1/25/22 : Under the Radar - Part Two ( Final )
I fully realize that I’m not qualified to evaluate or project any player as a big leaguer and hopefully am not portraying myself as such. My sole purpose in writing these articles is to highlight young men in the system not the probability of them getting to the top. There are plenty of other “prognosticators” who feel they are qualified to do those forecasts. Whether the players I write about get to the majors or not will be determined by how they play and the evaluators employed by the team. I’m not one of those folks so fully recognize that my opinions don’t matter in that regard.
In general I try not to overhype ( at least in my mind 🤓 ) anyone but thought that with no baseball chatter at all right now at the highest level it would be a good thing to talk about some minor leaguers. That’s my only intention.
So here goes … read at your own peril 🥴
Final part of a two part series - if ya missed part one here’s a link - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/1-24-22-under-the-radar
RHP Victor Lopez - 22 years old - signed as an international free agent - 3/30/19 - Tenares, Dominican Republic. He put up solid numbers at three levels in 2021 ( FCL, Clearwater & Jersey Shore ) posting an overall 2.60 ERA in 17 games ( 27 2/3 IP - 27 K’s, 9 walks ). He has a five pitch mix with the fastball sitting low nineties, generally relies heavily on a cutter and curve as primary offerings with movement on each being out makers. Was a starter in 2019 DSL and pitched multiple innings as a reliever in 2021. Victor is a strike thrower who shows no fear in any situation we’ve seen him pitch, the kind of moxie needed to continue to climb the ladder. He will pitch most of the season as a 22 year old, has the repertoire to be a starter but also could continue as a very effective multi inning reliever - something that’s become very important at the highest level of play. He could break spring camp in a starter’s role with Jersey Shore or perhaps Reading as a reliever.
RHP Aidan Anderson - 24 years old - signed 6/18/19 as an un-drafted free agent - McNeese State. He had a solid 2021 season for Clearwater and Jersey Shore - appeared in 31 games ( 53 IP ) as a multi inning reliever. Aidan primarily used a two pitch mix ( FB/Slider ), generally sits low nineties with the heater. We first met him when he pitched on the backfields for the 2019 GCL Phillies West squad. Also met his mom and dad in the stands watching, the good old days when Covid wasn’t a concern. He has a twin brother, Grant, who pitches In the Seattle Mariners organization, he was with AA level Frisco in 2021. We see him as likely a part of the Reading bullpen crew coming out of camp in the same role he pitched during the ‘21 season. Takes the ball willingly and goes right after hitters, induces a good amount of soft contact.
RHP Ben Brown - 22 years old - 2017 33rd round draft selection - Ward Melville HS, East Setauket, NY. Ben had TJ surgery in May of 2019 - was part of the opening day Jersey Shore roster to begin 2021 and pitched in four games before being placed on the development list in May and returning to the complex for further rehab. We saw him pitch in 3 games to end the season with the FCL Phillies and he was popping the glove at 96 mph. Ben throws a heavy sinker that gets on hitters quickly - uses his 6’6” frame for great extension. We have seen him dominate games as evidenced by his 16 strikeout performance on 7/24/18 in just 6 innings during a GCL game. Now appears to be fully healthy, we expect a big year as he has the skill set to get to the top. A return to Jersey Shore seems likely to begin the ‘22 season but we envision a move up to Reading during the year at the least. Everyone likes Ben, he’s got one of the most engaging personalities in the system and truly cares about others, qualities that will continue to serve him well.
INF Freylin Minyety - 22 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent - 7/20/21 Wabash Valley JC, Wabash Valley JC, Il. The few times we’ve seen Freylin play he seemingly always gets multiple hits or at the least sharply puts the ball in play. We had a conversation with the scout that signed him during Fall Instructs and he stated the same. He hit .286 with a .423 OBP at Clearwater in 28 games ( 84 AB’s ) with 3 homers and 13 RBIs. In Instructs he continued to barrel the baseball consistently over the four weeks of camp. We know he can hit, defensively will need to find a spot, has worked at both second and third base. We must mention that leadership skills are also evident, saw him take charge of on field conversations multiple times during Fall Instructs. We think it’s likely he starts the season as a regular with Jersey Shore.
C Nick Matera - 25 years old - 2018 34th round draft selection - Rutgers University. Nick had become the primary catcher for Reading after having a strong ‘21 minor league spring camp but suffered a knee injury in June and didn’t return to game action till August with a rehab assignment in the FCL. He played in 40 games altogether ( FCL, Clearwater, Jersey Shore & Reading ) and finished the year in Fall Instructs to garner more AB’s. He hit a grand slam home run in Instructs during the last week of play. Solid defender behind the dish who has a game presence, strong arm and good receiving skills. At the plate we’ve seen the ability to consistently hit the ball hard and out of the park. Nick works hard at his craft, should return to at least Reading after spring camp with potential to be at Lehigh Valley as well, we see a skill set that can catch at the big league level if given the opportunity.
LHP Nick Lackney - 24 years old - 2019 18th round draft selection - University of Minnesota. He had a very good 2021 season pitching at all four levels of full season play. He started the year with the Threshers appearing in six games without yielding a run, moved up to Jersey Shore for six appearances ( 10 IP - 0.90 ERA ) and then to Reading ( 19 games - 33 2/3 IP - 3.74 ERA ) and made one appearance with Lehigh Valley. Nick features a sinker generally in the 91-93 mph range, a hard slider and a change up. He generally pitches off his fast ball with command being key to produce ground ball outs. We would expect him to compete this spring for a Lehigh Valley roster spot.
RHP Nicoly Pina - 22 years old - signed as an international free agent - 5/3/18 - San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic. There’s a lot to like about this young man, personable, dedicated and strong willed. He missed the entire 2021 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. In 2019 we saw him in GCL play and Fall Instructs, power arm with fastball mid to upper nineties and sharp slider, has a presence of a closer. Doesn’t scare or back down from challenges, instead relishes them. Steady progress has been made during rehab, we saw him throwing flat ground in ‘21 Fall Instructs, when he’s healthy a full season spot is likely. If back to the form we saw previously on the backfields a climb to the top of the ladder is within reach.
That’s a wrap for the series. If interested on my thoughts on other players I have profiled every player who played stateside in the Phillies minor league system in 2021 ( that was still with the club as of November ) in my sixth annual minor league digest - The Comeback Season. It can be purchased on Amazon - here’s the link : https://www.amazon.com/Comeback-Season-Annual-Phillies-League/dp/B09MK7XFCG