Jiandido Tromp has always been a nice prospect, but never really put up the numbers that were needed to make him a strong enough offensive player to be considered a true prospect. This past season, after having already played in over 150 games with Low-A Lakewood, Tromp was back with the BlueClaws to open the season.
Tromp had gone from what was then a career-high 15 home runs in 2014 down to nine the following season and saw his average dip from .256 in 2014 to just .216 with the 'Claws the following season. The dip came at a time when it looked like Tromp was going to be putting everything together and climb up the ranks of Phillies prospects, much like he is now.
After adding 65 more games to his career numbers at Lakewood, Tromp finally got moved up to Clearwater last June and after an initial adjustment period, was named the Florida State League Player of the Week just about a month after his promotion, when he hit three home runs and hit .471 from July 18-24. Tromp would wind up finishing the season with a career-high 20 home runs - 10 each at Lakewood and Clearwater - and career-highs in games (124) and RBI (68).
Now, the trick will be to repeat those types of numbers in 2017. It's likely that he'll start the year back with the Threshers and it would be great news if he played well enough that the Phillies would feel comfortable promoting him to Reading at some point during the season, especially since he needed extended time at the Low-A level in his career.
The real problem with Tromp isn't that there aren't enough tools there, it's just that those tools have all come up just short of what's been needed to make him a legitimate prospect. For example, Tromp definitely has good enough speed to be considered a true threat on the bases, but he has never stolen more than 19 bases in a season, which isn't bad, but he's slid back down to 10 and 14 swipes in the following seasons. He lacks some of the basic base stealing skills to really be a threat on the basepaths, but with some work, he can still pick up some of those skills and add a few more stolen bases to his totals.
He also has good power, but the holes in his swing have left him open to being shown up by some of the better pitchers that he's faced. He has improved his mechanics though, with what was initially a very long swing being scaled back to more compact style that allows him to maintain his power, but also be more effective with the bat. The key now is to find that fine line between being aggressive at the plate and being overly aggressive at the plate. The more compact swing helped him lower his strikeout rate from fanning once every 3.5 at-bats in 2015 to once every 4.6 at-bats last season. He was even better when he reached Clearwater - perhaps he was pressing more with Lakewood - whiffing once every 5.2 at-bats with the Threshers.
One statistic to note and watch for in 2017 is Tromp's ability to draw walks. In 2015, he drew a walk once every 16.7 plate appearances. He increased that overall to 14.1 plate appearances last season. Look closer though and most of Tromp's ability to draw walks came during his time with Lakewood, where he walked once every 12.2 plate appearances, but drew walks just once every 17 plate appearances with the Threshers. Better pitchers, with better command and better movement could have caused the increase, and if that's the issue, then it's either going to take Tromp a longer time to adjust to better pitching at each successive level, or he's simply going to have sloppier plate discipline the higher he goes.
When you look at Tromp's ability to hit pitchers ranked in the Top 20 MLB Prospects over the past four seasons, he's struck out once every 5.5 plate appearances, while he's drawn walks just once every 32 plate appearances. Both are pretty well off of his average numbers over that same span, signifying that he could struggle as he sees better pitching at higher levels. Of course, Tromp could also make adjustments, which may allow him to close the gap, but that could come at the price of moving through the system at a slower speed.
Jiandido Tromp's hit spray chart - 2016
Defensively, Tromp could give an occasional skip to a fan's heartbeat as a center fielder. He had the speed to cover up some mistakes in routes, but with the added distance he needed to cover, some balls could still be quite an adventure. Last season, he played more games in left than in center (52 in LF, 41 in CF) and also played 15 games in right field. He seems better suited to the corner outfield spots, but his arm might not be strong enough to stay in right field, leaving left field as the best option for him long-term.
2017 is going to be a determining factor in just how the Phillies proceed with Tromp. Not only does he need to avoid backsliding statistically, like he did after his previous "career year" in 2014, but he needs to show that he can play at higher levels and move at least a little faster from level-to-level. Following the 2017 season, Tromp will again be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, but unless he puts up bigger numbers and moves to Reading for a substantial part of the season, there won't be any immediate need for the Phillies to stress about adding him to the 40-man roster. Following the 2018 season, Tromp would be eligible for minor league free agency if he hasn't been added to the 40-man roster by that point, because he will have played in all or part of seven minor league seasons.
Jiandido Tromp career stats
|All Levels (5 Seasons)||421||1497||195||361||87||20||47||181||53||109||405||.241||.298||.420|