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.
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:
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.