Previewing the 2017 Lakewood Blueclaws

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Hey guys, welcome to another round of the SAL team preview series. I’m excited to get these going again. Today I’ll be talking about the Lakewood Blueclaws as I continue alphabetically around the league. The Blueclaws are the single-A full season affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Previously I’ve covered the:

Asheville Tourists (Rockies)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/01/previewing-the-2017-asheville-tourists/

Augusta Greenjackets (Giants)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/13/previewing-the-2017-augusta-greenjackets/

Charleston Riverdogs (Yankees)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/31/previewing-the-2017-charleston-riverdogs/

Columbia Fireflies (Mets)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/03/previewing-the-2017-columbia-fireflies/

Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/09/previewing-the-2017-delmarva-shorebirds/

Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/23/previewing-the-2017-greensboro-grasshoppers/

Greenville Drive (Red Sox)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/31/previewing-the-2017-greenville-drive/

Hagerstown Suns (Nationals)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/07/previewing-the-2017-hagerstown-suns/

Hickory Crawdads (Rangers)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/13/previewing-the-2017-hickory-crawdads/

Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/27/previewing-the-2017-kannapolis-intimidators/

For those not familiar with the SAL team preview series, I scour the lower levels of each organization and speculate on who might be coming to the Sally in 2017 and whenever possible I try to include  scouting report.  It’s a lengthy process but I enjoy it and I learn a ton.

For the purpose of this piece I studied the 2016 Lakewood Blueclaws, Williamsport Crosscutters and GCL Phillies.

I want to thank Baseball Betsy for providing all of the photos for this piece.  You can find her at baseballbetsy.com and on Twitter @BaseballBetsy.  I’m a big fan of her work.

At Notes From The Sally it’s all about live look scouting.  Once I see the “Blueclaws” you can expect writeups on many of the players listed below.  I set a goal to every team in the Sally twice in the 1st half (April 7th-June 18th).  I’m planning to see Lakewood on May 5-6 in Columbia and in early June in Asheville.  I’ll get more into that before opening day.

 

Lets meet the notables

 

CF) Mickey Moniak- Age 18, listed 6’2″ 185 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Moniak was drafted 1st overall by the Phillies out of high school in Carlsbad, CA (San Diego metro).

“Matt Winkelman” of “Phillies Minor Thoughts” released his top 50 Phillies prospects recently, here’s  snippet of what he said about Moniak:

“Moniak had the best hit tool among high school hitters, with some scouts putting a future plus plus grade on it. Moniak is a smooth center fielder with an above average to plus arm and plus speed. Moniak’s only weakness is his power. Part of the problem is that Moniak is skinny, both in terms of muscle he still has to put on and lack of places to put the muscle. The other problem is his swing. The very parts of his swing that allow him to make plenty of contact also limit his power output. Moniak’s swing is geared towards line drive and all fields contact. He does not get a lot of loft to his swing, and he doesn’t drive the ball well. The Phillies think that Moniak can hit 20 home runs a year at his peak, but many find that optimistic. The argument for Moniak’s power development is that his feel for hitting is going to lead to quality contact. As he gets stronger, he may not hit bombs, but that quality contact will lead to a decent home run rate. Moniak has been knocked for not being a transcendent superstar, but his hit tool and defense give him a high floor, and they also clear a path to stardom.”

For more on Moniak and the rest of Matt’s top 50 Phillies prospects click here:  http://philliesminorthoughts.com/2017-top-50-phillies-prospects-1-5/

 

 

 

RHP) Sixto Sanchez- Age 18, listed 6′ 185 lbs, bats and throws right.  Sanchez was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014.   He lit up the GCL and is shooting up prospect lists, I’m looking forward to seeing him.

John Sickles or “Minor League Ball” released his top 20 Phillies prospects at the end of December and wrote this about Sanchez:

“Age 18, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2015 for just $35,000; posted 0.50 ERA with 44/8 K/BB in 54 innings in rookie ball, just 33 hits, 1.68 GO/AO; fastball at 93-95 with reports of 98-99 at his best; pitch is heavy despite his relative lack of height at 6-0; already shows quality curveball and change-up, throws strikes, strong pitching instincts; very polished; reports from Gulf Coast League were glowing; next step is building up stamina, workload; watch him closely in ’17, could leap into elite categories. ETA 2020.”

For more of Minor League Ball’s top 20 Phillies prospects click here:  http://www.minorleagueball.com/2016/12/27/14090122/philadelphia-phillies-top-20-prospects-for-2017

 

 

 

 

RHP) Kevin Gowdy- Age 19, listed 6’4″ 170 lbs, bats and throws right.  Gowdy was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft out of high school in Santa Barbara, CA.

“Rich Wilson” of “Prospect 361” counted down his top 10 Phillies prospects back in November.  Here’s a snippet of what he wrote about Gowdy:

“At 6-foot-4 and a listed 170 pounds, Gowdy has the type of body that scouting directors love to draft.  It’s the definition of projectable and when you couple that with a fastball that can already bump 93 MPH, a velocity that can bump 95 to 96 in a year or two is not out of the question.  His best secondary pitch is his curve ball but it’s still emerging.”

“His delivery is very classic with a high leg-kick and a pronounced trailing leg extension.  He pitches over-the-top and that should lead to excellent plane on his pitches.  The arm action is clean and the delivery is smooth.”

For more on Gowdy and the rest of the Phillies top 10 click here:  Philadelphia Phillies

 

 

 

SS-3B) Cole Stobbe- Age 19, listed 6’1″ 200 lbs, bats and throws right.  Stobbe was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft out of High School in Omaha, NE.

The “Baseball Draft Report” is one of my go to sites for draft coverage.  Rob Ozga does a good job keeping us informed on who to look for before, during and after the draft.  He did a Phillies draft recap last Summer and had this to say about Stobbe:

“If you’re the type who values comps, then Cole Stobbe (152) is your man. Perfect Game dropped pre-draft comps of Jed Lowrie and Mark Ellis on him. I’ve always gotten a Brian Dozier vibe, though, to be fair, that was before 40-homer Brian Dozier came into our lives. Stobbe’s relatively high floor (for a HS hitter, anyway) fits a larger Phillies draft trend of selecting exactly this kind of player in 2016. Obviously Mickey Moniak got it started, but later picks like Stobbe and eleventh rounder Josh Stephen officially make the high character, advanced hit tool, well-rounded high school prospect a thing with the Phillies. Stobbe’s card is full of future five’s: hit tool, power, speed, and arm (maybe a touch more here) are all right around average tools. Many overlook the value of what an average tool really is; in Stobbe’s case, the idea of him being a well-rounded high floor prospect (again, relative to his teenage peers) sells his actual ceiling short. There’s a reason that Stobbe’s game elicited comparisons to so many above-average big league infielders. He brings an unusually mature whole-field approach to the table and a great deal of strength is packed into his 6-1, 200 pound frame. His intriguing defensive skill set makes him playable at short for now, but I see him as being particularly interesting at either third or second, my preferred long-term destination for him. Depending on where you slot him on the diamond, he’s either the best (3B) or second-best (SS behind JP Crawford, 2B behind Scott Kingery) prospect at that position in the system.”

For much more Phillies draft coverage click here:  2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Philadelphia Phillies

 

 

 

 

RHP) Adonis Medina- Age 20, listed 6’1″ 185 lbs, bats and throws right.  Medina was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

mlb.com recently released there top 30 Phillies prospects and wrote this about Medina:

“Ever since signing with the Phillies in May 2014, all Medina has done is pitch well. It started with his debut that summer in the Dominican Summer League and continued with his United States debut in 2015. The next step up to the New York-Penn League wasn’t too much of a challenge, as Medina finished with a sub-3.00 ERA and landed among the league leaders in WHIP.”

“The athletic, albeit a bit undersized, right-hander has the chance to have a solid three-pitch mix. He’ll throw his fastball anywhere in the 90-95 mph range and he throws it with a lot of life, inducing ground-ball outs at a very high rate. He’ll show an average breaking ball, but it’s inconsistent, something he’ll have to tighten up as he moves up the ladder. He has a feel for a changeup, which could also be a Major League average offering for him. He tends to be a strike-thrower but does not miss a ton of bats, something that sharper secondary stuff will help.”

“More than anything, Medina needs to get out and pitch and log Minor League innings so he can work on his full repertoire. A full season in a rotation should help him move in the right direction.”

For more of the Phillies top 30 prospects click here:  http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2017/?list=phi

 

 

 

2B) Daniel Brito- Age 19, listed 6’1″ 155 lbs, bat left and throws right.  Brito was signed out of Venezuela in 2014.

John Town of “That Ball’s Outta Here” linked to several quality articles on Brito.  He sounds very interesting:  http://thatballsouttahere.com/2017/01/31/phillies-daniel-brito-break-2017/

 

 

 

 

SS) Arquimedes Gamboa- Age 19, listed 6′ 175 lbs, bats both and throws right. Gamboa was signed out of Venezuela in 2014.

“Eric Longenhagen” of Fangraphs recently counted down his top 33 Phillies prospects and had this to say of Gamboa:

“Gamboa is pure projection. He’s well-built, athletic, a plus runner with a plus arm, who shows raw but promising footwork and actions that, with polish, fit at shortstop. He swing is visually pleasing from both sides of the plate during batting practice, with a smooth, casual weight transfer and glimpses of impact bat speed. During games, he stiffens up and the tools don’t play. Yet. The risk here is extreme, but shortstops with potentially competent, well-rounded bats don’t exactly grow on trees, and if he starts to hit he’ll displace many of the names ahead of him on this list.”

For the rest of the top 30 Phillies prospects click here:  http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/top-33-prospects-philadelphia-phillies/

 

 

 

RF) Jhailyn Ortiz- Age 18, listed 6’3″ 215 lbs, bats and throws right.  Ortiz was a high profile signee out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 receiving a $4 Million dollar signing bonus.  He skipped the Dominican Summer League (DSL) and came stateside and playing in the Gulf Coast Lg (GCL) which is pretty aggressive for a 17 year old.

Jim Peyton of Phuture Phillies wrote this about Ortiz last Winter after watching him in Instructs:

“I’ve seen Ortiz at Instructs.  He’s a big kid, but not fat as has been reported and repeated by the uninformed.  His swing is long and creates holes for off-speed pitches away and fastballs up-an-in.  His stride looks inconsistent and gets a little long on some of his harder swings.  His hands and load are fairly quiet and he has a small bat waggle.  But, in the at bats I saw, he was patient.  He saw 4-5 pitches most at bats.  I only saw him play one ball poorly in right field.  It was a bright, sunny day.  But it was overhead.  He just blew the play. However, it was the only poor fielding play I saw.  It came late in Instructs.  Up to that point, I was satisfied that he might be able to play acceptable outfield defense.”

This was part of a readers top 30 Phillies prospects for more on that and much more Phillies minor league coverage click here:  https://phuturephillies.com/2016/02/07/phuture-phillies-2016-reader-top-30-24/#more-24905

Ortiz sounds very interesting, I’m looking forward to seeing the power on display.  I may have to wait though as Gamboa and Ortiz could both be headed for Williamsport this yr.  The fact the Gamboa was there last year makes him slightly more likely to come to Lakewood. It’s possible we see both in the 2nd half anyway.

 

 

Around the diamond

Catcher

Gregori Rivero- Age 20, listed 5’11” 195 lbs, bats both and throws right.  Rivero was signed out of Venezuela in 2012.

 

Henry Lartigue- Age 22, listed 6′ 205 lbs, bats both and throws right.  Lartigue was drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of Mississippi (Oxford, MS).

 

Deivi Grullon could be back, still just 21 but he’s already played 2+ seasons with Lakewood.  Just a guess but he’s probably headed for the Florida State Lg.

Other Catching options include:  Edgar Cabral, Rodolfo Duran, Daniel Garner,

 

Corner Infield

1B) Darick Hall- Age 21, listed 6’4″ 236 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Hall was drafted in the 14th round of the 2016 draft out of Dallas Baptist Univ (Dallas, TX)

 

1B, C) Brent Barbier- Age 23, listed 5’11” 190 lbs, bats and throws right.  Barbier was drafted in the 16th round of the 2016 draft out of Cal Poly.

 

3B-SS) Cole Stobbe-

 

3B) Lucas Williams- Age 20, listed 6’1″ 180 lbs, bats and throws right.  Williams was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft out of high school in Dana Point, CA (60 miles south of LA).

 

Other options at the infield corners:  Jan Hernandez (3B) could be back. Danny Zardon (3B-1B), Caleb Eldridge

 

Middle Infield

2B) Daniel Brito-

 

SS) Arquimedes Gamboa-

 

If Gamboa does another year of rookie ball than Stobbe could get the bulk of the playing time at short and Lucas Williams could get the bulk of the reps at 3rd.  If Gamboa does come to Lakewood than Stobbe could see time at both positions.  He could also see some time at 2B spelling Brito.  Williams could also repeat at Williamsport.

 

Other options in the middle infield:  Luis Espiritu (2B), Jose Antequera (1B, 2B, 3B, SS), Chandler Hall (SS, 3B, 2B), Evan Rogers (3B, SS, 2B)

 

 

Outfield

CF) Mickey Moniak-

 

RF) Jhailin Ortiz-

 

LF, CF) Josh Stephen- Age 19, listed 6′ 185 lbs, bats and throws left.  Stephen was drafted in the 11th round of the 2016 draft out of high school in Santa Ana, CA (Los Angeles metro).

One more look at “Rob Oga’s” look back at the Phillies draft.  Here’s what he wrote about Stephen.

“I don’t know what to make of Josh Stephen (182), one of the 2016 MLB Draft’s most divisive prospects. Those who like him point to his above-average or better speed, mature approach at the plate, burgeoning lefthanded pop, and solid chance to remain a center fielder over the long haul. Those who are more bearish on him paint him as more of a future reserve outfielder good enough to hang in center only occasionally with not quite the kind of all-around offensive game (average speed, power, and on-base skills) to make it in a corner. Most, however, do agree that Stephen can really hit. I’ve had more than one contact tell me he’s a future .300 hitter in the big leagues. If that’s the case, almost all of that other stuff won’t matter beyond being icing on the cake; a .300 hitter in a corner with modest power and speed is still pretty damn useful. If you’re a believer in the rest of his game coming through, then an above-average regular with sneaky star upside isn’t out of the question.”

 

For the rest Rob’s thoughts on the most recent Phillies draft and a whole lot more draft coverage click here:  2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Philadelphia Phillies

 

LF) Enmanuel Garcia- Age 22, listed 6′ 180 lbs, bats and throws right.  Garcia was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

 

CF) David Martinelli- Age 22, listed 6’2″ 209 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Martinelli was drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 draft out of Dallas Baptist Univ.

 

RF, LF, CF) Jesus Alastre- Age 20, listed 6’1″ 155 lbs, bats and throws right.  Alastre was signed out of Venezuela in 2013.

 

The Lakewood outfield looks crowded, one thing I feel pretty certain about is Moniak will be the starter in CF.  Garcia would be the logical choice for LF unless they want to try Stephen there though he could be  candidate for Williamsport.  If Ortiz is held back and sent to Williamsport Alastre could get some significant time in right and Martinelli could be backing everybody up, he could also get a significant time in a corner.   In case that wasn’t confusing enough, there’s a non zero chance that Pujols is back for a little more seasoning as the everyday RF.

 

Other options in the outfield: Carlos Duran (CF) could be back, CaJuan Luis (RF, LF, CF), Luke Maglich (RF)

 

Starting Pitching

RHP) Sixto Sanchez

 

RHP) Kevin Gowdy

 

RHP) Adonis Medina

 

LHP) Bailey Falter- Age 19, listed 6’4″ 175 lbs, bats right and throws left.  Falter was drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 draft out of high school in Chino Hill, CA (Los Angeles Metro).

Matt Winkelman sees some promise in the left hander placing him at #29 on his Phillies top 50 prospect list.  He sounds intriguing:  http://philliesminorthoughts.com/2017-top-50-phillies-prospects-25-30/

 

LHP) Jojo Romero- Age 20, listed 6′ 190 lbs, bats and throws left.  Romero was drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 draft out of Yavapai College (Prescott, AZ)

“Jeff Rush” of “Prospect 1500” counted down his top 50 Phillies prospects recently and had this to say about Romero.

“Following a single season of college ball, Jojo got snagged by the Phillies in the 4th round of the 2016 draft. But not before performing the stuff of school legends – a 15 K championship clinching performance for Yavapai College in the JuCo World Series. From there, it was onto Williamsport, where the young lefty did nothing to sway the opinions that landed him in the organization in the first place. He possesses a 4-seam fastball that gets up to 95 mph, as well as a curveball, slider and changeup that are all good for getting strikes. He’s relatively short – just 6’0 – and that has scouts projecting him for a role in the bullpen. His stuff is good enough to garner him rotation consideration though, and the fact that he’s a coveted LHP will earn him that opportunity sooner than later.”

For the rest of the Phillies top 50 prospects list click here:  http://prospects1500.com/top-50-lists/philadelphia-phillies-top-50-prospects-2017/

 

Felix Paulino, Ranger Saurez

 

 

Wow, this is my 11th team preview of 14 and I’ve come across a lot of high end talent and deep rosters but no team to this point has matched Lakewood’s combination of high end kids and intriguing depth.  It will be interesting to see how the Rome Braves (my preseason favorite for most talented team, before I started the previews) stacks up against this team.

I enjoyed my deep dive into the Phillies system, up next is a Lexington Legends preview (Royals).  Cheers!

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