The Reading Fightins were the last team to finish up it’s season in the Phillies organization and it came to an end on Friday night with a playoff loss to the Trenton Thunder. With the end of the 2019 minor league baseball year, here is a look at some notable players from each level and how their seasons went.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs AAA
The team was littered with veterans and filler-types throughout the year and they ended with a record of 66-74. Most of the pitching prospects had success in previous levels but struggled when they got to Triple A. This is starting to make me question the organization’s developmental strategies. If you take into consideration what happened with other recent young players (Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford, Maikel Franco, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez), the Phillies may have to take a long look at how they are (or rather, aren’t) teaching their minor leaguers.
One of the players that stood out on offense was Deivy Grullon. Phillies fans called all year for him to replace Andrew Knapp as the primary backup but it wasn’t until rosters expanded on September 1st when Grullon received the call. He proved that his power numbers from 2018 weren’t a fluke by going deep 21 times with 27 doubles in 407 at-bats. Grullon slashed .283/.354/.496 over the season. He projects to be a serviceable catcher you could stream and use during hot spells.
Another position player to keep an eye on is Austin Listi. He was promoted to Double A mid-season and was an above-average performer throughout his time in Triple A with a slash line of .278/.348/.490 and 12 home runs in 259 at-bats. Strikeouts are a concern for him. He could continue to develop into a future bench bat covering 1B and outfield.
Adam Haseley was promoted to help the outfield that was hit with a major injury bug. He also got hurt but performed very well in his first taste of the big leagues showing he will be a part of the team’s future.
Dylan Cozens got hurt and was expected to miss the entire year but he came back quicker than originally thought but was released by the team only to sign with Tampa Bay a few weeks later.
As far as the pitching goes, most of them did not perform that well this year. Enyel De Los Santos entered the year with solid expectations but struggled in his 11 innings at the big league level, giving up 9 runs. For Lehigh Valley, he walked 35 in 94 innings. He still has time to develop and could force his way into the team’s rotation plans with a solid showing next Spring but he may be more suited to a bullpen career. Cole Irvin had solid numbers for the team and was rewarded with a promotion in mid-June. He started off well in his first two starts but the wheels fell off shortly after. Without a dominant putaway pitch, he’s more of a 4/5 starter-type.
Damon Jones dominated for Clearwater and Reading striking out 119 in 70 innings after making adjustments in the off-season. He struggled after his promotion to Lehigh Valley walking almost a batter an inning and allowing 25 runs in 34 innings. After seeing what he did earlier in the year, I’m curious to see if he can adjust and put himself back into contention to help the team next year.
Ramon Rosso pitched much better than his final numbers show. After pitching very well for Reading, he was promoted to Lehigh Valley in mid-June. He had a 5.50 ERA and 1.43 WHIP for the triple A team but in the 14 games he pitched, only 4 of them could be considered bad games. He still projects to be a capable starter in the majors. The time to buy low would be now as other owners look as his overall poor numbers.
JoJo Romero, Jose Taveras and Kyle Dohy all struggled this year for the team. Dohy, however, kept his strikeout numbers high fanning 83 batters in 56 innings pitched. He also walked 54 while giving up 39 runs.
Connor Brogdon pitched very well across three levels with a WHIP of 0.92 and a 2.16 ERA nad 106 strikeouts in 76 innings. The 2010 7th round pick has put himself into conversation to help the bullpen in the future with solid command and a mid-90’s fastball.
Edgar Garcia, J.D. Hammer and Ranger Suarez were all called up to help a bullpen also demolished by injuries. Suarez pitched very well and could have found his niche has a bullpen achor for future years, while Garcia and Hammer both struggled and were sent down after their time.
Drew Anderson was designated for assignment in September likely ending his time in the organization.
Reading Fightin Phils AA
The Fightin Phils clinched a playoff spot this year and most of the top prospects ended their season here.
Alec Bohm was promoted three times this year and exceeded expectations with a cumulative slash line of .305/.378/.518 and 21 home runs in 475 at-bats. He showed the ability to handle third base, also, and chipped in 6 stolen bases. With Maikel Franco falling out of favor with the organization, we could see Bohm starting next year in the majors or sometime early in the season. He is a future middle-of-the-order masher who you should try to acquire now for your leagues, if it’s not too late.
Former top pick, Mickey Moniak, had his finest season yet – .252/.303/.439 – and was among the league leaders in triples with 13 and also had 15 stolen bases and 11 home runs in 465 at-bats. I still see a possible bench player in the future but nothing that will help your fantasy team.
Spencer Howard had a phenomenal year and, like Bohm, was promoted across three levels this year. He was shut down for about two months with shoulder soreness but came back and didn’t skip a beat. In his 71 innings, he had a 2.03 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 94 strikeouts with only 16 walks. He showed command and velocity and can be a solid future 2 starter maybe as soon as next year or 2021.
Adonis Medina was another top prospect in Reading this year. He just doesn’t have the consistency or command to be a frontline starter and he still has the name recognition to move for something else to help your team. In 105 innings, he struck out 82 and had a WHIP of 1.36 and an ERA of 4.94. Both of those ratios have been increasing each year as Medina has been moving up the ladder I would sell high on him in your dynasty league if you own him.
Addison Russ is a future closer/setup man in the big leagues. He led the team with 22 saves and had 81 strikeouts in only 56.2 innings pitched. He was a 19th round pick in the 2017 draft and has been dominating out of the pen since then.
Clearwater Threshers A+
The Threshers ended the year with an even 68-68 record in the Florida State league. Most of the pitchers had solid years but the hitters struggled. Much like their record, the players here are average. There are no future superstars but some of the players can develop to become major league contributors in some role.
Matt Vierling came out of the gates strong but faded once April turned to May and never got back on track. The outfielder ended the year with a slash line of .232/.289/.329 but he showed his speed with 22 stolen bases. It was just his first year in Clearwater so let’s see how he does in his second try.
On the other side of the spectrum, Jhailyn Ortiz started the year poorly but picked up the pace in May. While his average and OBP may always be below-average, he does have power hitting 18 home runs in 430 at-bats. He hit an even .200 with a .272 OBP. Just looking at the numbers, one can see there is still a lot of progress to be made here.
And Just like THAT! Jhailyn Ortiz hits a 2-run double then matin brought him home!!! THRESHERS ARE BACK ON TOP! This was his face when I yelled Good job buddy! Yes! What a happy face! pic.twitter.com/vRW4ZhIEug
— BaseballBetsy⚾ (@BaseballBetsy) July 12, 2019
Simon Muzziotti had a pretty solid year: .287/.337/.372 with 3 home runs and 21 steals.
Catching prospect, Rafael Marchan, also had a good year over two levels: .261/.333/.325 slash line. He has a solid hit-tool but there is no power to speak of just yet. In his 765 at-bats since 2016, he has zero home runs. He’s only 20 years old and has time to grow. The organization thinks very highly of him and if the power comes, he could be a future fantasy asset that you got real cheap.
Ethan Evanko appeared in 19 games across two levels and had a 0.97 WHIP with an ERA of 1.61. He’s 24 years old and this was his first season that stood out. He could be a late bloomer but he projects to being a back-end starter if he reaches the majors.
Kyle Glogoski pitched very well for Lakewood and Clearwater with 90 strikeouts in 80 innings. He had a 0.98 WHIP with an ERA of 1.68. The New Zealander may have had the 2nd best season of all pitching prospects behind Howard.
Coming off an impressive 2018, lefthander Kyle Young was looking to continue his success but got hurt after only 4 games and underwent Tommy John Surgery in May. When healthy, he has shown great control and strikeout numbers (1 walk and 25 strikeouts in 22 innings in for Clearwater).
Lakewood BlueClaws A
The BlueClaws ended their season with a 29-39 record in the South Atlantic League. Lakewood is a tough team to play for. The city isn’t located close to other teams in his league making for long bus rides. Also, being in the North, it’s much colder earlier in the year than in other cities.
Luis Garcia was one of the team’s highest-ranked prospects coming into the year but struggled mightily all season. He hit under .200 with only 4 home runs in 467 at-bats. HIs defense was strong throughout the year and his confidence never seemed to waver. After a successful 2018, I would have liked to see Garcia take a step forward this year but he doesn’t even turn 19 until October 1st so there’s plenty of time for that to happen.
— Jay Floyd (@PhoulBallz) September 5, 2019
With 159 strikeouts in 428 at-bats, Carlos De La Cruz also struggled in his first taste of A ball.
Seth Lancaster has a nice blend of speed and power but also struggled for Lakewood. He is 23 years old and was taken out of college so he’s a little more advanced than others and is also very versatile in the field, logging innings at every position this year except catcher.
Here’s one that didn’t struggle the whole year – Francisco Morales. He had a very poor April but pitched much better as the weather warmed up. Morales struck out 129 in 96 innings and his command got better each month. He has a solid future ahead of him, potentially developing into a 2/strong 3 starter.
In his first year back from surgery, Kevin Gowdy did not pitch very well at all. If there is one stat to sum up his year, it’s the 51 walks in 77 innings. He was highly touted when taken in the 2nd round back in 2016 so it could have been a matter of getting the rust off this year. 2020 will be an important year for him.
2019 4th round pick, Eirk Miller, had a solid year across three levels with 52 strikeouts in his 36 innings. He projects to a solid starter and could advance quickly.
Williamsport Crosscutters A-
This is the organization’s Short Season A team in the New York-Penn League. The Crosscutters finished their year with a 32-43 record.
After only 9 at-bats in GCL, the Phillies sent this year’s first round pick, Bryson Stott, Williamsport and he impressed immediately. Across both levels, he hit 6 home runs and stole 5 bases in 166 at-bats with a slash line of .295/.391/.494.
Kendall Simmons had strikeout issues but showed some good pop, hitting 12 home runs, which was 2nd in the league leader, Ezequiel Duran (who had 65 more at-bats than Simmons). He logged time at 2B, SS and 3B for the team to give him more options to climb the ladder.
Catcher Logan O’Hoppe was praised for his defense and leadership but took a step back offensively this year. After his solid 2018, I want to see what he’s capable of doing next year. Catchers take time to develop at he is only 19 years old and has time to develop.
RIghty Brett Schulze had a great season after being drafted in the 7th round in this year’s draft. In 26 innings, he had 34 strikeouts and a 0.38 ERA. The command issues he had in college, however, did follow him to professional ball, as he issued 16 walks this season. All in all, it was a solid first season for the hurler.
Gulf Coast League
This level is usually the first stop for all recent draftees and J2 signings. As far as stats go, small sample size applies here since the most at-bats for any players are usually around 100 at-bats or 30 innings pitched.
Starlyn Castillo was a big-name signing during last year’s J2 period. He finally debuted this year but gave up 8 runs in 9 innings.
Another name that should be familiar to fans is Jose Pujols. It was originally thougth that he would miss the season with an Achillie’s injury but he came back to go hitless in 3 games. Pujols had a nice 2018 season so I look forward to seeing him in action next year.
Johan Rojas is a name to watch. The 19 year old has good speed and some pop and makes good contact.
Marcus Lee Sang was the team’s 11th round pick in this year’s draft and showed off some good tools.
Tony Bps Spina is a lifelong baseball fan hailing from the City of Brotherly Love - Philadelphia! Tony has loved baseball since 1980 and has followed the Phillies through good and bad times. Tony is married with 3 kids and works for a financial institution but has enough free time to play in 20 fantasy baseball leagues with 75% of them being Dynasty Leagues. He lives a few blocks away from Citizens Bank Park and attends many Phillies games per year in addition to their minor league teams in Lehigh Valley and Reading. He can be reached on Twitter at @TonyBps1.