Philadelphia Phillies AFL Recap

Logan O'Hoppe, Arizona Fall League, November 2021 - Photo credit Vince Schmidt @AZ108365 on Instagram, @AZ108365 on Twitter

Editor note: Tony’s article was written before the upcoming Rule 5 Draft (major league portion) was canceled due to the work stoppage and lockout.

The major league season may be complete but there is still plenty of baseball to discuss (even with the lockout). The Arizona Fall League wrapped up and the Phillies assigned 7 of their prospects to the league. We’ll take a look at how they did this fall and what impact their performance had on their future in the organization.  After that, we’ll review which players the team added to its 40-man roster to protect them being selected in the Rule 5 Draft (which because of the lockout, the major league portion has been canceled, although there will still be a minor league portion).

Arizona Fall League Player Review

Bryson Stott, SS – Midseason Rank: 2
Age: 24
Highest 2021 Level: AAA
AFL Stats: .318/.445/.489/.934, 88 AB, 20 R, 2 HR, 31 RBI, 5 SB
AFL’s Performance’s Impact: Phillies General Manager, Dave Dombrowski, said during the end of the year press conference that Didi Gregorius isn’t guaranteed the shortstop job in 2022. He didn’t anoint Stott as the starter but did mention him as one of the young players that impressed him in 2021. Stott was named to the Fall Stars team after his great showing this fall where he continue to hit after his strong 2021 season. This performance in the Fall league can go a long way in giving him a fast start on the job as he enters Spring Training.

Hans Crouse, RHP – Midseason Rank: 6
Age: 23
Highest 2021 Level: Major Leagues
AFL Stats: 4 G, 4 GS, 16 IP, 24 K, 5.06 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
AFL’s Performance’s Impact:
Crouse came to the Phillies in the Kyle GIbson/Ian Kennedy deal at the trade deadline and started two games for the big league team and performed well.  He was Texas’s 2nd Round pick (66th overall) in the 2017 draft and was one of their top pitching prospects right away. He pitched well for the Rangers but needed elbow surgery after the 2019 season. That, along with 2020’s season cancellation limited his innings but he came back strong this year in the minors for both organizations. In Arizona, he appeared in 4 games with 24 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched.  On the day that he was removed from Peoria’s roster, Crouse was leading the league in strikeouts. He walked 9 in those 16 innings which is something he has to get under better control if he is to compete for a spot in the rotation next year. Crouse has potential to make the team right out of Spring Training so he’s definitely someone to take a gamble on in fantasy drafts next season.

Erik Miller, LHP – Midseason Rank: 18
Age: 23
Highest 2021 Level: A+
AFL Stats: 6 G, 0 GS, 10 IP, 12 K, 1.80 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
AFL’s Performance’s Impact:
Miller was the team’s 4th round pick in the 2019 draft out of Stanford University, where he showed good velocity but poor command. That trend continued into his minor league career but before he could work to refine it, he got injured. Miller pitched only 36 innings in 2019 then finally got back for 2021 and threw only 12.2 innings across three levels. Overall in his minor league career, he’s walked almost 5 batter per 9 innings but striking out over 12 per 9.  The lack of command followed him to Arizona but the important thing is that he’s finally healthy and got in some work to prepare for a full season next year. With his mid 90’s fastball and great slider, we could be looking at a potential mid-starter if he can refine that command.

Damon Jones, LHP – Midseason Rank: 19
Age: 27
Highest 2021 Level: Major Leagues
AFL Stats: 8 G, 0 GS, 10.1 IP, 14 K, 0.87 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
AFL’s Performance’s Impact:
It’s no secret that the Phillies have needed relievers the past two seasons but it’s curious that Jones only threw 11 pitches for the big league team last year. Jones pitched very well as a starter in the minors through AA ball. Once he was promoted to AAA, the high amount of walks caught up to him and he struggled there. He never had the best command but Jones succeeded previously in spite of his wildness.  As with Miller above, the walks followed him to Arizona but so have the strikeout ratios and Jones was named to the Fall Stars team, which was a pleasant surprise. He’s a little older as far as prospects go, having just turned 27 and will have to fight for a spot in the bullpen in Spring Training.

Logan O’Hoppe, C – Midseason Rank: 23
Age: 21
Highest 2021 Level: AAA
AFL Stats: .299/.440/.519/.960, 77 AB, 19 R, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 3 SB
AFL’s Performance’s Impact:
Even though Realmuto is locked up for a few more years, Andrew Knapp is the backup which gives optimism that the team could look to O’Hoppe or Rafael Marchan to make the roster. O’Hoppe performed very well during his time in Arizona, continuing his breakout year that saw him hit a home run at each level he played this year – A, AA, AAA in addition to Arizona. He only had 23 at-bats in triple A so look for him to start 2022 there with a potential promotion later in the year.  For those in dynasty leagues, try to acquire him now before the season starts.

Simon Muzziotti, OF – Midseason Rank: 26
Age: 22
Highest 2021 Level: AAA
AFL Stats: .254/.308/.293/.601 , 67 AB, 10 R, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 3 SB
AFL’s Performance’s Impact:
Muzziotti appeared in only 20 games this season due to Visa issues so the time in Arizona was needed to continue his development.  While he wasn’t on the Stott/O’Hoppe level, he more than held his own this fall. Muzziotti is more of a speed/average over power play which could help in dynasty leagues if it all comes together for him in the future. The team doesn’t have many outfielders currently on the roster but, even with that, Muzziotti probably won’t make the team out of Spring Training.  He will need more time at triple A to warrant promotion next year.

James McArthur, RHP – Midseason Rank: 47
Age: 24
Highest 2021 Level: AA
AFL Stats: 5 G, 5 GS, 16.2 IP, 18 K, 8.10 ERA, 1.68 WHIP
AFL’s Performance’s Impact:
McArthur was protected from exposure to the Rule 5 draft when the team added him to their 40-man roster showing his Arizona performance didn’t impact him too much. The big right-hander performed well in the second half of the year for AA and could get a shot in the majors late next year. The team’s 12th round pick in the 2018 draft out of the University of Mississippi who throws a high-90’s fastball and has worked mostly as a starter during his time in the minors. He does have some command issues and is a little older for a prospect, turning 25 in December. McArthur is probably close to pitching out of the bullpen for a major league team, which forced the Phillies to add him to their roster.

40-Man Roster Additions

In addition to McArthur above, the Phillies added two other players to their roster, protecting all of them from exposure to the Rule 5 draft. Let’s take a look at each of these players and why they possibly made these moves.

Jhailyn Ortiz, OF – Midseason Rank: 13

At one point when the organization signed Ortiz, it would have been unthinkable that we would be discussing the possibility of the team losing him in this draft. He was signed back during the 2015-2016 J2 period for more money than others in the class.  He was eligible to be picked in 2019 and 2020 Rule 5 drafts but was not selected both times. This  time around, it could have been a different ending had the team not added him to the roster after a much improved season where he hit 23 home runs in 391 at bats between A+ and AA. Ortiz will always have swing and miss to his game but the immense power potential that he possesses was too much to risk losing him again. Ortiz spent time in rightfield and centerfield but is more suited long-term to DH. With the possibility of the National League adapting the role soon, it would have made Ortiz a nice target for another team to take him and gamble on his development at the major league level.

Luis Garcia, SS – Midseason Rank: 15

As with Ortiz, Garcia’s inclusion in this discussion is also surprising after the hype when he was signed during the 2017 signing period. At the time he was the 3rd ranked shortstop in that class with potential to be performing in the majors by this time. Garcia’s glove has always been amazing and he burst on the scene in 2018 in the Rookie league slashing .369/.433/.488.  He moved up in 2019 to A- and struggled the entire year, which could have been due to being almost 4 years younger than his competition.  The 2020 season being cancelled hurt Garcia’s development but he did look much better in 2021. It was highly unlikely a team would have selected him in this draft considering these struggles and his age. Having him languish on a bench for a year wouldn’t have been good for the young shortstop.  I expect him to open 2022 in AA with an eye to the major leagues in late 2023 if all goes well.

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.

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