Spring training this year is providing the Philadelphia Phillies with an opportunity to view the young prospects hoping to become a part of the team, and the veterans looking to put 2012 in their rearview mirror.
However, this year’s camp doesn't just include prospects who are still a few years away from the major leagues.
Instead, several are currently in camp who could potentially end up on the Opening Day roster, earn a call-up during the season or make their case for a chance to replace an impending free agent next season.
Regardless of the situation for each prospect in camp, now is their opportunity to prove that they can hold their own with and against major league talent.
This list features 15 players who have always been considered prospects, or who used tremendous 2012 campaigns to earn the label.
Here are scouting reports for each of these Phillies’ prospects at spring training.
Cody Asche will be one of the more closely watched prospects both in spring training and in the minor leagues this season.
Asche, who will turn 23 during the season, was drafted less than two years ago in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. However, with a solid year at Triple-A, Asche could find himself succeeding Michael Young as the Phillies’ third baseman next season.
Asche has risen quickly through the minor leagues.
After playing in 68 games in the New York-Penn League in 2011, Asche advanced from High-A ball to the Double-A level last season. In the process, he improved on both sides of the ball.
After batting .349 with two home runs and 25 RBI in 62 games at High-A ball, Asche managed to bat .300 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI in 68 games at Double-A. He also made 18 errors at third base in 2012 after committing 15 errors as a second baseman in 2011.
A left-handed batter, Asche doesn’t pretend to have the type of power that teams typically wish to see from their third baseman.
He does, however, have a chance to consistently post a high batting average with his quick bat speed.
Continued improvement defensively combined with another high average season at the plate could propel Asche to the major leagues by next season.
Out of all the prospects currently in Phillies’ camp, Phillippe Aumont has some of the best chances for making the Opening Day roster.
The right-hander was one of the few bright spots, albeit in limited action, in the Phillies’ bullpen last season among players promoted during the season.
In 18 games, Aumont had 14 strikeouts, two saves and a 3.68 ERA in 14.2 innings.
The former No. 11 overall draft pick also held opponents to a .189 batting average, including a .195 average against right-handers.
It took Aumont nearly five years to earn his major league promotion, but the wait may soon pay off if he's able to stick on the big league roster.
As a 6’ 7” pitcher with a fastball in the high 90’s, Aumont is already an imposing figure on the mound and will improve if he can manage his control.
Aumont walked nine major league batters in 14.2 innings last season and 34 batters in 44.1 innings at Triple-A. This total was nine more than his minor league total in 2011.
He is a player to watch this season for two main reasons.
One, he is trying to beat out competition from the likes of Michael Stutes and Justin De Fratus to become a right-handed option out of the bullpen, as well as from Jake Diekman and Raul Valdes to earn one of the final bullpen spots.
Second, Aumont has had to get ready earlier than usual this season as he prepares to pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. As a young pitcher who has now expedited his preseason preparation, the Phillies must be careful that he does not wear down later in the season.
However, if his curveball and command improve and he maintains the velocity of his fastball, Aumont has a chance to make the Opening Day bullpen and turn into one of the Phillies best young pitchers.
Tyler Cloyd got off to a solid start in his spring training debut, recording a strikeout and five ground ball outs in two innings.
He will need to improve his performance, however, throughout spring training and in the minor leagues this season.
Cloyd used an outstanding minor league season, in which he went 15-1 with a 2.26 ERA and 113 strikeouts combined between Double-A and Triple-A to earn a late season call up.
With the Phillies, Cloyd went 2-2 with 30 strikeouts and seven walks, but also gave up 33 hits in 33 innings and had a 4.91 ERA.
Cloyd, as of now, would likely be the top candidate for filling in for a starting pitcher. However, as the season goes on, pitchers such as Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin could catch up to him should a major league roster spot become available.
The 2008 18th round draft pick does not light up radar guns, making him more of a finesse pitcher.
That doesn’t mean Cloyd will struggle in another major league stint. He may just need more time to get a feel for the major league level while working on his pitching repertoire and command to go with lesser velocity.
However, he will also need to hold off any charges made by hard throwing prospects who project to have higher ceilings, and who have consistently been ranked in the top.
Nevertheless, if Cloyd can lower his minor league ERA for a third straight season, he should still be near the top of the Phillies’ list of starting pitching call-up options.
After missing 50 games to start last season due to a suspension, Zach Collier managed to bat .269 with six home runs and 32 RBI in High-A ball.
However, these numbers and a .371 average in 19 Arizona Fall League games were enough for the Phillies to add Collier to the 40-man roster.
Collier doesn’t have much of a chance of making the Opening Day roster, but a healthy, full season at Double-A could allow him to reach the major leagues within a few seasons.
The left-handed hitting outfielder has plus speed, as he stole 35 bases in 2011, but must make good decisions on the base paths. He had also never hit more than one home run in a season prior to last year.
Collier has improved on defense and has played all three outfield positions in the minor leagues.
Collier’s future could be determined by Darin Ruf and Domonic Brown this spring.
If both players win starting jobs, Collier will be blocked at every outfield position by another young player. If neither wins a job, the Phillies could still look elsewhere for long-term options.
However, a full season with another increase in his batting average could put him on the Phillies’ radar down the road.
Justin De Fratus has a chance to spend the majority of this season in the Phillies’ bullpen for the first time in his career.
De Fratus spent nearly four months on the disabled list last season before returning to post a 2.10 ERA while walking just three batters across three minor league levels.
In total, De Fratus struck out 26 batters in 25.2 innings and held opponents to a .205 batting average.
After being called up in September, De Fratus had a 3.38 ERA with eight strikeouts and five walks in 10.2 innings with the Phillies.
The right-hander has a mid-90’s fastball to go with a slider and changeup. Both his fastball and slider are considered above-average pitches, and could help him stick at the major league level this season, if he can remain healthy.
Between his pitching repertoire and his command, De Fratus has very little left to prove at the minor league level.
Like all relievers besides Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Chad Durbin and Antonio Bastardo, De Fratus has his work cut out for him to make the Opening Day roster.
He may have to beat out fellow right-handers Phillippe Aumont and Michael Stutes to do so.
But with a 2.34 ERA over his last three minor league seasons combined, De Fratus should find himself in the major leagues at some point this season.
If not for multiple injuries and off the field incidents, Tyson Gillies may have been able to put himself in the running for an outfield spot with the Phillies by now.
Gillies, acquired in 2009 from the Seattle Mariners, has had trouble staying on the field in recent seasons.
He did, however, have the third-highest batting average among players who appeared in more than 50 games for the Phillies’ Double-A affiliate last season.
Across three minor league levels, Gillies batted .299 with 89 hits in 75 games. This includes a .304 average with 84 hits at Double-A.
Gillies, a left-handed batter, played his highest amount of games last season since 2009. He is also set to play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic.
Defensively, Gillies has few question marks and has played all three outfield positions in the minor leagues.
Gillies also has very good speed, although he must continue to improve his base running abilities.
Offensively, he has never been much of a power hitter, but has now batted .299 or higher in three of his six minor league seasons. He has also shown good plate discipline while keeping his strikeout totals in check.
There’s not much of an opportunity for Gillies on the Phillies roster as of now, but a full, healthy and productive season could change some opinions.
Cesar Hernandez is a prospect currently in camp who has a chance, with a solid minor league season, to at least enter the Phillies’ conversation, depending on Chase Utley’s contract status after the season.
Hernandez, a switch-hitting second baseman, had a solid season at Double-A before slowing down at Triple-A. At Double-A, Hernandez batted .304 with 51 RBI, but batted .248 with six RBI following his promotion.
Last year was the first time Hernandez played at two different levels in one season.
Hernandez committed 20 errors last season, his highest total in a minor league season, although his defense is not considered a liability.
What raises slightly more questions, however, is how his stolen base total has declined while the number of times he’s been caught stealing has increased in the past three seasons.
With a lack of power, having another season with an average near .300 will give Hernandez his best chances for enter the Phillies’ future plans.
The Phillies’ Rule 5 draft pick, Ender Inciarte will make for an interesting case in spring training.
Inciarte has never played above the High-A level, and is currently competing with 10 outfielders for five spots, of which nearly all are seemingly spoken for as of now.
However, since Inciarte would have to be offered back to the Arizona Diamondbacks before being sent to the minor leagues, he will be evaluated differently this spring.
Inciarte batted .307 with 145 hits and 46 stolen bases in the minors last season, while striking out 63 times and drawing 53 walks.
Inciarte has all played all three outfield positions in the minor leagues and could make for a late inning defensive replacement.
In order to make the roster, however, he will have to beat out John Mayberry, Jr., who is out of minor league options, or he needs the Phillies to send Darin Ruf to the minors.
Despite the difficulties, Inciarte still has an outside shot of making the Opening Day roster.
Tommy Joseph was one of two prospects acquired by the Phillies in late July who could soon have an impact at the major league level.
Joseph was a second round draft pick in 2009, and has already hit 49 minor league home runs since beginning his career in 2010.
The right-hander batted .257 with 11 home runs and 48 RBI for two Double-A teams last season. Although his average, as well as home run and RBI totals, dipped last season, Joseph also had his fewest amount of strikeouts and highest walk total.
He must also improve his discipline at the plate in order to improve on the .317 OBP he had last season, which was the highest of his career.
However, for as much potential as Joseph has as a power hitter at the plate, his work behind it is what could have him in the Phillies’ plans as soon as next season.
Joseph’s caught stealing percentage has increased in each of his three minor league seasons. He also was able to adapt to a new pitching staff midway through last season and have success calling games.
The Phillies will have to make some difficult decisions in regards to catchers both during and after this season.
Carlos Ruiz is currently set to hit free agency after the season, while fellow catching prospect Sebastian Valle is also on the for 40-man roster, for now. Will the Phillies offer Ruiz an extension even if Joseph will be major league ready by next season?
Regardless, Joseph has a chance to become the Phillies’ next catcher depending on how he fares in his first full season in the team’s system.
The second prospect acquired by the Phillies in late July last season who could soon make an impact at the major league level, Ethan Martin is arguably coming off his best minor league season.
Martin, a right-handed former first round draft pick, went 13-6 with a 3.48 ERA and 147 strikeouts for two Double-A teams last season. After being acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Martin went 5-0 with a 3.18 ERA for the Phillies’ Double-A affiliate.
Following a few solid-but-not-dominant minor league seasons, Martin must continue with his performances from the end of 2012 in this season.
Martin’s fastball, which can reach the high 90’s, may be what guides him to the major leagues. With the potential to have four pitches, including a slider, Martin has the tools to reach the major league level.
What could slow his progression, however, is his command. Martin’s walk total increased from 66 in 2011 to 79 last season, and was at 81 in 2010.
If Martin can continue to increase his number of strikeouts while lowering his walk total, he could wind up hitting his stride at a great time.
Three-fifths of the Phillies’ starting rotation will likely become free agents after this season. Martin could join Jonathan Pettibone and even Adam Morgan as a pitcher who, with a solid season, could enter the conversation as a rotation candidate this season or next.
Adam Morgan, after having an impressive 2012 campaign, recently started in the Phillies intrasquad scrimmage against fellow prospect Jonathan Pettibone.
The left-hander earned a promotion to Double-A last season after striking out 140 batters in High-A ball. Overall, Morgan went 8-11 with an outstanding 169 strikeouts to just 39 walks, and had a 3.35 ERA.
Since being drafted in the third round of the 2011 draft, Morgan has risen quickly through the Phillies’ system. A 2.01 ERA in the New York-Penn League in 2011 preceded a 2012 season in which he led all Phillies’ minor leaguers in strikeouts.
Morgan’s repertoire consists of a fastball that can reach as high as 94 mph, as well as a curveball, slider and changeup.
Beside continuing his progression and further developing his four pitches, which could help him turn into a front end major league starter, the only thing left for Morgan to do is remain healthy.
Although his health was not a concern last season, Morgan threw 158.2 innings across two levels. If his arm holds up, he might pitch across two levels again this season.
As a pitcher who turned 23 years old yesterday, Morgan has already seen action in a major league spring training game.
Soon, he could be seeing action as a starting rotation candidate.
Of all the Phillies’ starting pitching prospects currently in camp, Jonathan Pettibone has the best chance to reach the big leagues this season.
Although he walked batters more frequently following his promotion to Triple-A, his ERA actually improved while he held opponents to just a .204 batting average. His command should not be an issue going forward, however.
Pettibone went a combined 13-8 with 113 strikeouts and just 49 walks, and had a 3.10 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A last season.
Efficient may be a good word to describe him.
Pettibone sports a fastball that can reach the low 90’s, but is able to induce a lot of ground balls, which could further help him in the Phillies’ rotation at some point. He also an above-average changeup and slider.
A 6’6” right-hander, Pettibone has survived a number of trades in recent seasons to remain as one of the Phillies’ top prospects.
A solid season at Triple-A could put him in line for a rotation spot next season or, if Kyle Kendrick or John Lannan falter, possibly this season.
What a year Darin Ruf had.
Between beginning the season with few expecting him to reach the major leagues, to hitting 38 home runs at Double-A and to ending the season on the Phillies’ roster, Ruf’s 2012 season potentially propelled him into the 2013 Opening Day lineup.
Ruf batted .317 with 38 home runs, 104 RBI and a .408 OBP at Double-A, before collecting 11 hits, including three home runs, in 12 games with the Phillies.
At 26 years old, now is the time for Ruf to emerge as a major league player rather than playing his way back to the minors.
Ruf has big league power ,but does not bat .300 consistently. However, 30 or more home runs would make it a little easier to accept a .270 batting average. Ruf must also monitor his strikeout totals, but he also drew 65 walks last season to help raise his OBP above .400.
Offense is not a question with Ruf.
Defense, however, is a different story. Ruf has played above-average defense at first base since college, but he must now adapt to left field.
If Ruf can stay on the field and play even average defense, it should be enough to keep his above-average power in the Phillies lineup at the start of the season.
Kyle Simon was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles as part of the trade involving Jim Thome, and never made another start for the remainder of the season.
And the decision may help him reach the big leagues soon.
Simon went 2-8 with a 3.96 ERA while starting for the Orioles’ Single-A affiliate. However, following the trade, Simon went 4-0 with a 1.34 ERA between High-A ball and Double-A while pitching in relief. He also held opponents to a .171 batting average during that time.
Furthermore, he struck out 35 batters while walking just six.
Simon’s ability to induce ground balls could help him reach the Phillies’ bullpen either this season or next.
This, combined with sinking action from the 6’6” right-hander could allow him to be the next young reliever to follow in the footsteps of Phillippe Aumont, Jake Diekman and Justin De Fratus, and reach the major leagues.
There’s a good chance that Sebastian Valle could end up being the next prospect traded by the Phillies, but in the meantime he could also turn into a call-up candidate should injuries hit the team’s major league catchers.
Valle is likely behind Tommy Joseph in terms of becoming the Phillies’ next catcher, but still has a chance to reach the major leagues.
That is, if he stops swinging at everything.
In 105 games between Double-A and Triple-A last season, Valle struck out 114 times while drawing just 13 walks. His .271 OBP was a decrease from his .312 mark in 2011.
Valle has solid power, hitting 49 career minor league home runs, but his discipline at the plate must improve as he tries to maintain double-digit power numbers.
Defensively, Valle has progressed nicely, but must work on his consistency. Between Double-A and Triple-A last season, Valle had a caught stealing percentage of 26 percent.
Valle may have a chance to beat Joseph to the major leagues if Erik Kratz or Humberto Quintero suffers an injury early in the season.
After that, however, he may be a trade chip to help acquire someone during the season.