There are many flaws with ranking prospects. One of the biggest is where to end your list, and in the end we gravitate to nice round numbers because they are more aesthetically pleasing. This leaves us with an abrupt end to the creation of the list and an abrupt beginning to the journey. These lucky 5 that were the tiniest margins better than their peers include two 2016 draftees, two relievers, two outfielders, and an older starting pitcher coming off a statistical breakout.
Videos by Jim Peyton and Baseball Betsy
46. Josh Stephen – OF (Profile)
DOB: September 22, 1997 (19)
H/W: 6’0” 185lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 11th Round of the 2016 draft by the Phillies
Role: Average Regular
Risk: Extreme – Stephen has an advanced hit tool, but a potential move to left field adds risk to his profile because he will also need to show power and on base skills.
Summary: When the Phillies took Mickey Moniak #1 in the draft they saved enough to take a falling high school talent. The Phillies made their last big splash in the 11th round when they took Stephen, a top 5 round talent who had fallen due to a college commitment. Stephen’s hit tool is widely praised, and many think that it will end up plus despite the swing and miss he showed in pro ball. The problem is almost no one expects him to stick in center field and his lack of arm strength forces him to left field. Stephen is an average runner who doesn’t profile as a threat on the bases. The big problem is that Stephen’s swing is not geared for power, and he will need to hit at a high rate to offset the lack of impact elsewhere. His ceiling is everyday left fielder, but more likely his lack of impact makes him a bench outfielder.
2017 Outlook: Stephen is advanced enough he should be able to handle an assignment to Lakewood to open the season, but the Phillies outfield depth could force him to start in Extended Spring Training and Williamsport instead.
Previous Rank: N/A
47. Jiandido Tromp – OF (Profile)
DOB: September 27, 1993 (23)
H/W: 5’11” 175lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent by the Phillies in August 2011
Role: Second Division Regular
Risk: High – Despite finally breaking away from Lakewood and having a breakout year, Tromp has a long track record of struggle, and with a move away from center field he has to hit his offensive ceiling to be a contributor.
Summary: Six different Phillies minor leaguers hit 20 or more home runs this year. Two were Darin Ruf and Jake Fox, and three are higher on this list. Jiandido Tromp was the sixth player on that list, as he hit 20 home runs while finally breaking away from Lakewood. Tromp has always had power, but the various holes in his game have limited the output in games, outside of a record setting year in 2014. At the plate Tromp’s swing is a bit stiff, but he has quieted it from his earlier days, leaving a short and powerful path to the ball. This year he cut down on his strikeouts, making an even larger improvement after his midseason promotion to Clearwater. The only problem is that his aggressiveness caused his walk rate to drop after the promotion. Tromp has above average speed, but has not translated that into good stolen base success. In the field Tromp continues to move down the defensive spectrum and now looks to be a left fielder long term. This puts a lot of pressure on his hitting, and while he showed some upside this year, he has a long track record of mixed performance. Tromp will likely start in Clearwater for his age 23 season, and he is a minor league free agent after the season, so he may be auditioning for 30 teams given the Phillies’ crowded group of outfield prospects.
2017 Outlook: Tromp wasn’t terrible in Clearwater, but his decreased walk rate and low BABIP probably mean that he starts as the Threshers everyday left fielder.
Previous Rank: UR
48. Jose Taveras – RHP (Profile)
DOB: November 6, 1993 (23)
H/W: 6’4” 210lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent by the Phillies in November 2013
Role: #5 Starter
Risk: High – Taveras has only pitched in low-A and was old for the level, but he has shown the control and pitches to be a fringe major league starter.
Summary: If you pay close attention to the Phillies system, you may remember Taveras from his 2014 season where he posted a dominant DSL season in parallel to Ranger Suarez’s dominance in the VSL. To say Taveras has been overlooked sells the Phillies depth short, but regardless Taveras started in the Lakewood bullpen until Mitch Gueller was released. In many ways Taveras is the low-A version of Ben Lively. Taveras has a three pitch mix, with an average fastball and a solid slider and changeup. He knows how to pitch and has solid control, keeping hitters off balance by mixing his pitches and working to both sides of the plate. Additionally good extension and a deceptive delivery help his pitches play up. Taveras led the South Atlantic League in strikeouts in 2016, but much like with Lively, expect those numbers to trend down against better competition. If Taveras can keep his command and velocity intact he could be a back end starter, but it is a tenuous relationship, where a slight slip could send him to the bullpen or AAAA purgatory.
2017 Outlook: Given his age and success in Lakewood, Taveras likely starts the year in Clearwater, but with the Phillies pitching depth he will need to perform to keep a job.
Previous Rank: UR
49. Edgar Garcia – RHP (Profile)
DOB: October 4, 1996 (20)
H/W: 6’1” 180lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent by the Phillies in May 2014.
Role: High Leverage Reliever
Risk: High – Garcia is a low-A reliever who has yet to throw a full season of innings.
Summary: Garcia was the youngest (19) of the group of talented Dominican RHPs on the Lakewood roster in 2016, after his promotion from Extended Spring Training in mid-May. Much like his previous year Garcia worked primarily out of the bullpen. While battling injuries and promotions the BlueClaws moved Garcia to the rotation for 4 starts and after a good debut he had 3 poor starts giving him a final line of 13.2 innings, 17 hits, 8 earned runs (5.27 ERA), 4 walks, and 13 strikeouts. As a reliever however, Garcia was dominant, pitching 47.1 innings over 23 games with a 2.09 ERA, 11 walks, and 46 strikeouts. Garcia has the stuff to match his fellow righties with a fastball that sits 91-95 and a slider that is a bat misser. His changeup is still a work in progress. The lack of usable changeup coupled with his small size and higher effort delivery are why Garcia continues to be in the bullpen. But his control coupled with an existing outpitch make him an interesting piece in that role. He has also demonstrated the ability to work multiple innings (up to 4) in relief if needed. If the Phillies keep him in the bullpen he could move quickly in the mold of Edubray Ramos and Victor Arano. Given his success in Lakewood, Garcia seems likely to start the year in Clearwater.
2017 Outlook: If the Phillies want to continue to develop Garcia in the bullpen he should start in a late inning role for the Threshers. If the Phillies want to try and stretch him out as a starter he could make a return trip to Lakewood.
Previous Rank: UR
50. Grant Dyer – RHP (Profile)
DOB: July 31, 1995 (21)
H/W: 6’1” 195lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 8th round of the 2016 draft by the Phillies.
Role: Above Average Reliever
Risk: Medium – Dyer only has 40 innings of professional ball, but a long track record of results as a reliever. His polish should allow him to move very quickly through the Phillies system.
Summary: After taking two UCLA recruits in the draft, the Phillies took a junior out of UCLA in the 8th round. Dyer had a dominant sophomore year as a reliever with a combined line between UCLA and the Cape Cod League of 83.2 IP, 52 hits, 2.04 ERA, 20 walks, and 96 strikeouts. He moved to the rotation as a junior, and while he held up as a starter, he was much less effective and his stuff was not as sharp or dominant. After the draft the Phillies moved Dyer immediately back to the bullpen where he returned to dominance. Dyer’s fastball returned to sitting in the low 90s, touching 94-95 and his curveball returned to being a plus pitch. Dyer also showed plus control and advanced command for a just drafted arm and, including the SAL playoffs, had a 6:66 walk to strikeout rate in 50 innings of work. Dyer’s delivery is a bit deceptive as he releases both his fastball and curveball from a high, almost over the top delivery, giving his curveball good downward bat missing bite. Dyer’s lack of top end velocity probably keeps him from being a closer, but he could be more than a middle reliever and has shown he is capable of handling multiple innings as a bridge to a closer. Dyer is fairly young for a junior draftee and won’t turn 22 until the end of July, so there may be a bit more stuff to come, but it is not something that should be counted on. However, with his advanced control and solid stuff, Dyer could rocket through the minors, and even if he starts in Clearwater he could reach the majors by the end of 2017 if everything goes perfectly.
2017 Outlook: Dyer likely starts in Clearwater, but he has the stuff and polish where he might not stay there long if he continues to have the same results he has had so far in pro-ball.
Previous Rank: N/A