The Philadelphia Phillies saw two of their top pitching prospects turn in solid starts this past week, with one coming at the major league level and the other at Double-A.
While Jonathan Pettibone made his major league debut and saw the Phillies win both of his two starts, Jesse Biddle racked up 16 strikeouts while picking up a win at Double-A.
The Phillies' Triple-A affiliate also closed out the week strong, using 12 runs and 15 hits to pick up a win and help multiple players improve their offensive statistics heading into week five.
But what about the rest of the Phillies' top 10 prospects? Who will follow in Pettibone’s footsteps and earn the next major league call-up? Who will earn the first minor league promotion?
The following list contains the Phillies' top 10 prospects according to Baseball America. Of these players, six are either currently at or began the season at the Triple-A level, meaning that the majority are one step away from the major leagues.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at which players’ stocks are up and which are down following week four.
All statistics courtesy of MiLB.com unless otherwise noted.
Stats: 20 games, .194 BA, 4 RBI, 14 H, .237 OBP
Weather caused the Phillies' Low-A ball affiliate to have games postponed for two straight days, meaning that only four games were played this past week.
In that time, Carlos Tocci only had 11 at-bats, of which two saw him pick up hits. One of these hits went for a double, giving him three now on the season. He also scored his sixth run of the season.
Tocci’s batting average is down only slightly, although his OBP declined slightly more in the past week. Tocci has not drawn a walk since April 9th.
At 18 years old, Tocci has plenty of time to get on track, especially following a week in which only four games were played.
Eight strikeouts in 72 at-bats is a solid mark at his age, but a few more walks and multi-hit games would boost his early-season statistics.
Stats: 21 games, .244 BA, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 19 H, .302 OBP
Darin Ruf’s stats got help from an outstanding performance at Triple-A yesterday, but his performances during the past week were not as good.
Ruf managed to raise his average from .205 on April 27th to .244 following yesterday’s game, although he ended the previous week batting .250.
Four hits in five at-bats, including two home runs, to close out the week helped Ruf improve his numbers across the board. However, Ruf only had one hit in the week leading up to yesterday’s game.
In total, Ruf had five hits to nine strikeouts in week four.
Despite the poor overall week, Ruf’s last game could be what gets him going offensively with more consistency.
Although he only has 11 at-bats against left-handed pitchers, Ruf is batting just .091 with one hit. Meanwhile, he has drawn four walks while striking out 22 times against right-handed pitching.
It will be difficult for Ruf to earn a call-up once Delmon Young returns, but more performances like his most recent one will certainly help.
Stats: 23 games, .296 BA, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 29 H, .349 OBP
Maikel Franco’s stock is up, although it can’t go much higher after his performance on April 26th.
Playing in High-A ball, Franco had seven RBI this past week, as Danny Wild on MiLB.com wrote, including two home runs and a double.
In the game, Franco had a two-run double, three-run home run and two-run home run.
Franco had two hits in the week leading up to his huge game and had two more hits and three more RBI to close out the week.
In total, Franco had seven hits, 10 RBI and three home runs this past week.
With Cody Asche at Triple-A, there’s no need to rush Franco’s progression as the third baseman concludes a tremendous opening month.
However, if he can keep this up, he will make for an intriguing case as far as where he fits in the Phillies' future.
Stats: 21 games, .266 BA, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 21 H, .333 OBP
Cody Asche had a solid week at Triple-A, although his five strikeouts in his last two games keep his stock from being higher.
Prior to his last two games, Asche had raised his batting average to .292.
Following his last two games, Asche’s average is now just slightly higher than the .263 average he started the week with and his OBP is down.
However, Asche still managed to pick up six hits and five RBI this past week. He also saw his hit streak reach as high as nine games.
The left-handed hitting third baseman hasn’t heated up as much as Maikel Franco, but, as a player in Triple-A, Asche has set himself up for a chance at the major league roster next season if he continues to improve.
Stats: 4 GS, 17.1 IP, 16 BB, 19 K, 8.31 ERA
Ethan Martin has not had much success as of late in Triple-A.
After earning the win and striking out eight batters in his second start of the season, Martin has had trouble with command lately.
This past week, Martin gave up four earned runs in four innings while walking a season-high six batters and striking out four.
Seeing Martin’s walk total increase as he continues to give up runs could be cause for concern for the Phillies.
Martin has struggled with command in the past and now has 16 walks in 17.1 innings. Eleven of these walks have been issued to right-handed batters.
There is still plenty of time to improve his command and lower his ERA, but with Jonathan Pettibone in the major leagues already and Adam Morgan also having early success, he could fall behind on the list of pitchers who could potentially be called up this season.
Stats: 4 GS, 24.2 IP, 8 BB, 16 K, 2.55 ERA
After possibly just missing out on a major league call-up to fill in for the injured John Lannan, Adam Morgan allowed his highest number of earned runs this season.
Morgan allowed four earned runs in 5.2 innings while walking three and striking out three batters. He also gave up seven hits, his highest total in a start this season.
His previous three starts saw him allow two, none and one earned run while striking out a combined 13 batters and walking five.
Morgan hasn’t done anything to remove himself from the list of prospects that could still reach the major leagues this season and has given up just two hits to left-handed batters.
Following his first shaky outing of the season, it will be interesting to see how Morgan bounces back.
Only Tyler Cloyd has thrown more innings this season, although he has also made one more start.
Higher strikeout totals will help Morgan get on track for reaching a final total near the 169 strikeouts he had between High-A ball and Double-A last season.
Stats: (MLB) 2 GS, 10.1 IP, 2 BB, 10 K, 4.35 ERA
If a player makes their major league debut after just two starts at Triple-A on the season and earns their first major league victory, their stock must be up for the week.
Pettibone’s first two major league starts have gone better than his first two minor league starts this season.
After being called up to replace the injured John Lannan, Pettibone had a solid major league debut. In 5.1 innings, Pettibone struck out six batters while walking none and setting the Phillies up for a win, although he took a no-decision.
In his second start, Pettibone struck out four while earning his first major league victory.
In two major league starts, Pettibone has 10 strikeouts to two walks. In two minor league starts, he has eight strikeouts to five walks.
Pettibone continues to give up a high number of hits, but he has already proven that he can work his way out of jams at the major league level.
If Lannan misses a great deal of time, Pettibone might stick in the major leagues so long that he loses his prospect status in the best way possible.
Stats: 17 games, .204 BA, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 11 H, .259 OBP
Tommy Joseph was able to raise his batting average this past week despite picking up just four hits in 14 at-bats.
Joseph also raised his OBP to .259 after beginning the week with a .233 OBP.
The catcher must continue to improve offensively, however, as he did not draw a walk last week and had just two hits heading into the final game of the week.
Besides his three home runs, Joseph only has one other extra-base hit, a double, on the season.
Joseph’s numbers are still mostly higher than the Phillies' two catching prospects at Double-A, and solid defense could help outweigh any mediocre offense. But he has some work to do to match the .257 average he had last season.
Stats: 20 games, .207 BA, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 17 H, 10 SB, .253 OBP
Roman Quinn is in a similar position as Carlos Tocci, as the Phillies' Low-A ball affiliate only played four games this past week.
However, Quinn went hitless in 13 at-bats while striking out four times.
In two weeks, Quinn’s average has decreased from .293 to .207.
Just as quickly as his average has dipped, however, it can also begin climbing back up with more consistent play.
Quinn currently has 26 strikeouts to four walks, causing his OBP to also dip recently.
As a player in Low-A ball, there is plenty of time for Quinn to improve and raise his average back into the .280 to .290 range.
Quinn has also been caught stealing just one time, and his 10 stolen bases rank fifth in the league.
Stats: 5 GS, 31 IP, 12 BB, 40 K, 1.74 ERA
What a week Jesse Biddle had.
Biddle began the week with a start in which he displayed how he earned the No. 1 ranking among Phillies prospects.
In seven innings, Biddle struck out 16 batters while walking just two.
As Marc Narducci on Philly.com wrote, Biddle gave up just one hit and had a perfect game into the seventh inning. He also threw 104 pitches to record his 16 strikeouts.
How could he follow up a start like that in the same week?
By striking out 10 and giving up just one hit in six scoreless innings.
In his tremendous week, Biddle struck out 26 batters in 13 innings while walking just five and giving up just two hits. He did not allow any earned runs.
The Phillies have starting pitching talent in Triple-A that can be called up if a replacement is needed in the rotation. But seeing a No. 1-ranked pitcher turn in two dominant performances at Double-A is a great sign for the Phillies.