Winter ball leagues continue to start as the Dominican Winter League kicked off with a Rhys Hoskins vs Dylan Cozens showdown. The team in the Arizona Fall League has been not great outside of Mitch Walding, with Brandon Leibrandt leaving the roster without appearing in a game.
You can track all winter league stats from the larger leagues here.
Prospect Spotlight: Kyle Young, LHP
There really was no illusion to what Kyle Young was when the Phillies drafted him, he was a project. A skinny 6'10" LHP who had touched 91 this spring, Young had a long way to go to reach his ceiling. The Phillies signed him for a solid bonus of $225,000 out of the 22nd round and sent him to the GCL. Young's stuff was not overwhelming in pro-ball. His fastball sat 88-90 and he showed a hi 70s curveball with solid promise.
What was surprising about Young was his delivery and the control it provided him. Young's delivery was athletic and repeatable, and while he does not use all of his height (he throws from a lower arm slot) he does get a good amount of plane on the baseball. What this led to was the most unbelievable stat of his season. As a 6'10" 18 year old in his first bit of professional action Young walked two batters in 27 innings (he would walk two more in 5 innings of 1 run ball in the GCL Championship). That is an impressive rate for any pitcher, but for a pitcher of his size it is almost unheard of.
Young won't make any prospect lists this offseason because he is so far away from any sort of major league ceiling, but he will be one of the most intriguing prospects to watch in the system. His frame is not large, but he has enough room to add muscle that the Phillies think he can sit mid to high 90s by the time he has matured. He still has a while to go to reach that, and if he leaves the complex to go to Williamsport next season he will be ahead of schedule.
A bunch from the TGP staff this week.
@Matt_Winkelman @TheGoodPhight Put the top hitters/pitchers at the levels they belong in your opinion for 4/1/17 (pre hot stove edition)— Wet Luzinski (@Wet_Luzinski) October 21, 2016
I don't have a final prospect list to go off so here is some top guys, and I am going to go by level.
Lehigh Valley: Crawford, Alfaro, Williams, Knapp, Hoskins, Cozens, Pivetta, Appel, Valentin, Cordero, Lively
Reading: Kingery, Pinto, Tocci, Garcia, Eshelman, Arano
Clearwater: Kilome, Randolph, Pujols, Grullon, Tirado, Dominguez, Irvin
Lakewood: Moniak, Sanchez, Gowdy, Medina, Gamboa, Stobbe, Romero, Falter, Brito
Extended Spring: Ortiz
That was more names than I intended when I started. Lehigh Valley is just going to be loaded, and yes I realize it has both Alfaro and Knapp, if they are both there they will make it work. Lakewood should also be incredibly stacked with young impact talent. I am not sure if they send Sanchez, Brito, Stobbe, and Gamboa to there immediately, but if they do that is a great set of infield talent and a loaded rotation, to go with a #1 overall pick manning center field.
David Fischer: Who in the low minors had a better season/should we be more excited about than the stats suggest?
Gamboa played only 35 games, he only hit .200/.254/.292 and that is following a year in which he hit .189/.252/.258. Before having his season end prematurely he was one of the youngest players in the New York-Penn League. The Phillies knew it would be an extremely aggressive assignment, but after some early struggles, Gamboa was starting to get his feet under him. At the plate he has the normal worries about plate discipline that go with with any young player, but he didn't put up terrible strikeout numbers this year. He does not have a ton of power, but he can take one out when he gets behind it. He also has plus speed and decent idea of how to use it. What makes Gamboa a potential impact prospect is that he is a highly athletic player who can not only stick at shortstop, but could be pretty good there. He just turned 19 this September, making his in-season adjustments just that much more impressive. He could be a breakout prospect next season and is already firmly in the Top 20 in the Phillies system now. Everyone who sees him raves about his potential.
Dan Cormican: The last 2 years in Fall Instructs guys came out with significant buzz (Kilome and Ortiz among others the last 2 years), is there anyone who created that kind of buzz this year?
There was not a ton out of Instructs this year. Sixto Sanchez continues to look great, in one of his starts he apparently ripped through some advanced Yankees prospects like Jorge Mateo and Gleyber Torres. Otherwise we got our first look at some of the bigger name Latin players like Francisco Morales, Brayan Gonzalez, Simon Muzziotti, and Jonathan Guzman. Morales was 92-94 (he is a 6'5" RHP who does not turn 17 until next week) and I can see why scouts like Guzman even if he makes Tocci look jacked. Also 2015 8th round pick Greg Pickett was back healthy and hit some bombs. Kevin Gowdy, Franklyn Kilome, Adonis Medina, and Alberto Tirado were all their normal selves, which is to say they were all pretty good.
Ethan Witte: Which do you think would have a bigger impact on a minor leaguer's performance:
1) higher pay and/or food stipends,
2) more days off for rest/recovery, or
3) better living conditions (I've heard players can sometimes sleep 4-5 to a house/condo/apartment)
I think the answer is #1 and that drives #3. It has to be really hard to concentrate on baseball when you are worried about where all your meals are coming from, where you are going to live, how are you going to survive an offseason where a team expects you to be training, caring for your family whether that is sending money back to Venezuela or Dominican Republic or a wife and kids here in the states, how to pay off the massive amount of debt you have, and a host of other things. For those that get big bonuses (which is not a large part of the minor league population) this is not a huge problem, but I cannot imagine it is particularly nice being the only guy out of 30 who can afford basic necessities. No one is arguing minor leaguers should be paid millions, but if you remove money as an issue you open up a lot of avenues in terms of nutrition, training, and mental well being. I am continuously baffled by the lack of support teams give minor leaguers given their investment in them and the potential rewards of their success.
@Matt_Winkelman @TheGoodPhight is there a way to incentivize the union to care about draftees/minor leaguers when negotiating the CBA?— Unique, Spoooky Name (@Phillies113) October 21, 2016
You make a minor league union that can negotiate for minor leaguers or you make them part of the major league union. Otherwise you are relying on people to argue for rights that they will never be affected by and that is putting a lot of faith in humanity.
@Matt_Winkelman Do you see more 1st round picks of "advanced high school hitters" coming for the phils?— John Wetzel (@John___Wetzel) October 21, 2016
Yes, but only if that is the best player available. I think they are going to lean more towards advanced high school hitters over raw high school hitters in the early rounds under Almaraz than under Wolevar. I don't know if they are going to reach for that type of player going forward, I just think those players were there in the last two drafts and that is what they took.
Baseball America - MLB Proposes International Draft, but Reforms Must Start at the Top - Ben Badler