What makes the Phillies depth so amazing is that the future major leaguers in the organization go deep into this list. This group of 5 includes a current major leaguer, 3 projectable short season prospects, and a breakout prospect who reached AA this year. None of them are superstars (at least not yet), but if the Phillies can potentially get major league contributions from 50 players in their org they are in a good place.
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41. Joely Rodriguez – LHP (Profile)
DOB: November 14, 1991 (25)
H/W: 6’1″ 175lbs
Acquired: Signed as a International Free Agent by the Pirates in March 2009. Traded to the Phillies for Antonio Bastardo on December 10, 2014.
|Lehigh Valley (AAA)||13||0||0-0||19.1||2.79||7.4||0.0||7.8%||23.4%|
Role: Middle Reliever
Risk: Low – Rodriguez performed well in the majors in his brief appearance and is ready to continue that role in 2017.
Summary: Rodriguez was the lowest profile of the Phillies offseason trade acquisitions after the 2014 season when he came back from the Pirates for Antonio Bastardo. The thought was that with a low 90s fastball and 2 potential average secondary pitches Rodriguez might be a back end starter with a fallback as a decent reliever. Then he had a disastrous season where his fastball velocity declined, and he walked everyone while striking out no one. That earned him an outright off of the Phillies roster and no invite to spring training. It looked like 2016 was shaping up to be the end of Joely’s time in the Phillies organization as he moved fulltime to the bullpen and walked 9 against 6 strikeouts in his first 10.2 innings, earning him a demotion to Clearwater. In Clearwater the Phillies fixed up his delivery, and his season took off. He posted a 2.05 ERA with 14 walks to 63 strikeouts over 66 innings between hi-A, AA, and AAA. The effort earned him a return to the 40 man roster and 12 September appearances for the Phillies. It wasn’t just the control that improved for Rodriguez — in the majors his fastball sat 94-96, touching as high as 98. He matched his fastball with an average slider that is more of a chase pitch with long looping movement. Rodriguez was very good against lefties in the minors, due to his velocity and low arm slot, but has also shown that he can be effective against righties by working them in. Rodriguez’s lack of a strong, bat missing secondary pitch likely keeps him from high leverage innings. However, Rodriguez has been able to offset his lack of strikeouts by posting high ground ball rates wherever he has gone, which should help him to be an effective reliever for the Phillies going forward.
2017 Outlook: Rodriguez is the only left handed reliever on the Phillies 40 man roster and should have the inside path to a spot in the Phillies bullpen.
Previous Rank: UR
42. Tyler Viza – RHP (Profile)
DOB: October 21, 1994 (22)
H/W: 6’3″ 180lbs
Acquired: Drafted in 32nd round of the 2013 draft by the Phillies
Role: Back end starter
Risk: Medium – Viza showed the foundation needed to be a major league pitcher in his time in AA. He still needs to improve his secondary pitches, but he is now on the edge of the majors.
Summary: A few years ago Viza would be much higher on this list, and he would be praised as a breakout prospect in the Phillies system. After two years of struggle in Lakewood, Viza had a dominant first half in Clearwater, and he earned a midseason promotion to Reading. Additionally, this season saw Viza’s velocity increase to 90-93, touching 94. His slider and changeup show average potential, with his slider showing more current utility. Viza lacks a knockout pitch, which caused his strikeouts to plummet and increased contact against him. Viza is still young and will pitch all of 2017 at age 22, and he still has room in his frame to add velocity. Without his stuff taking a big leap forward, Viza profiles as a back end starter with 3 average pitches and solid control. He will get another chance at Reading in 2017, and he will have time to develop, thank to the Phillies’ plethora of high minors starting pitchers.
2017 Outlook: Viza struggled in Reading in 2017 and will get another chance to start there, alongside his 2015 Clearwater rotation mates.
Previous Rank: UR
43. Kyle Young – LHP (Profile)
DOB: December 12, 1997 (19)
H/W: 6’10” 220lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 22nd round of the 2016 draft by the Phillies
Role: Mid Rotation Starter
Risk: Extreme – Narrowing down Young’s role is nearly impossible, because his body today is very different from what it could be in the future.
Summary: There is no way to look at Kyle Young and not think about the word “projection”. Young is 6’10” and very skinny, but with room to add muscle. He is also fairly raw, and coming out of New York high school means he doesn’t have many innings under his belt. Young isn’t all just future dreams; his fastball sits in the high 80s and touches 90. His slider flashes good potential, and he already shows feel for a changeup. The most impressive part of Young’s pro debut is that he only walked 2 batters over 29 regular season innings. Tall pitchers tend to have control problems, and while 9 GCL games doesn’t solve his control going forward, it is a good start. The Phillies believe that Young’s fastball will eventually sit in the mid to high 90s and think he could be a high level starter down the road. It is going to take time for Young to reach his ceiling. He almost certainly will start the 2017 season in Extended Spring Training, before either repeating the GCL or going to Williamsport.
2017 Outlook: Young is a long term project who needs time to grow into his frame and improve his secondary pitches. This means that Young will start in Extended Spring Training with an assignment to GCL or Williamsport depending on how he performs there.
Previous Rank: N/A
44. Mauricio Llovera – RHP (Profile)
DOB: April 17, 1996 (20)
H/W: 5’11” 200lbs
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent by the Phillies in February 2015.
Role: #4 Starter/Late Inning Reliever
Risk: Extreme – Llovera has a limited track record of success, and as a short right handed pitcher there will always be questions about his ability to stay in the rotation. He also has the usual risks associated with a complex level pitcher.
Summary: The Phillies have been turning low money Latin American pitchers into interesting prospects at a high rate, and the GCL Phillies had one of the best in Sixto Sanchez. Llovera is of the same group but of a slightly different profile. Llovera signed a bit late at age 18, after showing the Phillies good arm strength in a workout. After a year in the VSL, Llovera blossomed in the GCL with a sub 2 ERA and strong strikeout rate. He still has the arm strength — with his fastball sitting towards the top of 92-95, touching up to 97. He has two developing secondary pitches, and he can throw all three pitches for strikes. Llovera is on the short side, and his delivery has some effort, so he is going to get the reliever label. However, Llovera is built solidly and holds his velocity throughout starts. He has mid rotation upside as a starter, and he could be a late inning reliever if the bullpen is his ultimate destination.
2017 Outlook: In previous years Llovera might be assured a spot in the Lakewood rotation, but given the Phillies pitching depth he is more likely to start in Extended Spring Training before joining Williamsport.
Previous Rank: UR
45. Juan Luis – OF (Profile)
DOB: March 23, 1996 (21)
H/W: 6’4” 175lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent
Role: Average Regular
Risk: Extreme – Despite plus tools, Luis has yet to put together a positive statistical season. He has not yet made his pro-ball debut, and it already looks like he may be getting pushed out of center field.
Summary: Luis came onto the scene in 2015 as a late signee out of the Dominican Republic. His combination of athleticism and projectability had many excited about his sophomore performance. Unfortunately, the sequel repeated plot lines with less success. Luis is still physically tantalizing with a projectable frame, good bat speed, plus plus speed, and a strong arm. He didn’t fill out much last offseason and is still extremely skinny. At the plate his swing can be long, and he can be caught out in front of breaking balls. His approach regressed, and his walk rate fell as he was too aggressive. When Luis was locked in, he made surprisingly hard contact for his size (he is capable of giant home runs). Luis can play all three outfield spots but has been pushed out of center when superior fielders play. Luis will be 21 on opening day, which probably earns him a trip to a crowded Lakewood outfield. While his tools and upside make him intriguing, the Phillies’ organizational outfield depth means that Luis will have to perform or he will wash out of the organization.
2017 Outlook: Given his age, Luis likely gets pushed to Lakewood, despite his poor numbers in Williamsport. He will have to compete with Josh Stephen, Jesus Alastre, David Martinelli, and other for at bats.
Previous Rank: 28
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