2017 Top 50 Phillies Prospects: 36-40

Part of ranking players is knowing you are going to be wrong and potentially very wrong. I know someone in this group is going to make me look stupid. The problem with highly volatile young players is that it is really hard to protect physical growth and coaching from an outside point of view. What I do know is that it is almost certain that none of these players will rank in this range next year.

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

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36. Malquin Canelo – SS (Profile)

DOB: September 5, 1994 (22)
H/W: 5’10” 156lbs
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent by the Phillies in April 2012.
2016 Stats:

Team (LVL)GPAHRSBBB%K%AVGOBPSLG
Clearwater (A+)1244944136.1%19.2%.246.294.330

Role: Average Regular
Risk: High – Despite his poor season, Canelo’s underlying tools still give him the chance to be a glove first shortstop. His regression in 2016 made it a lot less likely he will hit enough to make it happen.
Summary: The 2015 season looked like it was going to be the start of a breakout for Malquin Canelo. Even his slow end to the season could be written off to a 20 year old facing hi-A pitching for the first time. However, Canelo’s 2016 season was a lot like the second half of his 2015 season, with a low walk rate, high strikeout rate, and low power production. Canelo’s reputation is as a wizard with his glove at shortstop, but the reports were less glowing this year. The pieces are all there for him to be a good major leaguer. He still has a plus arm along with good range and instincts at shortstop. He needs to be better at the mental side of defense and cut down on his mistakes. If he can reach his defensive ceiling, his offense does not need to be a carrying skill. That doesn’t mean he is devoid of offensive tools. Canelo has solid bat speed and strong wrists, and while he lacks the strength needed to translate that into big home run power, he still can hit high single digit home runs and plenty of doubles at his peak. Right now that peak is derailed by a poor approach at the plate and a still developing body. This past season was a setback for Malquin, but he will play all of 2017 at age 22, meaning he has plenty of time to improve.

2017 Outlook: Given his poor year in Clearwater the Phillies could give Canelo another year in the Florida State League to figure things out. There is a hole at shortstop in Reading, so maybe a strong camp could earn Canelo a trip north.
Previous Rank: 18
ETA: 2019

37. Cole Irvin – LHP (Profile)

DOB: January 31, 1994 (23)
H/W: 6’4” 180lbs
B/T: L/L
Acquired: Drafted in the 5th round of the 2016 draft by the Phillies ($800,000 bonus).
2016 Stats:

Team (LVL)GGSW-LIPERAH/9HR/9BB%K%
Williamsport1075-145.21.977.10.44.3%19.9%

Role: #4 Starter
Risk: High – Irvin experienced an increase in velocity at the end of the college season into pro ball, and he will need to keep that to be effective. Additionally, he had Tommy John surgery in 2014.
Summary: It was a bit of a disappointment when the Phillies took Irvin the fifth round. Most rankings had the pick as solid value, because Irvin looked like a fast moving #5 starter with a high 80s fastball. It was baffling then when the Phillies also paid him overslot as a redshirt junior. It turns out that Irvin was not a high 80s lefty. Instead, at his best in pro ball he sat 90-93 and reportedly touched 95 in a start. Irvin has always had feel for solid secondary pitches, and his command has already returned from Tommy John surgery. The combination of velocity and stuff is reminiscent of pre-injury Adam Morgan, and like Morgan at the time there is a slim chance he could be a mid rotation starter if he can make minor improvements and stay healthy. More likely Irvin is a fast moving #4 starter due to his polish, but his ceiling is limited by the lack of an elite offering. This comes with a lot of caveats as Irvin had Tommy John surgery in his past and the returned velocity is still recent and not consistent. A healthy year could see Irvin follow the path of a Thomas Eshelman and blow through Clearwater before having to deal with the challenges in Reading.

2017 Outlook: Given his age and feel for pitching, as well as his successful debut, Irvin almost certainly starts in Clearwater. He has a profile that should dominate inexperienced hitters and he could move to AA fairly quickly.
Previous Rank: N/A
ETA: 2019

38. Francisco Morales – RHP (Profile)

DOB: October 22, 1999 (17)
H/W: 6’5” 200lbs
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent by the Phillies in July 2016.
2016 Stats: Did Not Play
Role: Mid Rotation Starter/High Leverage Reliever
Risk: Extreme – The only professional pitches thrown by Morales have been in instructional or informal leagues. His youth and projection give him plenty of upside, but also plenty of places to stumble along the way.
Summary: The number of Cuban players in the July 2 market obscured Morales, who was widely rated the top July 2 eligible pitcher in this year’s class. The first thing that is noticeable about Morales is his size. At 6’5” he has a highly projectable frame. Pre-signing reports had Morales 90-94 touching 96, and he was 92-94 in Fall Instructs, so while there is growth for more velocity, he has plenty to work with now. Much like Franklyn Kilome, Morales is at his best when he is driving down with his size. But also like Kilome, he struggles to keep his mechanics in sync. This spring evaluators were noting that Morales was showing an improved slider, and it looks like it might be a plus pitch for him down the road. Morales has flashed feel for a changeup, but the pitch is still in its early development. It is easy to look at Morales and see another breakout Latin arm, but pitching is a fickle thing, and it may be a few years before we can make judgements about Morales’ potential or how likely he is to reach it. For now he is a project, but one of the type that the Phillies have had success with in the past.

2017 Outlook: The Phillies have not signed a top July 2 pitcher in a while, so there is not a lot of precedence to work on. Morales was stateside for Fall Instructs, so the best bet for 2017 is that he pitches for the GCL Phillies on a managed workload.
Previous Rank: N/A
ETA: 2022

39. Jonathan Guzman – SS (Profile)

DOB: August 17, 1999 (17)
H/W: 6’0” 156lbs
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent by the Phillies in August 2015.
2016 Stats: 

Team (LVL)GPAHRSBBB%K%AVGOBPSLG
DSL (Rk)642770137.6%9.0%.300.370.346

Role: Above Average Regular
Risk: Extreme – Guzman is still physically underdeveloped and has yet to play stateside. He could end up being very good in the future, but that future feels like a eon away.
Summary: There are few types of players harder to judge for a public facing analyst than Latin American players coming off good years in the Dominican Summer League. Guzman wasn’t a completely unknown player heading into the season as he had made some noise last winter at the Phillies Dominican complex, but he was well outside of prospect conversations. Guzman was one of the younger players in the Phillies’ 2015-2016 signing class and played most of the season at age 16. Despite his age, Guzman was one of the Phillies best hitters in the complex league this year. He walked a good clip while keeping his strikeouts down. He has the chance to be the most elusive of players — a shortstop that can hit and field. However, he is still ages away from that ceiling. His swing is noisy, but it works for him. The biggest detraction from Guzman is his size, as he is still very skinny. While there is room for him to fill out, it is going to take some time. It is really easy to dream on Guzman, because he is so young and he already has skills in the right places. It just might take a little bit, or we could look back in a year and wonder how we missed the breakout.

2017 Outlook: After his year in the DSL it would be tough to send Guzman back, which he should be competing for GCL at bats with Brayan Gonzalez, Nicolas Torres, and any of the other young latin middle infielders the Phillies bring stateside.
Previous Rank: UR
ETA: 2022

40. Brayan Gonzalez – SS (Profile)

DOB: January 14, 2000 (17)
H/W: 5’10” 165lbs
B/T: S/R
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent by the Phillies in July 2016.
2016 Stats: Did Not Play
Role: Above Average Regular
Risk: Extreme – Gonzalez won’t turn 17 until after this list is published. While he might have been one of the most advanced 16 year olds on the July 2 market, there are a lot of stumbles and pitfalls between being a big money latin signing and a major league contributor.
Summary: The word that seems to come up repeatedly with Gonzalez is polished. Baseball America’s writeup before July 2 quoted a scout who thought he might have the best feel for the game of any player available. This feel for the game offsets a skill set light on impact. Gonzalez has the feel to play shortstop, but with an above average arm and a frame that may slow, some evaluators at the time he signed thought he might need to move to second base in the future. Gonzalez is a switch hitter, with a more advanced right handed swing than his left. He makes good contact, but is unlikely to have meaningful home run power. While he lacks the fast twitch athleticism of Gamboa, Gonzalez has a good chance to actualize his skills. With his advanced feel for the game, Gonzalez will almost certainly be the opening day shortstop for the Phillies GCL team and has a chance to move along the pace of a Carlos Tocci.

2017 Outlook: The Phillies history with high money Latin American signings indicates that the Phillies will bring Gonzalez stateside to play in the GCL. Given all the other shortstops the Phillies signed, plus Jonathan Guzman, Gonzalez could end up playing some second base to get regular at bats.
Previous Rank: N/A
ETA: 2022

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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.

3 comments

  1. Eddie

    “…a chance to move along the pace of a Carlos Tocci.”

    Wha??? ISTM Tocci would be the last person I’d think of as “polished player who could move fast.”

    • Matt Winkelman

      Carlos Tocci played in the GCL at age 16 and played a full year in Lakewood at age 17. Tocci is polished, he just lacks physical strength.

      • Eddie

        That makes sense. Thanks.