Top prospect lists are not really an accurate representation of the young talent in a farm system. Aaron Nola will be 24 on opening day or the same age as Jorge Alfaro. Rhys Hoskins was one of the biggest breakouts for the Phillies in 2017 and has under 2 months of major league service time. The standard for looking at young players has been 25 years old, mostly because it is divisible by 5, but it is also theoretically before the player reaches their peak.
When putting together this list, I went as deep as I could before it just became a list of prospects. That number ended up being 16, and here are the top 16 players in the Phillies system that will be 25 and younger on Opening Day.
- Aaron Nola, RHP, Age: 24
It was very obvious that Aaron Nola was #1 on this list. After an injury plagued 2016, Nola had a great 2017. As the season went on, Nola was able to strike out more batters while maintaining his solid walk rate. On top of being healthy, Nola saw a 2mph increase in his fastball velocity. Nola may not be a true ace, but he can still be a Cy Young contender for years to come.
- Rhys Hoskins, 1B/LF, Age: 25
In 2017, Hoskins showed that his 2016 in Reading wasn’t a fluke and that his approach improvements made him a formidable hitter. He is not a left fielder, but his bat is good enough to have the Phillies risk him in the outfield. He should hit close to 35 home runs a year with a high on base percentage.
- J.P. Crawford, SS, Age: 23
After an up and down 2017, Crawford will open the year as the Phillies’ starting shortstop. He has a great glove and an impressive approach, but his power surge in the second half of the AAA season was first time in his career he has ever shown sustained impact at the plate.
- Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Age: 19
There has been much written about the quality of Sanchez’s stuff, and while he is far away from the majors, he looks like an ace in the making.
- Scott Kingery, 2B, Age: 23
If it weren’t for Cesar Hernandez becoming a solid major leaguer, Kingery would be on pace to break camp as the Phillies second baseman. He is a bit riskier than Crawford due to position and an inconsistent approach, but his glove and speed make him fairly safe. While he won’t match his 2017 power numbers, he should still hit close to 20 home runs a year.
- Nick Williams, OF, Age: 24
The Phillies promoted Williams in the middle of the season after he started to figure some stuff out in AAA, specifically driving the ball the other way. His overall stats were fine. He still doesn’t walk enough, strikes out too much, and can have iffy defense. Williams is still only 24 and has enough tools to be an impact player.
- Jorge Alfaro, C, Age: 24
In many ways, Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams are similar players. They have great tools and stark weaknesses. Alfaro has been slower to find success than Williams, but he has the positional advantage.
- Adonis Medina, RHP, Age: 21
The Phillies have a system of back end starters, which causes Medina to stand out. He has the potential for 3 plus pitches and is advanced for his age. He will be in Hi-A next year, but could be in AA by the end of 2018 and in Philly by 2019.
- Jhailyn Ortiz, OF, Age: 19
Ortiz just finished up his second professional season and has yet to play a game in a full season league. The teenage outfielder has immense power and a precocious approach at the plate. He still has a lot of development ahead, but he could be a middle of the order hitter at his peak.
- Maikel Franco, 2B, Age: 25
A few years ago, Maikel Franco would be top 3 on this list, but after a great 2015 he has bombed the last two seasons. Franco has 30 home run a year power and rarely strikes out, but his quality of contact continues to be poor. Franco has the tools to be a building block, but he also hasn’t shown any sustainable skill growth in 2 years.
- Vince Velasquez, RHP, Age: 25
Velasquez’s Phillies career got off to a great start, but injuries and ineffectiveness have plagued him since then. Velasquez has 3 very good pitches, but he does not throw any of his secondary pitches with any confidence or authority. If he can improve his command and sequence his offspeed better, Velasquez could be a #3 or better starter. If he cannot, conventional thought thinks he fits in a bullpen, but his downside might be more drastic than that.
- Arquimedes Gamboa, SS, Age: 20
Gamboa spent the year in low-A as a 19 year old. He plays good defense at shortstop and has a good approach at the plate. If he can keep up his progress from late in the season, he could be a breakout prospect in 2018.
- Adam Haseley, OF, Age: 21
Haseley was the #8 pick in the 2017 draft, but showed up in pro ball with diminished tools. If the downturn was due to fatigue, he could shoot up through the system in 2018 as a 5 tool center fielder. Otherwise Haseley profiles more as a second division regular or 4th outfielder.
- Nick Pivetta, RHP, Age: 25
Nick Pivetta’s 2017 major league season was not great. At times he flashed the ability to dominate with a power fastball/breaking ball combination. Ultimately, his lack of command and changeup caused him to be homer prone and ineffective. The Phillies still believe in Pivetta as a starter, but he has the arsenal to be a dominant reliever.
- Franklyn Kilome, RHP, Age: 22
Kilome is a fairly similar pitcher to Pivetta; he is a bit taller, and he has a better curveball but worse control. If he can improve his changeup and command, he could be a mid rotation starter, but he might be a reliever.
- Edubray Ramos, RHP, Age: 25
Edubray Ramos was well regarded as a prospect and then had a solid 2016 in the majors. After a disastrous start to his 2017 season, Ramos battled back from demotion and injury to dominate for the last two months of the year. He should be a high leverage reliever for the next many years for the Phillies.
I originally had Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin on this list, but unlike Pivetta, neither has a clear path to being a major league contributor. They both will be in competition with Thomas Eshelman and Jose Taveras for back end starter roles, both of who would have ranked much lower on this list had I extended the under 25 list out to include the full list of top 50 prospects. Ricardo Pinto in the bullpen probably slots in somewhere between Victor Arano and J.D. Hammer. He has more velocity and secondary pitches than Hammer, but Arano has more polish. Zac Curtis would slot in below everyone in the Top 50, and at least behind Yacksel Rios who did not make that list.