Well, it’s that time of year. I’ve spent all winter studying the prospects in the Phillies system (sort of), we’ve conducted the Reader Top 30 and given you your say, and now it’s my turn. As I’ve thought about my top 30 for 2012, I’ve gone back and forth quite a bit, an in addition to thinking about the Phillies crop, I’ve also spent plenty of time thinking about prospects in general, philosophies for evaluating prospects, and everything else related to player development. I feel that it might be beneficial to go over some of these things I’ve been thinking about as something of a primer for my Top 30 list. This entry is going to be quite lengthy. I suggest you use the bathroom, grab a cup of your beverage of choice, then settle in and try to dig through it. Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading it, because I always enjoy writing it.
The Nature of Prospects and Prospect Lists
I want to start off by presenting a chart. One of the many visual aids you will find in this piece. This chart is a snapshot of the Top 10 prospects in baseball according to Baseball America from 1997-2004. As with this and all future images, if its too small to read, click on it or open it in a new tab.
I don’t have to tell you about Baseball America’s reputation. While I don’t agree with them all the time, and have found myself agreeing with them less in recent years, they are the biggest name in the minor league/amateur arena when it comes to providing analysis on prospects. Their Top 10 overall prospects all carry big expectations. At the time these lists were compiled, they were heaping praise on these prospects. When you look at these lists, you will see borderline hall of fame talent (Vlad Guerrero), lots of above average big leaguers (Prince Fielder, Paul Konerko, Josh Hamilton, Joe Mauer), lots of good major leaguers (Adrian Beltre, Josh Beckett), and lots of guys (Matt White, Kris Benson, Ruben Mateo, Corey Patterson, Sean Burroughs) who never came close to living up to the hype associated with being one of the best prospects in baseball.
A lot of people put a lot of stock in lists. Not just when it comes to prospects, but when it comes to everything. I suppose we, as a society, enjoy ranking things, and from my own observational point of view, I think it has to do with the way our brains work. We like to know that one thing is better than the other. If we didn’t know this, we’d constantly be faced with impossible choices. Some of you reading this probably love seafood more than anything else in the world. Some of you might hate seafood. Some might love steak, while others might hate steak. Your personal preferences allow you to mentally rank the things you commonly encounter. Then its easier for your brain to parse this information and help you make easier choices. We rank everything, whether consciously or unconsciously. We rank food, wine, music, toothpastes, pairs of undergarments, preferred driving routes, and of course, everything sports related. We have our favorite teams, our favorite players, our favorite games, our favorite moments, and naturally our favorite prospects. We play favorites because if we didn’t, our brain would spin endlessly and not really know how to discern the difference between one thing and another. And as with anything else, the way we rank things is based on our internal biases, many of which we don’t even realize we have.
Scouting Is Difficult
If I ask you to say which is better, a bank account with one hundred dollars or a bank account with one million dollars, there isn’t much room for debate. Its an entirely objective question. Evaluating athletes in any sport is far less objective. MLB teams dedicate a lot of money to their scouting infrastructures. They carefully select their scouts and put a lot of faith and trust in them, because at the bottom level, scouts are providing the most basic information, and this information is what teams use to make multi-million dollar decisions. And these decisions can either propel a franchise forward (the Rays) or set a franchise back (Astros) if things go wrong. But these scouts can’t make objective decisions…every decision they make, every report they write, is predicated on their own observations, and more importantly, their own projections.
Think about this for a second. Think back to when you were younger. Like…middle school younger. And there was a cute girl/guy in your homeroom, or one of your classes. And you didn’t know anything about him/her, only what they physically looked like. And in your head, you started to imagine the type of person they were. But you only imagined positive things, because you were attracted to this person, and you wanted them to be the perfect person. And then you started talking to them, and it became clear that the two of you had nothing in common. Conversation seemed forced. It was weird. And suddenly, he/she started to become a bit less attractive. Until finally you asked yourself…what was I thinking in the first place? I’m sure you’ve been there. Maybe it wasn’t a girl/boy. Maybe it was a new car. You were convinced you needed it. You thought about it constantly. Then you got it, and almost immediately you felt buyer’s remorse. This stuff happens. And it happens in the baseball prospect world too. Scouts get heavily invested. They form opinions about players, and things go from rational to irrational. They start to project all kinds of things for the player, even when the rational mind might say “this isn’t right”. But they are all in. They are committed. And then it doesn’t work out and you say “what was I thinking?”
I talked a lot about this last summer during the lead-up to the draft. We are so wedded to lists. We read about player X and how great he can be, and we either get behind that or we disagree with it. Sometimes we’re not even sure why we disagree with the opinion, it just happens. We see that player X is ranked 5th in the entire state of California and we automatically jump ahead. We envision his greatness, how awesome he will be, and then when our team passes on him, we immediately overreact. But as I showed above, lists aren’t everything. And many times, especially for subjective things, lists can be wrong. I say this as I prepare to show you a list. Just know that I assume a lot of my guesses will end up being wrong.
I’m almost ready to put the theoretical arguments aside and get in to the nitty gritty. But before I do, a few more important points. The biggest thing to remember when looking at the minor leagues is that its a teaching/learning ground. The minor leagues are for learning, and prospects move at different speeds. Some guys hit the ground running and never look back, jumping multiple levels in a season and skyrocketing to the majors. Other guys spend 3 years stuck in rookie ball before the light turns on. Some guys move one level at a time. Some guys realize after a few years that they can’t hit pro pitching, and so they turn the page and decide to give pitching a try. Some guys start off as pitchers but realize they can’t consistently get batters out, so they turn in to hitters. Some guys realize that throwing over the top isn’t working, so they decide to become side armers and try to salvage a career. Some players start as shortstops and convert to catchers. Some start as catchers and turn in to left fielders. Some guys learn how to switch hit. Some guys give up switch hitting. The minor leagues is just one big classroom. There is no set timetable for figuring things out. Some guys do it faster than others. Some never do it.
With that in mind, it’s important when looking at prospects to consider things that go beyond what you see in a stat line. Sometimes a pitcher has two very good pitches, but his third pitch is terrible. Maybe he can’t find a grip on a changeup that works for him. Maybe his curveball is too firm and looks more like a slider, or maybe the break is too loopy and soft. The only way to improve the pitch is to use it. So his manager will tell him to forget about his second best pitch and throw his third best pitch a lot more in games, just so he gets used to it and so he can work out the kinks. And while this is happening, bad things might happen to his stat line. You can look at a guy with a 5.00 ERA and say “why is this guy a great prospect?” but if he’s going out there with only half his tools, and its by design, that’s something to consider and factor in. As fans, we don’t always have access to this information. But it happens on every team in the minor leagues. Its how guys get better.
So What Matters?
In short, a lot of things matter when looking at a prospect. I’m not the biggest fan of generalities or rules of thumb, but to be honest most of them are well established because they fit most guys. The saying “the exception to the rule” means just that…there are always exceptions, but the rule is the most common outcome of any situation. Thinking every player, especially the players on the team you love, are the exception to the rule is dangerous. Short righthanded pitchers with sub 90mph fastballs normally don’t make it very far. Which is why its tough to get excited about those guys in the minor leagues. Every once in a while one of them uses every bit of guile he has and carves out a great big league career. Most of them get their brains beat in, bounce up and down for a while, and then end up out of baseball.
I like to consider different things for different prospects, and its different for position players and pitchers. Here is what I look for. For position players:
1. Defensive position, ability, and likely projection.
2. Batting eye, contact, and power relative to likely defensive position
3. Work ethic/makeup, anything else that seems important
A position player’s likely landing spot defensively is extremely important to understanding what type of prospect he will become. The demands for each position are different. There are 5 tools for position player prospects: hit for average, hit for power, defense, arm strength, and speed. These tools vary in importance at each position. For catchers, shortstops, center fielders (and maybe second basemen), defense is of the utmost importance. If you’re a 2B and can’t turn the double play, you are a liability no matter how good your bat is. If you’re a big lumbering guy who can’t field a bunt and you are trying to play 3B, any value your bat provides will probably be overshadowed by teams exploiting your inability to pick groundballs. I expect the Tigers will find this out in 2012 if they follow through with their Miggy Cabrera to 3B plan. If you’re a 1B or LF, you better be able to rip the cover off the baseball. If you’re a rightfielder, you need a stronger arm than a left fielder. If you’re a centerfielder, you better be fast. You can forgive a shortstop who hits an empty .275 if he saves you 35-40 runs per year with his glove. You can’t forgive a first baseman who can’t hit, no matter how good his defense is. It goes like this for every position. With prospects, where a guy starts on the defensive spectrum isn’t necessarily where he will finish. So I always try to look at prospect X, look at where he currently plays, and then make a guess as to where he will wind up. Because where he winds up will determine how great his bat needs to be. And when in doubt, always assume the player will move one spot lower on the defensive spectrum than you might think. Try and picture what player X will have to do offensively if instead of just moving from SS to 3B he has to move from SS to 3B and then to LF. It helps to think like this, because the best case scenario happens a lot less frequently than the worst case scenario. Its the nature of the game and prospecting.
Batting eye, contact and power should be self explanatory. For hitters, determining what is and isn’t a strike is like the most fundamental skill you can possess. For a power hitter, you can’t tap in to that power if you are consistently swinging at pitches you can’t hit, or pitches you can only get the bat on and not drive. For a player without a whole lot of power, if you can’t make consistent contact, you aren’t likely to produce a whole lot of value. Batting Average is a pretty weak stat, because much of it is dependent on luck. But it’s really difficult to hit for a high average if you can’t make contact, and if you can’t make contact, you can’t unlock your power. It’s all connected, really. The thing I put the least amount of emphasis on is a player’s makeup. You don’t have to be the homecoming king and everyone’s best friend to be an awesome baseball player, but raw talent will only get you so far. The one thing that we lump in to intangibles that I do strongly believe in is the ability to make adjustments, which I think is what separates good players from great players and great players from hall of famers. Once you reach the majors, teams will quickly develop a book on you…literally. They watch all of your at bats, they make notes, they put them in a binder, and they circulate it to all of the pitchers in their org. Teams then know where you can be beat, the pitches you chase, where you like the ball, and where you are weak. And they will exploit it. Then it is up to you to make the adjustment. Some guys show tantalizing tools and absolutely rip through the league the first time around. The second time, they see their performance dip. The third time, it might be ugly. But just as teams develop the book on you, you can learn the book on them, and you can adjust. The guys who do this end up having long big league careers, and its one of the reasons that guys who aren’t 5 tool freakishly great athletes can have hall of fame type careers. Adjustments are key. But I don’t necessarily know how to determine which players have it, except by looking at their statistics. Sometimes that tells the story, other times it doesn’t.
For pitchers, what I look at is different, obviously:
Pitching is a really unnatural thing. Most pitchers get hurt. Analyzing pitcher mechanics and deliveries has become much more trendy in recent years, and I admit that I try to understand. But my analysis is based more on the encyclopedic (well, not really) catalog I have in my head of past pitchers and their motions. When I watch a guy throw a baseball, I immediately try and think about who he reminds me of. And if the pitcher he reminds me of was good, I instinctively think the pitcher I’m looking at now might be good. The same goes for the other side of the coin. There are certain things that a pitcher does that can hurt/help his delivery. But there is no guarantee that if a pitcher does X his outcome will be Y. A lot of pitchers (most of them) get hurt at some point. The elbow is like a rubber band. You pull on a rubber band hard enough, you’ll snap it. You keep pulling on it over and over and over again, eventually it will snap. It might be in 2 months or in 10 years, but it will probably happen. If you’re really lucky, it will never happen. But it happens a lot.
So, the more tangible things I look at. Its almost impossible for a pitcher to have a great big league career without at least an average fastball. The standard for “average” differs for lefties and righties. In 2010, the average fastball for a RHP came in right around 91 mph, while for a lefty the average was about 89 mph. You’ve heard the old yarn about lefties being able to stick around forever because they are lefthanded, and its mostly true. While I would never say that a RHP with an average fastball of 88 mph is destined to fail, I’d just say his odds of becoming an above average MLB pitcher are significantly lower than a guy who throws 95 mph. Or even 92 mph. It may be unfair, but its reality. Outside of the fastball velocity (and life on the pitch…straight fastballs are generally less than ideal), secondary pitches are vital. I tend to favor pitchers who can throw a good changeup over guys with a good curveball or slider and no usable changeup. The reason? A changeup is easier on the arm (in terms of health) than a slider or curveball, and a changeup requires less precise location to be effective, as long as you have good deception on the pitch and do not telegraph it. And maybe part of this has been influenced by being totally hypnotized by Cole Hamels’ changeup the last 5 years. But to be a starter, you generally need both. I look at command and control. These are two different things, and the distinction is important. Control is being able to throw the ball over the plate for a strike. Command is being able to throw the ball where you want it to go, in to a tight window. If you split the strike zone up in to 9 equal size squares, a pitcher with command can throw the ball in to one of the 9 quadrants when he wants to. A pitcher with good control and poor command can hit one of the quadrants, it just might not be the one he is aiming for. Which can result in a lot of bad things happening. Finally, I look at the pitcher’s mechanics, his throwing motion, any past injury problems or anything I think might cause future problems. I put less weight on this because I’m not an expert, I just want to be, even though I know I won’t be.
I’m Down With OFP
For each prospect, I’ve created a mini player card. This card contains a few select statistics as well as tools grades. These grades are based on everything I’ve read about a player, and in many cases I’ve taken what I’ve read, looked at the numbers, pondered long and hard, and then assigned a grade to it. I feel better about some grades than others. Its really kind of subjective. As a quick reference, the grades are based on the 20-80 scouting scale. Like life, the scale is based on the bell curve, where 50 represents average, where most of the ratings fall within one standard deviation of the norm (40s and 60s) and where elite tools (and terrible tools) are very few in number. When I put together these ratings, I tried to always underestimate a tool. Because the reality is, most prospects never pan out, and so by underrating, I may end up pleasantly surprised when a guy exceeds expectations. Pitchers and hitters have different tools to grade (which I went over above), but all players have something called “OFP”, which stands for overall future projection. This is a one stop shop for guessing what a player’s future role is when he makes it to the big leagues and establishes himself. Its less important to rate a player’s current hitting ability, especially if he’s only 18 years old, and its far more valuable to extrapolate his tools and performance to think about what he will become. This is incredibly difficult. A score of 50 basically assumes an average big league career. A score of 40 is more of a bench player/4A type player who will bounce up and down between the majors and minors. A 60 means above average, will make a few all-star teams, and is generally going to be a very good player for you. A 70 is a perennial all-star. An 80 is a hall of famer. Those last 2 wont be found here, and are found very infrequently around baseball. Sometimes, a guy will outperform his OFP. More often, a player will underperform his OFP expectations. That’s prospecting for you.
Even after you have a player’s likely OFP, you still have to consider risk. For players with no track record in the minors (Larry Greene Jr, Carlos Tocci, etc), the risk for flameout/underperformance is much much higher. For a player with 5 years in the books, you have substantial data and you can feel a little better about your call. All of this plays in to the ranking. What I realized when ordering the 30 names you’ll find below is that no matter how much you tweak it, you’ll never be 100% happy with it, and you’ll almost always be wrong more than you are right. This goes not only for me but for all the big players in the prospect evaluation game. I was higher on Jon Singleton for a few years than Baseball America. That doesn’t make me smarter than they are. Because I also got all excited about Kevin Walter and Colby Shreve, and thus far, that hasn’t worked out. This is a constant process. And much like prospects are in the minors to learn, I write this piece every year with the hope of learning more, understanding where to look to uncover something new I hadn’t thought of, and hoping to make fewer mistakes next year. But more than anything, it’s just fun.
What can (and will) go wrong
I shouldn’t have to write this disclaimer here because it should be self-explanatory, but I will anyway. There is a lot of guesswork involved in this list. I’ve gone over the reasons above that lead to high risk. Even the “safe” prospects on any list face significant hurdles in becoming what is projected for them. Players who are really young and really far away are facing extremely unfavorable odds of ever making it.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, on to the prospects. For each of the 30 selections, I’ll give you the little player stat/tools card, then a quick summary of the player’s 2011, a summary of his tools (remember, these are projected based on the player’s MLB level), the risks involved, what I expect from the player in 2012, as well as any other thoughts I might have, including videos, if available. Also, next to the player’s name in parenthesis, I’ll include his ranking last winter when I put together the list. NR = player was eligible but I didn’t rank him. N/A = player wasn’t in the Phillies org, so I couldn’t have ranked him.
At the end of this, I’m sure you’ll disagree with me in many cases, agree with me in others, and that is great. I’ll try and answer any/all questions in the comments section here, but probably not until this weekend. And if there is anything that requires more explanation, I’ll do a follow-up post. This is my list. I hope at this time next year we don’t look back on it and say that it really sucked. Now, here we go.
(remember to click on the images if they are too small, or better yet, right click and open in a new tab/window)
(one note on the stats on the cards. All data was copied from baseball-reference. I had to input the formulas for FIP and BABIP. If there are discrepancies, I hope they are minor. Thanks in advance for understanding)
01. Jesse Biddle, LHP (2011 Rank = 7th)
2011 In Review: Biddle was sent to Lakewood despite not pitching as much as a typical high school pick the year before, and responded with a very good showing after a rough first month. His strikeout and walk rates both improved after the break, and over July/August he pitched 54 innings, striking out 50 and walking 28.
Raw Tools: Biddle showed 92-94 mph fastball velocity in high school, but sat in the 87-92 range at Lakewood. This isn’t really surprising, as pitching every 5th day for the first time is different than airing it out once a week in high school. However, he has a very clean delivery and already shows good feel for both his changeup and curveball. Maybe its overly optimistic, but I expect all three of his pitches to end up plus. I project average command and control, but I’m being pessimistic there. As mentioned, his smooth delivery should allow him to throw consistent, quality strikes. An OFP of 60 makes him a potential #2 starter if everything works.
Risks: Like any young pitcher, there is significant risk here. His fastball velocity may not come back, and there is a big difference between pitching at 87-90 and pitching at 90-93. I think the velocity will return, but if it doesn’t, that lowers his ceiling a bit. Though he made incremental improvements to his command and control in the 2nd half, he still needs to tighten things up there. He is a big guy (6’4/225), so keeping in shape should help him repeat his delivery and throw better quality strikes. He is still far, far away from the majors.
2012 Expectations: Biddle will move to Clearwater, another great environment for pitchers. With one full season under his belt, plus a full offseason of conditioning, it should be interesting to see where his velocity sits in 2012. Even without a power fastball, he should be able to carve up High A hitters with his curveball and changeup.
Misc Notes: I’ll get to Trevor May in a minute, but I know it will come up, so I’ll just get it out of the way here. There are 3 reasons I ranked Biddle ahead of May; a.) Biddle is 2 years younger but only one level behind May. b.) Biddle is lefthanded c.) Biddle has a cleaner delivery and projects to have two above average secondary pitches. And that delivery. I love his delivery. Check out this video. The thing I really love here, beyond him maintaining great rhythm and not wasting movement, is that he incorporates his lower body really well in to his delivery. He has a very good stride toward home plate. This has two benefits. First, the longer the stride, the better the extension, and the ball has a tendency to “explode” out of the pitcher’s hand and seem like it gets on top of the batter sooner. Second, a long stride means he generates the bulk of his velocity and power from his lower body, which should help reduce stress on his shoulder, lowering his risk for injury. Of course, any pitcher can get hurt at any time, but I’ll take the guy with the clean mechanics and smooth delivery all day every day.
02. Trevor May, RHP (2011 Rank = 5th )
2011 In Review: May faltered in his first try at Clearwater but turned things around in 2011, striking out an eye popping 208 batters in 151 innings. He cut his walk rate almost in half, while also cutting down his home runs allowed.
Raw Tools: May’s fastball is excellent, ranging from 91-95 and he can maintain that velocity deep in to games. He has confidence in the pitch, and he’s been able to blow it by hitters, especially elevated out of the zone. His curveball and changeup both show promise, with varying opinions on which is the better pitch right now. He’s supposedly added a slider, which should give him another option to play off of his fastball. May’s biggest issue has been not only throwing strikes, but throwing quality strikes. I project his command as a 45, which would be slightly below ML average. He’s been durable and has a big power frame, so I don’t see any issues with him staying healthy.
Risks: He’s made strides in cleaning up his delivery, which is a positive start to improving his control and command. His command will have to be better as he moves to AA, as he’s unlikely to get as many swings and misses out of the zone with his fastball. May is a pretty severe flyball pitcher, which will definitely have an impact at Reading and of course at cozy Citizens Bank Park. He’s still age appropriate, but after his 2010 setback and repeating the FSL, a solid 2012 will help alleviate some of my concerns.
2012 Expectations: 2012 is a big year for May. He’s moving in the right direction again, and he needs to carry over his command/control gains. If he doesn’t, things might not go so smoothly in 2012.
Misc Notes: A OFP of 60 (the same as Biddle) would make May a #2/3 starter. If his command and secondary pitches improve, with the quality of his fastball, he could have fringe #1 stuff. Here is a long 10 minute video of May from last August, featuring his bullpen warmup and then in-game action. May doesn’t stay super tall in his delivery, but he does have a nice stride and the Phillies have helped straighten out his path to the plate. As I mentioned in the Biddle write-up, I picked Biddle over May because Biddle is younger and lefthanded, and I had a better gut feeling about his delivery. But May is a strong prospect, and having him ranked 1 on your list (and elsewhere) makes perfect sense. I just went the other way.
03. Jon Pettibone, RHP (2011 Rank = 16th)
2011 In Review: Pettibone took a big step forward in 2011, improving his strikeout rate, cutting his walk and home run rates, and logging an impressive 161 innings. Over the last 2 months, Pettibone also saw his groundball rate tick up, which will serve him well in 2012 in the less pitcher-friendly confines in Reading.
Raw Tools: More important than his statistical gains, Pettibone has reportedly added a few mph to his fastball, which now routinely sits in the 90-95 range. Last season, he was more 88-92, so this is a pretty significant bump. His walk rate is elite (just 1.90 BB/9 in 2011) and he hasn’t given up many home runs at all, which means he’s not only filling the strikezone, but hes locating effectively as well. His slider is a distant third pitch, but his changeup is solid though it can sometimes be a bit too firm. He has a fairly simple delivery that obviously aids his control and command.
Risks: The biggest red flag is the overall lack of strikeouts. He struck out only 6.43/9 in 2011, though this was a gain from his 2010 mark of 5.77. Without a reliable breaking ball its questionable how many strikeouts he will rack up, especially at the upper levels, and without the ability to miss bats, he profiles more as a #4 instead of a #2. Still I put a 55 on him because of his elite command, and if the groundball rate sticks, that will mitigate some of the risk as well.
2012 Expectations: Double A will be a stern test. He’ll have to pound the bottom of the zone and continue to throw quality strikes. The development of his slider will be the key to his potential upside. Because he does possess excellent control, his bomb out rate is lower than most.
Misc Notes: Here is an excellent, lengthy video of Pettibone from last season. He has a free and easy delivery and his velocity isn’t the result of overthrowing. He does kind of loop his arm around, coming more straight over the top instead of a true three-quarters delivery. This seems more conducive to a curveball than a slider, but I’m not his pitching coach. He made a big leap raw-stuff wise in 2011, and translating that to more dominance in 2012 is the next step.
04. Brody Colvin, RHP (2011 Rank = 2nd)
2011 In Review: 2011 was a year that Mr. Colvin would like to forget. And the best thing about baseball is, he can do just that with a fresh start in 2012. He suffered from bouts of wildness and inconsistency, as well as injury, in what was a troubling season overall.
Raw Tools: Colvin’s bread and butter is still his fastball, which rates as a plus pitch because of the movement he is able to generate on the pitch. He shows a good curveball with sharp snap when its on and some feel for a changeup, though he tends to overthrow it. Early in the season he generated lots of groundballs and should continue to do so in the future. Because of his delivery and the movement on his pitches, he struggles with command and throwing quality strikes. If everything clicks, he’s a #2 starter. But I think hes a higher risk than both Biddle and May at this point, and feels more like a #3 or a power reliever.
Risks: The risks are numerous. When his delivery gets out of sync he misses his location, and without an average changeup he’s going to struggle against lefties. He struggled against everyone in 2011, and seemed to battle himself at times too. There were rumors that he came to camp not in pitching shape last year and not ready to take the next step. Since I can’t confirm that, I won’t hold it against him. And he should certainly be motivated in 2012.
2012 Expectations: Colvin needs to get back on the horse and back on track. I’m not sure if the Phillies plan to re-work his mechanics, but either way, he needs to focus on repeating his delivery. It’s not 100% clear yet if he will go back to Clearwater or get the bump to Reading. Either way, he should finish the year in Reading.
Misc Notes: You can see what I mentioned above in this video. He falls off the mound toward the 3rd base side and then has to come back across the imaginary line you can draw from CF to home plate. That’s what scouts mean when they say someone “throws across his body”. You can see the two plane movement on his fastball from this video, especially the shots from directly behind home plate. When he cuts off his delivery (doesn’t get proper extension) the ball tends to sail on him and he will miss high and out of the zone. His arm strength is solid, as solid as Trevor May’s, and he has the tools needed to be a #2 starter. Its just the gap has widened from where he is to being that number 2 starter.
05. Freddy Galvis, SS (2011 Rank = NR)
2011 In Review: No prospect took a bigger jump forward in 2011 than Galvis, who showed signs of life with the bat to back up his excellent glove. He posted the best ISO of his career at Reading and didn’t embarrass himself during his first taste of AAA. His BB rate cratered in the smaller AAA sample, but was a passable 6.6% at AA before the promotion.
Raw Tools: Galvis has incredible defensive instincts and sure hands as well as a solid arm. His speed is not an asset, but it does not impact his gold glove caliber defense, at least not yet. Despite his step forward in 2011, he still profiles as an 8 hole hitter who is likely to put up an empty .270ish average. That said, an empty .270 average with gold glove defense, where he could save 30-40 runs per year, makes the .270 manageable, as opposed to the previously projected .230ish average.
Risks: As mentioned, Galvis really doesn’t possess any secondary skills at the plate, evident in his .213 SecA at AA and .107 SecA at AAA. Galvis is still just 22, so if he can build on his 2011 gains, he might still improve a bit at the plate. The key will be to not lose a step in the field, as his glove will carry him.
2012 Expectations: With Rollins signed long term, he’ll go to AAA and play a full season. Galvis is on the 40 man roster and has 2 options left (2012 and 2013), so the Phillies can basically give him 2 full years in AAA before having to make the big decision on him.
Misc Notes: At this point in time, given his proximity and the risk associated with the guys behind him, Galvis still looks like the successor to Jimmy Rollins. Man, look at how smooth he is.
06. Sebastian Valle, C (2011 Rank = 6th)
2011 In Review: Valle posted his best batting average of his pro career in 2011 in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Additionally, he saw his K rate rise only slightly, despite playing at a higher level and being one of the younger regulars in the league. At one point considered a bat first catcher who might not stick at the position, he backed up his 33% CS rate in 2010 with a 32% rate in 2011.
Raw Tools: Valle is athletic for a catcher and has a number of things that you want to see. He has really quick wrists which should help him generate power, though his power dropped off by a decent margin in 2011. His strikeout percentage has hovered right around 23% the last few seasons, and he’s unlikely to hit for average. Then again, the .300 hitting catcher is a super rare commodity. Valle’s biggest asset is his youth. He turned 21 in July and is ahead of schedule considering his position and the rawness of his catching ability just 3 years ago.
Risks: The beta (risk) on Valle is higher than any prospect listed thus far. He walked in just 3.7% of his at bats in 2011, and over the last 2 seasons he’s drawn just 40 walks in 795 AB. He doesn’t have to post a 10% BB rate to be valuable, but he really needs to get in to the 7-8% rate or he needs to greatly reduce his number of strikeouts. Though his defense has improved, he still allowed 11 passed balls in 2011 though he committed only 2 errors. If things click for him, he has a chance to be an above average big league catcher. But he is still miles away from that point, and the flame out potential is very high.
2012 Expectations: The jump to Reading could be a harsh one for SV. More advanced pitchers are going to feed him a steady diet of breaking balls, and if he can’t hold back, he’s going to find himself in a ton of 0-2 counts and a much lower batting average. His .360 BABIP fueled his career best batting average, and that isn’t necessarily likely to continue in 2012. Continuing to improve defensively is #1 on his list for 2012, but cleaning up his approach at the plate is a close #2.
Misc Notes: Here is a video of Valle from 2011. If you go to the 5:24 mark, you can see him channel his inner Benito Santiago.
07. Justin De Fratus, RHP (2011 Rank = 10th)
2011 In Review: After conquering two levels in 2010, De Fratus conquered the two top levels of the minors in 2011, striking out 99 and walking just 25 in 75 IP. He again showed excellent control and quality command, allowing only 4 HR while generating a lot more groundballs than flyballs.
Raw Tools: De Fratus has a solid fastball, sitting in the 91-95 range and he’s shown the ability for even more, hitting 97-98 at the 2010 FSL All Star Game. When he got to Philly in 2011 he may have just run out of steam, as he was mostly 91-92. His fastball does, however, have good movement which helps him keep the ball off the center of the bat. His slider has shown major improvements over the last 3 years, and he won’t need his changeup much, though its not a liability. He’s been incredibly durable so far in both the starter/reliever roles.
Risks: As a reliever, his value will be determined by how many high leverage innings he pitches in the majors. While he doesn’t have a 99 mph fastball or a Brad Lidge-esque toxic fastball, he has excellent command and control, and his two best pitches both have plus potential. His slider is not there yet consistently, but with more repetition, it should be an out pitch.
2012 Expectations: He’s just about big league ready, and he may have a chance to win a spot in spring training. Even if he doesn’t, he should be the first (or possibly second) guy in line for a call-up. He’ll likely serve as the closer or 8th inning guy at Lehigh Valley first.
Misc Notes: If you’ve been here for a while, you know how big of a fan I’ve always been of De Fratus. He went from obscurity to the big leagues in just a few seasons and he ticks off all of the boxes you want in a late inning reliever, including the excellent control and command to go with the plus fastball and potentially plus slider. Here are a few of his pitches at the big league level.
08. Phillippe Aumont, RHP (2011 Rank = 22nd)
2011 In Review: It was a big bounceback year for Aumont, who racked up plenty of strikeouts (78) and cut down on the walks (until he reached AAA) and more importantly, stayed healthy for the most part. His future is now firmly in the bullpen, and his down 2010 year probably helped his development by giving him more repetitions.
Raw Tools: His fastball is stout, potentially the best in the system, regularly sitting in the 92-96 range and touching even higher. His curveball has always been his best secondary offering, and its a sharp bender that he can use to generate plenty of strikeouts. What really intrigues me the most about Aumont is the split/change hybrid pitch he’s working on. More on that later. Right now, because of his complex delivery and huge size, he has a hard time maintaining consistency in his mechanics and throwing strikes.
Risks: As mentioned above, Aumont is really tall and has a lot of moving parts in his delivery. He gets good extension toward the plate, which adds explosion to his fastball, but it makes it tough for him to repeat. He will have to limit the walks if he wants to pitch at the end of games, though his 3.19 BB/9 rate in AA was solid progress before spiking back up in AAA. He’s had health issues in the past and needs to stay 100% healthy in 2012 to alleviate some of those fears.
2012 Expectations: Aumont could probably do with a full season at AAA to work on repeating his delivery and improving the quality of his hybrid splitter. He has the same abilities as De Fratus and could actually be better, but he’s riskier now which is why he ranks below him for now.
Misc Notes: Here is a video of Aumont pitching in 2011. But here is the big finish. Check out these two animated images of Aumont pitching, courtesy of the excellent Alex Eisenberg at baseball-intellect.com, who edited the video from minorleaguebaseball.com.
Look at them side by side. The fastball is on the left, the splitter is on the right.
That’s just filthy. He obviously doesn’t trust the pitch as much as his curveball yet. But if he can refine that pitch and throw it with consistency, then he’s our future closer. If he can stay healthy.
09. Maikel Franco, 3B (2011 Rank = NR)
2011 In Review: As one of the youngest regulars in the pitcher-friendly, college-centric New York Penn League, Franco more than held his own. He hit .287/.367/.411 in 229 PA, with 20 extra base hits and an above average 12.4% BB rate. More importantly, he struck out in just 15% of his at bats.
Raw Tools: Franco already has a good idea at the plate despite his youth and inexperience. Scouts don’t love the athleticism, and he figures to be a very slow runner in just a few years. His defense has been fine, but if he slows down across the board it may limit his range, and I might have been a bit optimistic slapping a 50 on his defense. His swing is unconventional, but he has really strong hands and generates plus bat speed which could mean plus power down the line. This is all projection and may be optimistic.
Risks: Franco didn’t turn 19 until the end of the season, and he’ll again be one of the youngest every day regulars in the SAL in 2012. Because of his youth and lack of raw athleticism, he’s going to need to rake and also stay at 3B to provide the most value. If his unconventional swing can’t handle advanced pitching, his star will burn out quickly.
2012 Expectations: Franco should get regular reps at 3B for Lakewood in 2012, and he’ll be really young for the league. I’ll be focused on his raw power and his approach at the plate, as well as his defense. What a shocking statement, eh?
Misc Notes: After a pretty crappy debut in 2010, Franco burst on to the scene in 2011. The Phillies haven’t developed a 3B prospect since Scott Rolen, so its easy to get on board with any 3B prospect that shows potential. I could have run him up the list a bit, but I want to see what he does in full season ball first.
10. Roman Quinn, SS (2011 Rank = N/A)
2011 In Review: Quinn jumped up draft boards in 2011 based on his speed, which ranked as arguably the best in the entire draft class, college or prep. The Phillies popped him in the 2nd round, and the reviews since have been positive, even with no pro data to look at.
Raw Tools: Quinn’s speed is a legitimate 75 or 80 on the 20-80 scale. He’s a switch hitter, sort of, but is much better from the right side right now. As mentioned, he shows some pop. Quinn is listed at 5’9/165. Jimmy Rollins, by comparison, is listed at 5’8/170. So. The big question at this point, beyond the whole “how will he hit against pro pitching?” is where he plays defensively. The Phillies will try him at SS but CF is a viable backup plan.
Risks: He hasn’t played a single game as a pro, so that’s a pretty huge risk. He doesn’t have a defensive home yet, another risk. So yeah, he’s really risky. But I put him at #10 because he possesses at least one uber elite tool. If he ends up being Michael Bourn offensively, he’s a real valuable big leaguer. If he ends up being Juan Pierre, again, really valuable. If he ends up Jimmy Rollins with even more speed. Well, then hes an MVP caliber player. But yeah, he’s super risky.
2012 Expectations: His performance in spring training will likely determine his opening day assignment. The Phillies may use the Singleton plan, keeping him in extended spring training for a month before sending him to Lakewood. I want to see him make consistent contact and use his wheels effectively.
Misc Notes: I kind of feel its okay to aggressively rank guys with zero pro experience as long as they have at least one elite tool. Quinn has 1 elite tool, and he profiles to play at one of the three most valuable positions on the diamond defensively. And I’m really excited for his pro debut.
11. Lisalberto Bonilla, RHP (2011 Rank = NR)
2011 In Review: Bonilla was one of the more surprising performers of 2011, putting in a great performance at Lakewood, with a solid K rate and BB rate as well as tons of groundballs. RH batters hit just .185 against him in 2011, with just 4 HR in 62 innings and a 2.25 GB to FB ratio.
Raw Tools: Bonilla has a wiry frame, at 6’1/165 but generates plenty of fastball velocity, ranging from 91-95 with movement. He features an excellent changeup with sink and fade, but the Phillies had him throw the pitch less in 2011 so he could focus more on his slider, which was highly underdeveloped. The slider still needs work, and I slapped a 45 on it, but it has more potential. In fact, I could have maybe even been more aggressive with the grade on his changeup. I like everything about him.
Risks: He threw just 106 innings in 2011, with the Phillies choosing to keep his innings under control. He will need to add muscle to his frame to help him hold up under the pressures of rigors of a 200 inning season. If his slider does not develop further, he will have less margin for error as a starter, but he won’t turn 22 until June, and he has plenty of time.
2012 Expectations: He should thrive in the pitcher friendly Florida State League, and I hope the Phillies take the gloves off a bit and let him throw about 140-150 innings.
Misc Notes: Here is some video footage of him in action in 2011. He appears to hide the ball well, though I’d like to see him get a bit more extension and add a little more to his stride. Still, looks pretty simple and repeatable.
12. Austin Hyatt, RHP (2011 Rank = 25th)
2011 In Review: Hyatt returned to Reading in 2011 after a brief taste in 2010 and the results were solid. He struck out almost 10 batters per 9 innings, while dropping his walk rate to 2.86/9. His HR rate (1.17/9) is a concern, but he showed improvement in the 2nd half, allowing just 6 HR in his final 64 innings…not great, but a big improvement.
Raw Tools: Hyatt’s fastball has some late movement, but the reason I put a 55 on it is because he knows how to cut it, sink, and take a bit off of it to put it where he wants it. His changeup is a plus pitch and he has the confidence to throw it in any count. His breaking ball still lags behind, and it may never be an average big league pitch. He’s been incredibly durable, logging 144 innings in 2010 and 154 innings in 2011.
Risks: Hyatt is an extreme flyball guy because he tends to work up in the zone, hence all of the home runs in his past. If he can’t improve on this, he’s going to give up a lot of home runs in the majors….hopefully most of them are solo shots. His slider still lags behind his changeup and fastball, and the hope is that it improves enough to be close to average. He turns 26 in May, so there is no projection left really. He’s close to a finished product.
2012 Expectations: Hyatt should anchor the Lehigh Valley rotation and be the first in line for a start if an injury pops up. Improving his slider should be first on his agenda.
Misc Notes: I realize I am higher on Hyatt than anyone else. And I have my reasons. I’m a sucker for RH pitchers with excellent changeups, because if you maintain the arm speed on the pitch, it can be lethal. He has the confidence to throw it to both lefties and righties, and he’s always handled lefties, including holding them to a .201 average in 2011. His durability means that he should be available when called upon, and he’s missed plenty of bats at AA, something a guy like Kyle Kendrick (who I’ve seen people compare him to) never did. Because he’s almost 26, he’s on the older side of the prospect curve. He needs a big 2012, and he needs to make the most of his chance when/if it arises. Joe Blanton departs as a free agent after 2012, and if Hyatt has a big year he should be in line to take over. He got a late start to his pro career, debuting at age 23, and he’s moved quickly all things considered. I’m going all in, hopefully he makes me look smart. Here’s a video of him warming up in 2011.
13. Tyson Gillies, OF (2011 Rank = 9th)
2011 In Review: It was essentially a lost 2011 for Gillies, who logged just 13 plate appearances while dealing with all kinds of injuries. He didn’t hit at all in the Arizona Fall League, but most importantly, he actually remained healthy, playing in 27 games and logging 90 AB.
Raw Tools: When the Phillies originally acquired him, I praised his speed and his ability to really cause trouble on the basepaths. Unfortunately, he’s logged less than 150 AB total the last 2 years and has spent much of his time on the trainer’s table. If he’s 100% healthy, he had borderline 80 speed, but its been downgraded now until he proves hes capable of staying healthy. His defense is still potentially plus, and I don’t know what he can do hitting wise. I mean, he just needs to stay healthy.
Risks: Yeah. There are lots of risks. He needs to stay healthy. Because he’s lost quite a bit of developmental time the last 2 years. I’m ranking him here because if he IS healthy, and he does log 500 PA in 2012, he could shoot right back up every prospect list. And because I’m not in love with the guys right below him.
2012 Expectations: I expect he’ll be hurt again, and make me look dumb for ranking him where I did. I hope that he stays healthy, logs 500 PA, puts his legs to good use, and re-establishes himself as a candidate to take over CF sometime soon. I’d guess he could start in Clearwater, though Reading is where he should finish.
Misc Notes: I debated this. At one point I had him ranked 10th. At another point I had him ranked 24th. So, wide range of outcomes. And I settled on the high end. I think I did this because he appeared healthy in the AFL. His numbers there were meaningless, since he was basically trying to shake off 2 years of rust. A full, unimpeded winter to prepare and he should be back on the horse in 2012. Here are two videos, one and two, from the AFL.
14. Julio Rodriguez, RHP (2011 Rank = 11th)
2011 In Review: Haters ‘gon hate, but J-Rod keeps mowing batters down, posting a solid 9.68 K/9 rate and generating lots of weak contact, as FSL batters hit just .186 against him, bringing his 4 year minor league opponent’s average to a minuscule .193 in 307 innings. He also managed to trim a tiny bit off his walk rate, though he did allow the same number of home runs in 2011 (13) as his 3 previous seasons combined.
Raw Tools: As you probably know if you are a frequent reader here, accurate and reliable radar gun readings for J-Rod are like spotting the Yeti. One report you read says he works mostly at 86-89, another says hes 88-91, another says plenty of 90-93 before falling off to 86-90. I don’t know what to tell you. I do know that his fastball, in terms of velocity and life, is never likely to even be major league average, unless we’ve all been fooled and he’s really consistently sitting at 91-93 and maintaining it for 6 innings. He throws a really slow and loopy curveball in the high 60s/low 70s, and an average changeup. Both secondary pitches need to be tightened up, especially the curve, but both could be average. I don’t know that his fastball ever will be. He excels because he has long arms and legs and he hides the ball well, which means guys aren’t squaring him up at all.
Risks: I discussed it in my introduction, but righthanded pitchers with sub-standard fastballs generally don’t carve out above average big league careers. There are exceptions, but they are just that..exceptions. Rodriguez is such a unique pitcher, I honestly don’t know what to make of him. His curve is an unorthodox pitch, in that its very slow and loopy, and you have to think more advanced hitters probably aren’t going to chase it. His changeup will have to be his plus secondary offering. He spent most of the 2011 season as a 20 year old in the FSL, so he still has time. But I don’t know that more velocity is coming, which makes him hard to project.
2012 Expectations: The old yarn “he has to prove it at every level” certainly does apply to J-Rod, and Reading will be a stern test. He’s a dead flyball pitcher, and Reading will be an unforgiving place for him. But because of the weak contact he generates, he may just get away with it. Moving to the Eastern League, with more scouts and more exposure, we should hopefully get more looks at him.
Misc Notes: My big hope for 2012 is that you, my loyal readers, will go to every single one of his home games and go sit down near the scouts and watch the radar guns. And you will the dutifully report back to us what you saw. If you can take pictures of the radar gun readings, we’ll be even more likely to believe you. Please. In the meantime, here is his performance from the 2011 FSL All Star Game. Notice the aggressive motion, and how he juts his glove toward home plate, which adds some deception to his delivery, similar to what Jair Jurrjens does in his delivery. Despite being pretty tall (6’4, allegedly), he throws from a low arm slot, lower than three-quarters, yet he spins his breaking ball from the same arm slot as his fastball, which is probably what confuses hitters. He just needs to keep proving it at every stop on the odyssey. And I really hope he does.
15. Larry Greene Jr, OF (2011 Rank = N/A)
2011 In Review: Greene was always seen as a potential late first round pick, and the Phillies popped him in the compensation round. He got to where he did based on his massive raw power, as he’s already capable of light tower blasts to all fields. He signed late and didn’t get any reps.
Raw Tools: Greene’s calling card is going to be his power. I put a 70 on it, and if we were just going with raw strength, there were some whispers it might be even better. Of course he’s going to need to hit to unlock that power. I went cautious on his hit tool and just gave him a 45, though of course we haven’t even seen him face pro pitching and he might be more advanced than anyone thinks. The rest of his game figures to be average. He’s not Dan Vogelbach in terms of his athleticism, but he’s also probably going to be limited to either LF or RF. How the rest of his tools play is anyone’s guess right now.
Risks: I gave him an OFP of 60, which means he maybe should have been higher on the list (60 is an occasional all-star and an above average MLB regular), but unlike Quinn, who has 1 elite tool, Greene’s one elite tool is riskier. To be able to use elite power, you have to be able to make consistent, hard contact. And we have no idea if he will be able to do that. To use that power, you have to understand the strike zone, and we don’t know if he can do that. If he can’t play the OF and is limited to 1B, then he will derive 100% of his value from his bat. So what I’m saying is, he has to hit to have value. And we don’t know if he is going to hit. Which means he’s super risky. Which is why I ranked him lower. Even if Quinn turns in to a fringy hitter, as long as he can play SS or CF and play it well, he will still provide defensive value and value with his legs. Greene doesn’t figure to have those same advantages.
2012 Expectations: Another reason I ranked him conservatively (maybe, I don’t know, you tell me) is because I think the Phillies are going to take it slow with him. I would not be surprised to see him spend 2012 in the GCL, with a possible late season bump to Williamsport, and because of the rawness of his game, he’s going to be a project. Lets just hope he’s not an Anthony Hewitt-like project.
Misc Notes:He comes off as a pretty damn impressive guy, and hes going to be really easy to root for. Here’s a video of him taking some hacks in BP at a showcase event.
16. Jiwan James, OF (2011 Rank = 18th)
2011 In Review: James, in his second full season, made small progress at Clearwater and showed that his glove and arm are big league ready, but he still has work to do with the bat and his legs.
Raw Tools: James is a potential elite defender in center field. He covers tons of ground and has a plus arm. He registered 9 assists and ended up with just 4 errors in 2011. He swiped 31 bases but was thrown out 16 times, showing that he does have some work to do on his reads and jumps. The big question is what he is going to do with the bat. His power is still well below average, and I’m not sure what kind of power he ends up with. He has a nice BP swing but is very mechanical during games, and he needs to smooth that out. Its easy to see him having a big league career. If he can continue to make small gains offensively as he moves up, his defense alone should make him a starting center fielder. But he’s going to have to hit.
Risks: His SecA of .200 was an improvement from his .182 number in Lakewood, but its still below average. As a conversion project, he does get some slack, but the lack of power at this point is getting close to significant. He’ll need to either a.) make more contact b.) draw more walks or c.) hit for more power if hes going to become a big league regular. I want to believe he’ll get there. But right now, he ranks where he does based on the strength of his defense.
2012 Expectations: He’ll finally play in a more offense-friendly league in 2012, and hopefully his numbers improve. I’d like to see a 9-10% BB rate and a .130 ISO. Then I’ll be a believer. Because the glove is legit.
Misc Notes: Hes a hard guy to rank. Again, the defense matters, because we’re not playing fantasy baseball here, but he still has to hit. In many ways, he’s still an untapped, rough around the edges stone. If the Phillies can smooth him out and turn him in to a nice pebble, well then that will be great. Here’s a video of JJ from friend of phuturephillies.com Mike Newman, who runs scoutingthesally.com.
17. Austin Wright, LHP (2011 Rank = N/A)
2011 In Review: A pretty nondescript draftee in 2011, Wright blitzed both the NYPL and SAL whiffing 85 and walking just 22 in 68 innings. He actually pitched better after being promoted to Lakewood, striking out 41 and walking just 9 in 33 innings.
Raw Tools: Wright has a good fastball, sitting 90-93 and he can maintain it deep in to his starters. A chronic underachiever in college, he seemed to really get everything going in his pro debut, including flashing a good changeup, something he didn’t really have in college. His curveball is firm and has good late action. If the changeup gains are real, he will definitely stay in the rotation, and I see no reason for the Phillies to move him to the bullpen before he shows he can’t start.
Risks: Wright did not have a great college career at Ole Miss, but he did everything right as a pro. So do you put more weight in to his disappointing college career or his short pro debut? I’m a glass half full guy. Well, not really, but I’m going with the pro data. Some guys just never live up to expectations in college for whatever reason, and then with pro teaching, they put it all together. If his changeup does not progress, then I agree with BA, and he is a reliever. I put a 55 on him thinking that he can start. If he can’t, he gets downgraded. Because he is lefthanded, has good velocity and an above average breaking ball, I think he can be a mid rotation starter if the changeup is even average. I might have been too aggressive giving both his fastball and curveball 60s, especially without more data, but screw it. I’m gonna let it ride.
2012 Expectations: The Phillies could slow him down and give him half a season at Lakewood, but I don’t know what he has to learn there, so he should probably start in Clearwater, and with a strong spring that is what I’d expect.
Misc Notes: Wright is exactly the type of pick the Phillies have made a habit out of making the last few years. Guys with talent who have underachieved in college or have some major flaw, yet they end up in the Phillies system and things click. It happened with Mike Stutes, Jon Singleton and others. Wright looks like the next guy in line.
18. Cesar Hernandez, 2B (2011 Rank = 12th)
2011 In Review: It was a disappointing season for Hernandez, but not all that surprising considering the double jump from the NYPL to the FSL. He got off to a horrid start but started to pull things together a bit late in the year. All of his peripherals (except his power) went in the wrong direction in 2011, most notably his contact rate, which has to be his calling card as he moves up.
Raw Tools: The aggressive promotion in 2011 kind of clouds his tools at this point. Prior to 2011, he showed elite contact skills, striking out between 10-13% of the time. Last year that rose to 19%. If we write off some of that to the aggressive jump and he can get things going in the right direction in 2012, I’ll be confident again of his ability to hit close to .300. I would like to see the walk rate improve, which will also give him more chances to steal bases. He was just 23 for 33 in 2011, and to really add value, he’s going to need to swipe 30 bags a year at a better clip, because he is never going to hit for power. Defensively, he should be at least average, so no worries there.
Risks: He has very little power, which isn’t a necessity at 2B, but it will be concerning if he doesn’t make elite contact and draw walks, as pitchers will not be afraid to groove him fastballs if they know he can’t do anything with them. He was aggressively pushed in 2011, but it probably won’t stop in 2012 as he is on the 40 man roster and has just 2 options left. If he doesn’t get on base enough, his glove is not enough to make him an every day player. I still have an OFP of 50 on him, because he can still be an average regular in the mold of a Placido Polanco with more speed, but I need that K rate to drop again in 2012.
2012 Expectations: I expect he will be the starting 2B in Reading, and it will be a much better hitting environment, though I doubt it helps him much in the power department.
Misc Notes: Here is some older video of him from 2010 if you haven’t seen him hit. He’s still an interesting prospect, and up the middle players do get some slack. He’ll move one level at a time now, and he needs to hit and use his legs, because that is where his value will come from.
19. Perci Garner, RHP (2011 Rank = 30th)
2011 In Review: Garner has been one big tease since being drafted, and he teased scouts long before draft day. A football player turned baseball player, his 30 innings in 2011 was a 26 inning increase on his 2010 total, as he’s had injury issues. When on the mound in 2011, he showed a big fastball and struck out a batter per inning. He has a big season ahead of him, for many reasons.
Raw Tools: Garner’s fastball could be special, sitting at 92-96 with life. He has a sharp curveball that shows flashes of brilliance, but is also inconsistent, as his changeup which is presently a below average offering. He’s reportedly made progress with it, but I’m projecting it as a 40 pitch, hopefully that is modest and it can be big league average. He has a power frame (6’3/225) and should theoretically be a work horse, but it hasn’t worked out yet. His athleticism should allow him to repeat his delivery and lead to at least average command. I gave him a 45 OFP, which is a back end starter, but that is only because of the major red flags in his profile. On raw stuff, if his changeup improves, he could be more of a #3 starter than a #5/middle reliever.
Risks: The risks are obvious. He was a true 2 sport guy in college and didn’t fully devote himself to baseball until his draft year. And since turning pro, he’s logged a grand total of 34 innings. Also working against him is the fact that he hasn’t pitched above short season ball and he just turned 23. You can cut a 2 sport guy some slack in his development, but I think I really need to see at least 100 innings in 2012.
2012 Expectations: My hope is that he goes to Lakewood or Clearwater and starts at least 15 games so we have an idea of what he can do. Because right now he’s just a ball of potential with not a whole lot to show for it. I don’t know what I realistically expect.
Misc Notes: To be honest, I thought I might be crazy ranking him this high. Then I see Keith Law drop him in his Phillies Top 10, and I felt less crazy. But who knows, really. Here is some video of him from this past summer. The generous cameraman/camerawoman did not utilize the zoom feature, so you have to squint a bit. He has a fairly athletic delivery (no surprise) and utilizes his lower half fairly well. Again, he needs innings. And he needs them now, dammit.
20. Mitchell Walding, 3B (2011 Rank = N/A)
2011 In Review: A two sport guy in high school, Walding oozed potential but had an up and down spring and slid to the 5th round where the Phillies pounced, signing him for $800,000…or basically beginning of the 2nd round money. He signed too late to play.
Raw Tools: The Phillies obviously love his tools, and though he played SS in high school, it appears his new home will be third base. He has the frame and tools for it, as he’s an athletic 6’3/190 who played football as well as baseball. He has the chance for a plus bat across the board, with the chance to be a .280ish hitter with 20-25 HR a year. That is if everything works out. He’d have been fringy at SS, but he has plenty of arm for third base and he should be fine there defensively. He looks to be an average runner, but I don’t expect him to be a big stolen base threat.
Risks: All of the usual caveats apply here. No pro data, was a two sport guy who didn’t play baseball exclusively. Etc. The one big plus for me is that he performed well in a wood bat summer league before signing, and my guess is that is why the Phillies felt comfortable giving him a big chunk of change to turn pro. He will move slowly, and BA seems to think he’ll start in extended spring training, which I can see. Because he is raw, he carries risk. But you’ve been around here long enough, you understand that.
2012 Expectations: If he does start in XST, he will likely go to Williamsport in June. And he’ll be one of the most interesting guys to follow this summer.
Misc Notes: The upside here is obviously substantial. I slapped a 55 on him, but really if the power develops and he makes enough contact, he might be even better. But I know the Phillies would probably be fine if he just becomes an average big league third baseman. And I’d take that right now if given the choice. The third base position has trended downward recently, with a few exceptions, so if the Phillies are able to grow their own, well that would be great. Here’s a video of him taking BP in early 2009. Its dated, but even 3 years ago you can dream on the upside.
21. Brian Pointer, OF (2011 Rank = N/A)
2011 In Review: After getting just 7 ABs last year, Pointer returned to the GCL and put up very good numbers, considering the brutal nature of the league for hitters, posting a .278/.353/.503 line in 191 PA. He did a bit of everything, posting an awesome .225 ISO, a 10% BB rate and was a perfect 8 for 8 in the stolen base department. He also chipped in 6 assists in just 47 games while playing all 3 outfield positions.
Raw Tools: I was a big believer in Pointer after the draft in 2010, mainly because I loved his low maintenance swing. He hit for more power than I anticipated and though his contact rate wasn’t great, it was somewhat mitigated by the strong 10% BB rate. I’m not sure if he has the range for CF, but he can probably play there now. The fact that he played all 3 OF positions shows he is a good athlete at least.
Risks: Pointer played the 2011 season at 19, and didn’t turn 20, so he wasn’t really old for the GCL, but it still should be mentioned that the Phillies sent him back there instead of to Williamsport. That said, his very strong showing might give him an outside chance of starting 2012 at Lakewood. He was neglected by Baseball America, which isn’t terribly surprising since they didn’t give him much attention in high school. But I like everything I see. The obvious risk is that he has only played in the GCL and that he didn’t have a high profile in high school. A 27% K rate is highish, and if he has to move to LF for some reason, that will put more pressure on his bat.
2012 Expectations: I’d love to see him get a shot at Lakewood in 2012 and to get regular ABs. If he is sent to Williamsport, he’ll still be okay, as he’ll play the entire year as a 20 year old and will be facing a lot of college arms. I want to see the power and patience translate, because if he goes to the NYPL, its a pitcher friendly league, and if he goes to Lakewood, he’ll be facing a lot of advanced guys in a hitter unfriendly park.
Misc Notes: As I sit and review this again, I hate that I ranked him this low. I should have ranked him higher. Well, whatever. I’m still higher on him than any other industry people types. So whatever. Here is the old video of him from high school. Look at that short, compact, direct swing. I like it.
22. Michael Schwimer, RHP (2011 Rank = 23rd)
2011 In Review: Our local hero dominated at Lehigh Valley and then spent time in Philly, where the results were mixed, but he certainly showed flashes of what he can do.
Raw Tools: Schwimer doesn’t light up the radar gun, with his fastball sitting in the 89-92 range, but he moves it around, cuts it, sinks it, and compliments it with a mid 80s slider that he will throw in any count. He’s worked hard on his changeup (which he’s detailed on this here site) and will have to continue to work on it to give him a weapon to at least keep lefties honest. He’s always had good control, walking right around 3 batters per 9 in 234 minor league innings, and he’s missed a ton of bats (12 per 9) at every stop. I give him a 55 grade for his fastball because what it lacks in velocity it makes up for in movement. Maybe its only a 50. Fine. I bump it up because he knows how to locate it and sequence it.
Risks: Because he isn’t overpowering, he has to be precise. He can hit 93-94 but it takes some of the movement off the pitch. His changeup is probably a 40 pitch now, but he’s a hard worker and its made strides, so there’s no reason it can’t be close to average. He’s been very durable and has gone multiple innings plenty of times in the minors with no harm to his stuff. Rubber arms are good things.
2012 Expectations: He doesn’t have anything left to prove in the minors, but as with any bullpen, its a numbers game. He’ll probably be part of the Triple A Troika, along with De Fratus and Aumont, and there’s a pretty good chance all 3 spend decent chunks of 2012 in the majors.
Misc Notes: You all know Schwim is a personal favorite, and I’m forever grateful for everything he’s done for the site. I know he has less time and availability now, but he knows he’s always welcome back, and we’ll try to do a few Q/A’s with him this season. Lets all experience his major league debut again. Nasty sliders.
23. Kenny Giles, RHP (2011 Rank = N/A)
2011 In Review: Giles generated plenty of pre-draft buzz at Yavapai CC in Arizona, where he consistently touched the upper 90s with his fastball while flashing a plus breaking ball and a dash of wildness. I wouldn’t read anything in to his 3 pro appearances late in the season. You shouldn’t either. While he walked 22 in 38 innings at Yavapai, he also struck out 67. 67! Thats almost 16 strikeouts per 9 innings.
Raw Tools: Giles has a monster fastball. Like, consistent 94-97 and a few 99s for good measure. As a pro, he’ll probably have to dial it back to the 93-96 range so he can command it better. I put a 40 on his command because hes been inconsistent and I want to see him throw strikes as a pro. But because hes so raw, he could easily put things together and develop average control. And when you’re throwing a turbo fastball, hard slider (in the mid-high 80s) and potentially above average splitter, well, average control might just be enough.
Risks: They are pretty obvious. He has all of 4 innings at the pro level, his control has come and gone before, and his secondary pitches are really raw. His slider can be an average pitch and has shown more in flashes, and if he can settle on a change/splitter grip, there’s no reason to assume it can’t develop. It’s going to take time. Obviously. And the beta is high as it is with most raw power arms. But man, there’s a lot to dream on here.
2012 Expectations: His performance this spring will probably influence his 2012 assignment. I think he should be starting every 5th day so he has the chance to work on his secondary stuff and improving the command of his fastball. Because he does have a bit more experience, he could probably handle the assignment to Lakewood. But it depends on how the arms shake out and how he looks this spring.
Misc Notes: I’m a sucker for power arms. Because you can’t teach that kind of arm strength. Where he is now and what he can become are separated by a wide gap. But if he bridges that gap, he can be a special pitcher, either as a closer or a middle of the rotation arm, hence the 50 OFP. But yeah, mega risk. That’s why he’s not ranked higher. But we’re at the point on the list where everyone is either a high risk guy or a low ceiling guy.
24. Tyler Greene, SS (2011 Rank = N/A)
2011 In Review: Seen as a potential late first/early second round pick, Greene floated some big bonus demands and fell to the 11th round where the Phillies took a shot. It turns out they did their homework, as he signed for a very reasonable $375K. He signed a lot earlier than expected, which meant he was able to log some time in the GCL, where he more than held his own, hitting .276/.386/.379 in 70 PA.
Raw Tools: The biggest question on Greene is his hit tool. I’ve slapped a 40 on it now, and I did this mainly because he struck out in almost 40% of his GCL plate appearances, and because scouts questioned the hit tool pre-draft. That said, I actually like his swing and I think with time, he’ll improve. Again, I’m trying to be cautious in most cases with grades. He’s a very good athlete and has good arm strength, though he might have to move to 3B down the line. For now, there is no reason to move him. He has good speed and good instincts. He didn’t hit a home run in his debut but did tally 6 doubles, and I do think he will hit for power. I’m not sure how to grade it, but he has high amounts of swagger, which hopefully means he has a strong work ethic and willingness to always get better.
Risks: It was just 70 PA, but the strikeouts do raise an eye brow. If he moves from SS to 3B, it will put more pressure on his bat, but he does have the arm strength for 3B. He’s raw and will need time, but the athleticism and raw tools should buy him a few years of developmental time.
2012 Expectations: His spring performance will likely dictate where he goes. Because he did get time in the GCL, he might be more equipped to handle SS at Lakewood than Roman Quinn. If the Phillies deem him too raw, he could stay in XST and go to Williamsport, where he’d form a dynamic left side of the infield with Mitchell Walding.
Misc Notes: I really like Greene’s athleticism, and even though he swung and missed a lot in his debut, I think his swing is okay. Check out the video here of him taking BP. He’s currently 6’2/175, and I think that actually might end up 6’3/200 when he’s done packing muscle on to his frame. Which means he might be Troy Tulowitzki lite, physically. Read that again. Physically. I’m not comparing him to Tulo offensively, as he was a polished college hitter. But I like the tools here. I like the frame. The athleticism. And the swagger. His lack of one standout tool right now is why he ranks behind Giles on my list.
25. Ervis Manzanillo, LHP (2011 Rank = NR)
2011 In Review: In his full season debut, Wild Ervis turned in an all over the map season at Lakewood, striking out plenty of guys, walking plenty of guys, but not giving up a ton of hard contact and allowing just 5 HR all season.
Raw Tools: To be honest, he wasn’t even on my radar after a shaky 2010 stateside debut, but he apparently comes armed with a low 90s fastball with some life, and from the left side, that will always open a few eyes. Both of his secondary pitches are sub-par right now, but scouts think they have a chance to be average or better, which is good. He’s just raw and will need a lot of refining, but everything else, including his delivery, looks fine.
Risks: Walking 71 guys in 118 innings is probably risk factor number 1. He’s wiry and skinny, and its unclear how much he will fill out physically, which raises questions of how well he’ll hold up under a 200 inning workload at the big league level. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. He has a ways to go, but appears on the right track even if the numbers weren’t all pretty this year.
2012 Expectations: He should move to Clearwater and should start every 5th day, which will give us more data.
Misc Notes: I normally feel uneasy about guys I’ve never seen any video of, or guys I’ve never talked to someone I trust about. But like I said above, I’m a sucker for power arms, especially power lefties, so what the heck, I’m fine with him here. BA ran him higher up their list, but I haven’t developed that kind of comfort level with him yet. We’re still in the early courtship phase. But its still exciting. My Spanish sucks. But here is an interview in Spanish. Maybe you can tell me what he’s saying.
26. Carlos Tocci, OF (2011 Rank = N/A)
2011 In Review: The highest profile signing by the Phillies in Latin America in a long time, he signed for about $760,000 and drew praise from Baseball America for his athleticism.
Raw Tools: He appears to have a lot of natural baseball ability, as he’s shown a feel for hitting to go along with great speed and a great arm. So you could infer that he might be a perfect center fielder. The big question is his power, as he physically resembles a bean stalk and a stiff breeze could knock him on his backside.
Risks: He’s 16. And a young 16, as he wasn’t eligible to sign until August. To say he’s risky is like saying water is wet or Manute Bol (RIP) was tall. Right now, he probably doesn’t have any power at all. And because of his frame, its unclear if he will ever have any power at all. If I’m grading Jiwan James’s power with skepticism, how do I grade Tocci’s, when James is a far more developed athlete? I grade it as a 30. The rest of his game should make him an exciting prospect to watch. And if he fills out physically and adds a bunch of weight, then bam, you can forget about all of this. But I’m willing to be low man on the totem pole for now.
2012 Expectations: He’ll come to the US for spring training, then debut in the GCL, where he’ll play most of the season at age 16 and be one of the youngest guys in the league.
Misc Notes: Think back to what you looked like as a high school sophomore. Then imagine yourself playing pro baseball that summer. That is Carlos Tocci. Did you look differently as a high school senior? He probably will look different. Lets hope he is able to put on the pounds, in a good way. I could have gone groupthink and ranked him higher. But the risk here is astronomical. As it is with all 16 year old Latin American prospects. I’m willing to be 1 year behind the curve on him if he blows up in the GCL.
27. Harold Martinez, 3B (2011 Rank = N/A)
2011 In Review: Entering college with expectations of being a first rounder in 2011, Martinez had an all over the map college career and a down junior year, but the Phillies weren’t deterred and they popped him in the 2nd round. His debut was a mixed bag, but there are reasons to be optimistic.
Raw Tools: Martinez has always had the raw tools to be an above average big leaguer. As I mentioned, he was well thought of in high school and dropped out of the first round because of his bonus demands, which landed him at Miami for 3 years. He showed big power his sophomore year, but it disappeared his junior year, probably partly because he wasn’t 100% healthy. He might not have 30 HR power in the bigs, but I think he’s got enough juice to hit 20 HR a year if he can make consistent contact. His near 16% BB rate is good, and his 26% K rate is manageable, especially since he was likely worn out from his college season.
Risks: The big issue is the lack of power in his debut season. That said, the NYPL stifles power almost as much as any league around the minors. Plus, its not uncommon for college guys to not hit for power in their brief pro debuts as they transition away from metal bats to wood bats. He’s not more than an average runner now, and will likely lose a step or two as he gets older. He has good defensive ability and a good enough arm for 3B, but he isn’t likely to win any gold gloves. He was wildly inconsistent in college, so obviously we don’t know what we’re going to get.
2012 Expectations: He’ll play every day, and probably at Lakewood for at least half the season with a chance for promotion mid year if he dominates the SAL.
Misc Notes: I’m willing to bet on the tools and upside at this part of my list. Here’s video of him running in to a few balls during the Cape Cod League HR derby in 2009. Hes a strapping young man, and I look forward to a nice season from him in 2012.
28. Adam Morgan, LHP (2011 Rank = N/A)
2011 In Review: Like Austin Wright, Morgan had an up and down college career and never really lived up to expectations, and like Wright, he pitched much better than expected in his pro debut.
Raw Tools: Morgan’s fastball is arguably his weakest pitch, as he wasn’t able to maintain consistent velocity with it, ranging anywhere from 86-93 mph. His hard slider and changeup both flash above average to plus at times, though not consistently. I read Cliff Lee comparisons, but that just seems lazy.
Risks: Like Wright, he didn’t have a great college career and his biggest issue appears to be the consistency of his stuff. If he can consistently pitch at 90-92 with his fastball, that makes him a different pitcher than if he’s consistently 87-89. He’ll need to tighten up his secondary pitches, obviously.
2012 Expectations: As a college guy, he’ll either go to Lakewood or Clearwater, depending on how he looks in ST and how the rest of the arms pan out. I guess they could use him as a reliever, but I don’t know why that would happen at this stage.
Misc Notes: I kind of feel like Morgan may be Matt Way 2.0. But maybe not, as his breaking ball seems more advanced. Then again, he was much tougher on RHB in his debut, a sign that maybe his changeup was the better pitch. Either way, he’s in the flier range here, and seems like if he remains healthy he should be some kind of big league contributor. But I want to see what his fastball looks like in 2012 before knowing what to make of him.
29. Leandro Castro, OF (2011 Rank = 26th)
2011 In Review: Castro had a deceptively good year in the pitcher friendly Florida State League but missed half the season with a stress fracture in his left leg. I haven’t read that it will limit him in 2012.
Raw Tools: Castro does a lot of things well. He has good power for his size (5’11/175), he can run a little bit (10 SB in half a season in 2011, 22 in 2010) and he can play all 3 OF positions thanks to a pretty solid arm. For a free spirited free swinger, he’s improved his K rate the last 2 years, which means he’ll have a shot to hit for a decent average. His .204 ISO last year was the best mark of his career, and came in a tough hitting environment.
Risks: The risk is that he is allergic to taking walks. He drew just 5 walks in 231 AB in 2011 and just 34 BB in 502 AB last year. That said, with a contact rate of 15%, its not a total disaster. Of course, as he moves up, he’ll get less to hit until he proves he can lay off bad pitches, and even if he has good plate coverage, he likely won’t make great contact on pitches at his ankles off the plate.
2012 Expectations: My hope is that he can stay healthy and play a full season at Reading, where he should see time at all 3 OF spots.
Misc Notes: Castro doesn’t look like a starting outfielder in Philly, but his aggressiveness, power, speed and versatility means he might be an ideal 4th OF who thrives as a pinch hitter, and that has value. And if he does draw more walks, say in the 8% range (close to what he did in 2009), then maybe he has what it takes to start, especially if he can play RF instead of LF. Anyway, he’ll be a fun guy to watch in 2012.
30. Aaron Altherr, OF (2011 Rank = 15th)
2011 In Review: 2011 started off with such promise for Altherr, as there were rumors that he’d try his luck at 3B. That never materialized, he struggled mightily at Lakewood and then never really got things going after a demotion to Williamsport.
Raw Tools: I think maybe Altherr is more raw than we thought. I have always ranked him lower than the consensus (I think) and I debated leaving him off my top 30 altogether. But guys with lots of potential and lots of tools can take off in an instant if something clicks, and I’d feel bad if something clicks and I left him off my list entirely.
Risks: His approach was okay at Lakewood, but he just didn’t make enough contact, and contact appears to be an issue now, as is his power, of which he’s shown very little. He’s still very young, but he’ll be starting his 4th pro season back at Lakewood, and the tools have to develop soon or he’ll run out of time in the Phillies org. He flashes above average tools across the board, but they are just flashes, especially the power. I gave him a 50 projected power, and that was probably optimistic, but he has the frame to hit for power, just not the contact ability to unlock it yet. He’s very high risk, even after 3 years of pro ball.
2012 Expectations: It would be good to see him back at Lakewood and put up a balanced season, bringing his walk rate up to the 9-10% range, cutting down the strikeouts, and putting up at least .125 ISO. He definitely has speed, and he should be a defensive asset, but he’s going to have to hit, and he should try and do it quickly. Here is a video of one of his ABs at Williamsport this past summer.
Misc Notes: Baseball America is still high on Altherr, and you my readers ranked him 22nd, so he’s not without his supporters. I’m just kind of wary, and I want to see what he does this year. But the tools are there.
My Super Sleeper for 2012
Alejandro Villalobos, 2B
I really love his name. I also love that he struck out a grand total of 5 times in 165 AB in his US debut. 5 times. That’s almost incomprehensible. He walked 10 times, which isn’t great, but is certainly passable given the insane contact rate. He didn’t show much power and he was caught 5 times in 12 SB attempts. But damn, 5 strikeouts in 165 AB. Middle infield prospects are really valuable, and he just turned 20 in August. That’s why he’s a super sleeper.
The Honorable Mentions
There were a few more guys on my list that I considered, but ultimately ended up leaving off for one reason or another. They are, in no order (except the first one)
Gauntlett Eldemire, OF – He’s the new Colby Shreve. The guy who exists only in theory until you actually see his name appear in a box score. I want to live in a world where a man named Gauntlett is one of our 30 best prospects. If he can move past the injuries, maybe 2012 is that year. He turns 23 in a few weeks. 2012 is a big year for him. He needs to get his butt in gear.
Joe Savery, LHP – He’s obviously a great story. From the brink of retirement to the big leagues. He re-discovered his lost velocity, but I want to see if he holds it. He might be a good 7th inning reliever who can get out both lefties and righties. Or he might be a LOOGY. Or he might be out of baseball in 2 years. A wide range of outcomes, but none of them scream high leverage reliever, so he just fell short.
Jake Diekman, LHP – The Phillies protected him on the 40 man roster, and he’s a conversion project of sorts, as he’s begun to throw from a low-almost sidearm angle. You can see his delivery here in action against former Phillies farmhand Anthony Gose. That just looks toxic on lefties. And there is a good chance he carves out a JC Romero-esque career. But I’m not sure that merits a spot in the Top 30. Maybe it does. But maybe not. Moving on…
Colton Murray, RHP – I actually had him in my Top 30 in place of Altherr at one point. He had a decent debut, and was actually ranked in BA’s Top 200 pre-draft. Power fastball and slider. Should move fast. But college relievers are a tough crop to read. I want to see more from him, but I could see bumping him in to the top 30 next year if he has a strong 2012. Hopefully he’s aggressively promoted and challenged.
Kyrell Hudson, OF – His defense is supposedly pretty awesome. And he showed some improvement at the plate (6.7% BB rate was an improvement for him), but he was repeating the NYPL, the power is still not there (but did improve), and he needs to get better at using his speed on the bases. He’s a definite candidate to jump on to the 30 next year, and if it clicks, maybe even in to the Top 15. But I want to see it in a full season league first.
Cody Asche, 2B – He had a nice first week, then struggled. Still, a 10% BB rate, a reasonable 21% K rate, and an unlucky .234 BABIP. He didn’t hit for any power, but he also switched positions to 2B as a pro, and I’m sure that adjustment was kind of tricky for him. I hope he plays 2B every day, probably at Lakewood, and I think he has some sleeper potential, as he has a good eye and showed good power in college.
Zach Collier, OF – He’s lost a lot of development time the last few years, and now he’ll lose even more in 2012 through his PED suspension. That’s a pretty big red flag, so he’ll need to be really impressive in 2012 to slide back up in to my top 30.
Here are my quick thoughts on a few other guys, since you’re going to ask about them in the comments.
Kelly Dugan, OF – Another year, another injury plagued season spent in short-season ball. Still no power, decent eye, decent contact, but I need to see more if he’s going to be a LF in the bigs.
JC Ramirez, RHP – Underwhelming peripherals, and for a guy with the fastball and slider he supposedly has, he really should be striking out more than 5.5 batters per 9. The Phillies want him to pitch to contact for some reason, and that’s not really going to work in relief, if that is his ultimate destination. He’s pretty much off my radar now, so he’ll probably be awesome for some inexplicable reason in 2012.
Derrick Mitchell, OF – I’ll surely gain no favor with his fan club here for omitting him. I’m kind of just not sure what his role is in the majors. He held his own in his first taste of AA action, but he’s a 4th OF. Maybe I’m harsh on him, but he’s now 25, and the time is kind of now. If he improves his work on the bases and cuts the K’s a bit more, then I think maybe he has a chance to sneak up and be a decently valuable bench guy.
Matt Rizzotti, 1B – He’s an AL type player, because he has no defensive home. The Phillies showed their lack of faith in him by outrighting him and then sending him back to AA this year. I would like to see him get a shot at being a bench type hitter, but because he has zero (or a negative) defensive value, it probably won’t happen here. The requirements for first base are just so astronomically high offensively, he just profiles as a tweener, and most orgs in baseball have a guy like him in their system.
Cameron Rupp, C – I tried to talk myself in to including him. But a .198 SecA in A ball at age 22 really is just kind of not good enough, even if he is a strong defender, which I’m not sure he is. He might still carve out a backup role, but that looks like his ceiling at this point.
You may ask where I’d have ranked Travis D’Arnaud, Jon Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid, Anthony Gose, Jonathan Villar, and Michael Taylor, the bigger name guys we’ve traded away in recent years. D’Arnaud would have easily ranked first. I think it would look something like this.
Update –> I missed Domingo Santana. I think I’d probably rank him 11th. I still prefer Galvis because of his defensive home.
Taylor would probably be in the 11-15 range, Zeid in the 16-25 range. Am I missing anyone obvious? Not Jason Knapp, that’s for sure.
So there it is. More than 16,000 words dedicated to the state of our farm system. I gave you 30 guys. I gave you a super sleeper. I gave you a long list of honorable mentions, I gave you some words on guys I’m not high on. I ranked the departed prospects. Now my fingers hurt, I’m tired, and I have to be up in a few hours. I wanted to proofread, but I ran out of time. I might get to that later, I might not, hopefully its readable and you can comprehend what I was trying to say. And I hope you enjoyed it. Another year, another list in the books.