10 Most Exciting Prospects the Philadelphia Phillies Will Promote in September
After trading both Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino at the July 31 trade deadline—and Joe Blanton shortly thereafter—the Philadelphia Phillies are undoubtedly an organization that’s re-tooling and building for the future. In recent years, the team traded away many of its top prospects—last year it was RHP Jarred Cosart and 1B Jonathan Singleton to the Astros for Pence. So, with the team seemingly out of playoff contention, the Phillies decided to trim the payroll while replenishing their depleted system.
When rosters expand at the beginning of September, the Phillies are one of several teams in a position to promote some of their more advanced prospects. In their case, primarily right-handed pitchers.
Here is a look at 10 Phillies prospects who could receive a September call-up.
10. C Tommy Joseph (Double-A)
Double-A: .262/.316/.387, 25 XBH (8 HR), 72 K/27 BB (87 G)
The Giants’ second-round draft pick in 2009, Joseph has gone from a catcher who may not stick behind the plate to one of the top catching prospects in the minor leagues, even playing in his first XM Futures Game in Kansas City earlier this month.
At 6’1”, 215 pounds, the right-handed hitter has plus raw power to all fields and should possess at least an average hit tool by the time he reaches the major leagues. Joseph’s blocking and receiving skills are still raw; however, they’ve vastly improved over the past season.
His arm strength is tremendous, as he throws crisp, accurate darts to second base. This season, Joseph has thrown out 48 percent of base stealers, which is well above his impressive 38 percent career rate.
9. RHP Julio Rodriguez (Double-A)
Double-A: 6-5, 115 IP, 4.40 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 119 K/64 BB (22 G; 21 GS)
It’s a bit of a longshot, but the 21-year-old right-hander has pitched well enough to at least warrant a look in September. Last season, Rodriguez led the Florida State League (High-A) with 16 wins, while both his 2.76 ERA and 168 strikeouts ranked second.
Rodriguez features a four-pitch mix of slightly below-average pitches, but his whippy mechanics gives each of them an element of deception.
His fastball doesn’t break the low-90s but has some late cutting action, and hitters will often over-swing against the pitch. His curveball is slow-paced and, in general, slow (mid-70s), while his slider tends to show tighter break. He also will mix in a changeup, but it’s probably the least advanced of his offspeed pitches.
8. RHP John Pettibone (Triple-A)
Minors: 10-7, 128 IP, 3.37 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 92 K/32 BB (21 GS)
Outside of Tyler Cloyd, Pettibone arguably has the best command of all the Phillies’ young pitching prospects. Despite standing 6’5” with a wiry frame, the 22-year-old right-hander’s fastball doesn’t touch higher than 92 to 93 mph, though he commands to both sides of the plate with ease. His changeup serves as his best offspeed pitch with excellent fade, while the shape of his slider has improved considerably this season.
His 3.54 FIP suggests that part of his success is luck, but his command continues to improve and should have him in the big leagues at some point in September.
7. C Sebastian Valle (Triple-A)
Minors: .256/.277/.432, 28 XBH (14 HR), 49 RBI, 86 K/12 BB (87 G)
Guiding all of the Phillies’ young pitchers through the minor leagues has been Valle, who was promoted to Triple-A early last week. The 22-year-old has plus raw bat speed from the right side of the plate, and his power has continued to emerge over the last two seasons. While the talent is there, Valle has poor plate discipline, which has prevented him from receiving consideration as an elite catching prospect.
Defensively, he is an athletic catcher who moves well laterally and puts down good fingers—something important given the young pitching staff. His blocking and receiving skills are advanced for his age, while his strong arm has led to a 28 percent caught-stealing rate in six minor league seasons.
6. RHP Justin De Fratus (Triple-A)
Minors: 13 IP, 2 SV, 1.42 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 11 K/1 BB (12 G)
After reaching the major leagues with the Phillies late last season, De Fratus has missed most of the season on the disabled list, recovering from an elbow injury. After a rehab assignment, the 24-year-old returned to Triple-A on July 19 and appeared in eight games.
The right-hander relies on his plus fastball-slider combination and is aggressive with his placement of both pitches. Like Aumont, De Fratus has the dominant two-pitch arsenal that’s ideal for a closer.
5. RHP Brody Colvin (Double-A)
Minors: 6-6, 117 IP, 4.60 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 101 K/27 BB (20 GS)
Colvin hasn’t met expectations over the last two seasons, but there’s still a lot to like about the 21-year-old right-hander. His fastball works in the low- to mid-90s and digs to get more sink and arm-side run. Both his breaking ball and changeup are at least average pitches at the moment and have the potential to add a grade with experience.
He has command issues at times, but his 3.73 FIP indicates that he’s pitched much better than his stat line indicates.
4. RHP Phillippe Aumont (Triple-A)
Triple-A: 2-1, 13 SV, 37.2 IP, 3.82 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 51 K/30 BB (35 G)
A former first-round pick in 2007, Aumont, 23, was acquired in the deal that sent Cliff Lee to Seattle. After splitting too much time between the rotation and bullpen in the beginning of his minor league career, the 6’7”, 260-pound right-hander finally came into his own as a reliever last season.
He works in the mid-90s and can reach back for a few extra ticks when needed. His command of the pitch varies, so he’ll struggle to put together clean innings. To complement his fastball, Aumont mixes in an above-average breaking ball that has late, downward bite.
3. RHP Ethan Martin (Double-A)
Double-A: 10-6, 130.1 IP, 3.38 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 120 K/63 BB (22 G)
Selected by the Dodgers with the 15th overall pick in the 2008 draft, Martin’s status as a prospect has been on steady decline due to wavering command and struggles to make adjustments.
After registering a 3.87 ERA and 10.8 K/9 in his full-season debut in 2009, the 23-year-old right-hander has struggled to repeat such success. His pure stuff is still there, including a low-90s fastball, above-average breaking ball and decent changeup.
Although he amassed plenty of strikeouts (9.3 K/9 in four minor league seasons), Martin’s overall development has been impeded by his lack of control, which has resulted in a consistently high walk rate (5.7 BB/9 career mark). He struggles to keep his weight back and rushes forward which, in turn, causes his glove side to fly open and create a varying arm slot.
Repeating Double-A this season, the right-hander has made some adjustments but still leaves plenty to be desired.
Even though his strikeout rate has dipped to 8.6 K/9, he’s also posted the lowest walk rate of his career at 4.5 BB/9. If he can’t get a grip on his control problems, Martin definitely has the stuff to be an effective late-inning reliever.
2. RHP Trevor May (Double-A)
Double-A: 8-10, 122 IP, 4.94 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 119 K/68 BB (23 GS)
The Phillies' minor league pitcher of the year in 2011, May led the Florida State League with 208 strikeouts. At 6'5", he's an imposing presence on the mound with two plus pitches.
While he can reach back for 98 mph, the right-hander's heavy fastball sits in the mid-90s with late, arm-side run. He's not afraid to challenge hitters up in the zone with it and often uses it as an out-pitch. May is one of a select few minor league pitchers who possess the ability to sustain their velocity late into games.
His premier off-speed pitch is a plus curveball with serious bite. When May struggles with establishing his arm speed, he has a tendency to spike the pitch. He also features a solid, average changeup that flashes potential at times.
The key to his success at more advanced levels will be the development of his changeup as well as the utilization of a slider he picked up toward the end of the 2011 season. To be efficient with his pitches, he will have to continue refining his command and making his mechanics more repeatable.
Since drafting him in 2008, the Phillies have been extremely cautious in their handling of May. After spending the last three seasons playing for the Phillies' Class-A affiliates, May is in his first season at Double-A.
1. RHP Tyler Cloyd (Triple-A)
Minors: 14-1, 141.1 IP, 1.91 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 96 K/30 BB (22 GS)
Cloyd certainly doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he has above-average command of his three-pitch mix. His fastball sits in the 86 to 90 mph range with moderate arm-side run, but nothing too crazy. He’s been cutting his fastball more frequently this season, at times even getting late sinking action.
The 25-year-old has a pretty good changeup in the low-80s with fade and sink, and throws it with consistent arm speed. His slider is just an average pitch, as he gets around it too often and makes it slurvy. He trusts his secondary pitches and throws them in all counts, therefore using his fastball as part of a sequence.
Cloyd had a breakout season in 2011, and has only verified it at a higher level in 2012.