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Crosscutters' top 10 prospects

September 19, 2013 - Mitch Rupert
1) Dylan Cozens, RF, .265/.343/.469, 9 HR, 35 RBI, 23.1 K%, 10.1 BB%

Two things stand out immediately about Cozens when you watch batting practice: The immense power he has, and how effortless it is for him to utilize it. The Larry Greene Jr. comparisons stopped early in the season when Cozens flashed his power in game settings. He finished with nine home runs and the power is going to be what carries him through the system for the next couple years. He has a good approach at the plate which involves him being patient and not afraid to work a walk. His speed is above average and he's capable of stealing bases, but will probably be a more opportune runner as opposed to a pure base-stealer as he advances. What sets him apart as the No. 1 prospect from this team is the potential to have five above average tools before all is done. His power is plus-plus, his arm is plus, his speed is above average and that's all current, not future projection. He has room to grow with the hit tool. His power transfers foul pole to foul pole, but he doesn't often hit left of the opposite-field gap in games. As he better recognizes what pitches he can hit hard to left field he's going to become a more complete hitter. His defense is adequate for now, but he struggles at times to get a good read off the bat. His speed will sometimes make up for whatever deficiencies there are in the reads he gets off the bat, and with more reps he'll be an average to above average defender, especially as he goes to ballparks with far less ground to cover than Bowman Field. I don't expect him to be a three-outcome player in the future as I think the hit tool will be better than that. At a trim 235 pounds, I don't expect he'll grow out of right field. A Giancarlo Stanton body type is a fair comparison (but not as a player). I think he's a top 10 prospect now, and with a 20-25 home run season at Lakewood with similar strikeout and walk numbers, he could quickly become a top 5 prospect.

2) Zach Green, 3B, .248/.341/.474, 13 HR, 41 RBI, 29.3 K%, 10.0 BB%

Green excelled in the sexy categories this year, tying a Crosscutters franchise record with 13 home runs, he was tied for third in the New York-Penn League with 41 RBIs, and 34 of his 67 hits went for extra bases. There's a lot to like about the 19-year old, especially his contact-to-damage ratio, and in potentially any other year he would have been the best prospect in Williamsport this year. But the strikeout rate was beyond alarming. His 91 strikeouts also set a new Crosscutters record. Green really struggled to recognize a breaking ball, and behind in the count he had little chance of putting the ball in play. It's clear he can get to a fastball, though. And when he gets to a fastball he often hits it hard somewhere. But it's going to be the recognition of the breaking ball and the ability to put the bat on it which will determine his future as a hitter. He made great strides defensively as he makes the move to third base. He's got a prototypical third baseman's build with a strong, accurate arm. His range got better and better as the season went on as he got better reads off the bat. He's already got a strong understanding of when to charge and when to stay back, and he's got more than enough arm to wait for a big hop and still throw out a runner. He's only going to get better defensively as his reactions become better and he covers a touch more ground.

3) Andrew Knapp, C, .253/.340/.401, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 23.1 K %, 8.9 BB%

When Knapp was selected out of Cal in the second round of the June draft, he was touted as an advanced hitter who still needed work to stay at catcher. He showed flashes of the advanced bat, but the work behind the plate was hampered by an elbow strain which limited him to DHing for the better part of a month. In his return, though, he showed a quick release, and was as low as 1.85 on his pop time to second base. He's got a very good feel for pitch-calling and has a way of getting his pitchers to utilize their best pitch at the most opportune time. He was the catcher for the Cutters' no-hitter in August. He looks like a strong receiver of pitches but sometimes will roll with the pitch instead of locking it up where he catches it. As a hitter he shows what will likely be more gap power than home run power, although he did hit four home runs this year. All four home runs came from his natural right side. He has a tendency when he gets to hitting well to really open up and roll over the ball. This will be his biggest detriment as he moves up and more and more pitchers begin to consistently pitch him on the outside portion of the plate. The swing is a little long for someone who isn't a big home run hitter. The truth about Knapp as a hitter lies somewhere between the .306 he hit in June before being diagnosed with the elbow strain and the .264 he hit in August after coming back from the injury. He's definitely a candidate to go to Clearwater next year, and I'd be surprised if he's not there.

4) Drew Anderson, RHP, 6-3, 2.00 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 6.84 H/9, 6.37 K/9, 2.36 BB/9

The truth is it wasn't until Anderson started coming in with a fastball at 93-94 midway through the season. Anderson has a slight frame which looks like it'll eventually add a little more size, and with it a couple ticks on a fastball which he locates very well already. What Anderson lacks in pure stuff he makes up for with his pitchability. The likelihood is he should have received a midseason promotion to Lakewood but over the final month of the season the Phillies limited him to just 5 innings per start. With the fastball nearing the mid-90s, it gives Anderson two above average pitches to go along with a developing change-up. The change-up is going to have to become a better part of his arsenal to remain a starting pitcher, and it'll be more necessary starting in Lakewood next year. But as a 19-year old, he was advanced in a college league with his understanding of how to set up hitters. His main problem at times was an inability to put hitters away, and that could improve with the change-up. Scouts raved of his poise and presence on the mound, and a .162 batting average against with runners on base best exemplifies that poise under pressure. The change-up is the key to Anderson's development, but as a 21st-round pick out of high school a year ago, the Phillies may have already gotten more than they expected from him.

5) Jiandido Tromp, OF, .305/.360/.438, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 20.9 K%, 7 BB% (Williamsport only)

Tromp was my breakout candidate at the beginning of the season and he did nothing to disappoint. As a 19-year old he was brilliant defensively, showed above average power despite a 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame, and has speed to burn. Tromp is a complete player who will likely be underrated until he becomes an everyday player. He was stuck in a combination of Cozens, Gustavo Martinez, Justin Parr and Samuel Hiciano and played in just 31 games before a midseason promotion to Lakewood. Tromp can play all three outfield positions, but his best value will come as a center fielder. Maybe the best defensive center fielder to come through Williamsport since Kyrell Hudson. The arm leaves a little to be desired, but he can run down just about anything. He's an aggressive hitter, maybe a little too over-aggressive as his 20.9 strikeout rate would suggest. He needs to create more contact as his .305 batting average was largely BABIP drive (.388). Unless he improves his plate discipline he's probably destined to be a bottom-of-the-order hitter, but his speed and base-stealing ability make him a player you'd love to see in the first two spots in the order. Maybe a better hit tool than a player like Leandro Castro, but less raw power than Castro. His game will be hitting the ball to the gap and legging out extra-base hits as opposed to being a 20 home run guy. An exciting prospect who should have an eye kept on him.

6) Tyler Buckley, RHP, 0-2, 2.22 ERA, 4 S, 5 SO, 1.16 WHIP, 6.4 H/9, 8.6 K/9, 2.08 BB/9

A relief pitcher who turns 23 in less than two months likely shouldn't appear on this list, but Buckley has the potential to move through the system in a hurry. His fastball will be around 95 mph consistently, give or take a tick, and he found more movement on it when his pro career began. Combine it with a plus breaking ball and he's a strong-armed reliever who shouldn't take much time to get to AA and AAA. He was maybe the only Cutters pitcher who profiles as a long-term back of the bullpen pitcher. Averaged nearly a strikeout per inning and allowed just two of eight inherited runners to score. Had ERA as low as 0.93 before some late-season struggles. Concern with Buckley coming out of college was the command, but he showed solid command and an ability to get strike one. Allowed just eight hits through his first 14 appearances and 12 hits through his final seven appearances. Clearwater is his likely destination for next year, and if the velocity can get to 97 or so he could become a legitimate top prospect.

7) Andrew Pullin, 2B, .266/.288/.420, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 16.7 K%, 3.3 BB%

The most valuable thing learned about Pullin in his first full season as a pro was he'll stick at second base. His progress from the time he showed up in Williamsport in June until his final game in September was remarkable. He's still a little stiff and robotic at times in his movements on routine ground balls. But his overall athleticism was evident when he had to range deep to his left and right. He learned early in the season it was OK to throw the ball hard to first as he would almost get caught lobbing the ball against speedy runners. He turns double plays well and has a quick transfer from glove to hand while still being able to avoid the sliding baserunner. His on-base percentage was maybe a product of the one thing that will potentially make him a great hitter, and that's his ability to keep the bat in the hitting zone for a long time. His hands are quiet and quick through the hitting zone which lets the ball travel deeper on him. He's got the power to drive the ball to the opposite-field gap, and his pull power is just a tick under Zach Green's and Dylan Cozens'. His main problem is getting pull happy. His hit tool is good enough to hit the ball hard all over the field, but when he gets going good he often tries to pull everything. It's all about maintaining a consistent approach to see more of the hitter with a .321 batting average in the GCL. He's going to have to be more patient to increase his walk rate, and if he does that you'll see the average come up in a hurry. It was definitely a productive season defensively for Pullin, but with a better offensive season in 2014 he becomes a legit Top 10 prospect.

8) Gabriel Lino, C, .256/.305/.372, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 28.1 K%, 6.0 BB%

Lino really got to showcase his talent as he became the everyday catcher when Knapp suffered a strained ligament in his throwing elbow. He showcased himself as a much-improved defensive catcher who the pitching staff loved throwing to, and as a power-hitting catcher from the right side. As a receiver he creates a big, low target who likes his pitchers to establish the fastball early and then work off that late. Charged with just 10 passed balls in 49 games between Williamsport and Lakewood, Lino was much improved over the 28 he recorded a year ago. He frames pitches well and has one of the quickest transfers to throw along with one of the most accurate arms in the Phillies' system. He was between 1.85 and 1.87 throwing to second. He threw out 37.7 percent of basestealers in Williamsport despite often not getting much help from his pitchers. Offensively Lino has a striking resemblance to Sebastian Valle when he came through Williamsport in 2009. His swing is a one-path uppercut swing which generates a lot of power and a lot of swings and misses. He's an aggressive hitter who wants to get a fastball down in the zone early, but it susceptible to fastballs up in the zone late in the count. The hit tool isn't great, so he'll need to develop more plate discipline as he progresses, but at 20 years old he's still age appropriate. He's probably ready to start in Clearwater next year, but may start in Lakewood to be able to play every day.

9) Samuel Hiciano, OF, .243/.348/.449, 7 HR, 20 RBI, 24.7 K%, 12.0 BB%

While maybe the final numbers don't tell the story of who Hiciano is, the splits do. He played much of the first half of the season with a wrist injury he didn't tell his coaches or training staff about. After finally revealing the injury and sitting out for a week, he came back and showed the power manager Nelson Prada expected to see from him. His seven home runs and 20 RBIs are right around when Prada thought he might be for a full season, and nearly 80 percent of it came in the final five weeks of the season after his injury. The power is prodigious and true, and his approach at the plate isn't too shabby. I think as he gets to higher levels he could potentially be a three-outcome player, but that won't be awful when coupled with slightly above average defense and a strong throwing arm. He can play either corner outfield spot, but is probably a better fit in left field. His splits vs left-handers (.326) and right-handers (.204) which signifies trouble identifying the breaking ball from right-handers, or he's hitting into a lot of bad luck with a .162 BABIP against right-handers. But his run-producing numbers were nearly identical. Hiciano is definitely a sleeper as the final five weeks of his first season in the U.S. are signs of an offensive threat who doesn't turn 20 until January.

10) Malquin Canelo, SS, .220/.291/.297, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 22.6 K%, 8.2 BB%, 10-12 SB

When Canelo was promoted to Williamsport in July, he was an all-glove, no-bat player and it was easy to see why. He's as good as anybody who has ever played shortstop for the Crosscutters defensively. His manager said he could play defensively for any team in the Phillies' minor league system right now. But he was overmatched offensively. It wasn't until the final two weeks of the season which Canelo showed what he was capable of offensively. He hit .367 over his final 15 games, driving in 10 of his 13 runs and hitting his only home run. It's clearly a small sample size and he'll need a much better offensive season to become a top 15 or 20 prospect, but as an 18-year old who plays plus to plus-plus defense, it's worth getting excited about. Offensively he shows a little gap power and is a plus runner. His 8.2 walk rate is encouraging, but his 22.6 strikeout rate screams of being overmatched at the plate against pitchers sometimes four and five years older than he is. The speed translates defensively as he shows great range to his left and right, and plus arm strength allows him to make the throw from deep in the hole or take an extra split second to gather the ball or set his feet and still throw out the runner. The baseball barely touches his glove when he fields it as his catch-and-release is both smooth and lightning quick. He's likely to start next year in Williamsport again as J.P. Crawford and Andrew Pullin mind the middle infield in Lakewood.

OTHERS CONSIDERED

Mitch Gueller, RHP, 3-8, 5.86 ERA, 1.87 WHIP, 5.4 K/9, 4 BB/9, 12.8 H/9

There's not much to like about his season. The fastball was inconsistent as it was 86-93 throughout the season. He struggled to command the fastball and he still doesn't have a great feel for his curveball as he often looks like he's guiding it instead of throwing it. Needs to develop a bit of a mean streak and confidence on the mound. Gueller doesn't really deserve to be on any prospect list at this point, but the raw stuff is still there for him to be a very good pitching prospect if he can harness his stuff and become more consistent.

Herlis Rodriguez, OF, .204/.291/.245, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 8.9 K%, 8.9 BB%

Very similar appearance to Jiandido Tromp's in 2012, and a very similar season. Could be a breakout candidate next year as he plays tremendous defense but will best be valued in center field. Has a bit of pop, but should be a top-of-the-order hitter.

Keivi Rojas, RHP, 1-2, 3.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, 11.0 K/9, 6.8 H/9

Utilized a running fastball that sat 92-94 and gained better command of a curveball which made him a tough pitcher for two months. Struggled down the stretch as he tired and began to fall behind hitters. Gave up 13 of his 27 hits over his final six appearances. Not a great prospect, but the strikeout numbers and low hit numbers are worth keeping an eye on.

Shane Martin, RHP, 5-4, 3.31 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 5.6 K/9, 8.0 H/9

As a top-10 round pick who was very strong at times, definitely worth watching. Fastball will probably be 91-92, but he pitches to contact. Not a big strikeout pitcher meaning there's very little wiggle room and he will give up his share of hits. Was on an innings limit over the final month of the season after throwing more than 100 innings in college, but never seemed to tire. He didn't allow an earned run in four of his final five starts.

 
 

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