With multiple starting pitchers, a third baseman, second baseman and catcher among the list of potential free agents for the Philadelphia Phillies following this season, it doesn’t hurt to monitor the progress of certain minor league prospects.
The season is only two weeks old, so there is still plenty of time for these prospects to improve their game or, unfortunately, regress by the end of the season.
As of now, however, a player such as Darin Ruf has a chance to remain on the Phillies' radar for this season while players such as Cody Asche and Tommy Joseph could enter into the 2014 picture.
Although the Phillies have plenty of prospects worth monitoring, the following list contains only those players listed by Baseball America as the team’s top 10 prospects.
With that in mind, here is a list of which players’ stocks are up and which are down following week two.
*All statistics courtesy of MiLB.com unless otherwise noted.
Stats: 10 games, .194 BA, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB, .497 OPS
Carlos Tocci, playing in low-A ball for the first time in his career, has seen his batting average dip to .194 from the .357 mark it stood at a week ago. Of course, the latter average came just four games into the season.
Tocci had never played above the Gulf Coast League prior to this season. So far, the right-handed batter has received only a few at-bats against left-handed pitchers as the team has faced limited left-handed pitching.
Regardless of how Tocci fares, it should be remembered that he still is just 18.
His young age means that the Phillies have plenty of time to manage his progression, especially because this season is setting up to see him play in his highest number of games in the minor leagues.
However, Tocci’s seven hits in 10 games is still a solid total considering the circumstances, as he heads into week three.
Stats: 8 games, .281 BA, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .669 OPS.
Despite Darin Ruf’s rise to the major leagues last season, his minor league progression had yet to take him to the Triple-A level. This season, however, Ruf has started in Triple-A and is playing left field and first base, preparing himself should a call-up be needed.
Ruf started the week with two hits and an RBI in a 14-5 win and raised his average to .318.
Since then, Ruf has managed three hits, including a double, but also has drawn just one walk on the year.
But what’s more interesting is that Ruf has yet to hit a home run.
Ruf’s power helped him earn a September call-up last season and receive a look in left field during spring training. However, dating to camp, Ruf has not shown the same type of power as last season.
Although high power numbers, especially from a right-handed batter such as Ruf, would be ideal, a high batting average could still help him earn a call-up at some point. Ruf must continue to keep his defense separate from his offense if he is going to remain on the Phillies' outfield radar this season once Delmon Young returns.
Meanwhile, drawing more than one walk in his next 32 at-bats would help raise his .294 OBP.
Stats: 10 games, .286 BA, 2 HR, 12 RBI, .943 OPS
Maikel Franco had an outstanding second week of the season, raising his average from .143 to .286 with four multi-hit games.
Franco is playing in high-A ball for the first time in his career and is on track to continue with the power surge that he displayed last season. Franco hit a career-high 14 home runs last season.
In 10 games, Franco has already hit two home runs and driven in 12. He has a .348 OBP.
Franco has been in the Phillies' system since he was 18, and is now finding his rhythm as a 20-year-old in Class A ball. As a third baseman, however, it is difficult to determine where he fits with the Phillies with Cody Asche already in Triple-A.
In an article by Bob Brookover on Philly.com, Joe Jordan, the Director of Player Development for the Phillies, was complimentary of Franco’s defense.
Franco had a four-game stretch last week in which he had nine hits, two home runs and nine RBI while striking out just once.
It’s still early in the year for the right-hander, but an improved second week could be the start of another fine season.
Stats: 8 games, .167 BA, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .598 OPS
Cody Asche raised his batting average from the .125 mark it stood at a week ago, but has yet to build off a solid spring training.
In 30 at-bats, Asche has just five hits, including two doubles.
Asche, as do all prospects, still has plenty of time to improve as the season continues. However, Asche is one of several prospects who could use a solid minor league season to earn a spot on next year’s roster.
The Phillies' Triple-A affiliate had a game postponement follow an off-day, and it also had one game suspended during the week. This means that players have played just three complete games since April 9.
More consistent playing time could benefit Asche who, with any sort of success this season, could get a long look as the Phillies' third baseman next year.
Stats: 2 GS, 9.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 6 BB, 11 K
Ethan Martin, who had never pitched above Double-A prior to this season, turned in a much-improved performance in his second career start at Triple-A.
Martin pitched five innings on the road and allowed just one earned run and three hits while recording eight strikeouts. He walked just two.
This came one start after he went 4.1 innings and allowed four earned runs while walking four batters and striking out three in his season debut.
Martin was outstanding after being acquired by the Phillies last season, going 5-0 with a 3.18 ERA at Double-A.
This season, Martin is in a rotation with fellow prospects Adam Morgan and Jonathan Pettibone, as well as Tyler Cloyd and B.J. Rosenberg, both of whom reached the major leagues last season.
In his most recent start, Martin gave up two hits and one earned run in the first inning before allowing just one hit and no earned runs over the next four innings.
With a lack of veteran starters at Triple-A, Martin could be in the conversation should a call-up be needed for the major league rotation.
Stats: 2 GS, 14 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 2 R, 2 BB, 9 K
Adam Morgan has progressed quickly since being drafted in 2011. He has advanced to his fourth minor league level and is now on the verge of the major leagues.
If he continues to pitch as he did last week, he might get there this season.
Morgan pitched eight innings and yielded just three hits while not allowing any runs in his first win of the season.
Morgan has now walked just one batter in each of his first two starts, and has a 1.29 ERA.
The left-hander struck out 169 batters in 158.2 innings last season between High-A ball and Double-A.
He’s progressed quickly, and if he can continue to find success, it could become difficult to keep him in the minor leagues past this season.
Stats: 1 GS, 5.1 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 8 R, 3 BB, 5 K
Jonathan Pettibone’s start this week was shortened due to bad weather. The game will now be completed on July 8.
With no new starts to change his stock, Pettibone remains even for week two.
However, he will look to improve on his first outing the next time he takes the mound. In 5.1 innings, Pettibone allowed eight hits and six earned runs, leading to a 10.13 ERA.
Pettibone is in the mix among Phillies' prospects who could be called up if a replacement is needed in the major league rotation. But he also will have to earn such a selection over pitchers such as Morgan, Martin and Cloyd.
The 6’6” right-hander went 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A last season, and should be able to improve his next time out.
Stats: 7 games, .222 BA, 1 HR, 8 RBI, .620 OPS
Tommy Joseph’s arrival at Triple-A confirms that he is the leading internal candidate to potentially succeed Carlos Ruiz next season if the sides part ways.
However, Joseph must improve on both sides of the ball to remain as such a candidate.
Joseph has raised his average from the .167 mark it stood at following week one, but he also struck out six times in four games last week.
What’s more concerning is that, according to Marc Narducci on Philly.com, Joseph allowed six passed balls in his first five games.
Joseph hit his first home run of the season last week, but he has just one multi-hit game. He also has drawn just one walk.
Joseph saw his offensive numbers dip a bit last season. If he can improve at the plate this season, similar to Cody Asche, he could get a long look at a 2014 roster spot.
However, concerns on defense must be erased.
Stats: 10 games, .293 BA, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 6 SB, .756 OPS
Roman Quinn showed just how quick he is last week when he hit an inside-the-park home run, and later had three stolen bases in a game.
Quinn’s strikeout total is a bit high, with 11 strikeouts in 10 games, but he also has managed at least one hit in all but one game.
This season should be his first time playing a full minor league schedule, as he spent last year in the New York-Penn short season league. Quinn is playing in low-A ball.
According to Bob Brookover on Philly.com, Quinn had six errors in the team’s first eight games.
As a shortstop, it’s unclear just where Quinn will eventually fit in with the Phillies. He will be just 20 years old at the end of this season, so there is plenty of time for him to progress.
However, if Freddy Galvis eventually takes over for Jimmy Rollins, Quinn might have to switch positions.
But continued improvement will be a positive sign from Quinn.
Stats: 2 GS, 12 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 6 R, 3 BB, 6 K
Jesse Biddle went through his first rough outing at Double-A in his last start, allowing four earned runs in six innings without a strikeout.
However, it also was just the left-hander’s second career start at Double-A. In his season debut, Biddle had six strikeouts in six innings and yielded just two hits.
Biddle has spent the last two seasons at the low-A and high-A levels, respectively, spending the entire year at each level. Based off this, as well as the talent at Triple-A, it seems as if Biddle will spend the entire year at AA, barring a setback.
If that’s the case, Biddle should have plenty of opportunities to rebound.
Biddle has increased his strikeout totals in each of his minor league seasons, but it will be a challenge to continue that trend.
However, a 3.75 ERA and .136 opponents’ batting average through two career starts at Double-A keeps plenty of optimism around Biddle heading into week three and the rest of this season.