Going into the 2012 offseason the farm system was decimated, the Phillies had just completed the Hunter Pence trade leaving Trevor May as the top prospect in the system. Over the previous 4 seasons the Phillies had traded away large portions of their top prospect lists, while giving up first round picks to sign free agents. On top of that they were not spending in Latin America, and the new draft rules prevented them from spending late in the draft.
However, since then the Phillies have traded Lisalverto Bonilla and Trevor May from their farm system. They have acquired more talent in trades, but not much. But more than anything they have been finding talent in the draft and internationally and starting to grow it. Here are the past three years of the #16 to #30 prospects on Baseball America’s Top 30 prospects.
|16||Ervis Manzanillo||Mitchell Walding||Cameron Rupp|
|17||Julio Rodriguez||Mitch Gueller||Kelly Dugan|
|18||Kyrell Hudson||Austin Wright||Shane Watson|
|19||Harold Garcia||Kenny Giles||Jose Pujols|
|20||Larry Greene||Justin DeFratus||Kenny Giles|
|21||Perci Garner||Tyler Cloyd||Tommy Joseph|
|22||Austin Hyatt||Cameron Rupp||Dylan Cozens|
|23||Mitchell Walding||Brody Colvin||Yoel Mecias|
|24||Leandro Castro||Zach Collier||Andrew Knapp|
|25||Joe Savery||Aaron Altherr||Cord Sandberg|
|26||Austin Wright||Tyson Gillies||Jan Hernandez|
|27||Zach Collier||Dylan Cozens||Zach Collier|
|28||J.C. Ramirez||Andrew Pullin||Malquin Canelo|
|29||Adam Morgan||Kyrell Hudson||Austin Wright|
|30||Michael Schwimer||Kyle Simon||Dan Child|
As you can see, from year to year the talent increases. The relievers have more realistic ceilings, the new draftees are lower, and the talent has a brighter major league future.
But Win Loss Record:
There has been a big deal made this year about the win loss record of the Phillies farm teams, and how this points to a lack of talent in the system. In fact it has been quite the opposite, the Phillies have been decimated by injuries, especially on the pitching side that have left teams a bit imbalanced. Additionally they have pushed some younger prospects aggressively, notably Maikel Franco to AAA, Deivi Grullon to hi-A and low-A, and J.P. Crawford to hi-A. If the Phillies had replaced them with org filler those teams would be doing better.
The Low Minors:
It is really easy to right off the low minors because failure rate is high and prospects are unknown. But the GCL and Williamsport teams arm loaded with talent. Much of it is from the past two drafts, but the increase in the Phillies involvement in Latin America has added more to the log jams that now exist in the outfield, catcher, third base, and now following the 2014 draft, on the mound. Many of these prospects will fail, because failure is the natural outcome of the minor leagues. But the sheer volume of prospects gives more chances at success.
Depth is Important:
The Phillies still lack studs behind J.P. Crawford, but what they have is a ton of lottery tickets. Some of them won’t win you enough to retire, but could help make the rest of the year much better. The past few years the Phillies have been paying top dollar for back end starters, relievers, and bench bats. The ability to produce those internally allows the club to spend more on impact talent, and spare parts can be traded away for more lottery tickets that have a chance at impact talent.
What Does the Future Hold:
The 2014 Top 30 list will be even deeper than the last three. Based on my midseason Top 20 and other notes, the 16-30 prospects could include Jiandido Tromp, Andrew Knapp, Jan Hernandez, Samuel Hiciano, Andrew Pullin, Zach Green, Dylan Cozens, Aaron Brown, Severino Gonzalez, Adam Morgan, Mitch Gueller and others. That is a lot more guys with a chance to actually contribute to a major league club in a meaningful way. There will always still be relievers and utility players on lists, but the amount of guys with realistic major league ceilings continues to go up every year.
Some of the talent is eons away, but in 2015 the Phillies will have a solid core of prospects (headlined by Franco, Crawford, Biddle, Dugan, Altherr, Nola, and Quinn) that will be in at least AA. The jump from AA to the majors is huge, but it can be a single jump. Some guys will take time through AAA, but prospects in AA are not that far from the major leagues.