Prospect ranking season is here. Top 10 lists will be arriving shortly and in preparation for that, we present an intro series looking at some of the players who deserve mentioning but probably will not be appearing on their teams’ Top 10 lists. The series is back for a second year.
The Graduate: J.A. Happ, LHP
Happ did not garner a lot of attention while rising through the minors, but the left-hander had a solid rookie season for the Phillies. He did a nice job of keeping runners off base with just 149 hits allowed and a walk rate of 3.04 BB/9 in 166.0 innings. Happ’s strikeout rate dipped from his minor-league average, but it was still reasonable at 6.45 K/9. If he can utilize his curveball more often, it might help him with his strikeout rate, because it will change the hitters’ eye levels. One of the biggest ugly marks on his stats line is the 38.4% ground-ball rate.
The Riser: Trevor May, RHP
The 20-year-old May made just 15 starts in ’09, but he flashed some intriguing potential. The right-hander posted a strikeout rate of 11.06 K/9 while allowing 58 hits in 77.1 innings at the low-A ball level. May did struggle with his control, posting a walk rate of 5.00 BB/9. He did a nice job of keeping the ball in the park with a HR/9 rate of 0.35. Left-handers hit just .188 against him in ’09. May features an 87-93 mph fastball, curveball and change-up.
The Tumbler: Anthony Hewitt, OF
Hewitt is a classic raw athlete with the potential to absolutely explode if he can embrace the nuances of the sport. It could be a long wait for Phillies fans, though. After struggling during his debut in ’08, the 20-year-old Hewitt scuffled again in ’09 and hit just .223/.255/.395 in 233 at-bats. He posted a low walk rate of 3.7% and his strikeout rate was far too high at 33.0%. In a small sample size of 44 at-bats, his performance against southpaws was brutal: .136/.188/.273. Hewitt did show some power with an ISO of .172. He has some speed on the bases, but his base-stealing skills are raw, and he was successful in just nine of 14 attempts.
The ’10 Sleeper: Yohan Flande, LHP
The 23-year-old Flande had a solid debut in North America in ’08, and he followed that up by making 13 starts in both high-A and double-A in ’09. The left-hander allowed 81 hits in 70.2 innings at the senior level, but he posted a solid FIP of 3.94. Flande posted solid walk rates at both levels and averaged out around 2.65 BB/9. His strikeout rate dropped from 7.35 in high-A to 6.27 K.9 in double-A. Overall, his ground-ball rate was solid at 52.1%. Flande’s repertoire includes an 87-91 mph fastball, a plus change-up and a developing slider.
Bonus: Drew Naylor, RHP
Naylor was highlighted in the ’08 series as the Phillies’ breakout candidate for ’09. Pitching in high-A in ’09, he had an OK year but really did nothing to distinguish himself. Naylor showed good control with a walk rate of 2.11 BB/9, and his strikeout rate was OK at 6.55 K/9. He allowed 162 hits in 158.0 innings of work. Naylor, 23, should move up to double-A in 2010.