year old reliever in High-A with 8 saves, but there is some good stuff to get excited about here. Colton has an awesome name to go along with a Fastball in the low to mid 90's, a Slider that is above average and a non-embarassing Change-up he throws now and then. Murray's probably a 7th or 8th inning guy in the Majors, but the positive is, he's probably closer than the High-A rung on the ladder suggests. He's a college pitcher (part of that 2011 class), and he's already fairly polished. I wouldn't rule out a 2013 appearance or two with the parent club. He's likely to start out 2013 in Reading, but I expect he'll hop on 222 East by mid-season.

Ethan Stewart - 6'5" 210 lbs LHP 21 years old Spent the full season in Lakewood. 115 2/3 IP, 3.89 ERA, 5.04 SIERA, 4.41 FIP, 6.30 K/9, 4.98 BB/9, 1.44 WHIP, 44% GB, .265 BABIP

Stewart was drafted late in 2010 (by late, I mean 47th round, which makes him the draft equivalent of a fly-over state) based primarily on projectability. He works in the low 90's primarily and sports an Average Change-up and Curve. He probably has a future as a LOOGY, but if he can get some separation between his K and walk rates, he could still have potential as a Starter as his splits aren't extreme. He probably moves to Clearwater in 2013 for a full season.

Alejandro Villalobos - 5'11" 170 lbs 2B 21 years old Spent all of 2012 with the Blueclaws 65 G, .276/.315/.364, .088 ISO, 10.6% K, 5.3% BB

Villalobos really has no power and it's unlikely any is waiting to develop, as he doesn't have high line drive rates. But he's a middle infielder, so the lack of power is forgivable. For Villalobos to progress up the ladder, he needs to hit for average or learn how to take more walks (that's not a bad walk rate for a free swinger). Alex Wolfhouse is likely to top out as organizational filler, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to hope he can be a future utility man in the Majors.

Other Notables:

Tim Carver - A college shortstop drafted in 2012, Carver has a good enough glove to make a go of it at shortstop. It remains to be seen if he has the bat to make a go of it, working to his benefit is some mighty fine plate discipline.

Gauntlett Eldemire - Everyone's favorite name has been sidetracked by injuries. He got in 72 games in 2012 and his OBP was strong (~125 points higher than his Batting Average, sadly it was also 25 points above his slugging). Gauntlett was old for the league, and he'll get run up to Reading Clearwater whether he's ready or not.

Brian Pointer - Similar to Gauntlett in his walk rate and batting average, the one thing Pointer has going for him is Corner Power. He's young, so if he develops at the plate, he'll be back on prospect radars.

Ervis Manzanillo - the Lefty lost half the season to injury, assuming he returns healthy in 2013, just copy and paste almost everything I said about Lino Martinez here. Could have a future as a LOOGY, as he has stronger splits though.

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