Breaking Down the Phillies' Top 10 Prospects to Start the 2014 Season

Zak SchmollAnalyst IMarch 31, 2014

Breaking Down the Phillies' Top 10 Prospects to Start the 2014 Season

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    It is no secret that the Philadelphia Phillies are aging far too quickly. That means it is all the more important for the Phillies to develop a strong farm system. But how well is that going?

    That is what we are talking about today. This is going to be a crash course on the top 10 Phillies prospects right now. Obviously, many of them are spread across different levels of development, and some have more potential to help right now while others are still valued for their potential.

    In either case, this team needs to get prepared for its future sooner rather than later, and these 10 players are going to be very important in doing so.

10. Cesar Hernandez, 2B

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    Cesar Hernandez showed enough during spring training to earn a spot in the majors at this point. He can play a variety of positions, and he has a good amount of speed. On top of that, he hit .289 while he was with the Phillies for 34 games last season.

    I don’t know how high his ceiling actually is, but I think that he can definitely become a solid contributor for the Phillies this season and fill in any one of the variety of holes that could open during the season.

9. Ethan Martin, RHP

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    Ethan Martin has never had a phenomenal amount of success at any level of the minor leagues, but he has been able to climb the ladder and made his major league debut last season. He didn’t do amazingly well, but his strikeouts were impressive.

    He is hopefully going to stay on the rotation once he comes off of the DL, but he needs to show more than he did last year. At times he has the stuff to make people swing and miss, so now the battle comes down to consistency.

8. Aaron Altherr, OF

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    Aaron Altherr is a young outfielder who played last season in Clearwater. He finally showed a little bit of power with his 12 home runs, and his batting average rebounded to .275 after a difficult 2013. He also stole 23 bases, demonstrating his speed.

    Physically, he is as tall as Jayson Werth (6'5") but is still much thinner. As he gains muscle, that power could develop in a similar way. He has been taking his time in the minor leagues, but it's hard not to like a guy who plays around the outfield and has that much athleticism.

7. Severino Gonzalez, RHP

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    Severino Gonzalez has had an incredible beginning to his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. Last year, at 20 years old, he made it all the way up to the Reading Phillies for one start in Double-A. His career ERA is 1.88, and he has yet to find much competition.

    His velocity is not that great, but consider that according to Baseball Reference, he is 6’1” and only 153 pounds. He is going to fill out, and you have to love the upside.

6. Roman Quinn, SS

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    Roman Quinn ruptured his Achilles tendon during offseason workouts, and it will be interesting to see how that affects his speed. That was clearly the best part of his game. Last season, he only appeared in 67 games at Lakewood, but he still stole 32 bases.

    That is interesting because he only got 62 hits. I know this is not a perfect number, but it is telling to see how often he steals bases. His recovery will make a big difference on whether or not he remains on this list.

5. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, RHP

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    I wanted to put Miguel Gonzalez higher on this list, but after a very difficult spring training, it is a little difficult to know what the Phillies got in him. Now he is on the 60-day disabled list, and we will have to wait even longer to know if this signing will pay off.

    That being said, people have been really excited about him for a while. If you want a little more background, look at this article last year from our own Mike Rosenbaum. Gonzalez has a powerful arm, and if he can get everything else together and get healthy, we could see a new member of the starting rotation very soon.

4. Carlos Tocci, CF

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    Carlos Tocci is 18 years old for crying out loud, and he already has two seasons of professional baseball under his belt. He is definitely young, and he is developing, but there are a few things I like about him. First, he has doubles power. Last season, he had 88 hits, and 17 of them were doubles. That's not a bad ratio for someone so young. There is some power potential there.

    Beyond that, he has a ton of speed. That profiles well for his defense as well as his base stealing ability. He is raw, but you have to love the potential here.

3. J.P. Crawford, SS

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    J.P. Crawford was drafted out of high school last summer, and he made a very quick impression in the Gulf Coast League. In 39 games, he hit .345 and stole 12 bases. With Jimmy Rollins aging, it seems as if Crawford could be an eventual replacement even if there does need to be some kind of temporary replacement until Crawford is prepared.

    It is also worth noting that Crawford reported to spring training in much better shape, according to Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer. That might help his power numbers leap this year.

2. Jesse Biddle, LHP

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    If I told you that Jesse Biddle went 5-14 for the Reading Phillies last year, you might seriously wonder why I put him second on this list. However, what if I told you that his ERA was 3.64 and he struck out 154 in 138.1 innings.

    His lack of control is obviously holding him back, as he did issue 82 walks last season, but he has been steadily climbing through the Phillies organization. He is 22 years old right now, so he is still learning how to pitch at the higher levels, but there is a lot of potential here.

1. Maikel Franco, 3B

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    Maikel Franco had such a huge season in 2013 that he was able to push Jesse Biddle off the top of this list. Franco split his time between Clearwater and Reading last season, and he absolutely crushed the ball.

    He played in 134 games, hit .320, 31 home runs and drove in 103 runs. Those minor league numbers are somewhat reminiscent of Ryan Howard’s, and the Phillies have had a difficult time filling the hot corner for many years. This could be the player we are looking for.