The top of the Phillies system has some real impact, but what makes it special for me is the group spanning 8 to 15. The whole group is interchangeable, and while I went with 3 younger upside players in the 8-10 spot, I see them as equal in value to me to the 5 players here. All 5 of these prospects will begin the year in AA or AAA, and they all could reach the majors this year. They all have a pathway to being impact players, but more likely their ceiling is a bit lower. That is fine, because all 5 are on pace to be regulars for the Phillies and possibly solid pieces on their next great team.
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11. Scott Kingery – 2B (Profile)
DOB: April 29, 1994 (22)
H/W: 5’10” 180lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft by the Phillies.
Role: Above Average Regular
Risk: Medium – Kingery struggled in AA, as his approach fell apart. Kingery does have a good feel for hitting and plays great defense, which should carry him while he gets his approach back in order.
Summary: The Phillies started off their 2015 draft with two hit first prospects with limited power. In Kingery, the Phillies got a player that seems to fit the classic idea of a second baseman. A former center fielder, Kingery has turned himself into a pretty good defensive second baseman. His speed gives him good range, and he has a solid arm. Kingery has a simple swing and feel for contact. At his best, Kingery is capable of spraying the ball to all fields. Kingery is not a big guy, and it manifests in poor power. He will pepper the lines and gaps with doubles, and he doesn’t get many out of the park. His peak is probably closer to 5-8 home runs a year. In Clearwater, Kingery was able to control the strike zone, walking at a high rate with a low strikeout rate. However, he was more prone to hacking away in AA, and he saw a strikeout rate spike in both Reading and Arizona Fall League. Kingery’s best tool is his speed, and he is a plus plus runner. He is able to use his speed to get infield hits and stretch singles into doubles. On the bases, he is a good base stealer and should threaten to steal 30+ bases a year if he can get on base enough. A big concern for Kingery is that he is not a large player, and he wore down at the end of the last two seasons. He is still only 22, and 2016 was his first full season, so this may only be a temporary problem, but it is one worth monitoring. Kingery’s ceiling is limited by his lack of power, but if he can get his contact back on track, his speed and defense should make him a good regular for a competitive team.
2017 Outlook: The Phillies like Kingery, and the buzz around him seems to be that they see him as their second baseman of the future. He struggled enough in Reading that he will likely repeat the level. If he hits there, the organization is likely to clear the barriers impeding him.
Previous Rank: 15
12. Rhys Hoskins – 1B (Profile)
DOB: March 17, 1993 (24)
H/W: 6’4” 225lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 5th round of the 2014 draft by the Phillies.
Role: Above Average Regular
Risk: Medium – Hoskins is not as physically gifted as Dylan Cozens, and his power is not as good as he showed in Reading. He does have a good approach, which helps cover up some of his flaws. The offensive bar for first basemen is hig,h so Hoskins has little margin for error.
Summary: It seems obvious to say that first base prospects have to really hit. With the dearth of left handed pitchers in the major leagues, there is even more pressure on right handed first basemen to mash at a high level. That is all Rhys Hoskins has done for the last two years, topping it off with what might have been the best hitting season in the minor leagues. Now some of that is the ballpark, and 38 home runs is certainly a bit beyond what Hoskins raw power indicates his skill set is. However, it wasn’t just the power output that made Hoskin’s season special, his plate discipline went to a new level to close out the season.
Hoskins has a simple swing and solid enough bat speed that he can use his improved control of the strike zone to maximize what tools he has. He is still susceptible to offspeed pitches and has some amount of platoon split, though not to the extent of his teammate Dylan Cozens. If he can manage those weaknesses, his hit tool could get to above average. That should allow him to tap into his plus raw power to have a home run peak that is probably closer to 30 a year instead of 40. That does impact Hoskins’ ceiling some, but he has enough talent to be an above average first baseman. The problem is that Hoskins will need to replicate his success against major league stuff, and some evaluators think his susceptibility to offspeed pitches will severely diminish his upside, possibly to the point of him not having a major league impact. What we do know is that Hoskins has passed all of the tests put in front of him so far.
2017 Outlook: In order to earn a spot on the Phillies, Hoskins has to do two things. The first is to prove he can handle upper level breaking balls. The second is to prove he is a better option at first base than Tommy Joseph. The ideal place to do the first is Lehigh Valley, and it may give him the opportunity to do the second.
Previous Rank: 20
13. Dylan Cozens – OF (Profile)
DOB: May 31, 1994 (22)
H/W: 6’6” 235lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft by the Phillies.
Role: Above Average Regular
Risk: Medium – Cozens has a decent size list of holes in his game, highlighted by problems against left handed pitchers and offspeed pitches. However, he has the raw power and platoon advantage to offset his value lost.
Summary: On the surface, Dylan Cozens is a player of extremes. He is a gigantic human, with a long, powerful swing capable of majestic home runs, but he is also capable of prodigious strikeout rates. In reality the range of outcomes is a broader than success and failure. Cozens moves well for a man of his size, and for now he can stick in right field, where his arm is strong. The odds say that Cozens will slow as he ages, and he his likely to be a defensive liability down the line. Cozens’ athleticism also manifests on the bases, where he puts his average speed to near perfect use with his timing and instincts. He likely won’t steal 20 bases a season in the majors, but he might be able to steal 10-15 with a good success rate in his youth. The real crux of Dylan Cozens’ future is his abilities at the plate. It all starts with his raw power, which is top of the scale, whether you want to put a 70 or 80 on it. Cozens has all fields power, capable of pulling to right field as well as flicking balls to center and left when he gets his arms extended, much like vintage Ryan Howard. The real question is, how much is Cozens going to get to that power. His swing is long, due to his length and fairly average bat speed. He has become less stiff over the years, but he still doesn’t have great ability to adjust to pitches mid-swing. This leaves Cozens susceptible to offspeed away, especially from lefties, and to hard pitches inside. Cozens’ swing also causes almost all of hits on the ground to be to the pull side, and he will be heavily shifted, which will cut down on his hits. Cozens struggles with recognizing offspeed pitches and can get aggressive and expand the strike zone, but generally will work counts. The common comp for Cozens is Adam Dunn, which would still require a large improvement in his approach, but if he can be a better defensive Adam Dunn in a less offensive era, he is going to make some All-Star teams. Cozens is probably never going to hit lefties at a high rate, but if he can be just bad against them, his offense against righties should carry him. More likely, he ends up on the strong side of a platoon, which if done correctly can carry value equal to an average regular. The risk with Cozens is that high level pitchers from both sides are able to exploit his weaknesses, and he just never learns to lay off of offspeed pitches. If he fails to address his shortcomings, he is going to be an amazing AAA player or superstar abroad.
2017 Outlook: Cozens still needs more work against lefties and offspeed pitches. Lehigh Valley should provide him with plenty of opportunities to make improvements. Given the Phillies outfield weaknesses, a hot start could earn Cozens a chance at MLB at bats in the second half.
Previous Rank: 31
14. Nick Pivetta – RHP (Profile)
DOB: February 14, 1993 (24)
H/W: 6’5” 220lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 draft by the Nationals. Traded to the Phillies for Jonathan Papelbon on July 28, 2015.
|Lehigh Valley (AAA)||5||5||1-2||24.2||2.55||7.3||0.7||9.9%||26.7%|
Role: #3/#4 Starter, High Leverage Reliever
Risk: Medium – Pivetta has made large strides with his fastball command in the past year. He still needs more changeup growth to remain a starter, but his fastball and curveball give him a fallback as an impactful reliever.
Summary: Nick Pivetta was a bit of a lost man last year, with the prospect bounty from the Hamels trade and the hard throwing excitement of Tirado and Cordero. It didn’t help that he was terrible in AA and then missed the playoffs and AFL with an injury. Pivetta had a bounce back year in 2016, eventually reaching AAA to help fortify the IronPigs playoff rotation. The big step forward for Pivetta was his fastball command. His fastball is his best pitch, and it is a heavy pitch that sits 90-97, with much of his season sitting in the top of the range. Pivetta has an above average to plus power curveball that is his primary offspeed pitch. Pivetta also has a slider and changeup, but neither have developed into meaningful options. Pivetta’s fastball-curveball combination makes him look like a reliever at first glance. However, Pivetta has the frame to hold up for a full season workload, and he holds his stuff deep enough into starts. Given his fastball and curveball, Pivetta needs to get his changeup to only fringe average to keep hitters off balance enough to profile as a starter. Pivetta’s profile reminds me of Jerad Eickhoff, but Eickhoff has turned his curveball into an all purpose weapon, a step Pivetta has yet to take. The Phillies are likely to at least give Pivetta more time in the rotation, but team needs may force him into a relief role.
2017 Outlook: Pivetta made only a handful of starts in AAA last year. With Eflin, Thompson, and Lively in front of him, Pivetta has time to develop as a starting pitcher in AAA. He could see major league time late in the year if the Phillies need extra arms in September.
Previous Rank: 14
15. Andrew Knapp – C (Profile)
DOB: November 9, 1991 (25)
H/W: 6’1” 195lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft by the Phillies.
|Lehigh Valley (AAA)||107||443||8||2||8.4%||24.2%||.266||.330||.390|
Role: Average Regular
Risk: Medium – Knapp does not have a carrying tool, but as a catcher he just needs to be average at a few things to be an average regular.
Summary: Everyone knew that Knapp’s Reading breakout was not going to be sustainable, so his step back in numbers was not surprising. At the plate, Knapp has a solid swing from both sides of the plate and was virtually equal vs RHPs and LHPs. Knapp has more doubles than home run power, with a peak closer to 10-12 than his 8 in 2016. Given that his success with the bat will be his path to playing time, Knapp needs to cut down on his strikeout rate. Behind the plate, Knapp has made improvements but is still a below average defender who is not a smooth receiver (though BP’s framing numbers liked him). His arm is average, and opposing runners will be able to run on him. Knapp can play first base, but it is more a skill that gives him flexibility than a fall back. If he can be fringe average defensively and near average offensively, he can be an everyday catcher, if not he has a future as an offensively oriented backup. The Phillies feel comfortable handing that job to him this year, and it should be a good way to ease him into the majors.
2017 Outlook: Knapp seems to have the inside path to the backup catcher job in the majors. Knapp should be able to get a good amount of at bats and could slowly take over the full time role if Rupp continues his second half struggles.
Previous Rank: 9
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