Phillies Midseason Top 20 Prospects

Most of the draft picks are signed so it is time to revisit the preseason rankings.  It is still a small sample size, and an even smaller one for those newly drafted, so this list may be a bit conservative on any large scale changes.  In general the system is heading in the right direction, and while there have been some steps back and more injuries, it has been a positive first half for the Phillies.  I have included drafted players who have signed, though I do not expect any unsigned players to break into the top 20.  I also have not included any player currently in the major leagues.

1. J.P. Crawford – Crawford has firmly cemented himself as the top prospect in the system with a dominant performance in Lakewood that prompted the front office to bump him to Clearwater for the second half.  There are certainly warts to Crawford’s game as the power is still nascent and he doesn’t drive the ball as often as you might want.  But that being said he is right on the cusp of the elite prospects in the game and with a strong second half he could start 2015 in Reading.  (Preseason #3)

2. Aaron Nola – Nola has barely pitched this year (2.1 IP), and he lacked the upside of other members of the draft, but that doesn’t take away from how good a prospect he is.  His fastball is 91-93 but he can reach back for more, and he can command it with life.  The secondary pitches both could be plus in short order.  He is starting in hi-A and will be on workload restrictions, but he could be a mid-rotation starter by the second half of 2015.  (Preseason N/A)

3. Maikel Franco – A lot has been made of Franco’s poor statistical year .207/.265/.323, which has been due to a career low in both BABIP and ISO.  I have talked a lot about Franco’s swing and approach, and I think he is at least working on developing an approach after years of being carried by natural ability.  The swing does not look any better, and I hope the Phillies address the deep load at some point.  But just like preseason, the tools are still all there for an above average third baseman (where the defense has looked better). (Preseason #1)

4. Roman Quinn – The biggest question coming into the year was whether Quinn’s speed would be back after his Achilles injury.  This was followed by questions about his long term position.  Both of those have been answered in the early going as Quinn has returned with speed intact, and Crawford’s promotion to Clearwater has coincided with Quinn’s move to centerfield.  He is already showing signs of being a great defender in the outfield, and the offense has begun to pick up as well.  Quinn’s stock could continue to rise as he becomes more comfortable. (Preseason #7)

5. Jesse Biddle – There is a lot going on here, but first and foremost is that he has completely lost his release point.  When he stays down over the ball, the arsenal works, however he has had trouble holding it all together.  There are many reasons to speculate why, but inevitably he ends up casting the curveball loopy and high, missing with the fastball, and the changeup loses its bite.  If you want a detailed look at bad Biddle, here it is.  I don’t know enough to say he is injured, but at very least he probably could use some time off to clear his head and start fresh.  When he is on, there is mid-rotation upside, so I can’t drop him too far down the list at this point. (Preseason #3)

6. Deivi Grullon – Most suspected Grullon would go to Williamsport this year, and ultimately he ended up there after a side trip through Clearwater and Lakewood.  The bat is still limited, but he has the strength to hit them out and hit them hard to the gaps.  The special thing here is a plus defensive catcher who has an elite skill (arm strength) that could be a real asset in the major leagues.  He is back on a normal development path, but he could speed up again if the bat catches the defense. (Preseason #8)

7. Cord Sandberg – Sandberg is the darling of the system right now having started the NYPL season with hits in 11 straight games.  Sandberg has a ton of potential, but he started off hot last year before cooling off dramatically, so lets give it some time.  Right now he is pulling everything, so he will need to work to go the other way.  It may not be this offseason that he shoots up prospect lists, but he has the tools to make a jump to the top few spots here. (Preseason #10)

8. Carlos Tocci – Tocci falls here because Nola, Grullon, and Sandberg have passed him, not because he is having a bad year.  He is being more aggressive at the plate and the contact has been harder off of his bat.  He is an excellent defender in center field, it really comes down to whether he will develop enough offensively to be a regular or a 5th outfielder.  (Preseason #4)

9. Kelly Dugan – Dugan just can’t stay healthy, but in the small sample he has played this year, he has shown the drop in walk rate was likely just a fluke.  The injuries push the timeline back on his arrival, but he has a solid combination of contact, power, approach, and defense that plays to a major league regular type player. (Preseason #5)

10. Aaron Altherr – Just because he has tools it was assumed that Altherr had a sky high ceiling, the opposite is beginning to be more true.  He has a safe ceiling because his tools make his floor that of a 4th outfielder.  A broken bone in his wrist got his year off to a poor start, but he has been heating up lately, hitting .373/.440/.552 in June, and more importantly his strikeout rate is beginning to come back down.  He has looked good in center field, though it may be quite a few years off before he gets too big to handle the position.  Despite a 1 AB cameo in Philly, he is on pace for a more likely 2015 debut.  (Preseason #6)

11. Yoel Mecias – After a ton of silence on Mecias’s injury recovery he made a rehab start in the GCL this week.  The fastball was 87-90 touching 91, which is below where you want, but not bad for a first start back.  If the changeup comes back to previous levels, Mecias could climb back up the rankings and regain his helium from last season (Preseason #11)

12. Jose Pujols – I have always liked Pujols due to his big time raw power on a frame that still has projection.  He didn’t make the Williamsport team out of camp, but he has impressed so far in the GCL.  It is only three games, but he is making hard contact with a nice smooth stroke.  He will need to prove he can handle off speed offerings, as well as maintain an improved approach, but he could lead the GCL in homeruns again this year, at age 18. (Preseason #17)

13. Matt Imhof – This feels a bit aggressive for Imhof, who has yet to throw a professional pitch, but the raw stuff has him deserving to be high on the list.  He lead Division 1 in K/9 and has a fastball that can reach up to 94 with movement.  He needs to improve the secondary pitches, which have varying grades from fringe to plus potential.  He has the frame to possibly add more velocity, but he most likely has a ceiling of a mid rotation starter.  Like Nola he will see limited action this year coming off of a full college season. (Preseason N/A)

14. Cameron Perkins – I really don’t know how to rank Perkins.  He makes a ton of contact, but not hard contact.  He plays solid defense, but it is in left field.  All together it is a 4th outfielder profile.  He does have a good feel for putting the bat on the baseball, but until he can drive it consistently, this is as high as I feel comfortable putting him.  (Preseason #25)

15. Luis Encarnacion – This is on reputation alone, because Encarnacion has not looked great so far in the GCL, and didn’t stand out in Extended Spring Training.  But he still is only 16, and it looks like the Phillies will try him at 3B, LF, and 1B as they search for a long term home.  He has the swing and feel to make contact and hit for power, but it may be slow coming this year as he faces competition well above his level.  (Preseason #15)

16. Andrew Knapp – Knapp was the Phillies second round pick in 2013 and he slides a bit as he returns from Tommy John surgery.  He struggled in high-A, but he he has been much better in Lakewood as he has gotten more game action.  Knapp will move slower than most college bats, but he still profiles as a major league regular behind the plate.  (Preseason #13)

17. Jiandido Tromp – Tromp is the big jumper on lists as he has already shown more power than last year, and the ability to drive the ball.  He has been bumped out of centerfield in Williamsport by Aaron Brown, but he has the tools to stick up the middle.  (Preseason UR)

18. Jan Hernandez – Hernandez was overmatched in a promotion to Lakewood, but the 2013 3rd round pick has the potential to be a plus hit/plus power third baseman with strong defensive abilities.  The power is real easy when he just lets it happen, and he could explode up prospect lists as the approach starts to settle in.  (Preseason #24)

19. Samuel Hiciano – Hiciano has been the best of the Lakewood corner outfielders, showing the ability to make consistent contact and hit for power in a tough park.  His biggest downside is the lack of walks and defensive profile.  He doesn’t have the ceiling of Dylan Cozens or Zach Green, but he has put himself in the position to be the much safer prospect. (Preseason #30)

20. Andrew Pullin – Pullin has had a weird year, his batting average has improved each month, but after 5 May HRs he has yet to hit one in June.  Overall, he is starting to become more comfortable at second base.  His strikeout numbers have also declined, which fits his hard contact, fringe power profile.  Because he is a second base only player, he isn’t going to shoot up lists like other guys, but he is certainly worth keeping an eye on.  (Preseason #29)

Just Missed: Dylan Cozens, Zach Green, Malquin Canelo, Aaron Brown, Chris Oliver, Shane Watson

I would like to add that after Pujols at 12, I can make a case for the next 14 or so guys in almost any order.  The gap from Knapp at 16 to the guys that missed is not large.

Photo by Paul Hadsall 

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.

9 comments

  1. Pete

    Looks like you forgot about Tommy Joseph…

    • Matt Winkelman

      He is behind that group, I liked the offense, but if you stay on the field besides the concussions, plus more concussions, it is not a good sign.

  2. Brian Dinella

    Hey Matt, thanks for the list-what is the word with Adam Morgan. When is he expected to return and shouldn’t be still be on this list

  3. Ghost of Manny Trillo

    Hi Matt: Do you have any idea when Nola will start next? I’m in Tampa this week and plan to take my kids to see Clearwater play either Tuesday or Thursday. Was hoping to catch him, but we’re going either way. Thanks, and by the way I like the new site.

    • Matt Winkelman

      Thank you. I can’t find the tweet, but I believe he is starting on Tuesday for the Threshers

  4. Ed

    I’m a little disappointed not to see Cozens in the top 20. I think the power production (best we have in the system right now) would be enough to get him in the top 20. Guess I’m a little too high on him.

    • Matt Winkelman

      I tend to lean towards more dynamic players especially defensively in my rankings. But when it comes to Cozens I really question how high the ceiling really is, he is not going to get any stronger, so while he is only 20 and showing power I don’t see the continued growth like I do with a player like Pujols. There is also a ton of swing and miss in his game and this year, there hasn’t been the walk rate to compensate. Right now he is putting up great SB numbers and has been decent in the OF, but at 6’6″ 235 and not particularly athletic I worry that the speed and range are going to diminish as he thickens up. He still is a Top 30 prospect for me, but at .238/.296/.401 he isn’t putting up the production to make me look past a lot of his flaws.

      • Ed

        Thanks for the detailed response. I think its the severe lack of power that we have in the system that had me hoping Cozens would be an answer. Is there anyone else I should have my eye on with 25 – 30 HR power potential, not listed?