At the beginning of the season (actually a week or so in) I put out some minor league predictions. Mostly they were aimed at being funny and talking about some potential trends in the organization. Either way it is just as fun to loop back around and see how I did.
1. Carlos Tocci hits more than 5 home runs. I did write this before he hit one out already, I just think the contact quality continues to get better and he is going to turn on a couple more this year.
Tocci ended up with 4 home runs on the year while splitting time between Lakewood and Clearwater. He showed he could turn on the ball and drive it, and that there is some power coming along. He is going to get even stronger this offseason before likely returning to Clearwater. I think there is a chance that he could be a guy that could get into that 8-10 HR a year range by the time he reaches the majors.
2. Aaron Nola makes his major league debut before July 15. Have you seen the major league rotation? The journeyman RHPs are off to good starts, which means there might be more of a trade market this summer as teams are looking for back end starters. At some point though Nola is going to force the issue at a major league level.
Nola did force the issue by just running out of things to learn in AAA. He made his major league debut on July 21, 6 days after I predicted. The journeymen RHPs just all kind of feel apart and no one wanted them, but nonetheless Aaron Nola is now in the major league rotation and flashing some good stuff.
3. Speaking of rotation, the final rotation will be Aaron Nola, Jesse Biddle, Severino Gonzalez, David Buchanan, and Adam Morgan. All the veterans are either traded (if good), cut (if bad), or are injured. Along the same note, Joely Rodriguez comes up as a starter but ends up in the bullpen as the second lefty with Jake Diekman.
Yikes. Jesse Biddle fell apart and then got hurt. Severino Gonzalez is just bad. So is David Buchanan, but at least he shows signs of life and did make it back to rotation. We will count Morgan among the ending rotation as they had the room to shut him down a little early to ease up on his workload. Joely Rodriguez had a roller coaster year and somehow ended up in the AA rotation before the end of the playoffs. Jake Diekman is now in Texas as well. That being said, the thought behind this is that the Phillies would have a very young rotation and they do with Nola, Morgan*,Buchanan, Jerad Eickhoff, and Alec Asher joining the lumbering corpse of Aaron Harang.
4. More pitching, as Franklyn Kilome ends the year in Lakewood and is a Top 100 prospect. He is already touching 97 this year and is primed for a breakout, he will probably see time in both Lakewood and Williamsport this year. I think part of the wait is building up his innings count without putting him in a situation where he could stress a bullpen.
Kilome’s injury and lack of playoffs for Lakewood likely held him in Williamsport all year. He definitely did break out and reportedly broke 100mph in a start though was more 93-96 during the season. I have him as a Top 100 prospect personally but I don’t write other people’s rankings.
5. Edubray Ramos ends the year in Reading and is added to the 40 man roster this offseason. It has been an inconsistent start for Ramos who made the jump over Lakewood, but he is young enough (22) and has sharp enough stuff he is going to need protecting. So far this year Ramos has been 92-94 touching 96 with two breaking balls, and I would expect to see him start missing bats soon.
All of this. Ramos is really solid. I can’t see them not protecting him this offseason given their need for major league relief arms. He did struggle in AA at times, especially with his command so he might need a little more time in the minors.
6. J.P. Crawford is a stud and despite the injury set back I don’t see him not being a consensus Top 10 prospect in baseball and being Top 5 on some lists. He is really really good and that can’t be stated too much.
He is the #2 prospect in baseball and the #1 prospect still in the minors.
7. Zach Eflin is not the best starting pitching prospect in Reading (that is Nola), but Eflin should spend the whole year in Reading and I think he puts up the best numbers of anyone on that staff. He has already shown that he isn’t going to walk batters and they are going to hit a ton of ground balls.
Eflin started out on fire, then struggled, before being very good in the playoffs. He really evolved as a pitcher all year. However, he was only the best pitcher on the staff during the stretch between Nola’s promotion to AAA and the arrival of Jake Thompson from Texas (and Eflin was at the Pan Am games during a lot of that time).
8. Between a Cole Hamels trade, a Jonathan Papelbon trade, some deals of ancillary pieces, and general growth the Phillies have a Top 10 farm system next offseason. This is after Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco, and Jesse Biddle all graduate to the majors.
Jesse Biddle didn’t graduate (though he won’t be on many lists this offseason). But Nola and Franco are mainstays in the majors and have been joined by a good size rookie class. The Phillies absolutely have a Top 10 farm system right now and I might put it higher than that.
9. Lets so some stats leaders:
Not a lot of explanation here, I think Crawford leads in the plate discipline stats even with missing a month.
A bit more explanations here. For one we have Nola and Biddle graduating to the majors and Yoel Mecias will be starting the year on the DL. Whitehead is the perfect combo of age and efficiency that should get him plenty of innings this year as the team should also let him work through his rough starts. Pinto gets the combination of good stuff and pitching in Lakewood for half of his games. Taylor is in an advantageous situation for him, like Pinto he gets Lakewood home games and like Whitehead he has the age that will cause the Phillies to leave him in games for longer outings. He also has the stuff mix to work against lower level hitters because he is a left hander with a good fastball. As for home runs, someone in Reading has to take the fall and Hoby Milner is no longer a starting pitcher.
Your real leaders (I am using an arbitrary measure of what counts as a qualifying season), with some splits for short season ball (SS):
AVG: Rhys Hoskins – .319/ Austin Bossart (SS) – .333 (Andrew Pullin had a weird season with 14 HRs but only a .258 average)
OBP: Rhys Hoskins – .395 / Cornelius Randolph (SS) – .425 (Crawford was at .380)
SLG: Rhys Hoskins – .518 / Josh Tobias (SS) – .475 (I will note that Franco’s .539 beat out Hoskins, but Franco only played 33 minor league games)
HR: Rhys Hoskins – 17 (Art Charles only hit 8 in Reading)
2B: Rhys Hoskins – 36 (I am getting tired of writing out Hoskins, Brown was 28th with 17 doubles)
3B: Angelo Mora – 10 (Quinn totally wins this if he plays more than 58 games)
BB: Brock Stassi – 77 (Crawford was #2 with 63)
K: Jordan Danks – 122 (Pointer racked up 91 strikeouts in 324 PAs)
SB: Roman Quinn – 29 (He would have stolen at least 60 in a full season)
IP: Ricardo Pinto – 145.1 (Whitehead was 6th with 135.2 IP)
ERA: Aaron Nola – 2.39 / Sergio Velis (SS) – 1.33 (Pinto’s 2.97 ERA leads all pitchers with at least 20 starts)
Strikeouts: Mark Leiter Jr. – 121 (Taylor actually struck out 123 on the season but was traded for international slot money)
K/9: Gandy Stubblefield (Reliever) – 12.3 / Josh Taylor (Starter) – 9.2
BB/9: Felix Paulino – 0.9 (Paulino actually was tied with Bailey Falter but pitcher 21.1 more innings in the GCL, meanwhile Sev was at 1.8 on the year)
HR: Ben Lively – 14 (Reading is a terrible place to pitch for keeping the ball in the park)
10. The Top 10 Phillies prospects a year from now:
- J.P. Crawford
- Franklyn Kilome
- Roman Quinn
- #10 pick
- Zach Eflin
- Carlos Tocci
- Deivi Grullon
- Yoel Mecias
- Ricardo Pinto
- Victor Arano
I obviously have not included any potential trade returns, and we have Nola, Franco, and Biddle in the majors. The other player missing here is Kelly Dugan who I debated a lot on. I just don’t see many scenarios where he keeps eligibility and keeps a high ranking. There are also a lot of guys I want to push up on this list, but I can only risk 10 names so don’t take it as a slight.
So I didn’t account for a Hamels trade. Mecais was never healthy and was released and Biddle crashed and burned. Here is the latest Top 10 I submitted (for the Reading Eagle survey), there continues to be shuffling, but not bad overall.
- Nick Williams
- Jorge Alfaro
- Jake Thompson
- Randolph (#10 pick)
Up Tomorrow, the full preseason survey.