Little initial IronPigs impact from Utley deal. But, a look forward to 2016.
By now you’re familiar with the trade that will unite Philly 2B icon Chase Utley with his double play partner Jimmy Rollins, in Dodgerland. The Phillies sent money, too, but what did they get back?
INF/OF Darnell Sweeney
The 6’1″ 24-year old was drafted by the Dodgers out of Central Florida. The switch-hitter is listed as a second baseman but has played elsewhere, including mostly outfield this season. He has the ability to play center field. With above-average speed, he can steal a base; he also has a modicum of power. However, scouts say his infield work is not slick or smooth, and that his outfield routes can sometimes be a bit circuitous.
He’s a minor leaguer who would have been eligible for the Rule 5 draft this off-season or would have required a 40-man spot from the Dodgers. Thus, the Phillies are faced with the same requirement. Had Sweeney been assigned to the IronPigs (and a corresponding roster move made) then he would have required a 40-man spot at the end of the season–if not in advance for a September call-up. However, that is not what happened. Sweeney was immediately added to the roster in Utley’s spot; a promotion to the Phillies! He’ll make his MLB debut shortly.
I suppose rather than have him spend 2 weeks in the IL, if a promotion was inevitable, they just went ahead with it. Don’t look for him to come back here this season, as that would burn an option–an important point. In 2016, Sweeney will battle for a bench spot with the Phillies and should present some value there if he’s playing well. He becomes a bit redundant with Odubel Herrera as a 2B/CF guy–but both have options and I imagine the loser will come to the IronPigs. The position flexibility plus the options give both an edge over our old friend Cesar Hernandez, with his only reliable defensive spot at 2B and no remaining options. Going forward, both Herrera and Sweeney offer the Phillies some depth and flexibility for the next three option years, while players like Altherr and the injured speedster Roman Quinn offering more upside for the long-term future. Kelly Dugan will continue to challenge for a corner spot.
Other second-base prospects in the Phillies system are still working their way up–including the newly drafted Scott Kingery, who reportedly possesses an advanced bat. He’s in Lakewood now, but could find his way to Reading sooner or later in the 2016 season. In Clearwater, Jesumel Valentin and Malquin Canelo could each see time at 2B in Reading next year as well, depending on how things shake out. Although, Canelo should follow Crawford up the ladder at SS–but I digress.
For the IronPigs, if it were me, I would have kept Sweeney in Allentown and promoted Tyler Henson. I know, I’m a homer. I looked at the numbers last night, and, well, Sweeney seems to be the better choice on paper. With all the clutch hitting and stealing bases, I guess I had thought that the Hendog was having a better season. Still, his strikeouts are down and he can play a variety of positions. Hopefully, there’s a 40-man spot available for Tyler for September, but I’m worried. Chase d’Arnaud would have been another fine choice for the next couple weeks in Philly, but the hard truth is that neither of those guys are part of the Phillies future, while Sweeney is–in whatever capacity.
RHP John Richy
The right-handed starter is a 23-year old who was drafted out of UNLV. He’s been at Hi-A, and it would seem that he’ll be assigned to Clearwater for their playoff run. I would expect him to be part of the Reading rotation at the start of the 2016 season. Scouts worry that his secondary offerings are not advanced enough to yield success at the higher levels, but he does have a reasonable fastball and the ability to eat innings. He throws strikes and will yield some hits, but keeps the free passes under control. He profiles as a back of the rotation starter, and as a 2014 draftee there’s some time to allow him to develop in the minors.
Other IronPigs Roster News
OF Aaron Atlherr recalled by Philadelphia.
RHP Colton Murray promoted to Lehigh Valley from Reading (AA).
RHP Jason Berken activated off the Temporary Inactive List.
RHP Sean O’Sullivan placed on the Temporary Inactive List (personal).
Discussion: The big news, of course, is the promotion of Aaron Altherr to the Phillies, as Maikel Franco was added to the DL with a wrist fracture. Altherr was instrumental in the Phillies win last night, hitting an RBI double for his first MLB hit, and his first MLB dinger, later, to boot! The IronPigs continue to shuffle guys on and off the TIL and the Reading roster, as needed, and I suppose that could be part of why they didn’t want to subject the newly acquired Darnell Sweeney to such shenanigans. The next move will be the promotion of RHP Jerad Eickhoff to start tonight’s game for the Phillies in Miami. A corresponding move will need to be made, perhaps the option of Hector Neris or the DFA of Cesar Jimenez.
Upcoming: The Pigs wind up a three-game set in Moosic tonight with the series rubber match–weather permitting. Should the game be postponed (the RailRiders are known to call it early, in contrast with our own experiences) a doubleheader could be added the 27th or 28th in Moosic. Indeed, only three games remain in the IronRail series, with the TrolleYankees holding the lead 8-7 after last night’s win. Unless the Moosic team wins the next two, the Friday 8/28 (final) game would decide the 2015 series. If you’re headed to tonight’s game in Moosic, monitor social media before you leave for game status.
Following tonight’s game or postponement, the ‘Pigs travel to P’tucket for the weekend before returning to Coca Cola Park on Monday to face Buffalo for three games, in an early-week, mini home stand. They’ll then go on the road for seven days–including the aforementioned two days in Moosic–before closing out with five at home. Three plus five is all we have left for 2015 IronPigs baseball.
See you at the park,