Last week I talked about what was written in the 2016 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. At the end of the week, BA put out their revised organizational rankings as well as their Top 100 prospects. The org rankings did not change much with the Phillies staying constant at #8, but the Top 100 offered plenty of surprises for the Phillies.
Let’s start with the Org Ranking. The Phillies are firmly entrenched in the second tier of teams, and I think you could justify as high as 4 and as low as 10 depending on how you view individual players. Here is what BA had to say about the system.
8. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
State of the System: The Phillies may have waited a year longer than they should have, but their rebuild has gone well to this point. They extracted five players from the Rangers in the Cole Hamels trade, adding depth arms in other deals. But the system’s strength is potential impact hitters they’ve drafted, such as top prospectJ.P. Crawford, catcher Andrew Knapp and 2015 first-rounder Cornelius Randolph.
Best-Stocked Position: Few systems have two catchers in their Top 10s like the Phillies do, as Knapp took a major step forward last season with his switch-hitting power potential. Jorge Alfaro, acquired from the Rangers, has louder tools but lacks polish, particularly as a receiver, and was hurt for much of 2015. Deivi Grullon has fine catch-and-throw skills but needs time for his bat to develop.
Breakout Candidate: Outfielders Dylan Cozens and Aaron Brown have big bodies, big power potential and holes in their games. Both should play corner spots in Double-A Reading, which could lead to a spike in home runs. Cozens’ edge in experience makes him the better bet as long as he’s healthy after missing the Arizona Fall League with a forearm strain.
I won’t say anything about Cozens and Brown here that I didn’t say in my Top 50, but I don’t get it. Catcher is certainly a fair call on deepest position. Personally I might go center field (Williams, Quinn, Tocci, and Luis) or RHSP (all of the starters because lefties are not a thing that exists in the current Phillies’ system). I will agree that when it comes draft prospects, the Phillies have done much better with hitters, when it comes to Latin America it is hard to complain about their pitching development.
Now on to the Top 100:
#6 J.P. Crawford
#27 Nick Williams
#75 Jake Thompson
#88 Cornelius Randolph
#96 Andrew Knapp
I didn’t expect Crawford to be underrated nationally, but given where he is coming in on lists, it is something that is becoming clear. The difference between 1 and 6 is larger than some of the ranks lower down, and I do think that Crawford has a case to be the best prospect in baseball. I am glad to see Williams up where near he was on the BP list (25), because he could be really good, especially if he can play center field level defense. I think Thompson is boring and unexciting to national rankers because he has been a perpetual disappointment by being solid and not extraordinary. For Phillies’ fans, we see his dominance for Reading down the stretch and his impending arrival in the majors. I think he could be higher, because he has a lot of safety, but he does lack impact and flash. Randolph can really hit and his defensive issues are overblown because he is going to be fine in left field, and he is going to really hit. I don’t get Knapp here, but BA loves him and this gives the Phillies 9 different players who made Top 100 lists this offseason. I think Alfaro and Appel are top 100 prospects, due to their upside, and the overall weakness of this year’s Top 100 prospects, but I also acknowledge the risks make both hard to rank. Overall I think the Phillies’ top 8 prospects are very strong, and if you want to include Knapp in that group, it is up there with the top of anyone’s system.
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