Do the Phillies Promote Prospects Late?

Very often you hear complaints that the Phillies hold their prospects down forever, or at least until they are old veterans.  This refrain gets repeated on message boards and comment sections forever, but is there any truth to this.  I took all the major prospects from BA’s Top 10 Phillies prospects lists since 1998 who debuted either with the Phillies or soon after a trade (Carlos Carrasco) and here is what I found.

 AcquiredDebutEstablished
PlayerSourceAgeYearAgeYearAgeYear
Randy WolfCollege-Jr201997221999221999
Jimmy RollinsHS181996212000212000
Pat BurrellCollege-Jr211998232000232000
Brett MyersHS181999212002212002
Marlon ByrdCollege-Jr211999252002252003
Ryan MadsonHS171998232003232004
Chase UtleyCollege-Jr212000242003252004
Gavin FloydHS182001212004252008
Ryan HowardCollege-Jr212001242004252005
Cole HamelsHS182002222006222006
Michael BournCollege-Jr202003232006252008
Carlos RuizInternational191998272006282007
Kyle KendrickHS182003222007252010
J.A. HappCollege-Jr212004242007262009
Lou MarsonHS182004222008
Carlos CarrascoInternational162003222009272014
Antonio BastardoInternational192005232009242010
Vance WorleyCollege-Jr202008222010232011
Domonic BrownHS182006222010242012
Freddy GalvisInternational162006222012252015
Jonathan PettiboneHS182008222013222013
Maikel FrancoInternational172010222014
Cody AscheCollege-Jr212011232013232013

Now this is a lot of numbers all at once, so I won’t expect anyone to memorize or process it all.  So here is the summarized version:

DebutRegular
Average22.7Average24.0
HS21.8HS23.0
College23.3College24.1
International23.2International26.0

Now we see about what we would expect with high schoolers arriving in the majors and then taking longer to establish themselves, meanwhile college players arrive a bit later, but establish themselves in the majors fairly quickly.  On a whole the amount of time is not out of the ordinary as we look back at the 2013 MLB draft and we see there are only 3 players from the class in the majors right now, including uber-prospect Kris Bryant who is already 23 and destroyed the minors completely.

Now there are some outliers like Carlos Ruiz who didn’t make his debut until age 27 and wasn’t a regular until 28, or Carlos Carrasco who arrive at age 22 and too until 27 to get the hang of it.  Players like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley arrived somewhere a half year or so behind some of their contemporaries, but not far enough behind that their extended circumstances (namely Jim Thome and Utley’s lack of position) don’t make it out of the ordinary.  Even a player of the elite caliber as Cole Hamels who dominated the minors didn’t make the majors until age 22 because of injuries and other setbacks.

With all this said, lets take one last look at this, here is the breakdown of all members of the current 40 man roster who made their debut for the Phillies:

Age 22 (5): Cole Hamels (HS), Jonathan Pettibone (HS), Maikel Franco (IFA), Freddy Galvis (IFA), Domonic Brown (HS)
Age 23 (6): Justin DeFratus (JC), Cody Asche (Jr), Cesar Hernandez (IFA), Aaron Altherr (HS), Odubel Herrera (R5 – IFA), Ken Giles (JC)
Age 24 (4): Ethan Martin (Tr – HS), Cameron Rupp (Jr), Ryan Howard (Jr), Chase Utley (Jr)
Age 25 (4): David Buchanan (Jr), Jake Diekman (JC), Mario Hollands (Jr), Hector Neris (IFA)
Age 26 (2): Luis Garcia (FA – IFA), Darin Ruf (Sr)
Age 27 (1): Carlos Ruiz (IFA)

The one trend you do see is that the less heralded prospects arrive later.  Sometimes this is because they start later (Ruf as a college senior), they move slower through the system, or they have real bumps along the way (Garcia).  My guess is that you will see similar trends across all of baseball with some players on the high end and some on the extreme low end, but that is the nature of many things in baseball.  But overall there isn’t anything here that would suggest that the Phillies are slow to promote anyone.

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman
Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.

3 comments

  1. Romus

    Very good.
    A nice bit of information to have when someone stats complaining about how the Phillies hold back youngsters.
    I guess soon M. Franco will be the one used as the latest example.

  2. Tim Costello

    Hi Matt Carlos Ruiz started out as a second baseman he didn’t change to catcher until he was 25. Jake Diekman didn’t get his velo until his delivery was change . Garcia was found late so there a lot of reasons . think Joe Jordan is much more aggressive in moving players I hope Dugan gets healthy and Perkins and Altherr get move up fast. Good article hope the Phillies can rebuild fast.

  3. You wonder if the thinness on display at the AAA and MLB teams will have the team pondering promotions from Reading a little sooner than they might otherwise. Nola threw a lot of D1 innings, so I’d worry less about him. But Biddle has thrown so few innings, relatively, and came out of high school to boot. Five or six starts displaying health and command may or may not encourage the brass to boot him up to LV. Bumping Perkins last year now seems like a mistake, for instance. They need help at the higher levels for sure, but…