Philadelphia Phillies Top 20 Prospects for 2017
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. All of these grades are subject to change as the winter progresses. The final grades will be finished sometime in February when all 30 teams are complete.
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS
Grade A prospects are the elite. In theory, they have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Theoretically, most Grade A prospects develop into stars or at least 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. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don’t make it at all.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. 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.
1) J.P. Crawford, SS, Grade B+: Age 21, hit .250/.349/.339 with seven homers, 72 walks, 80 strikeouts, 12 steals in 472 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A; smooth defender with plus arm strength, plus range, plus fielding instincts and reliability; as a hitter, shows strong strike zone judgment but lacks power; more quick than fast on the bases if that makes sense and may never be a big steal guy; given his age the bat can improve a great deal since the basics are all here; needs more time in Triple-A for the bat to thrive. ETA late 2017.
2) Mickey Moniak, OF, Grade B+: Age 18, first round pick in 2016, first-overall, from high school in Carlsbad, California; hit .284/.340/.409 with 11 walks, 35 strikeouts, 10 steals in 176 at-bats in rookie ball; lefty hitter with pure hitting skills and a pretty swing; showed good plate discipline as an amateur, didn’t draw a lot of walks in pro ball but this isn’t expected to be a long-term issue; will hit for average and get on base; main question is home run power but his pop should be at least respectable; plus speed, solid-average and accurate throwing arm, should work in center; young for the high school class, which helps all aspects of projection. ETA 2020.
3) Jorge Alfaro, C, Grade B/B+: Age 23, acquired from Rangers in 2015 Cole Hamels trade hit .285/.325/.458 with 15 homer, 22 walks, 105 strikeouts in 404 at-bats in Double-A; 60-grade power, could hit 20 homers a year with maturity; remains a very aggressive hitter with low walk rate and questions about batting average/OBP at highest level; still doesn’t get to his power as often as he should; dramatic development on defense in ’16; has always had the tools including a 70-grade arm but throwing accuracy, polish, receiving skills, and effort behind the plate were lacking for most of his career; all that changed in ’16, with 44% of runners caught and large improvements in reliability, awareness, and intangibles; needs Triple-A time to refine the bat but if glove progress holds he will be a long-term regular. ETA late 2017.
4) Roman Quinn, OF, Grade B: Age 23, second round pick in 2011 from high school in Florida; switch-hitter, hit .302/.372/.451 with 36 steals, 31 walks, 71 strikeouts in 308 at-bats between Double-A and brief rookie ball injury rehab; hit .263/.373/.333 with five steals in 57 at-bats in majors; blazing fast, 80-grade speed and uses it well; understands importance of OBP for a leadoff type; not punchless and may eventually show more power than currently anticipated; main problem is health: he gets hurt constantly and has never played more than 88 games in a season. ETA 2017.
5) Franklyn Kilome, RHP, Grade B-/B: Age 21, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2013; 6-6, 175 pounds; posted 3.85 ERA with 130/50 K/BB in 115 innings in Low-A; fastball up to 95-96 with enough movement to play up a grade; plus curveball; highly erratic change-up; overpowering at his best but command can wobble resulting in secondaries playing down; could be number three starter with more consistency, would also look good in pen if command refinement isn’t enough to start. ETA 2019.
6) Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Grade B-/B: Age 23, fifth round pick in 2014 from Sacramento State; hit .281/.377/.566 with 38 homers, 71 walks, 125 strikeouts in 498 at-bats in Double-A; raw power earns 55 grades but he got to it a lot in ’16; decent feel for the strike zone, will whiff some but also draws walks; lacks speed and flexibility, defense at first base is average at best, a problem in a league with no DH; ETA late 2017.
7) Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Grade B-: Age 18, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2015 for just $35,000; posted 0.50 ERA with 44/8 K/BB in 54 innings in rookie ball, just 33 hits, 1.68 GO/AO; fastball at 93-95 with reports of 98-99 at his best; pitch is heavy despite his relative lack of height at 6-0; already shows quality curveball and change-up, throws strikes, strong pitching instincts; very polished; reports from Gulf Coast League were glowing; next step is building up stamina, workload; watch him closely in ’17, could leap into elite categories. ETA 2020.
8) Nick Williams, OF, Grade B-: Age 23, acquired from Rangers in Hamels deal; hit .258/.287/.427 with 13 homers, 19 walks, 136 strikeouts in 497 at-bats in Triple-A; continues to stand out for power/speed potential but his first look in Triple-A was disappointing due to an extremely over-aggressive approach; still trying to develop the instincts to make his undoubted tools manifest more often on the field; could be a star, but could also turn into Domonic Brown. ETA late 2017.
9) Scott Kingery, 2B, Grade B-: Age 22, second round pick in 2015 from University of Arizona; hit .281/.335/.388 with 30 steals, 38 walks, 90 strikeouts in 531 at-bats between High-a and Double-A; best tool is speed; got on base at a good clip in High-A but was impatient in Double-A with just five walks in 156 at-bats; can surprise with gap power and hit 36 doubles; very polished defender at second base; ETA 2018.
10) Dylan Cozens, OF, Grade B-: Age 22, second round pick in 2012, hit .276/.351/.591 with 38 doubles, 40 homers, 61 walks, 21 steals, but 186 strikeouts in 521 at-bats in Double-A; huge guy at 6-6, 235 but very athletic, stole 21 bases in 22 attempts, also a good outfielder; 70-grade power and makes an effort to work counts but extremely high strikeout rate and problems against left-handed pitching temper enthusiasm of many observers; could be something like Adam Dunn. ETA 2018.
11) Ben Lively, RHP, Grade B-: Age 24, fourth round pick by Reds in 2013 from Central Florida, acquired in trade for Marlon Byrd; impressive season in ’16 rebounding from shaky ’15, posted 18-5 record with 2.69 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A with 139/42 K/BB in 171 innings, just 118 hits; very sharp down the stretch with 40/7 K/BB and 1.55 ERA in last seven starts; throws 90-94 fastball with average slider, curve, and change-up but very deceptive, possible fourth starter soon. ETA 2017.
12) Nick Pivetta, RHP, Grade B-: Age 23, fourth round pick in 2013 by Nationals from New Mexico Junior College, traded to Phillies for Jonathan Papelbon in ’15; posted 3.27 ERA in 149 innings between Double-A and Triple-a with 138/51 K/BB, 128 hits; plus fastball with 90-95 velocity and good movement; mixes in curve, change-up; throws a bit harder than Lively but secondary pitches and command aren’t as refined; another potential fourth starter but could also look good in bullpen. ETA late 2017.
13) Cornelius Randolph, OF, Grade B-: Age 19, first round pick in 2015 from high school in Georgia; hit .274/.355/.357 with two homers, 26 walks, 57 strikeouts in 241 at-bats in Low-A; rated as one of the top pure hitters in ’15 prep class; missed much of ’16 with shoulder injury; good feel for the strike zone but power has been unimpressive so far, granted he’s quite young; tools fit best in left which increases pressure on his bat; would rank ahead of Lively and Pivetta on pure upside. ETA 2020.
14) Kevin Gowdy, RHP, Grade B-: Age 19, second round pick in 2016 from high school in California; pitched nine innings in rookie ball with 9/2 K/BB, four runs allowed; 6-4, 170 pound right-hander with projectability, throws 89-93 currently (some reports say 94-95) with more possible; change-up needs work but has a good slider and throws strikes; key now is gaining strength, stamina. Possible number three starter eventually. ETA 2021.
15) Carlos Tocci, OF, Grade C+/B-: Still just 21 years old, hit .284/.331/.362 with 34 walks, 76 strikeouts, 13 steals in 500 at-bats in High-A; still shows excellent defense and a pretty swing, is gradually getting stronger; his skills are improving but he’s falling down most lists, combination of an improved farm system with prospect fatigue. ETA late 2019.
16) Cole Stobbe, 3B, Grade C+/B-: Age 19, third round pick in 2016 from high school in Nebraska; hit .270/.337/.405 with 14 walks, 30 strikeouts in 148 at-bats in rookie ball; shows potential for third base with above-average raw power and arm strength, shows polish with the bat for a cold-weather prep; came into pro ball as shortstop but range will fit better at third, where he should be an above-average defender. ETA 2021.
ANALYST NOTE: Spots 17-20 were selected due to proximity to majors and/or because people have asked about them. You can make the case for a bunch of other guys.
17) Joely Rodriguez, LHP, Grade C+: Age 25, took well to bullpen role after struggling as a starter, posted 2.35 ERA with 69/23 K/BB in 77 innings between High-A, Double-A, Triple-A; saw action in Phils bullpen down the stretch and could hold rule due to fastball up to 98, relies heavily on slider; not necessarily just a LOOGY if his command holds up. ETA 2017.
18) Victor Arano, RHP, Grade C+: Age 21, from Mexico, posted 2.26 ERA with 95/19 K/BB in 80 innings between High-A and Double-A with 63 hits allowed; excellent late in season with 24/4 K/BB in 17 innings in Double-A; fastball up to 94 MPH, can change speeds, throw strikes; there are guys with more physical upside in the system but Arano will be ready soon. ETA late 2017.
19) Jesmuel Valentin, INF, Grade C+: Age 22, hit .269/.341/.395 with nine homers, 50 walks, 80 strikeouts in 446 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A; switch-hitter who controls strike zone and will show some surprising power at times; solid defender at second base, though range too limited to play shortstop regularly; originally drafted by Dodgers in comp round in 2012, like Tocci he used to get more attention when the system was thinner but is still young and has made enough progress to earn spot on 40-man roster. ETA late 2017.
20) Jose Taveras, RHP, Grade C+: Age 22, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2013; posted 3.28 ERA in Low-A with 154/26 K/BB in 137 innings, 116 hits; led South Atlantic League in strikeouts (which is why I am writing him up since people ask about him); best pitches are slider and change-up, fastball is average at 88-92 MPH but plays up due to strong secondary pitches, deception ability, and control; physical upside is limited and he doesn’t have further projection at 6-4, 210, but his pitching instincts are impressive. ETA late 2019.
OTHER GRADE C+ (all have a case for spots 17-20): Drew Anderson, RHP; Mark Appel, RHP; Daniel Brito, 2B; Thomas Eshelman, RHP; Elniery Garcia, LHP; Deivi Grullon, C; Cole Irvin, LHP; Adonis Medina, RHP; Andrew Knapp, C; Jhailyn Ortiz, OF; Ricardo Pinto, RHP; Andrew Pullin, OF; Jo Jo Romero, LHP; Albert Tirado, RHP
GRADE C: Harold Arauz, RHP; Malquin Canelo, SS; Grant Dyer, RHP; Bailey Falter, LHP;
Arquimedes Gamboa, SS; Edgar Garcia, RHP; Brayan Gonzalez, SS; Jonathan Guzman, SS; Darick Hall, 1B; Mark Laird, OF; Kyle Martin, 1B; Felix Paulino, RHP; Jose Pujols, OF; Blake Quinn, RHP; Josh Stephen, OF; Ranger Suarez, LHP; Jiandido Tromp, OF; Kyle Young, LHP.
There’s a lot of C+ in this system. I will be around to answer questions this afternoon, with a particular focus on the "other C+" guys. Adonis Medina is particularly interesting due to his 97 MPH fastball; somehow he only struck out 34 guys in 65 innings in the New York-Penn League despite the fact that both his slider and change-up have plus potential.