Phillies Mailbag: 2016 All-Star Choice, MLB Draft, Trading Gomez and Hellickson?
It is time once again for a 97.3 ESPN Phillies Monday Mailbag.
We take your questions every Monday and then we talk about them during the Sports Bash with Mike Gill on Tuesday afternoons at 2:30 p.m. If you are not in South Jersey, you can listen online at 973espn.com.
Who do you think will be the Phillies All-Star representative?
We will know the answer to this question really soon. The All-Star Selection Show is scheduled to appear on Tuesday, July 5, at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN. The rules require on player from every team to make the team, so the Phillies will have one. There seem to be two likely candidates: closer Jeanmar Gomez or outfielder Odubel Herrera.
Gomez held the MLB lead in saves for a while, before the Phillies hit a rough stretch. Converting 22 out of 24 save opportunities, Gomez has been a nice surprise for the Phillies in 2016. But, there are many other relievers who have jumped ahead of Gomez in the saves category.
Jeurys Familia of the Mets leads the National League with 28 saves while, Mark Melancon of the Pirates, Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers, and A.J. Ramos of the Marlins have all surpassed Gomez. Milwaukee Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress is tied with Gomez. In other words, in a single roster, there may be pitchers ranked ahead of Gomez in terms of relief, and that does not account for all the starters that are going to amke the All-Star team.
Herrera started out really hot. After batting .313 in April and .324 in May, Herrera batted .276 in June and .250 so far in July. That caused Herrera's average to briefly dip under the .300 mark and he currently sits at .301. But Herrera's on base percentage, the mark of a leadoff hitter, has dipped greatly.
After walking 23 times in April, Herrera walked just 11 times in May and eight times in June. Herrera's .462 on base percentage in April is probably not sustainable across a whole season, but he dipped to .393 in May and .390 in June. Despite the struggles, Herrera still stands a good shot of making the All-Star team.
As for who I think would make the team, I think it will come down to roster composition. The fan vote will put the starters in place, and those starters are not always the most worthy candidates. Then, those who perhaps are most worthy get picked by the players and the manager. Then come the decisions that are used to satisfy one player on each roster.
If the National League team needs a bat, I think it will be a Herrera. If they need a pitcher, it may be Gomez. I really think it could go either way, but both probably will not make the team.
Which player from the 2016 MLB draft might we see first?
This question will be tough to answer, since much of the Phillies draft haul included high school players. However, the team did drat some college players. There are a few that are older and quite promising that we could see in South Philadelphia soon.
The name we might want to look at first is pitcher Cole Irvin. The left-handed pitcher is already 22 years old, and the Phillies took him with their fifth pick, 137 overall. Irvin had previously been drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates (2015) and the Toronto Blue Jays (2012).
Irvin is an interesting story because he missed all of his 2014 collegiate season with the Oregon Ducks due to Tommy John surgery. Irvin showed that he recovered well and pitched nearly dominant at times in 2016. Given his age, Irvin could move along the Phillies ranks rather quickly.
Irvin was assigned to Short-Season Williamsport of the New York-Penn League and should debut soon.
What's a realistic return for Jeremy Hellickson or Jeanmar Gomez?
The Phillies will be looking to be sellers at month's end at the July 31 (though this year August 1) trade deadline. Both Hellickson and Gomez will be attractive trade candidates for other teams. Both should be able to get the team a nice piece back, but do not expect a Ken Giles-type haul. One trade that might be a good indication of what the Phillies could get for a reliever such as Gomez is the recent trade between the San Diego Padres and the Miami Marlins.
The Marlins acquired veteran reliever Fernando Rodney from the Padres in return for Class-A pitching prospect Chris Paddack. Just last week the Marlins website Fish Stripes profiled Paddack:
The Marlins have a lot of nice prospects who have great potential but haven’t quite grown into just yet. Paddock is a prospect who showed great potential as a draftee out of high school, and took no time to make his mark in the minor leagues. Fresh out of the 2015 draft, Paddock pitched to a 2.16 ERA in 45 1/3 in the Gulf Coast League. He gave up and BAA (Batting Average Against) of .219 and had a WHIP of 0.97. Not a bad first impression. But it gets better... in 23 1/3 innings pitched in 2016 at Class-A Greensoboro, Paddock owns a 1.16 ERA, a BAA of .115, and a WHIP of 0.47. Oh, and he’s allowed only two walks. He’s essentially the Clayton Kershaw of Single-A.
This is what the Padres got for a pitcher they signed to a minor league deal just a few months ago.
Gomez was a minor league free agent last season, and he has been a serviceable reliever for them. I would think the Phillies could get a similarly-regarded prospect for Gomez: a Class A prospect who has not really grown into his potential just yet. This is because teams tend to want to hold on to pitchers the more they progress through their systems. At Class A the player still represents a decent amount of risk. The Phillies, looking to stock up on prospects, will be looking to add as many players with upside that they can.
In terms of Hellickson, another recent trade may lend some insight to a potential hall. Last week the Los Angeles Dodgers, with a rotation's worth of starting pitchers on the disabled list, added starter Bud Norris from the Atlanta Braves. Norris is 4-7 with a 3.89 earned run average. It is not that far off from Hellickson's 6-6 record and 4.06 earned run average. Both players are veteran arms who will not function as ace pitchers, but rather present some degree of stability to a starting rotation, like when Joe Blanton helped the 2008 Phillies.
In exchange, the Braves got 2015 third-round pick Phillip Pfeiffer and reacquired pitching prospect Caleb Dirks in the deal. Both pitchers, according to a number of published reports such as this one from Atlanta Braves website Talking Chop, project to be Major League middle relievers. Considering that the veteran pitchers involved would only be with their teams a few more months, that is a nice return.
Recently the Phillies said they were not too eager to move Hellickson. However, the Phillies seem poised to make a deal.
The Phillies recently had their top scout Charlie Kerfeld at a recent Rangers and Yankees game. I would not be shocked to see the Phillies and Rangers make another deal. While Sam Dyson has done a nice job as the Rangers' closer after Shawn Tolleson fell apart, the Rangers might be able to use a reliever such as Gomez. Tolleson has rebounded nicely as of late, but having another arm in the back end of the bullpen would be a nice touch for the Rangers.
Not to mention, the Phillies know the Rangers farm system really, really well after all the scouting that led to the Cole Hamels trade last year.