Ranking Each Phillies Prospect's Performance in Spring Training
With a lot of aging veterans locked into positions for the upcoming season, the odds of any prospect in camp with the Philadelphia Phillies this spring actually making the Opening Day roster were incredibly small from the get-go, but they certainly had the opportunity to leave an impression, be it good or bad.
The Phillies wanted to have a firsthand look at some of their prospects this spring. This is a club that could have a lot of turnover on their roster in the next couple of seasons, so perhaps it is more accurate to say that they needed to take a good look at some of the players in their organization.
In that light, the Phillies brought a few noticeable names to camp this spring. They brought in a few positional prospects that could be playing everyday at the major league level as soon as next season. They brought in candidates for the starting rotation and the bullpen.
So how did they do?
Even without a legitimate shot to crack the roster, these prospects had the opportunity to make the right impression moving forward. The following slideshow will rank their performances this spring in the opportunities that they were given.
For the sake of this list, all players with rookie eligibility will be included. This means that any player with less than 45 service days on the active roster is eligible. A player must not have more than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched.
So, without further ado, the rankings.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
19. Tyler Cloyd
Called on towards the end of last season to replace an injured Vance Worley, Tyler Cloyd was among those considered to be in the running for the Phillies' fifth starter role before the club signed John Lannan to round out of the starting rotation.
Cloyd, 25, didn't do much to help his cause this spring. He made three appearances for the Phillies this spring, tossing five innings. He was tagged for six earned runs on seven hits, including a home run. Cloyd also walked as many batters (two) as he struck out.
The Phillies had seen enough early on. He was reassigned to minor league camp and will likely open the season in the starting rotation at Triple-A, where he could be an option for the Phillies in the event of an injury.
18. Zach Collier
The Phillies don't mind taking time time to develop a baseball player. Their love of drafting great athletes with incredible potential and raw tools has become well noted and led them to draft Zach Collier out of high school with the 34th overall pick in 2008.
Once his professional career was underway, Collier got off to a slow start and for a while, it seemed as though he would never recover. There were more than a handful of people ready to give up on him following a 50-game suspension for the use of Adderall in 2011.
But Collier worked through the suspension and finally showed signs of life in 2012. The Phillies saw flashes of the promise that made him their top selection in 2008, and they added him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, which also guaranteed him an invite to major league camp this spring.
With a chance to impress the coaching staff, Collier spun his wheels. He went hitless in limited playing time, striking out in four of his seven at-bats this spring.
There will be a lot of pressure on Collier this season. He'll need to prove that he made legitimate progress last year and is continuing to move forward.
17. J.C. Ramirez
It's easy to get the feeling that time is running out for right-handed pitcher J.C. Ramirez, who did nothing to help his cause in big league camp this spring.
Ramirez, 24, was acquired by the Phillies from the Seattle Mariners in the deal that sent Cliff Lee west. Ever since the trade, he has been on a slow, but gradual descent in the Phillies' system.
After being outrighted off of the 40-man roster over the offseason, Ramirez was invited back to camp as a non-roster invitee. He logged 2.2 innings, allowing three earned runs on three hits while walking and striking out two.
Ramirez has already been reassigned to minor league camp. After making 29 appearances for Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season, it is likely he rejoins that bullpen to begin 2013.
16. Sebastian Valle
Sebastian Valle hasn't had the greatest of springs.
In Phillies' camp, he has clearly been passed over on the depth chart by fellow catching prospect Tommy Joseph, who received considerably more playing time both in Valle's absence and while he was in camp.
That absence is in reference to Valle's time in the World Baseball Classic, where he and the rest of Team Mexico were bounced from the tournament early and involved in a huge brawl with Team Canada.
Valle, Mexico's catcher at the time of the scrap, played quite a role in the brawl, as Phillippe Aumont would later call him out (in a since-deleted tweet) for swinging at members of the Canadian squad with his catcher's mask, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.
A strong WBC would have done wonders for Valle because he didn't see much playing time in Phillies camp at all. He received just one plate appearance and struck out.
15. Tyson Gillies
When Tyson Gillies was on the field last season, he was excellent. Then again, keeping Gillies on the field has always been the biggest concern for the Phillies.
Gillies, who hit .304/.369 /.453 at Double-A Reading last season, finally showed a flash of the potential that the Phillies saw when they acquired him in the infamous Cliff Lee deal. Once again, however, Gillies failed to play a full season, logging just 68 games.
But the Phillies are obviously enamored with Gillies' potential. Had they come up short in their search for a center fielder over the offseason, he may have even been in the mix. Either way, this spring was going to be monumental for Gillies.
Though he only appeared in five games for the Phillies, Gillies didn't play well. He went 1-for-9 with five strikeouts and certainly did not help himself with a poor showing for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic.
Already optioned to minor league camp, he could open the season as the starting center fielder for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
14. Mauricio Robles
Claimed off of waivers by the Phillies from the Seattle Mariners over the offseason, Mauricio Robles isn't much of a prospect anymore, although he has yet to make his MLB debut.
He arrived to camp this spring with an opportunity to compete for a spot in the bullpen, but didn't do much to separate himself from the rest of the crowd.
Robles tossed just one inning for the Phillies, retiring all three of the batters he faced before being reassigned to minor league camp shortly thereafter.
He is likely ticketed for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley bullpen to start the season.
13. Kyle Simon
After pitching as a starter in the Baltimore Orioles' system, the first thing that the Phillies did after acquiring Kyle Simon in the Jim Thome trade was to convert him into a reliever.
It seems as though his new club made the right decision, as Simon has been nothing short of dominant since joining the Phillies. After a brief stint with High-A Clearwater, the Phillies promoted him to Double-A Reading, where he was also very good.
This spring, Simon logged just three innings. He allowed two earned runs on two hits, including a home run. He also struck out and walked three batters apiece before being reassigned to minor league camp.
Simon, 22, is a prospect to watch in this system. He generally isn't ranked very high on prospect lists, but he does have the potential to rise through the system quickly and should eventually help the major league bullpen.
12. Justin Friend
Justin Friend earned a spot in major league camp this spring with a dominant performance in the minors last season, especially at Double-A Reading, where he saved 24 games and posted an ERA of 0.23 over 39.2 innings, earning a brief promotion to Triple-A.
Friend, 26, is not as highly regarded as some of the other young relievers in this system, but some believe that he is a late bloomer that could help out of the bullpen.
He made just two appearances this spring, allowing one hit, one earned run and striking out two. He'll likely open the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley's bullpen.
11. Ethan Martin
The Phillies acquired Ethan Martin from the Los Angeles Dodgers at last summer's trade deadline in the deal that sent Shane Victorino west, and the right-handed starter has been excellent for his new club ever since.
After going 5-0 with a 3.18 ERA at Double-A Reading following the trade, MLB.com included Martin in their ranking of the 100 best prospects in all of baseball, coming in at No. 80. The Phillies added him to the 40-man roster at the beginning of the offseason, bringing him to major league camp this spring.
Martin didn't pitch much for the Phillies once the Grapefruit League schedule was underway. He tossed just two scoreless innings this spring before being reassigned to minor league camp.
He is a candidate to join the starting rotation in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but could also return to Reading.
10. Steven Lerud
Steven Lerud isn't a "prospect." He is a 28-year-old minor league catcher that just so happens to fit the requirements for inclusion on this list, and because there is a chance you could be seeing him in the month of April, I decided to add him.
Lerud made his MLB debut last season when the Phillies really plunged into their catching depth with both Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider on the disabled list. He temporarily served as Erik Kratz's backup as the club's catching corps healed.
With Ruiz suspended for the first 25 games of the season, the Phillies are going to need a backup catcher. Humberto Quintero has been the favorite through most of the spring, but according to CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury, Lerud is still in the running for the job.
The catcher is just 3-for-14 at the plate this spring, with two of those hits for extra bases (a double and a home run), and he has also walked three times, striking out just once.
9. Darin Ruf
Of all of the names on this list, the one that the Phillies needed to step up and have a good spring in the worst way is Darin Ruf. He has the skill set to be the right-handed power bat this club needs in the middle of the order.
Granted, there isn't a name on this list that has fallen harder, either.
Placing Ruf on this list was difficult. Yes, he has struggled quite a bit, but his sample size is also much larger than most of the players on this list.
Ruf, who is trying to learn how to play left field on the fly, looks like a bull in a china shop trying to play the outfield. To make matters worse, his struggles have carried over to the plate, where he is 12-for-53 with six doubles, a home run and 12 strikeouts.
It has been a poor spring for Ruf, but where he begins the regular season is still very much up in the air. While he could remain with the Phillies, there is a growing possibility that he is ticketed for Triple-A.
I wouldn't put up much of a fight if you believe that he should be moved down the list, but with his sample size and spring to date, he belongs in the middle of this pack somewhere.
8. Jonathan Pettibone
If the Phillies had not signed John Lannan over the offseason, there is a very good chance that Jon Pettibone would have been the fifth starter once the club headed north.
A right-handed starter, Pettibone has been one of the Phillies' most consistent minor league performers over the past few seasons, climbing steadily through the organization. By the end of 2012, he had joined the Triple-A Lehigh Valley rotation, going 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA.
While some believe that he is ready for the major league as is, Pettibone showed that he could use some additional minor league seasoning this spring. Officially, he tossed two innings, allowing four earned runs on three hits, including a pair of home runs.
But Pettibone isn't far away from joining the Phillies' rotation. He'll return to Lehigh Valley to start the year and is an option to replace a starter in the event of an injury.
7. Cesar Hernandez
With four years of minor league service under his belt, it feels as though second base prospect Cesar Hernandez has been in the organization for a long time, and seeing as how he played his first game as a member of the Phillies at age 17 in 2007, he has.
But Hernandez is still just 22 years old and could be nearing the major leagues. He had a great year at Double-A Reading in 2012 and was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, though he did struggle a bit, hitting .248/.270 /.298.
With Chase Utley's contract set to expire at the end of the season, Hernandez could certainly be an in-house option to replace the fan favorite, although he would be a long shot at best. On that token, Hernandez's goal should be to impress the coaching staff with every opportunity he receives.
The second baseman did a nice job this spring, going 5-for-16 at the plate with a double, and played solid defense.
Having already been optioned to minor league camp, he'll likely open the season as the starting second baseman in Lehigh Valley.
6. Phillippe Aumont
After spending time with the Phillies at the end of last season, Phillippe Aumont barely qualifies for this list, but qualifies nonetheless.
It's been an interesting spring for the hulking right-handed reliever, who left Phillies' camp early to participate in the World Baseball Classic as a member of Team Canada, rejoining his MLB club after the Canadians were bounced from the tournament early.
Aumont has pitched well for the Phillies this spring, all but solidifying his spot in the bullpen on Opening Day. He has tossed four innings, allowing one earned run, striking out four and walking two.
A member of the Phillies' top 10 prospects for the past few seasons, Aumont has the potential to become an excellent reliever and really help this club out of the bullpen.
5. Jermaine Mitchell
Jermaine Mitchell is another "non-prospect," but is still a player I thought to be worthy of a mention on this list. He is one of the few players who has yet to make his MLB debut, still in big league camp.
The Phillies inked Mitchell to a minor league deal this offseason after he was released by the Oakland Athletics. A solid defensive outfielder with some speed and power, this is the kind of player that the Phillies like to take a chance on.
With Laynce Nix struggling and Ender Inciarte having yet to play above High-A in the minors, Mitchell has taken the most of this opportunity to toss his name into the mix for the Phillies' bench.
Mitchell, 28, is a left-handed hitter. He has gone 7-for-22 at the plate this spring with five of his hits—three triples and two doubles—going for extra bases. He has also struck out eight times and walked twice.
While it is likely that Mitchell is ticketed for Triple-A to start the season, this is a player that the Phillies have taken a good look at throughout the spring, and one to keep an eye on if you root for the underdog.
4. Ender Inciarte
It's difficult to envision a 22-year-old outfielder who has never played above High-A in the minor leagues having a spot on the major league club. That makes it even more impressive that Ender Inciarte has stuck around this long.
To make the situation even more interesting, Inciarte hasn't just endured—he has thrived.
Coming into the spring, he was regarded as an above-average defender and runner. He has showed off those tools this spring and then some, going 5-for-21 with three walks.
With Laynce Nix struggling through most of the spring, Inciarte is, at the very least, going to make this a difficult decision when the club heads north. He could very well break camp with the Phillies and give them a late innings defender/pinch runner.
Personally speaking, it would be a surprise if the Phillies sent him back to the Arizona Diamondbacks. They like this player and they're going to keep him, one way or another.
3. Tommy Joseph
As their prize from the Hunter Pence trade, the Phillies invited Tommy Joseph to major league camp this spring to get a firsthand look at the catcher, and he certainly left the right impression.
Joseph, 21, made the most of his brief opportunity, going 6-for-13 at the plate with two doubles, a home run and just one strikeout.
Having already been reassigned to minor league camp, the Phillies will next face the difficult decision of where Joseph begins the season. Along with Sebastian Valle, the club has a pair of top catching prospects, both of whom could conceivably be ready to play at Triple-A.
Even though Valle spent some time away from camp to participate in the World Baseball Classic, I got the feeling that Joseph had jumped over him on the depth chart.
Nothing has been decided, but it certainly would not surprise me to see Joseph open the year in Triple-A, though having him spend some time in Double-A early in the season would not be the worst thing for him.
2. Cody Asche
Cody Asche is an interesting prospect.
Ever since the Phillies drafted him in 2011, Asche has been the kind of player that polarizes scouts. Some believe he'll be able to hit for power, others do not. Some believe he'll be able to stick at third base defensively, others do not.
But outside of a brief stint with Low-A Williamsport in 2011, all Asche has done is exceed expectations. He split the 2012 season between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading, where he combined to hit .324/.369 /.481 with 12 home runs.
There are questions about his ability to stick at third base long term—primarily because of his power potential and defensive abilities—but you can certainly color the Phillies interested. He has continued to take big strides forward and they believe he is their future third baseman, perhaps as soon as 2014.
On that note, they wanted a firsthand look this spring, and as has been the theme, Asche impressed. He was 5-for-14 at the plate with two doubles, walks and strikeouts each.
While the Phillies have yet to determine where he will start the season, it would be a surprise if Asche didn't play at Triple-A Lehigh Valley at some point during the upcoming campaign.
1. Adam Morgan
A lot of the prospects on this list arrived to big league camp knowing that they did not have a realistic shot at making the club. It's just not their time. At that point, spring training becomes about leaving an impression moving forward.
Of all of the pitching prospects to have appeared in big league camp this spring, none left a bigger impression than left-handed starter Adam Morgan.
Morgan, 23, has been rising through the Phillies' system quickly. After pitching well in High-A Clearwater, the Phillies promoted him to Double-A Reading, where he was even better.
After the season, Morgan had cracked the Phillies' top five prospects for most publications, including ESPN analyst Keith Law's top 100, where he ranked Morgan ahead of consensus No. 1 Jesse Biddle.
Morgan continued his rapid rise in spring training. He has logged 4.2 innings, allowing four runs on five hits, though only one of those runs is earned. He has also struck out six and walked two.
He'll make one more start for the Phillies this spring on Friday before returning to minor league camp. He could open the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley's starting rotation.
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