Phillies Minor (League) happenings December 2013

Valle with Team Mexico at the WBC about to draw the ire of Phillppe Aumont. - Christian Petersen

The Phillies Minor League news has been active this week in both good and bad ways.

First the bad news:

Shane Watson, the Phillies 2012 First Round Draft pick, who missed time last summer with "Shoulder soreness", told Jay Floyd he will undergo shoulder surgery in January to relieve inflammation in his shoulder capsule. Shoulder problems are never good news, shoulder surgery can sometimes be very bad news, but this is inflammation and the surgery apparently has a pretty reliable success rate. Tears in the capsule usually mean an immediate end to baseball careers, so to keep this in perspective, this is much better than what it could have been. All told Watson will miss 3 months, which should have him playing sometime in late April or May.

Watson didn't start well last year, but the team development program was known to be limiting his use of his best pitches in orde rto force him to develop his Fastball and Secondary Pitches and build arm strength. Just before getting shut down last summer Watson was much more dominant. The shoulder ailment is a bummer, but if Watson can pick back up, roughly, where he left off he's still a top prospect in the system.

The second piece of big news is that to make room for new Starting Picher Roberto Hernandez, the Phillies DFA'd former #3 prospect, and Team Canada enforcer, Sebastian Valle. Valle a Mexican Catcher with a free swinging approach stagnated the last 2 years. He's a solid Defender with good power, but such a bad approach he'll have trouble unlocking it. I'd be surprised if a team doesn't grab him off Waivers. Especially teams with thin pipelines behind the dish. Valle could probably stick as a backup, but he's also young enough (23) to think he could still correct his issues and end up a pretty good Starter. He's also athletic enough to think he might be able to pull a Ryan Doumitt and play a few other positions, so he's not just a guy who eats sunflower seeds while wearing shin guards and watching baseball games.

In a more under the radar move the Phillies have also signed 4 players to Minor League deals with invitations to Major League camp next Spring. The first is former top Propsoect Lou Marson who was traded to Cleveland for Cliff Lee. Marson's a backup Catcher and is basically going to battle for that role in ST, but is more likely to break camp to split time with Rupp in Lehigh Valley. He'll be the first option to call up if Ruiz or that other guy they signed gets hurt. The Second signing was Sean O'Sullivan, who is likely the Zach Miner of 2013. He'll fill out the Pigs' rotation, but probably won't make Philly unless the wheels have fallen off.Also signed was Tony Gwynn, Jr. who is probably going to be a defacto 6/7th OF in the event of injury at the MLB level. The Phillies have long been rumored to have interest in him and as always a Philly team grabs a legendary name at entirely the wrong point in their career (Amonte, Coffey, Webber, etc.) or the wrong relative (Maddux, DiMaggio, Dionne).

The fourth signee was Dave Sappelt (sounds a ton like Dave Chappele when you pronounce it out loud). Why does a 26 year old OF on his 3rd Org. get his own paragraph? Well, partly because I've seen him a ton from his time in the Reds system, partly because I actually like him to make the team at some point in 2014. Sappelt isn't going to be a star, but he is capable of playing pretty well in all 3 OF spots, he's a solid hitter from the Right side and he's certainly valuable enough as a 5th OF that should Mayberry lose time to injury, Sappelt is essentially a perfect replacement with less pop and a better glove. It's not much to get excited over, but Marson and Sappelt supply competent emergency options.
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