2017 Top 50 Phillies Prospects: 1-5

I often get questions about whether the Phillies have elite prospects, prospects that are foundational pieces to the next great Phillies team. The answer is yes, and breaking up the list into groups of 5 highlights this. At this point, there is probably prospect fatigue on J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, and Nick Williams. Depending on who’s doing the ranking, it might be Alfaro’s 6th time on a Top 100 prospect list. Crawford and Williams were expected to be in the majors by now, but they are also only 22 and 23 respectively, and they still have the chance to be multiple time all-stars. Mickey Moniak was the #1 player in a weak 2016 draft, which seems to have diminished his shine for some. Franklyn Kilome has his warts, but at his best he looks like a top of the rotation starter. This completes the journey from the fringe to the elite. The Phillies system is deep, and it should continue to churn out impact players for years.

Top 50 Rankings: Intro|1-5|6-10|11-15|16-20|21-25|26-30|31-35|36-40|41-45|46-50|Under 25|Supplemental Rankings

Videos by Mickey Moniak and milb.com

1. J.P. Crawford – SS (Profile)

DOB: January 11, 1995 (22)
H/W: 6’2” 180lbs
B/T: L/R
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round of the 2013 draft by the Phillies
2016 Stats:

Team (LVL)GPAHRSBBB%K%AVGOBPSLG
Reading (AA)361663518.1%12.7%.265.398.390
Lehigh Valley (AAA)873854710.9%15.3%.244.328.318

Role: All-Star
Risk: Medium – Crawford struggled at the plate for much of 2016. His defense should carry him to the majors and give his value a high floor. However, to become a franchise cornerstone, Crawford will need to improve his impact at the plate. His approach is one of the best in the minor leagues, so he just needs to get better at maximizing the advantageous positions he generates for himself.
Summary: Crawford’s season looks like a disappointment at first glance. He didn’t hit for average and didn’t hit for power, and when the time came for call ups, he was still in Lehigh Valley. Crawford struggled with injury, and he sold out for power that never materialized. However, the core of Crawford’s game has only improved. He is at least a plus defender and will be one of the best defensive shortstops in the majors almost immediately. Crawford has great instincts in the field to go with good range, a strong arm, and soft hands. His fluidity in the field has the tendency to cause difficult plays to look routine. At the plate, Crawford has one of the best approaches in the minor leagues and spent most of the season with more walks than strikeouts. Crawford continued to work pitchers and put himself into positive hitting situations, but he failed to follow through with quality contact. Crawford did all this at age 21, and he was the youngest player in the International League for most of his time there. His swing is relatively simple, and his strong wrists allow him to spray the ball over the field, especially when he shortens up with two strikes. Crawford needs to get stronger, a goal he and the Phillies share this winter, in order to let the power come more naturally. It might not happen immediately, but at his peak Crawford could hit 15-20 home runs. He should also have an on base percentage among the league leaders. His combination of offensive and defensive upside make Crawford one of the best prospects in the game.
2017 Outlook: Crawford will return to Lehigh Valley to start the 2017 season. If he performs well from the start, he could force Freddy Galvis off shortstop in Philly quickly. Unless he forces the issue, he might not be in the majors until after the Super 2 deadline, as the Phillies attempt to reduce his future compensation.
Previous Rank: 1
ETA: 2017

2. Jorge Alfaro – C (Profile)

DOB: June 11, 1993 (23)
H/W: 6’2” 225lbs
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent by the Rangers in January 2010. Traded along with OF Nick Williams, RHP Jake Thompson, RHP Alec Asher, RHP Jared Eickhoff, and LHP Matt Harrison to the Phillies LHP Cole Hamels and LHP Jake Diekman on July 31, 2015.
2016 Stats:

Team (LVL)GPAHRSBBB%K%AVGOBPSLG
Reading (AA)974351535.1%24.1%.285.325.458
Phillies (MLB)617005.9%47.1%.125.176.125

Role: First Division Regular
Risk: Medium – Alfaro’s defensive improvements will allow him to stick at catcher going forward. The offensive requirements of catching mean that he does not need to make drastic improvements at the plate
Summary: Jorge Alfaro was always the wildcard in the Cole Hamels trade. Alfaro missed most of the 2015 season due to injury, and while he had always been praised for his raw tools, they hadn’t manifested in on field results while with Texas. The case against Alfaro was simple — his bat only works at catcher, but he may not be a catcher. In 2016, Alfaro proved he is a catcher, making enough improvements to end the speculation about his future position. Alfaro’s improvements were not limited to behind the plate, as his bat also took important steps forward in 2016. He is still too aggressive, and his plate discipline leads to a lot of strikeouts and few walks. He did improve his walk rate some as the season went on. He walked only twice in the first two months of the season (29 games), but then he walked 21 times in his remaining 76 games. He has quieted his swing and worked on driving the ball up the middle and to the opposite field. Despite playing in the Reading homerpalooza, his home run numbers remained uninflated. However, he hit home runs to all fields in 2016, including some majestic opposite field shots.

Jorge Alfaro Spray Chart – MLBFarm

Alfaro is a great athlete and an average runner. He will steal some bases, and his speed also puts some pressure on defenses that are used to slugs behind the plate. On defense, Alfaro has become a competent receiver. He can still struggle to block pitches, but he is not a liability. His arm strength is special, but his transfer can still be a bit slow, leaving him more plus than elite at controlling the running game. He is still aggressive behind the plate and will backpick runners off first. Alfaro still needs time, and it might be a few frustrating years in the majors before he really puts it all together. His complete package of skills could make him one of the best catchers in the game, but that is getting ahead of things for now.
2017 Outlook: With Andrew Knapp likely to get the major league backup job, Alfaro should be the everyday catcher in AAA. He might not see a call up until September, as the Phillies try to get his offense polished before they have to have him in the majors.
Previous Rank: 5
ETA: 2016

3. Mickey Moniak – OF (Profile)

DOB: May 13, 1998 (18)
H/W: 6’2” 185lbs
B/T: L/R
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round of the 2016 draft by the Phillies.
2016 Stats:

Team (LVL)GPAHRSBBB%K%AVGOBPSLG
GCL (Rk)461941105.7%18.0%.284.340.409

Role: First Division Regular
Risk: High – Moniak is still physically underdeveloped, and some worry that his frame won’t be able to take enough muscle to be an impact offensive player. While he is a very good hitter, his swing is not geared for power. His defense and speed should give him enough upside to be a very good major leaguer, even if he never grows into a star level talent.
Summary: A terrible 2015 Phillies season earned the Phillies the top pick in the draft, but by the time draft day came around, there was not a consensus #1 pick. In other words, there wasn’t a major league ready superstar waiting for the Phillies. The Phillies took this as an opportunity to snag the top player on their board and still have the bonus money to sign Kevin Gowdy and others later. Moniak had the best hit tool among high school hitters, with some scouts putting a future plus plus grade on it. Moniak is a smooth center fielder with an above average to plus arm and plus speed. Moniak’s only weakness is his power. Part of the problem is that Moniak is skinny, both in terms of muscle he still has to put on and lack of places to put the muscle. The other problem is his swing. The very parts of his swing that allow him to make plenty of contact also limit his power output. Moniak’s swing is geared towards line drive and all fields contact. He does not get a lot of loft to his swing, and he doesn’t drive the ball well. The Phillies think that Moniak can hit 20 home runs a year at his peak, but many find that optimistic. The argument for Moniak’s power development is that his feel for hitting is going to lead to quality contact. As he gets stronger, he may not hit bombs, but that quality contact will lead to a decent home run rate. Moniak has been knocked for not being a transcendent superstar, but his hit tool and defense give him a high floor, and they also clear a path to stardom.
2017 Outlook: The Phillies have already said that Moniak is going to Lakewood, and J.P. Crawford has proven that a polished high school hitter can reach Clearwater in their first full year. Regardless of where he ends his year, Moniak is going to need to fight off fatigue after a long season.


Previous Rank: N/A
ETA: 2020

4. Nick Williams – OF (Profile)

DOB: September 8, 1993 (23)
H/W: 6’3″ 195lbs
B/T: L/L
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft by the Rangers. Trade along with C Jorge Alfaro, RHP Jerad Eickhoff, RHP Jake Thompson, RHP Alec Asher, and LHP Matt Harrison to the Phillies for LHP Cole Hamels and LHP Jake Diekman on July 31, 2015.
2016 Stats:

Team (LVL)GPAHRSBBB%K%AVGOBPSLG
Lehigh Valley1255271363.6%25.8%.258.287.427

Role: First Division Regular
Risk: Medium – Williams’ approach holds him back, and he needs to walk more to have value. An improved approach should allow him to not only reach base more consistently, but also to better tap into his power. Williams won’t be a center fielder for the Phillies, but he should be very good fielder in a corner.
Summary: At the end of the day on August 1, Nick Williams was batting .286/.316/.468, with a 4.4% BB% and a 22.8% K%. From that day until the end of the season, he hit .161/.183/.286. He walked only once, and he struck out 42 times. It was an extreme outlier. Especially after Williams had only walked once in July, but also only struck out 17 times in 113 plate appearances. During his slump, the Phillies employed an outfield that included Odubel Herrera, Jimmy Paredes, Aaron Altherr, Peter Bourjos, Tyler Goeddel, Cody Asche, and Darin Ruf. The Phillies have indicated that much of Williams’ struggles came from him pressing to try and hit his way to Philly. This only exacerbated his already poor approach at the plate. His approach is the reason why Williams was still in AAA. Williams is an aggressive swinger, who will swing early in counts and expand the zone late in counts. Even when Williams is seeing the ball well and swinging at the right pitches, he rarely walks, because he has a good feel for making contact. Williams’ swing can get a bit long when he sells out for power, but he is normally short to the ball with strong, quick wrists that allow him to catch up to any pitch. Williams’ hands are especially strong inside, and he will pull them in on pitches in and drive the ball out of the park. Williams has at least plus raw power, but his swing is more geared for line drive contact, and he is at his best when lining the ball around the park. On the bases, Williams has plus speed, but he has yet to be a good base runner. In the outfield, Williams can play all three positions, though he is probably only fringe average in center field. He has the arm for right field, but his best fit is left field, where he should have plenty of defensive value. Williams is a high effort fielder and will lay out or run into walls for catches. His routes are not always the most crisp, but his speed and athleticism allow him to cover a lot of ground. Even though 2016 was a disappointment, Williams’ ceiling remains high. If he can use his raw tools to their peak, he could be a fringe all-star left fielder. If he can’t improve his approach, he might end up as a left handed Jeff Francoeur.
2017 Outlook: Williams will make a return to Lehigh Valley, where he will need to make improvements to his approach. If he can show growth, he will be in Philly by the middle of the season. If he is ready, Howie Kendrick shouldn’t be an obstacle.
Previous Rank: 2
ETA: 2017

5. Franklyn Kilome – RHP (Profile)

DOB: June 25, 1995 (21)
H/W: 6’6″ 175lbs
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent by the Phillies in January 2013.
2016 Stats:

Team (LVL)GGSW-LIPERAH/9HR/9BB%K%
Lakewood (A-)23235-8114.23.858.70.510.0%26.0%

Role: #2 Starter
Risk: High – Kilome has the high end fastball and curveball to be a dominant starter. His delivery can still get out of sync, and his changeup has not progressed to being a meaningful pitch.
Summary: While Sixto Sanchez has gotten a lot of the press among pitching prospects this year, Franklyn Kilome still has the upside to be an impact starter for the Phillies. Kilome started the year horrendously. He was unable to throw strikes, and his curveball was not a usable pitch. The Phillies shut him down for a start to retool his curveball and delivery. Kilome’s season took off as he was able to locate his curveball again.

Team (LVL)GSIPERAHR/9BB%K%
Full Season24122.13.600.49.9%26.5%
After Start Skip21112.22.560.39.0%28.4%
Last 10 Starts1055.11.940.26.1%34.1%

At his best, Kilome drives the ball downhill, using his height to get good plane on his pitches. His fastball sits 92-97, with heavy sink and some armside run. His best secondary pitch is a power curveball in the low 80s. By late 2016, he was able to bury the pitch in the dirt for swings and misses, while also being able to freeze batters for strikes looking. Kilome has struggled to find a consistent changeup, and his current version is a bit hard and lacks life. Because of his dominant fastball and curveball, Kilome does not need a standout changeup, just one that will keep hitters off balance. Outside of a curveball that he couldn’t throw for strikes, Kilome’s biggest problem has been keeping his delivery consistent and in sync. This is a common problem for large pitchers, and Kilome has made improvements over the year. However, when his delivery is off he is unusable as a pitcher, as his velocity will dip dramatically, and he will be unable to locate any pitches. If Kilome can keep his delivery together and find a usable changeup, he has the upside to be a high end starting pitcher. If his changeup never develops and his control stays just ok, he could move to the bullpen in a late inning role. Worst case, if his delivery goes to pieces he could find himself stuck in the minors trying to put it all back together.

2017 Outlook: Kilome will start in Clearwater alongside Dominguez and Tirado. The Phillies pitching depth means that Kilome won’t automatically get the bump to Reading without destroying the FSL first. If the Phillies force him to use his changeup, his results could suffer as he develops feel for the pitch.
Previous Rank: 7
ETA: 2019

Photo by Baseball Betsy

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman
Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.

10 comments

  1. Rico Brogna

    Matt –

    Just want to tell you how much I enjoy and appreciate your work covering the Phils’ prospects. Can’t wait to see this group improve this year. I really think Crawford/Williams will bounce back and be really determined to get to CBP. I’m encouraged by Alfaro’s change in approach after the first couple months – it really says something considering he had Cozens and Hoskins hitting behind him in Reading. I’m probably most intrigued by Moniak because of his skillset.

    Thank you for all that you do!

    • Bad News Boars

      Seconded. Thanks for all of this, Matt.

      • Eddie

        Third

        • MplsPhilsFan

          Fourth, thanks Matt

  2. Bruce

    Thanks for your analysis and putting the list together. I think Williams will be greatly improved with a new manager who is not as much of an asshole as Brundage- I imagine this will also help Crawford. I like Moniak but wish the Phils had taken the chance on Quantrill, despite the injury, as he looks likely to end up being the player that makes the most impact from 2016 draft.

  3. abc

    Thanks for doing this, Matt. I enjoy reading these so much.

  4. allentown1

    Great job again on this year’s evaluations. Your write-ups will be a much used resource for me throughout the up-coming season. The depth in the system is very encouraging. Going top 50 hasn’t often been that sound with the state of the Phillies farm, but this year it made for a very impressive exercise. Thanks for all the effort you put into this. Your prospect ranking has become my favorite, as I see it as the most accurate. Following the farm as closely as you do pays off in comparison to national evaluators who don’t track our guys as closely.

    Williams has been the biggest question mark for me among the top 5. I saw him in person at the start of the season and four times toward the end of season. It was like observing two totally different guys offensively. I hope winter fixed what ailed him. His defense didn’t falter during his offensive woes.

  5. Rei de Bastoni

    Fantastic job, Matt, always a pleasure to read your writeups and see your work.

    I really think many people are too high on Nick Williams, but I would love to be proven wrong.

    Alfaro’s improvement this past year was great, and it was good to see a bounceback for Kilome.

    And Crawford, with his defense and plate discipline, will immediately become my favorite player once he gets to the majors.

  6. Marc H

    This is excellent work that is both informative and insightful. My only concern is that we, as Phillies fans, have overestimated the depth and quality of the system. Of particular concern is that Keith Law dropped the Phillies 8 slots to 14 and has both the Braves and Mets ranked ahead of them within the Eastern Division. Am I putting too much emphasis on the opinion of one columnist?

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