Jul 082013
 
Phillies slugging prospect Darin Ruf

Phillies prospect Darin Ruf

Over the course of a season, players go hot and cold, but over three months in, it’s generally safe to say that a player performing well is performing well, and one that isn’t, isn’t  Prospect stocks have changed since the beginning of the year, and unfortunately for the Phillies, it seems like more have gone down than up, although that’s mitigated by the now top two prospects, Jesse Biddle and Maikel Franco, taking steps forward in Double-A.  I narrowed the stock down list to five though to write about five players who are up and five that are down.  I didn’t include players whose stocks are down because of significant injuries like Adam Morgan and Tommy Joseph.

Up

CF Aaron Altherr, High-A, 22 Y.O. (324 plate appearances, .293 average, .357 on-base, .512 slugging, 15/18 stolen bases, 9.0 walk rate, 29.6 strikeout rate)

After two years at Lakewood not showing much, Altherr is having an impressive season with Clearwater.  I still hesitated to put him on here though because of one huge red flag: his incredibly high strikeout rate.  Somehow, he’s still found success, maybe thanks to a high BABIP, but he also has an above average walk rate and has hit for power.  I suspect that when he moves up to Reading in 2014 he won’t have a season quite like this, but he’s always had the tools and may just be having a great breakout season.

OF Kelly Dugan, High-A/Double-A, 22 Y.O. (255 PA, .316 BA, .396 OBP, .529 SLG, 9.4 BB%, 24.3 K%)

Dugan spent much of his first three years injured and not producing anything, but he got back on the radar last year with a good season in low-A.  I put him on my top 30 prospect list, but I wanted him to follow it up with a second good season before moving up.  After starting the season on the DL again, he delivered for Clearwater.  I wish he’d strike out less, but anyone who can hit for power in the Florida State League deserves attention.  In 56 games, he hit 10 home runs and slugged .539, fourth in the league before he was promoted.

3B Maikel Franco, High-A/Double-A, 20 Y.O. (357 PA, .320 BA, .361 OBP, .601 SLG, 5.9 BB%, 11.8 K%)

Franco was already high on organizational lists, but he’s hit himself onto top 50 lists for all of baseball.  Ever since the second half with Lakewood last year when he posted an OPS over .900, he hasn’t stopped hitting for average, and his power has increased too.  The Phillies have needed power, especially right-handed power, for years now, and Franco could soon provide that if he keeps hitting.  He just needs to tone down his aggressiveness though, both in his plate approach and violent swing, but if it works, he should keep going.

2B Cesar Hernandez, Triple-A/Majors, 23 Y.O. (318 PA, .306 BA, .373 OBP, .401 SLG, 26/32 SB, 9.7 BB%, 17.3 K%, minors only)

Hernandez got a brief trial with the Phillies earlier in the season, and he could get an extended one next month if Chase Utley is traded.  His 28 plate appearances in the majors weren’t notable at all, but I think he’s having the best season in the minors in his career.  His walk rate is back up to where it was earlier in his career, and that’s key for a player that could be a top of the lineup hitter.  He’s been stealing bases much more efficiently too.  He won’t be a star, but if he gets on base, puts the ball in play and does a good job at second base, he could be a solid player.

OF Cameron Perkins, High-A, 22 Y.O. (226 PA, .333 BA, .379 OBP, .507 SLG, 5.8 BB%, 12.4 K%)

Apparently Perkins only needed a month to recover from a broken wrist, and he’s back in action for Clearwater.  His solid season is reminiscent of what Cody Asche did with the Threshers in 2012.  He’s hitting for a high average and showing an okay plate approach and some power.  The injury may have cost him a chance to get promoted to Reading like Asche did, and since he’s 22 years old, he could use the work against tougher competition.  At 6’5 and 195 pounds, maybe he could grow into some more power.

Down

CF Tyson Gillies, Double-A/Triple-A, 24 Y.O. (285 PA, .237 BA, .301 OBP, .412 SLG, 9/13 SB, 8.4 BB%, 19.6 K%)

Gillies’ numbers are inflated by a current hot streak that has mostly taken place when he was down in Reading repeating Double-A.  He’s actually been healthy, but he just hasn’t been the same player as last year.  His BABIP is low and his strikeout rate isn’t that much different than past years though, so maybe there’s a turnaround in him for the second half.  It could be a grind though since he hasn’t played in a full season since 2009.

LF Larry Greene, Low-A, 20 Y.O. (258 PA, .228 BA, .326 OBP, .308 SLG, 12.8 BB%, 32.9 K%)

The Phillies aren’t nearly patient enough at the plate, so Greene’s walk rate is appealing, and even though he’s in the midst of a hot streak, he still hasn’t been good.  That strikeout rate is comically high, and I still wonder if he’s being too passive at the plate and not attacking pitches he can hit early in the count.  His strikeout looking percentage is over 10% and about twice the league average.  When the ball is in play though, the lack of power is baffling.  In over 500 career plate appearances, he only has five home runs.

RHP Ethan Martin, Triple-A, 24 Y.O. (91.2 innings pitched, 4.81 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 14.3 walk rate, 19.8 strikeout rate)

Martin’s professional career has frankly only included one good season, and he’s not pitching the same way he did in 2012.  His walk rate is back up after showing a little improvement, and his strikeout rate is the lowest of his career.  Both May and June were solid months in their own ways, but looking at the whole season, it really seems like he’s not going to be able to sustain the strides he made in 2012.  I could’ve included any number of pitchers here unfortunately, but I think Martin’s struggles stand out the most.

1B/LF Darin Ruf, Triple/Majors, 26 Y.O. (349 PA, .266 BA, .344 OBP, .408 SLG, 10.3 BB%, 24.9 K%, minors only)

Much of Ruf’s prospect status could be attributed to his incredible month of August last year, but he was still an impressive hitter in the months before that.  This year, his entire season has been nondescript and unremarkable.  He didn’t hit his way to the majors by being pretty ordinary, and I don’t know of many older first basemen/fringe-outfielders who have survived only slugging .400.  I’m not sure where the power went, but it needs to come back, especially if he’s going to keep striking out more than he has in the past.

C Sebastian Valle, Double-A, 22 Y.O. (211 PA, .223 BA, .252 OBP, .376 SLG, 3.8 BB%, 24.6 K%)

I already felt like Valle’s stock was slipping last year, but he has completely bottomed out returning to Reading in 2013.  I saw him on Sunday, and he still swings at an absurd amount of pitches.  It’s hard to say anything other than he frequently gets himself out.  His power is also down, and it’s hard to figure out what he’s offering at this point.  He played left field one game, but they don’t seem particularly interested in him at least gaining some positional flexibility.

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Scott Grauer writes for PSC and Bus Leagues Baseball – check him out!

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