There was a clear divide from 30 to 31 and while there isn’t a complete divide from 20 to 21, the divide from 11 to 20 is clear. The top prospects on this list should be top 10 prospects in this system, there was just 12 names and 10 spots. There might not be a star in the next 8 names on the list, though Francisco Morales may enter that discussion in the future, there are players who are going to be regulars on major league teams. They might be regulars for the Phillies as soon as 2018 or 2019. In the past any of these players would have been the top 10 of this system and no one would have blinked. For now there are still 10 in front of them.
11. Daniel Brito – 2B (Profile)
DOB: January 23, 1998 (20)
H/W: 6’1″ 155lbs
Acquired: Signed by as an international amateur by the Phillies on July 17, 2014.
Role: Above Average Regular
Risk: Extreme – Brito has the skills to be a great defender at second base, with potentially average hit and power tools. However, his feel for contact and great approach deteriorated in full season ball. He is only 20, so he has time, but he also has holes.
Summary: After a great 2016 in the GCL, Daniel Brito entered the year as a trendy sleeper. He hit .327/.377/.449 in April, which added fuel to that fire. He then hit .215/.276/.281 from that point forward in the season. Brito’s tools are evident and did not diminish over the season. He has a good swing with quick hands, and he shows what should be average power once he fills out. He is an average or better runner, who is not a particularly good base stealer. In the field, Brito is a minor league shortstop playing second base. With the shortstops already in the system, the Phillies moved Brito prematurely to second base, a move that was likely to occur because of his arm strength. Long term, he projects to be a plus defender at the position. What happened to Brito is similar to what happened to Mickey Moniak this year. Brito is physically underdeveloped, and the wear of playing everyday seemed to get to him early in the year (triggered especially by Arquimedes Gamboa’s injury changing playing time), this is something that should clear up in time as he gets bigger, but it might take a few years. Brito also began to expand the zone, and while it didn’t manifest in increasing strikeout rates, it did manifest in lower walk rates and poorer contact. Given what he showed in the DSL and GCL, there is a disciplined hitter in there, and the hope is that once he is stronger he will allow the game to come to him naturally again. Unlike Moniak and Gamboa, Brito did not show huge platoon splits. He was better against righties when it came to walks and strikeouts, but he hit slightly better against lefties overall. Brito’s tools point to the breakout potential still being very real. He could be a great defensive second baseman with a plus hit tool and average power. That projection still requires a lot of future growth, and there are plenty of things that could go wrong in the interim.
2018 Outlook: Brito is in a similar situation to Mickey Moniak. He is young and talented, and while he struggled in Lakewood, he has the talent to keep moving forward, especially if he has gotten stronger over the offseason. The Phillies could have him repeat low-A or challenge him with an assignment to Clearwater alongside double play partner Arquimedes Gamboa.
Previous Rank: 18
12. JoJo Romero – LHP (Profile)
DOB: September 9, 1996 (21)
H/W: 6’0″ 190lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 4th round (#107 overall) by the Phillies in the 2016 draft.
Role: #3/#4 Starter
Risk: Medium – Romero’s profile of a changeup first starter is one that can often succeed against more inexperienced hitters and then struggle against advanced hitters. Romero should have the velocity and arsenal to offset this, but he will need to prove that against upper minors hitters.
Summary: When the Phillies saved money on Mickey Moniak with the top pick, they were able to not only spread the money to high schoolers Kevin Gowdy and Cole Stobbe, but also give $800,000 bonuses to lefties Romero and Cole Irvin. As a junior college draftee, Romero entered the year at age 20 with the arsenal and poise of a college junior. Romero’s arsenal starts with a plus changeup that he has confidence in against lefties and righties. He backs up his changeup with his fastball, which has gone from touching 93 last year to touching more in the 94-95 range (I have heard 96, but not a game report). He will manipulate the pitch from the low 90s all the way down into the high 80s as a two seamer. This gives him good velocity separation from his changeup, but also has allowed him to have high ground ball rates throughout his time in pro ball. Romero also throws an average slider and curveball that he uses to keep hitters off balance. Romero has good command, stemming from simple, compact delivery. Despite his youth, Romero does not have much physical projection left. He is solidly built, and his short stature and frame don’t hint at much room for more muscle. For Romero going forward, the command and the changeup will be key. The changeup is a real weapon, especially from a lefty, but it is the only real strikeout weapon in his arsenal. He will need to command his fastball and throw his other pitches for strikes to keep opposing batters honest on the changeup. If he can do this, he has a path to being a mid rotation starter. Without one of those two things, he is more of a back end starter who keeps hitters off balance with variety, generating weak contact but not swings and misses.
2018 Outlook: Romero will open the year in AA. He will need to show that he can establish his fastball while throwing his breaking balls to succeed against advanced hitters. He has the talent to force a mid season promotion, but so do a lot of others.
Previous Rank: 30
13. Roman Quinn – OF (Profile)
DOB: May 14, 1993 (24)
H/W: 5’10” 170lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round (#66 overall) by the Phillies in the 2011 draft.
|Lehigh Valley (AAA)||45||197||2||10||9.1%||24.9%||.274||.344||.389|
Role: Above Average Regular
Risk: Extreme – Roman Quinn played 45 games in 2017 and still has yet to play 100 games in a regular season, and while many of his injuries are flukes, he has missed a lot of development time for a player who is essentially major league ready.
Summary: The first thing that comes up when talking about Roman Quinn is injuries. After a healthy year in Williamsport in 2012, he has missed significant time in each season with a major injury. It would be somewhat disingenuous to call him “injury prone” and not “injury cursed”. Some of his injuries are concerning, like a ruptured Achilles, a quad tear, and an oblique injury. Others are just random like a wrist broken by a pitch, a concussion on a pick off throw, and this year’s arm (non-throwing) injury sliding into third base. Throughout all of these injuries, Quinn has remarkably stayed the same player. He still has 80 grade speed, which makes him a terror on the base paths and a plus defender in center field. He has a shortstop’s plus arm, which is a weapon in the outfield. He has below average power, but there might be 12-15 home runs in a peak year for him. Historically, his right handed swing is more contact and his left handed swing is more power, but both have come towards a middle point. After struggling with his approach to open the season (29.5% K% in April), he was able to get things under control before the injury in May (20.6% K%). He did struggle in 6 DSL games before his team released him, but he should be ready to go this spring. In an ideal, healthy world, Quinn is a great defender in center who gets on base a decent rate, with a touch of power and 40+ stolen bases a year. That is a really good player, but he has yet to stay healthy and successful for that long. His fall back is as a really good bench player who has defensive versatility and is a late inning weapon with his speed, while still giving you more than nothing with his bat. He was major league ready in 2016, and the Phillies outfield is more than full right now, so he might have to work from smaller roles in Philly, if he is not packaged in a trade somewhere.
2018 Outlook: The Phillies will be in a tough spot with Quinn. They need bench players, and his speed would play well in that role. However, with all of his missed time and a crowded outfield in Philly, they may send him to Lehigh Valley to get regular at bats.
Previous Rank: 7
14. Seranthony Dominguez – RHP (Profile)
DOB: November 25, 1994 (23)
H/W: 6’1″ 185lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur by the Phillies on October 6, 2011
|GCL Phillies (Rk)||2||2||0-0||5.1||5.06||8.4||0.0||16.0%||28.0%|
Role: Impact Late Inning Reliever
Risk: High – Theoretically, Dominguez’s skill set fits perfectly into a bullpen, and with his fastball and slider combination, he should be impactful in the majors quickly. It is all theory, as Dominguez has only really relieved in winter ball and has yet to actually pitch above Clearwater.
Summary: Seranthony Dominguez has always had a good fastball, but 2017 saw him take the pitch to a new level. In his first appearance of the year, Dominguez’s fastball was up to 98, setting a precedent for his next starts, where he sat 94-97, touching 98-99. That 7 game run would be the highlight of the year for Dominguez, as he struck out 45 in 35.2 innings. On May 13, a flexor injury put his season on hold for two months. When Dominguez came back, his velocity was intact, but his control was not. Dominguez is more than just a fastball. His slider is a future plus pitch, and he has shown inconsistent feel for an above average changeup. Unfortunately for Dominguez, 2017 was yet another year where injury prevented him from reaching the 80 innings mark as a starter. After putting a timetable on his major league arrival by adding him to the 40 man roster this offseason, the Phillies decided to kill two birds with one stone and move him from starter to reliever, effective immediately. The move puts a hit on his overall ceiling, as his fastball and slider gave him high end upside, but it is also a move that his lack of durability had long hinted at. There is little data on Dominguez as a reliever, so we are left mostly to project his future. Dominguez’s fastball should play up in relief, and it is not hard to see him hitting 100 with a wipeout slider. He should be able to pitch multiple innings at a time in the model of what teams are prioritizing as high leverage relievers. In a more traditional bullpen concept, he has the stuff to be a shutdown closer. The only problem is that not everyone with his stuff makes it to that role. Phillies fans have seen injuries and wildness blunt the growth of Alberto Tirado, Phillippe Aumont, and Jimmy Cordero, in just the same way that raw stuff allowed Ken Giles to arrive in the majors in a blink. With Dominguez on the 40 man roster, we will get to see what Dominguez’s transition looks like against major league batters early in Spring Training.
2018 Outlook: The Phillies have announced that Dominguez is moving to the bullpen to start the year, so that means Reading for opening day. The model for a reliever accelerating to the majors is Ken Giles, who had no upper minors experience before pitching 28.2 innings between AA and AAA on his way to the majors in 2014. Dominguez has that kind of talent, but given his injury history and everything that can go wrong, it is unlikely he moves quite that quickly.
Previous Rank: 24
15. Enyel De Los Santos – RHP (Profile)
DOB: December 25, 1995 (22)
H/W: 6’3″ 170lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur by the Mariner on July 17, 2014. Traded to the Padres with Nelson Ward for Joaquin Benoit on November 12, 2015. Traded to the Phillies for Freddy Galvis on December 15, 2017.
|San Antonio (AA)||26||24||10-6||150.0||3.78||7.9||0.7||7.8%||22.4%|
Role: #4 Starter or High Leverage Reliever
Risk: Medium – De Los Santos had a successful year in AA at age 21, has a plus fastball and a good changeup. The only problem is that his results don’t match his stuff, and his lack of feel for a breaking ball make a move to the bullpen a large future risk.
Summary: Despite all of the pitching already in their system, when it came time to trade Freddy Galvis, the Phillies chose to add yet another good arm to the system in Dominican righty De Los Santos. Like many of the arms acquired by the Phillies over the years, De Los Santos comes with some big pluses and some glaring holes. The big plus is his fastball. As a 21 year old in AA, he reportedly sat 94-98. That is already up from the previous year, and he might have room for a little more in his frame. The projections on his changeup range from average to plus, and most note good fading action on it. The breaking ball is where things really break down. The highest report has been future average without any projection beyond that. Despite the lack of a good breaking ball, De Los Santos was still good vs same side hitting, striking them out at a 25.5% rate. He was also very good down the stretch after a rough April and May, posting a 2.97 ERA in the last 3+ months of the season. If he can get his curveball to average consistently and sequence well with the fastball and changeup, he has the profile of an innings eating #4 starter. His youth and future projection make him intriguing in a new organization, and it will be interesting to see any tweaks the Phillies make to him. If the curveball never comes, he has a future as a hard throwing fastball-changeup reliever.
2018 Outlook: After his year in AA, De Los Santos deserves to go to AAA, but given his age and future development needed, a trip to Reading makes the most sense. Unlike most of the Phillies upper minors starters, he is not on the 40 man roster so he is unlikely to receive a call up this year.
Previous Rank: N/A
16. Francisco Morales – RHP (Profile)
DOB: October 27, 1999 (18)
H/W: 6’4″ 185lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur by the Phillies on July 2, 2016.
|GCL Phillies (Rk)||10||9||3-2||41.1||3.05||7.4||0.2||11.1%||24.4%|
Role: #3 Starter
Risk: Extreme – Morales is just 18 years old with 10 starts in professional baseball. His raw stuff and future potential make him intriguing long term, but he still has a lot of things to cleanup before he reaches the majors.
Summary: The Phillies have shown a lot of success at developing Latin American pitchers who they signed for under $100,000, so it raised some eyebrows when they signed Morales, who was considered the top 16 year old pitcher available in the 2016 July 2 class. Morales’ frame is just how you would draw up a projectable righty, but he isn’t just projection. Morales’ fastball already sits in the low 90s and will touch 95 to 96 in each of his starts. He matches that with a slider that can be a bit inconsistent but shows easy plus potential. He has confidence in the pitch and can throw it for strikes to both lefties and righties. In addition to the fastball and changeup, Morales shows some feel for a changeup, but it is still inconsistent and a bit hard. Morales struggled with command and control this year, and he didn’t work more than 5 innings in any of his starts. Since signing, the Phillies have cleaned up Morales’ delivery, and hr repeats it well, which gives hope to evaluators that he will fix his control issues as he gains experience. Morales still has a lot of development ahead, and while it is easy to see him behind pitchers like Sanchez, Medina, and Kilome at this point in his career, it is important to remember that this was Morales’ first pro year. He will pitch 2018 at age 18, and it is easy to see him growing to sit more in the mid 90s, touching up into the 97-99 range in a few years. It might be a slower developmental path for Morales, but he could end up as one of the highest upside pitchers in the Phillies organization.
2018 Outlook: Morales will open the year in Extended Spring Training. Whether he repeats the GCL on one of the two teams or goes to Williamsport will depend on how he looks in the spring.
Previous Rank: 38
17. Thomas Eshelman – RHP (Profile)
DOB: June 20, 1994 (23)
H/W: 6’3″ 210lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round (#46 overall) by the Astros in the 2015 draft. Traded to the Phillies with Vince Velasquez, Mark Appel, Harold Arauz, and Brett Oberholtzer for Ken Giles and Jonathan Arauz on December 12, 2015.
|Lehigh Valley (AAA)||18||18||10-3||121.0||2.23||7.5||0.6||2.8%||17.2%|
Role: #4/#5 Starter
Risk: Low – Eshelman is major league ready and probably has been for some time now. He is not going to dominate batters, but his command and durability give him a high floor.
Summary: Thomas Eshelman is probably as polished a starting pitching prospect as you will find in the minors. If it weren’t for the Phillies pitching depth and 40 man log jam, he likely would have already logged over a month of major league innings. Any discussion of Eshelman starts with his command. He can paint the zone with all of his pitches, and he rarely walks anyone (18 on the year and never more than one in a game). The next point is always his mediocre stuff. He has gotten his fastball up to 93 in the past, but he is going to sit 89-91 most days. His base fastball is pretty straight, but he can manipulate it some. He has turned his slider into a good cutter, which gives him one pitch that is above average. His changeup is a slower fastball in the low 80s, and his curveball is loopy and below average. He is able to mix all of these pitches to keep hitters off balance, and collectively his pitches work better than a group of below average offerings. The one danger, because he is in the strike zone so much, is missing bats. He does not have that one pitch to get an out, and advanced hitters are going to be able to foul pitches off until he makes a mistake. This ends up capping his ceiling, because he is never going to be the guy who can just go out and get outs when he isn’t perfect. So while he is a back end starter, he is a guy who should pitch 6 to 7 innings each night, keep his team in the game, and somehow end the year with 180 to 200 innings. If he can do that and keep his run prevention slightly above league average, he might get his cumulative value up into the higher end 4, low end 3, even if he never pitches like that in individual games.
2018 Outlook: At the time of publishing, the Phillies have 3 starters penciled in and a competition for 2 spots. Given his lack of major league experience, Eshelman is unlikely to win one of those spots, but he could also outpitch his rivals this spring. Otherwise, he goes to Lehigh Valley and waits for a major league opening.
Previous Rank: 27
18. Ranger Suarez – LHP (Profile)
DOB: August 26, 1997 (22)
H/W: 6’1″ 180lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur by the Phillies on April 1, 2012.
Role: #4 Starter
Risk: Medium – As a left handed pitcher with solid velocity, three pitch mix, and control, Suarez has a high probability of contributing to a major league team in some capacity. The only negative for him is that he has not yet pitched against AA hitters.
Summary: Ever since putting up a 1 to 78 walk to strikeout rate in 80.2 innings in 2014, Ranger Suarez has been the poster child for numbers not lining up with a prospect’s tools and upside. At the time, Suarez was pitching in the mid 80s with his fastball. The next year, when he dominated the GCL, he was pitching in the high 80s, touching up to 91. By the 2016 season, Suarez was starting to have enough stuff to back up the numbers, sitting in the 88-91 range, touching up to 93 with his fastball, and nearly making the back of some prospect lists. It became clear by the middle of the 2017 season, the Ranger Suarez dominating with inferior stuff was no more. Suarez for Clearwater was sitting 92-95 with his fastball, with a harder slider than he was throwing for the Crosscutters. Suarez also throws a good changeup, and while neither it nor the slider are monster pitches, both could be above average or a touch better thanks to his command. Not only did his increase in stuff lead to a dramatic increase in strikeouts, but Suarez was able to do so while maintaining his success in generating weak contact (ground balls and infield fly balls). His success across both A ball levels forced the Phillies to protect him on the 40 man roster this offseason. The one big knock on Suarez is that he only has 1 season vs full season competition, and none of it is in AA, so the quality of competition has not been great. There is a chance that his lack of elite stuff makes him look more ordinary, but there is also a chance that we are continuing to underrate how good his command and feel for pitching is, and he is actually more of a mid rotation than back end starter.
2018 Outlook: Suarez has only 37.2 innings in Clearwater, and while he could probably handle a promotion to Reading, the Phillies could have him repeat hi-A while the starter log jam in front of him clears up. Suarez is on the 40 man roster, so he will need to move up fairly quickly, but at 22 years old he still has time for improvement. However, it is not impossible that the Phillies might bring him up in September as another left handed arm in the bullpen.
Previous Rank: UR
19. Cornelius Randolph – OF (Profile)
DOB: June 2, 1997 (20)
H/W: 5’11” 205lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (#11 overall) by the Phillies in the 2015 draft.
Role: Average Regular
Risk: High – Randolph is limited to left field, so his offense will need to be his main source of value. While Randolph has shown that he can hit and hit for power, he has not shown he can do both in the same season.
Summary: Randolph was supposed to be the best pure high school hitter in the 2015 draft. An injury ridden 2016 campaign showed flashes of that potential, but with a .083 ISO and 2 home runs in 63 games, he also showed that he might not have much power to go with his contact abilities. During the offseason, Randolph changed up his swing and approach to have more contact to the pull side and to elevate the ball more. The changes had immediate results, with 3 home runs in his first 4 games. Here is Randolph’s spray chart from 2016:
Here is his spray chart in 2017:
It isn’t just the spray chart that tells the full story, as his ground ball rate decreased from 49.2% to 43.9%, while his fly ball rate rose from 30.9% to 40.7%. These changes had other consequences. Randolph’s strikeout rate rose from 20.7% to 24.5%, and he hit 20 infield pop ups in 122 games as opposed to 6 in 63. This, along with with a drop in line drive rate, caused his BABIP to fall 30 points Randolph did start to correct this in the second half, with the infield fly balls decreasing and his line drive rate increasing slightly. These weren’t the only changes we saw statistically with Randolph in the second half.
The gains in strikeout rate and power are on the right path for Randolph having an impact in the majors. Unfortunately, he did not build on this in the Arizona Fall League, but at 20 years old he was one of the youngest players present, and so respectable walk and strikeout numbers are all we have to hang our hat on. The biggest problem facing Randolph continues to be his defensive home. As a left fielder, he is going to need to get on base and hit for power, but he is not yet doing that at a major league level. He still has plenty of time to get to that level, but he also isn’t a projectable athlete with a strength surge left in him.
2018 Outlook: Randolph will open the year in Reading at age 20. He is probably going to hit for more power and put up a great line because of the park. The big thing to watch will be whether he can make some of the underlying adjustments to his approach that helped Rhys Hoskins take off after AA, or if he is just going to have park inflated numbers with no substance.
Previous Rank: 8
20. Spencer Howard – RHP (Profile)
DOB: July 28, 1996 (21)
H/W: 6’3″ 205lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round (#45 overall) by the Phillies in the 2017 draft.
Role: #3/#4 Starter
Risk: High – Howard is still raw for a high round college pitcher. He moved to a rotation in 2017, and while he has the pitches to stick in a rotation, he needs to demonstrate the command and control to avoid a shift to the bullpen.
Summary: There is not really a concept of a “reach” in the MLB draft, especially not after the first round. With no opportunity to trade picks, teams have to take players they like, even if it feels early, and it is clear the Phillies like Spencer Howard a lot. After the draft, Johnny Almaraz, the Phillies director of amateur scouting hyperbolically said the Phillies felt that he was the top right handed arm in the draft. What kept Howard down on many public draft boards was his background. The redshirt sophomore entered the year as a reliever, not moving to the rotation until a few weeks into the season. Howard then blitzed through the college season with a 1.94 ERA and 9.9 K/9. In pro ball, Howard has had mixed success, allowing 10 of his 14 earned runs in 20 of his 9 starts. He struck out 40 in 28.1 innings for Williamsport, but also walked 18. In terms of actual pitches, Howard’s arsenal leads with a fastball that sits 91-95, that can touch 96, that he gets good extension and life on. Out of college, his slider was his best secondary pitch, and it flashed good potential. He also throws a changeup that shows good fade. In pro ball, he threw a loopy curve, while the college reports indicate he also threw a cutter, but it may be a derivation of the slider. Howard is relatively young for a college junior, and with his late move to starting, there may be more potential in his secondary pitches as he begins to log more innings and experience. If he can’t get the full arsenal to work, he has a future as a fastball/slider reliever, but the Phillies are committed to him being a starter for the foreseeable future.
2018 Outlook: The Phillies traditionally push their high pick college players directly to Clearwater, and Howard would fit that model. However, with a plethora of starters already slated for Florida, the Phillies could let him get some starts in low-A to open the year.
Previous Rank: N/A
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