Yesterday, Matt released the final portion of his top 50 Phillies prospects with the ten best in the system. Matt’s been doing this for some time now and I think we all should give him a round of applause for the amount of hard and detailed work he puts into it every year. It’s probably as good or even better than what some more mainstream sites put together.
With all of that said, I thought I give my final thoughts on the final ten and even give you guys that I think could’ve made the cut as well.
- The first place I want to start is the very top. Trying to pick the number one on this list is like having you cake and eating it too. There really isn’t a wrong answer between choosing J.P. Crawford and Sixto Sanchez. While J.P.’s floor is high at this point and he is now the Phillies everyday shortstop, Sixto’s potential is overwhelming to the point where it pushes him to the top spot in my opinion. Sixto’s breaking ball needs work as is does tends to get slurvy, as does his command. But at 19, he’s already a unique talent the Phillies haven’t had in quite some time. As for J.P., I have the utmost confidence he’s going to be a cornerstone for this team for awhile. Something positive of note to take away during his September stint. After his first six games where he didn’t record a walk (.200, 7 K in 20 PA), he ended up walking more than he struck out in the final 17 (.220, 16/15 BB/K in 67 PA). His plate discipline and defense will carry him through his big league career.
- Mickey Moniak maybe the prospect we are all going to keep a good eye on this year. It was clear by season’s end fatigue was a factor for Moniak, but pitch recognition has nothing to do with fatigue. Change-ups seemed to doom him the most in my accounts as he was able to hold off on breaking balls about 50/50. The speed and late dive of a change can be tough to decipher when it’s executed with a good fastball properly, and it was clear that was the pitch that gave Moniak the most trouble. This will likely be a point of emphasis along with continuing to build his stamina as we enter the spring. Meanwhile, I think evaluators were too harsh on his defense. There was one bad read I saw him make on a double, but it was clear he was also trying to battle the sun at the same time. Otherwise, he didn’t look like an awful defender in centerfield. I never thought his arm was going to be like a 55 grade like some did, but more like a 45 which was basically what I saw on some of his throws, a fringe average arm. This reminds me a bit of what happened midseason with J.P.. When his offense took a significant dip, evaluators were beginning to question his defense at shortstop as well. But when he got hot at the plate, it flipped around back to potential Gold Glove. Moniak doesn’t turn 20 until May and while I think beginning in Lakewood will be better to get him jumpstarted, the Phillies might begin him in Clearwater anyway. Moniak won’t turn 20 until May and because of how raw he was coming out of high school, he was always going to need time to develop his body and then adjust to professional pitching. But because of where he was drafted in a 2016 class which, as Matt said, was a bad class to select #1 overall without hindsight, fans and evaluators will never give him time. My advice: PATIENCE. It doesn’t always happen overnight.
- I’ve debated whether Franklyn Kilome should be behind Moniak in the number ten spot for quite a bit now. I ultimately decided that Kilome’s two plus pitches barely squeak him over Moniak at this point, but this might be the last straw for Kilome as a starter. I love the snap on his curve and with a mid-90s fastball, I’m confident that he’ll have a role in the big leagues, just not as a starter. His change-up or slider needs to become a consistent third pitch and he has the issue of having an inconsistent release point. He didn’t do enough to improve
- Of the bottom half of the top 10, the only one I’m probably guaranteed to see consistently live is Jhailyn Ortiz. He will start the year at Lakewood and will probably spend a majority of the season there unless his progression continues it’s upwards trajectory. His power is outstanding to all fields and while there is swing and miss to his game, the way he keeps his hands back in the zone to drive a ball he might have been out in front on encourages me about his projection. And his discipline looks pretty good as well. And he played a pretty good rightfield too, showing off some decent athleticism. At just 19, there’s not a player I’m probably more excited to see continued progression in this orgnaization than Jhailyn.
- The only player in the top 10 right now who probably is destined to not remain in this organization down the line is Arquimedes Gamboa. Every other name in the top 10 has a chance to remain with either trades (like at 2B) or positions of weakness or unknown in the majors (starting pitching/catcher/outfield). J.P. Crawford likely has the shortstop position locked down the next five years at least, so Gamboa’s path will likely have to be with another organization. Gamboa jumped out to a nice six game start before missing the next six weeks with a hamstring injury. His numbers don’t look great if you take his season ending 14 game hit streak off the table. But watching him the four times I did during the second half of the year vs some pretty decent pitching, not once did I think he was overmatched (he had eight hits in eyewitness games). His walk and strikeout rates also back this up. If Gamboa shows that his offense can hold up over a full season (or a good first half), that combined with his defense at shortstop will make him a valuable trade chip.
- Clearwater might be the most interesting place this year in the system with Sanchez, Moniak, Gamboa, Adonis Medina, Ranger Suarez, Adam Haseley, Daniel Brito and Spencer Howard all potentially beginning the 2018 season there.
- Some players I would’ve probably given some more thought about in the top 50 who didn’t make the cut:
- Nick Fanti – While the stuff isn’t a wow, being a craft 6’2″ southpaw has it’s advantages. Already in three years of pro ball, Fanti has not once looked overmatched. He absolutely dominated his first year of full season pro ball, and will join a heck of rotation in Clearwater this year. And he does it by striking batters out and keeping the walks to the minimum. I would expect the strikeouts to comedown as he faces more advanced hitters, but his command is a plus right now. Really for performance purposes, I would have ranked Fanti in the 45-50 range knowing how low his ceiling is.
- Nick Maton – Versatility and discipline sticked out the most to me when watching Maton this summer in Williamsport. The seventh round pick in last year’s draft worked a lot of good at-bats and had a nice compact quick stroke. He’s going to have to make a bit more solid contact going the other way and will likely have to add a bit more strength. I could see him being where we see Jesmuel Valentin’s potential right now as contact-oriented, versatile infield bench piece. He will likely begin the year in Lakewood.
- Rodolfo Duran – Duran intrigues me a bit. At the plate, I like the barrel control he has and he makes a lot of solid contact. His discipline numbers could be better (4.7% BB, 21.1% K in 171 PA) and he might want to shorten his load a bit, but the offensive potential is there (hit .253 as a 19 year old). His defense behind the plate is what is the most attractive. He’s got a plus arm (49% CS) and has posted some really good pop times and while he’s got some work to do on his blocking and receiving, his trajectory of at least being a back-up is pretty good.