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Prospect Nation 2015: #24 OF Carlos Tocci

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, January 13, 2015 09:00 AM Comments: 10

Carlos Tocci

Carlos Tocci, image- Jay Floyd

Since he was signed by the Phillies for a reported signing bonus of $759,000 in the summer of 2011 on his 16th birthday, Carlos Tocci has been followed by a tremendous reputation that he’s yet to live up to between the lines on a pro field.

Despite being retained stateside at the Phillies’ spring training home in Clearwater in recent winters to work out under the supervision of the Phillies’ training staff, the Venezuelan born Tocci has failed to bulk up his gaunt six-foot-two 160-pound frame. The right-handed batter has displayed minimal power in his three professional seasons, slugging just two home runs and tallying a .291 slugging percentage in 281 contests at two levels.

After participating in the Phillies’ fall instructional league following his signing, Tocci debuted in the minors with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2012, batting .278 with two doubles, nine RBI and nine steals in 38 games. The following year, as a 17-year-old, he played the entire season with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. Struggling against more experienced pitching, Tocci posted a .209/.261/.249 slash line in 118 games.

In a repeat campaign with Lakewood last season, Tocci, who grew up admiring MLB slugger and fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera, continued to adapt to the more mature hurlers, seeing some improvement at the plate with a .242/.297/.324 slash line in 125 games. Continue reading Prospect Nation 2015: #24 OF Carlos Tocci

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Prospect Nation 2015: #25 C Andrew Knapp/OF Aaron Brown

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, January 12, 2015 12:00 PM Comments: 2

This year’s list of top 25 Phillies prospects includes 26 names.  I’ll place the blame for that one on the Phillies for making the process of narrowing things down quite difficult with all of their youthful off-season acquisitions.  To make things a tad easier on me in locking this list down, I’ve declared a tie for the number 25 slot.

Andrew Knapp 2

Andrew Knapp, image- Jay Floyd

Catcher Andrew Knapp made a quick recovery from off-season Tommy John surgery last year and was back in action in the minors by early May.  The six-foot-one 190-pound righty batter joined the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers during the fifth week of the season.  Entering the lineup as a designated hitter allowed Knapp to see game action sooner.  It was mid-June by the time he would play defense, as his elbow needed additional recovery time before he could throw at 100-percent.

Upon joining the Threshers, Knapp struggled.  He posted a .157 average with a home run and seven RBI in 23 games.  After a 5-for-48 (.104 avg) stretch that wrapped up on June 1st, Knapp was demoted to Class A Lakewood, where he would rebound offensively.  In 75 games with the BlueClaws, the California native tallied a .290 batting average along with five homers and 25 RBI.

Knapp asserted to me in a mid-season interview that his comfort level fully returned once he was able to get back behind the dish.  That was evidenced by his numbers, as he batted .320 beginning with the day he started playing both halves of each frame, June 12th.

A switch-hitter, Knapp fared better from the left side with Lakewood, sporting a  .309/.371/.487 slash line in 191 at bats.  From the right side he produced a .250/.317/.337 line in 92 at bats. Continue reading Prospect Nation 2015: #25 C Andrew Knapp/OF Aaron Brown

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Prospect Nation 2015: The Prelude

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, January 11, 2015 01:05 PM Comments: 4

ProspectNationThe dawn of a near year brings along with it the annual Phillies Nation “Prospect Nation” countdown, running down the organization’s top 25 up and coming players.  In the coming weeks, as a brand new season approaches, I’ll be bringing you player reviews for each of the top developmental talents that appear to have the brightest futures for the Phillies.

Always taken into consideration when compiling the list is age, minor league performance relative to levels played, value to the organization as well as future potential and proximity to the big leagues.

These rankings do not include players over 25 years old or individuals that have spent lengthy stretches in the big leagues.  As such, infielder Carlos Alonso, who played his age 26 season at Double-A last year, will not make the list, despite deserving some consideration.  The same applies to 28-year-old relief pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who debuted with the Phillies late last season.  Additionally, a guy such as infielder Cesar Hernandez that has played considerable chunks of two seasons in the major leagues won’t be regarded as a prospect any longer.

A youngster that I felt was very close to this list and certainly would have placed among the top 25 if not for the solid group of off-season prospect additions that the Phillies acquired is second baseman Andrew Pullin.  The 21-year-old converted outfielder showed loads of development as a middle infielder and was one of Class A Lakewood’s most consistent offensive contributors last year, tallying a .270 average with nine home runs and 61 RBI in 129 contests.  Pullin, a 5th round draft selection in 2012, is a player that coaches are thrilled by, as they cite his adaptability and improved approach at the plate, making more contact and having a better plan as the season progressed.  The six-foot 190-pounder has loads of potential to develop into a talented contributor at his position. Continue reading Prospect Nation 2015: The Prelude

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PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 74: HoF Voting, Revamped Phils Farm & Carlos Alonso Interview

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, January 09, 2015 01:15 PM Comments: 2

On the 74th edition of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast, Tug and Jay discuss the recent Hall of Fame voting including thoughts on Pedro Martinez and Barry Bonds.  The guys also pour through the revamped Phillies prospect core thanks to last year’s amateur draft, trades and December’s Rule 5 draft, reviewing Jesmuel Valentin, Zach Eflin, Odubel Herrera as well as plenty more.  Also minor league infielder Carlos Alonso joins the guys for the fun segment Nine Silly-Ass Questions.

Use the media player below to stream the full episode, or simply download it by clicking HERE.

You can also check out previous episodes and subscribe on iTunes.

Thanks also for making the previous episode of the show featuring live call-in guest Matt Imhof the most downloaded edition ever!

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Off-season check in: 3B prospect Zach Green

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, December 31, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 0

Zach Green

Zach Green, image- Jay Floyd

Zach Green entered the 2014 season as one of the Phillies’ fastest rising prospects.  The swift ascension was halted though, as the 20-year-old third baseman had a difficult go of things early last year and was sidelined with a hip injury, playing hurt for much of the season.

After being drafted in the 3rd round in 2012, the six-foot-three 210-pounder notched a .284 average with three homers and 21 RBI in 47 games for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies.  He followed up that season with an All-Star campaign in the Class A short-season New York-Penn League, posting a .252 average with a league-leading 13 home runs and 41 RBI in 74 games for Williamsport.

This year the righty batting Green missed roughly seven weeks with the ailment that limited his range for the entire season.  When the hip issue became too painful to play with in April, the California native was sporting a .219/.293/.260 slash line.  After he returned to action in June, Green tallied a .282/.322/.443 line, proving how productive he could be for the Class A BlueClaws.  While trying to recover, the youngster crossed the diamond to man first base in order to continue competing and remain on the field.

Recently, I spoke with Zach, who is now pain-free and working to improve this off-season. Read ahead for details on his routine, who he’s working out with, his feelings on last year’s health concerns and more.

-What is your off-season routine like right now?  What are you doing to begin knocking the rust off after some down time?

It’s just like agility stuff and whatever weights I have scheduled.  I work with a couple other pro ball guys that are from the Sacramento area.  I’m starting to get back into throwing now a little bit and swinging a little bit.

-Who are the guys that you’ve been working out with?

Max Stassi, who is with the Astros, Ryan Mattheus, who’s with the Nationals.  He’s a pitcher.  Danny Hayes, he’s with the White Sox, and then Brock Stassi too.  He’s with us.  We go to this place, we got a guy who does some training, it’s all for (physical therapy), so if anybody gets banged up in the process, he’s there to help us. Continue reading Off-season check in: 3B prospect Zach Green

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Frosty Phillies Favorites: 2014 Player Christmas Survey

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, December 24, 2014 08:30 AM Comments: 10

Imhof Claus

Matt Imhof as Santa, photo editing- Eric Floyd

Everybody loves the holidays and baseball players are certainly no different.  Each year at Christmas time, I survey a group of Phillies prospects about what they get excited for during the holiday season.

Players that took part in this year’s questionnaire include 2014 second round draft selection lefty hurler Matt Imhof, this year’s 7th overall pick right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola, top pick from 2012 righty pitcher Shane Watson, second baseman Andrew Pullin, righty pitcher Tyler Viza as well as third baseman Zach Green.

Questions and answers detailing each player’s holly jolly holiday favorites are ahead…

What is your favorite holiday movie or TV show?

Imhof- I’ve always been a big fan of Charlie Brown Christmas.  That’s a huge one for me.  I watch it every year.  I’ve watched it ever since I was little.  It’s a tradition in the Imhof household.  We all get together and watch it.

Nola- Favorite holiday movie…I saw Home Alone on the other night and that’s a holiday classic for me.

Watson- I have two top Christmas movies.  First would be A Christmas Story and number two would be The Polar Express.

Pullin-  Favorite movie is A Christmas Story because I always watched it when I was younger.

Viza- My favorite Christmas movie is “Its a Wonderful Life” simply for the meaning behind it. The main character wished he wasn’t born and then realized how many lives that he had touched throughout his lifetime. Very sentimental movie to always remember not to take life for granted.

Green- Christmas Vacation.  That’s number one. Continue reading Frosty Phillies Favorites: 2014 Player Christmas Survey

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Off-season league notes: Astudillo, Herrera staying hot

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, December 22, 2014 07:30 AM Comments: 4

Baseball goes year-round.  All over the globe, Phillies players are in action and we’ve got the rundown on how they are performing.  Read ahead for all the details.

Venezuelan Winter League-

Willians Astudillo, image- Jay Floyd

Willians Astudillo, a corner infielder and backstop who has been playing a lot of outfield of late, is batting .314 with a homer and four RBI in nine games for Anzoategui. The 23-year-old was the catalyst for the Class A Lakewood team this year, where he finished second in the South Atlantic League with a .333 average.

Odubel Herrera, who was selected by the Phillies in this month’s Rule 5 draft, leads the Venezuelan Winter League in average with a .373 mark.  He has also mashed five homers, driven in 25 runs and stolen seven bases in 52 games for La Guaira.  The 22-year-old played second base primarily in the regular season at Double-A Frisco, but has been playing center field in the VWL.

Infielder/outfielder Cesar Hernandez is batting .307 with seven doubles, 15 RBI and six stolen bases in 34 games with Lara. In 66 games with the big league Phillies this year, the 24-year-old switch-hitter batted .237 with a homer, four RBI and a steal.

Catcher Gabriel Lino is batting .227 with six doubles and seven RBI for Lara. The 21-year-old righty batter, who was acquired from Baltimore in the 2012 Jim Thome trade, played in 90 combined games with Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater this year, posting a combined .215 average with five home runs and 34 RBI. Continue reading Off-season league notes: Astudillo, Herrera staying hot

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Off-season check in: 2B Andrew Pullin

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sat, December 20, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 0

Andrew Pullin

Andrew Pullin, image- Jay Floyd

Andrew Pullin put himself on the radar last season with a solid year at Class A Lakewood.  The 21-year-old posted a .270 average with nine home runs and 61 RBI in 129 games for the BlueClaws.

A converted outfielder, the Phils’ 5th round draft choice from 2012 focused on learning the ways of the infield, in the past couple seasons, and he has become a steady second baseman, impressing the organization’s coaches and scouts alike.

I caught up with the six-foot 185-pounder this week.  The Washington state native provided details on his fall/winter workout routine, how he’s keeping busy this off-season and more.

-What is your current workout routine like and is it mandated by the Phillies?

Yeah.  I mostly do the Phillies routine but I also like to swim for a workout and I do speed training drills.

-Is there a goal you have in mind with what you are working on?  Anything you’re looking to do like add muscle or stamina this off-season?

I am working on increasing my range of motion, strength and speed. Continue reading Off-season check in: 2B Andrew Pullin

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Off-season check in: RHP Tyler Viza

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, December 16, 2014 07:30 AM Comments: 0

Tyler Viza 1

Tyler Viza, image- Jay Floyd

Righty hurler Tyler Viza had a noteworthy season in his first full year in the pro ranks in 2014.  After being the Phillies’ 32nd round draft choice in 2013 and posting a 1-0 record with a 1.41 ERA in 12 games with the rookie level Gulf Coast League team, the Arizona native dealt with considerable struggles this year.  Notching Class A Lakewood’s all-time record for losses, with his 3-17 record, the six-foot-three 170-pounder held tough, sticking in the BlueClaws’ rotation for the full campaign, sporting a 5.29 ERA with 80 strike outs and 24 walks issued in 126 innings pitched over 24 starts.

Not discouraged by the infamous achievement, the 20-year-old is looking forward to a fresh start in the upcoming season and has been focused to stay in shape and improve during the fall and winter months.

This week, I spoke with Viza about how he’s maintaining his conditioning, how he feels about last season in retrospect and more.  Read ahead for the full interview.

-Off the top, I’m just wondering what your current workout routine is.  Any gym training, cardio, that sort thing you’re doing to keep in shape?

As of right now my off season routine consists of throwing on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Each of those are followed by an upper body workout. On the rest of the days, those are my leg and core workout days.

-Is the fitness routine provided by the Phillies, or something you put together yourself?

My workouts consist of lifts that the Phillies provide for us and a little bit of lifts that I did throughout the season that I benefited from.

-What is the most different about this off-season compared to ones in the past?

This off-season is different from last because I am trying to get my body and mind to a place where I can come into spring training ready to go. I feel as though I am in the best shape of my life so far and I am very antsy to get back on the mound this (upcoming) season. Continue reading Off-season check in: RHP Tyler Viza

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Baseball America Releases Phils Top 10 List

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, December 15, 2014 12:15 PM Comments: 6

Baseball America is in the process of releasing their annual list of Top 10 prospects for each team and released the Phillies this morning. The list is significant for its inclusion of new names; just four Phillies prospects remained on the 2015 list from 2014 and the exclusions were not due to graduation to the Majors.

In a move that should surprise few, the number one prospect in the Phillies’ system according to Baseball America is shortstop J.P. Crawford. 2014 first-round pick Aaron Nola joins the list at number two, followed by last year’s number one Maikel Franco at number three. Center fielder/shortstop Roman Quinn jumped from five to four after recovering from an Achilles injury and last year’s number six, outfielder Carlos Tocci, moved to number five.

Six through ten are all new names to the ranks of the Phillies’ top prospects. Sixth is 22-year old outfielder Aaron Brown, the Phillies third round pick out of Pepperdine in 2014 who hit .268 with four homers and eight steals in 61 games across Williamsport and Lakewood. Seventh is 6’5″ left-handed pitcher Matt Imhof, the Phillies’ 2014 second round pick out of Cal Poly who posted a 2.98 ERA in 11 starts across the GCL Phillies, Williamsport, and Lakewood.

Number eight is a product of one of Ruben Amaro‘s shrewdest trades, Jesmuel Valentin, son of Jose Valentin. Valentin, a 20-year old middle infielder, was the 51st overall pick in the 2012 draft and had an excellent year at Single-A Great Lakes in the Dodgers organization (.280/.349/.430 with seven homers and 24 steals) before being dealt to Philadelphia. Left-handed pitcher Yoel Mecias, 21, was Baseball America’s pick for ninth while BA selected 19-year old 6’6″ righty Franklyn Kilome as the Phils’ tenth-best prospect after Kilome impressed with the GCL Phillies in 2014.

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