8/26/2014 8:03 P.M. ET
Nola a bright spot in tough year for pitching prospects
By Kevin Roberts / Special to MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan didn't mince words when he talked about the state of the team's Minor League pitching prospects Tuesday, saying with a shrug: "It's been a tough year for our starters." But he did note some bright spots, particularly right-hander Aaron Nola, the Phillies' first-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
Nola, the Phillies' No. 2 prospect, is 1-0 with a 3.32 ERA for Double-A Reading.
"Nola is scheduled for one more start Friday in Trenton," Jordan said. "He's done very well. We set a target of 170 innings, and it was just the best-case scenario. We've kept him on a six-day rotation. This past time was the first time he's gone on five; we'll have him do that one more time just to expose him to that routine. The way he works, his delivery, the way he executes pitches -- it's different from other guys."
This winter the Phillies are set to shut him down to get him ready for Spring Training.
"He will not pitch competitively," Jordan said. "There are some things we want to cover, like improving his time to home plate and things like that that we want to address. But he's been as advertised. He's very polished, and he knows what he needs to do. He's got things to improve upon, but he's done very well.
"We haven't talked about [an invite to Major League camp], although I'm sure there will be some interest in that."
Maikel Franco, on the other hand, is headed for winter ball. Jordan said that a September callup would be a good experience for Franco, but also noted that the team has other considerations -- not the least of which are two players entrenched at the positions Franco plays.
Franco, the Phils' No. 3 prospect, entered July hitting just .209 with five home runs, but the third baseman has batted .330 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley since.
"His struggles had nothing to do with ability. He got exposed as far as his willingness to swing at bad pitches," Jordan said. "The biggest adjustment he's made in the last six or eight weeks is that he's made them throw the ball over the plate. He's waiting for a good pitch to hit instead of just hacking. He's almost 22 years old; he's not ready to be good every day. But he's getting there."
Other highlights from the Phillies' Minor League system:
At Reading, Kelly Dugan, the team's No. 17 prospect, fouled a ball off his left foot and suffered a small fracture. Dugan is hitting .296.
"He probably won't be playing anymore this year," Jordan said. "It sounds like it's a minor thing. Hopefully, some time off will take care of it, because we do want him to play this winter, and he needs that."
Larry Green, the team's first-round pick in 2011, is hitting .177 at Lakewood.
"It's been a bad year," Jordan said. "We're disappointed he hasn't been able to turn it around. Nothing much to say, it's just really disappointing. He looks great physically. He's just not making enough contact."
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, signed by the Phillies as a free agent last year, is progressing at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
"I saw him last night and he was a Major League pitcher last night," Jordan said. "That was exciting. He went right through them. I've seen it every step of the way, and last night was the best I've seen him.
"Right now, it's about getting him in a role where he can have success. I'll tell you one thing this guy can do: He'll get to the best hitter in their lineup, and he'll find another gear. It's impressive."
Jordan mildly disagreed that No. 4 prospect Jesse Biddle took a step back with his 3-10 record and 5.03 ERA at Reading. But the 2010 first-round pick has had a number of injuries (most recently a quadriceps injury in his left leg) and hasn't progressed the way the team hoped. His arm is healthy, Jordan said.
"It's definitely been a downer," Jordan said. "Last year, for me, was not a negative year. He had only one stat in 2013 that I felt was a negative and that was walks. He did a lot of good things in his overall season in 2013."
Biddle will pitch in the instructional league, Jordan said.
Quinn among Phillies prospects headed to AFL
PHILADELPHIA -- Pitchers Colton Murray, Ryan O'Sullivan, Ethan Stewart and Nefi Ogando will be pitching for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League. Catcher Logan Moore and outfielder Roman Quinn will also be in Scottsdale. The Phillies have one more open spot for the AFL that is still to be determined.
Murray is 1-5 with a 2.30 ERA at Double-A Reading, after he posted a 2-2 record with a 2.04 ERA at Class A Advanced Clearwater. He's held opposing hitters to a .207 batting average and struck out 74 in 72 1/3 innings combined between the two levels.
O'Sullivan is 5-8 with a 4.23 ERA at Reading, making 35 appearances (10 starts), and Stewart is 5-7 with a 4.88 ERA at Clearwater in 26 games (16 starts). Ogando was 5-1 with a 6.62 ERA and five saves at Reading.
Moore is hitting .213 with three homers at Reading after hitting .238 in 32 games at Clearwater. Quinn, the Phillies' No. 5 prospect, is hitting .252 with 30 stolen bases as a center fielder at Clearwater.
"As bad a season as it's been in terms of wins and losses, I'm very happy with a couple guys in Clearwater," Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan said. "Quinn has gotten healthy, and he's developed as a player so much. He hasn't lost anything foot-speed-wise after rupturing his Achilles, and for me, he's going to be an impact player. He gets better and better in center field every day. We're very excited about him.
"He's grown on the bases as far as his willingness to let it go -- where he's saying, 'I'm taking this bag and everybody in the ballpark knows it.'"
Giles won't close as long as Papelbon is around
PHILADELPHIA -- While many people talk about Ken Giles as the Phillies' closer in waiting, manager Ryne Sandberg said he'll still be waiting a while as long as Jonathan Papelbon is here and available to pitch. The Phillies have no plans to run Giles out into some save situations in September.
"Papelbon is our closer," Sandberg said. "I don't think it would be a problem; I have confidence in Kenny. But we haven't even talked about that."
Giles had a 1.42 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings entering Tuesday. Even if Papelbon wasn't available due to his workload, it's not a lock that Giles would have the ninth in a save situation.
"We have a couple choices," Sandberg said. "It would depend on the scenario. Jake Diekman has done it. There would be a choice there."
Kevin Roberts is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.