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Phillies Pipeline

All-around excellent Kingery is top 2B prospect

With Hernandez entrenched at MLB level, young star to showcase versatility at camp
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Scott Kingery is one of those players who has captured the imagination of Phillies fans. Top prospects can do that.

MLB Pipeline ranks Kingery, 23, as the top second-base prospect in baseball. He hit a combined .304 with 29 doubles, eight triples, 26 home runs, 65 RBIs, 29 stolen bases and an .889 OPS with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season. He not only hits, he plays fantastic defense and is a burner on the bases.

PHILADELPHIA -- Scott Kingery is one of those players who has captured the imagination of Phillies fans. Top prospects can do that.

MLB Pipeline ranks Kingery, 23, as the top second-base prospect in baseball. He hit a combined .304 with 29 doubles, eight triples, 26 home runs, 65 RBIs, 29 stolen bases and an .889 OPS with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season. He not only hits, he plays fantastic defense and is a burner on the bases.

So, when will the Phillies see him in 2018?

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

"We have a really good Major League second baseman right now in Cesar Hernandez, whose performance the past couple years has graded out among the better second basemen in all of baseball at a remarkably consistent way," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said recently. "I don't want to discount the importance of that and the impact of that. That doesn't mean we think any less of Scott Kingery, but time will tell when he arrives. But if he continues to do what he's done since he joined the Phillies organization I would expect that he'd make his Major League debut this coming year."

Hernandez, 27, hit a combined .294 with a .372 on-base percentage and a .778 OPS the past two seasons. He ranks 24th out of 131 qualified hitters in baseball in on-base percentage in that time.

The Phillies believe Hernandez has earned his spot as the Opening Day second baseman.

But there are other factors at play, too. If the Phillies promote Kingery, the organization's No. 3 prospect, on April 13 or later, they guarantee that he will be under team control through 2024 instead of '23. The Cubs waited until a similar date to promote Kris Bryant a few years ago, keeping him in a Cubs uniform through '21 instead of '20.

Video: Rosenbaum previews top second base prospects

Cubs fans are thankful they did.

If the Phillies wait until early June to promote Kingery he also is likely to avoid qualifying for Super Two status for salary arbitration, although it is difficult to imagine the deep-pocketed Phillies not promoting Kingery a week or two earlier if the need arose.

The biggest factor remains Hernandez. The Phillies really like him. They got a few offers for him this offseason, but they did not like what they heard. The team sees Hernandez as an All-Star-caliber second baseman, meaning Kingery will have to play well in Spring Training and play well with the IronPigs to get his shot. Expect Kingery to move around the infield in spring, increasing his versatility.

"I expect he'll show really well for himself in big league camp because that's what Scott Kingery does," Klentak said. "He works hard. He plays well. He defends. He runs the bases. He can hit. He's growing into some power. He's a very easy player to like. I think it's important for Scott Kingery to continue to get exposure to the Major League club, to the new Major League coaching staff and see where it goes."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Philadelphia Phillies

Alfaro ranked MLB's sixth-best catching prospect

Phillies backstop boasts plenty of power, strong arm
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro is not one of those hitters that sees a lot of pitches or draws a lot of walks.

The Phils value those things. They love hitters that "control the strike zone." But that does not mean they do not have high expectations for Alfaro. On Thursday, Alfaro was ranked as the sixth-best catching prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. He is going to make the Opening Day roster, assuming he stays healthy, partly because he is out of options and partly because he showed promise in 29 games last season.

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro is not one of those hitters that sees a lot of pitches or draws a lot of walks.

The Phils value those things. They love hitters that "control the strike zone." But that does not mean they do not have high expectations for Alfaro. On Thursday, Alfaro was ranked as the sixth-best catching prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. He is going to make the Opening Day roster, assuming he stays healthy, partly because he is out of options and partly because he showed promise in 29 games last season.

"The thing I think we're all most pleased about with Jorge is that he looks right now like he belongs and he feels it," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said late last season. "I think when you watch him, putting aside what his batting line is or his caught stealing percentage is and the actual production, he looks like he knows he belongs now and he's playing with confidence. He's learning and growing. By no means do we feel he's a finished product. But it's very encouraging heading into next year, to see what he's doing this year and the confidence he has."

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

Alfaro, 24, hit .318 with six doubles, five home runs, 14 RBIs and an .874 OPS in 114 plate appearances. The Phillies' No. 5 prospect showed his tremendous power on Aug. 15, hitting a home run in San Diego that left his bat at 114.2 mph. It was the hardest hit home run by a Phillies hitter since Statcast™'s debut in 2015.

Alfaro also walked just three times and struck out 33 times. He saw only 3.43 pitches per plate appearance, last out of 16 Phillies hitters with 100 or more plate appearances. Former Phils hitting coach Matt Stairs said during the final weekend of the season that Alfaro might not be a hitter that walks more than 20-30 times a season, but he was encouraged because Alfaro swung at fewer pitches outside the strike zone.

Video: Statcast™: Alfaro headlines Phillies' longest homers

Defensively, Alfaro has a tremendous arm. He recorded three of the four hardest throws by a catcher last season. His average of 88.1 mph on "max effort" throws (those in a player's 90th percentile of effort or higher) was best in baseball among catchers with a minimum of five tracked "max effort" plays. Eight of his 10 tracked throws to second base clocked below the MLB average of 2.0 seconds.

Interestingly, Alfaro threw out only 23.5 percent (4-of-17) of base stealers, although other factors could be in play (pitchers time to plate, balls in dirt, etc.).

There is no question Alfaro needs to improve his catching. Baseball Prospectus' framing runs metric ranked Alfaro 42nd out of 73 catchers with a minimum of 1,000 framing chances at -2.5 runs.

But the tools are there. It is why the Phillies wanted Alfaro in the Cole Hamels trade with Texas in July 2015. If Alfaro can harness those tools, the Phillies could have a frontline catcher on their hands. He will get his opportunity to prove himself in '18.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Philadelphia Phillies, Jorge Alfaro

Hammer time? Righty eyes 'Major League' role

Resembling Ricky Vaughn, bespectacled reliever among Phils' non-roster invitees
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- J.D. Hammer's story is a familiar one.

He could not see the catcher or home plate from the mound because of poor vision, posing problems early in his professional baseball career. But he got his vision checked following the 2016 season and picked out a pair of thick black plastic frames to wear on the field. He could see.

PHILADELPHIA -- J.D. Hammer's story is a familiar one.

He could not see the catcher or home plate from the mound because of poor vision, posing problems early in his professional baseball career. But he got his vision checked following the 2016 season and picked out a pair of thick black plastic frames to wear on the field. He could see.

Sounds a little like Ricky Vaughn in the movie "Major League," right?

"People have asked me to put on the skull and crossbones," Hammer said last week at Citizens Bank Park, referring to Vaughn's glasses in the movie. "But you've got to be a stud to have those."

The Phillies announced Wednesday that Hammer, 23, is one of eight additional players that will join the team in Spring Training as non-roster invitees. The others are right-handers Enyel De Los Santos and Tom Eshelman; left-handers Cole Irvin and Brandon Leibrandt; catcher Edgar Cabral; second baseman Scott Kingery (the Phils' No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline) and outfielder Andrew Pullin.

Hammer joined the organization in July in the Pat Neshek trade with Colorado. He will be one of the most recognizable players in camp because of his trademark glasses. Of course, he hopes to stand out for his performance on the mound, too.

The early returns have been encouraging. He went 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA in 12 appearances with Class A Advanced Clearwater following the trade, striking out 20, walking two and allowing eight hits in 15 2/3 innings. He posted an 0.66 ERA in 10 appearances in the Arizona Fall League, striking out 11, walking seven and allowing four hits in 13 2/3 innings.

Video: J.D. Hammer discusses pitching in Fall League

Hammer said he thought he could not see the catcher's signs during his Rookie-ball season with Grand Junction in 2016 because of shadows. The catcher called for a fastball, but he threw a slider. The catcher called for a slider, but he threw a fastball.

"I was just beating up the catcher," Hammer said. "He came out to the mound and said, 'Do I need to start doing touches?' I was like, 'Well, aren't you putting down curveball?' He said, 'No, I'm putting down fastball.' So after the season I said, 'I've got to get checked just for the safety of others.' The eye doctor said, 'I don't know how you've been throwing without contacts or glasses.' It was literally like the movie. They were like, 'You really shouldn't be doing anything without them.'"

Hammer chose glasses over contacts because contacts burn his eyes.

"I was like, 'OK, if I'm going to do glasses, I might as well do something different,'" he said. "They kind of look like the Wild Thing, so I figured I might as well just go for it. I got teased last spring. I got called everything from Harry Potter to Professor, but it's kind of what I've been known for.

"But the glasses were a game changer. I don't know if I got better [in 2017] or if it was the glasses."

Maybe a little bit of both.

But if Hammer's success continues, he could be in line for a big league promotion. Talented relievers can move fast through a farm system.

"It always feels close," Hammer said. "You can get called up at any minute. But Fall League got me that taste. I was like, 'Wow, this is close.'"

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Philadelphia Phillies, J.D. Hammer

Sixto climbing up prospect rankings

Phillies' 19-year-old is No. 10 on MLB Pipeline's updated RHP list
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have a group of young pitchers that will be fighting for rotation jobs this spring.

The best young arm in the Phillies' system is not ready for that opportunity, but he could move himself into position with a strong 2018. MLB Pipeline on Tuesday ranked Sixto Sanchez as the 10th-best right-handed prospect in baseball. He is the No. 47 prospect overall.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have a group of young pitchers that will be fighting for rotation jobs this spring.

The best young arm in the Phillies' system is not ready for that opportunity, but he could move himself into position with a strong 2018. MLB Pipeline on Tuesday ranked Sixto Sanchez as the 10th-best right-handed prospect in baseball. He is the No. 47 prospect overall.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

Sanchez, 19, is expected to open the season with Class A Advanced Clearwater. He went 5-3 with a 2.41 ERA in 13 starts last season with Class A Lakewood before earning a promotion to Clearwater. He went 0-4 with a 4.55 ERA in five starts with the Threshers, but it should be noted that he was the youngest starting pitcher in the league.

In other words, don't let the record and ERA fool you.

Video: Zolecki discusses Sanchez's potential with Phillies

Sanchez is legit. He regularly throws his fastball in the high 90s. He hits 100 mph on occasion. And he throws the pitch for strikes. He struck out 84 batters and walked just 18 in 95 innings.

No-hit stuff? The kid has it.

The guy everybody wants from the Phillies in a trade? Absolutely.

The next step for Sanchez will be fine-tuning his secondary pitches. If he does that, he could be starting for Double-A Reading before the end of the year. And then all bets are off from that point. Pitchers make the jump from Double-A to the big leagues all the time. It might not happen in 2018 for Sanchez, but it shouldn't be much longer than that if he develops as the Phillies expect.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Philadelphia Phillies, Sixto Sanchez

Crawford ready to fill Galvis' shoes at short

Phillies confident prospect can prove himself offensively in 2018
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- If the Phillies surprise people in 2018, it will be because multiple things broke their way.

One of those things is solid play at shortstop. Rookie J.P. Crawford will replace Freddy Galvis, whom the Phils traded to the Padres last month. Crawford, 23, hit .214 with four doubles, one triple and six RBIs in 87 plate appearances in September. He posted a .356 on-base percentage, giving the front office confidence that Crawford will find his way offensively in 2018.

PHILADELPHIA -- If the Phillies surprise people in 2018, it will be because multiple things broke their way.

One of those things is solid play at shortstop. Rookie J.P. Crawford will replace Freddy Galvis, whom the Phils traded to the Padres last month. Crawford, 23, hit .214 with four doubles, one triple and six RBIs in 87 plate appearances in September. He posted a .356 on-base percentage, giving the front office confidence that Crawford will find his way offensively in 2018.

Crawford, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively and Victor Arano recently participated in MLB/MLBPA's Rookie Career Development Program. Crawford spoke about the trade that made him the Phillies' everyday shortstop.

"I love Freddy," said Crawford, the Phillies' No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. "He is one of the greatest teammates I'll ever play with. He helped me out so much when I got called up. Every day we were taking ground balls, he was helping me. I hope the best for him in San Diego."

Video: Zolecki on Phillies trading Galvis to the Padres

Galvis was a National League Gold Glove Award finalist each of the previous two seasons. He posted a career-high .309 on-base percentage and a .690 OPS last year. Crawford impressed defensively in September, and the Phils believe his floor offensively should match Galvis' recent production.

In other words, they expect Crawford to at least equal Galvis' contributions this season.

But Crawford can do better than that if he applies the lessons he said he learned in September, which he believes will help him offensively.

"I think I've got to work on getting stronger and staying with my approach," Crawford said. "Not getting out of my approach and swinging for the fences and whatnot -- I think that's where I get in trouble. Be confident, don't lose sight of anything and just be yourself and have fun."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Philadelphia Phillies, J.P. Crawford

Phils prospects making name for themselves

Club's young talent on display at organization's seminar
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies not only have a farm system loaded with promising pitchers, they have one loaded with promising pitchers with names that have caught the imagination of the fan base.

Sixto, Seranthony, Ranger, Adonis, JoJo ...

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies not only have a farm system loaded with promising pitchers, they have one loaded with promising pitchers with names that have caught the imagination of the fan base.

Sixto, Seranthony, Ranger, Adonis, JoJo ...

A handful of the organization's top Minor Leaguers are in town this week for its annual prospects seminar. The group includes pitchers Enyel De Los Santos, Seranthony Dominguez, Tom Eshelman, JD Hammer, Cole Irvin, Franklyn Kilome, JoJo Romero, Ranger Suarez and Jose Taveras and outfielder Cornelius Randolph. Kilome (seventh), De Los Santos (ninth), Randolph (13th), Suarez (15th), Romero (16th), Eshelman (22nd) and Dominguez (30th) are ranked among the organization's Top 30 Prospects by MLB Pipeline. Irvin, Hammer and Taveras would rank among the Top 30 in other organizations, but the Phillies have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball.

"I'm not on any lists or anything like that. I know that because my friends tell me about that stuff," Irvin chuckled on Tuesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "But I don't pay attention to that. The organization has done a really good job of that. If you're not on a list, they still care about you. It's awesome to have that feeling that the organization cares about everyone and everyone is an equal."

Video: PHI@PIT: Eshelman strikes out Bell in the 4th inning

Plenty has been written about the pitchers' fastball velocities, strikeout rates and future roles in the big leagues, which is why MLB.com made valuable use of its time on Tuesday afternoon and asked Dominguez, Suarez and Romero if there is a story behind their names.

Romero: There have been four players named Jo-Jo in the big leagues, but none have gone without a dash. "My full name is Joseph Abel Romero. My grandpa is from Mexico. He bought me a birthday cake when I was five or six. He put 'YoYo' on it because he could never really say my first name because he has trouble speaking English. He'd always call me YoYo. That's how JoJo started with my family. Ever since then everybody in my family started to call me JoJo. It never really stuck as a baseball thing until my second year of junior college. All the scouts started calling me JoJo on their reports. I think a couple scouts would go to games and talk to my Dad. I think he referred to me JoJo, so they would just write down JoJo. When I'd meet with scouts, I'd introduce myself as Joseph and they would kind of be confused. 'JoJo?' Oh, yeah, that's me."

Suarez: There has never been a Ranger in the big leagues (other than the Texas Rangers). "Ranger is a combination of names, but it's more that everybody in my family has their first name start with 'R' -- Ricardo, Roberto, Ranger. Everybody's name must start with an 'R.' I just happened to be Ranger. I actually asked my mom about it. I asked if it had something to do with the [Mighty Morphin] Power Rangers. She said a little bit. In Williamsport they would call me the red Power Ranger."

Dominguez: There has never been a Seranthony in the big leagues. "I think it's from television. I'm not sure what show. My parents think they heard it on television."

Sixto Sanchez (No. 2 in the organization) and Adonis Medina (eighth) are too young for the prospects program. But both have striking first names. Sanchez would be just the second Sixto to play in the big leagues. Sixto Lezcano (1974-85) played for the Phillies in 1983-84. Medina would be the third Adonis to reach the Majors. Adonis Terry (1884-97) and Adonis Garcia (2015-17) are the others.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Philadelphia Phillies, Seranthony Dominguez, Tom Eshelman, Franklyn Kilome, Enyel De Los Santos, Ranger Suarez, Jose Taveras

Phils deal Galvis, set Crawford up for SS role

Pitching prospect De Los Santos acquired from Padres
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- J.P. Crawford is getting his shot in 2018.

The Phillies traded Freddy Galvis to the Padres on Friday for Double-A right-hander Enyel De Los Santos, making Crawford the everyday shortstop. It was part of a busy 48 hours for the Phillies, who also agreed to a three-year, $60 million contract for power-hitting switch-hitter Carlos Santana, according to sources, and announced they signed relief pitchers Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter to two-year contracts. The club has not confirmed a deal with Santana.

PHILADELPHIA -- J.P. Crawford is getting his shot in 2018.

The Phillies traded Freddy Galvis to the Padres on Friday for Double-A right-hander Enyel De Los Santos, making Crawford the everyday shortstop. It was part of a busy 48 hours for the Phillies, who also agreed to a three-year, $60 million contract for power-hitting switch-hitter Carlos Santana, according to sources, and announced they signed relief pitchers Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter to two-year contracts. The club has not confirmed a deal with Santana.

"We've always liked the style of J.P.'s offense, his ability to control the strike zone and work good at-bats," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Friday night. "That is obviously something that we put a lot of value in. What we saw from J.P. in the second half of last year was exactly the guy we think J.P. is going to be moving forward. The fact that we had a one-month look at J.P. in the big leagues to evaluate his readiness to compete against Major League pitching, to evaluate his defense, gave us confidence to make this move with Freddy."

Video: WSH@PHI: Crawford dives to snag a hot shot at third

The Phillies had been looking to trade Galvis or second baseman Cesar Hernandez before Spring Training because they had a glut of infielders, which includes Crawford, Maikel Franco and eventually Triple-A prospect Scott Kingery. But the Phillies preferred to trade Galvis because he is a free agent after next season and Crawford is a natural shortstop that impressed defensively. Meanwhile, Hernandez is an on-base machine, posting a .372 on-base percentage over 1,199 plate appearances the past two seasons.

"We were hit on both of our middle infielders quite a bit this offseason, trying to figure out the best way to go into next year," Klentak said. "Once San Diego told us they were willing to include De Los Santos in the deal, that made it easy for us."

Hot Stove Tracker

It doesn't sound like Hernandez is going anywhere anytime soon.

"I have always looked at Cesar as our everyday second baseman and this does nothing to change that," Klentak said.

Crawford, 22, is MLBPipeline.com's No. 54 overall prospect. He batted .214 with a .356 on-base percentage in 87 plate appearances in September, but the Phillies believe those numbers will significantly improve with experience.

Video: Galvis trade opens up opportunity for Crawford

Having Crawford and Santana (career .365 on-base percentage) in the Phillies' everyday lineup is expected to boost the offense, which has struggled for years. Philadelphia has had just two qualifying players post better than a .348 OBP from 2012-17: Hernandez (.371 in '16 and .373 in '17) and Odubel Herrera (.361 in '16). Rhys Hoskins posted a .396 OBP in 212 plate appearances last season.

De Los Santos, who turns 22 on Christmas, was the No. 13 prospect in the Padres' organization, which boasted the third-best farm system in MLBPipeline.com's midseason rankings. He now ranks ninth in the Phillies' system.

De Los Santos went 10-6 with a 3.78 ERA in 26 appearances (24 starts) with Double-A San Antonio. He averaged 8.3 strikeouts and 2.9 walks per nine innings and finished with a 1.193 WHIP. His fastball sits in the 93-95 mph range, although it has touched 97 mph.

He projects as a No. 4 or No. 5 starter.

"De Los Santos is a guy we've liked for a long time," Klentak said. "Great makeup, incredible worker. He's been young at every level he's pitched at. And he's been really good. Both from a scouts and analytical perspective we think he's going to add to our starting-pitching inventory in our system. It's really important to try to grow starting pitching from within a system and De Los Santos is another guy we can add into the mix."

Galvis, 28, hit .255 with 12 home runs, 61 RBIs and a career-high .690 OPS in 2017. He was a finalist for the National League Gold Glove Award each of the previous two seasons. Galvis was the longest-tenured Phillies player, joining the big leagues in 2012. That distinction now belongs to Hernandez, who made his Major League debut on May 29, 2013.

Meanwhile, Neshek and Hunter join a bullpen that is expected to include Hector Neris, Luis Garcia, Adam Morgan and others. The Phillies signed them knowing they would need a stronger relief corps if they cannot upgrade the rotation.

The Phillies said this week at the Winter Meetings that upgrading the rotation remained a priority. That still could happen.

"The market is still unfolding slowly," Klentak said. "We are going to be patient with the market."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Philadelphia Phillies, Freddy Galvis

Phils deal Rule 5 Draft pick Burdi for int'l money

Righty traded to Pirates; Philly loses outfielder Tocci
MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Phillies made one final deal before they left the Winter Meetings on Thursday.

They selected right-hander Nick Burdi with the No. 3 pick in the Rule 5 Draft, before trading him to the Pirates for $500,000 in 2017-18 international signing bonus pool money. The Phils will have 40 players on the 40-man roster once they announce they have signed right-handers Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter, so they essentially got something for nothing since they could have passed and not made a pick.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Phillies made one final deal before they left the Winter Meetings on Thursday.

They selected right-hander Nick Burdi with the No. 3 pick in the Rule 5 Draft, before trading him to the Pirates for $500,000 in 2017-18 international signing bonus pool money. The Phils will have 40 players on the 40-man roster once they announce they have signed right-handers Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter, so they essentially got something for nothing since they could have passed and not made a pick.

2017 Rule 5 Draft results

"Our international department, Sal [Agostinelli] and those guys, they're a weapon for us," Phillies assistant general manager Bryan Minniti said. "To have the ability to give them more money to spend -- you guys know that the rate return isn't always that high when you're signing players -- but you give yourself a chance. So any chance we get to give them more to spend, we're going to do it."

:: Rule 5 Draft coverage ::

But Philly also lost outfielder Carlos Tocci, whom the White Sox selected with the No. 4 pick. Chicago then traded him to the Rangers.

"Obviously, it stinks for us to lose a guy like that," Minniti said. "But this is the risk you take when you don't protect everybody. You can't protect all of them. I'm happy for him to get the opportunity, and hopefully we'll get him back."

Tocci was the No. 23 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com. He must remain on Texas' 25-man roster the entire season to stay with the Rangers. If Tocci is removed from the roster, he must be placed on outright waivers. If he clears waivers, he must be offered back to the Phillies for $50,000.

In other words, Tocci's Phillies career might not be finished.

Tocci, 22, hit .307 with 19 doubles, seven triples, two home runs, 48 RBIs and a .760 OPS in 474 plate appearances last season with Double-A Reading. He hit .189 in 54 plate appearances with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Philadelphia Phillies

Sources: Phillies to add ex-Braves prospect Gutierrez

MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are adding some catching talent to their farm system.

Sources confirmed Tuesday night that the Phillies and Abrahan Gutierrez agreed to a $550,000 bonus, which Baseball America first reported. Gutierrez, 18, is one of 13 former Braves prospects who became free agents last month when Major League Baseball penalized Atlanta for circumventing international signing rules from 2015-2017.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are adding some catching talent to their farm system.

Sources confirmed Tuesday night that the Phillies and Abrahan Gutierrez agreed to a $550,000 bonus, which Baseball America first reported. Gutierrez, 18, is one of 13 former Braves prospects who became free agents last month when Major League Baseball penalized Atlanta for circumventing international signing rules from 2015-2017.

Hot Stove Tracker

Gutierrez hit .264 with one home run, 12 RBIs and a .676 OPS in 141 plate appearances this season with the rookie-level Braves. He originally signed with Atlanta for $3.53 million.

Before signing Gutierrez, the Phillies had about $900,000 remaining in their 2017-18 international signing bonus pool. But teams are free to use money in their 2018-19 pool money to sign the former Braves prospects if desired.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Philadelphia Phillies

Kapler impressed with young Phils' leadership

New manager connecting with Hoskins, Crawford during offseason
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- So, J.P. Crawford, what do you and your teammates need?

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler asked Crawford that question upon meeting him for dinner a few weeks ago in Long Beach, Calif. Kapler has talked a lot about building an environment that makes his players the best versions of themselves, so it made sense that he wanted Crawford's input on how he could make that happen.

PHILADELPHIA -- So, J.P. Crawford, what do you and your teammates need?

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler asked Crawford that question upon meeting him for dinner a few weeks ago in Long Beach, Calif. Kapler has talked a lot about building an environment that makes his players the best versions of themselves, so it made sense that he wanted Crawford's input on how he could make that happen.

"Some loud speakers in the clubhouse," Crawford replied.

The Phillies have been using Freddy Galvis' personal stereo to play music following victories at Citizens Bank Park. In previous years, they used Jimmy Rollins' system. Of course, Rollins' stereo got used more. The Phillies won a National League-best 246 games at home from 2007-11, during which they also won the '08 World Series, two National League pennants and five NL East titles. They have won an NL-worst 193 games at home over the past five seasons.

But the Phillies plan to win more in the coming years, so perhaps an upgraded sound system would be a nice investment.

"By asking that, I know he's going to be a player's manager," Crawford said. "That'll go over very well with us."

Video: LAD@PHI: Crawford rips a triple to right-center field

Kapler is trying to connect with other players. He also had dinner with Rhys Hoskins on Friday night in Philadelphia. Kapler, Hoskins and Crawford attended the organization's Christmas tree lighting outside the ballpark on Saturday evening.

Kapler, Hoskins and Crawford could be the faces of the organization in the coming years. Hoskins hit .259 with 18 home runs, 48 RBIs and a 1.014 OPS in just 50 games. He played so well that he finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year Award voting. Crawford is the No. 53 prospect in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com. He hit .214 with a .356 on-base percentage in 23 games in September. He impressed defensively, and he could be the everyday shortstop if Galvis is traded. If not, Crawford will be on the 25-man roster.

"Both of those guys blew me away," Kapler said about his dinners with Crawford and Hoskins. "Those were, 'Wow!' Both of them. Incredible leadership characteristics. What's easy to see is that people will follow them. People will want to be like those guys. And what's easy to see is that they are going to make really healthy choices. They're going to make the right choices along the way. That's evident and clear."

Kapler should have few choices to make about Hoskins. He will be the primary first baseman, although he could see an occasional start in left field. But Kapler certainly sees a positive presence in the clubhouse.

"I walked away from that dinner saying, 'This guy can lead now,'" Kapler said. "He doesn't need any more success. It's not about being the veteran guy. That's not what it's about. He is a leader by example, by the way he carries himself, by the way he thinks and by the way he talks. And it doesn't have to be vocal 'rah-rah' in front of the group. It's a very unique package, one that I'm not sure I've ever seen."

Video: Todd Zolecki breaks down Hoskins' incredible callup

One of Kapler's first challenges in maintaining a positive environment could come early next season, if Galvis, Crawford, Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco open on the 25-man roster. (And especially if Triple-A prospect Scott Kingery earns an early-season promotion.)

Can Kapler keep everybody happy? It is one thing to rotate infielders for one month, like the Phillies did in September. It is another to rotate infielders for six.

"It's not just a challenge, it's a blessing," Kapler said. "It's a gift to the Phillies, it's a gift to the players, it's a gift to the manager. … Giving them the best possible matchups. And the awesome part of this is, guys, at the end of the day you're going to look up and your numbers are going to be better because we move puzzle pieces around to keep you the healthiest, strongest version of yourself and to match you up against guys you're most likely to have success against."

And if there are issues, Crawford got the impression that it would be OK to go into the manager's office to express those concerns.

"I think we'll be able to talk to him and not have to worry about saying something wrong or worry about messing up," Crawford said. "I feel like he's going to understand. He's been through it. A real cool guy, I like him. I think he's to be a great manager here with all the young guys. We're going to work well together."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

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Phils may pursue prospect Maitan

MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Remember those trades the Phillies made this summer that got them a whole lot of "international amateur signing bonus space?"

It sounded boring at the time, but the nearly $1 million could turn into something exciting in the future. Major League Baseball announced Tuesday it had declared 13 Braves prospects free agents following an investigation that determined Atlanta circumvented international signing rules from 2015-17.

PHILADELPHIA -- Remember those trades the Phillies made this summer that got them a whole lot of "international amateur signing bonus space?"

It sounded boring at the time, but the nearly $1 million could turn into something exciting in the future. Major League Baseball announced Tuesday it had declared 13 Braves prospects free agents following an investigation that determined Atlanta circumvented international signing rules from 2015-17.

That group includes shortstop Kevin Maitan. He is the No. 38 overall prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.

The Phillies could take a run at Maitan, although other teams have more money in their 2017-18 international bonus pool to offer him. The Rangers ($3,535,000), Yankees ($3.5 million) and Twins ($3,245,000) have the most money remaining, although teams have the option of counting the bonus toward the current (2017-18) signing period or the following (2018-19) one.

The Phillies have about $900,000 remaining for the current signing period.

That is worth noting as the Phillies also seem unlikely to sign Japanese star Shohei Ohtani. Because Ohtani's signing bonus is limited, he essentially is going to choose the team he prefers the most. Many people guess he will choose the Yankees, because they will help him maximize his endorsement earnings.

But the Phillies could pursue former Braves other than Maitan, too. When they were signed in 2016, catcher Abrahan Gutierrez ranked No. 18 in this summer's Top 30 International Prospects list. Shortstop Yunior Severino ranked No. 19, shortstop Yenci Pena ranked No. 22 and infielder Livan Soto ranked No. 24. Right-handers Guillermo Zuniga and Juan Contreras also got substantial signing bonuses.

The Phillies signed outfielder Simon Muzziotti under similar circumstances in July 2016. He became a free agent because the Red Sox also circumvented the international signing rules.

The Phillies have extra money to spend on international signings before the 2018-19 signing period begins next July, due to trades they made this July that involved Howie Kendrick and Jeremy Hellickson.

"You guys probably know the caliber of player that that can afford, in that market," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said in July. "International slot money was a big part of the value in both these trades for us. The name of the game is talent, and there are limited ways that we can acquire talent. One is through the Draft, another is through trades and another is through signing international amateurs. There are rules that govern how much we can spend in all those areas, but this was an opportunity for us to add to our pool and allow our international group to go and identify more talent."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

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Phillies add 4 prospects to 40-man roster

Former No. 1 pick Appel among players removed to clear space for pitchers
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are loaded with pitching prospects in the Minor Leagues and Monday they protected four of their most valuable arms from next month's Rule 5 Draft.

They also cut loose a once highly touted pitching prospect.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are loaded with pitching prospects in the Minor Leagues and Monday they protected four of their most valuable arms from next month's Rule 5 Draft.

They also cut loose a once highly touted pitching prospect.

The Phillies placed right-handers Franklyn Kilome, Seranthony Dominguez and Jose Taveras and left-hander Ranger Suarez on the 40-man roster. The Phillies also claimed infielder Engelb Vielma from the Giants. To make those players fit on the 40-man roster, the Phillies cleared three roster spots. Mark Appel, the former No. 1 overall pick acquired in the Ken Giles/Vince Velasquez trade in December 2015, and Alberto Tirado were designated for assignment. The Phillies outrighted Elniery Garcia to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Kilome, 22, is the No. 7 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com. He went a combined 7-7 with a 2.83 ERA in 24 starts last season with Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading. Suarez is No. 14 and Dominguez is No. 28 in the organization. Suarez, 22, went 8-6 with a 2.27 ERA in 22 starts with Class A Lakewood and Clearwater. Dominguez, 22, went 4-4 with a 3.61 ERA in 15 appearances (13 starts) with Clearwater.

Taveras, 24, went a combined 9-6 with a 2.22 ERA in 25 starts with Clearwater, Reading and Lehigh Valley.

"We're really excited for all four of these guys," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. "All have worked extremely hard and they are all deserving of being added to our roster. All are products of our international scouting operation, Sal [Agostinelli] and his group. Those guys continue to crank out players. They've done a great job."

Vielma, 23, hit a combined .229 in 121 games with Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester. He has played second base, third base and shortstop in his six-year Minor League career.

"He is a really talented defender," Klentak said. "He is still developing physically. He's an intriguing claim."

Appel, 26, never worked out. He made just 25 starts the past two seasons because of elbow and shoulder injuries, posting a 5.17 ERA in eight starts with Lehigh Valley in 2016 and a 5.27 ERA in 17 starts this season. The Astros selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 Draft. They traded him to the Phillies, but only after the Phillies requested him because of concerns about Velasquez's health. Outfielder Derek Fisher, 24, originally had been part of the deal. Fisher emerged as one of the best prospects in baseball before joining the Astros this season.

"Where we are as a franchise, it was a tough decision," Klentak said. "A lot of the tools that Mark showed as an amateur that led to him being the No. 1 overall pick are still there. He has simply struggled with performance. It's certainly not for lack of effort on his part. We think the world of the kid and wish him well."

Tirado, 22, walked 60 and struck out 67 in 77 1/3 innings this season. Garcia was suspended 80 games after testing positive for a banned substance.

Appel and Tirado are trade candidates. If they clear waivers, they could be outrighted.

Outfielder Carlos Tocci, who is the No. 23 prospect in the organization, and left-handers Austin Davis, Tom Windle and Brandon Leibrandt were some notable players not protected from the Rule 5 Draft.

"One of the byproducts of a strong system is every year there are some tough omissions," Klentak said. "Last year, we lost Hoby Milner briefly and that was after protecting 11 guys. So there are always tough calls. But we look at that as a good problem to have."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Philadelphia Phillies, Mark Appel, Seranthony Dominguez, Elniery Garcia, Franklyn Kilome, Ranger Suarez, Jose Taveras, Alberto Tirado, Engelb Vielma

Phils prospects Randolph, Green deliver in AFL

MLB.com

MESA, Ariz. - A pair of Phillies prospects provided the offensive firepower as Glendale topped Mesa, 5-1, in the Arizona Fall League on Tuesday afternoon at Sloan Park.

Cornelius Randolph and Zach Green combined to go 5-for-8 with four RBIs as the Desert Dogs came away with their fifth straight win.

MESA, Ariz. - A pair of Phillies prospects provided the offensive firepower as Glendale topped Mesa, 5-1, in the Arizona Fall League on Tuesday afternoon at Sloan Park.

Cornelius Randolph and Zach Green combined to go 5-for-8 with four RBIs as the Desert Dogs came away with their fifth straight win.

"[We're] just relaxed," Randolph said of the team's current win streak. "We're just having fun and playing."

Box score 

Randolph, who finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs, got things going early as he had a two-run single in the first and collected another hit in the third. The Phillies' No. 12 prospect hasn't fared particularly well this fall, so the fast start was big for both him, as well as the Glendale squad.

"I was just trying to put something in play, hit something hard and it ended up getting through," Randolph said. "It's big to start off with a great start."

While Randolph got the Desert Dogs rolling early, Green did his damage late.

Green, 23, doubled and scored in the fourth, hit a solo homer in the sixth and collected an RBI single in the eighth on his way to a 3-for-4, two-RBI performance at the plate.

"I felt kind of rushed early in my [at-bat], so I just tried to see a fastball up and I got into a hitter's count and let loose a little bit," Green said of his second AFL homer.

Video: Cornelius Randolph on becoming better at Fall League

Both Phillies prospects have dealt with injuries during their career -- although Green's injury history is a bit more extensive. Green, a third-round pick from the 2012 Draft, has played in just 384 games in his career, including 57 during the 2017 season.

While the barrage of injuries has been frustrating, Green is healthy now and relishing the opportunity to make up for lost time in Arizona.

"It's great," Green said. "Out here pain free and able to compete when you've gone through nagging injuries like that, it's hard to compete and get better, so that's probably what I'm most excited about."

Meanwhile, Randolph, a first-round pick in 2015, missed two months with a shoulder injury in 2016, but played in 122 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater this year.

Randolph hit .250/.338/.402 with the Threshers and has hit .209 across 18 games in the Arizona Fall League.

While Randolph was healthy all year -- a fact he's certainly pleased with -- his numbers haven't been ideal. However, the 20-year-old feels he's been hitting balls well -- as he did Tuesday -- and that the results will come.

"I've been barreling balls, the end results is not really happening the way I want," Randolph said. "I'm hitting balls at people, the numbers are not the greatest, it is what it is."

Indians prospect Sean Brady also turned in a good performance for Glendale as he gave up one run -- a solo homer to Sheldon Neuse (Athletics No. 14) in the first -- on three hits in four innings.

Brady has thrown well during the Fall, posting a 2.78 ERA through six starts and giving up one earned run or less in four of those starts.

William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

 

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Phillies' Arizona Fall League overview

Randolph continuing breakout campaign in AFL
MLB.com

Cornelius Randolph knew he had a lot to work on in his second full season of pro ball in the Phillies system. But after a first year that saw him finish with a .264/.347/.343 line for a pedestrian .690 OPS, it's the numbers 68 and 254 from his 2016 season he really wanted to improve.

Those were his games played and at-bats, as a shoulder injury knocked the Phillies' No. 12 prospect out for two months. So more than anything else, the 20-year-old outfielder wanted to stay on the field from April until September.

Cornelius Randolph knew he had a lot to work on in his second full season of pro ball in the Phillies system. But after a first year that saw him finish with a .264/.347/.343 line for a pedestrian .690 OPS, it's the numbers 68 and 254 from his 2016 season he really wanted to improve.

Those were his games played and at-bats, as a shoulder injury knocked the Phillies' No. 12 prospect out for two months. So more than anything else, the 20-year-old outfielder wanted to stay on the field from April until September.

"That was big for me, just stay healthy," Randolph said. "Whatever numbers I put up, I put up. Just stay healthy, give myself the chance to have a full season.

"I started eating a lot healthier. I started getting in, making sure I was taking care of my body with tissue prep and things like that, getting stretched out every day. I was doing everything to make sure I was avoiding any soft tissue injuries."

Mission accomplished. Randolph played in 122 games and collected 440 at-bats while playing the entire year in the Class A Advanced Florida State League. While the outfielder undoubtedly wants to improve his strikeout rate (24.5 percent) and hit for a higher average (.250), he did draw walks at a greater clip and more than doubled his career home run total with the 13 balls he hit out in the pitching-friendly FSL. Perhaps more than anything, he started to grasp who he is as a hitter.

Arizona Fall League roster & stats

"I think I did pretty well," Randolph said. "I'm maturing, learning more about myself, what I can and can't do. That was the main thing.

"Fastballs up. I'm not going to get to it, so stop chasing it. I need to learn I can't hit that changeup down, so just lay off of it."

At the same time, Randolph continues to get more comfortable in the outfield. He was a shortstop in high school, but the Phillies moved him to left field right after signing and that part of his game is moving in the right direction as well.

"I feel like I'm getting better out there," Randolph said. "I'm still working every day, I still have things to work on, like crisper routes, arm strength, working on those things, making sure I'm becoming a complete outfielder."

The Arizona Fall League is a perfect place to continue to work on all facets of his game, not to mention continue to get those all-important reps. So when the Phillies asked him to head there to play for the Glendale Desert Dogs, Randolph was all in.

"I was excited," Randolph said. "I'm getting to play with all the best prospects in the game, getting to meet new people, playing against good competition. What can you not like about it?"

Phillies hitters in the Fall League

Edgar Cabral, C -- An 11th-round pick of the Phillies out of San Antonio College in 2015, Cabral has moved slowly, but he did earn a promotion from the South Atlantic League to the Florida State League in 2017. He hit .310/.379/.440 in 24 games following the promotion. He also threw out better than 48 percent of would-be basestealers for the year.

Zach Green, 3B/1B -- Injuries have severely hampered Green's development since he was the Phillies' third-round pick in 2012. He's yet to play more than 100 games in a year, including just 57 during the 2017 season. He did reach Double-A Reading for the first time, though he hit just a combined .227/.291/.424 for the year.

Phillies pitchers in the Fall League

Trevor Bettencourt, RHP -- After two years at Tennessee, Bettencourt transferred to UC-Santa Barbara and landed in the 25th round of the 2016 Draft. In his first full season of pro ball in the Phillies system, he pitched across both levels of A ball, finishing with a 2.61 ERA and 10 saves in 13 tries while holding hitters to a .207 batting average and striking out 11.8 per nine (vs. just 1.4 BB/9).

Garrett Cleavinger, LHP -- Cleavinger's first full season of pro ball with the Orioles in 2016 was a solid one, but he didn't back it up with the move to Double-A in 2017 and he was dealt to the Phillies at the deadline as part of the Jeremy Hellickson deal. He did strike out a combined 9.8 per nine, but he saw his walk rate tick up to 5.3.

Elneiry Garcia, LHP -- The Phillies' No. 18 prospect was poised to make the leap to Double-A full-time in 2017 when an 80-game suspension for a performance-enhancing drug derailed his progress. He did return to make five starts with Reading, posting a 1.75 ERA and a .193 BAA, though he walked 17 and struck out just 10 in 25 2/3 innings. He's making up for some of those lost innings this fall.

Video: J.D. Hammer discusses pitching in Fall League

J.D. Hammer, RHP -- The Rockies drafted Hammer in the 24th round of the 2016 Draft after a ho-hum college career as a starter. They put him in the bullpen and he had pitched his way from low A to high A when he was sent to the Phillies in the Pat Neshek deal. The Phillies' No. 30 prospect has back-end-reliever potential and threw extremely well (0.57 ERA, .154 BAA, 2 BB, 20 K in 15 2/3 IP) following the trade.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

 

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