Philadelphia Phillies Top 20 Prospects for 2013
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2013 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a reasonable chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Some end up as role players or bench guys. Many don't make it at all.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise, and some C+ prospects (especially at lower levels) turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment in the book for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
This list is current as of January 15, 2013
1) Jesse Biddle, LHP, Grade B+: Class of the system. Local kid, good fastball, very good secondary pitches, no serious command problems, no durability issues yet. Good bet to be a mid-rotation starter, if not more.
2) Adam Morgan, LHP, Grade B: This guy deserves more attention. Stuff kicked up a notch from college, into the low-90s, and he already knew how to throw strikes and locate his secondary pitches. Can also be a mid-rotation starter. This is an aggressive grade and ranking.
3) Roman Quinn, SS, Grade B-: Blazing speed and knows how to use it well, needs more defensive polish and a better grasp of the strike zone to be a full-scale leadoff hitter, but the 80-speed covers a lot of problems and ensures the Phils will give him plenty of time.
4) Tommy Joseph, C, Grade B-: Has improved defensively, but his reputation as a budding power hitter and possible star seems overblown to me. I see him as more of a decent regular than a cornerstone.
5) Jonathan Pettibone, RHP, Grade B-: Sort of like a pitching version of Joseph or Asche: very solid, good chance to be a successful major leaguer, but not a star. Seems like a durable inning-eating number four starter to me.
6) Cody Asche, 3B, Grade B-: Sweet swing from the left side and defense proved better than expected. Unclear how much home run power he'll show, but like Joseph he should be a solid player.
7) Darin Ruf, 1B-OF, Grade B-: I believe in the bat. Defense and age 26 keep him from elite prospect status, doesn't have further projection, but that's OK since he's already good. I felt Ruf was a nice sleeper pre-season but I did not expect 41 homers and he hit 10 more in winter ball. I thought he was more of a .260, 10-15-homer role player bat, but I can see him as a .280, 20-25 homer guy now.
8) Ethan Martin, RHP, Grade B-: I think the change of scenery away from the Dodgers is useful for him. Upper-rotation stuff, but if command remains shaky he's more of a number four, or a reliever. Still high upside.
9) Maikel Franco, 3B, Grade B-.. Good glove at third base, still working to get his swing in gear to tap his natural power, only 20 years old. Making progress.
10) Shane Watson, RHP, Grade B-: 2012 supplemental first round draft pick is just getting started, has #2-3 starter potential if he puts everything together. Placeholder grade until we see how he adapts.
11) Mitch Gueller, RHP, Grade B-: 2012 supplemental first round draft pick is just getting started, has #2-3 starter potential if he puts everything together. Placeholder grade until we see how he adapts. More athletic than Watson, but also less refined.
12) Sebastian Valle, C, Grade C+: Defense coming along, but really has to get his plate discipline in order. Needs a year of Triple-A, still young at 22. Will the Phillies be willing to go with a rookie platoon arrangement with Valle and Joseph in 2014 behind the plate? Their skills are similar, and their weaknesses.
13) Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Grade C+: Seems ready for a full bullpen trial, though command will wobble.
14) Kenny Giles, RHP, Grade C+: Another hard-throwing reliever, can hit 100 MPH, struck out 111 in 82 innings in A-ball.
15) Austin Wright, LHP, Grade C+: A personal favorite, gained command of 90-94 MPH fastball and big-breaking curve and had solid year in Florida State League. Will move up to Double-A and work on his changeup. If that comes around, he can be a mid-rotation starter. If not, a power reliever.
16) Kevin Brady, RHP, Grade C+: Sleeper prospect out of Clemson had outstanding debut in New York-Penn League, 49/5 K/BB in 39 innings. Throws hard, could be developed as either a starter or reliever. Breakthrough candidate.
17) Justin De Fratus, RHP, Grade C+: Held back by arm trouble but pitched well when healthy, another guy who can slot nicely into the pen this year or next.
18) Kelly Dugan, OF, Grade C+: One of the toolsy guys the Philles like to invest in, .300/.387/.470 line in Low-A is promising, but still has contact woes (122 Ks) to address. Age 22.
19) Kyle Simon, RHP, Grade C+: Sinkerball expert acquired from Orioles, pitched excellently after the Phillies moved him to bullpen and could help quickly in that role. 4.70 GO/AO in Double-A.
20) Hoby Milner, LHP, Grade C+: Finesse lefty from University of Texas features advanced pitchability, possible back-end starter but could move very fast if they use him in the bullpen.
OTHER GRADE C+: Carlos Tocci, OF; Larry Greene, OF; Julio Rodriguez, RHP; Seth Rosin, RHP.
OTHERS: Aaron Altherr, OF; Leandro Castro, OF; Tyler Cloyd, RHP; Zach Collier, OF; Brody Colvin, RHP; Dylan Cozens, OF; Tyson Gillies, OF; Zach Green, INF; Cesar Hernandez, 2B; Austin Hyatt, RHP; Ender Inciarte, OF; Tyler Knigge, RHP; Yoel Mecias, LHP; Andrew Pullin, OF, Cameron Rupp, C; Chris Serritella, 1B; Mitch Walding, 3B.
The Phillies currently strike me as a mid-range organization. With the possible exception of Jesse Biddle, they don't have anyone who looks like a star, but they have a lot of guys who should be very useful. This is especially true on the pitching side. Biddle, Adam Morgan, and Austin Wright make for a very nice trio of live-armed lefties who have performed well and should be ready for a trial in the 14-15 window.
Biddle is the guy you might be able to build a rotation around, while Morgan and Wright are nice college finds who have outperformed expectations so far. On the right-handed side, Ethan Martin has the ability to dominate if the Phils can help him lock down his control. Jon Pettibone doesn't have Martin's stuff, but his command and advanced pitching sense should make him a good source of innings. We'll have to see how Watson and Gueller pan out.Watch out for Kevin Brady.
There is a lot of bullpen material beginning with Phillippe Aumont and Justin De Fratus, with Gilles, Simon, Seth Rosin, and fastball/slider right-hander Tyler Knigge all plausible candidates in the next year or two. Tyler Cloyd and Austin Hyatt might contribute something if they get hot at the right time, though they don't have the stuff to hold the livelier arms back for long.
Hitting is thinner. Ironically, the least-toolsy of their top hitting prospects, Darin Ruf, is the one most likely to make any sort of impact soon. The Phillies get a lot of press for focusing on tools players, but they find some solid college bargains too, Cody Asche being another example. Heavy investments in tool-laden preps have yet to pay big dividends but perhaps speedy Roman Quinn or Venezuelan high-ceiling youngster Carlos Tocci will pay off. Zach Collier and Aaron Altherr aren't lost causes yet, though I think Jiwan James is at this stage.
Overall, the Phillies don't rank at the top of the farm system pack, but they aren't bad either. It could look even better a year from now if the low-level tools guys add some polish.