Phillies Place 4 On Baseball America’s GCL Top 20

The GCL Phillies steamrolled through the GCL this year until they reached the championship game and the GCL Cardinals. The GCL is a 17 team league, so getting 2 on the list would get you in the top tier, instead the Phillies placed the most on the list with 4. It is important to note that while this is a ranking it is not necessarily a finished prospect ranking (we will get to that later). What the GCL team did this year was really show just how deep the Phillies farm system is. First the list, then some thoughts, and then I will update with things from the BA chat later today.

The List:

#1 – Mickey Moniak
#7 – Sixto Sanchez
#12 – Daniel Brito
#15 – Jhailyn Ortiz

Chat Questions:

John (Philly): How would you compare Sixto Sanchez to Franklyn Kilome and Adonis Medina at the same stage?
Ben Badler: I would put Sanchez ahead of both of them at the same stage. Sanchez is 18, and Kilome only signed when he was 18 and debuted in the GCL at 19. But even in the GCL, Kilome was more about size, arm speed and physical projection, with a fastball that was up to 95. Sanchez is already sitting around the mid-90s and touching the upper-90s, with two secondary pitches he can use to get swing-and-miss. Medina had more weapons than Kilome did when he was in the GCL, but Sanchez’s stuff across the board is a little more electric, he commands it better and he’s a better athlete than Medina.

Rich (NJ): Do you feel Mickey Moniak has shown enough to be assigned to Lakewood in Low A to begin next season? Thanks
Ben Badler: Definitely. If there’s a first-round pick out of high school this year who isn’t going to Low-A next year, that’s problematic. But Moniak is polished enough that, if the Phillies want to push him, he might even be a candidate to finish the year in High-A, like the Astros did with Kyle Tucker this year.

Matt (Internet): The Phillies seem to churn out breakout Latin pitching prospects every year in the GCL. What has led to their success on not just guys like Sanchez (and Kilome/Medina before him) but second tier guys like Mauricio Llovera this year?
Ben Badler: They have a great international scouting director in Sal Agostinelli (you can go back to guys like Carlos Carrasco, etc. to see his track record), they have a good scouting system in place and they have the people on the ground who know what to look for when they’re out seeing players. Even the Phillies would tell you there’s a lot of luck involved in signing a guy like Sixto Sanchez given how they signed him, and I think every team will tell you there’s a good amount of luck involved when it comes to some of their own best low-dollar signings. But in Latin America, you can also create your own luck and increase your probability of finding a pitcher like Sanchez for cheap—and there are plenty of good arms who sign for low bonuses—by having good area scouts and supervisors on the ground in countries like the DR and Venezuela. That creates more opportunities to find that hidden gem, and when you have good evaluators in place, they can capitalize when they see a pitcher like Sanchez and realize, hey, this is a guy we need to make sure doesn’t leave here without signing.

Das (Hawaii): Mauricio Llovera (7-1) and Nick Fanti (7-0) both seemed to have fantastic seasons, are they getting overlooked because Sixto Sanchez is just that much better?
Ben Badler: They both elevated their prospect status this year, they just weren’t good enough to make the Top 20. Llovera has a plus fastball that’s been up to 96 and he backs it up with a plus breaking ball. His command was scattered early in the year but he improved his strike-throwing ability this season, which helped him take a big step forward, but the scouts I spoke with saw high reliever risk there. Fanti was a nice late-round sign, doesn’t have big stuff but he can get the fastball into the low-90s, used the breaking ball to get strikeouts and kept hitters off balance with his pitchability.

Some Thoughts:

  • I am not going to add anything from the writeups because it is pretty much what we know; Moniak is an allround talent lacking in power, Sanchez has 3 potential plus or better pitches and tops out at 98 with size as a concern, Brito can hit, and Ortiz has big raw power, but is still raw as a player and is going to take some time.
  • On raw talent Kevin Gowdy is well in this group, but he didn’t pitch enough to qualify or show that talent.
  • Given the depth of the league, the only other player I thought had a chance was Cole Stobbe, but his disastrous playoffs (0-16 10 K) probably didn’t help his cause, for me he is in the Brito and Ortiz group as a prospect.
  • Speaking of Daniel Brito, his inclusion this high on the list was a bit surprising, but BA is more bullish on his power than I am, and he certainly showed more of it this year with more room to grow. Outside of the debate on the power, Brito can really hit and his approach is solid with 21 walks to 27 strikeouts in 47 games. He can also really field it at second, and while that isn’t shortstop, he should be a very good defender going forward.
  • If you think Sanchez should be higher, I won’t argue with you, he is the #2 pitcher on the list behind the #9 overall pick in the draft so it isn’t like he got snubbed. He is really really good.
  • On the pitching front, I don’t think Mauricio Llovera, Kyle Young, Nick Fanti, or Luis Carrasco should have been on this list, but that does not mean they aren’t decent prospects in their own right. Same thing for Josh Stephen, Ben Pelletier, and Malvin Matos  who were not that great statistically but point to the Phillies overall depth.
  • Moniak obviously came from the draft, as did Stobbe and Gowdy. But it is amazing how much the core of this team came from Latin America with Brito and Ortiz coming from the high money side and Sanchez being another in a long line of breakout low money pitchers for the Phillies.
  • I feel like it has been forgotten that for his GCL year Franklyn Kilome was 89-93 T95, it wasn’t until 2015 that the 97s started appearing, he also threw a crappy slider in the GCL, not the plus hammer curve he does now.

Image by Baseball Betsy

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. Bob D

    With Sanchez, why is size an issue so much when he has 3 potential plus or better pitches and tops out at 98? Not every good pitcher is 6’6″ or taller.

    • Matt Winkelman

      Part of the reason it comes up is that it is one of the few knocks on him. Being tall does not make a pitcher good in of itself, but it is an advantage. Whether that is in perceived durability (I don’t think that will be a problem for Sanchez who is built solidly) or the natural advantages of height on pitch plane and extension. Sanchez’s height won’t prevent him from becoming good, but it is a factor in who he is as a pitcher, just like we are going to hear a lot this winter about him being only 18 and eons away from the majors, which is a risk factor for pitchers where the near 100% indicator of future pitching injuries is pitching in baseball games.

      • JohnK

        Matt, I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate your insight/opinions. It has been so much fun the past two years to read this blog and your posts elsewhere (plus Jim Peyton’s and others) to get some firsthand info (even if you’re not pro scouts) on the great additions to the Phillies org! The returns from trades have made us stronger – especially near the top, but the phuture lies most importantly (imo) in the higher upsides of many young guys from the ’15 and ’16 international signings and amateur drafts! Their ceilings are exciting, but I’ll stay patient as I remain informed via these articles. Thank you for what you do and for doing it so well!

      • Rei De Bastoni

        Nice response, Matt. I understand downward plane issues with shorter pitchers, but I think they have an advantage in that their mechanics are usually more consistent without all that lankiness, providing extra control/command.

        Do you have any thoughts on that? Thanks.

        • Matt Winkelman

          I don’t know if it is something that matters a ton on the end product because the minors should select out those who are unable to master their command, in the same that a lot of shorter pitchers seem to be more “max effort” and those where that causes injury are weeded out.

          In other words if I have a tall and a short pitching prospect, I would see there being more mechanical struggles along the way for the taller pitcher, but I don’t know if that is a long term issue.

          Now of course since none of this is binary we have other factors like the player’s athleticism, their delivery, how much do they use their lower half, how coordinated they are, and a whole bunch of other things. In the case of Sixto, I think the height thing will fade as he gets older, because the velocity is easy, he is built sturdily, and he uses his lower half well, not to mention the stuff is great. But he is so risky and far away right now that it is hard to not list out the things that are knocks on him to temper expectations some.