In some ways the the top 10 of the prospect list is anticlimactic. The players on the list are of a surprise to no one and most of these players have been well reported on. That feeling lasts until you start to write about players like Jhailyn Ortiz, Scott Kingery, Sixto Sanchez, and others. It gets you excited about the high end talent in the system. This also is not theoretical talent. J.P. Crawford and Jorge Alfaro will start on the opening day roster, and Scott Kingery will not be far behind. The Phillies system is good, and probably will be for a while.
All ages are for major league opening day.
1. J.P. Crawford – SS (Profile)
DOB: January 11, 1995 (23)
H/W: 6’2″ 180lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (#16 overall) by the Phillies in the 2013 draft
|Lehigh Valley (AAA)||127||556||15||5||14.2%||17.4%||.243||.351||.405|
Role: First Division Regular
Risk: Low – Crawford’s plus glove and on base abilities will help him be a major league regular. To be better than that, he will need to show in the majors that he can drive the ball like he did in the second half of the AAA season.
Summary: Coming into 2017, it was assumed that J.P. Crawford would no longer be the Phillies’ top prospect, because he would graduate to the majors by the middle of the season. After 3 months of playing, it looked like he would not only not be graduating, but that he was going to plunge down rankings. From July 1 until he was promoted to the majors on September 5, he hit .285/.385/.544. Jeff wrote a great breakdown of his swing changes in that time over the summer. In addition to the swing changes, Crawford overcame an early groin injury and some bad habits at the plate mentally. Crawford has long had great discipline and has been very willing to take pitches and work himself into deep counts. At times he was becoming too passive and not attacking hittable pitches. Crawford was not able to translate the power gains to the major leagues in September, but he has average or better raw power that he rarely taps into, and he should be able to hit 15-20 home runs a year. He has above average speed but has never been a good base stealer, though he is a good base runner. The real key at the plate is his willingness to work and take walks, as Crawford should run high on base percentages every year. While Crawford should be solid offensively, much of his value is going to come on defense. To get him in the lineup, the Phillies gave him reps at second and third, and he is an elite defender at both positions. At shortstop, he is at least a plus defender and should contend for Gold Gloves. He doesn’t have elite range or arm strength, but he does have great instincts and smooth actions. His first step allows him to cover plenty of ground, and he has enough arm to make all of the throws from deep in the hole. There is still star level upside for Crawford because of his foundation of defense and plate discipline. He still needs some swing tweaks to tap into his power and close some contact holes, but right now he should be a solid major league contributor from Opening Day onward.
2018 Outlook: With the Phillies trading Freddy Galvis to San Diego, Crawford will take over as the Phillies’ Opening Day shortstop. Long term, Crawford profiles as a #2 hitter, but the Phillies will probably bat him 7th or 8th while he gets his feet under him.
Previous Rank: 1
2. Sixto Sanchez – RHP (Profile)
DOB: July 29, 1998 (19)
H/W: 6’0″ 185lbs
Acquired: Signed as international amateur by the Phillies on February 20, 2015.
Role: #1/#2 Starter
Risk: High – Sixto Sanchez’s combination of velocity and control is near unheard of from a 19 year old. Add in that he will show you at least 2 plus secondary pitches, and you have a roadmap to one of the best starters in baseball. However, major league ace level starting pitching is far way from 95 innings of A ball, and there is a lot in the way still for Sanchez.
Summary: Scouting reports on Sixto Sanchez this year were like Bigfoot sightings, some of them whispered like some giant secret, others exclaimed out in disbelief. The first thing you see is the fastball. By the end of the 2017 season, Sanchez was comfortably sitting 95 to 99, and hitting 100 in most starts, topping out at 102. He can manipulate the pitch some, giving it some cut or run down at the bottom of the range, or just airing it out with explosive life. Sanchez doesn’t have pinpoint command yet, but he can already throw the pitch for strikes consistently. The offspeed stuff is where things get weird. He has shown two changeups, one more of a splitter, and the other more of a conventional circle changeup that sits in the hi-80s, touching 90. He throws a two breaking balls, a power curveball in the 78-82 range and a slider in the mid 80s. Both will show future plus potential, but also they can get inconsistent and blend together into some sort of slurve. He likely ends up with only one changeup, but there is no reason he can’t develop both breaking balls. Given his feel for all of his secondaries at his age, it does not take a lot of projection to see him with 2-3 plus offspeed pitches. Sanchez shows advanced feel for pitching for a teenager, but he ran into problems in Clearwater with just trying to blow fastballs in the zone past guys. Outside of the raw stuff, Sanchez is a great athlete and fields his position like the former shortstop that he is. His athleticism allows him to repeat his delivery and throw at such high velocity with ease. Most of the concerns around Sanchez are structural. The first is that he is listed at 6’0”, and despite the fact that he is built solidly, there are questions about his durability, to go with the normal height based concerns about plane on his pitches. The other problem is that the Phillies very much limited his innings in 2017. He didn’t record more than 18 outs in a start, and he topped out at 85 pitches. Most of this is related to him only being 18 years old for most of the season, but it left a lot questions for evaluators about his ability to handle a full starter’s workload. He certainly has risk, but Sanchez has shown that he is a special arm, not just in the Phillies’ system, but in baseball.
2018 Outlook: Sixto Sanchez will return to Clearwater to open the season, and if he continues on his current path, he should finish the year in Reading. He pitched about 100 innings in 2017 including his rehab, so he should pitch 120-130 innings next year.
Previous Rank: 6
3. Scott Kingery – 2B (Profile)
DOB: April 29, 1994 (23)
H/W: 5’10” 180lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round (#48 overall) by the Phillies in the 2015 draft.
|Lehigh Valley (AAA)||63||286||8||10||4.5%||20.3%||.294||.337||.449|
Role: First Division Regular
Risk: Medium – Kingery’s speed, defense, and contact abilities give him a high floor, but to be an impact player he will need to clean up the approach problems that manifested in AAA.
Summary: Prior to 2017, Scott Kingery had hit 9 home runs in 217 professional games, so it was a surprise when he hit 18 in 69 games in Reading. After a promotion to AAA, Kingery hit a more reasonable 8 home runs in 63 games. No evaluator believed Kingery’s AA home run rate to be sustainable, but he has shown real changes that give reason to believe the overall increase in power is sustainable. It all starts with Kingery’s hit tool which stems from strong wrists, a simple swing, and an innate feel for contact. In the offseason, Kingery bulked up a bit and turned his swing from something that was a bit more handsy into one that maximized his full body. The result was more home runs, but it was also more line drives and fly balls and a lot fewer balls on the ground. Kingery probably only has average to above average raw power, but he does tap into it fully, and it is reasonable to think he could hit 16-20 home runs a year, especially with the juiced MLB ball. In addition to the hit tool and new found power, Kingery is a plus plus runner and solid base stealer, who should steal around 25 bases a year. Kingery’s offense gets a lot of the credit, but what makes him really special is his glove. He is at least a plus defender at second, and he uses his range to cover a lot of ground. His arm is only average, which is fine for second, but would not work in a large sample size at shortstop or third base. With Cesar Hernandez in Philly right now, the Phillies may try Kingery out at other positions for versatility, but second base is where his major league home is. The only real negative to Kingery is his approach. For the second year in a row, after being promoted to a higher level he showed that he is prone to being overly aggressive and expanding the strike zone, leading to elevated strikeout rates and low walk rates. So far he has corrected it, but he will need to maintain an at least respectable walk rate to reach his major league ceiling. Despite calls from fans, Kingery is not major league ready, but he is very close to it.
2018 Outlook: With Hernandez in the majors, Kingery will go to AAA to cleanup his plate discipline numbers. While positions other than second aren’t ideal for Kingery, he will likely see time at shortstop and third base in addition to second in case there is a major league injury. At some point in 2018, Kingery will get major league time.
Previous Rank: 11
4. Jorge Alfaro – C (Profile)
DOB: June 11, 1993 (24)
H/W: 6’2″ 225lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur by the Rangers on January 19, 2010. Traded to the Phillies along with Nick Williams, Matt Harrison, Jake Thompson, Alec Asher, and Jared Eickhoff for Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman.
|Lehigh Valley (AAA)||84||350||7||1||4.6%||32.3%||.241||.291||.358|
Role: Above Average Regular
Risk: Medium – For a guy who hit .318 in the majors, Alfaro is surprisingly risky. Alfaro has a rocket arm and immense raw power, but a poor approach continues to see him run high strikeout rates while never walking. He has defensive talent, but he has yet to become a good defender.
Summary: The scouting reports on Jorge Alfaro rarely change. In 2017, with Alfaro facing his last option year, the Phillies sent him to Lehigh Valley with the goal of getting his defense to major league ready. After coming out of the gate hot, Alfaro struggled until he reached the majors. In the majors he walked 3 times in 29 games, but he managed to ride his power and some contact luck to a good month and a half run. As for the defense, minor league metrics liked his framing and stolen base suppression, but both suffered in the majors. His blocking has improved, but he has allowed some high profile misses. Given his athleticism, there is no reason he can’t be fine behind the plate, but for now he is going to be a minus defender. Despite all of the issues, Alfaro profiles as an asset at catcher, because major league catchers averaged .245/.315/.406 last year. To be valuable, all it will take is for Alfaro to run into some home runs and be at like a 5% walk rate. Given his rawness, Alfaro is not going to be a finished product in the majors, and it could be until he is 27 before we really know what Alfaro will be.
2018 Outlook: Alfaro is out of minor league options, so he will be on the major league roster. His spring will determine how much of a timeshare he will be in. He will likely be batting 7th or 8th in the order, so there will be few expectations on him to contribute immediately.
Previous Rank: 2
5. Adonis Medina – RHP (Profile)
DOB: December 18, 1996 (21)
H/W: 6’1″ 185lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur by the Phillies on May 29, 2014.
Role: #3 Starter
Risk: Medina is polished for a low minors starter, with a 4 pitch mix highlighted by a plus fastball. He has only one year of low-A, but he should move quickly through the system.
Summary: It raised a lot red flags in 2016 when Adonis Medina only struck out 34 batters in 64.2 innings (13 starts) for Williamsport. In 2017, Medina had accomplished that mark midway through his 5th start in under 30 innings. The difference wasn’t his fastball, which did tick up a bit from 90-94 to more 92-95, still touching into 96-97 range. The pitch is heavy, and he can pound the zone with it. There were changes in the secondary pitches. His changeup showed more fade and deception and earned some future plus grades from people whosaw it. He also started scrapping his curveball in favor of the slider he flashed late in the 2016 season. The slider doesn’t fit perfectly into his arsenal, and it was noted he occasionally telegraphs it. He also has his slider and curveball blend into a slurve at times, but with time the slider should get a bit harder and become a plus pitch. That would leave his curveball as more of a change of pace pitch. What really stands out for Medina is his command and feel for pitching for his age. He mixes his pitches well and can locate all of them. In addition to the this season’s strikeout rate, Medina was able to maintain a solid ground ball rate and a very high infield fly ball rate. There are a few minor warts with Medina. Like a lot of the Phillies pitchers, he is on the short side, and unlike Sanchez he is a bit slight of build. He has been a workhorse so far in his career and has yet to have an injury in his 4 seasons. Of a bit more concern was some stark home/road splits, given Lakewood’s reputation as a pitcher’s park. Given all of the variables involved in scheduling and minor league travel, it is something to monitor more than worry about. The same could be said of his declining strikeout rate in the second half. It could have been the second trip through the league, it also could have been some fatigue setting in as he eclipsed his career high in innings. Medina lacks the upside of Sixto Sanchez, and probably will never be a front line starter, but he can be a solid middle of the rotation arm, and could be that before he is 23.
2018 Outlook: Medina will head up a level to Clearwater. Given his polish and pitch mix, he should finish the year in Reading before landing on the Phillies 40 man roster in the offseason.
Previous Rank: 9
6. Jhailyn Ortiz – OF (Profile)
DOB: November 18, 1998 (19)
H/W: 6’3″ 215lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur by the Phillies on July 9, 2015./
Role: First Division Regular
Risk: High – Jhailyn Ortiz showed every positive growth sign he could in Williamsport. He hit for more power, he walked more, he struck out less, he got in better shape, and he played great defense. He is still a 19 year old hit first prospect with a giant body for a teenager, who is years away from the majors.
Summary: It is weird for a prospect to be considered a disappointment before they ever step into their first game, but that was the case for Jhailyn Ortiz in the spring of 2016. The Dominican outfielder had signed with the Phillies for over $4 million the previous summer, even after his stock had seemed to plummet that spring. The general consensus was that the Phillies had overcommitted to a bad body teenager with power and nothing else. Ortiz had a solid year in the GCL in his first year, showing the power he was known for and overall not being an embarrassment. Now the narrative has greatly changed. Ortiz has continued to improve his body, and it has allowed his athleticism to show. In the field, he is good defender in right and likes to aggressively show off a plus or better arm. He moves really well for a player of his size, both in the field and on the bases. Most evaluators thought he was a first baseman down the road, but down the road might be by his late 20s at this point. Even if he sticks in right, his glove is not what will carry him. Ortiz got a giant bonus because he has plus plus raw power. He has shown that he can easily send the ball out of the park to any field. What has been more impressive than the power itself is the progression in his hit tool. Ortiz is always going to strike out at a decent rate, but he has shown an advanced approach for his age. He had some struggles against righties, and like most young batters, he can get a bit aggressive and expand the strike zone, especially against breaking balls. Given the growth he has already shown, he should be able to limit these weakness as he moves up through pro ball. In Williamsport, Ortiz looked like the type of hitter who a team could build a lineup around. He has 30-40 home run a year power, and the ability to work counts if pitchers are unwilling to challenge him in the zone. He is far from a finished product, and it is hard to see him reaching the majors in the near future, but he is also very far from the disappointment he was viewed as two years ago.
2018 Outlook: Ortiz will get his first taste of full season ball in Lakewood. The park is death on right handed power, and he is going to see better offspeed pitches than he ever has in his life. If he spends the full year in New Jersey adjusting to the new challenges, it won’t be a disappointment, but he showed last year he has the talent to blast through a level.
Previous Rank: 17
7. Arquimedes Gamboa – SS (Profile)
DOB: September 23, 1997 (20)
H/W: 6’0″ 175lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur by the Phillies on July 17, 2014.
Role: Above Average Regular
Risk: Gamboa has a two month track record of hitting, all in low-A. However, he is a good defensive shortstop who has projection left and has shown distinct signs of improvement each season.
Summary: In July of 2014, the Phillies gave $600,000 bonuses to three shortstops. Coming into 2017, Arquimedes Gamboa had been overshadowed by the other two signees, Jonathan Arauz and Daniel Brito. He struggled in his debut in 2015, and then was aggressively pushed in Williamsport in 2016 and got hurt just as he was putting things together. He got off to a solid start in 2017, but then went down for 6 weeks with a hamstring injury 6 games in. Gamboa returned to action in late may, and while his plate discipline numbers were good, he hit .216 in May and June with 4 extra base hits. The reports were that he looked rusty and things didn’t look quite right. He then walked a ton in July while showing more power, before then just destroying the South Atlantic League in August. Gamboa ended the season on a 14 game hitting streak. Over that time he hit .418/.459/.709 with 5 walks to 4 strikeouts. The monthly splits aren’t the only distinct differences for Gamboa. Evaluators noted that his left handed swing looked much better than his right handed swing, and the numbers bear that out.
|Batting Left Handed||251||5||10.0%||11.6%||.274||.344||.416|
|Batting Right Handed||99||1||8.1%||23.2%||.227||.286||.284|
His left handed swing looks natural and fluid, whereas from the right side he is a bit handsy and stiff. Gamboa wouldn’t be a prospect based on his bat alone, because while his hitting is encouraging, he probably won’t have more than fringe average power, and he doesn’t profile to have an elite hit tool. What gives Gamboa value is his glove. He is an athletic shortstop who should be an above average defender at the position long term. He is still prone to mental lapses, but he has made big strides in limiting mistakes over the years. A healthy Gamboa has close to plus speed, and he has been a good base runner throughout his career, including going 8 for 8 on stolen bases in 2017. There are two big concerns with Gamboa. The first is that while he has always been highly regarded, he only has 35 games of hitting at a high level, and while there is a logical explanation for his struggles, it is still a worry that the end of 2017 might have been a fluke. Then there is the hamstring injury. The 2017 season was the second year in which he has missed a chunk of time to a hamstring injury, after one in 2016 prematurely ended his season. It is not a big concern right now, but a recurring soft tissue injury could derail his career.
2018 Outlook: Having finished strong in Lakewood, Gamboa should open the year as the Threshers starting shortstop. Gamboa should spend the full year in Florida, but with Crawford in Philly, Gamboa will likely be in plenty of trade talks.
Previous Rank: 16
8. Adam Haseley – OF (Profile)
DOB: April 12, 1996 (21)
H/W: 6’1″ 195lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (#8 overall) by the Phillies in the 2017 draft.
|GCL Phillies (Rk)||3||14||0||1||14.3%||21.4%||.583||.643||.833|
Role: Above Average Regular
Risk: High – The pro and amateur reports on Adam Haseley tell two very different stories. The diminished impact and performance in pro ball does not lower the ceiling, but he looks a lot less safe than he did on draft day.
Summary: The last time the Phillies took a college hitter in the first round, it was Chase Utley. So when the Phillies took Adam Haseley with the 8th overall pick, it was a welcome change from high school hitters. Haseley was coming off a year at UVA where he hit .390/.491/659 with 44 walks to 21 strikeouts. He also pitched 65.1 innings in 11 starts for the Cavaliers. Despite the numbers, Haseley didn’t have a standout tool, but the pre-draft reports pointed to a player with average or better tools across the board with the ability to stick in center field. His hit tool and approach drew praise, and he looked like a player who should be able to move quickly. The reports after he signed did not quite match those pre-draft reports. Evaluators were not convinced he would be able to stick in center field, as he showed a below average arm and just average speed. His bat speed was down from college, and his hit tool and especially his power were down. The collection of parts looked more like a 4th outfielder lacking the bat for a corner and the glove for center field. At the same time as noting that his tools were more fringe average than average to plus, observers noted that he looked exhausted, especially by the time he reached Lakewood. Between college and pro ball, Haseley logged 116 games in the field, well above anything in his career, and on top of that were the innings pitched in college. The Phillies think that the tools will all at least bounce back once he gets a full offseason to rest, and they think that not having to worry about pitching will help his arm in the outfield and his power. The other sign for hope is that Haseley excels in the mental aspects of the game. He has an advanced approach at the plate and was good at swinging at the right pitches, even if he didn’t drive them. His makeup is universally praised, as well as dedication to the game, as evidenced by this excerpt from my year end interview with Mitch Rupert:
His first day here he was doing tee work in the cage early in the afternoon when another player walked by and mentioned it wasn’t Adam’s day to do extra work. Adam said I know, and kept going about his business. Another day, I was standing by the batting cage taking photo bursts of his swing trying to show how well his head stayed down on the ball. He walked by, asked for my phone, and started scrolling through the shots in between rounds in the cage so he could make adjustments. I know there’s no gyms in baseball, but this guy is a gym rat if there ever was one.
Give the Phillies struggles with their previous two first round picks, who are both outfielders, the negativity around Haseley’s pro reports is unsurprising. Seeing what version of Haseley shows up to Spring Training will go a long way towards either allaying or intensifying fears. If he shows up as the guy he was in college, he could move very quickly through the system, and this stretch of pro ball will be forgotten.
2018 Outlook: Given that he spent 2017 hitting in the ACC and showed at least solid approach numbers in pro ball, Haseley likely opens 2018 with Clearwater. If he shows to Spring Training looking like UVA Adam Haseley, he should be in Reading by mid season.
9. Franklyn Kilome – RHP (Profile)
DOB: June 25, 1995 (22)
H/W: 6’6″ 175lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur by the Phillies on January 22, 2013.
Role: #3 Starter
Risk: High – Kilome made it to AA this year after putting up solid numbers in Clearwater. He still has a good fastball and curveball, however his command and changeup continue to not develop, which adds to the likelihood that he is a reliever long term.
Summary: It was Franklyn Kilome back in 2014 that started the Phillies run of pop up dominant starting pitchers. At the time, he was a skinny 6’6” with a poor slider and a fastball topping out at 92 to 94. By the next year, he was touching 95 to 96, and by 2016 he was comfortably sitting 92 to 97. In 2015 he scrapped his slider in favor of a knuckle curveball, but it proved too much to control and he moved to a more conventional curveball early in 2016. This season, he reintroduced his slider in an effort to give a different look. All the while, his changeup has gone through a host of inconsistent iterations. All of these things together, starting with the plus fastball and curveball, point to the makings of a very good starting pitcher. The problem is that Kilome continues to be plagued by the same issue that plagues most tall pitchers, his delivery. Particularly for Kilome, the problem has been finding a consistent release point. On days when he is going well, he will pound the bottom of the strike zone with his fastball while throwing his curveball for chases and strikes looking. With those two pitches working, he can use his other offerings to change the pace more. When Kilome isn’t consistent in his release point, he will leave his fastball up and in the middle of the strike zone, and he will spike his curveball in the dirt. All of these issues caused Kilome to miss fewer bats this year, which started to raise more concerns that his future role is as a reliever. Kilome still has big upside in a rotation, and it is generally accepted that tall pitchers take more time. At just 22 years old on Opening Day, Kilome has time, but he also has been showing the same problems for a bunch of years now. If Kilome does need to move to the bullpen, it is easy to see him sitting in the mid to upper 90s with his fastball and leaning on his curveball heavily as a knockout pitch. Even though he is on the 40 man roster now, the Phillies are likely to give him the time to try and work through his issues.
2018 Outlook: Kilome will continue in the Reading rotation and probably will stay there for most of the year. His list of improvements remains much the same as in past years—he needs better fastball command and a useable changeup.
Previous Rank: 5
10. Mickey Moniak – OF (Profile)
DOB: May 13, 1998 (19)
H/W: 6’2″ 185lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (#1 overall) by the Phillies in the 2016 draft.
Role: Above Average Regular
Risk: Extreme – There is no way around the fact that Moniak was absolutely dreadful in his first full season of professional baseball. However, he was the #1 overall pick for a reason. He has talent.
Summary: The 2016 draft was not a particularly good one, and you can argue without hindsight that the Phillies did not take the best player available of a bad lot. That all said, Mickey Moniak was rated as a top 10 prospect in the draft by most, and he likely would have been an easy top 10 pick in most draft years. No one saw his 2017 season coming. After holding his own for two months, Moniak’s flaws caught up to him, and then by July fatigue finished off any hope of him salvaging the season. The reports from evaluators were that outside of his speed, his tools were down across the board. Moniak’s solid foundation was supposed to be hit and defense. In the outfield, he did not make good reads and wasn’t a no doubt future center fielder. His arm went from being a weapon to being a minus. At the plate, things were worse. His swing can get a bit long and his bat speed wasn’t quite as advertised, but Moniak’s swing is mostly fine. He even showed a great ability to manipulate the bat to make contact. His pitch recognition however, elicited nothing but poor reports. He could not hit lefties, and he struggled to recognize anything that was not a fastball. Early in the year, he was still able to make contact and drive the ball some. Even then, his contact was below average because of his pitch recognition, and he went from driving the ball the other way to pulling the ball so much teams started shifting him. There are many theories about why Moniak suddenly struggled so much, and they range from body changes, to the rigors of pro ball, to him never actually being all that good, and a lot of places in between. It is likely it was not a single thing that caused his struggles. The bright side in all of this is that Moniak won’t turn 20 until May, and while with Lakewood he did not face a pitcher who was younger than him. He has talent. There is a reason the Phillies took him #1 overall in the draft. If Moniak can get back to close to the draft reports, he can be an above average defensive center fielder with a good hit tool and fringe average power. That may not be a star, but that is a really good player and one worth waiting to see if it emerges again.
2018 Outlook: If Moniak was not the #1 overall pick, he would absolutely be repeating Lakewood. There is a good chance he still might, but the team has been outwardly still very supportive of him and could move him to Clearwater if he comes into camp on fire. Either way, he will have a lot of critical eyes on him looking for any sign of life.
Previous Rank: 3
Photo of Sixto Sanchez by Baseball Betsy