Aug 192013

Lehigh Valley Ironpigs logoMinor league seasons are winding down very soon.  For Phillies affiliates, the Gulf Coast League ends on the 29th, Lehigh Valley, Reading and Lakewood end on Labor Day, Clearwater the day before, and Williamsport two days after.  That means there are about 10-15 games for prospects to improve their statistics and for teams to improve their potential playoff positioning.

Lehigh Valley

The IronPigs are 3.5 games behind division leading Rochester and 1.5 behind wild card leading Pawtucket.  They find themselves over .500 despite a really slow start, but to make the playoffs, they’d also have to jump in front of Buffalo in their division.  Without Cody Asche, their above average offense is a little more average, relying on strikeout king Cody Overbeck for power.  Now healthy again, Cesar Hernandez should provide an on base threat at the top of the lineup.  The team pitching stats were at the bottom of the league for much of the season, but a trio of starters has been turning that around: a much improved Tyler Cloyd, a now healthy Adam Morgan and major league veteran Greg Smith.


At 52-72, Reading is on the verge of elimination and should reach that status this week.  It’s well-earned with the second fewest runs scored per game in the Eastern League and second most runs allowed per game.  This is despite having some of the top talent in the Phillies’ organization.  Maikel Franco and Kelly Dugan’s mid-season promotions added some power, and they are first in the league in homers, but they’re by far last in the league in walks and hardly get on base at all.  Jesse Biddle and Seth Rosin give them a decent start at the top of the rotation, but they have no pitching depth plus a shaky bullpen.


Clearwater is an even 27-27 in the second half of Florida State League play, leaving them 5.5 games behind the division leading Cubs.  Daytona added a couple huge bats last week in Kris Bryant and Dan Vogelbach, and that should put them over the top and secure a playoff spot.  The Threshers’ offense was among the league’s best at the start of the season, but with the regression of Aaron Altherr, promotions of Franco and Dugan and lengthy injury to Cameron Perkins, they have really slipped.  The pitching has consistently been at the bottom of the league despite the steady performance of Hoby Milner and late addition of Severino Gonzalez.  Like Reading, their bullpen has generally been ineffective.


Lakewood could very well be eliminated by the time this is posted.  They finished in last place in the first half, and they’re on track to do it again this half.  Their offense has an absurd lack of power, partly due to the struggles of Larry Greene.  With a lineup and pitching staff both at the bottom of the league, there’s plenty of blame to go around for the team that’s been consistently in last place all season.  All three starters who have made more than 14 starts this year have an ERA above 4.42, led by Jonathan Musser at 6.16 in 73 innings.  Severino Gonzalez and Nic Hanson temporarily provided some relief, but they were moved up to Clearwater pretty quickly.  They’ve dealt with injuries, and in a season where they hosted the South Atlantic League All-Star Game, nothing has gone right.


The Crosscutters are six games out of a playoff spot, both the division lead and lone wild card spot.  They own the league’s best power hitting offense, but overall they’re pretty inconsistent.  Jiandido Tromp is batting .299, and he’s the only Crosscutter everyday player batting over .264.  Zach Green has 11 home runs, and Dylan Cozens and Samuel Hiciano each have six.  While the lineup is above average, the pitching staff is below.  Behind Drew Anderson and Shane Martin, they’ve gotten very few quality innings from their starters.  They probably hoped to add J.P. Crawford for the stretch run to add a regular on-base threat, but he’ll be challenged at Lakewood the rest of the way.

GCL Phillies

The GCL Phillies are the only team in the organization currently in line for a playoff spot, and they’re only 25-25.  That’s good enough to lead their division though and probably be a sacrificial lamb to the GCL Nationals who have won over 80% of their games this season.  Their offense is one of the league’s highest scorers, but they haven’t played a game without Crawford yet.  They do lead the GCL in homers though, and Crawford had little to do with that.  Three Phillies have five or more, led by 20 year old Venezuelan Wilmer Oberto with six.  None of their usual starters have really performed better than league average.  Mark Leiter was actually one of the top arms on the staff before being promoted.

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