Last week, Prospect A-Z reviewed Trevor May, Lisalberto Bonilla, Adam Morgan, Michael Nesseth, Cody Overbeck and Jonathan Pettibone. That was an even split of players that will spend 2012 in the upper and lower levels of the minors, but in 2011, only Overbeck ever played above AA. This week will still have a slight focus on pitchers, but two out of five players discussed this week will be hitters.
Q- Phillippe Aumont, RHP, AA, AAA
At this time last year, the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Seattle looked like an absolute disaster. This year, Phillippe Aumont was able to restore his stock, even if it won’t be as a starting pitcher. Now focusing on relief permanently, he showed that he still has the stuff to be a closer down the road. Back at AA Reading, he struck out 41 batters in 31 innings with a 1.1 WHIP to earn a promotion to Lehigh Valley. A minor shoulder injury slowed him down, and he struggled to throw strikes. Still, he had 37 strikeouts in 22.2 innings, and he could make his ML debut sometime next year.
Aumont has the ingredients to be a closer if he’s able to throw strikes just a little more consistently. He throws a heavy sinker that sits in the low to mid 90’s, and he can throw a straight fastball that touches the upper 90’s when necessary. Getting groundouts and strikeouts is a great combination for a reliever, and it means he can pitch in all situations. He complements his fastball with a plus curveball with great movement. He won’t close in Philadelphia for the duration of Jonathan Papelbon’s contract, but he’ll have a few years to get his feet wet in the majors and then get an opportunity.
R- Julio Rodriguez, RHP, high-A
For a second straight year, Julio Rodriguez posted some of the best statistics in not only the Phillies organization, but all of minor league baseball. He struck out over a batter an inning and held opponents to a .186 batting average. He led all minor league pitchers in wins even though that’s not really a significant stat, especially in the minors. It was a continuation of the outstanding 2010 season he had when he struck out 126 batters in 90.1 innings over two lower levels. Except for a short stint in his debut season, Rodriguez has posted a BAA less than .200 his entire career.
Unfortunately, it still appears that the scouting reports don’t match the stats, so for now his upside remains unclear. He has yet to add consistent velocity to his fastball that can range anywhere from 86-93, and it’s hard to succeed if he’s not able to sit at 90 or better regularly. However, at 6’4 and 195 pounds, he has the projectable frame that may allow him to add velocity as he gets stronger. His offspeed stuff, including a curveball, slider and changeup, are average offerings, and it’s his deceptive delivery that has contributed greatly to his success so far. AA in 2012 will be a major litmus test in the future of his career.
S- Ethan Stewart, LHP, R, short-season
Ethan Stewart signed as a 47th round pick out of New Mexico Junior College in the 2010 draft. He didn’t make his pro debut until the GCL season started in 2011, and he held his own. He struck out just a touch below a batter per inning, and he generated a lot of groundouts. He allowed a few too many baserunners, but it was his first professional experience after growing up in Canada and pitching at a junior college. Nevertheless, he was promoted to Williamsport to help in their playoff chase, and he made two starts.
Right now, Stewart’s fastball tops out at a very average 92, but at 6’5 and 215 pounds, he has the frame for a starter’s durability, and the potential to add more velocity in the future. His curveball and changeup are improving, but perhaps his best characteristic is the preparation he puts into pitching. He’s already keeping notes on batters he faces, and that will help him maximize his stuff and overachieve compared to his expectations. He’ll need to add velocity, but big lefties always get as much time as they need.
T- Tyler Greene, SS, R
Tyler Greene was expected to be a 2nd or 3rd round pick, but he was taken in the 11th round by the Phillies. He signed for a modest $375,000 bonus, and even though that was much more money than most players picked in that range, the commissioner’s office allowed him to sign early and start his pro career. He had a pretty decent showing in the GCL, hitting for good contact and walking 11 times in 17 games. He didn’t hit for much power and struck out too much, but that’s far from unusual when it comes to young hitters.
Greene offers a promising set of tools, and if his 2011 season was any indication of his future plate approach, he could put it all together although he struck out too much. He’s athletic with very good bat speed, and he has some raw power too. At 6’2 and 175 pounds, he could develop that power yet maintain the range to stay at shortstop. He has some fielding mechanics to clean up, but he has the tools to stay at the position long term which is important. His chance to play in the GCL last year could allow him to start 2012 in Lakewood.
U- Harold Garcia, 2B, AA
Garcia is coming off a completely lost season. Just two weeks into the year, he tore his ACL and only played in 12 games. He was off to a solid start with Reading, batting .300 and slugging .480 in the early going. He’ll never hit for big power, but he’s not purely a singles hitter either. His 2012 status probably won’t be in question. He’s only played in two games for his winter league team in Venezuela, but it’s a positive sign that he’s able to get in game action this offseason. He should be ready to go for spring training in a few months.
I put Garcia in the U section because his ceiling is likely that of a utility player. His best defensive position is second base, but he can play third in a pinch. He has pretty good speed and athleticism, and his work ethic will certainly help in his recovery from his torn knee ligament. He’s a switch hitter that can hit to all fields. He hits better left handed, but he’s shown stretches of success batting from the right side. He doesn’t have a particularly patient plate approach, but his ability to put the ball in play would make him a great utility player or fringe starter.
Prospect A-Z will wrap up for good next week with the last five letters of the alphabet. That will include the organization’s best position player prospect, a pitcher taken pretty high in the 2011 draft, a free agent that could add top notch talent to the system, an oft-injured outfielder now suspended and a collection of former Phillies prospects because I couldn’t find anyone for X.
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