Phillies have Rebuilt Minor League Depth

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.

201220132014
16Ervis ManzanilloMitchell WaldingCameron Rupp
17Julio RodriguezMitch GuellerKelly Dugan
18Kyrell HudsonAustin WrightShane Watson
19Harold GarciaKenny GilesJose Pujols
20Larry GreeneJustin DeFratusKenny Giles
21Perci GarnerTyler CloydTommy Joseph
22Austin HyattCameron RuppDylan Cozens
23Mitchell WaldingBrody ColvinYoel Mecias
24Leandro CastroZach CollierAndrew Knapp
25Joe SaveryAaron AltherrCord Sandberg
26Austin WrightTyson GilliesJan Hernandez
27Zach CollierDylan CozensZach Collier
28J.C. RamirezAndrew PullinMalquin Canelo
29Adam MorganKyrell HudsonAustin Wright
30Michael SchwimerKyle SimonDan 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.

Photo by Tom Haggerty

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman
Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.

5 comments

  1. Frank

    Matt what did you think of Aaron Altherr’s ab’s in Miami?

    • Matt Winkelman

      Not too much to get from it, he did hit one a long way on a not great swing, seems to have some feel for the zone, but did not shorten up in two strike counts. Overall he seemed hesitant and passive like a AA guy starting in the majors

  2. Biancs413

    Very Well put Matt. I think it is often overlooked how developing MLB caliber players and not just stars is very important for the success of any franchise. There has been a big improvement with the middle levels of talent from several years ago. I agree most of this turn around can be attributed to increased spending in LA and the rest has to be attributed to a significantly higher draft position and actually keep those picks. Keep up the good work

  3. Anonymous 1

    Matty Winks so here is where you have been writing, Ill read it if you write kinda deal
    And I agree the trend is somewhat upwards

  4. philabaltfan

    Finally found your new site! I miss your articles at Phuture Phillies but are happy that you are moving up into bigger baseball areas. Very objective article as usual which debunks a lot of what some sportswriters/editorialists are saying. The Phillies are dreadful now but there is hope for the future if we continue to sign good young talent.