The first thing you need to know about The Fish Watch is that it’s not a list of sleepers. It is instead a list of players at various points in their respective minor league journeys that for one reason or another have piqued my interest enough that I am watching their development more closely than the bulk of prospects out there. To read more about this project, check out the introduction and master list.
Obviously since the season is over and some teams have had two updates, some have only had one and the NL West teams have had zero coverage thus far, this project did not work out as I had planned on many levels. Undeterred I’m going to sally forth and finish off this round of updates and call it good. Next season if I attempt this again I’m going to have to make some major changes to the structure, plan and concept of this series.
Feel free to check out the category archive to read previous installments of the series.
Philadelphia Phillies (S2S 2012 Phillies Team Prospect List)
RHP – Julio Rodriguez (21) – Phillies 2008 8th Round Pick
Rodriguez, like the Mets Darin Gorski (covered in yesterday’s article), had a fantastic 2011 season while pitching in the FSL and finished in league’s the top-3 in a number of statistical categories. They shared further commonalities including the general skepticism that they would be able to hold up against Double-A hitters. 2012 was a proving ground season for both.
Rodriguez lacks premium stuff, and none of his pitches grade out that well but everything in his arsenal plays up due to the natural deception that his delivery creates and he receives high marks for his “pitchability” in almost every report you will read about him. Those two traits explain how a guy with a fastball that tops out at 90 mph, and three other pitches (curve, slider and change) that are at their best average, continues to strike out opposing hitters at a rate comparable with some of the best power pitching prospects around.
He took the Eastern League head on and, for the fourth consecutive season, struck out more than a batter per inning (9.1 SO/9). He also gave up less than a hit per inning, but his 8.1 H/9 was well above the 5.7-6.5 range he sat in from 2009 to 2011. Double-A hitters, as expected, presented more of a challenge and made better contact but still were unable to really square him up on a regular basis. After holding opposing batters to an average below 0.200 in all but his first professional season (2008), they got to him enough this year to produce a 0.243/.365/.396 slash line. The one area where he took a step back was in his walk rate which ballooned to 5.1 BB/9 after cutting in from 4.0 in Williamsport (A-), to 3.5 with Lakewood (A) and 3.2 with Clearwater last season.
Rodriguez was a member of the world roster for the 2012 MLB Futures Game and had a rough go of things (1.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO, 1 HR) in Kansas City. His production tailed off toward the end of the year and that one inning of work may have played a part in messing with his confidence, but all in all he turned in a fairly successful year while making the jump to Double-A at 21-years old (he turned 22 at the end of August).
He’ll need to get his walk rate back down of course, but he proved over long stretches that he was capable of handling the level. Even at his worst – 6.58 ERA, 1.77 WHIP in 26.0 July innings – he was still striking out more than a batter per inning which is certainly a good sign. I’m generally more conservative when it comes to pitching prospects so I’d like to see the Phillies send him back to Reading to open the 2013 season, but it’s certainly reasonable for them to opt for an assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley instead.
2B – Carlos Alonso (24) – Phillies 2010 32nd Round Pick
Alonso’s 2011 campaign gave him some helium but aside from the slash stats, his excellent 13.2 BB% and even more impressive 7.1 K% he really lacks any other standout traits. As a 32nd round pick with very little fanfare, his 2012 season was worth keeping tabs on just to see if he could carry his performance with Lakewood up a level.
As you can see from the above, the production fell off, but the FSL isn’t the easiest place to hit. His walk rate dropped below 10 to 9.2% but he kept the strikeouts largely in check finishing with a 12.9% mark in that category.
At 24-years old – he will be 25 by Opening Day – he’s already behind the developmental 8-ball as a prospect and really needed a strong performance this past season to make up some ground. The Phillies clearly started grooming him for a utility role this past season having him play 13 games at SS, 20 at 3B, 28 in LF and another 33 at 2B. Considering he hadn’t played SS or LF prior to this season, adding some versatility was apparently a priority and picking up those new positions may have played a part in the drop in production. He should start 2013 in Double-A Reading and continue to develop his game while playing all over the field.
3B – Cody Asche (21) – Phillies 2011 4th Round Pick
2011 – Williamsport (A-): 0.192/.273/.264, 11 2B, 2 HR, 24 BB and 50 SO in 268 PA
2012 – Clearwater: 0.349/.378/.447, 13 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 10 SB, 12 BB and 37 SO in 270 PA
2012 – Reading: 0.300/.360/.513, 20 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 1 SB, 22 BB and 56 SO in 289 PA
Asche is one of the seven players Philadelphia has delegated to the Peoria Javelinas for action in the Arizona Fall League this month. Since I just wrote up a piece covering those seven Phillies farm hands three weeks ago, I’m going to reprint the paragraph on Asche here instead of restating the same thoughts in a different way:
Asche tore apart FSL pitching and landed himself on the S2S Mid-Season FSL All-Star Team as a result. He continued to produce after the promotion to the Eastern League and his natural left-handed power started to manifest itself as the season wore on. In fact he hit a very stout 0.369/.418/.648 during the month of August with 17 2B, 1 3B and 5 HR. At the time he was drafted there was a belief that he would have to move off of 3B – and he played 2B with Williamsport in 2011 – but the Phillies have stuck with him at the hot corner in 2012 and Baseball America recently named him the Best Defensive 3B in the Florida State League. Asche was left of a lot of prospect lists but after what he did in his first full minor league season that is certain to change. His stock has clearly gone up significantly and a strong AFL performance would pump even more helium into his status as a prospect.
For more on the Philadelphia Phillies, check out That Ball’s Outta Here!