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Arizona Fall League Interviews: Roman Quinn

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Thu, October 16, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 0

RomanQuinn

Photo: Jay Floyd, Phillies Nation/Phoul Ballz

On Monday October 13, I had some time to kill after arriving in Scottsdale for business and wandered over to Scottsdale Stadium, just a block from my hotel, where the Arizona Fall League was taking place. As luck had it, the Scottsdale Scorpions were playing and I was able to get press credentials. I conducted a number of interviews with some of the Phillies’ players and coaches who were in attendance. Come back each day to see the latest interview!

The speedy Roman Quinn was the Phillies’ second round pick in 2011. The speedster stole 32 bases in 44 attempts in 2014, less than a year after rupturing his Achilles and is looking to continue to improve as he climbs the Phillies’ organizational ladder.

Ian Riccaboni, Phillies Nation: How is the Arizona Fall League treating you?

Roman Quinn: It’s been real good! I’ve been really looking forward to it. There’s good competition out here, especially pitching-wise. You get to face the highest level of pitching. It’s the highest level of pitching I’ve faced yet and I’m feeling pretty good.

IR: Any added expectations or pressure playing in the Arizona Fall League where you’re facing the top prospects?

RQ: There’s no added pressure to me. I’m just trying to get better to make up for lost time and get some at-bats.

IR: How is your Achilles doing? Your speed seemed to return (32 steals in 44 attempts in 2014) and you had good stolen base numbers. How’s that feeling for ya?

RQ: It’s feeling great, man! It’s back; it’s back to 100%! When I first started, when I first got back in May, it was kind of tight at first and my jumps were horrible. As the season progressed, it started loosening up a bit so I’m feeling pretty good.

IR: How comfortable are you in center field? You’ve been playing quite a bit of outfield and you’ve been playing outfield here in the AFL.

RQ: I’m very comfortable in the outfield right now. I feel like I’ve been getting good jumps and my arm really shows out there, too. Continue reading Arizona Fall League Interviews: Roman Quinn

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Re-Sign or Release: Kyle Kendrick

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Wed, October 15, 2014 01:30 PM Comments: 20

Photo: Philly.com

The Phillies currently have 12 players on their 40-man roster “in flux”. There are four outright free agents, six arbitration eligible players, and a pair of players with options. We will review each of the 12 players starting today, reviewing the case to either re-sign the player, the case to release the player, and the final verdict of what the Phillies should do for the 2015 season.

The champagne sprayed from the Phillies’ World Series win in 2008 dried just under six years ago. The 2014 Phillies, somewhat surprisingly, share a number of players from that club, including seven-year pitching veteran Kyle Kendrick. The Mount Vernon, WA-native won 10 games as a 22-year old during the Phillies’ improbable run to the playoffs in 2007 and won 11 for the 2008 World Champs but only appeared in just one game, a 10-5 shellacking at the hands of the Colorado Rockies in Game 2 of the 2007 NLDS.

Kendrick is often the forgotten or overlooked member of a core of the six Phillies that remain from the 2008 championship club and has been solid for the Phillies in a number of roles than spanned from accidental number two starter to Quad-A long man to pretty good swing man to middle-of-the-road starter. In his time with the Phillies, Kendrick’s 74 wins are, somewhat deceptively, more than R.A. Dickey, Matt Garza, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and Scott Kazmir over the same period and his 1138.2 IP, despite missing a chunk of 2009 due to being demoted, are more than Annibal Sanchez, Hughes, and Homer Bailey.

Continue reading Re-Sign or Release: Kyle Kendrick

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Arizona Fall League Interviews: Logan Moore

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Wed, October 15, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 0

On Monday October 13, I had some time to kill after arriving in Scottsdale for business and wandered over to Scottsdale Stadium, just a block from my hotel, where the Arizona Fall League was taking place. As luck had it, the Scottsdale Scorpions were playing and I was able to get press credentials. I conducted a number of interviews with some of the Phillies’ players and coaches who were in attendance. Come back each day to see the latest interview!

Logan Moore is a 24-year old catcher who spent time in Clearwater before being promoted to Reading. A ninth-round selection out of Northeastern Junior College in Colorado,  Moore is known for his defensive work behind the plate but has been steadily improving with his bat, reaching career highs in homers, RBI, and SLG% in 2014.

Ian Riccaboni, Phillies Nation: What’s it like being selected to play in the Arizona Fall League with some of the top prospects in baseball?

Logan Moore: It’s a dream come true to be getting to the next level, the next step career-wise. It’s pretty awesome being with everyone here. Everyone’s really good competition and it’s been a lot of fun so far and I’m real happy to be here.

IR, PN: Hitting-wise, you took a big step forward in 2014 (four homers in Reading after being promoted, career-high .358 slugging). What do you attribute that to? Does it change from level to level?

LM: I think, as you keep playing in the system, you learn things, what you need to do. You come to the field, compete, and work. Basically, knowing and having a routine is a big thing for me. I mean, you can always be better. I just stick to a plan and work through it, try to get better.

IR, PN: The Phillies have drafted a few catchers in recent years with high draft picks including yourself. Is there any pressure knowing that there are other talented players, like yourself, Cameron Rupp being someone in the Triple-A level down through Andrew Knapp and Gabriel Lino?

 

Continue reading Arizona Fall League Interviews: Logan Moore

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Re-Sign or Release: Wil Nieves

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, October 14, 2014 12:00 PM Comments: 18

Photo: USA Today

The Phillies currently have 12 players on their 40-man roster “in flux”. There are four outright free agents, six arbitration eligible players, and a pair of players with options. We will review each of the 12 players starting today, reviewing the case to either re-sign the player, the case to release the player, and the final verdict of what the Phillies should do for the 2015 season.

On December 5, 2013, the Phillies signed then-36-year old career back-up catcher Wil Nieves to a $1.125 million deal, two days after trading Erik Kratz to Toronto with Rob Rasmussen for reliever Brad Lincoln. Kratz has played well in a very small sample after Kansas City acquired him in July. Nieves didn’t do so bad, either. In 36 games, Nieves hit .254/.270/.344 with a homer but missed a substantial chunk of the season with a quad injury.

The Case For

Nieves, now 37, posted positive value (0.2 fWAR) for the Phillies in 2014, based mostly on their interpretation of his defensive skills. While other outlets, like Stat Corner, view Nieves’ defense, specifically, pitch framing ability as more neutral in 2014 in a small sample, Nieves carries with him a reputation as a strong defensive catcher.

Additionally, Nieves will likely again be able to be had for $1 million or so which isn’t an exorbitant price price for a back-up catcher, particularly one that is familiar with the pitching staff.

The Case Against

First, the obvious: Nieves is 37 and is coming off a series of quad injuries that slowed him down throughout 2014. Second, the other elephant in the room: Nieves isn’t much of a hitter and the Phillies have a slightly better hitter in Cameron Rupp, now 26, in sort of a Quad-A role with a decision needed whether or not he is their back-up catcher of the future after an injury-filled season in Triple-A. Finally, there are a number of intriguing buy-low options that are available: Geovany Soto, Ryan Doumit, John Buck, and J.P. Arencibia.

The Verdict

This one is actually kind of tough. Depending on how the back-up catcher market shakes down, you could do worse than Nieves as your back-up backstop for a cool million. Rupp struggled pretty mightily in 2014 but was playing through injuries. I would view Nieves as a late offseason insurance policy if he is still available in February.

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Arizona Fall League Interviews: Ryan O’Sullivan

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, October 14, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 0

Ryan O'SullivanOn Monday October 13, I had some time to kill after arriving in Scottsdale for business and wandered over to Scottsdale Stadium, just a block from my hotel, where the Arizona Fall League was taking place. As luck had it, the Scottsdale Scorpions were playing and I was able to get press credentials. I conducted a number of interviews with some of the Phillies’ players and coaches who were in attendance. Come back each day to see the latest interview!

Ryan O’Sullivan is a 24 year old pitcher who the Phillies received from the Dodgers in exchange for Joe Blanton in 2012. O’Sullivan was the Dodgers’ fourth-round pick in 2011 and spent all of last season with the Reading Fightins where he went 7-8 with a 3.91 ERA with improved BB/9 IP and K/BB ratios.

Ian Riccaboni, Phillies Nation: What’s it like playing in the Arizona Fall League with some of the top prospects in baseball?

Ryan O’Sullivan: It’s fun. It’s funny, you know, I was talking to some of the guys, when you’re going through the season as a starter, you worry about the one through four or one through five hitters and you see the seven, eight, nine guys and you think “Ok, I might be able to cruise through this part of the line-up” but here, (seven, eight, nine) is a one, two, three, four hitter somewhere else so you really have to concentrate on every pitch. It’s been a lot of fun so far.

IR: Now, for baseball fans and folks who write about baseball, the opposing hitters’ names are really familiar. As a pitcher, do you have any concept of the other hitters as top prospects?

ROS: I mean, you kind of know who people are. The players that are here, you’ve played against at some point, some of them you’ve played with on different teams and things like that. Everybody’s here because their organization likes what what they are doing and everybody here is a prospect in a way so you know who they are. Some people you don’t know but those are the guys you know as this league goes along. I think everybody here has the ability to play in the Big Leagues and that’s what this league is for.

IR: Ray Burris is here of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (pitching coach). How nice is that to be able to work with someone in the organization while you’re getting work in in the fall?

ROS: Oh, it’s great. He’s a great guy; he’s awesome. He knows a lot about pitching but it’s not all about pitching with him. He pitched for I don’t know how many years; he pitched for a long time! Not only that but he’s a good guy off the field, too. He’ll take time to talk with you, very approachable and it’s huge that he’s with the Phillies so that while we’re out here we can showcase to him, especially because he’s the Triple-A guy and he’s been in the Big Leagues we can showcase our talent a bit. Hopefully, we can get to know him so that when the team needs to make a decision, he’s knows who we are.

IR: Logan Moore is here, your catcher. Do you have any special connection with Logan because he’s in the system or is the same as maybe working with a catcher from another system where you have to walk through your repertoire and your out pitch?

ROS: No, him and I definitely have a very close relationship. We were together this past season and the season before so there’s definitely a connection there. The other catchers here definitely have to learn what kind of stuff you have and what your tendencies on the mound are and stuff like that but when he’s catching me, it’s kind of like we’re back in season so we just get in the groove and go with it. He knows what I pitch and what I like to throw so it clicks a little faster.

The other catchers here are great, too. It doesn’t take long for a catcher to get to know his pitchers and we’re lucky to have the catchers we have.

IR: What’s the one thing you’re really focused on working on here in Arizona?

ROS: Here? Pound the strike zone. I’m a sinker ball pitcher and it’s not going deep into counts, just trying to get balls put in play early, throwing a lot of strikes, pounding the strike zone, being aggressive. I mean, stats count here a little bit but it’s not all based on that. It’s based on trying to get better with what you’re doing, get better at your craft, and get seen by some people.

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Quinn’s Speed Propels Scottsdale to AFL Win

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, October 14, 2014 12:53 AM Comments: 0

Center Fielder Roman Quinn

In front of a crowd with as many scouts as fans, speedster Roman Quinn led off, played center field, and went 1 for 4 with a stolen base en route to a 2-1 win for the Scottsdale Scorpions at Scottsdale Stadium.

Before the game, I talked to Quinn, who stated that his Achilles is “100%” and that he was looking forward to facing the best competition he has ever faced. Quinn had two at-bats from each side of the plate, helping him address his main goal of the AFL: becoming a switch hitter.

Quinn’s lone hit came in his second at-bat from the right side, a dribbler about five feet up the third base line, the first hit for the Scorpions. Quinn would get an amazing break on two straight pitches, one a foul ball, the second a walk for the Scorpions. Quinn would misread a flyball to center from second base but was able to tag anyways and easily beat out a throw from center. Quinn scored easily on passed ball to put Scottsdale up 1-0.

Quinn looked solid in the field, taking a great route to a sixth inning ball hit to the left center field gap, cutting what should have been a sure triple and keeping it to a double. Quinn took a solid route to a fly ball and fielded another can of corn. Quinn’s speed was on full display in the bottom of the seventh with Quinn stealing second easily with a good jump and a bad throw.

Quinn wasn’t the only Phillie to get in on the action. Colton Murray, a 2011 13th rounder out of the University of Kansas, got out of a jam created by Tyler Mizenko in the bottom of the eighth inning, retiring the only hitter he faced, earning a hold and preserving the Scorpions 2-1 lead.

Phillies pitcher Adam Morgan is scheduled to pitch Wednesday night for Scottsdale. Please check back tomorrow for the first of our five exclusive Arizona Fall League interviews.

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2014 Player Reviews: A.J. Burnett

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, October 13, 2014 06:10 PM Comments: 2

Photo: Philly.com

Before the hot news of Cole Hamels‘ injury could cool down, the Phillies had seemingly made a move to bolster their rotation. On February 16, 2014, the Phils signed then-36-year old A.J. Burnett to a one-year deal with a mutual option for year two. Burnett was coming off his two best seasons in the Majors, finding the fountain of youth leading to what felt like a career renaissance. In 2013, Burnett had matched his career-low 3.30 ERA and averaged 197 IP for the Pirates while leading the NL in K/9 IP.

At the time of his signing, Burnett felt like an upgrade, even with Hamels out for an unknown period of time. And for a while, Burnett pitched like one. Burnett carried a 2.06 ERA through May 3 in seven starts pitching through a sports hernia that was discovered in mid-April. But a series of bad outings in which he allowed three or more earned runs in his next six starts for a 7.25 ERA sent Burnett’s season in a tailspin that he never recovered from.

There was good with the bad, however. Burnett lead the Majors in starts with 34 and was seventh in the National League in innings pitched. Burnett’s strikeout capabilities (8.0 K/9 IP) hovered around his career average (8.2 K/9 IP). In a lot of ways, the Phillies certainly got what they paid for: a durable, strikeout machine.

But they also got an aging pitcher working through a serious injury. Burnett led the Majors in losses with 18 with a 4.59 ERA. Burnett’s WHIP saw a steep jump  as his BB/9 IP increased by almost a walk per nine and his H/9 IP had a similar increase. Burnett lead the Majors with 109 earned runs and gave up 20 homers for the first time since 2011. Burnett was a bit better than his ERA indicated if you look at his FIP (4.14) or xFIP (3.95) but still had an off  year  by any standards. Burnett provided enough value, however, to be worth one win per FanGraphs.

Grade: C- This one isn’t as bad as it looks on the surface. Burnett pitched courageously through injury. Not only did he not miss a start but he led  baseball in starts. For his strikeouts and durability, Burnett was just slightly below average in 2014.

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Re-Sign or Release: Grady Sizemore

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, October 13, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 14

Photo: Philly.com

The Phillies currently have 12 players on their 40-man roster “in flux”. There are four outright free agents, six arbitration eligible players, and a pair of players with options. We will review each of the 12 players starting today, reviewing the case to either re-sign the player, the case to release the player, and the final verdict of what the Phillies should do for the 2015 season.

The Boston Red Sox took a gamble by signing former three-time All-Star center fielder Grady Sizemore for $750,000. Sizemore, then 31 and out of Major League Baseball since 2011, made the Red Sox as their starting center fielder and excited Boston fans by hitting a homer in his first game with the team. After a fast start (.343/.395/.571 in his first ten games), Sizemore slowed down significantly, hitting .187/.263/.267 with no homers from April 15 through his release following the June 15 game.

Sizemore would sign with the Phillies on June 24 and, once again, got off to a fast start. From his debut with the Phillies on July 11 through August 8, Sizemore hit .329/.367/.447 with a homer and seven doubles. Just like his stint with the Sox, however, Sizemore would hit just .169/.256/.325 from August 9 through September 28.

The Case For

A look through Sizemore’s Baseball Reference comparable players looks like a Who’s Who of Hall of Fame and All Star outfielders. Through ages 22 and 23, the most comparable player to Sizemore was Duke Snyder. Through ages 25 and 26? Barry Bonds. His overall similarity scores, based largely on his three All-Star seasons, say the most comparable players to Sizemore are Alex Gordon and Justin Upton. Sizmore still has the talent to be at least an average baseball player, with flashes of unsustained above-averageness.

The Case Against

Sizemore, after two hot starts with two teams, slowed down pretty quickly. Sizemore always struck out quite a bit but he has now seemingly lost his ability to draw walks, drawing a walk less than 10% of the time for the first time in a full season since he exhausted his rookie eligibility in 2005. Additionally, Sizemore’s defense has deteriorated significantly. At a worth of -10.7 runs per FanGraphs, Sizemore ranked 229th out of 254 outfielders in defense in a part-time role. Via a measure that is accumulated, and gets better or worse based largely on playing time, Sizemore’s defensive shortcomings were pretty impressive in a bad way.

The Verdict

Sizemore will likely get a deal somewhere around $3-4 million a year to be a fourth outfielder or a starter on a second-tier team. That team should not be the Phillies. Sizemore’s entire 2014 sample paints a picture of a replacement-level player who, at times, showed flashes of being able to hit extra base hits. That description also fits a player like John Mayberry Jr. With Sizemore’s inconsistencies and his potential price tag, this one is an easy pass.

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Re-Sign or Release: Tony Gwynn Jr.

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sun, October 12, 2014 02:37 PM Comments: 16

Photo: Philly.com

The Phillies currently have 12 players on their 40-man roster “in flux”. There are four outright free agents, six arbitration eligible players, and a pair of players with options. We will review each of the 12 players starting today, reviewing the case to either re-sign the player, the case to release the player, and the final verdict of what the Phillies should do for the 2015 season.

On December 18, 2013, Tony Gwynn Jr. signed a minor league deal after not playing Major League Baseball in 2013 with the Phillies to compete for the team’s fifth outfield spot. Gwynn made the Phillies out of Spring Training and was hitting .304/.407/.348 through April 19, prompting some fans to call for Gwynn to spend the rest of the season as the team’s starting center fielder throughout the rest of the 2014 season.

Gwynn’s performance quickly deteriorated and on June 16, Gwynn lost his father, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. Gwynn refused a minor league assignment on July 28 and elected to become a free agent before re-signing with the Phillies on August 3. Gwynn was a September call-up for the Phillies and finished the season with a .152/.264/.190 line. Gwynn elected free agency once again after refusing an assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

The Case For

Let’s be honest: the case to bring Gwynn back revolves solely around the fact that the Phillies have very little depth in the outfield and few ready-to-play options in the minor leagues. Gwynn has five seasons with ten stolen bases or more and, as recently as 2011, Gwynn has provided positive value in part-time roles due in large part to his defense and base running.

The Case Against

Gwynn is a career .238/.309/.310 hitter and is coming off, by far, his worst MLB season at age 31. While the Phillies aren’t stacked in the outfield, the club does have Aaron Altherr, who could likely put up the same, if not better, defensive numbers for a third of the price. Additionally, Gwynn is likely to command between $900 K and $1.1 million by most projections despite being worth negative $5.7 million last season. For $1 million, many other bounce-back candidates or reclamation projects could be had.

The Verdict

This one is probably among the most cut and dry of these posts. Gwynn is an easy player to let walk. Altherr is ready right now to be a fifth outfielder and there are a number of higher-potential players each year available in Gwynn’s price range.

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Off-season Leagues Underway in Arizona and Venezuela

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, October 12, 2014 09:00 AM Comments: 0

The big league postseason is still in full swing, but many Phillies prospects have begun to get extra playing time in off-season leagues. As the weeks roll on, more players will debut as more leagues get going.

Throughout the fall and winter months we’ll be providing updates and reviews of how those players and others are performing around the globe. Read ahead for all the latest from the Arizona Fall League, the Venezuelan Winter League and beyond.

Playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the AFL…

RomanQuinn

Roman Quinn, image- Jay Floyd

OF Roman Quinn is 2-for-15 (.133 avg) with three runs, three walks and three stolen bases in four games.  The switch-hitting Quinn was the Phils’ second round draft selection in 2011.  The 21-year-old bounced back from surgery to repair a ruptures Achilles tendon this year, posting a .257/.343/.370 line in 88 games for Class A Advanced Clearwater.

Catcher Logan Moore is 1-for-6 (.167 avg) in two games thus far.  The 24-year-old was a ninth round draft choice by the Phillies in 2011.

Lefty hurler Adam Morgan returned to official action after missing the entire 2014 regular season following shoulder surgery.  In one appearance, Morgan threw a scoreless frame, striking out one while allowing no hits or walks.  The 24-year-old was the Phillies’ third round draft pick in 2011.

Right-hander Colton Murray has pitched four innings, allowing two earned runs while striking out four and walking one.  Murray, a University of Kansas product, was selected by the Phils in the 13th round of the 2011 draft.  The 24-year-old posted a 2.23 ERA and a 9.04 K/9 mark in 47 combined games between Clearwater and Double A Reading this season. Continue reading Off-season Leagues Underway in Arizona and Venezuela

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