We're Talking AFL and Winter Ball

The Phillies are making calls to agents, general managers and players, trying to construct a 25-man roster that will take them back to the World Series in 2010. But while Ruben Amaro Jr. works on the present, the future is working elsewhere.

The Arizona Fall League’s season is complete, but winter league baseball in Mexico, Venezuela and Puerto Rico is underway. Here’s a look at some of the position players in action.

  • Domonic Brown (20th-round pick in 2006): Baseball America considers Brown, a 6-foot-5 outfielder, to be the organization’s top prospect. He hit .229 with nine doubles, two triples, two home runs and 18 RBIs in 30 games for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. He made the AFL All-Star team after hitting the ball well to start the season, but he struggled near the end. “I think he was probably pressing some toward the end,” assistant GM Benny Looper said on Monday. “It’s been a long year for him, and he probably needs a break right now. He has the tools. He’s an exciting guy to watch. He did fine.”
  • Michael Taylor (fifth-round pick in 2007): Baseball America ranks Taylor, a 6-foot-6 outfielder, as the organization’s No. 3 prospect, following Brown and right-hander Kyle Drabek. Taylor is hitting .308 with four doubles, one home run and 11 RBIs in 19 games in Mexico. “He’s handled his own,” Looper said. “We wanted him to see the veteran pitchers in that league, who will use the breaking pitches behind in the count.”
  • Sebastian Valle (signed as an amateur free agent in 2006): The organization’s seventh-best prospect according to Baseball America, the 6-foot-1 catcher is showing that he can hit in Mexico, going .303 with five doubles, one triple, 10 home runs and 24 RBIs in 29 games. “We thought he was going to hit,” Looper said. “I heard that before I came here. And after watching him this year, we think he has a good chance to hit. He needs to improve his footwork behind the plate, the catching and throwing. But he’s playing against some veterans down there and he’s holding his own, maybe doing a little better than that. He’s got good bat speed. He’ll hit for some power, but he’s a guy that will square up a lot of pitches. He’s got a pretty good idea up there with his bat.”
  • John Mayberry Jr. (first-round pick in 2005 by Texas): The outfielder is hitting .314 with four doubles, seven home runs and 23 RBIs in 32 games. “Mayberry has done all right,” Looper said. “One of the reasons we wanted him to go to Mexico was to see a lot of breaking pitches, which he has seen a lot of. He has made some adjustments and has hit some home runs.”
  • Tuffy Gosewisch (11th-round pick in 2006): The catcher hit .318 with two doubles and five RBIs in 11 games. “He’s a catch-and-throw guy,” Looper said. “If he can hit a little bit, he has a chance to be a big league backup catcher, at the minimum.”
  • Quintin Berry (fifth-round pick in 2006): Berry, whom the Phillies added to the 40-man roster last week to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, just got started in Puerto Rico. He is hitting .154 with four walks in seven games.


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The Phillies have absolutely no infield prospects that project to get to the majors in the next 3-4 years. They should look for some college infielders in the next draft to fill the void.

It makes you wonder how many games does the average minor leaguer play in a calender year, with all these peripheral leagues going on in the Americas. I guess pitchers are limited (by their contracts) how many innings they can throw in a year. But position players probably could use the extra money they can earn by playing in the Mexican or Venezuelan Winter Leagues. I hope our prospects continue to grow into future call-ups and stars.

I am not sure what looking at college infielders in particular would accomplish. This is particularly so if it fogs the vision in connection with a better prospect at some other position. Between 1987 and 2006, the Phillies drafted 995 prospects. Of those 99 appeared in the majors at all. Just slightly above 10%. Some of these did not even sign with the Phillies as they were high school players who did not sign, went to college, and were eventually drafted by another team. To me this is mind boggling. Further, half or less of those who did make it to the majors put in the equal of a full 162 game season. I am not talking about one entire season here, although that does occur, I am talking about 162 games over a career which may included bouncing up and down between the majors and minors for two, three, four years or more. Sure, go for an infielder if he is a Bob Horner. But, how many Bob Horners are out there? Go for an infielder if it is a tie breaker. But do not reach.

pherris, first of all, there are about 25 rounds in a baseball draft. Secondly, college players are much easier to project. Thirdly, the Phillies have concentrated on pitching, catching, and ‘tools’ type players for about 3-4 years now in the draft. Its time to get some infielders in the system who are not 5-6 year projects out of high school, like Hewitt. If they don’t do something along those lines soon, they won’t have anybody to replace players like Rollins down the line. You’d think they’d at least have a player who was a candidate for the bench, but they don’t, so the options are 37 year olds, like Juan Castro. They have absolutely nothing coming up at any infield position.

phan52, you have converted me, Buddy, a draftee is just that, a draftee, a prospect. I do not disagree that all else being equal, the Phillies go for an infielder. But, they need not reach to get one. Where are you getting this idea that there are 25 rounds in a baseball draft? The Phillies drafted 995 players from 1987 through 2006, by definition that is over 40 rounds per year.

LOL!! I just know there are a LOT of rounds. Here is something I just looked up…

…There are up to 50 rounds. Each Club continues to select until it makes its selection in the 50th round, unless the Club chooses to “pass” instead of making a selection in a round. Once a Club chooses to pass, it is precluded from making any further selections.

My point being that if there is only a 10% chance that anyone drafted makes it to the majors, what is the chance of a particular position player making it? Considering that there are 9 positions, it appears that there is slightly better than a 1% chance.

You’re . . . both right, really. The draft is kind of a crapshoot, and the players you do draft that will make it to the majors won’t do so for 4-5 years or more for the most part. That’s why, unlike football, you don’t really draft for your needs. Through free agency and trading and all that, your needs could be vastly different down the road.
I will say that Baseball America projects Sebastian Valle to move to third from catcher, so there’s one promising infield prospect for you (He’s ranked 7th among Philly prospects currently).

Todd do you know what? You are just the greatest blogger I know. I mean you give me the most unanticipated news about the game that we both love in a way that I admire. Keep the heat in the oven and I will be forever here. – Jordan

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