I made the statement on Monday that the Phillies might have the deepest farm system in baseball. Two days later I stand by that statement. A lot of focus has been put on the premium trade returns and players like Crawford, Nola, and Franco, but that is really not the legacy of the last few years of rebuild. That is in the depth that was built through a collection of trades, and the sheer weight of talent acquisition without trading away anything.
Before even looking at positional groups, let’s just do a simple input/output of the last 12 months in terms of prospects. (I am going to stick to guys who have appeared in a Top prospect list or are prominent names in the organization)
In: Williams, Thompson, Alfaro, Asher, Eickhoff, Tirado, Cordero, Pivetta, Randolph, Kingery, Eflin, Windle, Lively, Rodriguez, Ortiz, Araujo*, Herrera*, Arano, Valentin
Out: Morgan, Nola, Franco, Herrera, Araujo, Mecias
*Player was acquiring and went to the majors this season
Just on a basic level that is a good amount more into the system then out of it. But lets look at which groups this is showing up in. Starting with pitching.
AAA: Jesse Biddle, Alec Asher. Jared Eickhoff
AA: Jake Thompson, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Joely Rodriguez, Ben Lively
A+: Victor Arano, Ricardo Pinto, Matt Imhof, Brandon Leibrandt
A-: Elniery Garcia, Shane Watson, Ranfi Casimiro, Tyler Viza
SS: Franklyn Kilome, Tyler Gilbert, Luke Leftwich, Alejandro Arteaga
Rk: Adonis Medina, Bailey Falter, Nick Fanti, Ranger Suarez, Felix Paulino, Sam McWilliams
It is not a stretch to say that one of the big goals of the Phillies was to acquire pitching. Between AA and AAA the Phillies have 8 prospects in the rotations with a chance to be big league starters, and that does not include Tom Windle who the Phillies have hinted could make a return to the rotation if he develops in the bullpen (which he has done) and Severino Gonzalez who is on the DL in AAA. In the majors the Phillies are running out Aaron Nola, Adam Morgan, and David Buchanan all are in their 1st or 2nd year in the majors. Now there isn’t an ace in this group unless Nola takes an unexpected development, but there are a lot of major league pieces. Some of the pitchers will fail, some will get hurt, some will be relievers, and others will underperform. The Phillies though have put themselves in a position where they have 13 players vying for 5 spots (or less if they go sign a front end starter in FA).
This is just the top end of the spectrum. The Phillies have been stocking the back of the farm system with farms as well. Franklyn Kilome has been the poster child of the Phillies Latin pitching development, but Ricardo Pinto has climbed the ranks and now sits poised to join the big league club within the next year or so. This year the Latin program has produced Adonis Medina another high upside arm, who joins their last two drafts of HS arms to form an interesting group of projectable upside arms.
AAA: Nefi Ogando
AA: Jimmy Cordero, Edubray Ramos
A+: Alexis Rivero, Jesen Therrien, Miguel Nunez, Yacksel Rios, Alberto Tirado
The obvious source of relief pitching comes from that group above, as some will transition there as the room isn’t available in the rotation. However the Phillies have not pinned all their hopes on failed starters. Ken Giles already has the closer job and is one of the best relief pitchers in majors, Elvis Araujo has started to develop nicely in the majors. In the minors they have some fireball era waiting in the wings. Nefi Ogando is sitting in AAA with a mid 90s FB and good slider, in AA they have newly acquired Jimmy Cordero throwing 100 with a quickly developing slider and Edubray Ramos who has struggled some but still runs it up to 95-97 with a wipeout slider. Ramos has moved up from Clearwater which now seems to be churning out these higher upside reliever. Former starters Miguel Nunez and Yacksel Rios have taken well to the bullpen, in particular Rios is interesting as he can go multiple innings while running it up 95. Therrien has finally harnessed his control and can also run it up to 95. The two intriguing arms are Alexis Rivero and the newly arrived Alberto Tirado. Rivero was 91-93 early in the year but is now 94-97 but he is moving faster than his feel for pitching and will need to have it catch up again. Tirado also has control problems, but sits mid-90s and can get to 100 at times, but he has the most advanced secondary pitch of everyone with a plus to plus plus slider.
Much like the starters, the Phillies aren’t expecting to hit on every reliever, but if they can get 1 or 2 guys to join whoever does make it has a starter to fill in a cheap bullpen around Ken Giles they can save even more money towards buying hitting.