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2011 Top 25 Prospects

ProspectNation 2011: #10 Tyson Gillies- OF

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, February 09, 2011 07:00 AM Comments: 37

Tyson Gillies is the third of the three players acquired from Seattle in December 2009, in the trade for Cliff Lee, to appear on this countdown. Gillies struggled with leg injuries during his 2010 season while with the Double A Reading Phillies, but still projects to be a solid contributor at higher levels.

Gillies, a lefty batter that primarily plays center field but has played all three outfield positions in his professional career, had multiple stints on the disabled list due to a recurring left hamstring ailment in his first season in the Phillies organization. The injury limited Gillies to just 28 games played in 2010, an issue that Gillies somewhat blamed himself for, as he felt he came back too soon from the hamstring ailment, which caused him to aggravate it a second and third time.

A ground ball/line drive hitter that is know for using his speed to help him reach base, Gillies is also pretty well known for his hearing impairment. Diagnosed at an early age with significant hearing problems, Gillies grew up using hearing aids and has become accustomed to playing baseball with a slight disadvantage. At times, outfielders could rely on the sound of the crack of the bat to judge the distance of a ball, but Gillies makes up for that with his quickness and great range on defense. Gillies says for him, it’s just natural.

Growing up in British Columbia, Gillies played both hockey and baseball. However, when he reached his teenage years, Gillies felt that it was best to choose one sport to focus on and, as determined by his size at the time, he selected baseball. As he progressed as a player, his love and passion for the game of baseball developed along with his talents and he has never looked back.

A 25th round selection in the 2006 amateur draft, Gillies has been compared to Curtis Granderson and Shane Victorino at times. With a bigger frame than both of those players, one wonders if the 6’2″, 195-pound Gillies could develop into an offensive threat that could surpass each of those men. That’s certainly a tall task, but not impossible if the 22-year-old can stay healthy and continue to mature on the field. On the low side, perhaps Dave Roberts is a more reachable type of level for Gillies.

Gillies began his pro career in 2007, as a member of the Arizona League Mariners and later with Everett of the Low A Northwest League. Combined at both levels, he batted .255 with 11 steals and a .688 OPS in 39 games.

He followed that up with an improved 2008, where he spent time with Everett before earning a promotion to High Class A High Desert. In 72 combined games, Gillies’ production shot upward as he batted .302 with 25 steals and an .831 OPS.

In a 2009 return campaign with High Desert, Gillies became a highly regarded prospect, as his offensive output excelled even more. Gillies posted a .341 batting average, good enough for third highest in the minors, with 44 steals and a .916 OPS in 124 games.

What seemed to improve the most over Gillies’ first few seasons in the minors was his ability to get on base. His solid eye at the plate saw his on-base percentage rise in each of his initial three seasons in the pros, with marks of .358, .421 and .430.

Following the trade to the Phillies, Gillies played in 26 games with Reading and 2 rehab games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2010. During his injury shortened season, Gillies batted .243 with 2 homers, 7 RBI and 2 stolen bases.

The summary for Gillies is that he’s got all the right tools to, someday, reach the Major Leagues. He has exceptional speed, has shown progression at the plate and has solid instincts with a strong throwing arm on defense. This year, Gillies should return to Double A for a full season. Provided he can continue to progress, Gillies could see an estimated time of arrival in the Majors of 2013.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league insider.  To check out more from Jay, please visit his site, PhoulBallz.com.

  • 37 Comments
 

ProspectNation 2011: #11 Matt Rizzotti- 1B

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sat, February 05, 2011 12:00 PM Comments: 13

Matt Rizzotti is a name that many prospect watchers became familiar with during the 2010 season. The first baseman, who became an all-star in the Double A Eastern League last season, made himself into a prospect with loads of hard work according to his manager in Reading last year, Steve Roadcap.

Listed at 6-feet-5-inches tall and 235 pounds, Rizzotti is a strong left-handed hitter who resembles Jim Thome, with the manner in which he holds his bat out in front of him while preparing to face opposing pitchers, along with some physical resemblance mixed in too, perhaps.

A sixth round draft choice by the Phillies, out of Manhattan College, in 2007, Rizzotti began his professional career with the Williamsport Crosscutters that same year. In 63 games with the short season NY-Penn League team, Rizzotti posted a .260 average with 19 doubles, 2 homeruns and 27 RBI.

In 2008, Rizzotti joined Class A Lakewood and began to show his power potential by slugging 10 homers with 25 doubles and 49 RBI in 102 games. Rizzotti’s batting average stood at .268 that season with the BlueClaws.

The following season, Rizzotti moved up a level to High A Clearwater and produced statistics that were right on the level with what had become expected of him (.263 avg, 26 doubles, 13 HR, 58 RBI in 101 games), but good stats weren’t quite impressive stats.

Things changed for Rizzotti, a native of Floral Park, NY, in 2010. He had dedicated himself over the previous off-season to becoming more fit and improving his stamina by working closely with a personal trainer five or six days each week. Rizzotti found himself back in Clearwater to begin the season. In 31 games with the Threshers, Rizzotti batted .358 with a homer and 10 RBI. In May, Rizzotti was named the Phillies minor league player of the month and was promoted to Double A Reading, where he performed even better, posting a .361 average with 16 homeruns and 62 RBI in 77 games. With a focus on hitting for contact, Rizzotti was quickly becoming a buzz-worthy prospect.

Rizzotti was promoted once more and moved up to Triple A Lehigh Valley by mid-August, where he batted just .200 in 17 games while battling a thumb injury.

The focus on contact was clear also, as Rizzotti’s 92 strike outs were still higher than his total of 91 in 2009 but he accumulated that total in 70 more at bats than he had in 2009.

His strong 2010 continued in the Arizona Fall League, where “Rizz” batted .333 and had a .500 on-base percentage in 19 games with the Mesa Solar Sox.

New Reading Phillies manager and former big league catcher Mark Parent, who potentially could be headed toward a position as a hitting coach in the Major Leagues in the next handful of seasons, was Rizzotti’s hitting coach with the Solar Sox. Parent’s opinion on Rizzotti was simple after he got to watch the 25-year-old work hard on a daily basis…”Rizzotti can HIT.”

Expect to see Rizzotti begin the 2011 season as the starting first baseman for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. With some particular clubs around MLB, Rizzotti could have an easier route to the big show, but the Phillies have a considerably well known first baseman already in place and no designated hitter slot for a guy like Rizzotti to fill. Those circumstances could make Rizzotti more valuable to an American League organization in need of an inexpensive option for either of those roles. If Rizzotti can replicate his 2010 offensive output, it will be difficult to keep him from making a debut in the Major Leagues before the season is through.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league writer. To check out more from Jay, visit his site, PhoulBallz.com.

  • 13 Comments
 

ProspectNation 2011: #12 Harold Garcia- 2B

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, February 03, 2011 07:30 AM Comments: 9

In 2004, second baseman Harold Garcia was signed as a free agent approximately 6 weeks before his 18th birthday. The 5’11″, 190-pounder got his professional career started by playing three seasons in the Venezuelan Summer League before heading to the United States to continue his climb toward the big leagues.

In three seasons playing in the VSL, Garcia’s offensive progression was clear, as he posted batting averages that increased annually- .226, .273, .296.

After arriving stateside, Garcia spent the 2008 season with the Gulf Coast League Phillies, where he batted .299 with 5 homers and a .907 OPS in 50 games, leading his club to the league championship. He also went hitless in 2 at bats for the High A Clearwater Threshers.

In 2009, Garcia continued his winning ways, helping the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws lock down the South Atlantic League championship. As a member of the BlueClaws, Garcia finished third in the SAL with 42 steals. He also batted .291 with 8 homers and 55 RBI with a .765 OPS in 118 games that season.

Garcia began the 2010 season with High A level Clearwater and moved to Double A Reading midway through the season. In July, Garcia broke the 59-year-old Florida State League hitting streak record, when he logged at least one hit in 37 consecutive games for the Threshers. Garcia was subsequently recognized as the Phillies minor league player of the month for June. His .335 batting average and .889 OPS with Clearwater were impressive enough to earn him a promotion to Reading.

Despite making an immediate impact by lacing an RBI single in his very first Double A at bat, Garcia’s overall production took a bit of a dip (.281 avg., .743 OPS) as a member of the R-Phils, but he could certainly get an opportunity to improve those numbers this coming season. Combined at the two levels, Garcia stole 29 bases in 101 games.

Garcia, who turned 24 since last season ended, played with the Aguilas in the Venezuelan Winter League. In 28 games playing in his native Venezuela this Winter, Garcia posted a .286 batting average, scored 4 runs and drove in 4 runs. However, he only notched one extra base hit, a double and was successful in just one of five stolen base attempts.

The switch hitter, Garcia, has shown more effectiveness from the right side, going 5-for-12 (.417 avg) against left-handed hurlers in the Venezuelan League and generally posting a higher average from his natural side throughout his career.

A versatile fielder, Garcia has played 45 games at third base during his minor league career and he played both third and the outfield at instructional ball last Autumn, which increases his value as he moves higher in the system. If the big club finds itself with an injured infielder in the near future, Garcia could be a beneficial option for the Phillies to have. As a relatively efficient defender where ever he plays on the field, Garcia could have a future as a utility guy at the Major League level.

Look for Garcia to spend time at Triple A Lehigh Valley this year. Depending on his output in 2011, he could be destined to wear red pin stripes when the rosters expand in September.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league writer.  You can check out more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.

  • 9 Comments
 

ProspectNation 2011: #13 Phillippe Aumont- RHP

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, January 31, 2011 03:30 PM Comments: 11

Phillippe Aumont, the second prospect acquired from the Mariners for pitcher Cliff Lee last off-season to appear on this countdown, is back in a position more comfortable to him after experiencing some hiccups in his progress during the 2010 season. Upon joining the Phillies organization, higher ups decided to move the young reliever into a starting role. Aumont struggled as a starting pitcher during his first season in the Philadelphia system, but remains a talented pitcher worthy of consideration as an excellent prospect.

A first round draft choice (11th overall) by Seattle in the 2007 amateur draft, Aumont was a highly regarded hurler when he was traded to Philadelphia in 2009.

In 2008, his first season as a professional, Aumont appeared in 15 games, 8 of which were starts, posting a 4-4 record with a 2.75 ERA and 50 strike outs in 55 2/3 innings in the Class A Midwest League. The following season, Aumont appeared exclusively as a reliever in High A and Double A, going 2-6 with a 3.88 ERA, 16 saves and 59 strike outs in 51 innings. Both seasons were shortened by injuries as he landed on the disabled list twice in 2008 with elbow soreness and missed time in 2009 after breaking his hand when he punched a wall following a blown save.

Also in 2009, Aumont pitched for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, retiring MLB All-stars David Wright, Kevin Youkilis and Curtis Granderson, in order, to escape a jam in a game against Team USA.

In Aumont’s first season with the Phillies organization, he went 1-6 with a 7.43 ERA as a 21-year-old in 11 starts with Double A Reading, before being demoted to High A Clearwater, where he improved his numbers a bit, going 2-5 with a 4.48 ERA. With Clearwater, 10 of Aumont’s 16 appearances were as a starter.

The silver lining of Aumont’s bust of a season in 2010, when he posted a 3-11 record and a 5.68 ERA in 27 combined games between two levels, was that he pitched more innings that season (122) than he had in his previous two seasons (106 2/3) as a professional. That gave Aumont plenty of time to work on his pitches and provided the Phillies with significant opportunities to see their highly touted prospect in action. Philadelphia’s clear decision to return the Quebec native, Aumont, to the bullpen was a direct product of his struggles, so if he achieves success at higher levels as a reliever, the rough 2010 season will have been well worth it.

The 6’7″, 255 pound right-hander certainly has the size that could intimidate opposing hitters. He has a pitch repertoire that includes a 4-seam fastball that is regularly clocked in the mid-to-high 90′s and a plus “slurve” that has very good movement. Aumont also mixes in a change up that rounds out his arsenal of weapons. However, if Aumont sticks to a relief role, it is likely that he could focus on using his two best pitches exclusively, as he wouldn’t regularly face batters more than once a game. Some of Major League Baseball’s best closers are solid examples of success with a two-pitch selection.

Thanks to Aumont, and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., fans were introduced to brand new baseball speak after the 2010 regular season, when Amaro told me, of Aumont, “We don’t judge (his) abilities necessarily by performance, but (instead) by progress and he’s still a young kid. Prospects sometimes take a long time. The pudding has not been made yet, so it’s really a matter of time for (him) to continue to develop. We still believe in him to be a fine prospect.”

So, consider Aumont “a pudding prospect”, whose consistency hasn’t quite developed yet, but is capable of becoming a gratifying home made treat, once given the proper allotment of time to refine.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor. You can check out more from Jay on his site, PhoulBallz.com.

  • 11 Comments
 

ProspectNation 2011: #14 Domingo Santana- OF

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, January 28, 2011 04:50 PM Comments: 4

In March, 2009, Domingo Santana was signed as a 16-year-old free agent out of the Dominican Republic. At the time, the Yankees were also interested in Santana and it took a $330,000 signing bonus to lock down the youngster.

At 6-feet-5-inches tall and weighing around 205 pounds, Santana possesses one of those athletic and projectable frames that the Phillies organization loves.

Santana, primarily a right fielder with a very good arm, made his professional debut as a member of the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2009 and posted great numbers. In 37 games, Santana batted .288, slugged 6 homers, drove in 28 runs and posted an .897 OPS. His homerun total in 118 at bats, at age 16, was extremely impressive, especially considering the rest of the GCL Phillies roster mashed only 11 homers in 1,744 at bats. Members of the media and scouts alike saw elite power potential in the well regarded teenage phenom.

In 2010, the right-handed hitting Santana started the season as a 17-year-old with Class A Lakewood. He struggled a great deal there, batting .182 in 49 games with 76 strike outs in 165 at bats. Santana was moved to short-season Williamsport, once their season began in June, despite having spent many hours working one on one with Lakewood hitting coach Greg Legg in the BlueClaws’ batting cages. His offensive production improved a bit as a member of the Crosscutters (.237 avg. in 54 games), but Santana’s overall OPS, combined at the two levels, was 234 points lower than it was the previous year in the lower GCL.

Santana is one of many young hitters who needs to develop pitch recognition. His high strike out totals are evidence that he is guessing what is coming out of the pitcher’s hand far too often. If he continues hitting fastballs well and learns to react to the off-speed pitches, letting the bad ones go, opposing pitchers will be in deep trouble.

Regarded as an outfielder with solid range, Santana’s speed on the bases hasn’t been anything to boast about quite yet in his young career. In two seasons in the minors, Santana has stolen 12 bases and has been caught 11 times. Although, as he matures, Santana could surely develop as more of a thief on the bases. The athleticism and quickness is there for Santana to add base running to his arsenal of dangerous weapons, it will be a matter of developing his instincts.

One game against the Yankees affiliate Charleston, in May, stands out as evidence of Santana’s underdeveloped aptitude. In the 8th inning of a close match up in which the BlueClaws trailed 2-0 at home, Domingo led off with a double and moved to third when catcher Torre Langley singled. Jonathan Villar followed with a dribbler back to pitcher Ronny Marte, who fired to the shortstop at second base, ahead of Langley. The relay throw to first base was in time to erase Villar for the second out, but Santana, who was never looked back to third by Marte, had frozen and broke late toward home plate, and was gunned down to complete a stunning 1-6-3-2 triple play, with the top of the order due up. The score stayed the same and Lakewood dropped the matinee pitchers’ duel.

Coaches don’t feel that Santana’s occasional lapses in judgement or questionable stolen base percentage are defining. The fundamentals can be taught and often, at the lower levels of the minors, first base coaches are reserve players, not actual coaches trying to help the runners steal bags. However, as players move up, they will have access to members of the staff who actively aid in scouting a pitcher or catcher in order to take advantage on the bases.

According to 2010 Lakewood manager Mark Parent, “When (Santana) matures and decides to put in the work and learns to compete everyday in my opinion he could become one of the really good prospects in the Phillies organization. It really is up to him how good he will become.”

In a nutshell, Santana is a “toolsy” outfielder that has physical strength which already stands out and has the potential to make a big impact at higher levels. If he continues to progress as a hitter and develops on the bases, the Majors should easily be in his future.

Expect Santana to return to Lakewood in 2011, as the BlueClaws will try to lock down a three-peat of South Atlantic League titles under new manager Chris Truby, who managed Santana with Williamsport last year.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league writer. You can find more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.

  • 4 Comments
 

ProspectNation 2011: #15 JC Ramirez- RHP

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, January 27, 2011 08:00 AM Comments: 4

Righty hurler JC Ramirez was one of three prospects acquired from Seattle last off-season in the trade for Cliff Lee. While some critics suggest that the trio of farm hands did not necessarily impress (Ramirez posted a 5.45 ERA at Double A, Phillippe Aumont struggled greatly at Double A when he was converted to a starting pitcher and Tyson Gillies was sidelined with a leg injury much of the season), Ramirez showed flashes of exceptional talent and displayed reason to believe he can mature into the talent that the Phillies were hopeful for when they acquired him.

One example of what Ramirez can do was an extremely impressive complete game loss, on the road, to the eventual Eastern Division champion Trenton Thunder in which he struck out 9 and walked none while allowing just 3 earned runs that were scored on two defensive miscues by his teammates.

With a two-seam fastball that regularly reaches the mid-90′s, a slider with excellent control, and a respectable change up that he uses to keep batters honest, Ramirez has tools that continue to impress. The Phillies encouraged Ramirez to throw his change up more frequently in order to put together a big league repertoire, so he spent much of the season focused on improving that pitch.

The 6’3″, 225 pound Ramirez, who was a catcher before he became a pitcher in his youth, joined the Phillies organization with a career ERA of 4.78 in 82 games as a pro.

Combined at two levels of the Phillies system in 2010, Ramirez posted a 7-7 record with a 4.82 ERA and 115 strike outs in 142 innings pitched, over 24 starts. In addition, Ramirez held opponents to a .277 batting average.

After going 4-3 with a 4.05 ERA as a member of the High A Clearwater staff, Ramirez was promoted to Double A Reading in June. As a member of the Reading Phillies, Ramirez’s overall numbers weren’t great (3-4, 5.45 ERA, .291 BAA), but take away his two worst outings with the R-Phils and the stats look considerably better (3-4, 4.48 ERA, .272 BAA).

Ramirez, the product of a Cuban father and a Nicaraguan mother, had surgery just after the 2010 season ended, to repair torn cartilage in his hip. His recovery is reportedly moving along and Ramirez is expected to be active once minor leaguers report to spring training.

In a July interview, Ramirez told me, with a laugh, that when the 2010 season began he wanted to show the people of Philadelphia that their team acquired the guy that could replace Cliff Lee. However, now that Cliff Lee has returned to the Phillies organization, after signing as a free agent this off-season, Ramirez’s future won’t involve replacing Lee, but instead he will find an even more difficult task ahead…trying to break into the same pitching staff as Lee.

If the 22-year-old Ramirez can continue to mature, avoid those occasional disastrous outings and fully heal from his off-season procedure, he could certainly be a prospect that moves up the ranks quickly in 2011 with an arrival time in the Majors not far away.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor. You can read more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.

  • 4 Comments
 

ProspectNation 2011: #16 Scott Mathieson- RHP

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, January 25, 2011 10:25 PM Comments: 7

Scott Mathieson has been a name that has intrigued Phillies fans for several years. A 17th round draft pick in the 2002 amateur draft, out of Vancouver, BC, the right-handed Mathieson rose through the Phillies minor league ranks as a starting pitcher and made his Major League debut with Philadelphia in June, 2006.

That season, Mathieson was on the opening day roster for the Double A Reading Phillies. In 19 starts, Mathieson posted a 10-3 record with a 3.40 ERA and 99 strike outs in 92 2/3 innings pitched. Those efforts earned him a promotion to Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre where he went 3-1 with a 3.93 ERA and 36 strike outs in 34 1/3 innings. With such solid stats, the Phillies rewarded Mathieson with another promotion.

The 6-feet-3, 200-pounder stepped up another level but didn’t have the same results, allowing opponents to hit .312 and going 1-4 with a 7.47 ERA in 9 games, 8 of which were starts, with Philadelphia. By September that season, however, he was sidelined with a torn elbow ligament and required Tommy John surgery.

With some bad luck, Mathieson, who represented the Phillies in the MLB Futures Game in 2005, became a rare case in the currently rather common world of big time elbow surgery, when he required an ulnar nerve transposition procedure following 7 rehab outings in August of 2007. By the start of the following season, Mathieson needed to go under the knife for a third time, with a second Tommy John surgery. All together, his rehabilitation process was considerably long, due to his recurring arm trouble.

On the comeback trail, Mathieson pitched at three levels of the Phillies’ system in 2009 and dominated. Combined between time spent with the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies, High A level Clearwater and Double A Reading, Mathieson posted a 4-0 record with an ERA of 0.84 and struck out 34 batters while allowing only one HR in 32 innings pitched. Mathieson followed up his exceptional 2009 regular season with a solid collection of outings in the Arizona Fall League.

As he continued climbing back toward the Majors, exclusively as a reliever, Mathieson’s fastball range was clocked in the high 90′s, which is well up from the 92-93 MPH that he used to average when he initially broke into big leagues.

In 2010, Mathieson, whose pitching repertoire also includes a good slider and a change up that Ryan Madson helped him improve last spring, shined for the Phils’ Triple A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. In 55 games there, he posted a 3-6 record with a 2.80 ERA and 26 saves in 54 games while holding opponents to a .212 batting average.

With the exceptional efforts in the minors and improved velocity, the Phillies recalled Mathieson to the big club in June last season. In a mop-up assignment during an interleague game against Minnesota, Mathieson had a rough outing that got him designated for assignment shortly after. However, the former ace for the Team Canada World Baseball Classic team remained a Phillie and returned to the active roster as a September call up. Mathieson had one more MLB outing in 2010, a 1 2/3 inning appearance against the Brewers in which he allowed an unearned run.

Despite the ups and downs that Mathieson has dealt with, he remains a hurler that could contribute for the Phillies, in a relief role, in the near future.
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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor.  You can read more from Jay by checking out his site, PhoulBallz.com.

  • 7 Comments
 

ProspectNation 2011: #17 Julio Rodriguez- RHP

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, January 20, 2011 06:30 PM Comments: 14

Righty hurler Julio Rodriguez shot up the Phillies’ prospect rankings over the past year. Drafted in the 8th round of the 2008 amateur draft as a 17-year-old out of Puerto Rico, Rodriguez has developed both physically and as a player during his time in the Phillies’ system.

After an unsuccessful professional debut in 2008 with the Gulf Coast League Phillies (12.19 ERA in 7 games), Rodriguez returned to the GCL in 2009 and showed improvement along with some added muscle. In 11 games (8 starts) that season, Rodriguez posted a 1-2 record with a 3.08 ERA and a .197 batting average against.

As a 19-year-old, Rodriguez began the 2010 season in extended spring training, before making his Class A debut with Lakewood in late May, when he made a spot start in place of an injured Jonathan Pettibone. In his first BlueClaws appearance against the Hagerstown Suns, Rodriguez showed glimpses of things to come as he struck out the side in both the 2nd and 3rd innings before being relieved in the 4th. Despite lacking blazing speed on his fastball (J-Rod’s fastball regularly peeked in the low 90′s during the 2010 regular season), his strike out totals were extremely impressive.

Rodriguez capitalized on keeping opposing batters guessing with his solid off-speed pitches. He racked up 126 K’s in 96 1/3 innings at two levels in 2010. Rodriguez has a strong curveball that dives away from right-handed batters and a solid change up that will improve as he advances through the minors.

The 6’4″, 200 pound Rodriguez is versatile, as shown by his ability to perform strong in both relief and starting roles during time with Lakewood and short season Williamsport, where he spent roughly five weeks from mid June into late July, in 2010. Combined at both levels, Rodriguez posted an overall win-loss record of 7-3 with a 1.89 ERA in 20 games (12 starts).

Lakewood’s 2010 manager Mark Parent, who will manage Double A Reading in 2011, said of Rodriguez late last season, “He’s done nothing but impress us. In any role…long relief, starting, I’m very impressed with him.”

Rodriguez was named the Phillies minor league pitcher of the month in August, when he recorded a 1-1 record with a 1.17 ERA in 6 games (2 starts). That month, he struck out 38 opponents in 23 innings while holding batters to a .160 batting average. Julio also celebrated his 20th birthday in August.

After helping Lakewood win a second consecutive South Atlantic League championship, Rodriguez pitched for his native Puerto Rico in the Pan-American qualifying tournament and continued his excellent year by posting a 3-1 record and a 2.00 ERA in 11 games for the Gigantes of the Puerto Rican Winter League.

From what I’ve heard, the Phillies prefer Rodriguez as a starting pitcher, which is why he was moved out of the bullpen to join Lakewood’s rotation as they pushed toward their postseason.

Due to his age and the quantity of other starting pitchers that are likely to be assigned to High-A Level Clearwater this coming season, Rodriguez could return to Lakewood in 2011, but is certainly considered a rising star within the Phillies organization.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league writer. You can read more from Jay by checking out his site, PhoulBallz.com.

  • 14 Comments
 

ProspectNation 2011: #18 Michael Schwimer- RHP

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, January 19, 2011 04:20 PM Comments: 4

Phillies right-handed pitching prospect Michael Schwimer had a tremendous season at two levels of the system in 2010 and is on the list of talented young relievers that the Phillies have at the higher levels of their farm system.

After making his pro debut with short season Williamsport and posting a 1.96 ERA in 22 relief outings in 2008, Schwimer skipped Class A Lakewood and began his 2009 season at High-A Clearwater, where he went 2-1 with 20 saves and a 2.85 ERA in 48 games. He earned a promotion to Reading of the Double A Eastern League by season’s end.

The Virginia native began the 2010 season back with Reading where he posted a 5-3 record with 11 saves and a 3.60 ERA in 32 games. As a member of the R-Phils, Schwimer recorded 58 strike outs and 14 walks in 40 innings. After a July promotion to Triple A Lehigh Valley, Schwimer continued posting remarkable numbers, going 2-2 with a 1.35 ERA while striking out 18 batters and walking 7 in 20 innings.

The 24-year-old Schwimer has a bit of a reputation as a whiff artist, racking up loads of strikeouts all throughout his minor league career. In three professional seasons, Schwimer has struck out 227 batters in 166 innings.

A 14th round draft selection in 2008 out of the University of Virginia, Schwimer throws a fastball that ranges in the low 90′s, a very deceiving change up and what is regarded as a plus slider.

Schwimer, who stands 6’8″, focused heavily on improving his consistency this past season after being told by the Phillies organization that it was where he’d need to progress if he wished to become a Major League pitcher. In 48 relief outings in 2010, he held opponents scoreless 36 times and allowed multiple runs in an appearance just three times. That sounds about as consistent as it gets for a minor league reliever.

With virtually nothing left to prove in the minors, it will be up to the 2010 Eastern League mid-season All-star, Schwimer, to capitalize on his shot in Major League camp this spring. He’ll turn 25 years old before the Phillies play their first Grapefruit League game this year.

Projection-wise, you can look for Schwimer to be a bullpen contributor at the Major League level. His physical size and downward throwing angle are to his advantage, even if his velocity is not overly impressive.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor.  You can read more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.

  • 4 Comments
 

ProspectNation 2011: #19 Aaron Altherr- OF

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, January 17, 2011 09:00 PM Comments: 8

After splitting his second season of professional baseball with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and the Williamsport Crosscutters, outfielder Aaron Altherr is already turning heads and moving up the Phillies prospect rankings at a fast pace. A 9th round selection in the 2009 draft, the 20-year-old Altherr is known to be a contact hitter.

The righty hitting Altherr debuted with the Gulf Coast League Phillies after signing his first professional contract in 2009 and batted .214 with 1 HR, 11 RBI and 6 steals in 28 games. In 1 less game played in the GCL this past season, Altherr showed improvement and posted a .304 batting average with 1 HR, 15 RBI and 10 steals. He was promoted to Williamsport on July 22nd.

With the short season Class A Crosscutters of the New York-Penn League, Altherr continued a strong season with a .287 average, 7 doubles, 3 triples, 10 RBI and 2 steals in 28 games. Altherr made such a strong impression that he was named one of the NYPL’s top 20 prospects by Baseball America. Additionally, Baseball America listed him among the top 10 prospects in the Gulf Coast League following his near even split for the season between the two leagues. Altherr began his year in extended spring training.

As a young hitter, Altherr struggled with pitch recognition and focused greatly, in 2010, on his need to hit opposing pitchers’ change ups. His improvements were clear in his statistics, as the season went on. In the GCL, Altherr struck out 22 times and reached via walk only 3 times. After his promotion, Altherr struck out just 13 times and increased his walks to 8.

At 6’5″, 180 pounds, Altherr is regarded as one of several raw, but extremely athletic, outfielders that the Phillies have collected in the annual amateur draft over the past few years. A key to Altherr’s game, much like the other unseasoned talent, is that he has athleticism that can not be taught.

Altherr, who was born in Germany, played shortstop and was a premiere pitcher at Agua Fria High School in Arizona, but was moved to the outfield once he began his career in the Phillies organization.

Expect to see the man with the projected high ceiling, Altherr, suit up for A Level Lakewood in the coming season, as he will attempt to help the BlueClaws chase a third straight South Atlantic League championship.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor.  You can read more from Jay by visiting his web site, PhoulBallz.com.

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