Friday, August 1, 2014
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An Arizona Fall League primer

Welcome to Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies will hold a workout day Tuesday in between games of their division series with... oh, wait. Right.

An Arizona Fall League primer

Scouts view Tommy Joseph as one of the league´s top catching prospects. (Ralph Trout/Reading Phillies)
Scouts view Tommy Joseph as one of the league's top catching prospects. (Ralph Trout/Reading Phillies)

Welcome to Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies will hold a workout day Tuesday in between games of their division series with... oh, wait. Right.

But hey, the Arizona Fall League starts Tuesday and that's something. Maybe? Sure.

The Phillies have seven players on the Peoria Javelinas in this fall's edition of the showcase league. Teams traditionally send top prospects to the AFL, in addition to players requiring a longer look for various reasons. It's a paradise for scouts.

Peoria is managed by Dusty Wathan, who guided double-A Reading to a postseason berth in 2012. Wathan could be a candidate for the open triple-A managerial job. For now, he has the luxury of managing a roster that includes Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton. He's the 22-year-old prospect who stole 155 bases this season.

Here are the Phillies participating:

C Tommy Joseph (21, AA Reading): Joseph was the centerpiece of the Hunter Pence trade. Scouts view him as one of the game's top catching prospects. He hit for power after the trade with a .420 slugging percentage in 28 games. In all, his power numbers hit a sharp decline from the California League a year ago. How he fares in Arizona could help dictate whether he repeats double A or heads to triple A in April.

3B Cody Asche (22, AA Reading): He was far off the radar at the end of last season after hitting .192 in 68 games at short-season, low-A Williamsport. Then the Phillies jumped him to Clearwater to start 2012 and he exploded. In all, between Clearwater and Reading, Asche hit .324 with an .849 OPS. It was a breakout season for the fourth-round pick. Now the Phillies want to see more as they attempt to evaluate their third-base conundrum. The more Asche's stock improves, the less inclined the Phillies are to pursue anything more than a stopgap at third for 2013.

OF Zach Collier (22, A Clearwater): His story is well-documented. Collier, a former first-round pick, had his finest season despite the suspension. He had hit two home runs in three prior seasons before smacking six with Clearwater in 2012. Fall ball is a chance to make up for lost at-bats. The Phillies must make a decision on whether to protect him this winter from Rule 5 draft eligibility. 

LHP Jay Johnson (22, AA Reading): He was signed as an undrafted free agent, which in baseball usually means a career bouncing around in the minors. Johnson spent a majority of his time in 2012 with Reading and posted a 5.02 ERA in 28 games, all as a reliever. He's not much of a prospect. But he's lefthanded and has persevered through quite a bit.

RHP Tyler Knigge (23, AA Reading): Knigge, a 12th-round pick in 2010, began 2012 at single-A Clearwater. All he did was allow three earned runs in 44 2/3 innings (a 0.60 ERA). He earned a promotion to double-A Reading in July and maintained a 9.1 strikeout per nine innings rate there. He was more hittable in the Eastern League. Nonetheless, he turned some heads.

RHP Colby Shreve (24, AA Reading): Shreve bounced all over in 2012. He started at single-A Lakewood, moved to Clearwater at the end of April and ultimately spent most of his time in Reading. Shreve is eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft this winter, so he goes to AFL for a better look. The former sixth-round pick struck out 29 and walked 25 in 43 innings at Reading.

RHP Kyle Simon (22, AA Reading): Simon was acquired in July from Baltimore for Jim Thome, promptly converted to reliever, and flourished. He was a fourth-rounder in 2011, making 2012 his first full professional season. Between Clearwater and Reading, Simon made 20 appearances and posted a 1.36 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings. A move to the bullpen dramatically increased his strikeout rate. Definitely someone to watch.

The Arizona Fall League schedule consists of 32 games and ends Nov. 15.


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Matt Gelb Inquirer Staff Writer
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