Ranking Philadelphia Phillies' Top 10 Prospects After 2013 Minor League Season
It has been a year of transition for the Philadelphia Phillies. For a franchise that made the postseason every year from 2007 through 2011, the 81-81 finish of 2012 was expected to be aberration, but instead, foreshadowed a difficult 2013.
Ryan Howard had another lost season to injury, legendary skipper Charlie Manuel was let go and Roy Halladay became a shell of the future Hall of Fame pitcher he was during his first two years in Philadelphia.
With a new manager, Ryne Sandberg, auditioning for a full-time role in 2014, the franchise will try to get younger but still stay competitive in the National League East.
If they can continue to get big production out of aging stars like Cliff Lee and Chase Utley, along with the underrated Cole Hamels, the farm system could breathe new life into a franchise likely in the midst of its first losing season since 2002.
When Philadelphia turns things back in the winning direction, many of the following names could play major roles.
Without further ado, a ranking of the Philadelphia Phillies' Top 10 prospects.
1. Maikel Franco, 3B/1B, Double-A Reading
2013 Stats: 134 G, 541 AB, .320/.356/.569, 31 HR, 103 RBI
Franco, the top Phillies prospect on this list, had an outstanding season while splitting time between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. As the winner of the organization's Paul Owens Award for Player of the Year, it's clear that Philadelphia has a hitter on their hands.
With a .936 OPS and 68 extra-base hits, a power bat is in the making in Philadelphia's farm system.
Of course, where he plays in Philadelphia is still up in the air. Franco ended the season playing first base but has spent most of his professional career at third base.
Currently, the franchise has 23-year-old Cody Asche penciled in at third base for 2014. At first, barring a team taking on $85 million in guaranteed money in a trade, will be a healthy Ryan Howard.
If Franco dazzles in spring training, he may force Philadelphia to make a rash decision on Howard, including eating a large portion of his salary in a deal to pave the way for Franco's emergence.
2. Jesse Biddle, LHP, Double-A Reading
2013 Stats: 27 GS, 3.64 ERA, 138.1 IP, 10.0 SO/9, 1.88 SO/BB
Without perspective, Biddle's 2013 could have be considered a disappointment. After all, he got off to a great start by posting an ERA under 2.00 during April but pitched to a 4.12 ERA the rest of the summer.
For that perspective, we turn to Bob Brookover's work at The Philadelphia Inquirer. In this piece, Biddle's battle with an illness and foot injury sidetracked his season from greatness to mediocrity, but the toughness showed, along with piling up necessary innings in his development, will pay off in the long run.
From a pitching perspective, the only concern with Biddle is command, but young left-handed pitchers often need time to refine that aspect of the game.
As long as he can strike out 10 batters per nine innings, the future is bright for this southpaw.
3. J.P. Crawford, SS, Single-A Lakewood
2013 Stats: 53 G, 195 AB, .308/.405/.400, 1 HR, 14 SB
Philadelphia's 2013 first-round draft pick burst onto the scene this summer by hitting (.345/.443/.465) out of Rookie League ball and into Lakewood within 40 professional games.
As Joe Jordan, Philadelphia's director of player development told Matt Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Crawford's background helped make him the player he is at such a young age.
"He is a polished player, and part of that is that kids from California get to play so much ball year-round," said Jordan.
With Jimmy Rollins' contract expiring at the end of the 2015 season, the shortstop position will soon be open in Philadelphia for the first time in nearly two decades. If Crawford continues to improve upon the polish he's already shown, the Phillies may have an in-house replacement down the line.
4. Roman Quinn, SS, Single-A Lakewood
2013 Stats: 67 G, 260 AB, .238/.323/.346, 5 HR, 32 SB
Thirty-one errors, a .238 batting average and a season-ending broken wrist didn't help launch Quinn to the top of this list. Instead, outrageous tools kept him as part of the mix in Philadelphia's long-term plans.
As a switch-hitter with game-changing speed, Quinn has the tools to become a very valuable asset for the Phillies as the years pass. Although he's already been surpassed on this list by J.P. Crawford, ironically the shortstop who took over in his absence in Lakewood, it's not crazy to think a future lineup could include both in some capacity.
Quinn's age-20 season could be looked at as a lost year, but a quick start in 2014 will put him back on the prospect radar.
5. Severino Gonzalez, RHP, Double-A Reading
2013 Stats: 25 G, 14 GS, 2.00 ERA, 103.2 IP, 10.3 SO/9, 5.41 SO/BB
Severino, the pitching half of the organization's Paul Owens Award winning duo, rose from extended spring training to Double-A ball within a meteoric season.
Unless you are a prospect junkie, it's likely that Gonzalez wasn't on your radar prior to 2013, but now he should be squarely in Philadelphia's sight for long-term building due to the ability to dominate older hitters and strikeout more than a batter per inning.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about Gonzalez: The huge uptick in velocity since signing as an 18-year-old in 2011.
As Ben Badler of Baseball America pointed out in an August notebook, Gonzalez arrived two years ago with a mid-80s fastball. Now? The 20-year-old topped out at 94 this summer.
If Gonzalez can go to another gear in 2014 and beyond, he'll be a household name before long.
6. Cord Sandberg, OF, Gulf Coast League
2013 Stats: 48 G, 169 AB, .207/.313/.272, 2 HR, 14 RBI
As the video above illustrates, Sandberg is quite the athlete. After turning down a scholarship offer to play quarterback in the SEC, the 18-year-old outfielder is now a Philadelphia Phillies outfielder after his selection in the third round of the 2013 draft.
It may take time for Sandberg's size and physical skills to translate into big production in the batters box in professional baseball, but his pick and development are worth the energy for the Phillies.
This prospect is a lottery ticket. By the time 2016 or 2017 rolls around, the Phillies may have hit the jackpot.
7. Austin Wright, LHP, Double-A Reading
2013 Stats: 27 G, 16 GS, 94.1 IP, 5.92 ERA, 7.3 SO/9, 1.31 SO/BB
As Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reported in August, Wright is headed to the Arizona Fall League to work on his stuff and add innings to his ledger before the 2014 season.
After splitting time between the bullpen and rotation, Wright's future is up in the air. While 23 is old for a prospect list, he's still very, very young in terms of baseball years. As he heads to the AFL, he'll enter 2014 with only a little over 300 professional innings under his belt.
If the Phillies need a bullpen arm next year, Wright could work his way into the mix.
8. Larry Greene, OF/1B, Single-A Lakewood
2013 Stats: 111 G, 400 AB, .213/.306/.303, 4 HR, 28 RBI
Greene's inclusion on this list highlights the difficult years many of the prospects suffered through in the Philadelphia system.
At the age of 20, it's too soon to write off Greene as an overhyped first-round pick, but a .303 slugging percentage is not what the Phillies were hopping for from a player in his second professional season.
There's still upside here, but if Greene doesn't improve quickly in 2014, don't expect to see his name on Top 10 or 20 top prospect lists again.
9. Adam Morgan, LHP, Triple-A Lehigh Valley
2013 Stats: 18 GS, 78.1 IP, 3.91 ERA, 6.5 SO/9, 2.19 SO/BB
Considering the sorry state of the 2013 Phillies, a healthy Adam Morgan would likely be part of the September rotation in the big leagues in an attempt to impress new manager Ryne Sandberg.
Instead, due to shoulder issues (via Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer), Morgan was shut down after only 16 minor league starts this summer. The organization may have dodged a bullet when he avoided surgery, but a lengthy stay away from the mound has setback his progress and ability to be a realistic factor in the 2014 rotation plans.
With only Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee penciled into the big league staff for next April, the Phillies could have used an emerging Morgan to help ease their offseason concerns.
Now, he'll have to surprise in spring to garner a real chance.
10. Tommy Joseph, C, Triple-A Lehigh Valley
2013 Stats: 36 G, 123 AB, .179/.229/.285, 3 HR, 16 RBI
The prize of Philadelphia's haul for Hunter Pence in July of 2012, Joseph, a power-hitting catching prospect, endured a nightmare season in 2013.
Stemming from an initial concussion during spring training, Joseph suffered through more head injuries on the way to an early August shutdown.
His season, through the prism of statistics, can't be properly evaluated, but with Carlos Ruiz set to hit free agency, the Phillies will need a new catcher in 2014.
If Joseph can come to spring training healthy and sporting his powerful swing, the door could reopen for him to become the player the Phillies thought they were getting last summer.
Agree? Disagree? Which prospect are you most excited about?
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