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Phillies 2012 Minor League System Check: Lehigh Valley IronPigs

The Good Phight takes a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Philadelphia Phillies 2012 minor league system. Up first, the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

This is the first 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.

There weren't a whole lot of Prospects up the Northeast Extension this summer. There usually aren't (though next year could be interesting, provided RAJ doesn't trade the Reading Phillies roster for Chase Headley), but there were some non-prospects who helped the MLB club this fall and a few actual prospects who had some ups and downs we'll take a look at all of them.

Phillippe Aumont - 6'7" 260 lbs RHP 23 years old Spent the entire season (minor league portion) in AAA. 44 1/3 IP, 4.26 ERA, 3.66 SIERA, 3.99 FIP, 11.98 K/9, 6.90 BB/9, 1.74 K:BB ratio, 1.65 WHIP, 15 Saves

Aumont is a tall pitcher, who is still pretty young. Those factors are important for a few reasons: 1) Traditional wisdom is that tall pitchers take longer to develop due to their long limbs making mechanics more difficult to maintain. Poor mechanics can easily lead to difficulty with consistent release points and arm slots causing a fastball intended to be low and outside to instead float across the middle of the plate high. 2) His youth speaks to another area that's important to keep in mind, he's a cold weather pitcher, which means less time pitching games as a kid due to the weather. Aumont needs to work on his control, as 7 walks per nine innings is pretty high. For this reason I think he may start 2013 in LHV, but I'd expect him up no later than June, barring injury or a crazy good Spring Training.

Domonic Brown - 6'5" 205 lbs OF 24 years old Spent his entire minor league season in AAA (aside from a brief rehab stint in the GCL). 60 games, 239 PA, .286/.335/.432, 146 ISO, 5 HR, 17.6 K%, 7.1 BB%

Dom's not officially what I would consider a prospect anymore (no longer eligible for Rookie of the Year honors and 26 or under. Those are my criteria, some may differ), but he's an important part in the Phillies future. Dom Brown struggled some with injuries again this year and missed time in midsummer. When healthy though, his triple slash and ISO are what you want in the corners. His component numbers are fine and in line with his history. He's had some lowish BABiP in his MLB time, but his minor league numbers are about where he should be. If he put up his AAA triple slash in the Phillies outfield next year, I'd be fine with that, and I think that's pretty realistic. 2013: He'll be running around somewhere in the Phillies outfield next year.

Tyler Cloyd - 6'3" 190 lbs RHP 25 years old Split his season between AA and AAA, but I'm covering him here, since the bulk of his work was in AAA. AAA - 142 IP, 2.35 ERA, 4.26 SIERA, 4.00 FIP, 5.89 K/9, 2.41 BB/9, 2.45 K:BB ratio, 1.04 WHIP, .229 BABiP AA - 25 IP, 1.80 ERA, 3.45 SIERA, 2.68 FIP, 6.84 K/9, 1.08 BB/9, 6.33 K:BB ratio, 1.04 WHIP

This time last year Tyler Cloyd was out on the peripheral edges of the Phillies prospect universe. Most of the discussion was around whether he was worth protecting from the Rule V Draft. Today, he's the Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Year, he has 6 starts for the Phillies in a playoff race and stands a pretty good chance of making the team as 6th Starter/long man in the bullpen in 2013. How did this happen? It seems like every year or two the Phillies have some middling, unremarkable pitching prospect suddenly put it together and make an impact with the Phillies (Kendrick, Happ, Worley, Cloyd. Will we all be raving about Mario Hollands this time next year?). Some of it may be luck, but even if he played to his SIERA or FIP it would still be a pretty solid year. Ultimately, Cloyd is a command/control type who doesn't walk too many guys and has solid ground ball rates (low to mid 40's). I may have to do an article later looking for trends among these guys. As noted above, I expect Cloyd will break camp with the Phillies at the long man in the Pen. Though it's not inconceivable that a numbers crunch leaves him in AAA so he can stay stretched out for spot starts.

Justin De Fratus - 6'4" 220 lbs RHP 24 years old Spent "most" of his year in AAA (and most of that time on the DL), pitched 2 innings in Clearwater on a rehab assignment I'm just going to fols his A+ and AAA numbers together here, given the very small sample. 23 2/3 IP, 2.28 ERA, 2.49 SIERA, 2.65 FIP, 9.13 K/9, 1.14 BB/9, 8.00 K:BB ratio, 0.89 WHIP, 3 Saves

It's a shame De Fratus missed time to injury this year (especially given it's his pitching elbow). The Phillies have been very careful in his usage since he returned this year. No back to back days, limited workload. They should be careful, IMO, as De Fratus has back of the bullpen quality stuff (plus fastball, plus slider). Hard to say much about his time in Philly, as he hasn't pitched much yet. De Fratus should be in line for the MLB bullpen next spring (number crunch is bound to squeeze somebody out though as the Bullpen still has a ton of viable candidates for 2013).

Jake Diekman - 6'4" 200 lbs LHP 25 years old When not in Philly, he's been in Allentown. 26 2/3 IP, 1.69 ERA, 2.73 SIERA, 2.00 FIP, 12.49 K/9, 4.39 BB/9, 2.85 K:BB ratio, 1.28 WHIP, Splits vs LHB: 2.40 FIP, 2.68 SIERA, vs RHB: 3.40 FIP, 3.72 SIERA

Diekman, like Cloyd, was mostly only discussed last year as to whether he was worth protecting on the 40 man. Diekman walks a lot of guys, and up until 2011 he didn't consistently strike out a high enough number of guys to make his BB rate something worth overlooking. Diekman changed his arm angle going to a more sidearm delivery in 2011. Make no mistake, he still walks guys, but as long as he can remain effective against left handed hitters he'll have a good path to success in the Majors. At this time last year I was pretty mixed on whether he was worth protecting, but he had pitched well in LHV and had a good run in the AFL last year and followed that with an equally solid 2012 campaign. The bullpen is crowded in Philly, so I expect Diekman might be shuttling up and down the Northeast Extension a few times next year.

Cesar Hernandez - Spent bulk of games in AA and will be covered in the Reading post.

Jeremy Horst - 6'3" 215 lbs LHP 26 years old Spent all his Minor League time in AAA. 38 1/3 IP, 2.11 ERA, 4.39 SIERA, 4.03 FIP, 7.51 K/9, 4.23 BB/9, 1.78 K:BB ratio, 1.64 WHIP, .342 BABIP

Horst, oddly appears to be a bit of an Anti-LOOGY, his Minor League Splits show him with better numbers almost across the board vs. Righties (more free passes to RHB, but otherwise, reverse splits abound). Horst outperformed both his BABiP and his component ratios this year in AAA. I expect Horst will have a career in which he bounces between AAA and MLB. The one thing working in his favor is Cholly seems to hate the idea of Loogy's, so maybe that helps Jeremy some. For 2013, I'd say he's 50/50 to open the season in the Phillies BP. All depends on whether RAJ/Wade see any shiny new toys they want to add to the bullpen this offseason.

Austin Hyatt - Spent more time in AA this year, so I'll cover him there. Kind of an odd year.

Erik Kratz - 6'4" 255 lbs C 32 years old Spent all of 2012 in AAA (when not throwing out major leaguers from his knees). 37 games, 141 PA, .266/.326/.540, .274 ISO, 8 HR, 14.2 K%, 7.1 BB%, 22% CS, 1 PB

No, he isn't a prospect, per se, but he contributed to the Phillies this year and stands a pretty good chance of breaking camp squatting behind Chooch on the depth chart in 2013.Kratz has been around a long time and was never a top prospect, but the last 4 years he seems to have found his hitting stroke after struggling parts of 6 seasons in AA/AAA. Maybe he's a late bloomer, maybe he just sucks at Double-A. In any event, he's only 6 months younger than Chooch, so nothing to get too excited about, but he'll be a nice back-up/bridge part until Valle or Joseph or Astudillo or whomever is ready to play full time with the Phillies.

Jonathan Pettibone - Spent most of the year in Reading, so look for him in that post.

J.C. Ramirez - 6'4" 250 lbs RHP 24 years old Split his time between Reading and Allentown, with a few more appearances in LHV. AAA: 40 IP, 4.28 ERA, 4.12 SIERA, 3.83 FIP, 7.65 K/9, 3.83 BB/9, 2.00 K:BB, 1.38 WHIP AA: 27 1/3 IP, 3.62 ERA, 5.19 SIERA, 4.96 FIP, 5.93 K/9, 4.61 BB/9, 1.29 K:BB, 1.28 WHIP, .215 BABIP

That's kind of a weird line for Ramirez, as the classic stats (ERA, WHIP) seem to suggest he was better at AA than he was. He moved to relief full time this year, but any hope that his stuff would play up doesn't seem to be borne out by the results. Ramirez certainly can't be labeled a bust yet, at 24, but he does need to perform better in 2013 to remain on the radar for the Phillies. Right Handers with highish walk rates, low K rates and confined to relief roles, aren't exactly tough to come by.

B.J. Rosenberg - 6'3" 220 lbs RHP 26 years old (27 now, but his birthday was after the AAA season ended) Spent the vast majority of his time in AAA, but pitched a few games for Reading, due to SSS in AA, I'm compiling AA and AAA stats together here. 62 IP, 1.89 ERA, 2.71 SIERA, 2.91 FIP, 10.6 K/9, 2.61 BB/9, 4.06 K:BB, 1.21 WHIP, 47.8 GB%

Rosenberg hasn't repeated that Ground Ball success in Philly yet, but he had a very, very solid AAA campaign in large part by killing many worms, ants and perhaps a grub or two. Rosenberg's 27 now, so he likely is what he is, but what he is should be enough to get an invite to Major League camp next spring. No guarantee though, as noted above the bullpen race will be very, very crowded next year, and that may only get moreso if Ruben goes shopping this winter for more arms.

Joe Savery - 6'3" 235 lbs LHP 26 years old. Spent his minor league time in AAA. 21 1/3 IP, 4.64 ERA, 3.18 SIERA, 3.76 FIP, 10.13 K/9, 2.95 BB/9, 3.43 BB:K, 1.50 WHIP, 38.5% GB, 1.91 FIP vs. LHB

Former Phillies top pick is what he is at this point: a decent LOOGY, who is probably best going to a team that is aware of such a strategy. He was a good medium risk, high reward pick when the Phillies took him out of Rice. Two years ago he had a bleak enough future to go all the way back to Low-A as a conversion project back into a hitter. He did well, not top prospect well, but it seemed reasonable he could have a baseball career as a hitter, when he suddenly got called to help pitch when the team was short and suddenly he looked, pretty damned good pitching. He was an awesome story last year. Less so this year, but with the volatility of relievers and his relatively good component stats (aside from a low GB rate and fairly high LD rate) maybe he bounces back next year and kills it. Given the glut of bullpen options (including a helluva lot of lefties), Savery is going to be in a number crunch. I imagine he'll be back with the Phillies next year, and I imagine, if he is, he'll be back in Lehigh Valley a decent bit.

Michael Schwimer - 6'8" 240 lbs RHP 26 years old. AAA. 18 1/3 IP, 3.93 ERA, 3.15 SIERA, 3.53 FIP, 9.33 K/9, 2.45 BB/9, 3.80 K:BB, 1.25 WHIP, 44.4% GB

Everyone loves the Bear Jew, he's a workhorse. Nothing fancy, he's the F-150 of the bullpen (not the extended cab w/ rhinoliner, nope, plain ol' F-150 base model). Usually you see a guy the size of Schwimer and figure "killer fastball". Truth is, he's effective, capable of doing the job and gets it done with no high powered stuff or killer plus pitch. Schwimer seems to be a smart dude (go read his old blog entries over at and uses his middling stuff effectively by trying to stay a step ahead of the batter. Weird injury kerfuffle aside, I expect Scwimer will be back next year with a good shot at a regular spot in the 'pen. He wasn't great in Philly this year, but he wasn't Chad Qualls, and if he can get his GB% up and his BB rate down next year he'll be a perfectly good middle relief option.

Sebastian Valle - Spent most of the year in Double-A and will be covered there.

Other notables:

Kyle Hudson - Acquired via trade with the Rays. Hudson can run. That's pretty much it. Given the lump of Outfielders pushing their way up from Reading I expect he'll be running in some other org next Spring.

Steve Susdorf - He's an okay player. He can hit a bit, he can take a walk, doesn't strike out very often. Sadly he also doesn't hit the ball in the air nearly often enough either. There's virtually no power, which tends to be problematic for corner guys. He may well stick around next year to fill holes as a reserve OF/1B/DH.

Derrick Mitchell - He's got some pop, he'll take a walk and he seems to have a fan in Ryne Sandberg. Probably a AAAA guy, but he's got better speed and power than Susdorf, so perhaps he plays the reserve/DH role next year. Either way, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see one of them gone or pushed down to AA.

Cody Overbeck - It wasn't a very good season for Mr. Overbeck. First the good news: His BB rate was up, his K rate was down. Unfortunately, all of his traditional stats were also down. And for a guy with no defensive prowess at all, having those numbers go down is about the worst thing that can happen to you.

Tim Kennelly - He can play anywhere. Sadly, he can't really seem to hit anywhere.