The World Series was decided last week and the minor league season in September, but baseball is still being played. MLB sent a team of players to Taiwan to take part in a series against their national team. They’re calling themselves All-Stars, but with Jeff Mathis and Dillon Gee among the players on the roster, they’re using the term loosely. A watered-down version of the US national team has been competing in tournaments, and winter leagues are being played all over the western hemisphere. They don’t get much coverage in the media here, but there are still hundreds of players working hard and entertaining fans.
The Arizona Fall League probably receives the most press, and MLB Network will broadcast three games starting this Saturday. ESPN3 shows various games from the Latin winter leagues, and MLBN has shown Caribbean World Series games in recent years. The Phillies sent seven players to the AFL this year, and there are 11 more scattered across leagues in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela. There are 15 more listed on rosters, mostly in the Venezuelan League, but they haven’t recorded any stats yet and may not actually be playing. This is an update on the Phillies playing in Arizona and a handful of players in Latin leagues.
Tyler Cloyd, AFL- 1-2, 18 IP, 19 H, 11 ER, 5 BB, 16 K
Cloyd is in Scottsdale’s rotation which is why he’s the only Phillie with a significant number of innings. His ERA is a bit high at 5.50, but with a 1.33 WHIP, he’s probably been better than his ERA suggests. His K:BB ratio isn’t as good as it was in the regular season, but it’s still solid over 3.0. The AFL often isn’t friendly to fly ball pitchers, and Cloyd has allowed three home runs in his 18 innings. If Cloyd reaches his ultimate potential, which is probably unlikely, he could be a back end starter, and that would merit the Phillies protecting him in advance of the rule 5 draft.
Jake Diekman, AFL- 0-0, 7.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 9 K
Diekman was named to the AFL Rising Stars game that will be shown on MLB Network this Saturday, but that’s a bit of a misnomer. Unlike the Futures Game, the AFL isn’t all top prospects. Diekman is not a star, although he is rising. For the second consecutive season, Diekman limited batters to a batting average under .200, and his strikeout rate rose. With his fastball velocity and sidearm delivery, he could become a lefty specialist. The Phillies would need to protect him from the rule 5 draft.
B.J. Rosenberg, AFL- 0-1, 7 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
Rosenberg’s average regular season statistics were dragged down by a bad stint in the rotation, and he was pretty effective as a reliever. His arsenal is limited after his mid 90’s fastball, and that’s the reason the Phillies probably won’t have to protect him for the rule 5 draft. His strikeout and walk rates have always been good, but he does allow a lot of hits. If he was able to add a second pitch to go along with his fastball, he could be a viable middle reliever, but he’s probably running out of time.
Colby Shreve, AFL- 0-0, 8 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 7 K
Like the previous three pitchers, Shreve will be eligible for the rule 5 draft for the first time this winter. He’s unlikely to be picked and shouldn’t warrant a spot on the 40 man roster in the offseason. He was moved to the bullpen, likely for good, soon after the 2011 season started, and he eventually became a more effective pitcher. He only has 12.2 IP above the low-A level in his career, so it’s not surprising that he’s not doing well in Arizona. He needs some more seasoning.
Cody Overbeck, AFL- 46 AB, 11 R, 2 XBH, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1/2 SB, .283 BA, .421 OBP, .348 SLG
In some ways, Overbeck’s AFL campaign is similar to Matt Rizzotti’s from last year. Both were fighting for a spot on the 40 man roster, and both are big players that should offer power but didn’t in Arizona. Rizzotti hit for a better average, but they both hit a lot of singles and provided patience. The one thing Overbeck offers that Rizzotti doesn’t is a little more positional flexibility, but he’ll never be confused with an athlete. He’s eligible for the rule 5 draft, but he probably won’t be taken.
Darin Ruf, AFL- 51 AB, 9 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, .216 BA, .333 OBP, .412 SLG
Ruf is the only Phillies representative in the AFL that isn’t rule 5 eligible this offseason. He’s showing great patience and power, but obviously he needs to make better contact. It’s not surprising that he’s struggling putting the ball in play since he’s never played above high-A, but as a 25 year old, he’ll need to pick it up in his career. As a bat only player at first base, his potential is limited.
Tyson Gillies, AFL- 48 AB, 12 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1/1 SB, .208 BA, .356 OBP, .313 SLG
Gillies’ numbers are poor, but the important thing is that he’s managed to play an entire schedule without being hurt… so far. It’s clear they’re still being cautious with him because he only has one steal attempt when stealing should be a huge part of his game. In theory, a player that plays a good centerfield with a good arm and hits for good contact with patience is a very valuable player, but Gillies has yet to prove that on the field. Because he has so little experience above high-A, it’s extremely unlikely that he could stick in the majors for a full season, but maybe some team is looking to hit the lottery in the rule 5 draft.
Leandro Castro, Dominican Republic- 1 G
His Moonlight Graham appearance in the winter league is pretty insignificant, but it would be nice to get an indication that he was healthy after missing half of the season with Clearwater in 2011. There are still two months left in the season for him to get on the field, so he has plenty of games to get at bats to make up for his missed time. It’s believed Houston wanted him in the Hunter Pence trade, but he ultimately wasn’t traded due to his injury. His hitting is his only above average tool, but players can reach the majors with that profile.
Freddy Galvis, Venezuela- 29 AB, 5 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 0/1 SB, .241 BA, .371 OBP, .276 SLG
Recently, it was reported that the Phillies request that Galvis cut his winter ball season short, and this could be for a couple reasons. He had a wrist injury that kept him out of action for a couple weeks, but he’s since returned. They may just want him to take some time off before spring training which could be the most crucial of his career. He needs to repeat whatever workout regimen he used last offseason to add the strength he did, and if he needs time off from actually playing to train, it’s the right move.
Carlos Rivero, Venezuela- 32 AB, 3 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, .219 BA, .265 OBP, .406 SLG
Unlike the players in the AFL, Rivero is already on the 40 man roster, and the Phillies need to decide if they want to keep him on. His upside is likely only a utility infielder, and the organization has a number of fringe major league infielders in the upper levels of the minors. The Phillies picked up Rivero when the Indians dropped him off the 40 man roster, and it’s possible that another team could be interested. He has the potential to develop power, but he may still not profile as a third baseman.