This is a retrospective back on the Top 30 prospects list I wrote before the start of the season. My opinion is that anyone who puts their opinion out there should be accountable for that opinion, in this case rather than just ask whether I was right or wrong, but more why was it right or wrong. The goal is to explore things in the development of a prospect that can point to growth or regression. Additionally just because a prospect fails to live up to or exceeds expectations does it mean the base analysis was wrong when it was written.
The first thing I see when looking at this list is that all 5 of these guys did not step forward. Four out of the five dealt with some sort of physical set back (injury/illness). In reality it comes down to you just can’t predict a lot of things and sometimes it all breaks the wrong way. This certainly does not excuse us from our duty of making good analysis, but we do need to acknowledge things out of our control. As always the original list is here http://phuturephillies.com/top-30-prospects/mattwinks-top-30/2013-top-30/.
5. Ethan Martin
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.
There was absolutely no chance that this ranking would end up correct. It was more a hedge of the two potential outcomes. If Martin had stuck as a starter, he would have profiled as a good mid-rotation starter and deserved to be in the Top 3 discussion, if he is a reliever he is more in the back of the Top 10 (where he will end up this offseason). I have nothing wrong with how the Phillies treated Martin this year and his extra innings in the rotation will help him out of the bullpen. My only hope is that they don’t waste him in short little stints because he can dominate multiple innings.
4. Tommy Joseph
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.
If you want to make a stat argument about Joseph be my guest but a 72 PA AAA sample size is ridiculously small, especially coming off a Spring Training where he looked like he could break out (I will also counter that if his BABIP had normalized to career level of .300 he hits .265/.319/.416). As for the concussion, it is a horrible injury and could end any hope he has a prospect, but there is no way to hold that against where he was coming into the year. I don’t know where I will rank him this offseason, I more just hoping he makes a full recovery.
3. Roman Quinn
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.
It wasn’t a great year for Quinn before the injury both in the field and at the plate. In the field he put more doubt into his ability to stick at shortstop, but there is still some hope left. At the plate he put up almost the exact same season as 2012 only with a BABIP .060 lower (dropping the power numbers a little bit). There is still a good amount of pop in the swing, elite speed, and a decent approach. The injury is just one of those that happens to hitters and there really is nothing you can do about it. Quinn will go to Clearwater next year where his hitting should be the thing to watch, the defensive position will work out in the long term and he doesn’t lose a ton of value in center field because the defense should be plus, and with Crawford in the system it is a little less imperative for the future of the club that he stick at the position.
2. Adam Morgan
1. Jesse Biddle
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.
Morgan came out in Spring Training looking like he could be a mid-rotation starter for years to come. Then the should injury happened and we are left wondering about his future. But if he comes back healthy next year with a decent fastball he is still a #3/#4 starter who should be in line for the first call up. He certainly has to slide a bit in the rankings because of the injury, but the ceiling should still be intact.
Biddle’s season as a been a roller coaster that started off dominant and then went horribly wrong, and then kind of limped along to the finish. When he is at his best Biddle will show 3 plus pitches with room for growth in the changeup and curveball, and look like a good mid rotation starter with some projection left. When he is off Biddle is unable to be consistent with the mechanics and the curveball goes from weapon to liability as it loses its bite and begins a loopy BP pitch. He suffered both injury and illness which led to the inconsistency on the mound. All of that being said he still has #3 upside (you are asking a lot of projection more to see a #2 starter) and is young so there is hope that he will figure it out. He is a Top 100 prospect in baseball and Top 3 in the system, but he is going to need almost all of a year of AAA to put all the pieces back together.