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Season Recap: GCL Phillies and Crosscutters

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Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Peoria Javelinas at Glendale Desert Dogs Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Season Overview

The Crosscutters went 37-37 in 2017 and while that sounds thoroughly mediocre and uninteresting, I guarantee you it was thoroughly mediocre, but not entirely uninteresting. Sure, they finished more than half a dozen games out of the playoffs (in a league that plays a few dozen games a year), but the Crosscutters were about individual players more than overall team performance this year.

The GCL Phillies, meanwhile, had a really good season that was not mediocre. They went 36-22, good for First place in the Northwest division. They promptly got booted from the playoffs by the eventual champion GCL Yankees East (I love GCL naming conventions) 4-0, but that shouldn’t put a damper on a good season with a number of interesting prospects.

Best Hitter

Cutters - Jhailyn Ortiz: .302/.401/.560, .961 OPS, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 5 SB
GCL - Ben Pelletier: .333/.361/.474, 3 HR, 26 RBI

Cutters - Future Hall of Famer Jhailyn Ortiz (okay, I’m prone to hyperbole), the team’s big IFA signing a few years back, had a breakout season at the dish. Honestly, he’s kind of a freak of nature. He’s a big framed kid, but he’s also remarkably fast. It’s like watching Nigel Bradham or Jordan Hicks on the baseball field. Big dude, but moves really well. I’m a firm believer that short season ball stats can reinforce my opinion on a player slightly or create red flags to be followed, but I do not drastically change my opinion on a player due to them. That said, in the aggregate of Ortiz’s 2 seasons his K and BB rate have been consistent, as has his baserunning. So that reinforces amateur reports on his advanced hitting skills and dispels amateur reports that he would be stuck at First Base because he didn’t have speed. There are, probably, 2-3 more years to follow Ortiz, but the early returns are promising enough to make me actually giddy at the possibilities.

GCL - The Phillies drafted Pelletier during his Mother’s second tri-mester (see above parenthetical). Okay, when he was 16 years old, if we’re going to get all factual about things. Still that’s historically young age for a player to get drafted. It puts him on a similar timeline to IFA players. He’ll be in the odd position of having to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft about the same time he’s eligible to drink. There’s a really long path ahead and, not being hyperbolic at all, the range of outcomes stretches from All Star Outfielder to kid who never gets beyond Short Season Leagues. Still, be cautiously excited, there are a lot of tools here and a lot of time to develop them.

Best Pitcher

Cutters - Kyle Young: 7-2, 2.77 ERA, 65 IP, 72 K, 15 BB, 4.80 SO/W, 27.4 K%
GCL - Jhordany Mezquita: 3-0, 0.72 ERA, 37.2 IP, 35 K, 12 BB, 0.85 WHIP, 25.2 K%

Cutters - Kyle Young’s record very nearly matches his height (and given his age, perhaps by the time this publishes Friday it will match). I want to be very clear about this next statement “fascinating” and “best” are not synonyms. Kyle Young is, for me, far and away the most fascinating prospect in the system. He’s really, really tall. In fact he’s so tall - 7’0” - that if he makes the Majors he’ll be the tallest Pitcher in MLB history. While that may be a neat footnote for a guy Young’s also got a weird skill set for a guy that tall: He’s a control artist. Nobody’s that tall with the mechanics to actually hit spots consistently. Levers get long and they get rather hard to control. Release points dance, Arm slots make unplanned trips South. If Young had high K and BB rates you’d figure his length was just messing up inexperienced teenagers swinging at things they shouldn’t sometimes. However, both his stats and scouting reports show that’s not really the case, he pounds the zone and induces Ground Balls. The Pitches aren’t all there and part of the secret sauce is his length, but there’s mid rotation ceiling, with a potential for more if he adds velocity and improves secondary pitches.

GCL - Mezquita’s backstory is damned near as fascinating as Pelletier’s. The Phillies signed Mezquita as an IFA in 2016. Only they didn’t. He had moved stateside and therefore wasn’t eligible to be signed as an IFA, so the Philles drafted him in the 8th round this year instead, leading to an awful lot of confused people following the draft. It’s early, but it looks like a bit of a steal so far. Mezquita’s got decent height and solid stuff to project a Mid-rotation ceiling as well. He’ll be interesting to follow up the system and expect to hear every announcer possible talk about his weird draft history.

Best Moment

Cutters - My leagues have no gifs, so you’ll have to enjoy my links to stories of awesome. Like this July game where Young struck out 11 players and top prospects Ortiz and Haseley both lumber jacked (it’s a W-port thing) balls over the fence. Hopefully that’s a glimpse into our future full of rainbows, unicorns and lots of lumber jacking, and that’s okay.

GCL - There’s not a ton of news, twitter or video on the GCL Phillies. However, aside from their Outfielder who’s a veteran at 18 and their IFA Draftee on the mound they also have the only Closer from Moscow that I’m aware of. That’s not really a moment, but I’ll take what I can get.

Key Promotion

Cutters - It’s typically slim pickings in short season for best promotion as they’re usually aren’t a ton of them, but Adam Haseley getting the call from the GCL after 3 games would qualify. He didn’t steal the show the way Ortiz did, but he showed a nice approach, a little pop and good Defense.

GCL - There’s not really anywhere to get called up from, so no one.

Biggest Disappointment

I’m not doing one for GCL, since expectations are pretty low for those kids (ultimately just get through the year, only top picks and IFAs have high expectations and none of those did so poorly to label it a disappointment).

Luis Encarnacion - The Phillies big IFA signee in 2013 was a trainwreck that triggered an avalanche, leading to an earthquake and a subsequent mudslide. It was bad. .161/.257/.274 with a 34% K rate. The Phillies used him mostly off the bench and he got 13 the PAs he got his first 3 years. He shows no pitch recognition and he’s anchored to First Base thanks to lumbering speed. Perhaps he keeps a longer leash due to his high profile before signing and sticks around another year, moving up to Lakewood. More likely he is one of those guys who never makes it past Short Season ball and the Phils cut him loose next year during XST.

I seriously wish the best of luck to Encarnacion wherever his journey goes, but I also hope he marks the end of the Phillies obsession with guys who only really had big Power as calling cards (Pujols, Encarnacion, Cozens -kinda, Larry Greene Jr).