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Philadelphia Phillies Top 20 prospects for 2016

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J.P. Crawford
J.P. Crawford
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Philadelphia Phillies Top 20 prospects for 2016

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 2016 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders for the book, so order early and order often!

All of these grades are preliminary and subject to change.

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. You have to read the full comment in the book for the full analysis 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.

1) J.P. Crawford, SS, Grade A/A-: Age 21, opened season with tear in High-A, .392/.489/.443 in 79 at-bats, promoted to Double-A and hit .265/.354/.407 in 351 at-bats, continues to impress defensively, excellent strike zone judgment with gap power, should hit more homers in time. It is plausible he could do something like Francisco Lindor did last year. At worst a solid regular.

2) Nick Williams, OF, Grade B+:
Age 22, came over from Rangers in Cole Hamels deal, hit .303/.354/.491 with 17 homers, 35 walks, 97 strikeouts, 13 steals in 475 at-bats in Double-A. Has always had excellent tools but dramatic improvement in strike zone judgment and better defensive effort boosted his stock into elite territory. Still raw in some aspects but can be an impact player, will need a year in Triple-A.

3) Cornelius Randolph, OF, Grade B: Age 18, first round pick, 10th overall, last year out of high school in Georgia, hit .302/.425/.442 with 32 walks, 32 strikeouts in 172 at-bats in rookie ball. Exceptional strike zone judgment with gap power, should grow into more homers, shortstop in high school has already moved to left field. Very high upside bat, main question is long-term home run production but there are good reasons for optimism.

4) Jake Thompson, RHP, Grade B:
Age 22, came over in the Hamels deal, posted 3.73 ERA with 112/42 K/BB in 133 innings, 127 hits in Double-A, was more effective after the trade. Low-90s sinker, plus slider, but change-up went backwards last year and his general control is better than his location command. Should be a workhorse.

5) Andrew Knapp, C, Grade B:
Age 24, switch-hitter batted .308/.385/.491 with 13 homers, 35 doubles, 51 walks, 106 strikeouts in 458 at-bats between High-A and Double-A, also made progress polishing his defensive skills. Should be a decent-enough defender with high OBP, moderate power bat.

6) Roman Quinn, OF, Grade B/B-:
Age 22, hit .306/.356/.435 with 29 steals, 18 walks, 42 strikeouts in 232 at-bats in Double-A. Blazing speed, 70-80 grade, and beginning to show more pop. Strike zone judgment inconsistent and has a long track record of injuries, but upside of a multi-category regular.

7) Mark Appel, RHP, Grade B/B-
: Age 24, over from Houston in the Ken Giles trade, 4.37 ERA with 110/51 K/BB in 132 innings between Double-A/Triple-A. First-class stuff with mediocre results for no reason that people can fully explain. Reminds me a lot of Luke Hochevar, the whole not equaling the sum of the parts. Maybe change of scenery will help.

8) Jorge Alfaro, C, Grade B-: Age 22, another component of Hamels trade, hit .253/.314/.432 with nine walks, 61 strikeouts in 190 at-bats in Double-A, missing much of season with ankle injury. Extremely frustrating to watch. All-Star caliber physical tools still stand out but his feel for the game remains very unimpressive to me; he is prone to sloppy play with both bat and glove with little signs of improvement. Could still be excellent but also a considerable risk of skill washout.

9) Darnell Sweeney, INF-OF, Grade B-:
Age 25, over from Dodgers in Chase Utley deal, hit .271/.332/.409 with nine homers, 32 steals, 42 walks, 116 strikeouts in 472 at-bats in Triple-A before the trade, hit .176/.286/.353 in 85 major league at-bats. Switch-hitter with above-average speed, wiry strength, and surprising power, but doesn’t always use his tools well, particularly on the bases. Not going to hit .300 but could hit .250 with enough secondary contributions and defensive versatility to be valuable.

10) Franklyn Kilome, RHP, Grade B-:
Age 20, posted 3.28 ERA with 36/21 K/BB in 49 innings in New York-Penn League. Can hit mid/upper-90s, curveball and change-up need further work (reflected in relatively low strikeout rate) as does his command. Very high ceiling arm, could be number two starter or a power closer depending on how secondaries, durability evolve.

11) Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Grade B-:
Age 22, hit .319/.395/.518 with 36 doubles, 17 homers, 55 walks, 99 strikeouts in 498 at-bats between Low-A and High-A. Fifth round pick in 2014 out of Sacramento State, above-average power with solid pure hitting skills to match, limited to first base defensively which can be a tough profile for a right-handed hitter. Annihilates lefties, hit .380/.462/.620 against them in High-A.

12) Zach Eflin, RHP, Grade B-/C+:
Age 21, posted 3.69 ERA with 68/23 K/BB in 132 innings in Double-A. Good control, durable, but strikeout rate is quite low, low-90s fastball with good change-up, breaking ball needs more definition (likely why the K/IP is not good). I like him more than the numbers say I should but I wish he missed more bats. Watch for any spike in Ks.

13) Ben Lively, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 23, up-and-down season in Double-A, posted 4.13 ERA with 111/45 K/BB in 144 innings, 160 hits. Four average pitches thrown with deceptive delivery, dominated more often in 2014. Like Eflin, I like him more than the pure numbers justify at this point but that may be a stubborn psychological leftover from flashier performances when he was in the Reds system.

14) Thomas Eshelman, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 21, second round pick by the Astros in 2015 out of Cal State Fullerton, over to Phillies in Giles trade. Pitched just 10 innings in pro ball after long spring but college stats were pornographic: 1.58 ERA, 139/7 K/BB in 137 innings, 105 hits.
Average fastball at 88-92, average change-up, slider, curve, but command and control are truly exceptional. Fourth starter projection based on stuff but might exceed that.

15) Tyler Goeddel, OF, Grade C+: Age 23, Rule 5 pick from Tampa Bay Rays system, hit .279/.350/.433 with 12 homers, 28 steals, 48 walks, 98 strikeouts in 473 at-bats in Double-A. Good solid tools, slightly above average speed and power potential, hasn’t been a prolific producer but has made slow, steady progress. Former third baseman is now a solid defensive outfielder. Good chance to stick on the roster.

16) Ricardo Pinto, RHP, Grade C+:
Age 22, smallish right-hander (6-1, 170) has received little attention outside of Phillies circles but that will change, went 15-4, 2.97 with 105/37 K/BB in 145 innings between Low-A and High-A, throws strikes with 90-95 MPH fastball and has a very good change-up. Breaking ball needs more development, could be mid-rotation arm if that comes along, or impressive middle reliever if it doesn’t.

17) Adonis Medina, RHP, Grade C+:
Age 19, posted 2.98 ERA with 35/12 K/BB in 45 innings in rookie ball, like Pinto he’s not tall (6-0) but is built more strongly (180), can hit 93-95, both curveball and change-up have solid-average potential. Breakthrough candidate.

18) Carlos Tocci, OF, Grade C+:
Age 20, has always been very young for his levels, hit .321/.387/.423 in 234 at-bats in Low-A (his third try at that level) but just .258/.296/.313 in 275 at-bats after moving up to High-A. Fine athlete, excellent outfield glove with plus instincts, lack of power and physical strength remain major issues, youth remains main advantage. I think he is a fourth outfielder down the line but other analysts like him better. YMMV.

19) Dylan Cozens, OF, Grade C+:
Age 21, hit .282/.335/.411 with five homers, 18 steals, 26 walks, 79 strikeouts in 365 at-bats in High-A. About as different from Tocci as you can get; huge guy at 6-6, 235, hits left, massive raw power that he hasn’t fully tapped, runs well for a big guy, doesn’t have Tocci’s instincts or feel for the game but much more physical. Has made good progress improving swing and sharpening plate discipline, though more needs to be done. High upside.

20) Alberto Tirado, RHP, Grade C+:
Age 21, acquired from Blue Jays in Ben Revere trade, Phillies folks drooling over 95-98 MPH fastball and slider with tilt, posted 3.23 ERA with 61/35 K/BB in 61 innings in High-A before the trade, 0.56 ERA with 16/18 K/BB in 16 innings afterward. ERA post-trade was deceptive: his control was terrible and he got by on pure stuff and BABIP luck. Upside is a power closer but lots of work to do with command.

OTHER GRADE C+: Aaron Brown, OF; Malquin Canelo, SS; Jimmy Cordero, RHP; Scott Kingery, 2B; Jhailyn Ortiz, OF; John Richy, RHP; Lucas Williams, 3B

OTHERS OF NOTE: Alec Asher, RHP; Matt Imhof, LHP; Kyle Martin, 1B; Jose Pujols, OF; Nick Pivetta, RHP; Edubray Ramos, RHP; Daniel Stumpf, LHP; Josh Tobias, 2B; Tom Windle, LHP

I like this system; improvement has been rapid thanks to astute trades and fine work done by budget-conscious Latin American scouting department. Biggest need I think is more impact pitching although several of the lower-level arms have breakthrough potential. Crawford, Williams, Randolph is a fine set of young hitters. The organization will need time to percolate but this is a great start for the rebuilding process.