With the offseason still young for the Phillies, today is the first day of the Arizona Fall League.
Typically in this lead, teams send a handful of top prospects to work on their skills in the offseason. The Phillies will send seven players to the Peoria Javelinas, which is managed by Reading manager Dusty Wathan. (Wathan is considered the top candidate to manage the IronPigs next season with Ryne Sandberg getting a Major League promotion with the Phillies.)
Heading the list of seven is catcher Tommy Joseph, who the Phillies acquired from the Giants as the main piece for Hunter Pence. In 108 games between Richmond and Reading, Joseph .257 with 11 home runs and 48 RBIs.
Joseph could most likely repeat Double-A with his numbers being down from 2011. In high Single-A San Jose in 2011, Joseph hit .270 with 22 home runs and 95 RBIs.
It would also be unwise for the Phillies to have both Joseph and Sebastian Valle (IronPigs) on the same squad taking away valuable playing time from each other. When the Phillies acquired Joseph, Valle was promoted to Lehigh Valley and he started almost every day.
Here are the other six players joining Joseph in Peoria.
3B Cody Asche (22, AA Reading): Between Clearwater and Reading, Asche hit .324 with an .849 OPS. His development will spell out whether or not the Phillies look for a permanent solution at third base this off season or a temporary one. Asche could start in either Reading or Lehigh next season.
OF Zach Collier (22, A Clearwater): Collier lost some at-bats this season when he was suspended. But despite that, he still played well, hitting .268 in 78 games. He could likely start in Reading if his fall goes well. Eligible for the Rule 5 draft.
LHP Jay Johnson (22, AA Reading): Signed as an undrafted free agent, Johnson spent most of 2012 with Reading and posted a 5.02 ERA in 28 games, all as a reliever.
RHP Tyler Knigge (23, AA Reading): Knigge, a 12th-round pick in 2010, garnered some attention last year when he allowed only three earned runs in 44 2/3 innings (a 0.60 ERA) with Clearwater. From July-on with Reading, Knigge maintained a 9.1 strikeout per nine innings ratio. He’ll likely start in Reading next season.
RHP Colby Shreve (24, AA Reading): Shreve, a sixth-round pick, struck out 29 and walked 25 in 43 innings at Reading. Eligible for the Rule 5 draft.
RHP Kyle Simon (22, AA Reading): Simon was acquired in July from Baltimore for Jim Thome, was converted to the bullpen and did well. Between Clearwater and Reading, Simon made 20 appearances and posted a 1.36 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings. Reading will be a good starting point for him and he should be on a lot of Phillies fans’ radars.