Surprisingly, the Philadelphia Phillies will spend this offseason rebuilding.
A year ago, it seemed that the Phillies would be a shoe-in for the National League pennant, only to be sellers by the time the trade deadline came around.
Roy Halladay struggled, Cliff Lee could not buy himself a win and Jimmy Rollins found himself on the receiving end of criticism.
Despite keeping a potential top free agent off the market, by signing Cole Hamels midseason, the Phillies still have a number of needs. Unfortunately, not all of them align with their prospective talent.
Trading away Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence left their outfield rather empty and the better part of the Philly infield is either injured, unproductive or aging.
In 2013, the Phillies will try to become relevant once more. Here are five prospects that could help them make that push:
Darin Ruf joined the team as a September call-up last season, appearing in 12 games for the Phillies.
Despite being a top-ten first base prospect, Ruf saw a majority of his time in left field while with the big club.
Obviously, Ryan Howard is a difficult player to outperform at first base. However, Ruf did not give up without a fight.
In 33 at-bats, Ruf batted .333 with three home runs. This was a continuation of his minor league success, where he hit .317.
Perhaps Ruf will prove to be a viable outfielder in 2013—although he is not particularly built for it.
Ryan Howard also missed a lot of time in 2012 due to injuries. If they should persist in 2013, Ruf promises to be a strong replacement.
It is a tough fact to swallow, but Chase Utley has under-produced the past three years, predominantly due to injuries.
Utley has not played a full season since 2009 and missed nearly half the season in 2012. Over 83 games, he batted .256 this past season.
Fortunately among the minor league ranks, is a top-ten second base prospect: Cesar Hernandez.
Hernandez was promoted from Double-A Reading to Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, however, his production was expectantly better at a lower level.
He hit .304 in a season at Double-A, but just .248 in 30 games with Lehigh Valley.
In 2013, Hernandez’s potential gives the Phillies a chance to evaluate both Utley and Hernandez early on. Depending on where Utley is health-wise at the All-Star break, he could prove to be trade bait.
One of the top position players in the Philadelphia system and a top catching prospect is Tommy Joseph
However, right now Carlos Ruiz is coming off of a season where he hit .325 and had a .994 fielding percentage. Still, his season was shortened due to a foot injury.
If the Phillies are looking for value from the young Joseph immediately, he could make for a strong trading chip.
Giovanni Soto went to the Texas Rangers as part of the Ryan Dempster deal last season at the deadline, but still, I could envision a trade including Joseph for a middle infielder.
With the Rangers sitting on Jurickson Profar—the top overall prospect right now—Elvis Andrus or even Ian Kinsler could be on the way out.
Either of these players could make for a replacement to Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley.
The Phillies’ list of prospects is fairly saturated with pitchers, which is good news for a team that struggled on the mound this year.
Philadelphia’s 3.94 bullpen ERA was 21st in the major leagues in 2012.
Among those prospects includes Lisalverto Bonilla, who spent time both in the Florida State League and with the Double-A Reading Phillies. At both levels he had an ERA well-below two, which earned him a trip to the Futures Game in Kansas City.
Though currently a starter, Bonilla can come out of the bullpen.
Combine this with Phillippe Aumont, who has already spent time with the big club, and Jesse Biddle. the Phillies’ only top-100 prospect, and the future of the Phillies’ pitching staff seems solid.
Galvis caught a tough break in 2012 and infield positions could be up for grabs in 2013
He is young, but a strong Spring for Cody Asche could go a long way to starting for the Phillies this season.
With veteran Placido Polanco in free agency and rookie infielder Freddy Galvis recovering from a serious back injury, the hot corner could be an open race in Philadelphia.
Hitting .349 with two home runs in the Florida State League earned Asche a promotion to Double-A, where he continued to produce, hitting .300 with another ten home runs.
If this production continues, Asche will unquestionably find himself at the Triple-A level or better coming out of spring training next season.