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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

7/22/21 : Surveying the System - Part Two - Reading

With the trade deadline fast approaching I thought it would be a good time to make a quick round about of the system from the perspective of one who watches every affiliate on a nightly basis and also spends days observing the complex league. It’s an ability to do so I don’t take for granted and while most won’t care or likely want to hear what I write or say here’s some notations for those that do 😳.

I don’t take part in the “Prospect vs Non-Prospect” discussions, I just look for good ballplayers with projectable skills that might someday help at the MLB level. Relying on statistics alone is misleading, this year in particular … after a year’s layoff and shortened spring camps it’s more prudent to look for trends or recent consistency, at least that’s my opinion. It’s also my opinion that it is most important to actually watch players play, still no better way to gage ability than actually seeing performance. I think we will see that also born out in trades that clubs make in the next few days, wouldn’t get caught up in the season stats for any minor leaguer.

So with that said here’s part two of five … the AA level … if I were a scout with another team these are fellas I’d have interest in. 😎

Double A : Reading Fightin Phils (RPhils ) :

To date 21 different position players and 28 pitchers have appeared for the team, after getting off to a 3-13 start the club has been near .500 since with a 24-27 record. They too have added veteran presences, most notably OF Jorge Bonifacio who has had a stabilizing influence on the club and provided them with pop in the middle of the order.

The Long View :

Perhaps no player in the organization has had more consistent success this season as 2B Daniel Brito. The 23 year old has been solid from the beginning both offensively and defensively. This is his 7th year in the organization which means he can elect minor league free agency at the end of the year. After a “breakout” 2020 campaign in the Venezuelan Winter League he’s kept the beat going … a minor league gold glove winner at second base … we’ve watched him progress from a skinny youngster to a powerful young man. He can play.

SS Bryson Stott has the tools to be a major league regular, we’ve watched him personally in the 2019 GCL and this year’s spring training. There are offensive adjustments to be made, every player has to do that but from what we’ve seen he’s more than capable. Defensively he’s a steady presence at shortstop, the arm strength is certainly there to play the position at the highest level. It’s gonna be the hit tool that gets him to the show though … just needs some time to refine.

Versatility is the Ticket :

Madison Stokes was a middle infielder in college at South Carolina, he’s adapted to playing primarily 1B/3B as a pro but also has played 2B and both outfield corners. This year he’s had a very good offensive run since late May albeit we’ve seen him hit well at Clearwater in 2019 and in his first season ( 2018 ) at three different levels so it’s not a surprise. As a 10th round pick he’s certainly “unheralded” but there’s a collective skill set here that we see as big league capable. The added versatility of being able to play the outfield well just enhances his chances to get there.

We know that Jorge Bonifacio is 28 years old and likely doesn’t have much trade value at this point however what he’s done at Reading both in performance and from a mentoring standpoint deserves recognition. The young man has come in and provided veteran leadership along with delivering on the field results. Kudos to him … and by the way he can freaking rip a fastball … scouts must see that still 😳.

Arms :

RH Francisco Morales has all the tools to pitch in the major leagues, a high velocity fast ball, nasty sharp slider and changeup and curve that can also be plus pitches. Some thought the 21 year old might be overmatched at the AA level but we knew from watching him and knowing his mindset a bit that wasn’t the case. Early numbers this season didn’t reflect that until he went on a recent run of success … there are still gonna be bumps to overcome but this kid has the goods … “there is never lower your head” … that sums it up right there. He’s gonna get to the show and in our opinion do very well when he does.

RH pitchers Billy Sullivan & Braden Zarbnisky are power arms that are just in their first professional season yet have reached the AA level of play. Quick climbs up the ladder aren’t necessarily unusual for relievers but getting to the second highest level in your first full year is … both signed as undrafted free agents in 2020. Each young man has shown the ability to pitch in high pressure situations and deliver and both have popped the radar gun in the upper nineties. RH Aneurys Zabala reaches the triple digits on his fastball, the 24 year old has struggled with control throughout his career, if he can find a way to reel it in he’s certainly got the velocity and movement to pitch in the big leagues.

LH Kyle Dohy mightily struggled early this season with Lehigh Valley and went to Clearwater to work on simplifying his approach in extended spring training … he went to Reading on June 9th and has performed very well, he’s always been intriguing … mid 90’s pop with an outstanding change up, he’s just 24 years old and if he finds the consistency he can be a really good one out of the pen.

RH Jack Perkins, LH Jonathan Hennigan, RH James McArthur & RH Kyle Glogoski don’t have standout numbers this season … in fact Glogoski is in Clearwater on rehab at present but any scout who’s seen them has notations of interest. It’s not always about the numbers or the velocity … can’t say that enough. I think LH Nick Lackney and LH Brian Marconi also have positive notations in scouting reports.

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