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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

2/7/22 : Position Player Depth - Middle Infielders

Third in a series on minor league position player depth - please keep in mind that the Phillies develop most players at multiple positions - in this series you will likely see names repeated at positions - versatility is a good thing - doesn’t mean that each club “has five first basemen” as some have commented 🥴.

By mid month there will be multiple selected/invited minor league players at the Complex either participating in a continuation of what has been an annual formalized minor league spring mini camp ( we first observed it in 2018 ) or on rehab assignments. The full Minor league spring training is slated to begin the first week of March with pitchers and catchers initially reporting followed by position players a few days later.

Who knows when the big leaguers get their start - that’s on ongoing lockdown.

AAA Lehigh Valley :

Ali Castillo - 32 years old - signed 12/8/21 as a minor league free agent. He played last season in the Washington Nationals organization ( 77 games between AA & AAA ). A veteran minor leaguer who was with the Phillies organization in 2019 at Reading and Lehigh Valley. He’s a great teammate and clubhouse presence providing leadership and direction on how to be a pro’s pro. A career .278 hitter in 13 minor league seasons, has played every position except catcher in his career.

Nick Maton - Birthdate : will be 25 years old mid February - 2017 7th round draft selection - Lincoln Land Community College - Illinois - made his major league debut on 4/19/21 after being selected from the Alternate Camp. He played in 63 games with the Iron Pigs and was optioned/recalled to the big leagues five times during the season. He’s got very quick hands and a short swing, drives the ball well and has some home run pop. He’s played primarily shortstop in his minor league career but has also seen time at second, third and in 2021 - center field. There’s a big league skill set that will eventually earn him a long time assignment in the show. ( won’t be in minor league camp - is on 40 man roster )

Bryson Stott - 24 years old - 2019 1st round draft selection - UNLV - the best way to describe him is that he’s a very good all around baseball player. His hitting abilities are the ticket that will drive him to the show, has a selective approach, willingness to work for walks and quickness to drive thru the baseball on pitches within his hitting zone. In my opinion he capitalizes on pitchers mistakes very well, as a former hurler those are the types of hitters ya don’t like facing. Very capable of being a steady lineup regular and perhaps even more. Defensively he’s gonna make just about every play, works at his craft. Has the arm and mobility to be a JJ Hardy like big league shortstop. This spring, if the lockout ends, affords him an opportunity to make the big club and be part of opening day. If not then he should head to Lehigh Valley with an eye on being productive to earn a promotion. He’s definitely on the verge of his MLB debut.

Luke Williams - 25 years old - 2015 3rd round draft selection - Dana Hills High School , Dana Point, CA. Was promoted to the big leagues in June last season and appeared in 58 games ( 98 AB’s ). Luke had a breakout season in 2019 with Reading when in essence he converted to a super utility role, playing every position except pitcher and catcher. Has plus speed, is a smart ball player who is fundamentally sound. Has become a solid fielder at every position he’s played, early in his career was designated as a third baseman, struggled - the super utility role turned a switch on. Has some pop ( 11 homers in 2019 - Reading ) - generally a line drive, gap to gap approach. ( won’t be in minor league camp - is on 40 man roster )

Dalton Guthrie - 26 years old - 2017 6th round draft selection - University of Florida - 2017 6th round draft selection - heady ball player who can play every infield position and added the outfield to his repertoire last season. He’s a very good defender, was the starting shortstop in his college days for a national championship team at Florida. Is a fundamentally sound player - well schooled and baseball smart. Dalton can fill a utility role at the big league level if afforded the opportunity and has shown an offensive skill set that’s capable of delivering when needed. He’s likely gonna begin play with the Iron Pigs once spring camp breaks and is a viable call up option for the big club if needed.

Daniel Brito - 24 years old - signed as an international free agent 7/17/14 - Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela. Was having the best season of his career in 2021 when it was abruptly ended with a medical incident in early August. Now working his way back in what is anticipated as a long recovery process but hopeful for a full recovery. He hit .295 in 275 AB’s for Reading and Lehigh Valley during the ‘21 season. Hope to see him at some point this spring or summer, has made great strides thus far.

AA Reading :

Luis Garcia - 21 years old - signed as an international free agent - 7/2/17 - San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic - He is an outstanding fielder, in our opinion the best all-around ( hands, arm, range, savy ) middle infielder in the minor league system. Luis had a breakthrough ‘21 season in regards to driving the baseball with authority - hit 13 home runs, 18 doubles and 5 triples for Clearwater/Jersey Shore in 103 games ( 391 AB’s ) - also participated in Fall Instructs. Very high on his abilities and see a major league future for him as a middle infield regular. In our opinion he’s ready for the challenge of AA baseball right out of spring camp - bright future. ( won’t be in minor league camp - is on 40 man roster )

IF Kevin Vicuña - signed as a minor league free agent 1/4/22 - assigned to Reading roster. He’s 23 years old and is from Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. Vicuña played primarily last season for AA New Hampshire ( Blue Jays organization ) appearing in 76 games ( 275 AB’s ) posting a .247/.308/.320 slash line with 14 doubles, 2 home runs and 35 RBIs. He played defensively at all four infield positions with 26 games at shortstop. Originally signed by the Blue Jays in 2014. Is known for his speed and defensive skills - good range. Will likely serve in an utility role with Reading if he makes the club out of spring training.

Wendell Rijo - signed as a minor league free agent 12/10/21. He is a 26 year old infielder from the Dominican Republic who was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox in 2013. He was traded to the Brewers in 2016 and to the Yankees in 2018. In December of 2019 he was claimed off waivers by the Braves. Has played 739 minor league games, with AA Mississippi in 2021, can play 2B,SS and 3B. Played winter league ball this off season with the Toros del Este in the Dominican League.

Jonathan Guzman - 22 years old - signed as an international free agent - 8/17/15 - Esperanza, Dominican Republic. Struggled offensively in 2021 with Jersey Shore but finished the season with a good month of September hitting .304 - continued to be a solid middle defender at both second base and shortstop. The coming season will be a crossroads summer as Jonathan becomes eligible for minor league free agency afterwards. He’s got outstanding hands,range and defensive instincts - likely breaks camp with Reading and earns a significant amount of playing time.

Sal Gozzo - 23 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent - 6/11/19 - Tulane University. Played at three levels during the ‘21 season ( Jersey Shore, Reading & Lehigh Valley ) as a reserve infielder, appeared in 63 games at 2B, SS and 3B. Good fielder at any infield spot, heady player. He will compete for a roster spot at either Reading or Lehigh Valley in spring camp.

High A Jersey Shore :

Nicolas Torres - 22 years old - signed as an international free agent - 7/2/16 - Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. Was promoted to Jersey Shore from Clearwater on 8/14/21 - took off offensively, posted a .388 batting average in 27 games with the Blue Claws including a .429 OBP. Overall he hit .286 for the season in 96 games ( 329 AB’s ). Is a very versatile defender who played every position on the field except pitcher and catcher in 2021. Was also in Fall Instructs. Great team player, keeps head down, works hard and takes on any role without hesitation, winning attitude and solid skill set. We see a similar role in spring camp as he delivered in 2021, either a return to Jersey Shore or a spot with Reading being the target.

Casey Martin - will be 23 in early April - 2020 3rd round draft selection - University of Arkansas. Had a strong month of June with Clearwater ( .357 average in 56 AB’s ) that earned him a promotion to Jersey Shore, finished the season back with Clearwater. Suffered a season ending injury in early September and spent Fall Instructs in a walking book working with the rehab team at the Complex. We saw him multiple times, is a good defender at both shortstop and second base, good range at either position and decent arm. Offensively the swing gets long but he also showed the ability to drive the ball ( 21 doubles, 7 home runs ). Has plus speed, could lead to top of the order capabilities.

Freylin Minyety -22 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent - 7/20/21 Wabash Valley JC, Wabash Valley JC, IL. Whenever we’ve seen Freylin play he seemingly always gets multiple hits or at the least puts the ball sharply in play. We had a conversation with the scout that signed him during Fall Instructs and he stated the same. Hit .286 with a .423 OBP at Clearwater in 28 games ( 84 AB’s ). In Instructs he continued to barrel the baseball consistently over the four weeks of camp. Defensively will need to find a spot, has worked at both second and third base. Leadership skills are also evident, saw him take charge of on field conversations multiple times during Fall Instructs.

Kendall Simmons - will be 22 years old in mid April - 2018 6th round draft selection - Tattnall Square High School , Macon, GA. An injury plagued summer in 2021, forearm issues in the spring, was hit in the helmet and went thru concussion protocol in July followed by being sidelined when Covid issues forced multiple players into quarantine ( contact tracing & positive tests ) in August. He has shown the ability to hit the baseball out of the yard - turns on high fastballs as well as anyone I’ve seen. Needs to get consistent reps both offensively and defensively - has played 2B, SS and 3B.

Wilfredo Flores - will be 22 years old in May- signed as an international free agent - 5/8/18 - Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - played sparingly in ‘21 appearing in 17 games battling various injuries - had an outstanding 2019 GCL season when he hit .342 in 120 AB’s which was a follow up to hitting .320 in the 2018 DSL in 220 AB’s. We’ve seen him play multiple times and he can swing the bat, plays 2B, 3B and the outfield. Participated in ‘21 Fall Instructs. Should get a full season assignment out of spring training - either Clearwater or Jersey Shore.

Low A Clearwater :

Jamari Baylor - 21 years old - 2019 3rd round draft selection - Benedictine HS, Richmond, VA. Played in 44 2021 games ( 25 - FCL, 15 with Threshers ). He has very quick hands as a hitter and drives the ball with authority, hit 5 home runs in FCL play on the expansive backfields before moving up to Clearwater at the beginning of September to finish the season. Exciting hitter to watch, works diligently defensively, saw him make plays in Fall Instructs at shortstop which were both very athletic and wide ranging, excellent arm, consistent footwork is key to sticking at shortstop. We see him beginning at Clearwater as the everyday shortstop and possibly advancing to High A during the summer.

Alexeis Azuaje - will be 20 years old in April - signed 7/2/18 as an international free agent - Ocurmare del Tuy, Venezuela. Our first look was during 2019 Fall Instructs, saw a quick bat with pop, that played out again in 2021 as Alexeis hit three home runs in the final week of FCL play, season was abbreviated due to Covid issues at the Complex. Envision him as a second baseman and think that he is capable of being a very solid bat and defender as he progresses. See him as a regular middle infielder with the Clearwater Threshers coming out of spring training.

Hao Yu Lee - 19 years old - signed as an international free agent 6/15/21 - New Taipei, Taiwan. First saw him in ‘21 FCL action, he’s got a quick swing that also generates plenty of bat speed to drive the baseball, his skills were on display again during Fall Instructs. Defensively we’ve seen him mostly at second base however he also played both shortstop and third base in Instructs. Good skill set all around, looks like a pro hitter and someone who knows how to play. He’s got advanced skills and likely jumps into full season play right out of Spring Camp.

Wilson Valdez Jr - 22 years old - signed as an international free agent - 4/3/18 - Bani, Dominican Republic. The son of former Phillie Wilson Valdez he played in 31 games with the 2021 FCL Phillies. Defensively he played 2B,SS and 3B. Will push for a full season roster spot this spring. Looks well schooled in baseball game knowledge and instincts.

FCL Phillies :

Albert Jerez - 20 years old - signed as an international free agent - 5/8/18 - Acarigua, Venezuela. He appeared in 15 FCL games in 2021 after playing the 2018 & 2019 seasons in the DSL - the majority of the ‘21 summer was spent on the IL. Slender built middle infielder with good defensive actions, will turn 21 in May - likely returns for a season of FCL action.

Uziel Viloria - 20 years old- signed as an international free agent 7/1/19 - Dominican Republic. Played in 32 games with the ‘21 FCL Phillies and Threshers. Finished strong in September posting a .417 average and .462 OBP. Plays 2B,SS and 3B defensively. A return to extended spring and FCL action seems a likely path.

Randy Vasquez - 19 years old - signed as an international free agent - 7/2/19 - San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. First saw him in action in 2021 Fall Instructs, impressed with bat speed and ability to drive the baseball, he hit a long home run over the left center field fence on Ashburn field in a scrimmage game. Is a left handed hitter. Played in 40 2021 DSL games accumulating 140 AB’s - plays all four infield positions defensively. It’s likely he is in extended spring training and on an FCL roster for the coming summer.

There will be others assigned to extended spring and FCL play including players I haven’t seen from the Dominican Academy.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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