Philadelphia Phillies Top 20 Prospects for 2018
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 early March 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) Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Grade A-/B+: Age 19, pitched much of 2017 at age 18, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2015 for only $35,000; posted 3.03 ERA with 84/18 K/BB in 95 innings between Low-A and High-A, just 73 hits; fastball reported as high as 100 MPH and consistently in mid-90s, mixed with plus curveball and plus change-up, command unusually good for a young power pitcher; makeup strong; only real question is workload/durability as he moves forward; top of the rotation potential; ETA 2020.
2) Scott Kingery, 2B, Grade A-/B+: Age 23, second round pick in 2015 from University of Arizona; excellent season in high minors, combined to hit .304/.359/.530 with 26 homers, 29 steals, 41 walks, 109 strikeouts in 543 at-bats Double-A/Triple-A; home run power may be somewhat illusionary but he should hit up to 15 per season at his peak, with plenty of doubles and speed; defense is also a big positive, just six errors all year with good range and reactions around the bag; alert and active player; ready soon, should be multi-category force for years to come; ETA 2018.
3) J.P. Crawford, SS, Grade B+: Age 23, first round pick in 2013 from high school in Lakewood, California; hit .243/.351/.405 with 15 homers, 79 walks, 97 strikeouts in 474 at-bats in Triple-A, then .214/.356/.300 in 70 major league at-bats; tools fit well at shortstop and there’s little doubt he can stay there long-term; hitting can be up-and-down but at his best he has excellent strike zone judgment with flashes of power; they need to just let him play; should be a fun double play combo with Kingery; ETA 2018.
4) Adonis Medina, RHP, Grade B+/B: Age 21, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2014; posted 3.01 ERA in 120 innings in Low-A with 133/39 K/BB, 103 hits, pitching season at age 20; doesn’t have the same stuff as Sixto Sanchez but still has good stuff with 90-96 fastball, nice change-up, improving slider; throws strikes, gets grounders, command showed significant improvement in ’17 and his strikeout rate rose as well; trends are up; ETA 2020.
5) Arquimedes Gamboa, SS, Grade B: Age 20, signed out of Venezuela in 2014, played most of ’17 at age 19; hit .261/.328/.378 with six homers, 33 walks, 52 strikeouts in 307 at-bats in Low-A, very credible for his age, finished hot hitting .340 in August/September; switch-hitter with some polish, gap power, reasonable strike zone judgment and 60-grade speed; arm and range should work at shortstop, cut error rate in half last year; on course for breakout season; ETA 2021.
6) Jhailyn Ortiz, OF, Grade B: Age 19, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 for $4,000,000; hit .302/.401/.560 in the New York-Penn League with eight homers, 18 walks, 47 strikeouts in 159 at-bats; big power, some observers giving 70-grades, and showed he could hit for average as well although still must prove he can handle higher-level breaking stuff; classic right field tools with strong arm and average speed though needs more polish on throws and general defense; very high ceiling as a power hitter; ETA 2021.
7) Adam Haseley, OF, Grade B: Age 21, first round pick in 2017 from University of Virginia, hit .390/.491/.659 with 14 homers, 10 steals in 223 at-bats for Cavaliers, then .284/.357/.405 in 215 minor league at-bats between NY-P and Low-A; pure hitter with polished approach, raw power is considered just average but batting average/OBP should compensate; can handle center field, “high floor” type prospect; ETA 2020.
8) JoJo Romero, LHP, Grade B: Age 21, fourth round pick in 2016 from Yavapai Junior College, posted 2.16 ERA in 129 innings between Low-A and High-A, 128/36 K/BB, 104 hits; one of the better pitching prospects that most people haven’t heard of; fastball in low-90s plays up with power sink, mixed with cutter/slider, curveball, and change-up, throws strikes, can be a mid-rotation arm if current progress continues; ETA 2020.
9) Jorge Alfaro, C, Grade B-/B: Age 24, on the prospect radar for what seems like 20 years at this point; hit .241/.291/.358 with 16 walks, 113 strikeouts in 324 at-bats in Triple-A, which was awful, but then mashed in the majors at .318/.360/.514 in 107 at-bats, though with a poor 3/33 BB/K; scouting reports really haven’t changed much: he has serious raw power and good defensive tools but is consistently inconsistent, especially with the bat, looking like Johnny Bench one day and Bob Uecker the next; I’m rooting for him to succeed if only because I have given up trying to predict what he will do and want him to graduate off the list; ETA 2018.
10) Franklyn Kilome, RHP, Grade B- Age 22, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2013, posted 2.83 ERA with 103/52 K/BB in 127 innings between High-A and Double-A, 121 hits; throws very hard, up to 98, mixing in an inconsistent curveball (which is sometimes very good) and change-up; strikeout rate should be higher given how hard he throws, indicator of need to improve secondaries; might end up in bullpen; high-ceiling no question; ETA 2020.
11) Enyel De Los Santos, RHP, Grade B-: Age 22, from the Dominican Republic, traded from the San Diego Padres to the Phillies for Freddy Galvis in December 2017; posted 3.78 ERA in Double-A with 138/48 K/BB, 131 hits; another hard-thrower with mid-90s fastball, throws strikes, curveball and change-up both have moments but often not in the same game; I think he’s a bit more likely to remain a starter than the similar (but taller) Franklyn Kilome but other observers like Kilome a little better; ETA 2020.
12) Roman Quinn, OF, Grade B-/C+: Age 24, second round pick in 2011 out of high school in Florida; hit .274/.344/.389 with 10 steals, 18 walks, 49 strikeouts in 175 at-bats in Triple-A until going down with elbow injury; just as frustrating as Alfaro for entirely different reasons; Quinn’s skills are clear: outstanding speed, some on-base ability, sometimes more pop than you’d expect, and superior defensive skills; he also has a medical record out of a horror movie; grade is optimistic, but my instinct says to stick with him one more year; putting him ahead of Moniak seems weird but we know that Quinn can contribute in the majors if healthy, whereas that is very much an open question with Moniak; ETA 2018.
13) Mickey Moniak, OF, Grade B-/C+: Age 19, first round pick in 2016, first overall, from high school in Carlsbad, California; hit .236/.284/.341 with 28 walks, 109 strikeouts in 466 at-bats in Low-A, 11 steals; hit pretty well in April (.284/.344/.370) and May (.276/.324/.449) but began to slump in June and never recovered, hit .201/.237/.288 in second half; reports from early in the year were positive but buzz turned more negative as the slump deepened; more disturbing than slash line is poor BB/K/PA ratio combined with reports of severe difficulty against off-speed pitches; to be completely honest, if not for draft status he’d be a Grade C/C+ guy, someone with some tools and youth who was overmatched and really should have been sent back to the NY-P in July; ETA 2022.
14) Cornelius Randolph, OF, Grade B-/C+: Age 20, first round pick in 2015 from high school in Georgia; hit .250/.338/.402 with 55 walks, 125 strikeouts, 13 homers in High-A; boosted power despite moving up to larger parks in Florida State League; patient, bat not as polished as advertised when drafted but he is still quite young; limited to left field so he has to grow more with the bat; doesn’t have Moniak’s athleticism but you can make a solid case to rate Randolph ahead; they have the same grade so are in the same tier for me; ETA 2021.
15) Ranger Suarez, LHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 22, signed out of Venezuela in 2012, posted 2.27 ERA with 128/35 K/BB in 123 innings between Low-A and High-A; persistent strike-thrower with 89-94 MPH sinker, mixed with average slider and plus change-up; need to see him in Double-A but has the makings of a fine mid-rotation starter especially if he can add a bit more bite to the breaking ball; ETA 2020.
16) Francisco Morales, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 18, signed out of Venezuela in 2016, made pro debut in Gulf Coast League and posted 3.05 ERA, 44/20 K/BB in 41 innings, 34 hits; 90-96 sinker that may add another tick as he gets older; slider and change-up are solid for his age and we should see his strikeout rate rise as they sharpen up; might be the best pitching prospect in the system two years from now; ETA 2022.
17) Seranthony Dominguez, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Age 23, Dominican right-hander signed in 2011; posted 3.72 ERA with 82/34 K/BB in 68 innings; missed a few weeks with neck/shoulder strain but finished the season healthy; another hard-thrower, 93-96 with some higher reports; has a curve and change-up, needs to improve command, inconsistent but promising, may wind up in bullpen; I think the Phillies are cloning these guys; ETA 2020.
18) Jose Taveras, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Age 24, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012; posted 2.22 ERA with 140/39 K/BB in 154 innings between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, 122 hits; despite excellent stats scouts are not in love with him, pointing to fastball that, while it can hit 94, is more commonly around 90; slider and change-up draw average grades but he throws strikes; has to be sharp to succeed and while it didn’t hurt his ERA, there was a spike in his walk rate in Triple-A, a caution flag; fourth starter type but will probably have a better career than some of the harder throwers ahead of him; ETA 2018.
19) Tom Eshelman, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Age 23, second round pick by Houston Astros in 2015 from Cal State Fullerton, traded to Phillies in Ken Giles transaction; posted 2.40 ERA in 150 innings between Double-A and Triple-A with 102/18 K/BB, 128 hits; similar to Taveras except he doesn’t throw as hard, topping out around 92 and often in upper 80s, has curve and change, both average; succeeds because his control is even better than Taveras and he never gives in; another fourth starter type; ETA 2018.
20) Kyle Young, LHP, Grade C+: Age 20, 22nd round pick in 2016 from high school in Long Island, New York; posted 2.77 ERA with 72/15 K/BB in 65 innings, 58 hits in New York-Penn League; tall and skinny, listed 6-10, 205 and some say he’s taller than that; mechanics are very consistent for his age leading to plus command/control; fastball 87-89, may pick up as he fills out; both slider and change-up are mediocre but he’s intimidating and deceptive enough to overmatch the NY-P since he can throw strikes; long way off but interesting; ETA 2022.
OTHER GRADE C+: Eliezer Alvarez, 2B; Drew Anderson, RHP; Victor Arano, RHP; Harold Arauz, RHP; Trevor Bettencourt, RHP; Daniel Brito, 2B; Dylan Cozens, OF; Bailey Falter, LHP; Nick Fanti, LHP; Colby Fitch, C; Edgar Garcia, RHP; Julian Garcia, RHP; Luis Garcia, SS; Jose Gomez, INF; Brayan Gonzalez, SS; Kevin Gowdy, RHP; Deivi Grullon, C; Darick Hall, 1B; J.D. Hammer, RHP; Spencer Howard, RHP; Cole Irvin, LHP; Luke Leftwich, RHP; Mauricio Llovera, RHP; Jhordany Mezquita, LHP; McKenzie Mills, LHP; Alejandro Requena, RHP; Yacksel Rios, RHP; Connor Seabold, RHP; Mitch Walding, 3B; Jesmuel Valentin, 2B
OTHERS OF NOTE: Connor Brogdon, RHP, Edgar Cabral, C; Zack Coppola, OF; Zac Curtis, LHP; Elniery Garcia, LHP; Dalton Guthrie, SS; Abrahan Gutierrez, C; Jonathan Guzman, SS; Will Hibbs, RHP; Jake Holmes, SS; Brandon Leibrandt, LHP; Ethan Lindow, LHP; Kyle Martin, 1B; Nick Maton, INF; Simon Muzziotti, OF; Ben Pelletier, OF; Ricardo Pinto, RHP; Jose Pujols, OF; Andrew Pullin, OF; Lenin Rodriguez, C; Jake Scheiner, 2B; Manuel Silva, LHP; Cole Stobbe, 3B; Alberto Tirado, RHP; Tyler Viza, RHP; Jacob Waguespack, RHP
This is a very deep farm system with a nice balance between hitting and pitching and a deep group of C+ prospects who would be in a Top 20 for most systems.
There are several grading/placement conundrums here:
Roman Quinn (can he stay healthy?)
Jorge Alfaro (who could be outstanding or terrible or both on any given day)
Mickey Moniak (who ranked everywhere from sixth through 20th on various versions of this list).
You also have the big batch of hard-throwers from Latin America. Who ends up in the bullpen?
There’s also Kingery, who I am very confident in as a major league regular, vs. Sanchez, who could turn into a star pitcher but is also *a pitcher* and could evaporate due to injury at any time. Both spent time ranked at number one as I worked through the list. I eventually picked Sanchez, which means that the correct answer will be J.P. Crawford.
I could have spent another week trying to get a handle on it but at some point you have to publish.
There’s certainly a lot to discuss in the comments. I’ll be around.