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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

6/11/24 : Protecting the Standard

The Phillies obviously are having tremendous success at the big league level and deserve all the accolades and attention they are getting. However having ongoing success is reliant on the player development part of the organization being productive and strong, protecting the standard that the top level establishes.

There are just nine games left in the first half of the full season leagues for the Low A to Double A levels - the first half endings are slated for June 20th. The AAA level has twelve games left, their first half ends on June 23rd.  Following is a look at the Phillies affiliate teams and players serving notice to date.  The Dominican Summer League season just started this past week so I will defer a discussion on those players till they play a few more games.

The FCL Phillies are in the thick of a three team race for the league’s North Division title with a 16-11 record and are currently  tied for first place with the Yankees.  Some folks may discount the level of play (short season rookie level) but I’m not one of them, there’s talent at every level.  When you watch young players you look for skills, mindset, makeup and projection - the first 27 games for the FCL Phillies indicate a lot to be interested in.  Shortstop Starlyn Caba (18 years old), second/third baseman Aroon  Escobar (19 years old), Catcher/First Baseman Guillermo Rosario (19 years old), Catcher Eduardo Tait (17 years old) and outfielder Yemal Flores (20 years old) lead the way offensively but others like outfielders Jerffson Pena (20 years old) and  Ezra Farmer (20 years old) along with infielders Rickardo Perez (20 years old) and Juan Villavicencio (19 years old) have also been solid.

Aroon  Escobar leads the Florida Complex League in runs scored (24), is tied for  second in walks (21), tied for 6th in hits (26), 5th in RBIs (17), 8th in BA (.338), 2nd in OBP (.495) and 8th  in OPS (.976).  Starlyn Caba leads the league in stolen bases (22) and walks (26), is 11th in OBP (.450) and 2nd in runs scored (23).  Guillermo Rosario is third in RBIs (20), tied for sixth in hits (26), tied for third in doubles (6) and sixth in runs (19) while Eduardo Tait leads the league in RBIs (23). Juan Villavicencio leads in triples (3).

On the pitching side nineteen year old RH Enrique Segura leads the league in K’s (31) and IP (32.1) and is 8th in WHIP (1.30).  Twenty one year old RH Luis Avila leads the league in saves (4) and twenty year old LH Juan Amarante (2.16 ERA - 25 K’s in 16.2 IP) has impressed not only this observer but multiple scouts.

Clearwater  is 36-21, they are one game behind the Lakeland Flying Tigers in the West Division chase for a end of the season playoff spot in September.  First half standouts include shortstop Aidan Miller (20 years old), infielder Trent Farquhar (23 years old - currently on IL with a hamate bone injury), first baseman Keaton Anthony (22 years old) and outfielder Jordan Viars (20 years old) along with pitchers George Klassen (22 year old RH), Mavis Graves (20 year old LH), Saul Teran (22 year old RH) and Drew Garrett (23 year old RH).

Solid seasons to date have also been turned in by infielders Nikau Pouaka-Grego (19 years old), Devin Saltiban (19 years old) and Dakota Kotowski (24 years old) as well as catcher Luis Caicuto (21 years old)Outfielders Raylin Heredia (20 years old), Avery Owusu-Asiedu (20 years old) and Bryson Ware (23 years old) have had shining moments as have pitchers Micah Ottenbreit (21 years old), Luke Russo (23 years old), Casey Steward (22 years old), Ethan Chenault (23 years old), Jaydenn Estanista (22 years old)and Jose Pena Jr (20 years old).

Aidan Miller is tied for 1st in the league in doubles (16), 13th in BA (.275), 6th in OBP (.401), 2nd in slugging (.483) and 2nd in OPS (.884). Jordan Viars is tied for 4th in home runs (7).  Devin Saltiban is tied for 5th in home runs (6), he and Miller are tied for 13th in RBIs (26).  Trent Farquhar is third in walks (35).  Both Farquhar (.314/.493/.429/.922) and Keaton Anthony (.328/.464/.437/.901) would be amongst league leaders in BA/OBP/SLG/OPS but don’t have enough plate appearances to currently qualify.

George Klassen would lead the league in ERA (0.71), WHIP (0.87) and BAA (.160) but doesn’t have enough innings pitched to qualify. He is 7th in the league in strikeouts (57).  Mavis Graves is tied for the league lead in wins (5), leads in strikeouts (67), is sixth in ERA (2.87), 11th in IP (47), 8th in WHIP (1.13) and 7th in BAA (.205).  Saul Teran leads the league in saves (7).

Aidan Miller, catcher Luis Caicuto and George Klassen have been promoted to Jersey Shore!

Jersey Shore  is 31-25, they are a half game ahead of Greensboro in the North Division chase for a end of the season playoff spot in September.  Infielder Otto Kemp (24 years old), outfielder/first baseman Leandro Pineda (22 years old) and center fielder Justin Crawford (20 years old) have all put up outstanding numbers and have been the key cogs for the offense.

Infielder Erick Brito (22 years old) has been very solid both at the plate and defensively.  Catcher Andrick Nava (22 years old) has made big strides defensively since I first saw him in 2019 on the backfields in short season play, he’s always been able to swing the bat and that’s continued this season.  Outfielder Hendry Mendez (20 years old) and infielder William Bergolla (19 years old) have also made solid contributions.  Pitching has been very strong with starters Sam Aldegheri (22 year old LH), Jean Cabrera (22 year old RH) and Braeden Fausnaught (24 year old LH) leading the way and RH Eiberson Castellano (23 years old) having strong starts as well.  The bullpen has four relievers with ERA’s under 3.00 (LH Danny Wilkinson - 2.41/18.2 IP - 23 years old, RH Gunner Mayer - 2.45/22 IP - 23 years old, RH Trey Dillard - 2.13/12.2 IP - 25 years old, RH Andrew Baker - 2.70/10 IP - 24 years old) and two (RH Daniel Harper - 1.66/21.2 IP - 25 years old and LH Andrew Walling - 1.96/23 IP - 24 years old) under 2.00.

Otto Kemp is 1st in the league in OBP (.440), 3rd in OPS (.973), tied for 6th in runs (35), 16th in hits (50), 2nd in triples (5), 1st in BA (.333) and 6th in slugging (.533).  Justin Crawford is tied for 6th in runs (35), 6th in hits (58), 6th in stolen bases (20) and 11th in BA (.293).  Leandro Pineda is 5th in hits (59), 3rd in RBIs (40), 5th in BA (.307), 11th in OBP (.376), 12th in slugging (.479) and 11th in OPS (.855).

Samuel Aldegheri is 2nd in the league in WHIP (0.96), 2nd in BAA (.157) and third in ERA (3.00) for those that qualify, 13th in IP (48) and 3rd in K’s (65).  Jean Cabrera is 6th in ERA (3.46), 9th in WHIP (1.15) for those that qualify, 4th in IP (54.2), 12th in BAA (.231) and 12th in K’s (55).  Braeden Fausnaught leads the league in wins (6), is 8th in ERA (3.74), 5th in IP (53) and 11th in WHIP (1.19) and 11th in BAA (.228) for those that qualify.  Daniel Harper is tied for 2nd in the league in saves (5).

Otto Kemp and Andrick Nava have been promoted to Reading!

Reading is 25-32 and is six games back of the Eastern League Northeast Division leader in 6th place.  First baseman Carson Taylor has been the key component of the offense all season and is 5th in the league in batting average (.305), 5th in OBP (.396), 3rd in slugging (.526), 3rd in OPS (.922), 11th in home runs (8) and 1st in RBIs (42).  Outfielder Marcus Lee Sang is 11th in the league in batting average (.285), 15th in slugging (.458), 10th in hits (51) and tied for 3rd in triples (3).  Right handed pitcher Robinson Pina is second in the league in wins (6), 12th in ERA (3.31), 13th in WHIP (1.20) and 9th in K’s (60) while RHP Tommy McCollum is second in saves (6).  LHP Lachlan Wells leads the league in WHIP (0.97) and 16th in BAA (.227).

LHP Tristan Garnett has been solid with a 2.19 ERA in 19 appearances out of the bullpen amassing 24.2 IP - he had one bad outing - has a 1.17 ERA in his 18 other appearances (23.1 IP).  RHP Tyler McKay since returning to Reading from Lehigh Valley has pitched in 10 games (9 IP) without allowing an earned run.  RHP Konnor Ash has served as an opener in 5 of his 13 appearances - he has a 2.20 ERA overall in 28.2 IP.  RHP Carlos Francisco in his last ten appearances (15.2 IP) has posted a 0.57 ERA.

Catcher Caleb Ricketts has a .283/.401/.407/.808 slash line in 137 plate appearances while third baseman Kendall Simmons is heating up after battling some injuries - he’s 19 for 66 (.287) since May 1st with 6 home runs and 14 RBIs. Outfielder Carlos De La Cruz has also picked up the pace - he’s 9 for 29 (.310) thus far in June with three doubles and two home runs.

Lehigh Valley is 27-34, they have been eliminated from first half International League playoff title contention.  The team has contributed four players to the big club so far this season in RHP Jose Ruiz, infielders Kody Clemens and Weston Wilson and OF David Dahl.  All four were key cogs at Lehigh Valley during their time there and surely will continue to be if they return.

Infielder Scott Kingery is tied with newly acquired outfielder Ruben Cardenas for 7th in the league with 13 home runs (Cardenas hit 11 of his HR’s with Durham).  David Dahl is second in the league in batting average (.340), 9th in OBP (.416), 1st in slugging (.660) and OPS (1.076).  RHP Tyler Phillips is tied for the league lead in wins (6), 8th in K’s (61) and is first in innings pitched (73) while David Buchanan is 10th in IP (60.2).

While not amongst the league leaders due to not meeting the minimum of innings pitched both RH reliever Max Lazar and RH starter/bulk reliever Michael Mercado have put up stellar numbers.  Lazar has a 0.75 ERA in 10 appearances with the IronPigs over 12 innings pitched with a 0.58 WHIP, he’s punched out 12 batters and walked just three since his promotion from Reading on May 8th where he had a 0.00 ERA in 8 games ( 10.1 IP).  I chatted with Max in spring camp, he came up thru the Brewers system with Weston Wilson, both have made their marks in the Phillies organization to date.  Mercado has a 0.99 ERA in 12 games (36.1 IP) - he’s also an “import” coming over from the Rays organization - a big arm who’s been able to command the zone thus far this season.  Two recent signings have my intrigue - I saw RHP Blaine Knight throw in Clearwater after he signed - he was released by the Orioles last season and did not pitch thereafter - popped the heater at 98 mph in his first LHV outing last week.  Freddy Tarnok is another to watch - he’s a big arm as well and flashed 96-97 mph his first outing.  Don’t sleep on lefty Taylor Lehman - he’s quietly having a very good season -  2.57 ERA in 23 appearances (21 IP). Don’t count out my buddy Mick Abel (22 years old) either - he’s had his struggles this season but I believe in his determination and perseverance - sometimes ya gotta go thru some bad times to eventually find success.

Outfielders Jordan Luplow, Simon Muzziotti, Cal Stevenson and Matt Kroon are all capable players as are infielders Scott Kingery, Nick Podkul and Darick Hall - all of whom could contribute at the big league level if opportunities arise.  Catcher Rafael Marchan recently returned to action from injury, he’s also a capable contributor.

And that’s not to mention the multiple players on the injured lists working their way back into action - plenty of talent there as well.

Player Development Support :

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the tremendous support staff within Player Development and give props to some of the talent within the group.  Folks like Jake Primack - Player Development Assistant, Josh Glazman - Coordinator - Minor League Equipment, Vinnie Pezzino - Coordinator - Clubhouse Services - Carpenter Complex, Grace Ostendorf - Social Media Specialist, Francisco Hernandez - Administrator - International Operations, Mauricio Ortiz - Coordinator - International Scouting, Francis Cardenas - Mental Performance Coach, Isa Karay - Lead Teacher - Education, Paola Mora - Lead Teacher - Life Skills, Brittany Gooch - Functional Rehab Coordinator, Blaine Taylor - PDC Strength & Conditioning Coach, Thomas Knauss - Coordinator - Minor League Video & Technology, Candra Pepper - Coordinator - Minor League Video & Technology, Jeff Myric - Clubhouse Staff and Paul Tumavitch - Grounds Crew Supervisor - Florida Operations.  Just a few of the many who both establish and protect the standard to allow both themselves and the players continue to grow and develop in their work - Good stuff!

Just sayin - there’s many to watch blossom and reserves at the ready - there is a standard to protect!

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

Written by The Joke 🥸

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