Saturday, April 2, 2011

Insert Suidae Pun Here: A quick Lehigh Valley IronPigs Preview

Insert Suidae Pun Here

The 2011 IronPigs season is upon us and it’s highly likely for the organization to experience the same sort of success it’s enjoyed over the first few years of its existence (I’m talking about financial success, not success on the field). Aside from the incessant pig-monikered products and events, there has been little to complain about at Coca-Cola Park except for the product on the field. Will that change this year? Let’s have a brief look at the IronPigs opening rosters….


Vance Worley- One of the few Pigs who might provide the Phillies with mentionable value during his career, Worley was a 3rd round pick in 2008 out of Long Beach State. His fastball has MLB average velocity (88-90mph, touching as high as 93 here and there) with a bit of armside run. He also throws a low 80s slider which grades out as average, a low-mid 70s curveball which shows flashes of viability but is inconsistent, and a below average changeup (79-83mph) on which he often noticeably slows his arm speed. He’s got #5 starter upside if he can refine his secondary stuff, especially the changeup to get lefties out. At 23 years of age, he doesn’t have much projection left. He’s much more likely to contribute long term in a middle relief role, where a lighter work load might allow him let loose and see a jump in his fastball velocity.

Drew Carpenter- Carpenter has anchored the LV rotation for the past couple years but his stuff just isn’t good enough to play in the big leagues. He’s moved to the bullpen in hopes of carving out some sort of role for himself in the majors. In doing so, he has scrapped his curveball and changeup and will pitch exclusively with his fastball, splitter and slider out of the bullpen. The splitter will likely be a tertiary pitch for Carp, used primarily against lefties. It’ll be interesting to see if Carpenter’s stuff plays up out of the ‘pen. He has Chad Durbin-type upside if his slider improves.

Scott Mathieson- Mathieson has been in pro baseball for 9 seasons. He is now 27. Despite this, he remains a favorite of the organization and is the oldest guy to retain the “prospect” label I can ever remember. The reasons for this are well known; Mathieson had two Tommy John surgeries and an ulnar nerve relocation over a three year span. When pitchers come back from TJ, the first thing to come back is the velocity and Mathieson has that, sitting from 94-96 with his fastball and touching 99. Other aspects of pitching, like season long stamina, take a little longer to return. Mathieson’s velocity was down in the low 90s late in the year, which is a big reason why he was kicked around in his brief MLB stint. He should be ready for a full season’s workload this year. His secondary stuff is average and that should improve this year as continues to come back from injury. I like him to eventually ascend to a high leverage spot in the Phillies bullpen by the end of the year.

Mike Zagurski/Mike Stutes/Michael Schwimmer- Terrific AAA relievers. May get call ups here and there for depth/injury. Have some upside because they’re a little younger than….

Brian Bass, Eddie Bonine, Nate Bump, Jason Grilli, Juan Perez, Dan Meyer- Organizational players.


Dane Sardinha- Sardinha was on the 40 man last year but isn’t as this is being written. The Phils have only 2 catchers on the 40 man roster right now and I’d expect Sardinha to be the first guy called upon should either Chooch or Brian Schneider get injured. He’s a fine defensive catcher but can’t hit.

Erik Kratz- Kratz had a brief major league stint with the Pirates last year and is likely to bounce around the minors with injury induced MLB time here and there.


Delwyn Young/Josh Barfield/Ronnie Beliard/Kevin Frandsen/Jeff Larish- The Phillies are hoping one of these guys can have some sort of renaissance and soften what looks to be a serious, season long blow at second base. Young and Barfield can also play the outfield.


Brandon Moss- Moss was part of the 3 way trade that sent Manny Ramirez from Boston to LA a few years ago. At the time he was thought to be a decent prospect who would likely become an average major leaguer. It hasn’t happened.

Rich Thompson- One of the nicest dudes on the planet, Thompson will lead the International League in autographs signed again this year.

Cory Sullivan- A local guy (Wexford, PA) with some speed.

Overall the IronPig roster is underwhelming. I think they’ll do well in the standings but other than Mathieson and, to an extent, Worley, will be boring to watch. Triple-A has become a group of emergency replacement level players with little ceiling. Many top prospects will skip Triple-A altogether nowadays.

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