Phillies farm system looking for more wins across all levels

Joe Jordan doesn’t want you to think he’s taking the struggles in the Phillies’ farm system lightly, but he’s not losing any sleep over an organization with the worst winning percentage in minor league ball.

The Phillies’ Director of Player Development said Saturday at Bowman Field that while he wants the teams in the Phillies’ system to win, it’s not the ultimate goal. Going into Saturday’s games, the only team in the Phillies’ farm system stateside with a winning record was the Williamsport Crosscutters at 11-10.

“I want to win more game than we’ve won, I’ll say that,” Jordan said after the Cutters’ round of batting practice. “I think winning is important. It has been a tough year win-loss wise. We have some players that have gotten better and we’ve had some development success, but it hasn’t been in wins a losses. I’m not losing any sleep over it, and I don’t mean that to minimize it, but it’s not my main goal. But I want to win more games.”

The Phillies’ minor league clubs have combined to win just 41.44 percent of their games this year, the worst winning percentage of the farm systems of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams. The Chicago White Sox’s system has a 43.18 winning percentage, and the Pirates have a 43.3 winning percentage.

The Phillies’ composite won-loss records are skewed in part because of the terrible season by Clearwater, the Phillies Advanced Class A affiliate. The Threshers entered Saturday with a 22-61 record, and their 17-51 first-half record was the worst in the Florida State League by nine games.

The Threshers are 5-10 in the second half of the season after adding former first-round draft pick J.P. Crawford to the roster, along with 2014 first-round draft pick Aaron Nola.

The Gulf Coast League Phillies are the only other team in the system which entered the day at .500 at 7-7 before losing yesterday afternoon.

The Class AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs entered the day at 42-45, the AA Reading Fightin’ Phils were 34-49 and the Low Class A Lakewood Blueclaws were 32-53.

“I think it’s important to win. We’ve talked about it,” Jordan said. “Some of our clubs have really been impacted by injuries we’ve had and we just didn’t have the depth to overcome it. We’re getting some guys healthy. Hopefully the next two months are a success and we can do a better job of winning games.”

The addition of Nola and Crawford to the Clearwater roster has added some intrigue around the worst team in the Phillies’ system. And the transition of former Crosscutter Roman Quinn from shortstop to center field has added another thing for fans to watch for.

Jordan said the Threshers’ struggles had nothing to do with the move of Crawford, who began the year in Lakewood, to Clearwater. It also had nothing to do with Quinn’s move, which opened a spot for Crawford at shortstop.

“They should not have had the first half that they had,” Jordan said. “I think they’re in better shape now and should be competitive. I just left there and that’s what I told the players and the staff. That’s my expectation. The first half is over. Go compete.”

Here’s other excerpts from Saturday’s interview with Phillies Director of Player Development Joe Jordan:

Question: What’s a realistic timetable for Aaron Nola as far as advancing through the system?

Answer: I watched him in his last start and he was very good. Very efficient. He was really about as clean as you could be. Our plan with him is two or three more starts down there and then evaluate it. We may want to expose him to possibly Double-A just to see the level there. The main thing with him is trying to get his innings to a certain point to set him up for next year. We’re not there. We have some innings we need to get on him and we’ll do that. Where’s it going to be? It probably won’t be in the same place all summer.

Q: Pitching depth in the system has been hurt by injuries to players like Adam Morgan, Shane Watson and Yoel Mecias. Will the addition of Aaron Nola, Matt Imhof and Chris Oliver, all top four round picks in the draft, help replenish that depth?

A: I hope so. Hopefully these guys stay healthy and pitch like it sounds like they’re capable of pitching. We’ve been impacted by those injuries. Starting pitching is hard to replace but we’ve done the best job we can.

Q: With the number of college players drafted this year, how difficult is it to get them put into the proper level?

A: I think the first summer it’s not as big a challenge as you would think. We’re not going to tax a lot of the college pitchers, especially the starters that had full seasons with 100-plus innings. We have a plan of where we want them to get to, so you’re going to see a lot of four and five-inning starts. Don’t expect to see a lot more than that. We have a 35-man roster (in Williamsport) and the same thing in the GCL, so it gives you a lot of options as far as piggy-backing starters. It’s all about getting them into a five-man rotation as opposed to the seven-day rotation from college.

Q: How has Maikel Franco handled his struggles at AAA this year?

A: The one thing he’s done is played very good defense all year. That’s a credit to him for a young guy to be able to separate it. His expectations of himself are high, just like our expectations are high. I think he’s shown a lot of maturity going that. He’s ticked up a little bit lately. Hopefully he can get on a roll because when he’s locked in he can carry a club for a while and his numbers will climb. It’s just about him competing and staying after it. He’ll have a good July and August if he does that. The last two nights he’s had seven really quality at-bats and hopefully that’s the start.