This will be the first in a series of posts. These are meant to be fun and inspire some discussion. Some of you may remember a few months ago when, in one of Taco Pal's excellent daily Minor League updates, someone (sorry, I can't remember who) asked "Who are the best Phillies prospects at each position?". A light went on for me: "That's an awesome idea for a poll!", or to be more exact, 10 of them. Some positions will be tougher than others, some may be pretty open and shut. I will provide the names to vote on and a list of positives and negatives about each player. I will do my best to provide no bias to the overviews.
The choice is yours. Is how close a guy is to the majors most important to you? Ceiling? Hate players whose names end in vowels? Whatever, it's for you to choose. Make your case in the comments why player X is the best, to you.
Looking at Pitchers I have to provide a limit somewhere, since a poll with 70 pitchers on it to choose from would be insane. For that reason, I'm limiting this to Pitchers who could one day be considered the best Starter of the bunch on the Major League club. It's fairly subjective, but I couldn't think of a better definition that didn't introduce bias or force a very unwieldy list of Prospects. Without further ado (Listed purely in alphabetical order):
Jesse Biddle, LHP Playing in AA
Positives: Big, durable looking build. Fastball works in the low to mid 90's. Could still add a few ticks given his size, as he continues to add muscle. He is doing a better job of matching the speed of his delivery of his Changeup to that of his Fastball and building more separation in speed between the 2 offerings. He has lots of movement on his Curve. All 3 pitches have the potential to be Plus pitches (the scale goes Below Average-Average-Above Average-Plus-Plus Plus. Obviously most pitchers tend to have average stuff, with perhaps 1 or 2 offerings which are above that on the scale)
Negatives: Has had trouble commanding that Curveball (this could show up more in his numbers against the more selective hitters in Double and Triple-A the next few years). Throws across his body some, leading to command problems at times.
Brody Colvin, RHP, Playing in AA
Positives: Plus fastball and smooth mechanics. Curve and Changeup have average to above average potential. Good size, age appropriate for level.
Negatives: Arrested for brawl in 2010, out of shape to open camp in 2011. He's had two bad years statistically. Some reports seem to suggest Colvin was instructed to work on specific pitches and sequences regardless of game situation, so stats may be taken with a grain of salt. Struggles with command and control, as evidenced by high BB rate. Again, given the previous statement, it's hard to gauge what the club thinks of his performance compared with the numbers and scouting reports fans see.
Perci Garner, RHP, Playing in A+.
Positives: Very athletic pitcher, with a plus fastball with good movement and heat and a potential plus Curveball. If he get 2 Plus pitches, then average stuff on any additional offerings may be enough to make him a very effective starter.
Negatives: Lost time to injury after being drafted in 2010. Fairly suspect slider and changeup. Has problems with command and control (in other words both ability to throw it where it was intended to go and to get it over for strikes). Fairly green as a Pitcher, given he was a 2 sport star in college (QB), so he's still learning the position. 24 is by no means old, but Pitchers typically peak starting ~26, so the clock is ticking somewhat to get any flaws ironed out in time to take advantage of likely peak seasons. May project better as a high leverage reliever.
Ethan Martin, RHP, Playing in AAA
Positives: Hard breaking ball with good movement, heavy, but straight-ish fastball. Both are plus offerings when near the plate. High draft pick and considered a potential future Ace due to his 2 plus pitches.
Negatives: Walks. Lots of walks. It trended down very slightly last year, but his walk rate is nearly 5 per 9 innings. Needs to develop a secondary pitch beyond his 2 plus offerings, perhaps a Cutter to complement his fastball/curve combo.
Jon Pettibone, RHP, Playing in AAA
Positives: Absolute ground ball machine, who doesn't give up a lot of walks. As a ground ball pitcher he gives up very few homers. Fairly good control and command of his stuff.
Negatives: He doesn't strike out many guys either, and in Lehigh Valley he walked quite a few guys. That's probably a small sample size aberration, but perhaps it could be more advanced hitters not being so confounded by his stuff. None of his pitches are above average and his fastball is fairly pedestrian. Had some durability issues early on, though he seems to have overcome them.
Adam Morgan, LHP, Playing in AAA
Positives: Morgan is a Fastball/Change pitcher, mostly, reducing any Lefty/Righty splits. His Change is an above-average to plus pitch, his Fastball is average and has a tendency to flatten out from time to time. He has a very good Slider, which has Above Average potential and a Curveball that has the potential to be Average, but is mostly a show-me pitch he'll use just a few times a game (though he can sometimes get nice spin on it and resort to it more frequently when it's on). Stays low in the zone, for the most part and induces a respectable number of ground balls.
Negatives: Short with a smallish build that doesn't suggest "innings eater". The size also means he has a fairly high effort, stiff delivery to generate velocity. While he has 3 average to above-average pitches, he doesn't have any single pitch, presently, that will lock up hitters as a reliable out pitch.