The next installment in the off season look at prospects are corner infielders. Traditionally the corner positions are where teams stick pure hitters and is generally the source of power in a line up. Overall offense has been down across the league, and it has become more important that a player has to be a capable defender as well as have a bat that profiles for the position, especially at third base.
Before jumping into the discussion of how these prospects line up next to one another I encourage everyone to read gregg’s end of season wrap up on the corner infield position.
To be a first base prospect you have to rake at every level along the way, all the way up to the majors. True first base prospects are rare and their bats are special, many impact first baseman are playing the outfield or third base in the minor leagues and will be forced to first when their defense does not cut it for their current position. Many college first baseman drafted will sit in the middle of A-ball lineups for years and provide stability and coaching to prospects, while never getting their own chance in AA. In the Phillies system there are possibly 3 actual first base prospects and one of them (Darin Ruf) is currently playing the outfield and will be addressed when that position comes up for discussion, otherwise the real hopes for a slugging first baseman for the Philles are playing corner outfield spots in the low minors.
William Carmona (21): Carmona was the Phillies 11th round pick in 2012 and easily could have made the third base list but I believe he will primarily playing first base going forward. Carmona does not have prototypical power for the position but is a solid hitter. He is still relatively young and could be more than an org guy if he builds on a late season surge.
Chris Serritella (22): Serritella was the Phillies 4th round pick in 2012 and they gave him slot, which is really good for a college first baseman. When he wasn’t injured Serritella raked in college. Assigned to Williamsport to start his career, he was one of the top hitters in the NYPL. Serritella will likely have to move quickly, but his bat is good enough to carry him all the way. Serritella has some defensive questions has he is a below average defender currently. He will have to hit all the way to get a shot but he has the tools to make it.
Some other first baseman who may put up good numbers: Chris Duffy, James Murphy, and Cody Overbeck
Third base has been a black hole on the major league level since Scott Rolen left town, for the first time in many years there are a string of legitimate prospects at the hot corner from AA to Rookie Ball. This group of prospects offers some real hope that one of them can develop into a solid regular and possibly an All-Star for the Phillies at the hot corner.
Cody Asche (22): Most people on this site are familiar with Cody Asche’s year. Asche has above average contact ability but he has below average power. At third base he has a good arm but his defense is still below average. There is not a lot of projection left for Asche but he could likely transition to the majors without many stumbles. Currently Asche profiles as a fringe regular at third with his current tools, if he cannot stick at third there is not a good position where his bat will profile well. His spring training will determine whether Asche starts in AA or AAA, either way he is a hot start away from making his major league debut.
Harold Martinez (22): Martinez was a 2nd round pick in 2011. He has struggled since making his professional debut, he has good plate discipline but has a tendency to strike out at a high rate, additionally the power he displayed in high school and early in college has not translated. Defensively Martinez is adequate and has been moved to first base at times to make room for Franco. The coming 2013 season will be make or break for Martinez if he can find consistent ABs. Martinez likely will return to Clearwater in 2013 where he will defer 3B to Maikel Franco.
Maikel Franco (20): Franco broke out in 2011 and after a slow start he came on in the second half ending with a .280/,336/.439 slash line. Franco is still growing into his body and their is still some projection there. Franco has good plate discipline to go along with a chance to have above average contact and true plus power. Defensively Franco is not special but he is above average and solid at third base and is almost guaranteed to stick there long term. There are rumors that the Phillies will double jump Franco to AA to start 2013 but it is likely that he starts in Clearwater, however the Phillies have started to indicate they are willing to move Franco along quickly if he shows success.
Mitch Walding (20): A high school shortstop who the Phillies converted to the hot corner. While a 5th round pick Walding received an above slot bonus. The scouting reports on Walding where very positive in his debut but after getting off to a good start he struggled with large contact issues. Walding has the tools to be a profile hitter at third with good discipline, power, and average. Defensively Walding struggled at times as he made the positional transition but he should a plus defender with a plus arm at third in the long run. Walding will start 2013 in Lakewood where he will likely spend the entire season.
Zach Green (18): Green is another high school shortstop signed to above slot bonus. Green’s swing is a bit long but the Phillies will look to retool it so that he can handle better breaking balls. His swing can generate good power and average but he has some contact issues. Defensively Green has transitioned well to third base and he could potentially be an elite defender there. Green is one of the youngest players in the system so there is plenty of time for him to improve on his issues. Green is probably ready to handle Lakewood to start 2013 but both third base and shortstop are blocked by Walding and Quinn, so it is likely that the Phillies hold Green back in Extended Spring Training before sending him to Williamsport.
*Just a note, Cameron Perkins will be covered in the corner outfield section since that will likely be his primary position.
Some Questions Facing this Group:
Is Franco or Asche the long term answer at third?
Can the results match the scouting reports for Walding?
Outside of Darin Ruf is there a true first base prospect in the system?