Results tagged ‘ Benny Looper ’
The Phillies have a replacement for former assistant general manager of amateur scouting Marti Wolever, whom they dismissed late last month.
They announced today they have hired Braves international scouting director Johnny Almaraz to be their amateur scouting director. He will run the Phillies’ First-Year Player Drafts, which Wolever had done since 2002.
It will be new role for Almaraz.
“We couldn’t be happier to add someone of Johnny’s caliber to our baseball operations staff,” Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said in a statement. “He has established a reputation for being able to identify future Major League talent and brings a great deal of experience to the Phillies.”
Almaraz had been Atlanta’s international scouting director since 2008. His most notable signings are Julio Teheran and Christian Bethancourt. Before joining the Braves in 2006 as director of Latin America operations, he spent 16 years as a scout with the Reds. There he signed amateurs like Adam Dunn, Johnny Cueto and B.J. Ryan.
Wolever had been running the Phillies’ First-Year Player Drafts since 2002, but success had been scattered. MLB.com in June examined the Phillies’ Drafts from 2004-13. Forty-six picks reached the big leagues, which tied the A’s and Rangers for seventh best in baseball.
But the quality of the Phillies’ picks ranked last. According to baseballreference.com, the combined WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of Phillies picks over the past 10 years was 20.7, which was 24.6 points lower than the 29th ranked Blue Jays (45.3). The big league average was 82.7.
The Phillies today announced a tweak to their Minor League player development staff.
They hired Rafael Chaves to be their Minor League pitching coordinator. The Phillies interviewed Chaves to be their big-league pitching coach last offseason before hiring Bob McClure.
Chaves, 46, spent this season as the Dodgers’ special assistant of player personnel after spending five seasons as their Minor League pitching coordinator. He served as Seattle’s pitching coach from 2006-07, so his relationship with Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper, who worked in the Mariners front office from 1987-2008, likely played a role in his hire.
“We are extremely excited to add Rafael to our staff,” Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and is one of the most respected names in our business when it comes to developing pitchers.”
Carlos Arroyo, who held that role this season, will resume his previous job as the Phillies’ Minor League roving pitching coach.
The Phillies said they will announce their complete player development staff at a later date.
Ryne Sandberg will hand the ball to the bullpen at some point, and it is possible he will do it with a small lead or deficit. If the Phillies have a lead, will the bullpen hold it? If they’re down a run or two, will they keep it close to give the offense a chance to come back and win?
It has been a crap shoot all season.
The Phillies bullpen has a 4.84 ERA, which is the highest mark in the National League and the fourth-highest mark in baseball. It has allowed 1.45 home runs per nine innings, which is the highest mark in baseball.
Jonathan Papelbon has 10 scoreless appearances since blowing a save April 2 in Texas. What has hurt the bullpen has been the ineffectiveness of the young pitchers the organization thought had turned a corner. It has been the story the past two seasons. Pitchers like B.J. Rosenberg, Justin De Fratus, Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst, etc., have pitched well late in the season, but haven’t followed up on that success. Jake Diekman, who remains in the bullpen, has been hurt by the long ball. He has allowed three homers this year, helping him to a 7.30 ERA.
As a result just three of the seven pitchers in the bullpen (Antonio Bastardo, Diekman and Mario Hollands) are homegrown. The others (Papelbon, Mike Adams, Shawn Camp and Jeff Manship) signed as free agents or Minor League free agents.
A lack of homegrown production from the bullpen is not a new thing. From 2004-13, the Phillies have had 15 different relief pitchers throw 50 or more innings in a season with less than a 3.50 ERA. Just four of those relievers were homegrown: Ryan Madson, Brett Myers, Geoff Geary and Bastardo. The others the Phillies acquired in trades (Billy Wagner and Brad Lidge), signed as free agents (Clay Condrey, Jose Contreras, Chad Durbin, Tom Gordon, Chan Ho Park, J.C. Romero and Papelbon), claimed off waivers (Aaron Fultz) or selected in the Rule 5 Draft (David Herndon).
But Phillies fans looking for outside help shouldn’t hold their breath. If a team has a good relief pitcher there is almost zero chance they will trade him in May. But there are unsigned relievers still out there like Ryan Madson, Kevin Gregg and Joel Hanrahan, although there has been some buzz around baseball Madson might not pitch again.
“We’ve had contact with all of those guys,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We’ll see.”
Double-A right-hander Ken Giles is throwing 100 mph and dominating hitters in the Eastern League. He has allowed eight hits, two earned runs, four walks and has struck out 25 in just 13 innings.
“He consistently throws very hard,” assistant general manager of player personnel Benny Looper said. “But there are a couple things he’s working on. One, commanding the fastball low in the strike zone. He’s throwing too many pitches up, belt high, that are hittable in the big leagues. The other thing is commanding his slider. He’s got to have that second pitch. It’s a good pitch and he’s making improvements with it, but he’s got to have a couple pitches he can go to. If big league hitters are sitting on his fastball and it’s thrown belt high they’re going to catch up with it. He’s making great progress. We love his arm and we love where he’s headed. But he’s where he needs to be right now. At some point we’d consider getting him against more veteran lineups like you’d see in Triple-A. That would happen at some point.”
In the meantime, the current relievers need to perform and the ones sent to Triple-A (Rosenerg, De Fratus and Brad Lincoln) need to show enough consistency to warrant a call back.
“It’s trusting their ability because they all have big league talent,” Amaro said. “It’s a matter of putting it together when it’s time to ring the bell.”
Got a chance to speak with Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper about the three prospects the Mariners sent the Phillies for Cliff Lee: pitchers Phillippe Aumont, J.C. Ramirez and outfielder Tyson Gillies.
Looper, who said they’re all likely to start the season in Double-A Reading, had some familiarity with them because he worked in Seattle through the 2008 season, but he also said the Phillies scouted these three prospects pretty thoroughly.
Here is what he said:
On Aumont. “He signed as a starter. He’s a big 6-foot-7 right-hander that has got a very good arm. We had him up to 97 mph in the (Arizona) Fall League with very good sink. They moved him to the pen. I think they thought that was his quickest way to the Major Leagues. Fastball, slider and he’s now throwing a split. I thought he was a starter all along, but maybe a reliever is where he belongs. But that’s an internal discussion we’ll have.”
On Ramirez: “He’s a 6-foot-3, big, strong right-hander with very good arm action and delivery. I looked at an old report. In ’08 I had him at 90 to 96 mph. Good arm. Good slider. I really liked his arm action and delivery and body.”
On Gillies: “He’s a strong tool, above average run and throw. A high energy guy that gets on base and steals bases.”
On comparing Aumont’s potential to Kyle Drabek. “I don’t like comparing players. We do often when we’re sitting around talking to players, but he’s what we would classify as a good prospect. And that’s where we had Kyle at — a good prospect. We didn’t want to give up Kyle, but the two pitchers we got we like them a lot, too.”
On Domonic Brown’s presence making it easier to trade Michael Taylor. “In looking at our prospects, we probably have more outfielders than we do anywhere else. Whether it be Michael or Brown or (Anthony) Gose. We didn’t want to give up any of them, but we felt like giving up one outfielder we still had some guys that we liked that we think will be Major League players in the outfield.”
The Phillies have signed right-hander Brody Colvin, their seventh-round pick in this year’s First-Year Player Draft, Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper confirmed to MLB.com.
Reports have Colvin signing a $900,000 contract.
The Phillies signed each of their draft picks in the top 10 rounds.