Stock Up, Stock Down for Philadelphia Phillies' Top 10 Prospects for Week 16
As the All-Star break has ended for the major leagues, so too has it ended for some of the upper minor leagues. Although the lower minors held theirs more than a month ago in some cases, prospects are nonetheless entering the home stretch of the 2014 season.
Concerning the Philadelphia Phillies' prospects, some are coming off of their respective level's All-Star games, while others haven't exactly been spectacular in recent days.
At the unofficial halfway point in the 2014 season, here's a look at what the Phillies' top prospects have been up to over the past week.
All prospects on this list have yet to make their MLB debuts. All prospect commentary courtesy of the 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook and/or MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. All statistics courtesy of MiLB.com.
10. RHP Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
Season Stats: 0-2, 3.33 ERA, 26 K, 14 BB, .266 BAA (15 G, 24.1 IP)
Last Week's Stats: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 K, 2 BB (3 G, 3.0 IP)
Cuban signee Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is finally settling into a routine. He's stayed away from starting, opting instead to relieve—at least until he could get into a groove of sorts.
That groove seems to have been achieved, as Gonzalez has not allowed an earned run dating back to July 8.
He's also reached a point where he's throwing as fast as advertised when he was inked to a contract last summer. According to Matt Lombardo of NJ.com, Gonzalez's heater is back up to the mid-90s, hitting as high as 97 mph.
Gonzalez could make the majors this season as a reliever if the July 31 trade deadline frees up some bullpen spots on the major league roster. It's a far cry from the expectations he had placed on him when he was signed—to be a top-of-the-rotation starter—but at this point, it's feasible to think that the Phillies would be satisfied with any MLB production from Gonzalez this year.
9. C Deivi Grullon
Season Stats: .255 AVG, .299 OBP, .335 SLG, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 2 SB (50 G)
Last Week's Stats: 5-for-14, .357 AVG, 3 RBI, 1 2B
As one of the Phillies' better younger prospects, Deivi Grullon is finally beginning to show the promise he has as only an 18-year-old player. After aggressive playing time at both Single-A Lakewood and High-A Clearwater, Grullon was demoted back to short-season Williamsport, where he has thrived.
Grullon's promotions by the Phillies to the upper levels at such a young age are interesting and questionable, but there's no doubt that he's where he belongs. There's no rush for him considering that he's young and the Phillies have catchers ahead of him on the depth chart at the levels above.
Based upon Grullon's projectability, he could end up as a terrific catcher for the Phillies down the road. It'll be a while until he gets there, though, so the Phillies should let Grullon enjoy the ride for now.
8. RHP Severino Gonzalez
Season Stats: 6-10, 4.81 ERA, 88 K, 23 BB, .269 BAA (20 GS, 119.2 IP)
Last Week's Stats: 0-1, 6.75 ERA, 5 K, 1 BB, 5 ER (1 GS, 6.2 IP)
After bursting onto the scene in 2013 and being named the recipient of the Paul Owens Award, Severino Gonzalez has had a rough 2014 season. He shot up prospect boards after last year, and expectations for a rapid ascension to the major leagues arose for the 21-year-old, but he just hasn't been the same pitcher this year.
Gonzalez's strikeout totals have looked decent, and his walk numbers have remained low, but the finesse pitcher just hasn't been able to fool enough hitters to get by. He's still a future option to make the Phillies' major league rotation, but he could use more seasoning over a couple more years.
In his next outing, Gonzalez will work to lower his ghastly ERA and add to his win total. He had won two straight starts until losing one July 18, but before the two wins, he hadn't won a start dating back to late May. As a prospect, Gonzalez shouldn't be rushed, but he needs to show some results in the meantime.
7. OF Cameron Perkins
Season Stats: .289 AVG, .349 OBP, .418 SLG, 3 HR, 40 RBI, 5 SB (88 G)
Last Week's Stats: 1-for-8, .125 AVG (3 G)
Cameron Perkins has been one of the Phillies' best minor league players in all of 2014. After a hot start at Double-A, Perkins batted .342 for the Fightin Phils in 52 games before being promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
The transition to the uppermost of the minors hasn't been a smooth one, unfortunately. Perkins is hitting just .205 as an IronPig, and his downward trend continued even after the Triple-A All-Star break concluded.
Perkins has an outside chance of making the majors in 2014 as a September call-up, but he'll have to right the ship before meriting consideration for such an honor. Even if Perkins isn't ready for the bigs in 2014, he should be a contributor in the early half of 2015 and for years to come.
6. OF Carlos Tocci
Season Stats: .248 AVG, .297 OBP, .326 SLG, 1 HR, 25 RBI (91 G)
Last Week's Stats: 8-for-30, .267 AVG, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 2B, 3 SB (7 G)
At only 18 years old, the expectations for Venezuelan Carlos Tocci aren't sky-high just yet. However, he's found a way to exceed them anyway, and by no small margin.
Tocci has spent all year at Single-A Lakewood and has been especially hot of late. He slugged his first and only home run of the season July 16, and he also swiped a third of his season total of stolen bases over the last week.
Expected to have fringe power if he grows into his frame, Tocci worked hard in the offseason and it's finally paying dividends. He could be something special for the Phillies in a few years if his development continues to trend in a positive direction.
5. CF Roman Quinn
Season Stats: .237 AVG, .315 OBP, .341 SLG, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 11 SB (47 G)
Last Week's Stats: 4-for-27, .148 AVG, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 SB (7 G)
Roman Quinn is easily the fastest player in the Phillies' system. Now that he's made a full-time conversion to center field in the wake of shortstop J.P. Crawford's success, his stock has taken a slight hit. Thanks to some mediocrity offensively, Quinn has taken a minor tumble.
It's been a rough season for Quinn. He tore his Achilles tendon in the offseason and got a late start, only making his season debut in mid-May. The move to center field isn't the worst thing in the world, for Quinn's defense at shortstop was never convincing to begin with. His lack of hitting recently, though, will not suffice.
The good news is that Quinn homered July 19, but his lone homer, double and triple this week are one of only three on the season in each category. The potential is endless, but he also controls his own destiny. As a future leadoff candidate for the Phillies, the hope is that Quinn will begin producing more on offense so he can inch closer to the majors.
4. LHP Jesse Biddle
Season Stats: 3-9, 5.03 ERA, 76 K, 40 BB, .247 BAA (15 GS, 78.2 IP)
Last Week's Stats: N/A
You could argue that Jesse Biddle's stock should be down as long as he isn't pitching, and you wouldn't be wrong. However, considering just how terrible he was this year—there's no way to get around it, folks—his hiatus prevents him from adding insult to injury, so his stock will remain the same for now.
Biddle has been a mess in 2014 and hasn't pitched since June 23 on orders from the Phillies. The hope is that he just needs a mental break from the game and will come back with a vengeance. At this point, that's all the Phillies can hope for, especially since he's their top left-handed pitching prospect and a feel-good hometown story if he makes it to the big leagues.
Biddle will get all the time he needs to recover, but he's lost consideration to make his MLB debut in 2014 as a result. If all goes according to plan, he will be in the conversation to make the Phillies rotation out of spring training in 2015, if not soon afterward.
3. RHP Aaron Nola
Season Stats: 1-2, 3.86 ERA, 13 K, 3 BB, .211 BAA (4 G, 3 GS, 16.1 IP)
Last Week's Stats: 0-1, 4.50 ERA, 7 K, 0 BB, 5 ER (2 GS, 10.0 IP)
Aaron Nola, the Phillies' seventh overall pick in the MLB draft a month and a half ago, has looked good so far with the High-A Clearwater Threshers. But he's been only average over the last week or so; he hasn't been terrible, but he also hasn't been good enough to raise his stock.
The good news out of Nola's last two starts is that his control has been stellar, as he struck out seven batters while walking none. It's also encouraging that the Phillies have let him pitch five innings in a start on a consistent basis. However, five earned runs in 10 innings isn't anything to write home about.
Nola has been very good, and perhaps this criticism borders on harsher than it should be, but he's still got some work to do.
The best news? He could be in the conversation to make the 2015 rotation out of spring training if he can progress quickly enough in the remainder of the 2014 season.
2. 3B Maikel Franco
Season Stats: .229 AVG, .282 OBP, .362 SLG, 6 HR, 43 RBI, 1 SB (90 G)
Last Week's Stats: 2-for-12, .167 AVG, 1 RBI, 1 2B (4 G)
Maikel Franco remains one of the Phillies' top prospects even in the midst of a down year. Under normal circumstances, his numbers would call for a downward stock; however, his participation in the Futures Game July 13 negates the mini-slump he's been in since the Triple-A All-Star break concluded.
Franco has the most powerful bat in the Phillies' minor league organization and was hot before the break, notching 16 hits in his last 41 at-bats of the first half. He's still primed to be the team's third baseman of the future, but his progression might need some more fine-tuning before he gets the call to the majors.
That call could come soon—and should if the Phillies sell off pieces of the major league team. For now, Franco will have to play as though he's fighting for a chance in the majors regardless of the circumstances.
1. SS J.P. Crawford
Season Stats: .283 AVG, .377 OBP, .400 SLG, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 14 SB (85 G)
Last Week's Stats: 5-for-13, .385 AVG (4 G)
J.P. Crawford's entire 2014 season has been a success story. After beginning the year at Single-A Lakewood and excelling there, he earned a promotion to High-A Clearwater, where he's held his own. Now the unquestioned shortstop of the future barring a trade, the 19-year-old continues to prove just how much of a steal he was at the 16th pick in the 2013 MLB draft.
Crawford was the other Phillies representative at the Futures Game July 13, which helps his case. He hit a bloop single in the game and stole a base, so the game itself worked out for him too.
The power hasn't been present recently, though, and Crawford hasn't stolen a base since his return from the Futures Game. But he's got plenty of time. Hitting .385 in his first four games back doesn't hurt, either. Crawford should be topping all Phillies prospect lists until further notice.