Top 30 Prospects

My Philosophy:

I value elite tools; there is a level of ability that just cannot be taught to a player.  That being said once you hit hi-A you need the other skills to let those tools work in games.  The corollary to this is that an elite player is worth way more than a major league ready replacement player.  A player whose upside is being a #5 starter, middle reliever, or bench bat has little value to a team beyond their pre-free agency years. Their value is much less than a guy with a chance to be an average regular even if there is some risk.  This means there are guys who put up great numbers in the minors who just aren’t going to make it.  Baseball is hard and they just don’t have the raw abilities.

 Projections and Risk:

I decided against lengthy scouting reports and analysis, much of which has already occurred, instead opting to give you a quick snapshot of my thoughts with my projection, risk and major league ETA.  The projection is based on reasonable development, this is not a player’s ceiling, but rather it is the profile they will reach if their skills advance at a predictable rate.  This leads to projections that seem low towards the back of this list on “high upside” prospects, because we just don’t know enough to project with any certainty a profile close to their ceiling.

When it comes to position players a first division player is roughly Top 10 at their positive, a solid regular is in the 10-20 range, and a second division starter is in the back 15 or so.  These are all valuable major league pieces, especially at the league minimum.

 The List:

1. Jesse  Biddle – LHP – Age 21

Clearwater: 142.2 IP, 3.22 ERA, 54 BB, 151 K

Projection:  #2/#3 Starter

Risk: Medium, despite never pitching in AA Biddle’s skill set indicates that he is at worst a #4 starter

Major League ETA: 2014

2. Adam Morgan – LHP – Age 23

Clearwater: 123.0 IP, 3.29 ERA, 28 BB, 140 K

Reading: 35.2 IP, 3.53 ERA, 11 BB, 29 K

Projection: #3 Starter

Risk: Medium, much of Morgan’s projection is built on one year of excellent results, as well as a jump up in stuff

Major League ETA: 2014

Summary: Biddle and Morgan have become linked in my mind and analysis so rather than write them up separately I decided to combine them.  When it comes to their pitches their fastballs are similar though Morgan’s is more consistent and Biddle’s will flash better.  Morgan has the better changeup though Biddle’s will flash plus.  Biddle has the dominating plus breaking ball, Morgan’s slider also very good.  Morgan has the better command right now, but Biddle has the nice easy delivery that will lend itself to good command in the future.  Biddle does have the better frame giving him the chance to be a real 200IP+ workhorse.  There is still some projectability with the younger Biddle and that gives him the edge here.

Biddle and Morgan are a very clear tier in my mind. Iit is not a huge gap from them to #3 on this list, Roman Quinn.  In this list Quinn is on his own, and there is a decent gap behind him to #4.

3. Roman Quinn – SS – Age 19

Williamsport: .281/.370/.408, 28BB, 61K, 1 HR, 30SB

Projection: First division regular

Risk: High, Quinn has yet to play full season ball but he does have good instincts at the plate.  If he can’t play shortstop is value is not extremely reduced by moving to center field

Major League ETA: 2016

Summary: Quinn’s biggest ability is his 80 grade speed.  He is one of the fastest players in baseball right now.  Quinn was #2 on this list for a while and his fall to #3 is no fault of his own.  If Quinn can show some home run power in his compact swing or improved instincts at short he could become an elite prospect in baseball.  For now he remains the highest upside position player in the system.  Even if he cannot stick at short his speed will give him elite range in center field.  Quinn will face a tough challenge in his full season debut but he should only get better with more reps in the field and switch hitting.

I had a hard time ranking #4-#7 and you can really argue them in any order you want to.  Franco is different from the other three in that he is farther away but his ceiling may be higher than the rest, earning him his spot on this list.  #9 Jonathan Pettibone was a clear step behind them.

4. Tommy Joseph – C – Age 21

Richmond: 304AB, .260/.313/.391, 25BB, 64K, 8HR

Reading: 100AB, .250/.327/.420, 9BB, 32K, 3HR

Projection: Solid to above average regular

Risk: Medium, Joseph has a crazy work ethic and makeup that have allowed him to really improve himself, however there are some definite holes in his game that are concerning.

Major League ETA: Late-2013

Summary: A year ago there were questions about whether Joseph could stick at catcher, but the answer is now a definitive yes.  Joseph will likely never be an elite receiver but he has gotten much better, and he can lock down the running game with a great arm.  At the plate Joseph will likely always have a low average but he has increased his walk rate to a point where he can get on base enough to provide value.  Joseph has plenty of raw power but it only plays as plus due to the poor contact ability.  There is a chance that Joseph’s makeup will allow him to make another real leap.

5. Ethan Martin – RHP – Age 23

Chattanooga: 118.0IP, 3.58 ERA, 61BB, 112K

Reading: 39.2 IP, 3.18 ERA, 18BB, 35K

Projection: #3 Starter/Late-inning Reliever or Closer

Risk: High, Martin has really only shown the ability to consistently throw strikes for half a season, and even then had an outburst of wildness in Reading, could probably transition to the bullpen easily

Major League ETA: 2013

Summary:  Martin has a ton of upside if he can prove his new control is real, though the lack of a good changeup is concerning.  This ranking reflects the raw stuff that Martin has; a plus plus fastball, a plus breaking ball, and another average breaking ball to pair with what profiles as an average changeup.  I believe the new command is legitimate and even if the changeup does not develop Martin as at least a dominant reliever.

6. Maikel Franco – 3B – Age 20

Lakewood: 503AB, .280/.336/.439, 38BB, 80K, 14HR

Projection: First division regular

Risk: High, Franco has only one year of full season ball and has struggled to make initial adjustments at every level

Major League ETA: 2015

Summary: Besides Quinn Franco is the best chance at a true cornerstone position player in the system.  After struggling in the first half Franco really started to show a good approach as well as the ability to use the full field at the plate.  There is plus game power in the bat and he should stick at third base as long as he keeps his body in check.  Franco could accelerate his development and earn a mid-season jump to Reading if he gets off to a good start.  There is plenty to like and be excited about.

7. Cody Asche – 3B – Age 22

Clearwater: 255AB, .349/.378/.447, 12BB, 37K, 2HR

Reading: 263AB, .300/.360/.513, 22BB, 56K, 10HR

Projection: Solid regular

Risk: Medium, Asche has a small sample size of success but the profile doesn’t really have too many holes

Major League ETA: 2013

Summary: Asche is average across the board, with possibly a plus hit tool.  His upside is limited but he should be a solid major leaguer for years in the future.  Asche likely only needs another half season of minor league ABs between AA and AAA before he should be pushing Michael Young off the position on the major league level.

Four of the next five guys are all high upside, high round/bonus players who will be impossible to have truly ranked properly, someone from this group will likely make a large leap in status and someone will likely fall off towards the back of the list.  For now all have the tools and projection to be above average major league regulars.

8. Carlos Tocci – CF – Age 17

GCL: 97AB, .278/.330/.299, 6BB, 18K

Projection: First division regular

Risk: Extreme, it isn’t just that Tocci hasn’t played above the GCL, we have no clue what he will physically look like

Major League ETA: 2017

Summary:  I believe in Tocci as a plus defender in centerfield with plus plus speed.  That means that the pressure on his bat is much lower.  It is unlikely Tocci will develop average  power given his frame, but if he can add enough strength to allow his good instincts to play up then he could be a monster player.

9. Jonathan Pettibone – RHP – Age 22

Reading: 117.1 IP, 3.30 ERA, 27BB, 81K

Lehigh Valley: 42.1 IP, 2.55 EAR, 22BB, 32K

Projection: #4 Starter

Risk: Low, Pettibone is ready as a #5 starter right now and should be ready as a #4 by mid-season

Major League ETA: 2013

Summary: The more I looked at Pettibone, the more I realized that without the plus fastball or an out pitch, his ceiling is limited.  The good news is that he is ready now, and the changeup is a legitimate plus pitch and it is plus command (at least in Reading).  Pettibone will have to miss a lot more bats or generate more weak contact to have higher upside and I just cannot reasonably project that growth.

10. Shane Watson – RHP – Age 19

GCL: 7IP, 1.29 ERA, 1BB, 8K

Projection: #2/#3 Starter

Risk: Extreme, Watson has pitched only 7 innings, he is very polished though and may be only be a high risk to be a true #3

Major League ETA: 2016

Summary:  Watson is very polished with two plus pitches and an average changeup under development.  He should easily handle a full season assignment and could move quickly through the system.  Watson’s limited debut due to diabetes should be behind him and he impressed in instructs.  With a good year Watson could be near the top of this list.

11. Larry Greene Jr. – LF – Age 20

Williamsport: 257AB, .272/.373/.381, 41BB, 78K, 2HR

Projection: Solid regular

Risk: Extreme, Greene’s carrying tool is power, and at this point we are just projecting that will show up in games

Major League ETA: 2016

Summary:  I gave Greene the benefit of doubt because the power was still there in batting practice.  Greene showed much better plate discipline than expected, but it would do him well to be more selectively aggressive and look to drive his pitch.  Greene is an average runner and defender in left will be good for his future defensive value.  He likely will end up at first base long term but there is no reason he cannot come through the system in left field.

12. Mitch Gueller – RHP – Age 19

GCL: 27.1 IP, 5.27 ERA, 12BB, 19K

Projection: #2/#3 Starter

Risk: Extreme, Gueller is very raw as a pitcher right now

Major League ETA: 2017

Summary:  The case against Gueller is that he was not very good in his GCL debut.  The case for him is that he has a plus fastball that could be plus plus, and a changeup and slurvy breaking ball that both flash plus potential.  On top of that Gueller has a big athletic frame which suggests future projection.  His mechanics need work right now but the Phillies will work with him to smooth them out.  Gueller will take longer than fellow RHP Watson but the payoff could be greater with Gueller.

With the exception of Cozens and Pullin this next group should all make their major league debuts by 2014.  The problem is there might not be major league regulars among them.  All of them have a major flaw that holds back their value.

13. Phillipe Aumont – RHP – Age 24

Lehigh Valley: 44.1 IP, 4.26 ERA, 34BB, 59K

Majors: 14.2 IP, 3.68 ERA, 9BB, 14K

Projection: Late inning reliever / Closer

Risk: Medium, despite making the majors Aumont’s control problems are still a problem

Major League ETA: 2012

Summary:  Aumont has the best raw stuff in the organization but the command and control have always been a problem.  Aumont should be a dominant reliever for years which earns him a spot high up on this list.  If Aumont can just keep the ball around the plate, it will make the curveballs he buries out of the zone more effective.  Overall, Aumont could be the best pitcher out of the Phillies pen as early as the end of spring training.

14. Darin Ruf – 1B/LF – Age 26

Reading: 489 AB, .317/.408/.620, 65BB, 102K, 38HR

Majors: 33 AB, .333/.351/.727, 2BB, 12K, 3HR

Projection: Second division regular/platoon bat

Risk: Medium, Ruf’s major league ceiling is based on a crazy month and a half

Major League ETA: 2012

Summary:  There was no good place to rank Ruf.  The reason for ranking Ruf so low is there are concerns about the swing and miss against good stuff now, and that he sells out more for power than his previous high contact line drive approach, in addition to the defensive concerns.  At first base the bat is average to lower because he does not have stand out plate discipline and walk rates, and in left field he does not have the range or skills to be a good defender.  Ruf will have his uses on a major league roster and could start for many teams (and might for the Phillies), but can the bat be enough over a full season of adjustments or overcome the defense.

15. Dylan Cozens – RF – Age 18

GCL: 161 AB, .255/.341/.441, 21BB, 44K, 5HR

Projection: Solid regular

Risk: Extreme, Cozens is still very raw as a two sport athlete transitioning to full time baseball

Major League ETA: 2017

Summary:  Cozens is a freak athlete with plenty of raw power.  He has a stiff long swing that will likely have plenty of miss in it, but he has some semblance of an approach.  In the field he can stick in right with his plus arm for now but as a giant already it is hard to project him long term in the outfield.  Even if he has to move to first the bat will play.  He is likely destined for Extended Spring Training and Williamsport but could find a way to Lakewood at some point.

16. Justin De Fratus – RHP – Age 25

Lehigh Valley: 21.2 IP, 2.49 ERA, 3BB, 22K

Majors: 10.2 IP, 3.38 ERA, 5BB, 8K

Projection: Late inning reliever/set-up

Risk: Low, De Fratus would have been a big part of the bullpen in 2012 if it wasn’t for an injury

Major League ETA: 2011

Summary:  De Fratus has a plus fastball and slider and knows what to do with both of them.  De Fratus lacks the upside of Aumont but he is a much safer bet to be a major league reliever.  De Fratus does have dominant high leverage upside earning him a good spot on this list.

17. Andrew Pullin – 2B/OF – Age 19

GCL: 140 AB, .321/.403/.436, 12BB, 32K, 2HR

Projection: Solid Regular

Risk: High, Pullin has never played above complex league ball, but his skill set is low risk as long as he can stick at second

Major League ETA: 2016

Summary:  From the reports I believe that Pullin can stick at second with average defense.  His line drive swing shows good contact ability and average power potential.  He doesn’t have star level tools but he should move quickly with a ceiling as a solid regular.  I believe that Pullin will hit and should move quickly if he can handle second.

18. Austin Wright – LHP – Age 23

Clearwater: 147.2 IP, 3.47 ERA, 60BB, 133K

Projection: #4 Starter/Multi-inning reliever

Risk: High, the changeup is starting to appear but the command still holds him back

Major league ETA: 2014

Summary: I just don’t think Wright is a starter long term.  The combination of command problems and his developing changeup really concern me.  That being said I think Wright could be a lefty reliever with more than LOOGY upside.  His stuff reminds me of Antonio Bastardo out of the pen and he could have similar upside.

19. Zach Collier – CF – Age 22

Clearwater: 283 AB, .269/.333/.399, 26BB, 60K, 6HR, 11SB

Projection: Second division regular/4th OF

Risk: High, the optimism on Collier is built strongly on a good showing in the AFL

Major League ETA: 2014

Summary:  Collier had all the tools when the Phillies drafted him in the first round in 2008 but injuries and suspensions have reduced his playing time.  He looked good in Clearwater and then broke out in the Arizona Fall League.  Collier may not be a starter without a huge jump forward in tools, but he could make the big leagues as a solid 4th outfielder-a dream that may not have been possible a year ago.

20. Sebastian Valle – C – Age 22

Reading: 310 AB, .261/.280/.435, 11BB, 83K, 13HR

Lehigh Valley: 78 AB, .218/.232/.397, 2BB, 31K, 4HR

Projection: Backup catcher

Risk: High, despite reaching AAA Valle has no plate discipline

Major League ETA: 2013

Summary:  Valle has no real approach and just sells out for power at the plate.  This leads to a high strikeout rate with a really low walk rate.  At the major league level that approach will be completely exposed.  Behind the plate Valle is a very good receiver, but he does not have a good release making him below average against the run game despite a plus arm.  Overall Valle will need to improve greatly to have a chance as anything more than a marginal back up.

21. Cesar Hernandez – 2B – Age 22

Reading: 411 AB, .304/.345/.436, 27BB, 67K, 16SB, 12CS

Lehigh Valley: 121 AB, .248/.270/.298, 4BB, 11K, 5SB, 3CS

Projection: Second division starter/utility player

Risk: Medium, Hernandez does not have much projection left and will be ready with another season of AAA ABs

Major League ETA: 2013

Summary:  Hernandez has many of the pieces to start for a team but is missing the raw tools to be an average regular.  His power is poor and despite plus to plus plus speed he is a poor base stealer.  Hernandez is limited to a slap hitting approach that gives good contact but does not allow him to draw walks at a high rate.  He is average to slightly above in the field and may be able to play shortstop in short stints to have use as a utility player, but otherwise his use is limited.

The rest of the list is mix of injury fliers (Gillies) and tools fliers, the only guy here who absolutely needs to be on this list is Kenneth Giles, there are valid arguments to why they could be excluded from this list.

22. Mitch Walding – 3B – Age 20

Williamsport: 253 AB, .233/.326/.308, 31BB, 66K, 1HR

Projection: Solid regular

Risk: Extreme, Walding is still learning how to adjust to professional baseball and after a hot start really tailed off

Major League ETA: 2016

Summary:  Despite his terrible finish to the season the scouting reports on Walding remain positive.  Like Larry Greene, Walding may be too passive at the plate and needs to really work on recognizing pitches and choosing his spots.  He has plus raw power to go with a good bat, but it will need some work.  In the field, much like at the plate Walding has all the tools.  He just needs to put it together.  He is a definite breakout candidate if he can put it all together

23. Zach Green – 3B – Age 19

GCL: 169 AB, .284/.333/.426, 8BB, 43K, 3HR

Projection: Solid regular

Risk: Extreme, Green has little actual experience and a large hole or two in his swing

Major League ETA: 2017

Summary:  Green is in many ways a mirror image of Walding right down to them being a righty and lefty.  Green has more power but less hit than Walding.  Walding has a better approach, and Green took better to the defensive transition.  I rate Green so high because I believe in the defense, and if he can continue and build on it, he can take pressure off the bat to be ready immediately.

24. Kenneth Giles – RHP – Age 22

Lakewood: 67.1 IP, 3.61 ERA, 44BB, 86K

Clearwater: 14.2 IP, 3.07 ERA, 6BB, 25K

Projection: High leverage reliever/closer

Risk: High, Giles has brought his command under control but it is still below average and needs continuing improvement

Major League ETA: 2014

Summary:  Giles’ calling card is a fastball that routinely touches triple digits.  Giles made giant improvements in both strike throwing as well as scrapping all of his secondary except for the slider which now flashes as a plus pitch.  Giles could move quickly once he has a feel for his pitches and could be a dominant closer on arrival.  His value is driven down by his reliever profile as well as my concerns about how quickly he will move.

25. Tyson Gillies – CF – Age 24

Reading: 276 AB, .304/.369/.453, 8SB, 6CS, 4HR

Projection: Solid regular

Risk: Extreme, Gillies has some serious issues staying on the field and some make up questions

Major League ETA: 2013

Summary:  So the good: Gillies is a great defensive center fielder with good range and a plus arm.  Gillies makes good contact and currently has good plate discipline.  The bad: Gillies cannot stay healthy and there seems to be a consistent hamstring problem. Unless he develops better game power (and a swing to pair with it) his on base and running ability (if it comes back) will be severely reduced.  Overall it is a package with some upside, but it is limited by the large injury risk.

26. Kelly Dugan – RF – Age 22

Lakewood: 430 AB, .300/.387/.470, 48BB, 122K, 12HR

Projetion: Second division regular/4th outfielder

Risk: High, 2012 was Dugans first healthy season and driven by an unsustainable BABIP

Major League ETA: 2015

Summary: Upon first looking at just the numbers I had Dugan much higher on this list.  However, his year was driven by an unsustainable BABIP given his high strikeout rate.  There are things to like, Dugan walked at a good rate and made good contact.  After his injury he played a good right field with a plus arm.  At first base he is little more than an org guy and will need to stick in the outfield.

27. Kevin Brady – RHP – Age 22

Williamsport:  39 IP, 1.85 ERA, 5BB, 49K

Projection: #3/#4 starter

Risk: High, as a reliever Brady has low risk to make it to the majors, but as a starter there is plenty of risk in injury and development

Major League ETA: 2015

Summary:  Brady fell in the draft due to injury, but he showed a plus fastball and good breaking ball in his debut.  The changeup has potential as well.  Brady dominated in his debut but the competition was not great.  He will likely double jump to Clearwater where he could move very quickly.  If the changeup doesn’t come he could arrive very quickly in the bullpen.

28. Aaron Altherr – CF – Age 22

Lakewood: 420 AB, .252/.319/.402, 38BB, 102K,  25SB,  8HR

Projection: Second division regular/4th OF

Risk: High, there are still plenty of holes to Altherr’s game despite the positives, and Hi-A will really test his development

Major League ETA: 2015

Summary:  I have always liked Altherr as a prospect and I like him even better now that it appears he can stick in center defensively (the arm might make up for not having elite range).  Altherr may never be a star or a solid regular, but I feel more confident after his 2012 that there is a major league player in there (at very least a 4th outfielder).

29. Jose Pujols – RF – Age 17

Projection: A Dream

Risk: Ludicrous

Major League ETA: 2018?

Summary:  Pujols is a dream at this point.  All we know is he has massive batting practice generated from strength and ridiculous bat speed.  Pujols has almost no game approach at this point and his swing will need to be retooled to close up some holes that will be exploited.  In the field Pujols has the arm and range for right field.

30. Gabriel Lino – C – Age 19

Delmarva: 206 AB, .218/.282/.340, 16BB, 64K, 4HR

Lakewood: 123 AB, .227/.311/.371, 14BB, 33K, 3HR

Projection: Solid regular

Risk: Ludicrous, Lino is either going to find a good approach and footwork and be a monster or he is not going to make it to AA

Major League ETA: 2016

Summary:  This is a tools pick, it came down to three catchers for the last spot in Lino, Grullon, and Rupp.  I aimed high on the projection because he is a pure boom or bust player.  Lino has huge holes on offense and defense that are not allowing his monster tools to appear in game action.  Lino is still very young so there is time, but there is a lot that can go wrong here.

Other Players I have Opinions on:

Cameron Rupp – He just didn’t have enough upside for me, he just missed the list because of the safety, but he isn’t more than a backup.

Deivi Grullon – Grullon’s plus defensive projection gives me good hope.  Huge questions about the hit tools’ future projection dropped him just off the list, in addition to the lack of an elite carrying tool.

Brody Colvin – I don’t think Colvin is a starter anymore.  He is really going to have to get the mechanics in order to even have a spot in a bullpen.

Kyle Simon – Despite the one dominating pitch, the sinker, he is just a middle reliever who might be ready in late 2013.

Tyler Cloyd – The stuff just isn’t good enough to do anything other than pitch innings.

Brian Pointer – Pointer has less contact and more power than expected.  He needs to keep building on the power and show more of his Williamsport season than his Lakewood season.  Having to move to a corner has put much more pressure on the bat.

Leandro Castro – It is a 4th/5th outfielder profile.  He can play all three positions and can hit with good contact and power, but he does not have good plate discipline or secondary skills to profile offensively in a corner.

Franklyn Vargas – Vargas has great stuff including a plus plus fastball from the left side.  There are a lot of control problems here, but plenty of youth to work on it.

Yoel Mecias – Mecias has less stuff than Vargas and a year older, but he has better control profile, he could make the jump to Lakewood to start 2013.

Sergio Velis – Velis has less stuff than Vargas or Mecias, but advanced feel and control of three average pitches.

Perci Garner – Should be a power arm reliever.  The fastball/slider combination should be good enough to make him a possible late inning reliever if the stuff plays up.

Julio Rodriguez – The curveball misses bats and the fastball is well below average.  A move to the bullpen with the cutter and curveball could give him a major league career.

Kyrell Hudson – Plus arm and near elite speed make him great defensive center fielder.  The bat just has to be average for him to be good, though there is some pop in the swing.

Jiawn James – Plus defender, with no approach, he is a 4th outfielder at best.

Anthony Hewitt – Still has insane raw tools and no pitch recognition.  No one thought he would reach AA, still could make the bigs somehow.

Cameron Perkins – He can play all four corners, the bat is good, but he can be a little overaggressive.  It isn’t star tools but he could be a regular if everything breaks right.

Sleepers:

David Buchanan – At best he is a #4 starter, but likely he is a #5 or lower, but he could be ready mid-season and be a long man for the major league club.  He has better raw stuff than Cloyd or Hyatt with better groundball tendencies, albeit with much lower strikeout rates

Braden Shull – Big body projectable lefty who has yet to really pitch for the Phillies.  Shull will turn 20 in May so a trip to the NYPL is not a bad developmental path.

Manuare Martinez – Dominated in the GCL, struggled in Williamsport.  He has a fastball with good two-seam movement he can run up to 95-96 to pair with a sharp slider.  The changeup still needs work.  Martinez isn’t a big pitcher so he might end up in the bullpen but it is a live arm.

Marek Minarek – Big Czech pitcher with plenty of room to fill in.  He will be 19 to start the season and got experience pitching in WBC qualifiers.  He might not make a big impact in 2013 but he was a long term project to begin with.

Breakout Prospect:

Carlos Tocci – The defensive profile is legitimate.  He has such an advanced feel for the game that there is a lot more safety to him than other 17 year olds.  If he can continue to barrel the ball up he will be valuable offensively even without big power.

Organization Top 10: 25 and Under:

Biddle

Morgan

Quinn

Revere

Brown

Joseph

Martin

Franco

Asche

Galvis

Revere is a solid regular at the major league level but Biddle and Morgan project to be above average within the next year.  Brown still has plenty projection even if he has been a disappointment to this point.  Galvis could be a solid regular on defense alone but there are questions surrounding his suspension that drop him behind Asche for me.

Top 5 Prospects for 2013:

Aumont

Ruf

DeFratus

Pettibone

Asche

Aumont should have an impact out of the bullpen all year, and Ruf will likely only have a platoon role.  If De Fratus makes the bullpen he likely won’t be in the high leverage innings Aumont should get.  If Lannan or Kendrick struggle or there is a pitching injury, Pettibone should be the first call up.  I think Asche will get the call up before September and take over at third or be a valuable bench bat.

About 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 previously appeared on Phuture Phillies and The Good Phight. You can read his work at Phillies Minor Thoughts

44 thoughts on “Top 30 Prospects

  1. Thanks Matt. When James ran the site, he had great insights and brought out a lot of discussion. Brad, Gregg, Andy and you are taking it to a whole new level. I think the discussion has improved and it makes me think a little differently when I read your posts. I think it because each of you has your own viewpoints and they aren’t always in lock step. We all love our Phillies and that makes us lovers of the minor league guys. We often look for the smallest crack to let in the sunshine. There are still people who want, need, hope that Hewitt suddenly gets it and a top pick plays like one. Every February, Hope springs eternal.

  2. Great list and comments. Thanks!

    One major disagreement: Going by your ranking and comments, you don’t seem so high on Tommy Joseph. I don’t understand this at all. Personally I see him as 1b in our prospect ranking (Biddle being 1a), and just as likely to be a cornerstone star-level player as Quinn or Franco.

    Here’s my reasoning:
    (1) He’s young. He’s 3 months older than Biddle and 13 months older than Franco. In other words, he’s a year ahead of schedule compared to most of our prospects. He’s been playing young for his level his whole career.
    (2) The numbers don’t support the idea that he has contact problems. In 2012 and 2011 in the Giants organization, his K% was under 20% (for a guy with power, young for his level). It’s true that he had a high K% in Reading but that was after they made some changes to his swing and approach at the plate. Personally, I would almost throw out the Reading numbers, but even if you include them his overall K% was still just 21.4%, which isn’t that bad.
    (3) He has shown power from day 1. He had an ISO of .165 in A-ball at 19 years old with 16 HRs. Imagine if Larry Greene had played in Lakewood this year, and hit 16 HRs with a .165 ISO…and played CATCHER. That’s his power potential. Oh, wait, I was mistaken: that was his age EIGHTEEN season, so he was younger than Larry Greene then (Greene turned 19 in Ffebruary, Joseph turned 19 in July of 2010).

    When scouts say of someone’s bat that it could maybe play at first base, and then you hear that they will stick at catcher, I think you have something special.

    1. I like Joseph plenty, I just see him a step behind those top three (it really isn’t that large a gap that I think anyone is wrong having Joseph #2). I have some concerns which I outlined above. He projects as a solid regular to me, with a chance at being a first division guy, that is a really nice prospect (I really like Morgan and Quinn more than I don’t like Joseph).

      1. Besides just wanting to lay out my case for Joseph, my comment was more in response to this:

        “Besides Quinn, Franco is the best chance at a true cornerstone position player in the system.”

        I’d put Joseph’s ceiling above those guys for sure.

        1. I might grant you Joseph’s ceiling being higher than Franco’s, although personally I prefer the latter. The tools Quinn exhibited in Williamsport, however, show me a guy who could be a perennial all-star at the most valuable defensive position on the field. I think Quinn’s ceiling is far higher than Joseph.

          1. I agree that Quinn’s ceiling is probably higher. But I couldn’t bring myself to rank Quinn over Joseph, because of age to level. Tommy Joseph just played catcher at age 20, in double A. Catcher is as important defensively as SS. I had to go with the 20 year old catcher in AA over the 19 year old SS in NYP.
            Now saying that, I believe that Roman Quinn has the most potential to rocket into the top 50, of all the prospects in the system.

            1. Joseph is far more likely to reach his ceiling than Quinn. Ranking the one with proximity above the other makes a lot of sense (although I didn’t on my personal rankings).

          2. (1) I consider catcher more valuable than shortstop. For instance, Fangraphs positional adjustments are +12.5 runs for catcher compared to +7.5 runs for shortstop. So if a catcher and a shortstop provide the same offense, a catcher is worth 0.5 WAR more over the course of a year.

            (2) Quinn has 80 speed, but Joseph’s raw power might be a 70, which is like 80 for a catcher. Personally I consider power the more valuable tool, assuming it translates to the game.

            (3) Quinn put up good numbers at age 19 in A-, there’s no denying that. But when Joseph was 19, he hit 22 HRs in A+. Oh, and he had a lower K% than Quinn despite being two levels higher (yes, he had a lower BB% and a much lower BABIP, so his overall numbers were a good deal worse).

            This is not to knock Quinn — I think he could be very good. I just think Joseph’s ceiling is the same as Quinn’s, but his floor is higher and he’s closer to the majors.

            To put it bluntly, Joseph’s ceiling is Mike Piazza and his floor is Todd Pratt. Quinn’s ceiling is Jose Reyes and his floor is never making the majors.

            1. This all makes sense. I suppose I’m just not as high on him, based on his performance in 2012. I’m pulling for him though. Joseph morphing into the second coming of Mike Piazza would certainly get RAJ off the hook for the first Pence trade …

            2. Piazza was a career .308 hitter, Joseph’s hit tool is nowhere near that. I initially had comps with all of the writeups and Joseph’s was Brian Mccann as the upside

            3. Josephs was 20 this past year. He hit .257 / .317 / .399 in AA. When Mike Piazza was 20, he hit .268 / .318 / .444 in A-, 3 levels lower. When he was 21, Mike hit .250 / .281 / .390 in A+. So a year older and a level lower, Mike Piazza hit worse than Tommy Joseph.

              I’m not saying he will become Mike Piazza, but I do think that’s his ceiling. But I agree that McCann is probably a better comp for upside overall.

            4. I think you are not making the league translation in power for Joseph. His A+ power season was in a high-HR western park. If that power was age/level real, then he should have shown more power at Reading, which is a pretty good park for sluggers. He didn’t. That is not to say his power won’t develop, but it does suggest that his A+ season needs some serious adjustment. Power is the last thing to develop. We’ll see how he does this season. I saw him at Reading and saw no signs that he was a guy with 70 power. That’s okay, there aren’t a lot of guys with 70 power.

            5. I love Joseph but it’s hard to compare him to Piazza, even as a ceiling. Piazza was just such a “one off” player. Piazza was more of a physical beast than Joseph too, although Joseph certainly has a good build.

  3. Good list. I think you have Mitch Gueller a little too high, but most every other placement there is good justification. I like the aggressive placement of Pullin. I didn’t have the courage to move him that high.

    1. I liked the placement of Gueller. Really, with such a SSS, there isn’t much reason to rank him significantly lower than Shane Watson. If you have Watson around #10 on your list, then Gueller should definitely be in your Top 15 unless you dislike him for another reason.

      1. I don’t dislike Gueller, in fact when he was rumored to be a target of the Phillies I was enthusiastic. I just don’t see him as the same level prospect as Shane Watson.
        Watson was a consensus top 30-40 talent in the draft. One of the top 10-15 HS pitchers available. Gueller was not rated in the top 100 of either BA or PG. That means something to me, if the sample size of the performance isn’t big enough. Also, Mitch Gueller didn’t get great performance reviews at instructs.
        If Gueller was rated top 50-75, I could see the justifcation for placing him next to Watson, but he isn’t that level yet. Also, it is hard for me to rate Gueller ahead of a guy like Aumont. I can not see Gueller having more trade value than him, or Austin Wright, for that matter.

  4. Nice writeup, Matt. Two questions:

    1. You seem to be very high on Pullin. Do you know why they weren’t playing him at 2B full time in the GCL? Also, he had a very high BABIP. Does he enough power/patience to be effective if his average settles in the .270 to .280 range?

    2. Are we ranking Valle way higher than we should be out of habit at this point? Your writeup describes a player who’ll be exposed at the plate, has good receiving skills, but is below average against the running game. Does that really have any value?

    1. 1. He wasn’t at second to start because that is a lot of transitions to put on a guy straight out of high school. Better to let him adjust to pro ball at his natural positions and slowly transition him to his new one. I think he will have average power and will have good patience to have the bat work at second. I see future offensive tools similar to Asche (60 hit, 50 power) only with the ability to stick at second base.

      2. Valle is still in AAA and has the defensive ability to be a back up in the majors. He finished 2 levels above and 3 years younger than Rupp. It is a player with some value, and with his proximity it is someone who could provide it soon. There is also some slim chance that he does put it all together.

  5. @MattW:
    You seem to be lower on All of the catchers, than the consensus. Do you think that you may be placing to much of your value assessment on their offensive production?
    Except for Cameron Rupp, the catchers (Valle, Joseph and Gabriel Lino) were all playing at levels ahead of their appropriate age groups. Valle and Joseph were two (2) levels ahead for parts of the year. Also, you say that Deivi Grullon ‘Doesn’t have a plus tool to carry him’. Defensive ability is a tool and plus arm is a tool. So Grullon does have plus tools identified in his scouting reports.
    Do you think that you are giving proper attention to age and to defense when evaluating them against other positions?

    1. I think it is just an individual opinion on the tools on each holding them back.

      Joseph – I really like Biddle, Morgan, and Quinn (#4 doesn’t seem decidedly low on Joseph)
      Valle – The approach is a fatal flaw (only as high as he is because of defense)
      Lino – it is 20 hit and 20 receiving and without major improvement he is not going to advance regardless of youth, opinions are widely varying here
      Rupp – Backup profile reaching AA at 24, I just don’t value back ups w/o proximity
      Grullon – A plus arm is not a carrying tool and right now it is only plus defensive projection not an actualized tool

      1. I think that your ’20’ evaluation on Lino’s bat is a little harsh. The 20 grade you give on his reported receiving skills is way out of line with the reports I’ve seen. I respect your opinion, but I guess I’ll just disagree on your evaluation of Lino’s skills and your ranking of Valle.

  6. Great work! I agree on most of your rankings, but I’m personally much lower than you on Larry Greene. He’s got power, but I just can’t bring myself to rank him higher without seeing it play in live action.

  7. I like your list, great read. Thank you for taking the time to write it up.

    I didn’t realize Martin has a plus-plus fastball.

    1. I dispute the characterization of Martin’s fastball as plus-plus as that implies command which he has not proven yet. Perhaps it projects as such but he will have to prove it first.

      1. The fastball grade is a velocity grade, I personally break command and control off as other tools. For breaking balls it is the shape and velocity, not the ability to locate and throw it for strikes.

  8. On d’Arnaud, it’s interesting to go back and read James’ old reviews. Below is the pre-2009 review for d’Arnaud, about to enter his age 20 season in low A (where he did fine, not great). At the time, James had d’Arnaud rated as the Phils’ 7th best prospect, behind Lou Marson. But it appears that d’Arnaud, as a prospect at least, has hit his ceiling.

    Joseph is, for his age 21 year, entering his second season in AA and he’s a better prospect than d’Arnaud was entering his age 21 year for a stint in high A ball. If the Phils had kept d’Arnaud, he probably would have been in the Phils top 3 for his age 21 year (behind Brown for sure) – right around where Joseph is currently ranked. Joseph is my big breakout prospect – from what I can tell, the team did an excellent job getting him from SF.

    Here’s the 2009 d’Arnaud write-up

    07. Travis D’Arnaud, C (2008 ranking = 20th)

    D’Arnaud had a big 2008, putting up a great line in the NYPL and impressing even more in a brief Lakewood cameo. As I mentioned before, evaluating catchers is kind of tough. D’Arnaud showed promising plate discipline (8.6% BB rate) and a respectable .159 ISO, but he only put up a .251 SecA. He was much better against lefties than righties, 1.005 OPS v .766 OPS. The Phillies have Ruiz on the cheap for a few more seasons, they have Lou Marson, so there’s no rush for D’Arnaud, but he appears to be moving fast.

  9. By the way, thanks for the write-ups, they were awfully good. The founder of this site must be proud. By the way, I generally agree with your tools philosophy. If you don’t get players with tools, you end up with a major league team that looks a lot like the Mets’ offense. Average ability players who seemingly never get better (take a look at the Mets’ roster, it’s staggering – there are like 10 or 11 players who are essentially different versions of the same guy). Well, they can’t get better because those players have already tapped out their ability – there’s no projection left. That’s why it’s almost impossible to get excited about guys like J. Rod, Cloyd, Friend and Jiwan James. But there are actually a lot of guys here with some projection (like the national writers, however, I’d like to see some a few more players with elite tools).

  10. Great job, can’t really disagree with anything, so much is interchangeable past the first 2 or 3 tiers. The one thing I would change is the ETA and add an extra .5-1 year for almost everyone, just because of the front office. I know a lot of that is projected Sept call-ups and is also based on them taking steps towards their projections, so ultimately it’s fine, I just wanted to pick a nit.

    1. In all of the ranking I try to remove the influence of the front office (occasionally mentioning the 2013 influence). When it comes to ETA it is more when they should be ready for a their major league debut, there are too many other factors like injury to try and account for them.

  11. These prospects lists based on potential wind up being irrelevant. A list on who is the most major leagues ready makes more sense.
    IE: Michael Stutes was nowhere to be found on your 2011 list and yet he was in the majors three weeks into the season. B.J Rosenberg and Jeremy Horst were far down your list last year,(if they appeared at all) and yet both contributed at the major leagues level, particularly Horst.
    Likewise this year Tyler Knigge, Kyle Simon, Tyler Cloyd, Justin Friend, Leandro Castro and Cody Overbeck are not on your list, but any of them will get called to the majors much more quickly than all but a few on yourTop 30 list. I believe most of these prospect lists penalize older players too much, but that is often a factor of the individual wanting to go to college rather than sign out of high school. Are we penalizing players now in the rankings just because they wanted to further their education beyond high school?

    1. I disagree with both propositions, though I’m not very interested in discussing it; both issues have been exhaustively argued on this site.

      I do have one comment about the second proposition, though. I wish people making this argument would at least acknowledge that the problem, if it exists, isn’t that this list, other lists, or people around here “penalize” older players too much; it’s that (if you believe that a problem exists at all) professional baseball “penalizes” older prospects too much. The simple fact is that older players in the system get about 50 times as much attention on the comment section of this site as merited IF the purpose of the site is to actually discuss players who will eventually have significant major league careers. I mean, how many words have been spent on Derrick Mitchell, someone who is extremely unlikely to have any major league role, and, at best is going to be a replacement level player for a couple of years.

      Overbeck, of course, doesn’t even belong in this conversation. Probably every player who reaches AAA has SOME chance of a major league cup of coffee, Overbeck included, but he has less chance than most (maybe one in 50?), and zero chance of accumulating more than 50 PA in the majors.

    2. Prospect lists aren’t about the likelihood of getting called to the majors. They are about the types of players they can be once they get there. Six of the nine players you mentioned here are bullpen arms, which have nowhere near the same importance as a solid starting pitcher or regular position player. And what if Castro were to be called up? (I just don’t see it with Overbeck). Is he going to be a difference maker? Not very likely.

      It’s been stated many times on here that the logical way to order a prospect list would be by their value in a trade. I don’t think Tyler Knigge, Kyle Simon, Tyler Cloyd, Justin Friend, Leandro Castro and Cody Overbeck are going to return any value in such a scenario.

    3. Dennis – though I hear where you are coming from, it’s important to put ‘prospect’ in its proper context here. MLB prospect lists don’t rank a player’s probability of making the show, they rank a player’s probability of succeeding and even then a ranking should be weighted based on a player’s expected role. A list based solely on proximity would not only be irrelevant, but it would be uninteresting as well. Take the Phillies system going into 2012; would we really want to see a Top-10 prospect list with 6-7 AAA relievers, only one or two of which had any real chance of becoming a dominant setup man or closer?

      Now, if you’re talking projection I could somewhat agree as I think projectionists often rely too heavily on their own optimistic speculation. But this is the beauty of prospect rankings and why they generate so much in terms of passionate dialogue. Take projection out of the equation, and your left with a pretty boring list

    4. The education argument is silly at this point. 99% of these kids would’ve been happy to be drafted top 10 out of high school, but the talent wasn’t there…

  12. Excellent article. Very good quick summaries without mega scouting reports to bog it down. (If possible continue putting those on player pages and refer back to them.) I really enjoy reading the reasoning for a ranking. Sometimes I have a different impression or analysis which would explain why I’d prefer a player over another. (In my case I have Gillies way higher.)

    Pullin (who I really like) just seems too high when the best prediction for him is an average starter. A major league starter who is very likely to reach it could probably be a Top10 guy in a system but Pullin is quite far from even that possibility.

    Rupp I see as a very likely backup C but could be more. He needs to have a good AA year, but I see an .800 OPS with MLB average defense giving him a solid regular projection. If his swing has holes that will be exposed in the majors then a backup projection will be correct.

  13. Two projections on pitchers I kind of disagree with are Martin and Brady. Martin strikes me as a #2/Late Inning reliever or closer. He has the pitches (if not the command) to be a #2 and if he doesn’t get the command he will become a reliever and never really be a #3.

    As for Brady I think his projection is more #2/#3 than #3/#4. He has #3 tools right now and if he can develop that change up he’s a #2. No one seems to doubt that he has the tools it’s just the health that is the question. I have him ahead of Dugan and probably Collier. Dugan and Collier’s ranking seem odd when you compare them with your comment on Rupp, especially since Collier and Dugan are much more likely to never make it to the majors for more than a cup of coffee.

  14. Without a primo top prospect (Biddle is still B level type) I see essentially 3 tiers in the Top30.

    I could see Biddle, Quinn, Joseph, Franco, Martin, Tocci, Watson, Greene, Morgan and Gillies as possible Top Prospect guys at the midpoint of this season. Pettibone and Asche deserve Top5 consideration but see their ceilings slightly lower. Ruf, Aumont, DeFratus should graduate but could also be in the Top10.

    After about those Top15 I see another group of about 10 that include higher risk or lower upside players like Giles, Valle, Wright, Hernandez, Gueller who I’d put slightly above Cozens, Walding, Pullin, Colvin, Collier, Lino in this same tier depending on which flaws they can overcome.

    Then a bunch of guys that have either flashes or are super young.

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