Weekly Phillies Prospect Roundup 14 April 2014

Rich Schultz

Some guys have gotten off to scorching hots starts and are destined to cool down, while some look to stay hot. Others have been unlucky, but show positive signs. Lets go enjoy some Small Sample Sizes.

We'll cover this the same as last year as I'll go through hot hitters before moving on to Pitchers, then I'll cover who's cold and wrapping up with any interesting names that don't fit in either category. Lastly this is prospect focused, so no offense intended to the Jeff Manships and Greg Smith of the system, but I won't really spend any time on those guys unless they have really spectacular lines. Lastly, Pitchers with single starts I won't touch on as Jay covers them well in his game day recaps and I'd just be repeating.

Hot:

Cameron Perkins - There aren't many hotter players in all of baseball right now. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good and Cam has been really lucky. He's sporting a BABiP damn near .500 and his Line Drive rate in almost double his previous best and nearly triple his career line. Don't discount the LD rate outright though as there are some possible explanations for it. If you're an optimist, power tends to develop last and this is the early manifestation of that power. In this scenario we would expect to see his LD rate remain high (though perhaps not as high as 1/3 of contact) and his Average and BABiP to stay elevtaed as LD typically have a higher BABiP. The other side is that he's gotten lucky or that Pitchers are challenging him with Fastballs to see if they can beat him that way and once the league adjusts to him, his numbers will drop off. I tend to think it's a mix of the three. Some improvement in contact leading to more Line Drives, combined with some luck with where balls have been hit (He has some seeing eye extra base hits) and some early succes due to pitchers challenging him (that one is hard to ascertain in the minors as pitch sequences to individual hitters take more time than I care to spend for a weekly update).

Cameron Rupp - Perhaps the name Cameron is the secret to a hot start. This Cameron started even hotter than Perkins, but has cooled dramatically and may even end up on the DL for some time after an injury over the weekend. Rupp cranked out 4 Homers in 4 games to start the season. His line of .231/.394/.731 won't up, in both good and bad ways. First, I don't expect Rupp to maintain a .500 ISO, a 53% OFB rate or 21.2% BB rate, but I also don't expect him to maintain a .154 BABiP either. I expect his numbers will normalize to something around .260/.330/.400, which is fine for a Catcher and keeps him profiled as a MLB backup (he simply Ks too often).

Willans Astudillo - Astudillo has kind of played everywhere for Lakewood. He's also hit everywhere for them sporting a .391/.417/.435 line. Much to the certain chagrin of our own Phrozen, Astudillo has already nearly matched his career high for Strikouts in a season with 2 (he struck out 5 times back in 2012). Astudillo is more of a curiousity at this point as he doesn't really profile anywhere, but he's played Third, First, Catcher, Second, Short and Left Field (though only a handful of games at most positions), so maybe you can hold out hope he's a super sub one day. That said he makes a ton of Groundball contact and that would be rough for a Pinch hitter as he'd be more likely to GIDP.

Edgar Duran - Duran got me a little excited like this last year too with a strong start. I won't get fooled again (loud scream, Daniel Caruso over-dramically removing sunglasses). Duran is one of a long line of Defensive whizzes signed out of Latin America by the Phillies. If his .367/.406/.400 line is even vaguely similar in July I'll get interested.

Brian Pointer - Pointer has succeedded in flashes before, so I'm not going to pull my sleeper card just yet, but this is a promising start with some power in a league not known for it and on a team ridled with awful hitting. If it weren't for Pointer I could pretty much skip Clearwater box scores entirely. So far, he's gone .320/.333/.560 with 1 SB, 2 doubles and 2 triples. His BABiP is a little high, but not egregious, but his K and walk rates are both Astudillo-ian (?!?). Also, his contact rates suggest some luck is at play. I still expect there is some breakout potential here, like with Altherr and Dugan last year. Keep an eye on Pointer, he's not going to be a superstar, but he could become a MLB backup if he can keep progressing like this.

Ken Giles - Oh, I'm lovin' me some Ken Giles. Absolutley nasty heat and some movement that he has had a bear of a time controlling. It's an insanely small sample, but so far he has an astounding 11 K in 5.0 IP, 2 BB and 1 H surrendered. That line is utterly filthy. He'll need to keep it up, but I find this very exciting for a guy with lock down, light out potential as a reliever.

Severino Gonzalez - Sev is off to a very hot start going 12.0 IP over 2 Starts with 7K, 1 BB, 9 H and 2 ER. That's an excellent line from Severino. He's a command/control Pitcher who will give up contact, witha solid GB rate and will rely on solid Defense behind him and coming at hitters with pinpoint precision. That said, his stuff is average across the board, he's very slight in his build and I still have strong doubts it will work over a full season at higher levels. I'm okay with Severino proving me wrong though.

Mark Leiter - Ditto to Severino, basically (In fact weirdly so, as the stat lines are very nearly identical. So much so that I looked up the stats at multiple sites to make sure there wasn't a glitch and a aside from a higher GB rate, Leiter sports exactly the saem line as Severino). Similar profile to Severino, aside from handedness and weight. Leiter knows how to pitch and I suspect that may be enough to get him an MLB bullpen role a few years down the road.

Cold (I could just type everyone else here and save myself a lot of time without being any less accurate)

Dylan Cozens - Some growing pains here as Thrillin' Dylan is struggling a bit in adjusting to full season ball so far. He's shown almost no power and his Walk rate, previously pretty strong, has fallen through the basement. Nothing too alarming yet as plenty of guys struggle with the move to full season at first. If this keeps up for a month or more I may get a bit more worried.

Maikel Franco - Franco's .098/.178/.122 line is pretty jarringly bad. A few things to keep in mind: Franco is traditionally a slow starter and he's overhauling his swing some. Results don't look great so far with a 22% K rate (very high for Franco), 9.7% line drive rate and 16.1% OFB (both very low for Franco). It's a very young season and Franco has shown himself in the past to be a very smart player who can make adjustments, so I'll be surprised if 2 months from now I'm writing about a .024 ISO and .129 BABiP for him.

Zach Green - Despite his .125/.167/.175 line I have no concerns about Green right now. His composite numbers are all solid with his brief career (in fact his K rate is a good bit better so far), so concerns about him not being able to make contact aren't holding up so far. That said, he is not making hard contact and while his .156 BABiP suggests positive regression is coming he'll need to start showing some power as the team travels to some of the more Offensively condusive stadiums in the Sally.

Carlos Tocci - Yes, he reemains young for the level, but .125/.125/.175 with a nearly 30% K rate is pretty awful. Significant improvement needed on his line as this is a somewhat alarming start.

Other notables

Jesse Biddle - Kind of an odd season so far. Biddle's been hit, hard. We're talking 19 H and 8 ER (plus 3 unearned runs where Biddle also caused the error leading to them) in 14.1 IP with 2 HR, 2 doubles and 2 triples. Not what you'd expect from a tall, power pitching Lefty who typically works low in the zone. On the plus side (and what kept me from listing him as cold), he has 17 K to only 5 BB. That's a damn good sign for a guy with control issues. It seems, from reports, that his current issues are command related as he's getting stuff over, but leaving some pitches high. Still there does seem to be some bad luck at play here and if he can keep up that BB rate (let alone K rate), I won't get too worried about his ERA, unless soemthing else goes out of whack.

David Buchanan - Pretty much the opposite problem of Biddle as he's got a 2:1 K:BB ratio and his hard contact has been spread out enough to limit the damage to 2 ER.

Brody Colvin - He only pitched 2.0 Innings, but dammit, I don't think I've ever written anything positive about Colvin before, so I'll ignore any red flags and sample size comments and simply say that Colvin had an excellent first week with 2K, 1 BB and 2 singles in his brief work. All the talent is there to succeed in the bullpen if he can keep with this success.

Perci Garner - It's been a while since I could say anything good about Garner too, but very nice start. 11.0 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 11K and 2 BB (for a guy with a history of control issues that's damned promising). Might still have a shot as a Starter, but if this control holds up he could really play up in a bullpen role too. It's early and Garner started similarly last year, but this is promising.

Tyler Viza - A name you may have heard about in some prospect circles this winter, Viza is an intriguing arm, but he's had a tough luck start to the year, as 13 hitters have reached base safely and 8 have scored. He's been hit hard, but not that hard. His downside is that his GB rate was previously very high and is currently abysmal. Keep an eye to see if that corrects, otherwise I'd write this off to being largely bad luck.

Kelly Dugan - Rough start for Kelly, as we wait to hear if he'll miss any time after getting hit on the write while hitting over the weekend. There is good news to his numbers though. His BB rate and K rate are both in line with previous numbers (you may recall that he barely drew walks after arriving in Reading last summer). His other composite numbers are a little out of whack early on, but if they return to his baseline I would expect his average to rise fairly significantly as his powerr and BABiP rise. Of course, that assumes his HBP on the wrist doesn't affect his power.

J.P. Crawford - J.P. having some early season struggles with a .257/.316/.400 line (actually, if it held up that SLG is pretty good from a Shortstop). His BB rate is only 5.3% and his BABiP is fairly low. Some regresion on both is possible (though we really have no idea what Crawford's mean would be yet this early in his pro-career). He's also had a few defensive lapses. Nothing concerning, but worth keeping an eye on.

Larry Greene, Jr. - There's some silver lining to Fudgie's early .233/.343/.333 triple slash and that's a K rate sitting at only 22.2% so far. The downside is a Ben Revere-esque 61% GB rate and 8.7% OFB rate. I'm not ready to give up entirely on Greene, but this looks pretty bad so far in terms of power and reports of his new swing.

Gabriel Lino - Lino is hitting .240 with a .429 BABiP, which is less than promising and after making Defensive strides last year he's racking up passed ball in the last week at a rate that suggests he's removed the pocket from his mitt. It's probably Small Sample Size noise, but the 22% BB rate is about the only positive to hang your hat on right now. Lino's still young, but maybe it's time to start considering he's never going to be an MLB Catcher and move him elsewhere on the diamond.

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