Prospecting

The other guys: A quick look at some lower-level prospects

The Phillies have a pretty deep farm system, but for the most part all anyone ever hears about are the big names, the players close to being called up to the majors or the players who have made some type of top prospect list. Sure, Phillies fans know about Scott Kingery, J.P. Crawford and Dylan Cozens. And they’ve heard about Sixto Sanchez’s fastball and Franklyn Kilomé’s control. But there are plenty players in the system turning in good seasons.

So here’s to it. Let’s check out the other guys.

DARICK HALL

Hall is a 21-year-old who was taken in the 14th round of the 2016 draft out of Dallas Baptist University. He’s a first basemen who hit .263/.332/.516 last year in 95 games for the Crosscutters, but this year he’s hitting .285/.375/.523 for the BlueClaws. In his 151-game minor league career he’s hit 30 home runs and has 108 RBI. As you can see by his on-base percentage, he clearly has the eye at the plate that the new Phillies regime is looking for. That eye, along with his power, make him what’s considered to be the prototypical first basemen, exemplified by guys like Joey Votto or Paul Goldschmidt (seriously, we’re not comparing here). The next few years should be pretty interesting for Hall as he climbs the Phillies minor league ladder.

JHAILYN ORTIZ

Ortiz has received some attention but it’s not commensurate with his accomplishments as it’s mostly been about his journey to signing with the Phillies as a 16-year-old. He’s now an 18-year-old outfielder in his second season of pro ball with 83 games under his belt. He currently has 15 home runs … as a teenager. Right now he’s in Williamsport where he averages three years younger than his competition but still manages to slash .293/.405/.561. From all accounts, he’s said to have mammoth power. Phillies first round pick Adam Haseley, who currently plays with Ortiz in Williamsport, has said that he [Haseley] was nowhere near the player at 18 that Ortiz is today, and that Ortiz hasn’t even reached the peak of what his power will be. Boy, is this kid going to be fun to watch at Reading’s hitter-friendly First Energy stadium. That day may be closer than most people originally thought.

COLBY FITCH

You probably haven’t heard of Colby Fitch yet. Fitch was drafted earlier this year, in the 13th round out of the University of Louisville. He’s 21 and he’s off to some kind of start to his pro career. Defensively he’s a catcher, but it’s his eye-popping offensive stats that really catch your eye. So far he’s played in short-season A ball for the Crosscutters and in the South Atlantic League for the BlueClaws, and in his very small sample size of 16 games he’s hitting .352/.446/.556. Those are ridiculous numbers for an up-the-middle defender like a catcher.

Since it’s a small sample size we can look a little further back to when Fitch was a college player to see if he’s legit. He played college ball at Louisville, and because of that we have some interesting comparisons. Catcher Will Smith was selected in the first round by the Dodgers in 2016, and while he was at Louisville Fitch played as his back up. Fitch also played with Corey Ray, who was taken fifth overall in the 2016 draft, giving us two players to make an “apples to apples” comparison with.

In 610 at bats at Louisville Ray slashed .318/.392/.545 for an OPS of .928. Will Smith had 412 at bats and posted a line of 291/.392/.410 for a .802 OPS. For comparison, Fitch, who was taken one year and 12 rounds later (383rd overall) had 462 at-bats and managed a .282/.384/.477 line with an OPS of .861. The Phillies have potentially made a real steal with this pick.

RANGER SUAREZ

Some Phillies fans have probably heard of Suarez, but not nearly as often as top pitching prospects Sanchez and Kilome. Signed as a 16-year-old in 2012, Suarez is now only 21 but already has five years experience in the minors. Over that span he’s pitched 314.1 innings, and his ERA is a miniscule 1.86. That’s right, a sub-two ERA over what would be about a season and a half of work for a starter in the majors. His peripherals are all solid as well; he has a 4.58 K/BB ratio and a 0.945 WHIP. His FIP would be 2.42 and that would put him as the best in MLB for pitchers over the last two years, with Chris Sale being second at 2.84 in his 388 innings pitched. Remarkable.

HAROLD ARAUZ

This name might sound familiar to Phillies fans as he’s one of the prospects that came over from Houston in the deal that sent Ken Giles south. Arauz was signed as a 16-year-old by Houston after he was named MVP of the Dominican Prospect League All Star Game. He’s been a pro for some time now and his numbers have fluctuated from good to great. As a 21-year-old at both rookie ball and A-ball in 2016 he pitched 107.1 innings and had a respectable 3.44 ERA. But this year he’s taken a massive step forward. He’s pitched at three different levels for the Phillies for a combined 77.1 innings and carries a 1.85 ERA. He’s maintained a 5.77 K/BB rate this season which, for perspective, would put him between Chris Sale and Max Scherzer to this point in ’17. He’s currently in Reading, so we should be hearing more about him as time goes by.

NICK FANTI

Lastly, there’s Nick Fanti, and you’ve probably heard of his no-hitters. And that’s not a typo, it’s no hitters because he’s thrown two of them this year. Like the rest of the players covered here he’s not a top prospect anywhere, just a guy getting things done. Fanti is a 20-year-old who was taken in the 31st round of the 2015 draft out of high school, and all he’s done since becoming a pro is perform. In his first three seasons he’s 15-3 with 172 innings pitched and a 2.35 ERA. He strikes out a lot of batters (9.8 per 9 IP), walks very few of them (1.9 per 9 IP) and is extremely stingy with the long ball (0.3 per 9 IP).

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Evan Gusz

    August 13, 2017 at 11:29 am

    A little more on Colby Fitch, who I am now infatuated with. I cannot figure out how he went as late as the 13th round. I’m going to look into more and if I find anything I’ll comment on it here. Like it says in the piece, his teammates at Louisville Corey Ray and Will Smith both went in the first round the year before the Phillies took Fitch in the 13th. Corey Ray is currently a consensus top 50 prospect (MLB, BA, BP) but he hasn’t performed at all in the minors. He has a .241/.312/.371 slash line in the Brewers system. Will Smith hasn’t cracked a top 100 list and he too isn’t doing so hot. He has a .258/.357/.393 slash line. Fitch is off to an excellent start and while it is small sample size, all large sample sizes start as small ones and it’s much better to start off good than it is to start off poorly.

  2. denzen

    August 16, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Not a lower level guy, but has anyone thought of Damek Tomscha as a guy who can be a big league 3rd baseman.? Late bloomer.? Time to move him to AAA.? Don’t know much about him.

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