With regular seasons winding down in Minor League Baseball, including those of the Philadelphia Phillies’ minor league affiliates, a number of prospects should be trying to finish strong in their remaining games.
One such player is Phillies’ 2013 first-round selection J.P. Crawford, who was promoted from the Gulf Coast League to the South Atlantic League this past week.
As for the rest of the Phillies’ top 10 prospects, the next few weeks could determine whether they receive a September call-up to play for interim manager Ryne Sandberg, or help decide where they will begin next season.
How did the Phillies’ top 10 prospects according to mlb.com’s 2013 Prospect Watch fare this past week?
Let’s take a look at whose stock is up and whose is down following Week 20.
* Tommy Joseph (No. 5) is out for the remainder of the season due to injuries. Larry Greene, who is ranked No. 11 according to mlb.com’s 2013 Prospect Watch, will now be included in these rankings.
**All statistics courtesy of MiLB.com unless otherwise noted.
Stats: 99 games, .212 BA, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 76 H, .307 OBP
Last Week: 3 hits in 11 at-bats, 1 RBI
Larry Greene had the same number of hits this past week as he did in the week prior, but in less than half the number of at-bats due to an off-day and game postponement.
In five games Greene had no extra-base hits, but did pick up four of the six walks that he now has in August.
Greene has had a stronger second half in the South Atlantic League, batting .236 since the All-Star break compared to a .182 average in the first-half. However, he is also batting just .170 in the month of August.
Despite a low OBP, the left-handed batter’s walk total ranks in the top 10 in the league. His strikeout total, however, also ranks among the highest in the league.
Greene’s power has not yet developed and his batting average is well below the .272 average he had in the New York-Penn League last season.
Since this was his first season in a full-season league, the Phillies could be patient with Greene as he has plenty of time to develop.
However, after a rough season at the plate, Greene could use a fast start next season to maintain his top prospect status.
Stats (MLB): 3 GS, 14.1 IP, 8 BB, 16 K, 6.28 ERA
Last Week: 1 GS, 5 IP, 2 BB, 6 K, 3 ER
Ethan Martin’s third career major league start saw him tie his career high for strikeouts in a major league game while also walking his fewest number of batters.
Martin took the loss in the outing, but continued to lower his ERA following his first career major league start, which saw him give up six earned runs.
The right-hander also gave up his fewest number of ground balls in his start this past week.
Martin’s future in the rotation could be in jeopardy soon with both Roy Halladay and Jonathan Pettibone working their way back.
He should make a least one more major league start this season, after which the Phillies could decide to keep him on the major league roster and use him out of the bullpen for the rest of the season.
If the Phillies do decide to move him to the bullpen for the final weeks of the season, they will be able to see how he fares as a reliever, a role he may eventually have in the major leagues.
*Martin’s major league statistics can be found on ESPN.com.
Stats: 16 GS, 72 IP, 28 BB, 53 K, 4.75 ERA
Last Week: Did not play, injured
Shane Watson remains on the disabled list and is running out of time to pitch again this season in the South Atlantic League.
Sidelined for more than a month, Watson had been enjoying a strong four game stretch prior to his injury. If he had been pitching consistently during the past month, it could have made the decision to promote him to the Florida State League next season much easier.
Watson could still begin next season in High-A ball, or the Phillies could have him make a few more starts in the South Atlantic League to start the season.
Stats: 11 GS, 46 IP, 19 BB, 31 K, 5.28 ERA
Last Week: 1 GS, 4 IP, 0 BB, 0 K, 4 ER
A week after having one of his highest strikeout totals and not giving up any earned runs, Mitch Gueller had a rough outing in which he did not strike out any batters.
Gueller lasted four innings and did not strike out or walk a batter, but did give up 10 hits. Opponents are now batting .326 against him in the New York-Penn League.
Until his most recent starts, Gueller had been giving up three earned runs or fewer consistently.
If he can finish on a solid note, he could make the jump to the South Atlantic League to begin next season. Performances closer to the ones that saw him have a 2.25 ERA in June would greatly help his case.
Stats (MLB): 17 games, .185 BA, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 10 H, .228 OBP
Last Week: 3 hits in 18 at-bats, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI
Cody Asche’s adjustment to the major leagues has seen him struggle through his first few weeks, but the third baseman also got off to a slow start in Triple-A earlier this season.
Asche struck out at least once in every game this past week, but should not be in jeopardy of losing his starting spot for the remainder of the season.
If the start of Asche’s major league career is similar to the start of his Triple-A career, September should see his batting average increase as he gains more experience.
Asche could also see his OBP increase if he walks more frequently. He has currently walked only three times.
Regardless of how he fares down the stretch, Asche should still have a great shot of opening next season as the team’s starting third baseman.
In the meantime, seeing Asche and Darin Ruf heating up in a lineup that already features Domonic Brown could be a positive way to finish the season.
*Asche’s major league statistics can be found on ESPN.com.
Stats: 16 GS, 73 IP, 21 BB, 52 K, 3.58 ERA
Last Week: 1 GS, 4 IP, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 ER
Adam Morgan’s strikeout totals remain lower than they were prior to his rotator cuff injury earlier in the season, but the right-hander has made up for the low totals in another area.
In his last 24.1 innings, Morgan has given up just four earned runs.
Since returning in late July, Morgan has an ERA of 1.43, but has given up his share of hits in August. In 17.1 innings in August, Morgan has given up 22 hits.
Returning this season was huge for Morgan’s progression, as he may have earned a major league promotion had another injury popped up and/or if he maintained his 3.23 ERA from April throughout the season.
However, returning and posting an ERA below 1.50 could still keep him in the running for a major league promotion next season if he can finish this season on a strong note.
Stats: 39 games, .345 BA, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 49 H, 12 SB, .443 OBP
Last Week: 3 hits in 17 at-bats, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 SB
Less than three months after being drafted by the Phillies in the First-Year Player Draft, and after ranking among the Gulf Coast League leaders in batting average and OBP, Crawford has earned his first minor league promotion.
Due to a game postponement, Crawford has yet to make his South Atlantic League debut, but spending the final few weeks in the league at his age should help him hit the ground running next season.
Crawford, a left-handed batter, leaves the Gulf Coast League batting .382 against right-handed pitchers. He also leaves with an equal number of walks and strikeouts.
The South Atlantic League should be a good test for Crawford to finish the season and could give the Phillies tons of optimism about their future at shortstop heading into the offseason.
Stats: 67 games, .238 BA, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 62 H, 32 SB, .323 OBP
Last Week: Did not play, injured
Roman Quinn remains sidelined after last playing on June 24.
To make the final few weeks interesting, the prospect who could one day force Quinn to change positions, J.P. Crawford, has now been promoted to the South Atlantic League, while Quinn remains on the disabled list.
If Crawford excels and the Phillies decide to have him skip the New York-Penn League again next season, both Quinn and Crawford could begin the season in the South Atlantic League, with Quinn at a new position.
Stats: 117 games, .315 BA, 25 HR, 90 RBI, 149 H, .354 OBP
Last Week: 6 hits in 22 at-bats, 2 2B, 4 RBI
Maikel Franco has cooled off in August, but his numbers on the season are not in danger of slipping too much after the outstanding season he has had.
Franco had just one extra-base hit this past week and did not hit a home run. For the month of August, he is now batting .254 and has a .279 OBP.
The right-handed batter is batting .348 against right-handed pitchers in the Eastern League. He has also already set career highs for home runs, hits and RBI in a season, and is one double away from setting another career high.
Franco also has a chance to finish with his highest batting average and OBP in a season.
At just 20 years old, Franco may have received consideration for a promotion to Triple-A once Cody Asche was promoted to the major leagues. Regardless, he should be in the International League next season at the age of 21.
Stats: 25 GS, 129.1 IP, 72 BB, 144 K, 3.76 ERA
Last Week: 2 GS, 12 IP, 3 BB, 16 K, 5 ER
Jesse Biddle did not pick up the win in either of his two starts this past week, but a more positive sign may come from his strikeout and walk totals.
In his first start, Biddle struck out nine and walked three in six innings, and took the loss despite giving up just two earned runs.
In his second start, Biddle struck out seven and did not walk a batter while giving up three earned runs and taking a no-decision.
The left-hander got hit around in his second start, but still turned in a much improved week overall.
In his last 13 innings prior to last week, Biddle had struck out 14 batters and walked 18. In 12 innings last week, Biddle struck out 16 and walked just three.
If he can maintain his 3.13 ERA for the month of August, the .214 batting average he has held opponents to this season and his Eastern League strikeout lead, Biddle could open next season in the International League.