Philadelphia Phillies: 6 Prospects Who Could Surprise in 2012
The Hot Stove is in full effect as we speak, and the MLB Winter Meetings are pumping out trade rumors and potential free-agent signings faster than Andy Reid can eat a hot dog.
The Philadelphia Phillies have already "hit a snag" in talks with Jimmy Rollins, and they are reportedly interested in power-hitting Aramis Ramirez.
The Phillies clearly have the core of this team already entrenched for 2012, but there is an opportunity for some of the organization's top minor league talent to show their stuff this season.
Jimmy Rollins, Brad Lidge, Roy Oswalt and others may all be lost via free agency, and you can always expect injuries during a 162-game season.
Here are six Philadelphia Phillies prospects who could surprise in 2012.
The Philadelphia Phillies currently have the following relief pitchers under contract for 2012 that look to make the team: Jonathan Papelbon, David Herndon, Antonio Bastardo, Michael Stutes and Jose Contreras (if he's healthy).
There is still a chance Brad Lidge can return to Philadelphia, but don't be surprised to see the 33rd-ranked prospect in baseball crack the major league ballclub at some point.
That would be relief pitcher Phillippe Aumont.
The 22-year-old 6'7'', 220-pound right-hander who was involved in the Cliff Lee trade is ranked as the pitcher with the "best curveball" and "best fastball" by Baseball America in the Phillies' system.
Aumont has a solid 93-96 mph sinking fastball and obviously an above-average breaking pitch.
In 2011, Aumont split time between AA and AAA ball for the Phillies and compiled a 2-5 record with a 2.68 ERA. He had 78 K's in just 53.0 IP.
He is ready for the big leagues and ready to do big things as well.
The writing may be on the wall that Jimmy Rollins has played his last game for the Philadelphia Phillies, despite Ruben Amaro's (a.k.a. Big Slim) recent words that the club still intends on signing J-Roll.
The main question seems to be this: Would the Phillies rather feature an infield of Ramirez/Galvis, or Polanco/Rollins?
Ramirez would give the middle of the order the pop that it has been missing, and the team may be actually upgrading at the SS position defensively.
Freddy Galvis is a 21-year-old shortstop that is ranked as the "best defensive infielder" and "best infield arm" in the Phillies' minor league system by Baseball America.
The Phillies are convinced that Galvis' glove is Gold Glove-ready right now.
The problem is that many would love to see the kid spend one more full year playing minor league ball and continue to improve at the plate. He has put on more than 15 lbs and seems to finally be growing into the type of all-around player that the organization hoped he would.
In four seasons from 2007-2010, Galvis has never hit higher than .240, but he broke out in 2011 while playing in AA and AAA Lehigh Valley. He hit a combined .278 with a .324 OBP.
He doesn't strike out much and has above-average speed, not to mention he was the Phillies' Minor League Player of the Year. It's not hard to see why the Phillies are so unwilling to give Jimmy any more than three years.
Freddy Galvis is ready to become a star.
Remember when the Philadelphia Phillies used a first-round pick to take the power-hitting LH starting pitcher from Rice, Joe Savery?
He was a beast on ESPN during the CWS (College World Series), and he seemed like a smart pick, as scouts projected that he could play in the big leagues as either a pitcher or 1B.
Well, the Phillies dabbled with the idea of Savery as a SP for nearly four years before moving him to first.
In 245 at-bats in 2011, he hit a solid .294, but he lacked the power production (3 HR, 32 RBI) that is needed from the position.
So, enter Joe Savery the LH-Specialist. In 25 IP at Lehigh Valley, he had a 1.80 ERA and 26 Ks.With Antonio Bastardo as the only lefty out of the bullpen currently for the Phillies, Savery has a legitimate shot to play in Philadelphia at some point in 2012.
Especially if Bastardo continues to stink up the joint, like he did the last month of the season.
My oh my, how things can change in one year.
Domonic Brown has been one of the top prospects in all of baseball for the past three seasons, and it seemed like he was ready to become a star in 2011.
Well, after stinking up the joint during winter ball and an injury during spring training, it seems like many have given up on the youngster.
Brown is ranked as the Phil's "best hitter for average" and "best outfield arm" by Baseball America.
It seems kind of pointless to have such a great arm if the guy can't even catch the ball doesn't it? I'm of course referencing the miserable time Brown has had in the OF during his brief tenure with the Phightin' Phils.
The fact remains that Brown has tremendous power and speed and a cannon for an arm.
He has all of the tools to be an All-Star player for many years to come, but can he it put all of that together?
John Mayberry Jr. has earned the right to play every day in 2012 after belting 15 HR in limited at-bats. It's not ridiculous to foresee a Mayberry Jr./Brown platoon out in LF.
Youth, power, size, athleticism, speed. Yup, that would pretty much describe that possible platoon.
Sebastian Valle is only 20 years old and clearly two or three years away from being the Philadelphia Phillies starting catcher, but he has shown enough talent already to be named the team's sixth overall prospect by Baseball America.
He is 6'1'' and 170 pounds and has good raw power and a sweet swing.
Scouts have been impressed with Valle's plate discipline and offensive production but have been down on him defensively prior to 2011.
He must have gotten the message, as he has improved significantly in the past year, evidenced by his 33 percent caught-stealing rate in 2010 and 32 percent in 2011.
Passed balls are still a problem, as he has allowed 10-plus in back-to-back years.
The Phillies (and the fans) love Carlos Ruiz and his ability to call a game and provide clutch hits, but the club is quietly hoping that Valle continues to work his tail off and continues to develop. An injury to Ruiz would certainly have the Phillies looking for a veteran catcher on the trade market.
But there is no denying that Valle has the potential to hit above .280 with 15-plus HRs in the MLB someday.
Justin De Fratus
Charlie Manuel seems to have an odd attachment to David Herndon, as the rest of the world seems puzzled how the guy can keep a job.
Justin De Fratus may make it very hard for Ol' Cholly to keep his guy once Spring Training rolls around.
De Fratus is ready to pitch in the big leagues, and he has the frame (6'4'' and jacked) stuff, and mental makeup to be a key contributor to this team in 2012.
The power-pitching De Fratus seems to have figured it out at the minor league level, and Baseball America has him rated as the Phillies minor leaguer with the "best control."
The Phillies saw that De Fratus was unable to keep his velocity up as the innings wore on, and they decided to move him into the bullpen. This was a brilliant move, and now De Fratus can go out firing from pitch one with his hard fastball and slider combination.
A young Brad Lidge in the making? The 2008 memories in me can only hope.