For about a week now, Matt has provided his comprehensive list of the top 50 Phillies prospects as we get closer to the start of spring training. We are through the first 30 on this list (21-50), so I decided to provide my own thoughts on the players ranked so far. And if you’ve missed the first 30, check out the links below to see where everyone is ranked with full analysis of each player. And stay tuned for the top 20 over the next few days. I’ll provide analysis the day after each of the final two lists come out.
- Dylan Cozens is probably right where he should be at #35. If it weren’t for his immense power and ability to draw walks, he might be even lower. With Hoskins, Altherr, Williams and Herrera making up the Phillies current outfield and Roman Quinn likely in the lead to be the fifth outfielder or at least to first to get the call, Cozens’ future in this organization is a bit cloudy now. Perhaps with less pressure to make the major leagues this year, he might be able to focus more on cutting down the tone in his swing and getting those strikeout numbers down. At this point he’s more likely to be a minor league depth player more so than a major league regular.
- After how things went last year, I’d probably have Alberto Tirado off the top 50. His velocity went down from 97-99 mph to 92-95. He lost feel for his slider, which was tremendous the previous year. And even after they converted him back to a reliever after a poor performance as a starter, he never found any rhythm. The only reason he would be hanging in our top 50 right now, is because of the potential he showed in Lakewood in 2016. Perhaps he can bounce back and regain some velocity which would help his status as a potential high leverage reliever, but as of this moment he’s more of the kind of reliever who bounces back and forth between the majors and AAA.
- Their are three prospects that intrigue me through the first 30 whose stocks could rise high this year:
- Kyle Young (#25) – I could make the argument that Young’s performance over the last two years and unknown growth for potential should have him closer to 20 than 25. Young is mainly more about control and command than velocity, but he still has room to grow in this category potentially. Even his 88-90 mph fastball now looks more like 94 to the hitters because of where he releases the ball. He’ll have to work on sharpening on his secondary pitches in Lakewood but the potential is there to be a #4 type starter. And just to add to Kyle’s mystique, there was this tidbit Matt found out the other day:
- Ben Pelletier (#43) – The raw potential of Pelletier is what can shoot him up the boards at this point next year. He has a good build, solid athleticism and raw strength to be prototypical power-hitting corner outfielder. But his swing and discipline need to be better. There were a number of videos that showed that even when he put the ball in play, his body flailed and looked slightly stiff at times. He doesn’t seem too loose even though he’s got solid hands to generate that bat speed. His ceiling is extreme, and his path will likely be like that of Dylan Cozens. I wouldn’t be surprised if he up into the top 25 next season.
- Jake Holmes (#45) – The Phillies went well over slot in the first round of the third day of the MLB draft by selecting Holmes in the 11th round and he had a solid showing in his 122 plate appearances in the GCL. Holmes’ tools intrigue me a lot. He’s got great size (6’3″), plus speed, and room to grow for future 20-25 HR power. His swing needs a little work on some of the high school video I’ve seen, particularly with his load. As Matt pointed out, he could start in Williamsport and with Jonathan Guzman and Brayan Gonzalez more likely to stick in the middle of the infield, they will move Holmes to 3B. And given the depth of the position in the system, this is likely the right move.
- Right now the only prospects to show up on the list with some big league experience are Drew Anderson and Victor Arano. Anderson needs to refine his fastball command if he wants to remain in the conversation for a starting job down line. I still contend that he might be better suited for the bullpen with his above average curve. Arano likely has a clearer path as a reliever, especially if he regains his velocity. I liked what I saw in his September stint last year where I could see him being a multi-inning fixture in the pen.
- The Phillies made a number of trades at the deadline last year and really only acquired depth guys. McKenzie Mills is like many of the Phillies starting pitching prospects where a back-end starter projection is suitable for him. While #33 is not a bad spot for him, J.D. Hammer probably had the best season of the five prospects acquired in the middle of the season via trade. Hammer dominated in 2017 (outside of two rough California League outings), including the Arizona Fall League vs some of the best minor league talent and probably should be higher than #41 on this list. He should at least be ahead of Jose Gomez at #36 considering his chances now at potentially fast tracking to the majors for a September call-up.
- JP Crawford will graduate from the prospect list in April at some point, which means Arquimedes Gamboa is really the organization’s top minor league SS entering 2018. Behind him our a number of options for the number two spot at that position and they are all bunched up together nicely: Luis Garcia (#21), Jonathan Guzman (#22), Brayan Gonzalez (#28). Gamboa took a lot of time before breaking out in second half last season in Lakewood. So it’s not a surefire bet that he’s the #1 shortstop prospect on this list next year. Considering Garcia will be brand new in pro ball after signing in July, he’s got a pretty good chance to claim it if Gamboa tails off. But my money will be on Guzman being the real challenger in 2018 to Gamboa. Gonzalez played mainly at 2B, but will still be considered for this list for versatility purposes. The main reason to watch the SS performances is more so for trade purposes. The Phillies have their shortstop for at least the next 4-5 years, maybe even longer. This is more about who might be appealing in the right trade down the line.