Development is not linear. It is easy to look at many in this group of prospects and see disappointment. It is true that some of the prospects in this range dropped off cover the 2017 season, others jumped forward as they started into their pro careers, and two in Victor Arano and Ben Lively made the majors. So while it looks grim for some of the prospects here, they have talent and all it takes is some adjustments before they are back going in the right direction.
All ages are for major league opening day.
31. Kevin Gowdy – RHP (Profile)
DOB: November 16, 1997 (20)
H/W: 6’4″ 170
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round (#42 overall) of the 2016 draft by the Phillies.
2017 Stats: Did not play – Injured
Role: #2/#3 Starter
Risk: Extreme – We didn’t actually get to see Gowdy pitch this year outside of Spring Training due to an arm injury that eventually needed Tommy John surgery. Pre-draft, he looked like an advanced and projectable righty with 3 plus pitches. That talent is still there, but we won’t see if it comes back from injury until probably 2018 Fall Instructs.
Summary: The Phillies spent mid 1st round money on Gowdy in the 2016 draft. He was supposed to be the most advanced high school right handed arm in the draft, with plenty upside as well. He was just okay in his limited debut last year and was slated to maybe go to Lakewood at some point in 2018. However, an arm injury in Extended Spring delayed that debut until short season got underway, but the injury only worsened and Gowdy had to have Tommy John surgery. He will miss the entire 2018 season while he rehabs, with maybe some innings in fall instructional league. At his best, Gowdy showed a future plus fastball, advanced changeup feel, and a slider that was close to plus already, as well as good command of his pitches. He is advanced enough that he should be able to make up for lost time, but two missed seasons is a lot of missed development.
2018 Outlook: Gowdy should start throwing rehab innings over the summer as he works his way back from surgery. It is possible he throws an inning or two in the GCL, but it is more likely he gets some work in during Fall Instructs with an eye on starting 2019 healthy and strong.
Previous Rank: 10
32. Jesmuel Valentin – 2B (Profile)
DOB: May 12, 1994 (23)
H/W: 5’9″ 180lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (#51 overall) of the 2012 draft by the Dodgers. Traded to the Phillies along with Victor Arano for Roberto Hernandez on August 16, 2014.
|Lehigh Valley (AAA)||29||104||1||0||5.8%||15.4%||.229||.282||.292|
Role: Utility Infielder
Risk: Low – Valentin missed most of the 2017 season with a separated shoulder, but would have been on the Phillies bench to open 2017 if he hadn’t hit as well as he did in Spring Training
Summary: Jesmuel Valentin was one of the last cuts in spring training for the Phillies. He hit well enough to show that he could contribute to a major league bench, but also well enough that he might have upside if he got everyday at bats. After 29 games in Lehigh Valley, he separated his shoulder, ending his 2017 season. Valentin’s primary position is second base, but he can handle short and third in small stints and can handle all three outfield positions and first base. Valentin has some feel to hit, but lacks both power and speed, which leaves his best skill, plate discipline, without impact. There is a small chance that Valentin could be a second division second baseman, but his defensive flexibility and ability to work counts and make contact make him a solid utility bat.
2018 Outlook: It is clear that Cesar Hernandez or Scott Kingery will be the Phillies’ second baseman of the future, so it makes it more likely that Valentin could move into his long term role as soon as opening day.
Previous Rank: 33
33. McKenzie Mills – LHP (Profile)
DOB: November 19, 1995 (22)
H/W: 6’4″ 205lbs
Acquired: Draft in the 18th round (#544 overall) of the 2014 draft by the Nationals. Traded to the Phillies for Howie Kendrick on July 28, 2017.
Role: #4 Starter
Risk: High – Mills only has a handful of starts above low-A and a good amount of secondary pitch development ahead of him. With no current standout pitches, Mills needs to develop a full arsenal to stay in a rotation.
Summary: The Nationals took Mills as a bit of a project in the 2014 draft. It took until his 4th year before he started to really show promise. Mills’ fastball ticked up to sitting in the low 90s, and his 6’4” frame might have a little bit more in it. Additionally, Mills was able to dramatically improve his control, and he walked fewer batters in 104.2 innings in 2017 than he did in 53.1 innings in 2016. There is some debate about which of Mills’ secondary pitches are better. Neither his changeup nor his curveball look like an impact pitch. His changeup might have above average potential, and while some like his curveball, he has not shown the feel on it to project long term potential. If Mills can get to three average pitches, then his control, coupled with his frame, gives him a chance to be a back end starter.
2018 Outlook: After coming over from the Nationals, Mills only made 3 starts in Clearwater, so a return trip to the Threshers makes a lot of sense.
Previous Rank: N/A
34. Bailey Falter – LHP (Profile)
DOB: April 24, 1997 (20)
H/W: 6’4″ 175lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 5th round (#144 overall) by the Phillies in the 2015 draft.
Role: #4/#5 Starter
Risk: High – Falter’s skillset worked against low minors hitters, but he needs to hit his potential across the board for him to hit his ceiling
Summary: The scouting report on Bailey Falter remains mostly the same as last year. His fastball is a little bit faster, but still in that range around 90, touching up to 94. His curveball is a bit long and loopy, but has potential. His changeup has flashed average or better potential in the past, but remains inconsistent. Falter has a projectable frame and at just 20 years old he has time to improve, but so far in 2 years, the progress has been gradual and slow. If the improvements do come, Falter has advanced control as a base to build on. His current arsenal is more respective of a fringe back end starter than an impact starter, so he will need to be perfect as he moves up through the system. If his changeup never comes and his fastball sticks where it is, Falter’s fastball and curveball give him a chance at a floor of major league LOOGY.
2018 Outlook: Falter has been progressing a level per year, and Clearwater is the next stop. He may dominate the Florida State League, but much like in 2017, the talent in front of him may prevent a rise to a level where he will be challenged.
Previous Rank: 29
35. Dylan Cozens – OF (Profile)
DOB: May 31, 1994 (23)
H/W: 6’6″ 235lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round (#77 overall) by the Phillies in the 2012 draft.
|Lehigh Valley (AAA)||135||542||27||8||10.7%||35.8%||.210||.301||.418|
Role: Second Division Regular
Risk: High – There is a chance that Cozens can hit right handed pitchers enough to have a role as a platoon bat, but he may also not be able to hit enough to have any major league value.
Summary: After a breakout year of sorts in Reading, Dylan Cozens moved to AAA along with fellow “Bash Brother” Rhys Hoskins, and from there their paths diverged. After a pitiful April, in which he struck out in nearly half of his trips to the plate, Cozens blasted the International League in May before starting a downward spiral that saw him hit .151 after the AAA All-Star game. Most of Cozens’ problems are not new. He struggles against left handed pitching, particularly offspeed pitches. Righties have also been able to exploit his pitch recognition more. In particular, they have had success beating him up and in with fastballs and soft and away with softer stuff. Some of the issues are structural for Cozens. He is large and slow, with a swing that can get long and loopy. This leaves some large holes inside, as his wrists are not loose enough to react quickly to get to inside pitches. If a pitcher does leave a pitch out over the plate, it is easy to see why some still believe in Cozens. He has all fields power and can flick the ball out to right field with ease. For the second year in a row, Cozens posted big home/road split differences, the only difference this year is that Coca Cola Park (Lehigh Valley) is more neutral to right handed friendly and First Energy Stadium (Reading) is more a batting average and power park across the board. It may speak to Cozens being more comfortable at home or better able to read the ball in a friendly environment, but the differences were stark. On the base paths, Cozens’ lack of high speed showed in much lower stolen base totals and success rates. He is still a smart base runner, but his days of stealing bases are probably behind him. In the outfield, he is a poor fielder due to his range and questionable routes, but his arm strength is at least plus, which allows him to stick in right field for now. Cozens has done a good job of maintaining his speed for now, but many think that first base will be his primary long term home. Cozens has enough raw power that getting to a below average hit tool against right handed pitchers could earn him a major league platoon role. The constant question for Cozens will be whether his body type and lack of pitch recognition allow him to make the adjustments he needs to have a major league future.
2018 Outlook: Cozens is still on the 40 man roster, and while the Phillies are strong in major league outfielders, he has a chance to carve out a major league role or value as a trade piece. For now, that means a return trip to Lehigh Valley to figure out how to hit baseballs consistently.
Previous Rank: 13
36. Jose Gomez – SS (Profile)
DOB: December 10, 1996 (21)
H/W: 5’11” 175lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur by the Rockies on July 2, 2013. Traded to the Phillies with J.D. Hammer and Alejandro Requena for Pat Neshek on July 26, 2017.
|GCL Phillies (Rk)||2||6||0||0||0.0%||0.0%||.500||.500||.500|
Role: Second Division Regular/Utility Infielder
Risk: High – Gomez has barely reached hi-A and there are already question about his ability to stick at shortstop.
Summary: Gomez was the top prospect that came back from the Rockies for Pat Neshek. Gomez spent the first half of the year hitting for average in Asheville, which is one of the best places to hit in the minors. Gomez does have a good all fields approach, but he struck out a bit more in full season ball than he had in his first 3 years. Gomez has just average speed and poor power. His lack of speed has many thinking that, like Jesmuel Valentin, he will have to move to second base, though he does have more arm strength than Valentin. Gomez does not have enough offensive upside to be an everyday second or third baseman, so he is probably a utility infielder long term.
2018 Outlook: Gomez did not hit well enough in Clearwater to force a promotion to Reading, but Clearwater will also have Arquimedes Gamboa and Daniel Brito in 2018. Gomez could move around the infield before making a midseason move to Reading.
Previous Rank: N/A
37. Edgar Garcia – RHP (Profile)
DOB: October 4, 1996 (21)
H/W: 6’1″ 180lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur by the Phillies on May 29, 2014.
Role: High Leverage Reliever
Risk: High – Garcia has struggled in the rotation and lacks the changeup needed to start. He also hasn’t had sustained success in the bullpen.
Summary: In a system loaded with high upside Latin American arms, Edgar Garcia has flown under the radar. For the second season in a row, he started in a bullpen before moving to the rotation. Unlike in 2016, Garcia was not successful in the rotation, fading heavily down the stretch. Garcia looks the part of the reliever. He is a skinny 6’1” and has only thrown over 90 pitches once in the year. Outside of his lack of physicality, Garcia lacks a decent changeup, which helped contribute to strong left/right platoon splits. What Garcia does have is a fastball that sits 91-95, touching 96 as a starter, and a plus slider that already misses bats. As a reliever, Garcia profiles similarly to fellow righties Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos. Whether he continues to start some in 2018, his final role is probably in the bullpen, but the Phillies have shown a willingness to let him work things out in a rotation.
2018 Outlook: With precious few rotation spots, the Phillies are going to have to make a bullpen determination on Garcia fairly soon, despite the fact that he will pitch 2018 at age 21. If he stays in a rotation, then a return trip to Clearwater is in order. The Phillies could move him to the bullpen and fasttrack him to Reading, but it’s more likely he gets some innings in Florida before going north.
Previous Rank: 49
38. Eliezer Alvarez – 2B (Profile)
DOB: October 15, 1994 (23)
H/W: 5’11” 165lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur by the Cardinal on July 2, 2011. Traded to the Phillies for Juan Nicasio on September 6, 2017.
|GCL Cardinals (Rk)||7||27||1||1||7.4%||11.1%||.250||.296||.458|
Role: Second Division Regular/Utility Infielder
Risk: High – Alvarez only has a track record of hitting in low-A, and as a second baseman primarily, he needs to hit to have major league value.
Summary: The Phillies received Alvarez in trade from the Cardinals for a few weeks of Juan Nicasio. Alvarez spent 4 years in short season ball before having a breakout year in 2016 in the Midwest League. The Cardinals then added Alvarez to the 40 man roster and then fast tracked him to AA. Injuries and struggles when healthy caused a down year in 2017 before the trade. Alvarez has a feel for contact, but against advanced pitching, his strikeout rate spiked and his walk rate dropped. Alvarez doesn’t have much more than double power, maybe settling into 5-8 home run a year range. He is an above average runner, with mixed success stealing bases (he stole fewer bases in 2017, but at a slightly higher percentage). He has the tools to be a solid defender at second, but his actions aren’t there. He has enough arm strength to be a fill in at third and probably could handle both corner outfield spots, giving him some fall back as a utility player. His whole profile is reminiscent of current Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez, including the late blooming path. Hernandez also had a down year after being double jumped. Alvarez is going to have to just flat out hit like Hernandez did after that drop in order to have a future as a regular, and even then he will need some lucky breaks.
2018 Outlook: Given his struggles in AA last year, Alvarez will return to AA, only this time he will get the Reading park instead of Springfield. With Jesmuel Valentin and Scott Kingery in front of him, Alvarez will probably spend the whole year in AA proving he deserves his 40 man spot.
Previous Rank: N/A
39. Jake Scheiner – 2B/3B (Profile)
DOB: August 13, 1995 (22)
H/W: 6’1″ 200lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 4th round (#113 overall) by the Phillies in the 2017 draft.
Role: Second Division Regular/Utility Infielder
Risk: High – Scheiner hit for power in college but struggled at the plate in pro-ball. However, he showed there might be a chance he could play second base.
Summary: Scheiner transferred to the University of Houston after two years in junior college and proceeded to just mash, hitting .346 with 18 home runs in 63 games. Scheiner likely won’t achieve that level of power output again, as he probably only has average power, and there are questions about his swing and hit tool. He really struggled in pro-ball against good offspeed pitches, and his swing does get a bit long. What makes Scheiner interesting is that he played shortstop and third base in college, but the Phillies are trying him at second and third. If he can play second, that gives him a path to being an everyday player, but more importantly it allows him to be a utility bench bat down the line. It is still early in his time at second, but so far the results have been positive. After starting strong, Scheiner faded down the stretch, likely due to fatigue. Unlike most college juniors, Scheiner only had one year against high level competition, so he might be a slower mover than a similar player coming off three years at a Division 1 school.
2018 Outlook: Because of his struggles in Williamsport and the presence of Daniel Brito in Clearwater, Scheiner likely starts the year in Lakewood, where he will probably be part of an infield mix with Cole Stobbe, Dalton Guthrie, and Nick Maton.
Previous Rank: N/A
40. Andrew Pullin – OF (Profile)
DOB: September 25, 1993 (24)
H/W: 6’0″ 190lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 5th round (#188 overall) by the Phillies in 2012 draft.
|Lehigh Valley (AAA)||67||254||6||3||5.1%||19.7%||.231||.280||.412|
Role: 4th Outfielder
Risk: Medium – Pullin mashed at AA, but he really struggled in AAA. He is limited to left field and maybe first base, so he needs to hit to have any sort of major league role, even if it is on a bench.
Summary: Andrew Pullin had an injury plagued end to his 2016 season in Reading, so it was not a surprise that he returned there to open 2017, despite having posted a .952 OPS there. He proceeded to top his 2016 season in Baseballtown. While his stats were down, most of it can be attributed to a 60 point drop in BABIP, because Pullin hit for more power, walked more, and struck out less. He was then promoted to Lehigh Valley, where things came a bit apart. While he still hit for some power, it was mostly doubles. He struck out more, walked less, and made a lot less hard contact in general. Over the past few years, Pullin has made himself into a bit of a one dimensional player. He is pull heavy and struggles against same side pitching. This approach has allowed him to hit for much more power and keep good contact rates, even when he has struggled. The problem for Pullin is that he provides very little secondary value. He is a fine defender in left and has gotten some reps at first, but he is never going to provide positive defensive value. He also rarely steals bases, and even when at his best he does not walk at a high rate (his career high is a 7.5% BB%), so if he is not making contact, he is not adding much value elsewhere. However, he has the chance to hit enough and with enough power to be useful on a major league bench or in a platoon role.
2018 Outlook: Pullin will go to Spring Training with a chance to win a bench role, but he will probably go to Lehigh Valley to join an outfield of prospects looking for second chances, alongside Roman Quinn and Dylan Cozens.
Previous Rank: 28
Photo of Andrew Pullin by Baseball Betsy