Tag Archives: Cornelius Randolph

Future at first, outfield should be competitive for Phillies

Cozens (L) and Hoskins (R) pushing for a shot with Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies moved yesterday to DFA both reliever Jeanmar Gomez and outfielder Michael Saunders. This should prove to be the beginning of a changeover in the roster and lineup.
The baseball industry has recognized for more than a year now that the Phillies minor league system has greatly improved. Talent is going to begin flowing to the big league team soon, likely at some point this summer.
Once that talent really starts pushing to Philadelphia, there are going to be some interesting decisions for the club to make. That is going to be especially true in the outfield and at first base. Three of those four spots appear taken, at least in the short term.
Center field is currently manned by 25-year old Odubel Herrera. A 2016 NL All-Star, ‘El Torito’ was signed to a contract his past winter that is guaranteed through the 2021 season.
With the Saunders trade, 26-year old Aaron Altherr should begin to see even more regular playing time. He has been perhaps the Phillies best all around player this season. Altherr is hitting for a .278/.352/.531 slash line. He leads the team with a dozen homers and 37 RBI, and his 32 runs scored is second on the club.
At first base, Tommy Joseph is second on the club with 10 home runs. After a slow first month, Joseph has gotten his hitting game together. Since May 1, the 25-year old is hitting .290/.348/.519 with 19 exta-base hits and 25 RBI.
The Phillies are giving time right now to veterans Howie Kendrick and Daniel Nava. They also have a pair of players recently up from the minor leagues. Those two, first baseman Brock Stassi and outfielder Cameron Perkins, are seen more as reserve/role player types.

NICKIE AND THE BASH BROTHERS

The Phillies AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs squad is 47-24, and is one of the most talented teams in all Minor League Baseball. The Pigs have players pushing right now for a big league opportunity at both first base and in the outfield.
At first base, 24-year old Rhys Hoskins is having a sensational year. He is hitting for a .290/.382/.592 slash line and leads the IronPigs with 17 homers, 55 RBI, 37 extra-base hits, and 49 runs scored.
In the outfield, 23-year old Nick Williams seems to finally be putting it all together. He is hitting .279 with 14 home runs, 41 RBI, and 39 runs.
Also pushing for a shot is 23-year old Dylan Cozens. He and Hoskins have come up together through the system over the last couple of seasons. Their longball exploits have earned them a “Bash Brothers” nickname.
Cozens has 16 homers, 49 RBI, and 40 runs scored. A big knock on both he and Williams is that both strikeout a lot. Williams has been punched out 80 times already, Cozens 82 times. Those are far and away the highest totals in the Lehigh Valley lineup.

EVEN MORE OPTIONS COMING

Another outfielder at Lehigh Valley is probably the most ready, and would likely already have received a promotion. The problem is, as it always seems to be, an injury issue for speedy Roman Quinn.
The 24-year old Quinn has a UCL injury to his non-throwing (left) elbow. He received an injection, and is already rehabbing. Quinn is expected back in game action in mid-late July.
The injury to Quinn and the strikeout issues plaguing Cozens and Williams could keep them at Lehigh Valley into September. That is, barring some disastrous injury situation in Philadelphia.
But as early as that final month of the 2017 MLB season, and certainly no later than next spring, the positional battles will be played out.
There is nothing to say that the Phillies future at first base will go to either Joseph or Hoskins. The club could very well give someone like Altherr or Cozens a shot there as well. That would depend on trades, their own development, and the development of the other players.
There has also been talk of moving Maikel Franco across the diamond at some point. If it is determined at any point that Franco is not the long-term answer at third base, it has to be considered a true setback for the organization. That is, unless they can fill the void with a big free agent signing. Manny Machado anyone?
An outfield battle royale is shaping up involving Herrera, Altherr, Williams, Quinn, and Cozens. A couple of those guys could eventually join a first base battle that already will include Joseph and Hoskins.

BEST TALENT MAY BE THE YOUNGEST

None of this takes into account younger prospects. Mickey Moniak is arguably the top prospect in the Phillies minor league system already. Though just 19 years old, Moniak could move fast, and might push for a big league role as early as the summer of 2019.
Cornelius Randolph just turned 20 years old earlier this month. The 2015 first round draftee has struggled often at times thus far, but remains very young. He probably doesn’t challenge for a role much before the 2020-21 seasons.
And just last week the Phillies made 21-year old Adam Haseley their first round pick at eighth overall in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft. It is believed that the lefty swinger can reach the big leagues quickly, possibly pushing for a spot by 2019 at the latest.
And even further, the evaluation of these young players doesn’t consider outside help. The Phillies are in an enviable financial position. They should absolutely be in the hunt for big name talent such as Bryce Harper and Mike Trout over the next few years.
There will be a lot of young talent fighting for playing time in Philadelphia in the coming months and years. The decisions made by the Phillies front office on these players will go a long way towards determining whether and how quickly the Phillies can return to contending status.

Philadelphia Phillies Spring 2017 top ten prospects

Rhys Hoskins slugs way onto the Phillies Spring 2017 Top 10 Prospects list
Back in November of 2016, I provided my Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects ranking. At that time, I broke down each player with an individual scouting report.
While my Fall prospect list is more detailed, in the Spring the ranking usually will provide a much simpler straight-up ranking list. However, I will add some general commentary if there are major updates.
First, let’s take a look back at the Phillies Top 10 Prospects from the Fall of 2016:
I also provided a listing of “near misses”, naming several prospects who fell just outside of the top ten. That included a link to each of the individual Top 10 Prospects ranking pieces.

The Spring 2017 ranking has just one new entry, and one player exiting. However, there are a few of those remaining players who are shuffling up and down the overall list.
The newcomer is first baseman Rhys Hoskins, who was one of the near misses six months ago. Hoskins has exploded out of the gates in the opening weeks of the 2017 campaign.
With AAA Lehigh Valley, Hoskins is hitting for a .330/.412/.631 slash line. The 24-year old has eight homers, 21 RBI, and 20 runs scored to lead the Phillies top minor league club in each category.
While Hoskins has entered the top ten, pitcher Kevin Gowdy has exited. That is really no condemnation of Gowdy’s potential. He would be a near miss, if I were to do such a list at this time. The switch is purely do to Hoskins’ production.

SPRING 2017 PHILLIES TOP TEN PROSPECTS

Without further delay, here is my Philadelphia Phillies Spring 2017 Top Ten Prospects ranking. As was the case last year, I will do a more thorough evaluation in November, reflecting how each player actually performed this season.
The listing below will show the player’s place in the rankings, their last name, age, position, and current affiliation level.
10. Hoskins (24), First Baseman, AAA Lehigh Valley
9.  Kilome (21), Pitcher, High A Clearwater
8.  Lively (25), Pitcher, AAA Lehigh Valley
7.  Kingery (23), Second Baseman, AA Reading
6.  Randolph (19), Outfielder, High A Clearwater
5.  Williams (23), Outfielder, AAA Lehigh Valley
4.  Crawford (22), Shortstop, AAA Lehigh Valley
3.  Quinn (24), Outfielder, AAA Lehigh Valley
2.  Moniak (19), Outfielder, Low A Lakewood
1.  Alfaro (23), Catcher, AAA Lehigh Valley
As you can see, a half-dozen of the prospects are already at the highest level of the Phillies minor league system. The more that the big league team struggles, the more likely we are to see a number of these prospects at Citizens Bank Park as early as this summer.
When the Fall rolls around, I’ll be back with a more detailed breakdown of each top prospect who makes the list. At that point, we could see at least one more new entry. The Phillies select eighth in next month’s MLB Amateur Draft, which will bring in another quality youngster to the system.

Phillies Fall 2016 Top Ten Prospects: #8 – Cornelius Randolph

The 2015 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft would prove to be the final one for the Philadelphia Phillies under the regime of former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
With the first pick in that draft at 10th overall, the club surprised many. The Phillies selected 18-year-old Cornelius Randolph out of Griffin High School in Georgia.
Randolph was a Perfect Game First Team High School All-American in the 2015 season. He hit .526 with seven home runs and 18 RBI over just 17 games.
Ranked by Baseball America as the 20th best prospect entering the draft, I had predicted that he would go to the Kansas City Royals at 21st overall. The Royals had been all over him in the buildup to that draft.

A shortstop in high school, the Phillies almost immediately moved him to left field. It is likely his only path to the big leagues, as it will be his bat that is going to have to carry Randolph.

Randolph’s Pro Career to Date

After signing, Randolph was sent to the Phillies’ rookie-level team in the Gulf Coast League. He hit .302 with a .425 on-base percentage in 53 games. He also had 24 RBI, 35 runs scored, and seven stolen bases over 212 plate appearances that first pro summer.
In a wide-ranging Q&A back in early March of this year, MiLB’s Josh Jackson asked him if there was anything in particular that he was working on in preparation for the season.
“Defense would have to be the main thing I’m working on,” said Randolph. “Because I’m still learning the outfield, so I’m working a lot on that.”
Also in that interview, Randolph mentioned that in attending a Braves-Phillies game as a kid, his father told him to keep an eye on the Phils’ shortstop.
“I was a shortstop, so my dad would say to me, ‘Watch Jimmy Rollins. Watch him do this. Watch him do that. Look at his swing.’ To think that I’m playing with the Phillies now, that’s really cool.”
Randolph was promoted to the Low-A Lakewood BlueClaws in the South Atlantic League this year. He put together a second season that included a .274 batting average and .355 on-base percentage. Randolph produced 33 runs scored and 27 RBI in 276 plate appearances over 63 games.
However, he missed two months after suffering a strained left shoulder muscle in late April. In a late August interview with Philly.com’s Bob Brookover, Randolph described what happened.
“The first pitch I saw – fastball in – I swung and laced it over the second baseman’s head and right when I hit it I felt my shoulder pop. As I took the first step out of the box, I felt a sharp pain. I got to first base and started working it out and decided I was going to play through it.”
He would not return to the lineup until the very end of June, just after his 19th birthday. On returning, Randolph hit well in stretches but had a generally uneven season.
The 2015 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft would prove to be the final one for the Philadelphia Phillies under the regime of former general manager Ruben AmaroJr.
With the first pick in that draft at 10th overall, the club surprised many. The Phillies selected 18-year-old Cornelius Randolph out of Griffin High School in Georgia.
Randolph was a Perfect Game First Team High School All-American in the 2015 season. He hit .526 with seven home runs and 18 RBI over just 17 games.
Ranked by Baseball America as the 20th best prospect entering the draft, I had predicted that he would go to the Kansas City Royals at 21st overall. The Royals had been all over him in the buildup to that draft.
In the 2015 season, Randolph walked as often as he struck out (32 times). But in facing more advanced pitching this summer, that changed. He struck out 57 times while walking 26 at Lakewood.

Scouting Report and Commentary

What holds me back from ranking him higher at this point is the cumulative .279 average and the lack of game power that he has demonstrated.
For a player who is billed as bat-first, over his first 503 professional plate appearances Randolph has just three home runs and 27 doubles.
“For me, he can just hit,” Lakewood manager Shawn Williams said per Brookover. “I always say you have to be a hitter first and then the power will come.”
I trust the scouts’ eyes and the opinions of the professional talent evaluators like Williams. So Randolph remains a top 10 Phillies prospect for me at this point. But I want to actually see that breakout production before I am willing to rank him higher.

Reading Eagle: Phillies 2016 Top Prospects Survey

Over the last couple of seasons, especially over the last calendar year, a concerted effort finally began to completely rebuild the Phillies minor league system.
The results have been dramatic. Nearly every respected prospect evaluation resource places the Phillies organization near the top of their organizational rankings, and a number of the club’s best individual prospects are featured across the most influential Top 50 and Top 100 lists.
Those changes to the young talent flowing through the organization have already begun to yield results at the big league level, as inconsistent as some of those youngsters may still be at this early point in their careers.
Pitchers Aaron NolaJerad EickhoffZach EflinVincent Velasquez, and now Jake Thompson all entered the Phillies organization in the last two years through trades or the MLB Amateur Draft, and all have already debuted with the Phillies starting pitching rotation.
Among position players, Maikel Franco is in his first full big league season at 3rd base, Tommy Joseph is showing power at 1st base, and center fielder Odubel Herrera followed up his 2015 rookie campaign with an appearance in the NL All-Star Game this year.
Now a new, even younger group of highly regarded prospects is beginning to make their move, having reached the highest levels of the club’s minor league system.
They are poised to make their own Phillies debut, some next month, some next year.
A few will be impacting the big league lineup within a year, and a few more should be impacting the team by the 2018 season.
At the ‘Reading Eagle’, home newspaper of the Phillies’ AA farm team, the Reading Fightin’ Phils, Mike Drago conducts a survey of beat writers, bloggers, and broadcasters who cover the Phillies and their system in print and on the internet.
For a 2nd straight season, I was honored to take part in this survey. This year, 15 of us took part in the balloting, and the results were released this past weekend.
Based on that survey, the Top 20 Philadelphia Phillies prospects at this time are:
  1. J.P. Crawford, SS, AAA
  2. Jorge Alfaro, C, AA
  3. Nick Williams, OF, AAA
  4. Jake Thompson, P, Phillies
  5. Mickey Moniak, OF, GCL
  6. Dylan Cozens, OF, AA
  7. Roman Quinn, OF, AA
  8. Cornelius Randolph, OF, A
  9. Franklyn Kilome, P, A
  10. Rhys Hoskins, 1B, AA
  11. Scott Kingery, 2B, AA
  12. Andrew Knapp, C, AAA
  13. Adonis Medina, P, NYP
  14. Nick Pivetta, P, AAA
  15. Jhailyn Ortiz, OF, GCL
  16. Ricardo Pinto, P, AA
  17. Elniery Garcia, P, High-A
  18. Ben Lively, P, AAA
  19. Kevin Gowdy, P, GCL
  20. Carlos Tocci, OF, High-A
In addition to those 20 players, another 15 Phillies prospects each received support in the form of multiple votes from the survey respondents.
Those players in order of the number of votes received were: Mark AppelSixto SanchezJimmy CorderoCole StobbeJose PujolsAlberto TiradoAlec AsherThomas EshelmanDrew AndersonAndrew PullinCole Irvin, Arquimedes Gamboa, JoJo RomeroMalquin Canelo, and Tyler Viza.
Crawford was not the unanimous selection that he had been in previous iterations of this type of Phillies prospect list. He did, however, receive a first place vote from nine of the respondents.
This left the talented shortstop, who also ranks among the Top 10 prospects in all of baseball by nearly every major evaluation resource, as the first player to ever finish at the top of the Reading Eagle rankings over three consecutive seasons.
The other six first place votes went to Moniak and Thompson, who received two apiece, as well as Williams and Hoskins, who each received a single first place vote. (As a personal aside, I don’t know what whoever gave Hoskins a first place ballot was drinking.)
Cozens was the high-riser from a year ago, when he finished down in the #24 spot. Meanwhile, Randolph saw himself dip from 4th to 8th as the steepest drop in the Top 10.
In all, 46 different Phillies prospects received a Top 20 vote from at least one of the survey respondents.
With all this talent pouring into Citizens Bank Park over the next two to three years, the future looks bright for the Phillies, even as the big league club continues to struggle.
NOTE: my own Top 25 Phillies Prospects ranking, which was what we were requested to submit, were in the following order:
Crawford, Alfaro, Moniak, Thompson, Williams, Quinn, Randolph, Gowdy, Kilome, Kingery, Cozens, Ortiz, Appel, Lively, Knapp, Medina, Stobbe, Hoskins, Tocci, Pivetta, Pinto, Canelo, Romero, Eshelman, Irvin.

Pharm Report: Low-A Lakewood BlueClaws

The Phillies ‘Low-A’ level minor league club, the Lakewood BlueClaws, currently find themselves at the bottom of the South Atlantic (SAL) League standings in the North Division.
The BlueClaws are 16-24, which has them tied with the Marlins’ affiliates in Greensboro for last place. Both teams trail the first place Hagerstown Suns (Nationals) by 10.5 games already.
Manager Shawn Williams’ club has been hurt by the struggles of one of the Phillies top minor league pitching prospects at the lower levels, right-hander Franklyn Kilome.
Kilome thus far has an 0-4 record with a 7.30 ERA and a 1.99 WHIP. He has allowed 34 hits in 24.2 innings with a 25/15 K:BB ratio across his first half-dozen starts.
Named as our #7 Phillies prospect over at TBOH during the preseason, Kilome had a solid season a year ago with short-season Williamsport as a 20-year old during which he saw a major uptick in his fastball, leading to the lofty ranking.
Kilome struggled mightily with command and control issues during the season’s opening month. In April, the righty went 0-3 with a 15.83 ERA and walked 10 batters over his first 9.1 innings.
However, things may finally be coming together for the high-ceiling pitcher who is now 21 years old.
Kilome has allowed just 14 hits in 15 innings over his first three May starts. He is scheduled to start today against Delmarva.
In late April, Philly.com’s Matt Gelb reported that Lakewood pitching coach Brian Sweeney is working with Kilome on coordinating his mechanics.

He has those long arms and legs,” Sweeney said per Gelb. “He’s a tall kid. It’s hard to get that body working together all in one piece. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to get his legs working properly and hopefully the upper body will come along with it. It’s a challenge.”

Four other starters are generally performing well for Lakewood. 22-year old Shane Watson has allowed 32 hits over 39.1 innings with a 32/11 K:BB ratio. Luke Leftwich turns 22 in a couple of weeks, and has allowed 33 hits over 35.2 innings with a 52/13 K:BB.
Harold Arauz, one of the pieces obtained by the Phillies from Houston in the Ken Giles trade, turns 21 years of age next week. The righty has allowed 26 hits over 34.2 innings with a 30/16 K:BB. Finally, 22-year old righty Jose Taveras has yielded 25 hits in 32.2 innings with a sensational 38/5 K:BB ratio.
Offensively, the BlueClaws are led by right fielder Jose Pujols. The 20-year old is a solid defender with a strong arm and big power, the sterotypical outline for a big league right fielder. He is hitting for a .263/.307/.467 slash line and his eight homers and 27 RBI both lead the club.
In the long run, the most interesting player on this team is probably left fielder Cornelius Randolph, the Phillies’ top pick at 10th overall in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft out of a Georgia high school.
Randolph is struggling in his first full season of pro ball. But it has to be considered that the left-handed hitter will not turn 19 years of age until two weeks from now.  He has a .240/.321/.340 slash line with five RBI and three steals over his first 56 plate appearances.
His development has hit a snag, as Randolph has been sidelined for a month now with a shoulder strain. However, he is due to come off the disabled list in early June, and the Phils’ believe that he will be ready to go at that point.
First Energy Park is located approximately 60 miles from Philly, about 10 miles north of Toms River and also about 10 miles from the Jersey shore between the Seaside Heights and Point Pleasant Beach areas.