Philadelphia Phillies: Predicting ETA of Top 25 Prospects to MLB

Greg Pinto@@Greg_PintoCorrespondent IMay 9, 2012

Philadelphia Phillies: Predicting ETA of Top 25 Prospects to MLB

0 of 25

    Even after struggling through the first month of 2012, things are going pretty well for the Philadelphia Phillies right now. After all, it wasn't all too long ago that the Phillies were an annual last-place club, stuck in the cellar for what seemed like an eternity.

    It was during that time period when prospect watching became somewhat of a hobby for diehard Phillies fans. When the product on the field at the MLB level was garbage, fans craved updates on the farm system. They wanted to know which players they could invest their hopes in for the future.

    Fans yearned for the day when slick-fielding, sweet-swinging second baseman Chase Utley would play in the MLB. They wanted to see the left-handed starter with the filthy changeup—Cole Hamels—or the massive first baseman with incredible power that unseated Jim Thome—Ryan Howard.

    Things are a bit different in today's game. Scouting has become a science, and the Phillies don't have many blue-chip prospects. However, there are certainly some reinforcements on the way for this club. Let's take a look at some of the Phillies' top prospects and just when they could be playing in the MLB.

Tyler Cloyd

1 of 25

    ETA: 2013 or sooner.

    Tyler Cloyd doesn't have the highest ceiling for a pitching prospect in this system, but he is a versatile right-handed pitcher moving through the system quickly and there is certainly a role for that kind of guy on any club.

    Cloyd has pitched as a starter this year in both Triple-A and Double-A and has been extremely successful at both spots.

    Though I doubt the Phillies will have a role for him in the rotation any time soon, it would not shock me to see him get the call in the event of a future injury or even in a relief role, should the situation dictate it.

Cesar Hernandez

2 of 25

    ETA: 2014 or later.

    With Chase Utley's future up in the air and Freddy Galvis' natural position at shortstop, the Phillies would love for something to click for Cesar Hernandez. It is certainly promising that he is off to one of the best starts of his career at the highest level he has played.

    Hernandez is at Double-A this season where he has posted an OPS of .814 with 12 extra-base hits—none of them home runs.

    He definitely has gap power and good speed, and watching him paired with Galvis in the middle infield would be nothing short of spectacular on the defensive side of the ball.

Aaron Altherr

3 of 25

    ETA: 2016 or later.

    Aaron Altherr's start to his professional season is probably best described as "crawling on one leg through molasses," but he is starting to put things together in Lakewood this season.

    A very talented athlete that needs to learn how to play professional baseball, Altherr still has a long road ahead of him. He definitely has the tools to be a great outfielder, but he hasn't shown that potential just yet.

    He's in his second season in the South Atlantic League and has yet to post an OPS of .800, which is the reason I'm a bit skeptical to the notion he could make his MLB debut before 2016.

Harold Garcia

4 of 25

    ETA: 2015 or later.

    Harold Garcia is a tough guy to estimate a time frame for because he has been dealing with so many injuries over the last couple of seasons.

    After returning from a torn ACL that forced him to miss most of the 2011 season, Garcia suffered a knee injury during spring training that required microfracture surgery that will put him on the shelf for four to six months.

    Those are just the big ones.

    Garcia is a very talented infielder that would have been much closer to the MLB had he not been so prone to injury, but now, when his debut will be is anyone's guess.

David Buchanan

5 of 25

    ETA: 2014 or later.

    David Buchanan is making a name for himself as one of the Phillies' under-the-radar prospects, which also makes it tough to get a read on just how close he is to the MLB. 

    He certainly has his work cut out for him. Most right-handed pitchers who don't throw exceptionally hard do. However, he has moved through the Phillies' system fairly quickly thus far and could continue to do so with some success.

    He's at Double-A Reading this season season, and if you take him for what he is—a solid back of the rotation starter—he could be in the MLB, under the right circumstances, in a couple of seasons.

Mitchell Walding

6 of 25

    ETA: 2016 or later.

    Drafted out of high school in 2011 and just 19 years old this season, Mitchell Walding is definitely a couple of years away, but he is the type of player that has the potential to move through the system fairly quickly.

    Walding is an excellent athlete that a lot of scouts believe has the tools to play shortstop at the MLB level, but he also has the frame to develop into a good power hitter and skill to play third base, giving the Phillies plenty of options.

Tyler Greene

7 of 25

    ETA: 2016 or later.

    Tyler Greene is a guy that is going to be compared to Mitchell Walding as long as the two are in the Phillies' system together because they are very similar players.

    Greene was also drafted in 2011 and is also 19 years old. He has a frame that will allow him to develop power, but the natural tools and ability to play shortstop—if the Phillies decide that is the path for him.

Austin Hyatt

8 of 25

    ETA: 2013 or sooner.

    Austin Hyatt has been impressing all the right people lately. He made the jump to Triple-A this season and has been impressive for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, posting a 2-2 record and a 3.09 ERA.

    He is a right-handed pitcher with a wicked changeup that is derived from nearly perfect arm speed off of his fastball; he is definitely tough against right-handed hitters, but he has the ability to get lefties out as well.

    The Phillies have worked him as a starter throughout his professional career and he could be called on to make a spot start if the club needs it, but he also has the repertoire to be an effective reliever, should that option be put on the table.

Lisalverto Bonilla

9 of 25

    ETA: 2014 or sooner.

    Lisalverto Bonilla has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen this season and the role seems to fit him exceptionally well.

    He started the year in High-A Clearwater and came out of the gates on fire, pitching in 10 games for the Threshers and surrendering just two earned runs before the Phillies promoted him to Double-A Reading, where he has pitched in two games and has yet to surrender a run.

    A move to the bullpen makes Bonilla's path to the MLB a lot shorter. If he shows that he can be an effective reliever in Double-A this season and Triple-A next season, it would not stun me to see him in the conversation for the MLB by 2014 or so.

Perci Garner

10 of 25

    ETA: 2015 or later.

    After dealing with injuries over the last couple of seasons, the ultimate goal for Perci Garner is to stay healthy. With that in mind, however, at 23 years old, he is a little old for High-A Clearwater, despite being in just his third big league season.

    He's pitching as a starter for the Threshers right now and has been average through his first five starts. Should the Phillies deem it necessary, Garner certainly has the repertoire to move into the bullpen, but like him as a starter.

    If I were a betting man, I'd put money on the "...or later" for Garner's estimated time of arrival.

Austin Wright

11 of 25

    ETA: 2015 or sooner.

    Of those players drafted in 2011 by the Phillies, Austin Wright could have one of the fastest paths to the MLB.

    He's a big, polished college left-handed pitcher that needed to spend very little time in the lowest levels of the system before moving up to High-A Clearwater for the 2012 season. Moreover, he's pitched very well there, logging 35 innings to post a 4-0 record with a 3.34 ERA and 43 strikeouts.

    Wright has the potential to move through the system quickly for the simple fact that at 22 years old, he has less developing to do than some of the other players in the system.

    Truth be told, if he is able to keep up this pace, his biggest impediment to the MLB may be the Phillies' roster.

Roman Quinn

12 of 25

    ETA: 2017 or later.

    Roman Quinn has a ton of potential, but it is going to take a long time for the Phillies to shape that potential into MLB results.

    First and foremost, he's still a young player. The Phillies drafted him out of high school last season and Quinn is just 18 years old.

    He is incredibly fast, and a lot of scouts believe that he may have been the fastest player in the 2011 draft. Quinn has a line-drive approach at the plate and can play multiple positions, but he will definitely spend at least five seasons in the minors to prepare for his big league career.

Michael Schwimer

13 of 25

    ETA: 2012

    Mike Schwimer is pitching sporadically enough to keep his prospect status, but the guy pitching with the Phillies right now doesn't seem like the same tall, right-handed reliever that was making waves in the farm system.

    Schwimer has struggled with his control at the MLB level and has been highly ineffective for the Phillies this season. He'll need to straighten things out if he wants to stick around, let alone live up to his potential in the bullpen.

Julio Rodriguez

14 of 25

    ETA: 2014 or later.

    A lot of people like Julio Rodriguez.

    Outside of the Phillies' organization, he is a very under-the-radar prospect. He doesn't throw hard and relies on a big, looping curveball to fool hitters, leading some to wonder whether or not he would be able to succeed in Double-A Reading.

    So far so good.

    Rodriguez isn't off to the hottest start of his career, but he is pitching well. The right-handed starter has posted a record of 2-0 with an ERA of 3.24 in five starts.

    As far as his ETA is concerned, that is difficult to project. If he advances through Reading quickly and moves up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley fairly quickly, he could presumably be ready for the 2014 season, but that is the earliest you will see him, and I'd bet on the "or later" with "J-Rod."

Larry Greene Jr.

15 of 25

    ETA: 2017 or later.

    Larry Greene Jr. has tremendous potential.

    The Phillies selected him in the supplemental round of the 2011 draft for one reason—his power. Coming out of a Georgia high school, scouts raved about Greene's tremendous power potential. At just 19 years old, he is already billed at 6' and 235 lbs and still has plenty of room to develop even more power.

    Scouts believe that he can develop into a Ryan Howard type hitter if all goes well, and the Phillies would be thrilled to see that happen.

    Of course, the rest of his game needs a lot of work. He comes into the system as a left fielder, and while he seems to be athletic enough to remain there, a lot of people believe he will wind up being a first baseman, and his game needs work at both positions.

    He'll need to learn the nuances of the game on the fly, but his power should be in the MLB some day.

Maikel Franco

16 of 25

    ETA: 2015 or later.

    Maikel Franco came out of nowhere to give the Phillies something they've been dreaming of for a long time—a legitimate third base prospect.

    Franco's potential is certainly limited, but scouts believe that he can be a solid third baseman at the MLB level. He has the tools to stick at third base (though some question his athleticism) and is continuing to develop power at the plate.

    He began the 2012 season with Single-A Lakewood and has already matched his home run total from a season ago with three.

    At 6'1" and just 180 lbs right now, he has room to develop into a stronger hitter, and scouts like his approach enough to move him into the Phillies' top 10 prospects list this season.

Jiwan James

17 of 25

    ETA: 2015 or later.

    Jiwan James is nothing short of a project, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    The Phillies drafted him out of high school as a pitcher, which gave them plenty of time to move him into the outfielder when they learned that he just wasn't going to cut it on the mound.

    Having that pitching background makes him a tremendous defensive outfielder, however. He is athletic enough to play center field and has the baseball instinct to make that athleticism play out in the MLB. He has an incredible arm that rates as one of his best tools.

    So far, it has been his approach at the plate that is holding him back. He has tremendous speed on the base paths, but getting on base has been a serious problem.

    James made the jump to Double-A Reading this season and showed some of his potential after a hot start, but cooled off in recent weeks to drop his batting average to .220 and his on-base percentage to .260.

    He's going to be a project, and if the Phillies want the best of him, it is going to take time.

Brody Colvin

18 of 25

    ETA: 2015 or later.

    Brody Colvin is fading fast.

    Once upon a time, scouts believed that Colvin had the potential to develop into the best pitching prospect in this system. He's been going the other way in recent seasons, however, as character concerns and the injury bug have other pitching prospects flying ahead of him.

    Now 21 years old, Colvin is pitching his season season in High-A Clearwater after struggling on the mound last season, while the rest of the "Baby Aces" have made the jump to Double-A Reading.

    He has the potential to pitch in the MLB, but just isn't all that close right now.

Justin De Fratus

19 of 25

    ETA: 2012

    Had it not been for an elbow injury suffered during spring workouts, Justin De Fratus would probably be pitching in the MLB right now.

    The right-handed reliever is current rehabbing his sore elbow and his return is uncertain, but when he is ready to take the mound, he probably won't spend much time at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

    De Fratus proved last season that there is nothing left for him in the minors, and as soon as he is finished rehabbing, the Phillies should add him to the MLB roster to bolster their bullpen.

Freddy Galvis

20 of 25

    ETA: 2012

    Freddy Galvis is a prime example of why predicting the arrival of top prospects can be a challenge.

    If you forget about the present for a moment and look back at last season, Galvis was a 21-year-old, slick fielding shortstop that played at two levels of the system and was barely holding his head above water at the plate, batting .298 at Triple-A, but posting an OPS of .678.

    He needed more minor league seasoning. 

    However, the Phillies needed him more at the MLB level, so they added Galvis—though he needed work at the plate—to the 25-man roster, moved him to second base and watched him struggle at the plate.

    Looking at him last season, I would have assumed Galvis was still a couple of years away. So it is a challenge with some of these players.

Phillippe Aumont

21 of 25

    ETA: 2012

    Phillippe Aumont is another guy that should be pitching in the MLB this season, even if it is as nothing more than a September call-up later this year, but he should be much more than that.

    Aumont has gotten off to a slow start this season and has dealt with an injury, but his biggest worry has been his command, as it has been inconsistent throughout his professional career. 

    Once he gets going—and he will certainly get going—Aumont's stuff is electric. He packs an explosive fastball and a dynamite "slurve" that leaves hitters looking silly. He can help the Phillies' bullpen this season.

Jonathan Pettibone

22 of 25

    ETA: 2015 or later.

    Jonathan Pettibone is an interesting prospect. He doesn't throw overly hard and doesn't have the same kind of "stuff" as some of the Phillies' other top pitching prospects, but he has had the same type of success that warranted a move to Double-A Reading this season.

    The jump hasn't been very smooth for Pettibone, however. The right-handed starter is struggling right now, having posted a 1-3 record with a 4.78 ERA, walking 13 batters. He has already allowed 45 hits this season.

    He's a very project-able type of pitcher, so as long as he straightens himself out, he should be in the conversation for the MLB in a couple of seasons.

Sebastian Valle

23 of 25

    ETA: 2015 or sooner.

    Sebastian Valle is the Phillies' top positional prospect and he still has a lot of work to do, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Valle has progressed through the system with the Phillies' slew of top pitching prospects and has handled them well, and that is by design. The organization expects him to break into the MLB with them having handled them for years.

    The Phillies' will pick up Carlos Ruiz's contract option for the 2013 season, but "Chooch" will be 34 years old next season and a lot of people are in Valle's corner. He has power potential and the skill to contribute at the plate and call a good game.

    The question has always been whether or not he can put it all together, and this season at Double-A Reading will be a big test for Valle.

Jesse Biddle

24 of 25

    ETA: 2016 or later.

    If there has been a cause for concern in Phillies' prospect land this season, it has been the poor performance from left-handed starter Jesse Biddle.

    A former first-round pick, Biddle has posted a record of 1-2 with an ERA of 4.94, but his peripheral stats suggest that he has pitched at least a little bit better than that. In 23.2 innings, he has only walked 11 batters and punched out 25, surrendering just 13 earned runs.

    The most surprising statistic may be the hits category, where he has already given up 25. He's a power lefty with a good fastball, but the development of his secondary pitches may be the reason that he has struggled early on.

    He was also hit on the back of a hand with a line drive earlier this season, but made his next scheduled start.

Trevor May

25 of 25

    ETA: 2013 (...or sooner?)

    Trevor May has elevated his game to another level this season.

    He's a big guy at 6'5" and 205 lbs, and that helped him develop into a strikeout machine at High-A Clearwater last season. After the jump to Double-A Reading in 2012, he has picked up right where he left off.

    So far, May has posted a record if 5-1 with an ERA of 3.09. He's struck out 40 batters and walked just 12, and his numbers are skewed a bit by one poor start—his latest against the Erie Seawolves, where he walked four batters, allowed four earned runs and was saddled with the loss.

    Regardless of that last start, May has been tremendous this season, and with the Phillies' gigantic payroll at the MLB level and possibly two positions in the starting rotation opening up next season, I would be surprised if May was not in their plans.

    It wouldn't surprise me—so long as he continues to pitch effectively—to see the Phillies move him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley at some point during the season to see what he can do there and have him compete for a spot in the rotation in 2013.