Re-Ranking Philadelphia Phillies' Top 25 Prospects Post-Trade Deadline
Courtesy of MiLB.com, (Chattanooga Lookouts)
We knew that the Philadelphia Phillies weren't going to be quiet heading into the July 31 trade deadline.
After arguably the most disappointing season in all of baseball, the Phillies were positioned to be the game's most surprising sellers, and contending teams were on their most valuable players like white on rice.
In a way, however, it was surprising that the club only moved Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. Victorino was a likely candidate as a free agent at season's end with no visible future in Philadelphia. Pence was a bit more surprising, but there were rumblings, and the Phillies definitely needed to free up some space under the luxury tax.
It's surprising because of the players who didn't move. Placido Polanco's stint on the disabled list probably saved him. The Phillies discussed Joe Blanton with the Baltimore Orioles, but never moved him. Ditto for Juan Pierre and the Cincinnati Reds, which is even more surprising because the Phillies acquired a controllable, left-handed outfielder in Nate Schierholtz.
They even discussed moving Cliff Lee in a blockbuster but never did. If nothing more, the trade deadline was interesting for the Phillies.
But we're here to discuss the future. The Phillies acquired a few prospects at the trade deadline in Tommy Joseph, Ethan Martin and Seth Rosin. Each of the three will slide into the Phillies' top 25.
We'll also be updating the ranking of the prospects already in the Phillies' system, and to apply a proper trade-deadline term, I'm making "wholesale changes." Here we go.
Before we kick off the official top 25, here are some honorable mentions listed in no particular order. The are players that I feel just missed out on the top 25 and could conceivably climb into that conversation in short order:
RHP Tyler Cloyd: Love what Cloyd is doing this year in Triple-A, but let's be realistic here, he's barely a prospect. Ranking prospects isn't about current success. It's about long-term potential. Cloyd's long-term potential is as a fifth start. He doesn't make my top 25.
RHP David Buchanan: He was just average for Double-A Reading this season before undergoing season-ending surgery. He'll probably be back in the top 25 next season, but there were other prospects that I wanted to highlight.
OF Leandro Castro: Another guy that just missed the list. I like the raw tools, but I'm not convinced he's a top prospect yet.
RHP Perci Garner: Still more "potential" than "results." Becoming a problem.
RHP Austin Hyatt
RHP Kenneth Giles
LHP Ethan Stewart: Here's a guy that I like a lot. Stewart just missed the top 25.
1B/3B William Carmona: Carmona could be a sleeper. Had a great year with a fun Stony Brook University team and was tearing the cover off of the ball in the Gulf Coast League. I'm just not convinced yet. Need to see more.
SS Zachary Green: High school player that is still more "potential" than "product" right now.
OF Brian Pointer
OF Dylan Cozens: I'm higher on Cozens than most because I love his raw tools, especially the power, but he'll need time to develop before he cracks any top 25.
OF Carlos Tocci: Tocci is in the same boat as Cozens. He has a ton of potential but needs time to develop. This guy is only 16 years old, after all.
2B/OF Andrew Pullin
RHP Manaure Martinez: This guy was the best pitcher on the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team in 2012 before getting promoted to Low-A Williamsport.
1B Chris Serritella: Hard to ignore what Serritella is doing in Williamsport right now, but he's a college bat mashing low-level pitching, so I'll need to see more.
25. OF Tyson Gillies
Tyson Gillies barely made the top 25. That certainly isn't a statement that the Phillies wanted anyone to make when they acquired him from the Seattle Mariners, and Gillies certainly has the potential to turn things around.
The outfielder's best tool will always be his speed, which was probably the best in the Phillies' system before Roman Quinn arrived in 2011.
Gillies was also on the verge of seemingly putting all of his tools together in 2012 before a confrontation with a team bus driver left him suspended but, more importantly, left people wondering about his character.
Gillies is still a top prospect, but not top 20. At least in my opinion.
24. 2B Cesar Hernandez
Photo By: Tyler Sizemore, http://sizemorephoto.blogspot.com/view/classic?z
I almost wrote Cesar Hernandez off prior to the 2012 season, but he had one heck of a season in Double-A Reading that led to a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley following the trade deadline.
A solid defensive second baseman, Hernandez doesn't have much power to speak of but can be a versatile offensive player. He has good contact skills and bat speed and can make things happen with his speed on the basepaths, though he's not elite in that area by any means.
Scouts are still divided on whether or not he's actually going to be an everyday player at the MLB level, but it sure looks like Hernandez can follow a similar path as Freddy Galvis to the MLB. Play solid defense, continue to improve offensively, and make the most of an opportunity.
23. OF Jiwan James
Jiwan James. I just don't see "it."
Sure, he has plenty of tools. Drafted as a pitcher, we know that James has a great arm. Not only did Baseball America confirm that previous observation, but they also named him the best defensive outfielder in the Phillies' system, as well as the best athlete.
Few people are going to question James' ability defensively. It's the offense that people are worried about, and he hasn't shown many signs of figuring things out.
The clock is ticking on James, who currently has four years of minor league service time. That's part of the reason the Phillies were aggressive in promoting him to Double-A Reading.
But he's still not hitting for average. He's still not getting on-base enough to utilize his speed.
I just don't see James sticking as a top prospect for much longer.
22. RHP Seth Rosin
Seth Rosin is an interesting prospect.
Drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the San Francisco Giants (and acquired by the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade), Rosin was moving through the Giants' system slowly as a starter before they converted him into a reliever.
I think he has the potential to move through the Phillies' system much faster as a reliever, which eases some of the concern that he's a former college pitcher, now 23 years old and pitching in High-A.
Rosin's greatest tool? Command.
It is easy to fall in love with his incredible strikeout to walk ration this season: 68 strikeouts to just 18 walks.
He doesn't have extraordinary stuff, but I think he has a chance to develop into a useful pitcher, and quickly.
21. LHP Austin Wright
Austin Wright is the kind of pitcher that tends to fly under the radar a bit, but he won't be doing so for much longer after a very solid season in High-A Clearwater.
The walks are still a bit of a concern for Wright, but he has strikeout potential, which helps to ease that concern quite a bit.
The Phillies are still using him as a starting pitcher and should continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Of course, as a left-handed pitcher with strikeout potential, there will always be a home for him in the bullpen.
One way or another, I think Wright will eventually find his way into the MLB.
20. OF Aaron Altherr
Dave Schofield, Lakewood BlueClaws
The Phillies love to take their chances on outfielders with great "raw tools." There are a ton of them in this system, including Tyson Gillies and Jiwan James, who may be heading in the wrong direction.
One guy that may finally be heading in the right direction, however, is Aaron Altherr.
If he ever manages to put everything together, Altherr can realistically be great. He has a strong arm and good, natural instincts in the outfield. He has decent speed and may be limited to a corner outfield spot in the future but should be able to hit enough to stick there.
But that's the million-dollar question. Can he hit?
Altherr's game begins and ends with making consistent contact. When he's reaching base consistently, he has the ability to make things happen on the base paths. He'll also continue to grow into his frame and develop more power.
I'm still not sold on Altherr, but I like his chances a lot more now than I did at the beginning of the season. He's making progress and still just 21 years old.
19. RHP Adam Morgan
Adam Morgan wasn't valued highly as a prospect coming out of college, but all he's done since turning pro is throw strikes and keep his team in ball games. That's pretty much all you can ask for out of a pitcher.
He's never going to be known for an exceptional repertoire, and as a left-handed pitcher, he'll always have a shot at moving through the system. However, it's hard to ignore the work Morgan has done as a starter.
Pitching with High-A Clearwater this season, Morgan has an exceptional strikeout to walk ratio. He's punched out 133 batters this season and walked just 27!
That's the kind of success that moves you up prospect lists and through systems quickly.
18. RHP Julio Rodriguez
Julio Rodriguez's following in the Phillies' minor league system has reached near occult status, and to be frank, I still don't see why.
First and foremost, he's a right-handed pitcher. Right-handed pitchers need a good fastball to survive in the MLB, and Rodriguez's isn't even average.
Of course, the one pitch that keeps him moving is a good curveball. It's the big, looping kind that has a tendency to make hitters look silly. Without a good fastball, however, can he fool professional hitters? Can he fool them three times through a lineup? I'm not sold.
He's taken a bit of a step back at Double-A Reading this year, and personally, I'm not a huge fan of his chances of being a starter at the MLB level.
17. 1B / LF Darin Ruf
(Ralph Trout/Reading Phillies)
I'm still not convinced that Darin Ruf is a legitimate prospect, but all the man has done since joining the Phillies' organization is hit.
At 26 years old, you have to question whether or not Ruf will ever really have a shot at the MLB, but it is hard to ignore what he's done at Double-A Reading this season, posting a slash line of .302/.399/.530 with 18 home runs.
And that's not a fluke. His lowest OPS in any stop since the 2009 draft is .756. The guy has legitimate power and should continue to swing the bat well.
Now, the question is this: Where does he fit in with the Phillies? He's obviously blocked at first base by Ryan Howard.
The Phillies are going to give him a shot in left field to see if he can stick there, and early reports are that he's not exactly a great defender, but he's not terrible either.
Ruf could be a sleeper for the Phillies.
16. 3B Mitch Walding
If you ask scouts who the Phillies' current "third baseman of the future" is, most will probably tell you it's Maikel Franco, and it is hard to have any qualms about that. Franco's ceiling is as high as anyone in the Phillies' system.
If you ask me, however (and I'm certainly no scout), I would tell you it is Mitch Walding.
The Phillies had an excellent draft in 2011, and Walding was one of my favorite picks. Though he was a shortstop in high school, the Phillies moved him to third base quickly, and it wasn't hard to see why: The man can rake.
Walding has the frame and potential to develop both above-average hit and power tools. He has the arm and reaction time to play third base.
Given a full season, I wouldn't be surprised to see him crack the Phillies' top 10 by most professional accounts, but for now, I think just about cracking the top 15 is a nice surprise.
For a first-hand account of what makes Walding a special prospect, check out this excellent piece by Mike Newman of FanGraphs.
15. RHP Lisalverto Bonilla
It is kind of surprising that a pitcher can throw up numbers like Lisalverto Bonilla is doing in Double-A Reading and still move through the system so quietly, but he's certainly doing just that.
It's all about potential with Bonilla. The Phillies moved him into the bullpen full time this season, and it is paying dividends. A right-handed pitcher, Bonilla has the potential to develop three plus pitches in his fastball, slider and changeup.
Bonilla was one of the season's most pleasant surprises for the Phillies. After a dominant first half, he was named to the World roster for the Futures Game.
Of course, that eventually became one of the biggest disappointments as well. He was injured horsing around before the game and eventually had to have surgery to repair his thumb. Hopefully, that is not a sign of maturity concerns.
14. RHP Shane Watson
(LARRY GOREN…), (Philly.com)
I probably like Shane Watson a lot more than most others right now, so I'm going to go ahead and rank him before he even appears in a professional game—something that most professional scouts obviously won't do.
The thing about Watson is simple: He can step right in and easily have one of the highest ceilings of any starting pitcher in the Phillies' system.
You have to like the potential for him to develop into a top prospect fairly quickly. First and foremost, you look at his size. Watson is 6'4" and could realistically develop into a workhorse.
Then you look at his repertoire. He is turning pro already having a good feel for two pitches: his fastball and his curveball. Both could become plus pitches, if they're not already.
But most importantly in my eyes, he's aggressive. Watson is going to attack hitters, and he isn't afraid to do so by using his curveball in any count.
Given time, I think he'll be right near the top of most Phillies lists, but right now, I'm already impressed.
13. SS Roman Quinn
Roman Quinn is going to be fun to watch.
The Phillies drafted him in 2011 knowing that there was a good chance that he had the best speed in the draft, and he hasn't disappointed in his first season with Low-A Williamsport.
Coming out of the draft, he was compared heavily to Jimmy Rollins, and it isn't hard to understand why. They're both shortstops. They both have good contact and on-base skills with the potential for power. They're both switch-hitters.
Playing in the shadow of Rollins won't be easy, but it sure looks as though Quinn is up for the challenge. He's nowhere near the defender that Rollins is/was, and his future may be in center field, but it is easy to picture him at the top of the Phillies' order in the future.
12. RHP Brody Colvin
Brody Colvin is one of the most difficult prospects to rank on this list.
From a pure "potential" standpoint, he should be in the top five. That's the kind of ceiling that Colvin has. He has the pure "stuff" that scouts love, beginning with a good fastball that can sit in the mid 90s with movement. But it's not consistent.
That inconsistency of his fastball leads him struggle with his secondary offerings, a curveball and a changeup. When he's going good, it isn't hard to imagine all three of them being plus pitches, but he also struggles to repeat his delivery, which is a big problem.
Based on pure "stuff," I'd love to move Colvin up, but I just haven't seen enough of that "potential" translated into "results" to move him any higher.
He was repeating High-A Clearwater this season before the Phillies made an aggressive move and promoted him to Double-A Reading. It will be interesting to see if the pressure of competing at a higher level lights a fire under Colvin.
11. 3B Maikel Franco
(Photo by Dave Schofield, Lakewood BlueClaws)
In a way, Maikel Franco is good news and bad news for the Phillies.
The good news is that most scouts believe that he'll eventually develop into an everyday third baseman, and a good one at that.
The bad news is that it is going to take a long time for him to fully develop, and the Phillies need a third baseman yesterday.
But Franco has all of the tools to be a good third baseman in the MLB once he gets there. Just 19 years old, Franco has the frame to develop enough power to be a consistent threat at the hot corner and the athletic ability to play third base.
He hasn't been overly impressive in Single-A Lakewood this season, but scouts still love his skill set and ceiling.
10. Phillippe Aumont
This isn't so much a case of Phillippe Aumont moving down so much as a case of the Phillies adding better prospects into the system at the trade deadline.
By now, most Phillies fans know Aumont's story. Acquired in the trade that sent Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners, Aumont struggled as a starting pitcher before finding his nice in the bullpen.
Well, he's struggling to find that niche again.
It has been a rough season for the hulking, 6'7", right-handed flamethrower. He's struggled with injuries and hasn't been able to repeat his mechanics well, but that could be a simple fix.
Aumont has the potential to realistically develop three plus pitches and be an elite reliever. The fastball has always been his best pitch. The curveball, which is more of a "slurve," can be downright untouchable.
It's the third pitch that impresses me the most: the splitter. Aumont started throwing it in earnest this season and it is filthy.
He should be in the MLB soon.
9. RHP Justin De Fratus
Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
I'm putting Justin De Fratus ahead of Phillippe Aumont right now, but they're pretty much on the same level in my eyes.
My reasoning for that is simple. I like Aumont's chances at being a dominant reliever more than De Fratus'. However, I like De Fratus' chances of being consistently good better than Aumont's, something that I believe is extremely important out of a guy who throws a maximum of 70 innings a season.
Had he not been hurt in spring training, De Fratus would probably be pitching as the Phillies right-handed setup man right now.
He has a good fastball, and his slider has made incredible strides since he was drafted back in 2007.
In short, there's nothing left for him in Triple-A, and especially now that the Phillies are out of the postseason race, he'll be up soon.
8. RHP Mitch Gueller
Had I not stumbled across this "Insiders Only" piece by ESPN's Keith Law just after the 2012 draft, I probably wouldn't have ranked Mitch Gueller anywhere near this high, but as I said in my last prospects piece, I'll defer to the expert here.
In that piece, Law states that Gueller became the Phillies' third best prospect after the draft. I'm not really willing to go there right now, but we'll definitely keep him within the top 10.
Gueller is a three-pitch pitcher right now, and all three of his pitches could eventually wind up with a "plus" grade. He has good command and repeats his delivery well, and that makes his mid-90s fastball, curveball and slider all the more effective.
He's currently pitching with the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team, so it will be interesting to see how quickly he moves through the system with all of the hype.
7. RHP Ethan Martin
Photo Credit: Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press
I liked the Shane Victorino trade a lot for the Phillies, and a big part of the reason why is Ethan Martin, the right-handed pitching prospect that the Phillies acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the deal.
Martin, who was drafted in the first round back in 2008, was a high school standout. At the time, he had excellent raw "stuff" that scouts could see transitioning professionally with ease. Well, the transition hasn't been nearly as simple, and the Dodgers had tried just about everything, including a move to the bullpen.
Time for a change of scenery.
The Phillies, who lack many quality prospects in the upper tiers of their system (though that seems to be changing surprisingly quickly), are happy to have Martin.
Martin is going to give Phillippe Aumont a run for his money for the system's best curveball and he still has the good fastball that helped make him a first-round selection in '08.
His biggest problem has been his command, or lack thereof. With that being said, he'll be working with some quality catchers in the Phillies' system, including the newly acquired Tommy Joseph, so I like his chances of jumping back on the pat to the MLB.
6. RHP Jonathan Pettibone
While everyone was making a big fuss over guys like Trevor May, Brody Colvin, Jesse Biddle and Jarred Cosart as the organization's "Baby Aces" a few seasons ago, a different pitcher was putting up the most consistent numbers.
That man was, and is, Jon Pettibone.
Pettibone has pitched consistently well throughout his minor league career, and though he doesn't have the same repertoire or upside as some of the other pitchers in this system, Pettibone is moving along fastest.
He was recently promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and, at this rate, could be a realistic topic of conversation for that fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation next year once Joe Blanton walks.
5. C Sebastian Valle
Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE
There's a lot to like about Sebastian Valle.
First and foremost, the man is just naturally gifted. He has good size for a catcher and has made incredible strides defensively to stick at the position. He has gained a reputation as a catcher that pitchers like to work with, and his arm is getting consistently better.
Valle also has the potential to become one of the system's most well-rounded players, however. His plate discipline has been a huge concern this season, but few people doubt that Valle can hit.
He has the potential to develop great power for a catcher to go along with his ability to make consistent contact, but he has to learn that every at-bat doesn't need to end in a hit or a strikeout. Take a walk!
4. LF Larry Greene
MARK OLSON / MiLB
I moved Larry Greene up quite a bit from my last list and into the top five. The reason for that is simple: He's a much better hitter than people thought he would be coming out of high school.
Sure, he's got the huge raw power—the best in the Phillies' system right now. That helped him draw comparisons to Ryan Howard coming out of the draft.
What we didn't know was the type of hitter that Greene is. Is he a free-swinger? Does he have patience?
I think that Greene has answered a lot of those questions with his play. He hasn't gone up to the plate and just hacked in Low-A Williamsport, but he has shown increasingly good plate discipline. He's walked 26 times in 182 plate appearances this season and has posted an OBP of .374.
The power will continue to develop, but people questioned whether or not he'd be able to hit enough to tap into it, and I think that the answer is yes.
Ultimately, time will tell what kind of hitter Greene can become, but he's athletic enough to play left field and should be within the Phillies' top five of most prospect lists by the beginning of next season.
3. C Tommy Joseph
(Dean Hoffmeyer/Richmond Times-Disatch)
No, the Phillies didn't get nearly enough talent back from the San Francisco Giants to justify their decision to send Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Domingo Santana, and Josh Zeid to the Houston Astros for Hunter Pence in the first place, but they didn't need to.
Sure, it is easy to look at the two deals, compare them, and call the Phillies a loser in that first trade, and in a lot of ways, they are. But that's not entirely accurate either. They're two separate and completely unique trades.
Of course, trading Pence to the Giants also gave the Phillies an opportunity to add a new top positional prospect to their system in Tommy Joseph.
Joseph is a 21-year-old catcher with the ability to hit, and his skill set pushes him above Sebastian Valle. His biggest area of concern, like Valle, is plate discipline, but Joseph is definitely going to be the better hitter.
He has the ability to make consistent contact and has legitimate power. In fact, the potential in his bat has some scouts profiling him as a first baseman.
The Phillies will use him as a catcher and give him a new title: "Catcher of the Future."
2. RHP Trevor May
I'm sure this isn't where most of you expected to see Trevor May, but I'm ready to move on to a new top prospect, and that isn't a knock against May so much as the incredible development of the new No. 1. More on him in a second.
It's easy to look at May's struggles and kind of give up on him, but that would be foolish. A big part of the right-handed pitcher's struggles this season have been out of his control. First and foremost, he's playing in a bandbox in Double-A Reading. That's why his home run total has already more than doubled from last season.
But the Phillies are also putting some added pressure on May by challenging him to throw his slider more, and the results have not been promising.
When he goes back to his repertoire of comfort—fastball, curveball, changeup—the numbers will improve, but the Phillies seem intent on having him develop a fourth pitch. That will come over time.
Until then, don't be surprised to see them move May along, in spite of his struggles, when they believe he is ready mentally and mechanically, kind of in the same manner that they moved Brody Colvin.
Numbers aren't everything in the land of prospects.
1. LHP Jesse Biddle
I'm ready to call Jesse Biddle the organization's top prospects.
A lot of people were surprised when the Phillies took a local product with their first selection of the 2010 draft, but they're reaping the benefits right now.
Biddle is a stud in the making. First, you look at his frame. At just 20 years old, he's 6'4" and is billed at 220 lbs. You don't often hear a pitcher classified as a "left-handed workhorse," but Biddle certainly has that potential.
More importantly than his frame, however, you have to look at the development of the young lefty since his first professional start.
He is repeating his mechanics much more consistently, and that has led to and improvement in the area of his game that scouts have questioned the most: command/control. Despite making the jump from Single-A Lakewood to High-A Clearwater this season, Biddle has shaved about a walk per every nine innings off of his total.
But the improved command has also led to a more effective repertoire and an increase in strikeouts. He's up to just under 10 K/9 this season.
With a good fastball and a crisp, smooth and easy delivery, Biddle's secondary offerings—a curveball and a changeup—are reaping the benefits this season.
In my opinion, he's made huge leaps since the draft in 2010 and should be considered the organization's top prospect. There's a strong argument to be made that he should have gotten the call to Double-A Reading before Brody Colvin.
Again, he's still only 20 years old.