Minor League Mondays: Offseason Acquisition Edition

January 6th, 2015 by Mike H. | Filed under Baseball, Phillies.

It’s been a couple of weeks since MLM, but I’d like to to take some time to take a look at the guys the Phillies have added to their organization so far. Obviously, if Cole Hamels is traded between now and February 19th, there will be some new blood to talk about. Before I go any further, I must give thanks to the players departing for their services provided: Antonio Bastardo, Marlon Byrd (again), and Jimmy Rollins. Instead of long summary of anything and everything they’ve done, I’ll just say Thanks and Good Luck going forward. I mean it from the heart.

So let’s look at the acquisitions in the order they were received.

On December 10th, the Phillies acquired Joely Rodriguez from the Pirates. Rodriguez impressed in the Florida State League in 2013. In 2014, not so much. He struggled as a 22-year-old in the Eastern League. He impressed in the Arizona Fall League, striking out 22 hitters in 22.2 innings. Now, Rodriguez will most likely end up as a reliever, if he ever makes the bigs. While he did have a K/9 just under 9 in the AFL with mid-2 ERA, 2014 has seen his WHIP sit at about 1.40. The move did get the Phillies out from underneath a potential $2.5-3.0M due to Antonio Bastardo in arbitration. As far as the deal goes, it was nothing special and nothing to really get excited about. He’ll probably start 2015 in AA Reading. Whether it is as a starter or reliever will be seen.

The next day was the conclusion of the Winter Meetings, and the Phillies selected two players in the Rule V Draft: 2B/CF Odubel Herrera and LHP Andy Oliver. Both will require a spot on the 25-man roster in 2015 or risk being sent back to their respective organizations. Herrera has given fans hope of being the steal of the Rule V draft as he has been en fuego in the Venezuelan Winter League (.372/.432/.556). Now, he’s not hitting against any real Cy Young award finalists, so how he’ll fare against MLB pitching remains to be seen. Andy Oliver will most likely be a reliever after a bit of a resurgence in 2014. His control is an issue as he walked more batters (47) than allowed hits to (35). If he could get the control resolved he should be a pretty dominant reliever. Batters hit just .157 against him and he did strikeout 85 in 64 innings. If Oliver can make the adjustments necessary to even half the walks, the Phillies could potentially shorten the game to a six inning game.

While the Phillies had agreed to the terms of the trade during the Winter Meetings, the deal that brought LHP Tom Windle and RHP Zach Eflin wasn’t finalized until December 19th. Both pitchers were hit around a bit in the hitter friendly California League, but both managed to keep sub-3 BB/9, sub-1.40 WHIP, and caused more ground ball outs than fly ball outs. Both pitchers instantly bumped LHP Jesse Biddle down the prospect list and should join the Reading rotation to start the season. An early Christmas present for the fans, as it is seemingly an impressive return to get two pitchers picked in the first two rounds in consecutive years (2012 and 2013) for a 36-year-old short stop on the last year of a deal.

The final deal of 2014 for the Phillies came when they acquired RHP Ben Lively from the Cincinnati Reds. Lively was named the Reds’ 2014 pitcher of the year. That’s a pretty impressive feat considering their top pitching prospect is Robert Stephenson. While the control suffered in 2014 (3.1 BB/9), he did miss bats at an impressive 10.1 K/9 rate. Again, a seemingly good return for a 37-year-old outfielder. I wonder where the Phillies start Lively in 2015. On one hand, you could have a high potential rotation of Nola, Lively, Windle, and Eflin in AA Reading. On the other, you could split the talent and send Nola and Lively to AAA Lehigh Valley. Personally, I feel that there is no rush to get any of these guys to South Philadelphia and none have pitched a FULL season at AA yet. Start them all in Reading and promote in June or July as needed.

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