The key to a healthy farm system is adding talent through every method possible. These 5 are not that example. These are 5 players that point to the value of patience. All were signed between July 2 and December 31 of 2011 out of Latin America. The Phillies signed 4 of them and traded for another. Three of them are on the 4 man roster, and none are likely to impact the majors in 2017. What it does point to is that decisions made today may not affect tomorrow, but in 5 years you may be wishing you made the right decision today.
Videos by Jim Peyton, Mitch Rupert, and Baseball Betsy
Ricardo Pinto – RHP (Profile)
DOB: January 20, 1994 (23)
H/W: 6’0” 165lbs
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent by the Phillies in December 2011.
Role: #3/#4 Starter or 7th/8th inning reliever
Risk: Medium – Pinto has two plus pitches between his fastball and changeup. They were not good enough on their own to have success in AA as a starter, and he will need to improve his breaking ball to stay in the rotation.
Summary: Ricardo Pinto got his first crack at AA in 2016, and it didn’t go perfectly. Pinto was coming off a year where he was statistically the top pitcher in the Phillies system. Nothing changed for Pinto in 2016, which is part of the problem. Pinto still tops out at 96 with his fastball and shows a plus changeup. He throws both pitches for strikes, and while he can struggle with command, he is always around the strike zone. But much like in past years, Pinto has struggled to find a consistent bat missing pitch. This has left him homer prone and struggling to miss bats. Despite his lack of size, Pinto once again proved that he can handle a large starting workload. Given his lack of breaking ball, Pinto may be the first of the upper minors starters to work in a relief role. As a reliever, his fastball-changeup combination could make him a solid high leverage option, especially if he sees a velocity gain in short bursts. At the same time, Pinto remains an intriguing starting option, because he has potentially two plus pitches and above average control. The addition of a useable breaking ball and some command growth could make him look more like a mid rotation starter. The 2017 season will be Pinto’s first on the 40 man roster, and at only 23 years old, he has time to continue to grow as a pitcher.
2017 Outlook: The Lehigh Valley rotation is full, and Pinto struggled in AA, meaning he likely will rejoin the Reading rotation to start 2017. If he struggles more in the rotation, the Phillies could move him to the bullpen.
Previous Rank: 12
22. Elniery Garcia – LHP (Profile)
DOB: December 24, 1994 (22)
H/W: 6’0’ 155lbs
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent by the Phillies in December 2011.
Role: #4 Starter
Risk: Medium – Garcia has the pitch mix and control to stick as a starting pitcher. Unless he can hold the velocity he flashed late in the season, his ceiling is limited.
Summary: This is Garcia’s third time in the top 30 after breaking onto the scene in 2014 with a 2.08 ERA in the GCL. Garcia had a solid 2015 in Lakewood, but a K/9 of 4.95 and static growth saw him fall a bit down the rankings, while other Latin American arms took a step forward. This year Garcia finally made the same large improvements. He started missing more bats, thanks to sharper offspeed and a fastball that started to creep up from 88-91 to more 90-93. Some accounts out of Florida indicated he was touching 94-95 in starts late in the season (it was also indicated that he hit 97 in his AA playoff start). Garcia has good command of his fastball and has some movement in his lower velocity range. Garcia pairs his fastball with a solid curveball that he can command, but it can become a bit of a loopy rainbow at times. He is able to throw his curveball for strikes as well as expand the strike zone for swings and misses. His changeup is still a work in progress that has the foundation to be average, but he leans on his curveball more. Garcia also began adding a slider this year and is working on making it a usable pitch this offseason. While it was a step forward for Garcia in 2016, he still lacks the impact pitches to be more than a back end starter. His success in 2016 means he looks more like a #4 starter than the #5 he looked like coming into the year. If he can command 4 pitches and hold his velocity gains, he should be ready to make that kind of impact in the major leagues by 2018.
2017 Outlook: After coming up for a start for Reading in the playoffs, Garcia should be a fixture in the AA rotation for the 2017 season. He just turned 22, so a full year in Reading might be a good thing for his development. Despite Garcia already being on the 40 man roster, the Phillies have no need to rush him, given their other high minors pitching depth.
Previous Rank: 30
23. Alberto Tirado – RHP (Profile)
DOB: December 10, 1994 (22)
H/W: 6’0” 180lbs
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent by the Blue Jays in July 2011. Traded to the Phillies along with Jimmy Cordero for Ben Revere on July 31, 2015.
Role: Late Inning Reliever
Risk: High – Alberto Tirado showed enough control in the second half of 2016 to be a competent reliever, but he has a history of losing the ability to throw strikes. Tirado still walks too many batters to be a starter, and his changeup is still non existent.
Summary: Alberto Tirado entered the 2016 season at a bit of a crossroads. After performing decently in relief for the Blue Jays in hi-A, Tirado put up a 0.56 ERA for Clearwater while walking over a batter per inning. The Phillies had the choice to continue to try and fasttrack Tirado as a relief pitcher or try and reset and give him a shot in the rotation. The Phillies kept Tirado in the bullpen, but this time at a level lower in Lakewood. Over 8 games (7.1 innings), he gave up 7 earned runs while walking 9 and striking out 11. The Phillies demoted him to the complex in Florida, where he would emerge to pitch two disastrous games in relief for Clearwater, before disappearing again until being assigned to Lakewood’s roster in late June. After making one poor appearance in the Lakewood bullpen, Tirado was moved to the rotation. From that June 29 start until the end of the season, he made 11 starts, pitched 53.1 innings with a 2.19 ERA, walked 25, and struck out 83. He was even better to close out the regular season, walking only 7 in 22 innings with 39 strikeouts (and a 0.82 ERA). In many ways, Tirado is the same pitcher he always has been. His fastball is still explosive, and he can hold it at 94-98 touching 100 for 5 to 6 innings (he has not pitched deeper than that in a game). His slider is a future plus pitch with two plane movement that misses bats. His changeup is almost non-existent, and he was entirely fastball-slider as a starting pitcher. Tirado’s control took a large step forward, as he was able to get his pitches in the strike zone, even if they were not always in the correct spot. Despite his success as a starter, Tirado still, probably ends up in the bullpen. His lack of a usable changeup and faltering fastball command are detriments to turning over higher level lineups. The Phillies are likely going to keep Tirado in the rotation for now, because the extra innings give him more opportunities to work through his issues, and there is a miniscule chance he will figure out enough to be an impact starting pitcher.
2017 Outlook: Tirado still has three option years left, so the Phillies don’t need to fast track him yet. Given that he has had success in the rotation, he should stay as a starter. He will return to the Florida State League for the third straight year.
Previous Rank: 26
24. Seranthony Dominguez – RHP (Profile)
DOB: November 25, 1994 (22)
H/W: 6’1” 185lbs
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent by the Phillies in November 2011.
Role: #3 Starter
Risk: High – Dominguez has the three pitch mix and fastball control to stay in the rotation. However, Dominguez has yet to pitch a full season workload, and his secondary pitches are more ideas than finished products.
Summary: Dominguez’s name first came up in 2015, when he was up to 96 in Extended Spring Training. He made only 2 appearances in the GCL before going down with an injury. The Phillies held Dominguez back in Extended Spring Training again in 2016. In the beginning of the season, the reports on Dominguez were exciting, with him showing the same explosive fastball at 92-96, a potential plus curveball, and feel for an above average changeup. The Phillies sent him north with Williamsport, but after 3 starts, he was bumped up to Lakewood to close out the season. After a rough first start (5 ER in 1.2 IP), Dominguez put up a 1.54 ERA over his next 9 starts. Dominguez is still raw as a pitcher, and much of his dominance comes from his fastball. his offspeed pitches are still more of backseat offerings, despite their potential. Seranthony will also need to transition from fastball control to fastball command, as he still misses his spots in the strike zone. At the high end, Dominguez looks like a mid rotation starter with 3 plus pitches, but his flaws and his height will get him a lot of reliever comps as he continues to progress through the system.
2017 Outlook: Despite having less than 50 innings in Lakewood, Dominguez looks to be up to the challenge of Clearwater. A full healthy season could vault Dominguez into the upper echelon of Phillies pitching prospects.
Previous Rank: UR
25. Carlos Tocci – OF (Profile)
DOB: August 23, 1995 (21)
H/W: 6’2” 160lbs
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent by the Phillies in August 2011.
Role: Average Regular
Risk: Medium – In 6 seasons of professional baseball, Tocci has yet to add the muscle needed for a major league future. However, Tocci has started to put together a long track record of making contact and playing defense at a high level.
Summary: Carlos Tocci has appeared on Phillies top prospect lists since he signed, and each year his report is like a game of spot the differences. The 2017 season will be Tocci’s age 21 season, and while he has gotten noticeably stronger since signing, it has been only to the point where he can line singles with relative frequency. Tocci has an advanced feel for contact, but his walk numbers are limited by his power, because pitchers aren’t afraid to throw him strikes. Tocci is no longer a plus plus runner, but he should be able to steal more bases than he does. In the field, Tocci is a plus defender, with great route running and a plus arm that is a weapon in center. There may be a world where Tocci gains enough strength in his early 20s to hit 8-10 home runs a year and can be a solid regular based on his bat and defense. However, Tocci could stay skinny and see himself become an up and down outfielder, with defensive value in all 3 outfield spots, but not enough bat to justify a consistent roster spot.
2017 Outlook: After hitting well in Clearwater and taking home rookie of the year honors in winter ball, Tocci will finally reach the upper minors in 2017. He should be the everyday center fielder, and while the park shouldn’t turn him into Darin Ruf, it will be important for him to hit for some power. He is a minor league free agent after the season, so the 2017 season represents an important moment in his Phillies tenure.
Previous Rank: 11
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