Last week I needed to finish out the mailbag with a player profile and so I asked all of you for a suggestion and of course a bunch of names came pouring in. So this week I took those suggestions, plus a few others and that is this week's mailbag. Enjoy!
This Week's Version of a Mailbag!
(I have included the player, but also the requester, much like we would with mailbag questions)
Scott Kingery: (@jeffpaternostro, @Jon_W_Cohen, @CracktheYank)
Kingery was the Phillies 2nd round pick in 2015 and at the time it was universally praised. It is easy to see why as Kingery is the prototypical second baseman. Kingery has turned himself into a pretty good fielder for a former center fielder. He lacks solid power, but he showed this year that he can pepper the gaps with doubles and hit the ball out occasionally. He is a bit aggressive at the plate, which was fine in the Florida State League where his strikeout rate was 12.9%. His walk and strikeout rates collapsed in AA as he faced stiffer competition and also tired from the long season. He will get a bit of a break before heading to Arizona Fall League this year to get more work. Kingery will need to keep his Florida State League plate discipline rates going forward, if so he can be a solid second baseman hitting .280-.290 with a decent on base, a ton of doubles, and a good quantity of stolen bases on the back of plus to plus plus speed.
Cornelius Randolph: (@StelliniTweets, @sflomenb)
We already talked about 2015 2nd round pick, so why not the first round pick too. There is a lot to like about Randolph, he has great bat speed, feel for hitting, and advanced approach. There are a lot of things to not like, starting with his lack of game power and the fact that he is limited to left field with a maxed out physical frame. The raw power is there, but his swing is more gap to gap and he need to get better at turning on the ball to reach his power ceiling. He missed a lot of time due to a shoulder and back injury, but after getting back to Lakewood he hit .283/.364/.361 for the BlueClaws. His 20% strikeout rate was a bit high for a player who is not mashing home runs, but his 10% walk rate in that time was very encouraging. Randolph won't turn 20 until June so there is plenty of time for him to continue to improve.
Chace Numata: (@RooseMoscow)
Numata was drafted by the Phillies back in 2010, meaning he is actually a minor league free agent after this year. He has hit all of the check boxes for slow development. He is a converted shortstop, switch hitter, from a non-baseball state (Hawaii), was injured, and was young for his draft year. It took 4 years for Numata to make it to full season ball, and then he missed 2014 with injuries. He is a light hitter with poor power, but a good approach. He took a big step forward this year at the plate and ended up contending for the FSL hitting title. Behind the plate Numata has made big strides with his receiving this year, but he still needs work. His big strength is his throwing arm and so far he has the best pop time of any Phillies catching prospect at sub 1.8, this shouldn't be surprising since he was topping out at 94mph as his HS team's closer. Numata's upside is backup catcher and that could still be many more years in the future, but he is yet another example for the idea that catchers develop weirdly.
Jose Pujols: (@jmurz)
I am very intrigued by Jose Pujols as a prospect. The power is as easy as you will see and while it has mostly been to the pull side he has has the strength to go to right field too. Over his 4 years he has shown the ability to make adjustments, the problem is that not all of them have stuck and he started so raw that it was always going to take a ton of work. He has a real problem with breaking balls, and he spent most of the first half hacking at curveballs that had no chance to be strikes. He finished up strong, but he will need to show that it is more than a fluke. He is getting better in the outfield, but that was a low bar to clear. His arm has plenty of strength, and he controlled base runners when he was not throwing to the wrong place. There might not be a player in the organization with a larger range of outcomes than Pujols.
Thomas Eshelman: (@MJ_Baumann)
Eshelman was supposed to be a unique command righty when he came to pro ball. He has turned out to be more on an ordinary command pitcher. Outside of walking the first batter of a handful of starts, Eshelman was solid in Clearwater, before becoming very hittable in Reading. That isn't entirely fair because Eshelman tended to be either on or off, which is the danger with a pitcher who lacks any above average individual offerings. On the bright side, Eshelman reached AA in his first full season of pro ball and he flashed upside as a back end major league starting pitcher. He likely repeats AA next year, but if needed he looks to be a solid piece of the Phillies upper minors pitching depth.
Mitch Walding: (@IamBillStewart)
Mitch Walding got the second largest bonus of any Phillies draft pick in 2011. He has been mostly a disappointment since. His glove has been good, but despite a gorgeous left handed swing he could neither make contact or hit for power. Add to that injuries that have hurt his development both with diminished ability and missed playing time. This year has been a bit of a breakout for Walding as he finally hit for power. He still strikes out a ton, while walking a decent rate. He has strange platoon splits where he as a good approach but zero impact vs left handed pitching. There is enough talent here for Walding to not write him off, but at 24 his breakout has seemed to do more for buying him more time to make adjustments than getting him on to prospect lists.
Cord Sandberg: (@mferrier31)
Everything that was said about Mitch Walding could be translated to Cord Sandberg, except the defense has been disappoint for Sandberg. He has never found his game power, despite flashing it during BP. His approach is not great and he was particularly bad vs LHPs. Despite his prominent draft status Sandberg is going to show a lot this offseason and spring to get playing time next year.
Mark Appel: (@A_D_A_M_)
If you forgot that Mark Appel was in the Phillies system, it is ok because I do all the time. Appel won't be a Top 100 prospect this offseason, he won't be in the Phillies Top 10 and maybe not Top 20, but that doesn't mean he isn't a prospect. The raw stuff is there, but the consistency is not, whether it is in the wavering velocity, the struggles from the stretch, or the touch and go slider. Appel is a long term project for the Phillies and despite all the failures along the way I would not give up on Appel's floor being a solid reliever, and that has a lot value. He should be added to the Phillies 40 man roster with a chance to impress in major league Spring Training.
Bailey Falter: (@Morons4Trump)
Falter was the Phillies 5th round pick in 2015 as a lanky lefty who touched 90ish while sitting in the hi 80s, his best pitch was a changeup, but he also featured a curveball. It has been a lot more of the same this year for Falter, but with general improvements across the board. After the team worked with him to use his lower half he was up to 93 with his fastball, and the pitch features good movement. His curveball is still a bit loopy, but his changeup continues to be good. After two rough starts to open the year he walked 1 batter over his next 5 starts and finished his last 11 starts with a 2.68 ERA and 11 walks to 56 strikeouts in 53.2 innings. He still has some more to do before he shoots up prospect lists, but he has a solid base to work with. He has room to fill out and it is not hard to see a pitcher who could be touching 95-96 when fully developed, and that gives him solid mid rotation upside. Don't lose him in the excitement over the top young arms in the system.
Jesmuel Valentin: (@RobertTyson8)
Valentin is a fine at many things, not great at really anything type of player. Which has value because he play all over the diamond. His best position is second base, which is also the only position he has a chance to be a regular at. He showed more power this year, but the stolen bases are all gone. He walks a decent bit while keeping his strikeouts down which gives him a solid base. If Valentin get hit his upside he is an everyday second baseman, but more likely he has a long major league career as a utility bench bat. He could also contribute to a major league team at some point next season.