Taking Stock of the 2017 IronPigs

Photo: Cheryl Pursell


You know, I hate those ‘report card’ things.  It’s a common mechanism for a reporter or blogger to generate a mid-season or quarter-pole–or even monthly–report on a team.  The first problem I have with it is the subjectivity.  What does the reporter really know?  Does he or she know for sure what said player is being asked to do?  Or, to be working on?  Results are important, of course, but if you want to “look at the numbers” then any schmuck can do that (*glances toward a mirror*).

The second think I dislike so much is that the grades are limited.  Have you ever really seen a beat reporter give a player an ‘F’?  Seriously,  I’m going to tell a player he’s failing and then face him in the locker room the next day?  Nope.  Everyone gets A’s or B’s or perhaps a C+ or an ‘Incomplete’.  What fun is that?

But it’s the middle of the season for the IronPigs, and they’re 3.5 games up in the IL North while holding the best record in the entire AAA level.  From a team standpoint it’s a really good season.  But what about from an individual standpoint?

I think this roster will change quite a bit over the next few days to weeks and even into August.  Will they have enough juice left to make a run in the Governor’s Cup race?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I’m really enjoying following a team that wins twice as much as it loses.  I’m enjoying a team that doesn’t give up on games.  It’s part of why I haven’t written much; I’ve just been enjoying it.

But let’s pause now to take stock of this roster.  I’m certainly not qualified to hand out letter grades, but I’ll give you my opinion just as I would if each were an investment.  Hey, you know I’m always emotionally invested in this team, anyway, right?

Am I buying shares with hopes for increased value?  Am I capitalizing on current high performance?  Am I divesting to protect current profits and limit losses?  Well, read on.  It’s still plenty subjective, of course, but hopefully less pedantic and less patronizing than the old “report card.”

I could certainly be wrong, and of course, past performance is not necessarily an indicator of future success.  I could lose my shirt on this, I’m well aware.

Photo: Cheryl Pursell


P Mark Appel:  BUY

His value is still climbing after hitting its nadir near the end of May.  As you know, he’s one of my favorites and I’m still buying his stock with hopes of continued appreciation.

He still needs to cut down on the walks, maintain concentration, and think about pitch economy.  But he’s striking guys out, and went 8 1/3 the other day.  He grew stronger as the game progressed, which I liked to see.  He’ll start again tonight.

P Pedro Beato:  SELL

Beato is currently out on paternity leave, and we congratulate him.  He’s done well for us, and could very well set the franchise record for saves in the coming weeks.

However, I think his stock might be at its apex.  It seems like a couple guys get on every ninth inning before he gets down to business.  You might get away with holding his stock for now, but ultimately you’ll need to divest of shares in the veteran reliever.  Remember Ed Mujica opted out after the All Star Game last season.

P Joey DeNato:  BUY

The lefty is just up from AA, where he’s done well.  He made a cameo with the IronPigs late in the 2015 season, straight from Lakewood, if you recall.  He did well in that early exposure to the top level of the minors.

With the dearth of effective leftys at the top of the Phillies system, I’ll maintain my position in DeNato stock and perhaps acquire some additional shares going forward this season.

P Zach Eflin:  BUY

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster season for the big righty with two new knees.  His price might be depressed due to his injured status.  I’d increase my position in Eflin stock now if I were you.  Reports have him throwing again.  There is some volatility here if his elbow should get re-injured or re-aggravated somehow.

P Tom Eshelman:  STRONG BUY

I admit I wasn’t a fan after watching him in Reading late last season and early this.  He did face some adversity the other night in Rochester, but I’m still bullish on his season.  Given the recent success of Ben Lively and Mark Leiter Jr on the Major League team, I’d predict that he’ll do similarly in his first go-round in the bigs.  And I wouldn’t fault you if you pushed all your chips to the middle of the table right now.

P Michael Mariot:  HOLD

I’m not sure how much value his stock holds right now, so it might be prudent to ride it out.  As he continues to perfect his “hammer” pitch, we’ll see if he can find a way back to the majors.

P Colton Murray:  HOLD

He’s been asked to fill some different roles, and has done reasonably well.  Without a 40-man spot, it’s possible he could find his way back to the Show and call upon his previous experience there.  This would demonstrate some increased earning for his investors.  With his stock reasonably stable and affordable, I’d recommend holding your position for now.

P Mark Peterson:  HOLD

If for some reason you have shares stored in your 401(k) from previous employment with Omaha, I’d sit tight until we find out what the veteran reliever with AA and AAA experience can add to our portfolio.

P Ricardo Pinto:  STRONG BUY

As it was written long ago, his stuff is playing up out of the ‘pen and he’s been answering the bell with aplomb for the ‘Pigs lately.  He’ll become more familiar with the role, then he’ll be in the majors on the Edubray Ramos track from last season.  Enhance your position here.  His proximity to the Majors is likely why they went out and got Peterson.

P Cesar Ramos:  HOLD

He’s a lefty who was trying to make the Phillies as a reliever this season after starting games for the Rangers last year.  He’s been in our rotation for some time now, and his ability to do both could land him back in the bigs yet this season.  There is some risk that it will never happen, though, and if additional starters come up he’ll be exiled to the bullpen in Allentown once again.

P John Richy:  HOLD

I’m not ready to advance my rating to ‘BUY’ just yet on the recent promotion from AA.  He pitched well, though, in his first couple opportunities in AAA.  Watch his stock closely.

P Jesen Therrien:  BUY

He may be a tick behind Pinto in terms of AAA experience, but will probably be tasked with helping Philadelphia relief corps before too, too long.

P Jake Thompson:  BUY

A buy rating here represents his relative under-valuation at this juncture.  This is not a rating for the faint of heart, though, as high volatility is present.  Until he’s given the opportunity to work through things at the big-league level there remains the opportunity for some capital gains here.

P Pat Venditte:  SELL

He’s done well with the IronPigs, but it appears he may have been passed on the depth chart by some others.  Still, there is some value in the left arm and the flexibility, so the more aggressively-minded may want to maintain position here.  If you purchased at a lower price, though, you may want to take your profits now.  Without a 40-man spot they’ll need to make a commitment to him in order to call him up.

C Jorge Alfaro:  BUY

The price has swung from an all-time high in April to an all-time low near the start of June.  I believe his value will skyrocket in the coming months so this may be the opportunity to get in near the ground floor.  We’ll look for him to increase consistency behind the plate and continue to add dynamic contribution in the batters box.  Gather more shares now while you can still afford them.

C Logan Moore:  HOLD or BUY

Depending on your current position, his reliability in such a volatile market (Phillies) could be an asset to the organization, which could be rewarded in the future.  It may be more of a long position.

SS JP Crawford:  HOLD or BUY

The current price versus your previous holdings will dictate which direction to take.  If you’ve lost value here already, you may want to hold your shares for the comeback, which is likely to occur.

JP is still looking to get his timing down and to perhaps increase strength on the ball.  He remains one of the younger players in AAA baseball.  I’m still bullish long term.

INF Jorge Flores:  SELL

The utility infielder has played well at AAA, but I’m protecting myself from losses with the distinct possibility he returns to AA when the dust settles in the coming weeks.

INF  Pedro Florimon:  HOLD

His value may have peaked last month as far as the numbers go, but if you still maintain a position here, keep in mind that the veteran infielder has significant MLB experience and could be called upon to support the big club if injuries or trades impact their inventory on the big team.  Sit tight and watch carefully.

3B Hector Gomez:  UNDERPERFORM

Hector Gomez is growing on me.  Has he hit any of his homers with guys on base?  I’m asking for a friend.  Anyway, he’s done well lately and generally held down 3B–they chose to keep him over Taylor Featherston, if you want to look at it that way. (Or you could say that Tampa preferred Featherston…)  I’m not bullish on his future, but he should continue to help the IronPigs.

1B Rhys Hoskins:  BUY

His value is already high, but he’s done nothing to make us think it won’t continue to go higher.  It’s always great to have some Google or Apple stock, you know?

INF Angelo Mora:  BUY

Listed on the AAA market, his infield versatility is an asset for manager Dusty Wathan.  Look for him to continue to contribute in AAA going forward.  His current valuation is low enough that it might be handy to have some shares.

INF Jesse Valentin:  HOLD

The injured second baseman may have missed his opportunity with the recent injury to Cesar Hernandez, but that’s all part of it sometimes.  Hold your position and see what happens in the Spring.

OF Osmel Aguila:  SELL

The veteran of the Cuban leagues came over to support the Phillies minor league outfielders last season.  He’s done well in limited time with the AAA team.  Now might be the time to cash out.

OF Dylan Cozens:  BUY

The big lefty with limitless power was expected to miss on a lot of swings this season–a forecast that came to fruition in April.  However, since that time, he’s shown much better patience at the plate and a willingness to take what has been offered–especially with two strikes.  Because he’s ahead of where I thought he’d be at this juncture, I recommend acquiring additional shares at this time.

OF Andrew Pullin:  BUY

Just up from AA, he has begun the adaptation process to the AAA game.  We’ll watch with interest and perhaps use a dollar-cost-averaging strategy to gain position with the left fielder.

OF Roman Quinn:  HOLD

The injuries continue for the dynamic center fielder.  But he has held his own at both the MLB and AAA levels, so look for him to come back later in the summer and pick up where he left off.  Will update rating August 1.

OF Nick Williams:  BUY

Cam Perkins recently got the call to the Majors, but let that not deter you from investing in Nicky.  He’ll continue to add consistency and will appreciate thusly until he’s earned a full-time position on the Phillies.



Some ratings on select Phillies:

P Mark Leiter Jr.:  BUY

If you think he’s reached the apex of value with his recent big league start you may want to sell.  For me, he exceeded expectations and I want to have a few more shares.

P Ben Lively:  BUY

All he does is win.  I like wins.  Give me more of that.

P Nick Pivetta:  BUY

I’m all for giving pitchers some time to assimilate to the big league game–the environment, the stitches on the ball, the catcher, the game plan….all that.  I think Nick will eventually need a better third pitch, but for now I’m still buying his shares.

P Edubray Ramos:  SELL

He came up like a shot last season, but perhaps he needs to come back to AAA or AA to get some consistent work and find himself again.



P Drew Anderson:  HOLD

Go ahead and buy if you want to take a long position, because eventually I think his shares will increase in value.  However, right now I’d like to see less hard contact and more control.  AAA may need starters, but I think Anderson should remain in AA for now.

2B Scott Kingery:  STRONG BUY


OF Zachary Coppola:  BUY

It’s early, but I’m going to diversify my prospect portfolio with a couple shares of the speedy outfielder.


Happy investing,



Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Lehigh Valley IronPigs

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