Jul 182014
Phillies LHP Cliff Lee vs the Mets

Could the Phillies trade Cliff Lee again?

The Phillies should be prepared to be sellers at this deadline, and unlike the last two years when they probably should have been, it seems like reality is finally setting in for Ruben Amaro.  The problem isn’t just identifying it though.  The problem is him doing something about it.  Trading for prospects has certainly not been a strength for him, among most things.

It would be great if he could be replaced by someone from outside of the organization before the big players like Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee get moved, but that seems unlikely.  Not that all three will be moved in the two weeks, but botching the trade of any of them would be another big setback for the team.

The Dodgers are one team that’s probably scouting Phillies players right now.  Unlike previous years, Utley probably doesn’t do much for them with Dee Gordon’s breakout, but they apparently still want another starter.  If they pick up Hamels or Lee to go with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu, they’re going to be tough to beat.  More importantly for the Phillies, the Dodgers have the prospects to get a trade done.

This isn’t a top prospects list, but I tried to organize potentially interesting players by trade value.  The ages listed are for the 2015 season.

Top tier

IF Corey Seager (21): Seager is a better prospect than his brother Kyle was, and he can be a future All-Star and middle of the lineup hitter.  He plays shortstop now, but there’s not really a track record for 6’4 shortstops in the big leagues.  Fortunately, he has the power to profile at third base.  In 80 California League games, he batted .352 this year with 54 extra base hits.  He’s on his way to AA now, and it won’t be long until he’s in the big leagues.

OF Joc Pederson (24): If the Phillies pick up Pederson today, he could be their best outfielder tomorrow.  All five of his tools are average or better, and he can play either center field or a corner spot depending on who else is in the outfield.  His 28.5% strikeout rate is a bit bothersome and his OPS north of 1.000 is inflated playing in Albuquerque, but he can really hit no matter the environment.  He’s improving against lefties, and he could have some 20-20 All-Star seasons.

Very good tier

LHP Julio Urias (18): Talent-wise, Urias belongs at the top of the list.  This weekend, he became the youngest player to ever play in the Futures Game.  He’s already pitching in high-A, and he’s one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.  I just hesitate a bit because he’s so young.  His fastball sits in the low-90’s, and his curveball and changeup both have plus or better potential.  Because he’s so young, the toughest thing for the Dodgers right now is carefully managing his innings.

Good tier

RHP Zach Lee (23): After his best professional season last year in AA, Lee is in the midst of his worst.  It’s tough pitching in Albuquerque, and with his career low 15.6% strikeout rate, he’s getting hit hard.  At the very least, he could be a strike thrower, but his walk rate is a career worst at 8.7% too.  He’s probably still a back-end starter, but he never really developed into the pitcher people expected in 2010.

RHP Chris Anderson (22): Anderson is a former first round pick, and he’s still struggling throwing strikes in his second professional year.  He has good stuff though and could be a mid-rotation starter.  He’s big, durable and complements his low-90’s fastball with movement with a hard slider and improving changeup.

IF Jesmuel Valentin (21): Jose’s son was a bit of a surprise as a first round pick, but his bat has really improved in his second go-around in low-A.  Playing shortstop isn’t out of the question, but the Dodgers seem content to keep him at second base.  He has very little power, but he’s pretty patient, tends to put his bat on the ball and can steal some bases.

RHP Victor Arano (20): The Dodgers challenged Arano with a full-season assignment, and he’s handling it.  His fastball and breaking ball are both potential plus pitches, and he’s striking out over a batter an inning and throwing a ton of strikes.  He has an advanced feel for pitching, and he could move quickly.

Average tier

LHP Tom Windle (23): Windle’s ceiling is similar to Anderson’s, but he’s less likely to reach it.  He has to improve his command.

LHP Chris Reed (25): Reed may not be a starter long term, but he’s finally having AA success in his second full season there.

RHP Jose Dominguez (24): Dominguez’s fastball can hit triple digits in relief, but his minor league performance is not very good this year.

RHP Zach Bird (20): Bird has impressive stuff, and his second go-around in the Midwest League has been a little better.  He’s a bit of a lottery ticket.

IF Darnell Sweeney (24): Sweeney is a rising player with power, speed and an improving plate approach.  He could be an offensive-minded utility player.

LF Scott Schebler (24): Schebler has been an extremely productive minor league hitter with 44 home runs since the start of last year over two levels.  He’s limited to left field though.

LF Ibandel Isabel (20): Isabel is a lottery ticket whose stateside performance has been poor in the early going.  Eventually, he should hit for a pretty solid average.

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