5 Philadelphia Phillies Prospects Who Will Help the Team in 2014
Philadelphia Phillies fans are getting a glimpse at the future with the arrival of Cody Asche and Ethan Martin to the majors. Asche made his debut at third base on Wednesday night, while Martin is set to make his first career start Friday against the Braves.
For Phillies fans, the arrival of young talent to the ballclub is a welcome sight. With the team eight games below .500, the 2013 season is a lost cause, and it is time to start looking toward the future.
Asche and Martin have a chance to make an impact now, but there are more players sitting in the farm system who have a chance to shine for the Phillies in 2014 and beyond.
Asche, a 2011 draft pick for the Phillies, fast-tracked his way to the big leagues after hitting .295 with 15 home runs and 68 RBI for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, according to Baseball-Reference.
The 23-year-old has hit for a high average and shown decent power at every stop on his three-year trip through the minor leagues. Micky Morandini, Asche's former manager with the Lakewood Blue Claws, told Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer that Asche has what it takes to make it at the next level.
"The strength of Cody was his mentality...He can drive the ball and hit left-handed pitching. I think he's going to be pretty good."
The one drawback to making Asche the everyday third baseman next season is that he is another left-handed bat in a lineup that could include as many as seven of them, depending on the day's starting pitcher.
Though he is currently slotted in at third base, Asche's future with the team could be at one of the middle infield spots. With Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins approaching the ends of their respective careers, Asche could be the perfect replacement, especially with another third base prospect right on his heels.
No one in the Phillies minor league system looks more poised to make an impact in Philadelphia than third baseman Maikel Franco.
After posting a solid season in Lakewood last year, Franco has been a revelation in 2013, hitting .325 with 23 home runs and 79 RBI between Clearwater and Reading, according to Baseball-Reference. In his 37 games at Double-A, Franco has been the hottest hitter in the league, posting a .367 batting average with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 37 games.
An unnamed scout spoke highly of Franco in an article for Philly.com, comparing the 20-year-old to one of the best sluggers in the majors.
"He's a young, energetic, and aggressive hitter with a big upside. I see him being a solid everyday third baseman. He reminds me of a young Edwin Encarnacion."
Franco fills a need for this Philadelphia Phillies team as both a right-handed power bat and a solid defensive third baseman. He likely won't make the Opening Day roster in 2014, but if he keeps at his current pace, the team will have no choice but make room for him in Philadelphia.
Phillies fans are about to get a good look at Ethan Martin now that he has been called up to Philadelphia to make a spot start Friday night against the Atlanta Braves. With Jonathan Pettibone heading to the disabled list, Martin could be auditioning for a permanent place in the starting rotation.
The 24-year-old had a rough start to the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but he has turned things around in a big way as of late, posting a 2.79 ERA with 38 strikeouts in five starts during the month of July, according to FanGraphs.
Martin's biggest flaw has been his high walk rate. He has issued at least two free passes in 19 of his 21 starts this year. Those walks have kept him from throwing deep into games, as he has just three starts of seven innings or more on the year.
However, his stuff is very good. He is averaging 8.33 strikeouts per nine innings and holding opposing hitters to a .224 average. If Martin can find home plate, he will find a home on the Philadelphia pitching staff.
Adam Morgan should be the fifth starter in Philadelphia next season. Morgan's 2013 numbers are not pretty—1-5, 4.05 ERA with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, according to FanGraphs—but much of that can be attributed to a partially torn rotator cuff suffered early in the season.
Morgan missed nearly two months of the season while resting his shoulder, but he has been very effective since returning to the Iron Pigs. In his last three starts, his ERA is just 0.80 with eight strikeouts in 11.2 innings.
In an article posted earlier this year, Al Skorupa of FanGraphs saw Morgan as a pitcher who was ready for the majors:
Morgan has a veteran’s poise on the mound and that’s what I like to see in a college draftee. He kept everything down and pounded the bottom of the zone. Most of his misses were down, too. I saw him command his fastball to both sides of the plate and he was unafraid to throw inside. This is a pitcher who knows how to pitch and the floor is fairly high as a result.
The organization should continue to treat him with kid gloves through the rest of this season, but barring any further injuries, Morgan is ready to make the jump to Philadelphia. He has great stuff, great command and the right mindset to pitch in the majors.
With Carlos Ruiz's contract expiring at the end of this year, the Phillies will need a starting catcher for 2013, and Tommy Joseph should have the first chance at the job.
Joseph has struggled in 2013, but much of that can be blamed on lingering effects from a concussion suffered when he was hit by a pitch on May 4. In 36 games across four levels of the minors, Joseph has hit just .179 with three home runs, according to Baseball-Reference.
But Dusty Wathan, former catcher and manager at Double-A Reading, told John Finger of CSNPhilly.com that Joseph has the tools to play catcher in the majors:
Defensively, he’s really clean at receiving...He has a great arm, he’s pretty accurate, he receives well and calls a good game. He’s a good leader and has a lot of intangibles that aren’t physical tools.
Even when healthy, Joseph doesn't hit for average, but he has shown the ability to hit for power (he hit 22 home runs in 2011). And much like Carlos Ruiz early in his career, Joseph's true value to the Phillies will be in how he handles the pitching staff.
If he can hit 15-20 home runs, that's just an added bonus.