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February 14, 2014

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects

by Jason Parks

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Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Phillies list

The Top Ten

  1. 3B Maikel Franco
  2. LHP Jesse Biddle
  3. SS J.P. Crawford
  4. RF Kelly Dugan
  5. CF Carlos Tocci
  6. C Deivi Grullon
  7. RHP Severino Gonzalez
  8. INF Cesar Hernandez
  9. LHP Yoel Mecias
  10. OF Cord Sandberg

1. Maikel Franco
Position: 1B/3B
DOB: 08/26/1992
Height/Weight: 6’1” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2010, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org)
2013 Stats: .339/.363/.563 at Double-A Reading (69 games), .299/.349/.576 at High-A Clearwater (65 games)
The Tools: 5+ potential hit; 7 potential power; 6+ arm; 5 potential glove

What Happened in 2013: Franco crushed in the Florida State League, and then took another step forward after his promotion to Double-A, hitting a combined 31 bombs.

Strengths: Electric bat speed; well above-average hand/eye coordination; hit tool could play average or better; feel for hard contact; crushes fastballs; power potential is plus-plus; plane for over-the-fence power; back spins the ball; arm is easy plus; hands work well in the field.

Weaknesses: Deep hand load in setup (drawing back a bow); brings hands back/up and then back down into launch; excellent hand/eye allows him to recover from bad guesses; very aggressive approach; struggles against off-speed stuff; hit tool likely to pull power down; high maintenance body; good hands in the field but sloppy footwork and fringe range

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division

Realistic Role: 5; major league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; achieved Double-A level; questions about defensive profile and hit tool.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Here is a case where the eligibility could make a real difference. If Franco is a first baseman, his fantasy value takes a hit. But even if he plays third base only against lefties, that will still be enough for him to maintain those 20 games. At the plate, he could be a .275 hitter with 25 homers in that park, which is notoriously friendly to right-handed hitters (just ask Jayson Werth).

The Year Ahead: Franco was a monster in 2013, hitting for average and power, but sources question the utility of the hit tool against better arms, particularly arms that can beat him with sequence. His preternatural feel for contact helps him recover from a late trigger or a poor pitch read, so he should be able to keep the ball in play. But his impressive plus-plus power is likely to play down as a result of his swing and approach, which will limit his overall value, especially if he can’t make the profile work at third base. I can see a .260-plus hitter with 20-plus bombs, most likely coming at first base, and I would probably be higher on the overall profile if the work ethic received praise from outside the org sources rather than questions and red flags.

Major league ETA: 2014

2. Jesse Biddle
Position: LHP
DOB: 10/22/1991
Height/Weight: 6’4” 225 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, Germantown Friends HS (Philadelphia, PA)
Previous Ranking: #1 (Org), #67 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 3.64 ERA (138.1 IP, 104 H, 154 K, 82 BB) at Double-A Reading
The Tools: 5+ FB; 5 CB; 5+ potential CH; 5 SL

What Happened in 2013: In his first pass in Double-A, the former first-round pick made 27 starts, logged 138 innings and missed an impressive 154 bats, but he also allowed 82 free passes.

Strengths: Good size/present strength; athletic; fastball works solid-average; comfortable at 89-92; touches a bit higher; creates good plane to the plate; curveball is average offering; plays up against minor-league bats; can show a tight rotation and deception off the fastball; turns over a promising changeup; average at present but has some projection; shows slider that he can throw in the zone.

Weaknesses: Release point inconsistency; poor fastball command at present; tendency to fly open in delivery and miss arm-side and up; curveball can get loopy and long; upper 60/low 70s; changeup can get deliberate in the delivery; needs general mound refinement (holding runner, PFP, etc)

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; 27 starts at Double-A level; needs command refinement,

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Shallow leaguers should take note that Biddle, despite his projection, isn’t the kind of player who you should be stocking your farm team with. He’ll have to max out his projection in order to be much above streamer level in 10-12 team leagues, but in deep formats, his stability and ability to eat innings will come in handy.

The Year Ahead: Biddle has one of those lefty curveballs that can freeze hitters or make their swings look like foolish attempts to make contact with air. But the pitch is better in the present (in the minors) than it projects to be in the future (in the majors), and without a true plus offering, Biddle doesn’t have a large margin for error. It all starts with poor fastball command; without the ability to spot up the pitch, better sticks won’t be triggering early to strike it, which will make a slow, long curveball easier to stay back on and track. Minor-league hitters struggle to accomplish this. If Biddle can correct his command woes, he has a good chance of developing into a solid backend starter at the major-league level, and perhaps more if the changeup can blossom into a near plus offering. But the robust minor-league curve isn’t going to play without better fastball utility, and until Biddle takes steps forward on that front, his overall profile comes with more than questions than answers.

Major league ETA: 2014

3. J.P. Crawford
Position: SS
DOB: 01/11/1995
Height/Weight: 6’2” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013, Lakewood HS (Lakewood, CA)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: .208/.300/.226 at Low-A Lakewood (14 games), .345/.443/.465 at complex level GCL (39 games)
The Tools: 6 run; 5+ arm; 6 potential glove; 5+ potential hit

What Happened in 2013: Selected 16th overall in the 2013 draft, Crawford hit the ground hitting in his complex league debut, putting up a .345 average in a 39-game sample.

Strengths: Fast-twitch athlete; coordinated and graceful; plus run; plus range; natural feel for the glove; clean, fluid actions; excellent backhand pickup; left-side arm; shows some bat speed at the plate; quick hands with some bat control.

Weaknesses: Needs to add strength to lean/lanky frame; general refinement through repetition in the field; bat lacks power; contact-heavy swing; balance isn’t great in setup/swing; can shift weight early to front foot and lose punch/control with the bat.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; limited professional experience; questions about the bat/body.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Crawford may not have the fantasy upside of some of his first-round brethren, but he’s a strong bet to stay at shortstop due to his defensive prowess and his speed should be able to provide returns, even if the bat or fringy power don’t work out so well. He is a strong second round pick in dynasty drafts this year.

The Year Ahead: Crawford is ready for a full season in Low-A, where he will likely continue to flash the goods at shortstop and show enough promise at the plate to keep his stock high. There are some concerns about his physical projection and how it keeps the bat in his hands, but he shows the necessary work ethic and should be able to add strength without sacrificing his athleticism or game speed. I don’t see an impact bat, as the power will likely play below average and the hit tool will be more about consistent contact than middle-of-the-order destruction. But the defensive profile at a premium position is legit, and the total package could be a first-division player at the major-league level. He just missed the cut for the BP 101 this season, and should find his way securely on the list as he climbs the corporate ladder.

Major league ETA: 2017

4. Kelly Dugan
Position: RF
DOB: 09/18/1990
Height/Weight: 6’3” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2009 draft, Notre Dame HS (Sherman Oaks, CA)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .264/.299/.472 at Double-A Reading (56 games), .318/.401/.539 at High-A Clearwater (56 games)
The Tools: 5 potential hit; 5+ potential power; 5+ glove; 6 arm

What Happened in 2013: After a strong full-season debut in 2012, Dugan continued to progress in 2013, hitting his way to Double-A and racking up 48 extra-base hits on the season.

Strengths: Good athlete; good feel for baseball skills; strong upper body; generates good bat speed at the plate; hit tool could play to average; power could play above average; strong arm for a corner; good glove; good reads/routes.

Weaknesses: Top heavy physique; can jump fastballs and struggle with off-speed pitches; can lose legs in his swing; hit tool lacks impact projection; power unlikely to play above plus; approach puts him in bad hitting situations; speed is below average

Overall Future Potential: 5; major-league regular

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average regular/bench outfielder

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited experience in upper minors.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There’s just not a whole lot for fantasy owners to get too excited about here with Dugan. There could be 20-homer power at the major-league level, but it is likely to come with an average (or on-base percentage, if you’re into that sort of thing) that will eat into the value you get from the middling power.

The Year Ahead: Dugan lacks big upside but the bat has a chance to make him a major-league regular, assuming his approach refines and he can make enough contact to let the power play in game action. The 23-year-old has bat speed and good upper-body strength, and when he can put some loft in his bat, he can drive the baseball out of the park. In his first pass in Double-A, arms could beat him with stuff and spin, so he will need to work himself into better counts and take advantage of mistakes if he wants to put himself into the major-league discussion for 2015.

Major league ETA: Late 2014

5. Carlos Tocci
Position: CF
DOB: 08/23/1995
Height/Weight: 6’2” 160 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2011, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: #9 (Org)
2013 Stats: .209/.261/.249 at Low-A Lakewood (118 games)
The Tools: 7 run; 6+ arm; 6 potential glove; 5+ potential hit

What Happened in 2013: Tocci jumped to the full-season level as a 17-year-old, and despite an OPS that would suggest he was overwhelmed at the plate, the young Venezuelan didn’t fold under the weight of the competition.

Strengths: Well above-average athlete; lanky/projectable body; easy plus run; could end up plus-pus with more strength; arm is a weapon in center; easy plus and possible plus-plus; confidence in the arm; glove to play above average in center; good approach and contact ability at the plate.

Weaknesses: Body is very immature at present; lack of strength limits utility of all tools; hit tool is all projection at this point; poor power at present; below-average baserunning utility at present; overall game needs refinement.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average regular/bench outfielder

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; 18 years old; questions about physical projection/strength.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Outside of Franco, Tocci is the player with the highest fantasy upside on this list. Don’t let the stats fool you, he was not good last season, but he played nearly the entire year at 17 years old. With the chance for 30-plus steals down the road, he’s a pure lottery ticket, but a lottery ticket is still better in fantasy than most of the other players on this list.

The Year Ahead: Tocci was one of my favorite prospects to watch in 2013, as the raw tools were louder than I expected, given the player’s age and level. The body is very immature, and some sources question whether or not he has the frame to add enough mass to keep the bat in his hands against better arms. He’s only 18, so if he can add strength over time, he has the type of athleticism and feel for the game to really shine as a prospect, the type of player who profiles in center with plus speed and a good swing/approach at the plate. I really like this prospect, and he could take a huge step forward if the body starts to show signs of maturity.

Major league ETA: 2017

6. Deivi Grullon
Position: C
DOB: 02/17/1996
Height/Weight: 6’1” 180 lbs

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2012, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .273/.333/.364 at complex level GCL (41 games)
The Tools: 8 arm; 6+ potential glove; 5+ potential hit

What Happened in 2013: In his professional debut, the six-figure international signee showed off one of the strongest arms in the minors, a true 8 weapon behind the plate, which pushes him up prospect lists despite an offensive profile that lacks big projection.

Strengths: Good size; strength projection; good athlete at the position; arm strength is elite; quick release and accurate; shows good footwork behind the plate and projectable glove; could end up a well above-average backstop; hit tool projects to average; shows some bat speed and ability to drive the ball.

Weaknesses: Needs refinement behind the plate; can get overly confident with the arm; lacks impact offensive tools; struggles with arm-side stuff; struggles against soft/spin; power likely to play well below average; below-average run.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; backup catcher

Risk Factor/Injury History: Extreme risk; 18 years old; limited professional experience; tough developmental profile

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: As exciting as it is to see an 8 on any prospect’s tool, this one means nothing to fantasy players (unless a speedy player on your team is trying to steal against him). He’s not a fantasy option at this point.

The Year Ahead: I’m a recidivist when it comes to falling in love with above-average defenders behind the plate, even more so when they come equipped with elite arms. Grullon has a very long way to go in all facets of his game, but the defensive projections could make him a well above-average force, and even if the bat plays soft, a usable hit tool could keep him in a lineup for a very long time. It’s still early in the developmental process and the bat could pull down his value for several years before he brings it together, but never turn away from a capable catcher with sniper arm strength.

Major league ETA: 2018

7. Severino Gonzalez
Position: RHP
DOB: 09/28/1992
Height/Weight: 6’1” 153 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2011, Panama
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 2.70 ERA (6.2 IP, 8 H, 6 K, 0 BB) at Double-A Reading, 2.02 ERA (75.2 IP, 66 H, 82 K, 19 BB) at High-A Clearwater, 1.69 ERA (21.1 IP, 10 H, 31 K, 3 BB) at Low-A Clearwater
The Tools: 5 FB; 5+ potential CT; 5 CB; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2013: In his stateside debut, the Panamanian arm pitched at three levels, finishing in Double-A and jumping from unknown status to top ten prospect in only 100 innings of work.

Strengths: Plus pitchability; easy delivery; fluid arm; stays in a good line to the plate; fastball works in the upper 80s/low 90s; has some sneak to it; spots it up with sharp command; multiple breaking ball looks; cut-slider has more bite to it; could play above-average; good for forcing weak contact; curve can miss minor-league bats; changeup plays well off the fastball because of the consistent mechanics/release point; overall command is above average.

Weaknesses: Slight build; lacks big strength; fastball has pedestrian velocity; can sit in the upper 80s deeper into games; command has to be sharp for the pitch to play; curveball can get too long and soft; plays up because he can spot the fastball; lacks a true plus pitch; command/control profile.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Realistic Role: Low 5; no. 5 starter/long relief

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited exposure to upper minors; lacks a power arsenal.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The stats have been solid, but Severino isn’t a guy to concern yourself with much for fantasy. He’s a very fly-ball-heavy pitcher headed to a park that does not treat fly ball pitchers with kindness. Severino makes for a better stash in very deep leagues.

The Year Ahead: Gonzalez carved up the lower levels of the minors with a deep arsenal and the ability to spot his fastball, which allowed the secondary stuff to play up. The curve lacks plus projection but is effective in the minors because of the fastball, while the cutter should be a playable pitch for the slender righty as he matures. Because of the slight frame and average stuff, Gonzalez will need to be very sharp to find sustainable success at the next level, but his pitchability and clean mechanics will give him a chance. He should return to Double-A in 2014, and if he can continue to play wizard with his location, the 21-year-old has a chance to pitch in the big leagues at some point in 2015. Not bad for a prospect signed at age 18 for $14,000.

Major league ETA: 2015

8. Cesar Hernandez
Position: IF/OF
DOB: 05/23/1990
Height/Weight: 5’10’’ 175 lbs.
Bats/Throws: S/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2006, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: N/R
2013 Stats: .309/.375/.402 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley (104 games); .289/.344/.331 at major-league level (34 games)
The Tools: 5+ glove; 6 run; 5 arm; 5 potential hit

What Happened in 2013: In a return to the International League, Hernandez took a step forward at the plate, and eventually found himself at the major-league level, where his defensive versatility made him a valuable player.

Strengths: Good athlete with legit baseball skills; plus run; above-average glove; arm plays as average; can make plays at second; can handle center field; good feel for the stick; contact oriented with some ability to make hard contact; good fundamental player.

Weaknesses: Lacks first-division tools; not physically imposing; lacks big strength; arm is only average and limits left-side utility; power is well below average; bat is of the down-the-lineup variety; bat speed is only average; utility profile.

Overall Future Potential: 5; second-division player

Realistic Role: 5; super utility player

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There’s really not much to see here. Hernandez could weasel his way into a full slate of at bats somewhere down the road, but even if he does, you’re looking at an average that won’t kill you and maybe 20 steals or so. That’s not worth taking up a roster spot for.

The Year Ahead: Hernandez is a good baseball player, one with above-average speed, defensive versatility and the ability to make contact at the plate, but despite the on-the-field skills, the 23-year-old lacks the impact-level tools to make him a sustainable force as a major-league regular. The likely outcome is a superutility type, a right-side infielder that can also handle center field duties, offering speed on base and a fundamental approach at the plate. These type of players don’t make great prospects but can provide great value to a 25-man roster, especially when they are under team control for six years.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

9. Yoel Mecias
Position: LHP
DOB: 10/11/1993
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 160 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2010, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 3.79 era (57 IP, 53 H, 25 BB, 70 K) at Low-A Lakewood
The Tools: 6 potential FB; 6+ potential CH; 5 potential SL

What Happened in 2013: Before coming down with a case of Tommy John surgery, Mecias was really starting to shine in his full-season debut, missing 70 bats in only 57 innings.

Strengths: Easy/fluid mechanics; arm is very quick; fastball works 88-92; projects to sit in plus range at maturity; can touch 94/95 in bursts; changeup is above average at present; could end up playing well above average; good fastball disguise in the arm and excellent late action; slider should also play to average or above; good overall feel for pitching.

Weaknesses: Thin, lanky frame; needs to add strength; pre-injury questions about ability to hold velocity/workload; slider can get long and slurvy; effective against lefties but easier to read and track by righties; more control than command.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; recovering from TJ; limited professional experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The risk factor is extremely high here, but at least this is an arm with a little fantasy upside to it. A lefty with velocity and a real bat-missing changeup is always a factor at the major-league level, but the combination of distance and risk from the surgery just makes him an interesting deep-league flier.

The Year Ahead: It’s a tough sell to rank a player in the top ten with a recent Tommy John on the resume, but Mecias is pushing ahead on his rehab schedule, and could/should return to game action this summer, most likely toeing the rubber as a 20-year-old in the Florida State League, assuming the rehab continues on schedule. Despite limited experience on the mound, Mecias shows a lot of feel and very fluid and easy arm, which allows the present fastball to jump and offer projection, and the changeup to play the role of the arsenal darling, missing bats and barrels of both righties and lefties. This is a very good prospect, and when he returns to action and refines the rough edges, he has a chance to move up in this system and become a national name. It could happen at the end of 2014, but the following year is when I expect Mecias to become a household name.

Major league ETA: 2017

10. Cord Sandberg
Position: OF
DOB: 01/02/1995
Height/Weight: 6’3” 215 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 3rd round, 2013 draft, Manatee HS (Bradenton, FL)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: .207/.313/.272 at complex level GCL (48 games)
The Tools: 6 potential power; 6 arm; 5+ run; 5 potential glove

What Happened in 2013: Another toolsy, multi-sport athlete stolen away from football by the Phillies, signed in the third round for a high six-figure bonus.

Strengths: Can show five tool potential; good athlete; good present strength; highly competitive; power projects to plus; shows bat speed and the ability make hard contact; arm is strong; runs well for his size; impact potential if tools come together.

Weaknesses: Raw at the plate; iffy balance; tendency to lung at the ball; hit tool and power projections have a long way to go; not a true center fielder; okay glove but reads/routes need a lot of work; good present run but will likely slow as he physically matures;

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: Low 5; below-average regular/bench outfielder

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; complex league resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If Sandberg can hit, he becomes a guy to watch for fantasy purposes, but as you can gather by this list, it’s not a particularly great system for farm team adds. He likely shouldn’t be drafted in dynasty leagues this year, unless it’s more than three or four rounds.

The Year Ahead: Sandberg has the tools to project to the first-division level, but the overall feel for the game and playable skills are still underdeveloped and immature, so the developmental journey could be long. I love it when toolsy multi-sport types pick baseball over football or basketball, but as is often the case, the overall feel for the game can be a little underwhelming and can limit the utility of the physical gifts. Sandberg is a long-term project and it could take several years to see the first-division future start to blossom on a field. But the reason for his inclusion on this list is because his physical tools create the possibility for impact down the line, and if he can refine and bring those tools into game action, that’s when you really have something of value.

Major league ETA: 2017


Prospects on the Rise:
1. C Gabriel Lino:
I’ve long been a fan of the raw Venezuelan backstop, dating back to his days in the Orioles organization. The arm is really strong behind the plate, and you can see just enough with the bat to keep you hanging around. He took some developmental steps in the right direction in 2013, and could be ready for an even bigger step in 2014. It’s more of a backup profile long term, but the size, strength, arm and raw power create the possibility of a higher ceiling, and that keeps him on my prospect landscape.

2. OF Dylan Cozens: Cozens is a massive human, standing a legit 6’6’’ and weighing 240 pounds, with plenty of raw power in his game. As you would expect, the swing can get long and leveraged, and sources question how much of the power is just pure strength and not projectable bat speed that will play as he moves up to the full-season level in 2014. This is a boom/bust type that could develop into a prototypical corner power bat in the middle of a lineup or one that could flame out before he reaches the Double-A level.

3. 3B Zach Green: Athletic and strong, Green was popped in the third round of the 2012 draft and started to show some of the big power potential in his run through the New York-Penn League in 2013, ripping 34 extra-base hits in 74 games. At the plate, the trigger can look delayed and the path into the hitting zone isn’t short and sweet, so his game features a lot of swing-and-miss at present. I don’t see a big hit tool or consistent contact in his future, but he can find success and climb prospect lists if he can refine his swing and approach enough to get his plus power to play as he climbs.


Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2014)
1. C/1B: Tommy Joseph: 2013 was a lost season for Joseph, who suffered a concussion in early May and struggled with the side effects until he was shut down for the year. With plus power potential in the stick and a strong arm, Joseph could offer value if he can return to his pre-concussion form, something that is often easier said than done. Concussions are no joke and it can take a long time to recover, but if Joseph returns healthy in 2014, he could play his way to the major-league level, where he could find time behind the plate and at first base.

2. RHP Ken Giles: A seventh round pick in the 2011 draft, Giles looked the part of a future power reliever in 2013, missing bats in the Florida State League and then flashing elite fastball velocity in the AFL. His command is fringe at best, and his secondary arsenal comes and goes. But if he can gain some command of his mid-upper-90s smoke and back it up with his mid-upper-80s power slider, the 23-year-old righty is going to be a late-innings force at the major-league level at some point in 2014.

3. RHP Ethan Martin: Another late-innings arm that can often masquerade as a starter, Martin was once the 15th overall pick in the 2008 draft and considered a top tier prospect. But the 24-year-old has struggled with command his entire career, which puts his likely home in a major-league bullpen, despite a deep arsenal of power stuff that projects him much higher in a major-league rotation. With a little more consistency, Martin could develop into a legit setup option, pushing his already plus fastball into the mid-90s and backing it up with a hard mid-80s slider with wipeout potential.


Top 10 Talents 25 and Under (born 4/1/88 or later)

  1. Maikel Franco
  2. Jesse Biddle
  3. Cody Asche
  4. J.P. Crawford
  5. Jonathan Pettibone
  6. Ben Revere
  7. Kelly Dugan
  8. Carlos Tocci
  9. Deivi Grullon
  10. Severino Gonzalez

The Phillies get a lot of heat for being an old team, and rightly so given their plan to field an everyday lineup with five players who are 34 or older and a rotation with two more. A young core of champions has given way to an aging group that consists of the same names, but considerably less consistency and talent.

In attempting to keep their window of contention open as long as possible, the organization has used a once-deep farm system to replenish the major-league roster. You will find a number of players on the U25 lists of other organizations that were originally drafted by the Phillies, a testament to their ability to draft successfully but also to a strategy that has left them aging and depleted.

What remains, however, is not completely barren. This list takes a significant hit because of the absence of Domonic Brown, who would reside at its apex were he not too old by only seven months. He is the team’s best young, impact talent. Maikel Franco has a chance to pair up with Brown in the middle of the Phillies lineup, but he will lose a significant portion of his value if he is forced to move to first base. That won’t happen for at least three more years, however, with Ryan Howard blocking his path, and forcing Franco to stay at third base should eventually take at-bats away from Asche, the Phillies incumbent at the hot corner this season.

Asche, much like the other major leaguers on this list (Ben Revere and Jonathan Pettibone) is a serviceable big-league talent but one with a low ceiling that lacks true impact. He’s ready to play everyday, but he won’t be an above-average player at his position.

Revere will get another chance to prove he can be an everyday center fielder, both because the Phillies paid a legitimate price to get him (parting with Vance Worley and prospect Trevor May) and because they have little in the way of additional options. His defense took a significant step back in 2014, however, hurting most of his value. Despite hitting over .300, he is still a subpar offensive player and his ceiling is limited to someone who should be hitting down in the order or serving as a fourth outfielder. Pettibone is a back-end starter whose stuff plays up thanks to plus command but whose playing time was just bitten into by the signing of A.J. Burnett.

The state of the Phillies farm system could change within the next twelve months as much as any organization in the game, as even their high-end prospects are subject to extreme developmental variations. The Phillies love to draft loud tools, and with that comes an attraction to raw prospects typically in need of refinement. Franco and Biddle should be ready to help soon, potentially in 2014, but after that it will be quite some time before any one on this list makes it to Philadelphia. –Jeff Moore


A Parting Thought: Injuries to several top prospects have taken the system down a few pegs, but the organization’s ability to find and acquire Latin American talent is still a strong suit and could pay off in a big way in the coming years.

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