Rumors abound that the Philadelphia Phillies are looking to trade veteran starter Cole Hamels as part of a needed rebuilding project. Suitors are said to include the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees.
Obviously the Phillies would be looking for a strong package of prospects in exchange for their long-time ace. Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News writes that the Phillies are looking in particular for hitting prospects preferably close to the major leagues.
While the organization isn't in position to identify particular positions - there are simply too many needs - they'd prefer a package led by offensive players, not pitchers. And to increase their chances of acquiring prospects that turn into legitimate big-league players, and not future busts, the Phillies are likely to seek minor leaguers further along in their development. (Read: major league-ready, or at least close to the big leagues)
Prospects at a Double A and Triple A level have been through the lower leagues and are closer to the big leagues, you're usually more right on those than someone who is further away," (team president Pat) Gillick said this offseason, regarding Hamels.
Assuming that the rumors are correct about the Yankees and Rangers showing interest, which team could provide the most attractive set of prospects for the Phillies?
The Yankees farm system features several upper-level prospects of interest.
Greg Bird, 1B: Age 22, the slugging Bird has not had an easy transition to Double-A, hitting just .235/.327/.403 this spring on the heels of a much more impressive '14 campaign. His left-handed power bat would still be attractive based on his overall track record.
Jake Cave, OF: Hitting .287/.362/.374 in Double-A, Cave's game is predicated on left-side line drive hitting and solid on-base percentages, though lack of big home run power has kept him from high level ranks. He is regarded as a sleeper by some sources however at age 22.
Eric Jagielo, 3B: Age 23, this first round pick in 2013 out of Notre Dame is hitting .284/.347/.495 in Double-A though he recently went on the disabled list. His power bat is among the most impressive in the system.
Aaron Judge, OF: Likely a key asset in any major trade, Judge hit .280/.344/.506 in Double-A before being promoted to Triple-A a few days ago. Age 23, Judge has enormous right-handed power in his 6-7, 255 frame.
Rob Refsnyder, 2B-OF: Age 24, Refsnyder had an excellent 2014 season (.318/.387/.497) but has not hit as well this year in Triple-A (.268/.347/.379). He would still be an attractive component as a near-ready bat with versatility.
Gary Sanchez, C: Currently on the disabled list with a hand injury, Sanchez is 22 years old and has been one of New York's top prospects for several years, though never quite breaking through. He's hit 23 homers in 178 Double-A contests over parts of three seasons.
Luis Severino, RHP: Not a hitter obviously but the Phillies need arms too if they are trading Hamels and Severino is quite advanced, currently with a 2.81 ERA and a 66/18 K/BB in 67 innings this year between Double-A and Triple-A. The 21 year old has upside projection as a number two starter with mid-90s heat and strong command of his secondary pitches.
Mason Williams, OF: Age 23, Williams has been rather erratic the last few years, playing very poorly in 2014 (.223/.290/.304 in Double-A) but much better this season (.318/.397/.398 in AA/AAA, then 6-for-21 in the majors) until recently going on the DL with a shoulder injury. Scouts still like his glove but it value is hard to judge given the track record.
The Yankees have many players at the lower levels who would likely interest the Phillies including products of their burgeoning Latin American program such as shortstop Jorge Mateo and third baseman Miguel Andujar, although these prospects are further away and would likely be part of a package including players closer to the majors.
We will take a look at what the Rangers have to offer in a separate article.