How Are Philadelphia Phillies’ Acquisitions Faring in the Minors?


Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

At the behest of nearly everyone, the Philadelphia Phillies finally unloaded some of their aging talent, as well as their biggest trade chip in Cole Hamels in the last month. The argument still exists that Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro Jr. waited entirely too long to make some of these deals, and while his detractors could be correct, Amaro did a pretty good job of rebuilding the club’s farm system. If you include the trade of Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers last December, the Phillies acquired 13 players, and of those 13, eleven rank in the top-30 of Philadelphia’s prospect rankings. The lone exceptions are Matt Harrison, a 29-year-old lefty that has been with the Rangers since 2008, and Jimmy Cordero, a 23-year-old righty currently in Triple-A.

These trades, in particular the Hamels’ deal, set up the Phillies for a moderately quick rebuild. Prospects like pitcher Jake Thompson (#3 in Phillies’ system), outfielder Nick Williams (#4) and catcher Jorge Alfaro (#5), coupled with #5 overall prospect, shortstop J.P. Crawford and the recent arrival of Aaron Nola in the big leagues set up a nice foundation for Phily to build upon in coming seasons.

Each of their top-5 prospects have an estimated time of arrival of some time in 2016, so the future may not be too far off. Let’s take a look at how each of the Phillies new additions has fared since being traded.

Next: Revere/Papelbon Trade Returns

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Revere and Papelbon

Ben Revere is arbitration eligible following this season, and still has two more years of team control, but with the outfielder making $4.1 million this year, and that figure likely to go up while the club isn’t ready to compete, may as well get some younger, cheaper talent in return, no? That’s just what the Phillies did when they traded Revere to the Blue Jays for minor league pitchers Jimmy Cordero (AA) and Alberto Tirado (A+).

The team took the same approach by moving Jonanthan Papelbon to Washington, saving $11 million next season, and netting Nick Pivetta (AA). Here is a look at each of these player’s stats as members of the Phillies’ farm system.

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Pivetta and Tirado are ranked 14 and 16 on the farm according to MLB Pipeline, and while Tirado’s ERA is minuscule in limited exposure with Clearwater, his WHIP tells us that he is walking too many batters and that he is relying on his fastball (which can touch 98) to get out of jams. Toronto had moved him into the bullpen this season, and with an arm like that, the Phillies may have a solid reliever down the road if he can harness his pitches.

Pivetta started the season off strong in High-A Potomac with a 2.29 ERA over 86 1/3 innings, but has struggled in Double-A at both stops, Harrisburg and Reading. His strikeout numbers spiked when he reached Reading, totaling 19, or one per inning, compared to the six he had put up in 15 innings with Harrisburg. There is a chance that pitching coach David Lundquist could be setting the foundation for Pivetta to have a solid 2016 season.

Next: Replacing the Double Play Combo

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Utley and Rollins

In trading Chase Utley this week and Jimmy Rollins last December, the Phillies brought in some solid talent, namely pitcher Zach Eflin and switch-hitting second baseman/outfielder Darnell Sweeney, ranked 9 and 11 in the Phillies’ system. Pitchers Tom Windle (17) and John Richy (30) completed the return for the former Philadelphia double-play duo, with Windle potentially being a fit in the bullpen while Richy could be a back-of-the-rotation option in a couple of years.

Darnell Sweeney has been added to the Phillies’ roster, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout thus far, but let’s take a look at his minor league numbers this season as a member of one of the best teams in the Pacific Coast League, the Oklahoma City Dodgers.

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As you can see, Sweeney has the potential to threaten for an outfield spot next season. At the very least he will be a depth option to be used along with Nick Williams (who we will talk about shortly) and Roman Quinn both projected to reach the majors in 2016, as well as Kelly Dugan if he can stay healthy. Add in Domonic Brown, Cody Asche and Odubel Herrera, and the Phils will have plenty of options to consider when filling their outfield next season.

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After struggling as a starter through the first half of the season, Windle has transitioned into a relief pitcher and has seen great results. His first appearance out of the ‘pen came on June 30, and since then the lefty has amassed 21 innings and compiled a 1.29 ERA. Windle has been striking batters out at a higher clip in relief while also walking fewer, leading to a 0.95 WHIP compared to his WHIP of 1.67 as a starter. If this success continues, there is a chance that Windle could find himself in the big leagues sometime next season.

Eflin isn’t a high strikeout pitcher; instead he pitches to contact to limit his pitch count to get himself deeper into ballgames. Because of this, MLB Pipeline projects Eflin as a “middle-of-the-rotation workhorse.”

Richy has been up and down this season, starting off poorly, then flip-flopping good months will bad ones since. His best month was July, where he made five starts for a total of 31 2/3 innings and put up an ERA of 2.87. He allowed just ten earned in that span, striking out 29 and walking seven. Yet, in keeping with the “what goes up must come down” mantra, August has been Richy’s worst month this season, allowing 11 earned in 13 1/3 innings for an ERA of 7.43. Since Richy was just traded, he has yet to make a start with the Phillies’ organization, meaning that all of these stats are in the hitter friendly California League, so there’s some room for optimism.

Next: Goodbye, Ace; Hello, Prospects!

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Hamels and the Rebuild

Trading Cole Hamels to the Rangers was a move that had to be made, and the return is already paying dividends as Jerad Eickhoff made his first start in the big leagues on Friday night, tossing six shutout innings, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out five. Eickhoff recorded the win and also went 1-for-2 with two RBI. His fastball rates at a 65 on the 20-80 scale, ranging from 91-95, but able to touch 97. Pipeline projects him as a “workhorse number three starter if he can improve upon the command of his changeup. If not, he can be a late-inning reliever whose pitchers show a bit more power in shorter stints.”

In his first start with Triple-A Round Rock this season, Eickhoff went 8 1/3 innings and allowed just one hit while striking out 11. He gave up two runs after a walk and a homer ended his evening.

As for the rest of the players involved in the Hamels deal, here is what we’re looking at.

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Jorge Alfaro is the second ranked catching prospect in baseball behind Kyle Schwarber, who has been lighting it up with the Cubs. Alfaro has been out of action since June with an ankle injury, and with the season winding down it’s likely that we’ll have to wait until next season to see what Alfaro can do.

Williams on the other hand has a stat line that inspires a lot of optimism for coming seasons, and it gets even better when we look at what he’s done since being added to the Fightin’ Phils. With Reading, Williams is batting .352 with a .361 OBP, three homers and nine RBI over a 16-game span. While Williams will likely receive some time in Triple-A next season before a promotion to the big leagues, fans in Philly should be buzzing about the impending arrival of one Nick Williams.

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On the rubber, the buzz should be surrounding Jake Thompson, a six-foot-four righty with a slider that Pipeline describes as “a true wipeout pitch at times.” In four Double-A starts since the trade, Thompson is 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA. Thompson’s ETA is actually 2015, so there is a decent chance that the righty could be challenging for a spot in the rotation during spring training. He projects as a solid number three starter, with the potential to be a number two with some refinement of his control.

Like most of the prospects that have been traded, Asher has performed better since becoming a member of the Philadelphia Phillies organization, going 1-0 with a 2.84 in three starts. Four of the six earned runs that Asher has given up in that span have come via the long ball, so that is something to keep an eye out for, but home runs haven’t hurt him to this point. Again, we look to Pipeline for some scouting, and they said of the righty, “He lacks a true plus pitch but has consistently performed and could end up as an innings-eating mid-rotation starter.”

The Phils also acquired Matt Harrison in the deal, and he still has a couple of years of team control left. Injuries have derailed Harrison the last three seasons, totaling just nine starts in that span, but hey, there’s always hope.

Next: Timetable for Contention

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Timetable for Contention

Whether or not the Phillies did well in these trades remains to be seen, but no trades are guaranteed. That’s just the nature of the beast. Ruben Amaro has done a pretty good job of acquiring talent, however, and there is a lot of upside with the talent he has brought in. Some of the larger contracts have been removed from the club for the next season or two, while moving their veterans now allows Philadelphia to see what they are working with for the next season or so, before (presumably) hitting the free agent market after the 2016 season.

Depending on what additions the Phillies make during free agency this off-season, we should see a much better team on the field, at least in spurts, during the 2016 season. There is talent in the minor leagues, but not everyone can come out on fire like Carlos Correa or  Kyle Schwarber. Instead, many of these players will likely need to learn the ropes, which will lead to 2017 being a full “rebound” season.

Depending on how quickly Cornelius Randolph and Franklyn Kilome develop, we should be looking at a competitive Philadelphia squad around 2018 or 2019, but the seasons from now until then will not be as filled with despair as the 2015 season has been for the Philly faithful.

Next: SF Giants September Options