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Monday, February 18, 2013

MLB 2013 Team Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

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MLB 2013 Team Preview: Philadelphia Phillies
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman

Philadelphia Phillies
2012 Record: 81-81
The Phillies were booted from their pedestal in a bad way, going from the NL team to beat, to a collection of aging veterans struggling to contend.
 
NOTABLE ADDITIONS: Mike Young, Ben Revere, Mike Adams, John Lannan
NOTABLE LOSSES: Vance Worley, Placido Polanco
 
Keys to Success: The Phillies’ season may hinge on the success and health of Roy Halladay. If he’s healthy, they will have three aces again and that will help offset a mediocre offense and back end of the rotation. If he’s not, the Phillies might be closer to .500 and miss out on the playoffs again. Can at least half their old, balky infield-Mike Young, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard-be healthy and/or productive. In particular, Young and Howard could be worthless even when healthy if they do not improve upon last year’s terrible numbers. Who will step up to play in the outfield corners? Can Dominic Brown live up to his former potential? 
 
Prospect Watch:
Prospect Key 
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excels at Tool
 
JON PETTIBONE, LHP (rookie watch):
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
 
x
x
x
 
x
Pettibone, 22, is a ready package as a mid-rotation lefty who has consistently put up strong numbers in the minor leagues by complementing an average fastball with a decent offspeed pitch arsenal. Last year he went 13-8 with a 3.10 ERA and in 26 starts between AA-AAA. He only struck out 113 batters in 160 IP, a below average rate, but he limits his walks (49) and doesn’t allow too many home runs, so he should be able to survive pitching in Citizens Bank Ballpark.
CODY ASCHE, 3B (rookie watch):
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
TBD
 
x
 
x
 
Asche, a fourth round pick in the 2011 draft, had a stellar full season debut, good enough to put him on track to be a potential full-time third basemen, something Philadelphia has struggled to find since trading away Scott Rolen a decade ago. Asche hit .324/.369/.481 between High-A Clearwater and AA Reading, with 12 HR, 72 RBI, and 11 SB in 518 AB. The most promising aspect of his development was that 10 of his 12 Home Runs came in the second half in AA, while still hitting .300. Asche has an aggressive approach at the plate and could stand to prove himself at AAA, but if he can adjust his approach slightly to avoid a dip in batting average, Asche could get playing time with Philadelphia in the second half; the chance the Mike Young struggles or Chase Utley gets hurt by then is pretty strong.
JESSE BIDDLE, LHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
TBD
x
x
TBD
x
x
Biddle, 21, offers the best package of stuff and results of any Phillie prospect. Last year at High-A Clearwater he went 10-6 with a 3.22 ERA and 151 K in 142.2 IP. His walk rate (3.4) is a little high but improving. His velocity was a little higher after being lower than expected in 2011, but his numbers overall have remained strong. A-ball hitters proved no challenge for him, and now he will move up to AA where continued improvement could raise his profile to that of a no.2 starter.
DARIN RUF, 3B/LF/1B (rookie watch):
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
xx
 
TBD
x
 
 
Ruf had a historic August, blasting 20 Home Runs to tie Sammy Sosa for the all-time record in either the majors or minors. Although that skews his overall totals of .317/.408/.620, his 18 pre-August HR total would still have been a career high and including the 3 he hit with Philadelphia in September, Ruf had 41 Home Runs overall. He is already 26 years old (and had never played above AA before September) so his potential is limited and there is debate as to whether his bat is good enough to be more than a AAAA slugger. He will get an opportunity to prove himself every day in left field, and it’s realistic to expect him to at least provide right-handed insurance in case Ryan Howard can’t hit same-sided pitchers anymore.
MAIKEL FRANCO, 3B:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
x
 
x
 
TBD
x
Franco has true breakout potential as his .280/.336/.439 totals at low-A Lakewood included a much stronger second half, and the fact that he was one of the youngest everyday players in the league. Franco has the arm to play third base but he is very slow. He hit 14 Home Runs and could double that total as he gets stronger. He’s a long way away but along with Cody Asche, offers an encouraging picture of the future at third base. 
 
2012 Top Draft Pick: Shane Watson
 
Sleeper MLB Contributor: ETHAN MARTIN, rhp, was acquired for Shane Victorino and has overcome his control problems enough to at least project as a good reliever.
 
2013 Outlook and Projection: It is easy to forget that Philadelphia still has the pieces that made them the best team in the National League in 2011. Their three-ace rotation is still in place, and Philadelphia has also very loudly added strong bullpen pieces. Mike Adams and Jon Papelbon will make the later innings tough on opposing teams. Their top-heavy pitching offers a floor to counter the expensive albatross-laden infield, which is more likely to disappoint again then to revert back to pre-2012 excellence. In particular, Ryan Howard might be the worst contract in baseball. If last year is indicative of his ability going forward, he will make 25 million a year to play as “well” as your average, freely available AAA first baseman (good thing Philly has one of those in Darrin Ruf). Michael Young also makes a lot of money, and could similarly offer nothing other than a vague sense of “veteran leadership”, which will go a long way to another middling .500 season. Hope in a better 2013 comes from a healthy Chase Utley, whose diminished 2011-2012 lines would still make him one of the league’s best second basemen, and their various upper-level hitting prospects. Dominic Brown is still young enough to be an everyday outfielder, which Philadelphia needs him to be after getting rid of their entire 2012 starting outfield by this winter. Right now their best outfielder, Ben Revere, has never hit a major league Home Run in 989 at-bats. Was his defense worth Vance Worley? They will find out soon.
 
Projection: POSSIBLE CONTENDERS
 
 

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