The minor leagues are not a static thing and there is little more challenging than writing anything definitive about prospects while games are going on. Players are constantly changing and adjusting, and the key is to try and stay current during the constantly changing evaluations. This list is just a snapshot in time, and frankly one that is now anywhere from days to weeks old depending on the player. Also important to the discussion of any prospect lists is that this list is not linear, for instance the gap between Jake Thompson (#3) and Jorge Alfaro (#4) is almost non-existent for me, but some of the gaps along the are larger. I did not include players in the majors or signed on July 2 this past year for the list, the offseason list will include all players with rookie eligibility.
*All stats are as of the evening of August 1.
1. J.P. Crawford, SS, Reading
Stats: 75 G 353 PA .292/.387/.415 14 2B 4 3B 5 HR 7 SB 46 BB 34 K
What Happened: Crawford missed the end of spring training and all of April to an oblique injury. When he came back he hit his way through Clearwater before moving to Reading. In Reading, Crawford showed a little less BABIP and a lot more power. His approach at the plate is well beyond his years and he has maintained more walks than strikeouts all year. His defense is still plus and he is very smooth both fielding the ball and turning the double play. The result has been a consensus top 5 prospect in baseball and a potential superstar
What Next: If there is a weakness in Crawford’s game it is his weakness against LHPs. I see no reason why he won’t improve, but for now it remains a struggle for him. He should hit for more power going forward as he physically matures. He will likely spend the rest of the season in Reading, with a AAA start in line for next season.
Preseason Ranking: 1
2. Nick Williams, OF, Reading
Stats: 97 G 415 PA .299/.357/.479 21 2B 4 3B 13 HR 10 SB 32 BB 77 K
What Happened: Nick Williams is the prize of the Cole Hamels trade because of what happened in the first half of this year. Williams has always had impressive coordination and feel for contact, but he was too aggressive and would swing at pitches he shouldn’t and put himself in bad hitting situations. This year he is working pitchers more by taking more pitches and getting into good counts, the result has been a sharp drop in strikeout rate and near doubling of his walk rate. On top of the contact, Williams has flashed plus or better raw power, plus speed, and this year the ability to handle center field.
What Next: Williams will go to Reading where it remains to be seen where the Phillies primarily play him. The big thing for Williams will be whether the gains made this year in the Texas system carry over to the Phillies system. If he can continue to grow he will arrive in Philly at a pace similar to J.P. Crawford.
Preseason Ranking: N/A
3. Jake Thompson, RHP, Reading
Stats: 17 GS 87.2 IP 4.72 ERA 30 BB 78 K
What Happened: It was a rough statistical year for the big righty as he got hit around a bit in the Texas League. His peripherals were ok but not great, but the stuff was still exactly as expected. He hasn’t held some minor upticks in velocity, but he still sits 90-94 touching 95. His main weapon is a slider which some evaluators rate as high as plus plus, but the consensus seems to have it at least as a plus pitch. He also throws an average changeup. Overall, it has been a bit of a disappointing year for Thompson but he still shows the ability to be a mid-rotation work horse.
What Next: The Eastern League is more forgiving that the Texas League, though the Reading park won’t hold all of the mistakes. In Reading he will join a new “stacked” rotation with Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta, and Mark Leiter Jr. I am not sure if the Phillies will alter things about him, but it will be key for Thompson to find some consistency to end the year. He is probably on a similar path to the majors as Zach Eflin.
Preseason Ranking: N/A
4. Jorge Alfaro, C, Reading
Stats: 49 G 207 PA .253/.314/.432 15 2B 2 3B 5 HR 9 BB 61 K
What Happened: Alfaro is not a normal catcher, he is a freak athlete playing catcher. He has a 70 or 80 arm, 60 or 70 raw power, and is an average or better runner. The problem has been all the things in between those tools. His approach is lacking and he swings at a lot of pitches he shouldn’t and doesn’t hit all the things he swings at. His receiving behind the plate is improved this year, but still is lacking the feel to be a lock to stay behind the plate, and despite the arm strength he doesn’t transfer and throw quickly. Unfortunately his season was cut short by an ankle injury requiring surgery (the injury occurred running the bases not while catching).
What Next: Alfaro will likely spend the rest of the season in Clearwater rehabbing and having the coaching staff tweak things. If he can stick behind the plate he can be an above average to All-Star catcher. He is enough of an athlete though that if he needs to move off the position to an outfield corner, or maybe even third base if needed, he can.
Preseason Ranking: N/A
5. Franklyn Kilome, RHP, Williamsport
Stats: 5 GS 23.0 IP 1.57 IP 9 BB 21
What Happened: Kilome put himself on the map last year when his stuff jumped from 89-92 to touching 94 by the end of the year. This year he swapped out his slider for a curveball that flashes plus or better and found a changeup grip that was less firm and had more movement. And oh by the way he showed up this spring throwing 92-95 touching 97 and now sits 94-96 with his fastball and has touched 97+. Kilome’s delivery is easy and he has some feel for command already. The best I analogy I can use for his growth is that he is the robot or alien in the movie that is learning and growing at an accelerating rate after becoming self aware. He missed some time due to a rib injury and the Phillies are taking it very slow with him, but his upside is up there with the top pitching prospects in the game.
What Now: Health and innings. Kilome still hasn’t logged a full year of innings and it is one of the main concerns still out there for him. The other thing is that he just needs to get used to his new stuff, where it is the off speed pitches or the velocity. Once he reestablishes that base he could start moving quickly again.
Preseason Ranking: 15
6. Cornelius Randolph, LF, GCL
Stats: 28 G 115 PA .280/.400/.430 9 2B 1 3B 1 HR 17 BB 19 K
What Happened: The Phillies took Randolph with the 10th overall pick in the draft, there was some light mockery from those that do draft lists, but the Phillies believed in his bat. They believed so much they moved him quickly down the defensive spectrum to left field so that he could move at the speed of his bat. So far the results have been great, Randolph has drawn rave reviews on his hit tool, and his defense in an outfield corner has been a pleasant surprise as well. He hasn’t hit for a ton of home run power but the Phillies think it will come with time.
What Next: It is hard to say whether Randolph will get a bump up a level as a minor ankle injury and a monsoon in Florida put a roadblock in the way of his momentum. Either way he needs to just keep doing what he is doing which is working pitchers, going the other way, and just being an excellent all around hitter.
Preseason Ranking: N/A
7. Roman Quinn, CF, Reading
Stats: 58 G 257 PA .306/.356/.435 6 2B 6 3B 4 HR 29 SB 18 BB 42 K
What Happened: Quinn got off to a blazing start in AA showing more power and approach than previous seasons. He was able to put his elite speed to use both on the bases and in the field. All together he was starting to look like an average major league center fielder with a chance to be a plus everyday player. However, at the height of all of this he hurt his quad and hip flexor which has put him out until mid August at the earliest.
What Next: The key for Quinn is whether he can get healthy and how fast a runner he is when he gets back. I am not convinced that Quinn is injury prone, but it is worth keeping an eye on. Quinn could get a return trip to the AFL if he is healthy, in order to make up for lost time.
Preseason Ranking: 7
8. Carlos Tocci, CF, Clearwater
Stats: 98 G 434 PA .316/.375/.401 20 2B 2 3B 3 HR 17 SB 28 BB 61 K
What Happened: In somewhat of a surprise the Phillies sent Carlos Tocci back to Lakewood, where he set the record for most games in a BlueClaws jersey. He also lead the South Atlantic League in the offensive categories teammates Malquin Canelo and Rhys Hoskins left for him. He received a promotion to Clearwater in early June and after struggling for a couple weeks went on an offensive tear there too. His run in hi-A has been less sustainable as his walks, power, and steals are down while his strikeouts increased. But, he has shown that he can really hit while playing outstanding defense in center field.
What Next: The second half will be about getting the secondary skills back to where they were in Lakewood. He has flashed the power potential but he still needs to hit the ball perfectly to get extra bases. He also needs to adjust to better pitchers, especially good offspeed pitches, but has the raw abilities to make the adjustments. His stock is rising quickly this year.
Preseason Ranking: 10
9. Zach Eflin, RHP, Reading
Stats: 16 GS 90.2 IP 3.47 ERA 16 BB 46 K
What Happened: It has been an up and down year for Zach Eflin so far. His success is really dependent on his fastball command while his slider develops. The pitch has made strides, but when it isn’t there the fastball-changeup combination just doesn’t do it if he can’t locate perfectly. He could probably also stand to use his two seamer less and use the velocity in his 4 seamer to blow it past hitters occasionally. It isn’t really bad for Eflin, he is a workhorse and is very efficient with his pitch counts. He was also the youngest player in the Eastern League to start the season.
What Next: It is all about improving the slider and polishing everything else. There are a lot of “negative” things on Eflin because he is so talented and there is a lot to build on. He is not going to be a finished product when he hits the majors — he just needs to keep working on the little things, because the profile has the ability to come to together to something much greater as the parts improve. It may not look like he has improved, but he has taken some steps forward.
Preseason Rank: 5
10. Ricardo Pinto, RHP, Clearwater
Stats: 19 GS 115.2 IP 3.19 ERA 31 BB 85 K
What Happened: There hasn’t been a huge jump in stuff for Ricardo Pinto, but that wasn’t really needed. Pinto still brings a fastball at 91-94, touching 95-96 and a changeup that most evaluators describe as plus. His slider is still a work in progress, but his two pitch arsenal allowed him to cruise through Lakewood and get off to a hot start in Clearwater. The Phillies really like Pinto and his ability to attack hitters without hesitation. All together Pinto looks like a mid rotation starter that could arrive in the majors by the end of 2016.
What Next: The big future growth point for Pinto is his slider. Right now it is a poor pitch, but he will have starts where it looks like a future average pitch. If he can get the pitch to average it will allow him to use his changeup to miss bats again. He will likely finish out the year in Clearwater before going to Reading in 2016.
11. Scott Kingery, 2B, Lakewood
Stats: 34 G 141 PA .266/.326/.375 4 2B 2 3B 2 HR 2 SB 9 BB 21 K
What Happened: Scott Kingery was the Phillies 2nd round pick this June. He was coming off being PAC 12 player of the year and a career year overall. He fell a bit more in the draft than expected and the Phillies scooped him up and then moved him quickly to full season ball. The early results have been positive with Kingery showing a plus hit tool and better than expected defense. So far he has not shown his plus speed on the bases, and he should steal a good amount of bases at his peak. Kingery also should hit a good amount of line drives with some of them leaving the park.
What Next: Kingery just needs to keep holding his own. He could move quickly next year to catch the next wave of prospects arriving in the majors. He has the upside to be an above average regular at second base.
Preseason Ranking: N/A
12. Aaron Altherr, CF, Lehigh Valley
Stats: 95 G 416 PA .297/.366/.486 26 2B 4 3B 12 HR 15 SB 39 BB 77 K
What Happened: It has been a real breakout year for Altherr. He has made real strides in his approach and has shown a willingness to work deep counts. He has also taken what was raw athleticism and turned it into smooth actions at the plate and in the field. After putting up huge numbers in AA he was promoted to AAA where he has continued to show power increases, but he has struck out more and walked less, though not to a concerning effect. During all of this he has shown average to above average defense in center field and plus defense in both corners.
What Next: Altherr will need to close up some holes in AAA to start the adjustment process for the majors. The majors aren’t far off either, and I expect Altherr to get the call either when the Phillies trade an outfielder or in September. He has a chance to be a major league regular or better in centerfield, and might be passable in a corner. Either way I feel comfortable saying that Altherr will be at least a very good 4th outfielder on a contending team.
Preseason Ranking: 25
13. Nick Pivetta, RHP, Reading
Stats: 18 GS 17 G 101.1 IP 3.02 ERA 38 BB 78 K
What Happened: Pivetta was a 4th round pick out of a Community College in 2013 for the Nationals. He breezed through hi-A this year with a plus fastball (90-94 T95-96) from a projectable frame and feel for a solid curveball. He will also throw changeup and slider that has some potential to be above average. Pivetta struggled in 3 AA starts before being traded to the Phillies for Jonathan Papelbon. He projects as a #4 starter that has a chance to be a mid rotation starter if he can get his secondary pitches to take a step forward.
What Next: Pivetta joins a newly loaded Reading rotation with Eflin, Thompson, Lively, and Leiter. He should spend the rest of the year working through issues at AA, and there is a good chance he makes a return trip there in 2016. He might make the majors next year, but is raw enough he is probably the last of the high minors pitchers on the depth chart.
Preseason Ranking: N/A
14. Jose Pujols, OF, Williamsport
Stats: 38 G .280/.352/.378 12 2B 1 3B 2 SB 14 BB 37 K
What Happened: Jose Pujols started the year with his third trip to extended spring training where he got hurt and missed some time. Now that he is back Pujols has made some big steps in some places and not steps in others. The mental aspects of the game are still a struggle at times as his approach will just fall apart at times — in the outfield his routes can be an adventure. At the plate he has plus bat speed, great coordination, and a decent bit of pitch recognition. He has at least plus raw power (it maybe grades better than that), but he hasn’t gotten to it this year. Pujols showed a good opposite field approach early this year, but his swing has a hitch that has made him late. In the field he is a solid runner with a plus plus cannon on his right shoulder.
What Next: Pujols needs to find some consistency at the plate and tap into his power. The Phillies know about the hitch in his swing and are going to work on removing it this winter. Otherwise he needs lots of at bats to work through his issues. But there is a lot of impact talent here.
Preseason Ranking: 17
15. Deivi Grullon, C, Lakewood
Stats: 75 G .194/.237/.290 13 2B 1 3B 4 HR 12 BB 75 K
What Happened: Last year Grullon caught more innings than any player 18 or younger and is leading again as a 19 year old. The huge workload at such a young age has taken its toll on his offense where he has struggled to hit and hit for power. However he continues to be a great defender behind the plate and is arm is one of the best in the minors (new acquisition Jorge Alfaro has a claim on the title too). The defensive profile takes a lot of pressure off the bat and he can be a poor hitter with poor power and still be a regular.
What Next: Catchers take forever to develop and Grullon is no exception. A level a year might be quick moving for him. His bat will take a lot of time to catch up to the glove so he just needs to keep getting reps. Don’t be too worried about his offensive numbers for now.
Preseason Ranking: 9
16. Malquin Canelo, SS, Clearwater
Stats: 96 G .285/.330/.403 26 2B 2 3B 6 HR 14 SB 27 BB 69 K
What Happened: Malquin Canelo had a breakout year in Lakewood hitting .311/.364/.466 in 63 games before earning a promotion to Clearwater. The stat line may overstate Canelo’s offensive abilities some, but he has good bat speed and enough contact ability to allow his added strength to turn some hits into extra bases. His approach was good enough to handle the low-A challenge but has been tested in hi-A. In hi-A Canelo has scuffled some at the plate. The good news though is that the bat is just a bonus for Canelo has he has the tools to be above average to plus as a defender at shortstop.
What Next: Canelo is going to need to adjust at the plate in Clearwater, and how well he makes those adjustments will determine whether he repeats hi-A next year or gets a shot at AA. Outside of getting better at the plate, Canelo will need to cut down on the mental errors in the field and clean up some inaccuracy in his throwing arm. Overall it will be putting some polish on a breakout year for the young shortstop.
Preseason Ranking: 41
17. Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Clearwater
Stats: 103 G 439 PA .315/.396/.512 28 2B 4 3B 13 HR 3 SB 45 BB 74 K
What Happened: Hoskins was a small school first baseman who mashed in both his junior year and in Cape Cod League the summer before. He started his pro career slowly in Williamsport, and then started hitting in second half and hasn’t stopped. He has above average to plus power, with a good feel for hitting. Hoskins’ approach has actually been better in Clearwater after his promotion.
What Next: While his tools are solid, Hoskins lacks any elite attributes that make him safe going forward. But there is enough there that he can be regular if he just keeps hitting. That will be the narrative from this point forward for Hoskins, can he just hit his way all the way to the majors.
Preseason Ranking: 37
18. Jesse Biddle, LHP, Lehigh Valley
Stats: 19 GS 100.2 IP 4.20 ERA 50 BB 74 K
What Happened: It has been a slow transition year for Biddle as the Phillies have slowly remade him into a different pitcher than the player that topped the system in past years. Gone is the slow loopy curveball, gone is the high fastball, and gone is the strikeout approach. Now there is a two seam fastball, an above average slider, more conservative use of a tighter curveball, an improved changeup, and lots of balls in the bottom of the zone. There have been a lot of bumps in the road — the changeup has come slowly, his command has not always been there (though he is missing low and not high now), and he is throwing strikes with not always sharp stuff.
What Next: The stuff has been there more in his later outings, but not all at once, and rarely with any command. If he can get it all together he can still be a mid rotation starter, but more likely he is a back end starter with frustrating results. They could try him in the bullpen but it is unlikely that his stuff will be much improved in short bursts.
Preseason Ranking: 6
19. Jerad Eickhoff, RHP, Lehigh Valley
Stats: 20 G 19 GS 111.2 IP 4.11 ERA 36 BB 107 K
What Happened: It has been a slow rise for Eickhoff who is a bit old for a prospect, but he has started to master his stuff more in the last year. He pitches at 91-95 and can touch 97. His breaking ball will flash plus and his changeup will show average. He is more control than command right now, but he does throw strikes. He has shown the stuff to be a back end starter. There has been some thought that the FB/CB combo will play up in the bullpen.
What Next: Eickhoff will go to Lehigh Valley where he should continue to start. The IL should be more forgiving than the PCL, especially on home runs. He is already on the 40 man roster so he should move to the top of the call up list if the Phillies need another starter.
Preseason Ranking: N/A
20. Victor Arano, RHP, Clearwater
Stats: 18 G 17 GS 97.1 IP 4.07 ERA 19 BB 50 K
What Happened: Arano got injured this spring and missed the start of the Clearwater season. After returning to the mound he struggled to turn over a lineup and was prone to a big inning. However, starting in the middle of June, Arano has been on a tear, working deep into games and limiting free passes. He is still 90-94 touching 95 with an above average breaking ball and an averageish changeup. There was some thought that Arano would be better served to work out of a bullpen role, but those whispers have subsided.
What Next: Arano has only struck out 50 batters in 97.1 innings this year. While he has limited the walks, the lack of strikeouts have hurt his results and profile. That being said, he has shown the ability in the past, and the Phillies have worked on fastball command and inducing weak contact with all of their pitchers. It will be important to his future to have a swing and miss pitch in his arsenal to work quickly and get strikeouts.
Preseason Ranking: 14
21. Adonis Medina, RHP, GCL
Stats: 5 G 3 GS 21.0 IP 2.14 ERA 5 BB 17 K
What Happened: Coming into this year Medina was an 18 year old RHP who had touched 90 last fall after putting up good numbers in the DSL. That ended when some people saw him follow up a Kilome start in extended spring training by sitting 93-96 with a hammer curve in a relief outing. He has since transitioned to the GCL rotation where he is sitting 91-94 touching 95, while a flashing a plus curveball and above average to plus changeup. Medina won’t turn 19 until December and looks to have at least mid rotation starter upside, but there might be more velocity to come.
What Next: This is Medina’s first time as a full time starting pitcher and he recently set a career high in innings at 6. If he keeps up what he has shown so far he will only continue to climb up prospect lists.
Preseason Ranking: UR
22. Andrew Knapp, C, Reading
Stats: 89 G 391 PA .282/.361/.416 26 2B 4 3B 4 HR 36 BB 84 K
What Happened: Andrew Knapp has had a weird season. He started by struggling in Clearwater, improving there as the year went on, before being promoted to Reading and just hitting constantly. He doesn’t have much beyond doubles power (from either side), but in Reading he has seemed to learn how to hit from both sides of the plate. The bat isn’t enough to play elsewhere, but it is plenty enough for a catcher. The problem is that his defense has been unimpressive up to this point. He is a rough receiver and doesn’t frame well. The biggest worry is that his arm was only above average when he was drafted, then he had Tommy John surgery, and it might only be fringe average to average now. He has the ability to be an average regular, but he is far from a lock to stay behind the plate.
What Next: It is hard to say that Knapp needs to prove he can hit given what he is doing in AA right now, but the defense is another story. His arm is unlikely to get much better, but he can improve his transfers and reactions. He is athletic enough that receiving should be able to come with time, but he needs a lot of time behind the plate to just get better at it.
Preseason Ranking: 23
23. Kelly Dugan, RF, Lehigh Valley
Stats: 44 G 192 PA .315/.391/.393 11 2B 1 3B 13 BB 39 K
What Happened: Dugan got hurt. Well technically he got hurt in the offseason and it got worse during spring training. The injury this time was a stress fracture in his foot and it cost him all spring and the first two months of the season. Since returning he has been among the Eastern League leaders in batting average and on base percentage. However, we are now at a year without Dugan really turning on a ball with authority. Dugan has the ability to make a ton of contact and work counts, but a corner outfielder without power is a tough major league sell.
What Next: It is all about the power. Dugan is now on year 3 (well 2.5) in Reading and is in year 2 of 40 man protection, so he needs to move quickly if he wants to reach the majors during this rebuild. If he can get to his raw power then he could be a major league regular in right field.
Preseason Ranking: 8
24. Alberto Tirado, RHP, Clearwater
Stats: 31 G 61.1 IP 3.23 ERA 35 BB 61 K
What Happened: After struggling in low-A pitching out of the rotation, the Blue Jays moved Tirado to the bullpen and sent him to the Florida State League in 2015. He has taken off in the bullpen showing a fastball in the mid-90s that can get to 100, and a devastating slider that has been described as plus and as high as plus plus. He also has a changeup that has looked average or better from his starting days. He has struggled with control throughout his career, and the last month and a half have been rough on that front for him. He was traded to the Phillies along with Jimmy Cordero for Ben Revere.
What Next: Tirado will likely go to the Clearwater bullpen and try and get his control back to usable. If he can get back to throwing strikes, he will move quickly again and could reach the majors very quickly. He projects as a back of the bullpen impact reliever and could form a devastating 1-2 punch with Ken Giles. However, Ruben Amaro has mentioned that the Phillies may try to stretch Tirado back out as a starter next season. He has top of the rotation upside if he can harness all of his stuff as a starting pitcher.
Preseason Ranking: N/A
25. Edubray Ramos, RHP, Reading
Stats: 36 G 57.2 IP 1.56 ERA 8 BB 54 K
What Happened: Ramos was a bit of a sleeper coming into the season after going from GCL to Williamsport last year. He was 92-94 touching 95 with a solid breaking ball and good command. This year he dominated hi-A while pitching at 94-97 with a wipeout curveball. He will mix in a changeup too. The big separator for Edubray has been his control — since joining the Phillies system in 2014 he has walked 18 and struck out 102 over 102 innings. His ceiling is impact reliever for a playoff team.
What Next: AA is going to be a big challenge for Ramos because AA hitters will hit strikes. He will need to refine his fastball command because the majors are not to far away as he is Rule 5 eligible this offseason.
Preseason Ranking: 38
26. Jonathan Arauz, SS, GCL
Stats: 26 G 112 PA .284/.339/.461 8 2B 2 3B 2 HR 8 BB 14 K
What Happened: There was momentum this offseason that Arauz, the third of the three July 2 Latin SSs, was the best of the bunch. So far he is making those people look smart. He is one of the youngest players in pro ball and won’t turn 17 for another few days. Outside of his lack of physicality, his age doesn’t show in his game. He has an advanced approach and average or better tools in everything but speed. He should be able to stick at short, but if not, he definitely can play second base. There is a lot of ceiling here for Arauz.
What Next: Baseball is a game of attrition and adjustments, and that is no different for Arauz. He will need to hold up for the rest of the season in ABs while still making good contact. In addition to making normal game adjustments Arauz is a better left handed hitter than right handed hitter. He won’t face many LHPs in GCL so he will need to make most of opportunities.
Preseason Ranking: 43
27. Juan Luis, CF, GCL
Stats: 23 G 87 PA .280/.353/.427 5 2B 2 HR 10 SB 5 BB 13 K
What Happened: Age matters in baseball in the sense that it is a leading indicator of physical maturity and experience, but much like in college baseball there are players who develop late out of Latin America. Luis is playing this year in the GCL at age 19, but it is also his first year of pro ball. He burst onto the scene this spring with everyone who saw him raving about him. He has plus plus speed, plays a good center field and has a good feel for hitting including some pop in his bat. He has a little bit of Carlos Tocci in him (though at 6’4″ he is a bit bigger) in that there is physical projection but not a ton of places to get really big. There is a lot of ceiling here though.
What Next: Luis actually limped off the field after a steal and hasn’t returned since so at the time of writing we don’t know how badly he is hurt. However, when he gets back to the field he will need to keep hitting to catch up to his age group. If he can start in Lakewood next year he will be on pace with his age of HS draftees. The Phillies love his upside, and he could be shooting up prospect lists soon.
Preseason Ranking: UR
28. Gabriel Lino, C, Lehigh Valley
Stats: 69 G 270 PA .249/.301/.355 17 2B 3 HR 18 BB 64 K
What Happened: It has been a bit of a breakout season for Lino who had struggled since joining the Phillies’ system in the Jim Thome trade. He is not a bad athlete and brings a plus or better arm that he has a quick release with, and he has greatly improved his receiving. He has plus raw power, but has not been able to tap into it, especially after his promotion to AAA. There have been enough questions raised about his defense and hitting to bump his likely outcome from regular down to backup. However, it is still a big improvement from a year ago.
What Next: Lino is in AAA right now and will need a 40 man roster spot or have to face the Rule 5 draft so it is possible he could be the 3rd catcher on the September roster (though this would give the Phillies 5 “catchers” on the 40 man roster). He needs to improve his approach and hitting in AAA and find a way to get his power. It might take some time, but he is still very young.
Preseason Ranking: UR
29. Luis Encarnacion, 1B, GCL
Stats: 29 G 114 PA .260/.307/.413 2 2B 1 3B 4 HR 7 BB 22 K
What Happened: Encarnacion was one of the youngest players in the GCL last year and will play most of this season at age 17. It looks like Encarnacion is first base only, so there is a lot of pressure on his bat. But there is enough bat here to make it work. He has plus raw power and has started squaring the ball up more, unfortunately it has often been right at fielders. It is hard for defense to carry a first baseman, but Encarnacion is a very good fielder.
What Next: Encarnacion has made large improvements with his approach, but he will really need to bring on base skills to the table. Since he is a first baseman now, he just needs to mash everywhere. He will spend the rest of the year in GCL and will have to fight for a chance at full season next year.
Preseason Ranking: 27
30. Alec Asher, RHP, Lehigh Valley
Stats: 20 GS 107.2 IP 4.43 ERA 37 BB 97 K
What Happened: In many ways Asher is similar to current Phillies’ prospect Ben Lively. Both have flashed above average to plus fastballs and sliders that they pair with fringe average curveball and changeup. Both have showed more control than command, but lack an overpowering pitch. Asher lacks Lively’s deception, but he has put up decent numbers in AAA this year.
What Next: Asher will go to AAA where he joins a good amount of starting pitching depth. He will need a 40 man spot this offseason, so he could get the call at some point if the Phillies need a starter.
Preseason Ranking: UR
Since I wrote the following profile while the player was still ranked #24 on this list I wanted to include them on this list.
31. Ben Lively, RHP, Reading
Stats: 20 GS 117.1 IP 3.99 ERA 38 BB 86 K
What Happened: Ben Lively has gone out and met expectations for the most part. He has an average to slightly above fastball. The slider is an above average pitch, but the changeup and curveball are fringe average offerings that might get to average some day. He has decent control but there isn’t developed command of the arsenal. That said there is some deception to the delivery and he isn’t flunking AA.
What Next: Lively’s drop is a combination of guys passing him and a level of stagnation. Development is non linear, but for a guy at his level you are looking for some growth in the overall profile. His ceiling is still backend starter, but I don’t think that is as safe as it looked before. He is nearing MLB ready and could fight for a rotation spot at some point, though it is difficult to see the Phillies putting him on the 40 man roster unless they have to.
Preseason Ranking: 11
The trades the Phillies made have taken an already deep system and then shoved even more players off the last. Not being on the list is not a knock on a player, as many of them are very close in value to many players on the list. The rest of these players are ordered by the level they are playing at, not by their value.
- Severino Gonzalez, RHP, Lehigh Valley – Possible back end starter, but lack of velocity or impact secondaries leaves him as swing AAAA starter
- Nefi Ogando. RHP, Lehigh Valley – Plus plus fastball, potential plus slider, high effort delivery hurts his control, above average to impact relief profile ceiling
- Jimmy Cordero, RHP, Reading – Other half of Ben Revere trade. Fastball up to 103 at times, but routinely hits triple digits. Has some control problems and lacks a good secondary pitch. Impact relief ceiling if he can harness stuff.
- Joely Rodriguez, LHP, Reading – Not giving up on Joely who can generate groundballs at a high rate with solid stuff in a rotation. Profile could come back around.
- Tom Windle, LHP, Reading – Would be #32 on the list above. Has a pretty high ceiling in the bullpen, but if he can find a usable changeup while he is there he could move back to the rotation with a #3/#4 starter ceiling.
- Cam Perkins, OF, Reading – I have been down on Perkins at times because of Perkins lack of power. Now he has the power, but I am not sure if he will hit at a high enough level to be a regular, but might be able to a solid 4th outfielder if he keeps progressing, but he has made enough change to not write off.
- Jesen Therrien, RHP, Clearwater – Relief prospect up to 95 with good curveball, has a chance to be a major leaguer.
- Matt Imhof, LHP, Clearwater – 2014 second round pick is barely touching 90mph and doesn’t have plus secondary pitches or the command he did last year. I wonder if he is still hurt because his stuff is really down from last year.
- Brandon Leibrandt, LHP, Clearwater – Unlike Imhof, Leibrandt has a plus secondary pitch in his changeup. But like Imhof, Leibrandt is barely reaching 90mph. There is a chance at being a back end starter, but he will need to continue his slight upticks in velocity.
- Miguel Nunez, RHP, Clearwater – Nunez has been a new pitcher in relief with a shortened arsenal and better control. Potential major league middle reliever.
- Yacksel Rios, RHP, Clearwater – Rios is interesting to me because he is a live armed righty up to 95 who can start and relieve, though his future is likely in the bullpen.
- Alexis Rivero, RHP, Clearwater – Rivero was 91-93 this spring and is now 95-97 with improving offspeed stuff, potential impact reliever if he keeps progressing.
- Chace Numata, C, Clearwater – Converted shortstop has a plus or better arm and has a mature approach. He does lack power or an elite receiving profile, but there is a backup catcher ceiling here.
- Jesmuel Valentin, 2B, Clearwater – Valentin has been out since early April after getting arrested on domestic violence charges. Has not played enough to say anything about his baseball future.
- Andrew Pullin, LF, Clearwater – Hits enough for second base, but as a left fielder the ceiling is 4th outfielder.
- Aaron Brown, OF, Clearwater – A late cut from the list, plus defender in right field with a plus arm, stiff swing and poor approach hurt his contact rate and hurt his ability to get to his plus raw power.
- Dylan Cozens, OF, Clearwater – Big power, stiff swing (can get long, but has shortened some), might actually be too big and strong, lacks fluid athleticism, might end up at first base long term.
- Elniery Garcia, LHP, Lakewood – One of the hardest cuts from the list, small lefty could have 3 above average pitches and above average control. He has an advanced feel for pitching and backend starter profile. He should be on a list like this, and had a lot of momentum from this that saw him this year.
- Jairo Munoz, RHP, Lakewood – Munoz was free agent signing off of a workout this spring. Up to 95 and a bit old (23) but there is enough to keep watching.
- Kyle Martin, 1B, Lakewood – Martin was on the list for a while, the Phillies 4th round pick in 2015 has big power and a big body. There is enough power and hit to be a regular, but he will need to destroy each level like he is doing to Lakewood.
- Cord Sandberg, OF, Lakewood – Playing much better of late, but tools are not quite what they once were, though there is plus raw power here.
- Herlis Rodriguez, OF, Lakewood – Does a lot of things well, but haven’t heard anyone describe any major league carrying tools, but sometimes a profile like this can make its way to the majors, so I am not ready to write him off completely.
- Tyler Gilbert, LHP, Williamsport – Phillies’ 6th round pick in 2015, he isn’t a complete pitcher, but there are 3 pitches and some athleticism. If he can build some he could be a back end starter.
- Gregori Rivero, C, Williamsport – Rivero got a lot of late helium, he doesn’t have a big ceiling but he can hit some, and has above average defense, has ability to be a major league backup.
- Luke Leftwich, RHP, Williamsport – 7th round pick has a touch more velocity than Gilbert, but there is less projection in the secondary pitches, chance at backend starter but likely a reliever
- Grenny Cumana, SS, Williamsport – I really like Cumana, but he is not physically developed enough to really show a lot of his profile.
- Jan Hernandez, 3B, Williamsport – Herenandez is still fairly young (20) and has some big tools (especially power and arm). He still really struggles with his approach and pitch recognition. There is a lot here to like though.
- Arquimedez Gamboa, SS, GCL – Signed for $900,000 last year, fast twitch athlete with a good glove and good speed, physically underdeveloped and lacks refined approach at the plate.
- Lucas Williams, 3B, GCL – 3rd round pick in 2015, reports are better on defense where his athleticism shows. Hasn’t showed power at the plate yet, weak against offspeed.
- Bryan Martelo, RF, GCL – Signed in 2013 for $230,000 out of Columbia, has good power potential and quick hands, prototype RF profile on defense with a plus accurate arm.
- Jesus Alastre, CF, GCL – True center fielder with plus or better speed, has some impact in his bat too.
- Rodolfo Duran, C, GCL – 17 year old catcher has a good arm and feel for contact, Phillies like his future potential.
- Ranger Suarez, LHP, GCL – Good control and feel for pitching, finally saw some velocity growth as he touched 90 and 91 recently.
- Sam McWilliams, RHP, GCL – Big tall projectable righty who has returned to the top of his HS velocity after the Phillies cleaned up his delivery (89-92 T94) has good movement and downward plane generating a high level of groundballs. Has feel for a curveball but the changeup is non-existent. He has a lot of potential, and the Phillies made big strides in doing the necessary cleanup to give him a good base.
- Bailey Falter, LHP, GCL – 5th round pick in 2015, has a good strong foundation with an easy repeatable delivery and feel for secondary pitches. He will need velocity growth, but the Phillies have shown a good trackk record of developing arms like his.
- Edgar Cabral, C, GCL – The Phillies 11th round pick, has shown a decent arm and bat for a guy with zero press outside of the Phillies.
- Felix Paulino, RHP, GCL – Older GCL arm (20 years old) with some feel to pitch to go with a low 90s fastball. There is a chance that he can be a backend starter but his potential is behind the other arms down in the GCL.
- Daniel Brito, SS, DSL – The third of the three shortstop prospects they signed last year, he has shown a good approach so far and some feel for contact, but he lacks power and impact in his bat.
- Lenin Rodriguez, C, VSL – The Phillies signed Lenin for $300,000 last year, and he is a bat first catcher who needs to work on his defense. It is hard to judge statistics in the 4 team VSL.
If there are extra prospects you want to know about, mention it in the comments. I cut down the list because of time and avoiding it being more overwhelming than it already is.