With all of the trades the Philadelphia Phillies have pulled off in recent years, it’s easy to picture their farm system looking a lot like Frank McCourt’s bank account right about now.
Players such as Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Taylor, Anthony Gose, and Carlos Carrasco have all be sent out in deals to acquire Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cliff Lee.
However, between the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Seattle in 2009, to recent drafts that have produced a future set of “Baby Aces,” the Phils have been able to restock their farm system for the future.
The Phillies current success puts them in a great position for this season. But with teams such as the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves controlling the likes of Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Julio Teheran, the Phils must make sure they can maintain dominance in the NL East.
Unless their current lineup suffers a dramatic drop off, certain positions for the Phillies may not see openings for years, turning these prospects into movable assets.
Players such as Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, Jonathan Singleton and Trevor May have the potential to reach the big leagues within the next few seasons.
Or allow the Phils make the big name trade that fans have grown to enjoy.
The Phillies currently have two prospects in their farm system who are both capable of hitting the cover off the ball.
The only problem is that they both play first base.
First baseman Jonathan Singleton, an 8th round pick in 2009, is the Phils best position prospect and arguably their best overall prospect. Singleton is batting .281 in 89 games for advanced-A Clearwater along with eight home runs, 45 RBI’s and a .385 OBP.
Singleton has proven he can hit to all fields while showing the potential for even more power at the plate.
His .185 average against left handers needs to be improved, however.
The Phils attempted to open a path for Singleton to the big leagues by switching him to left field to start the season. However, after 28 games, Singleton's offensive numbers suffered enough that he was moved back into his comfort zone at first.
Matt Rizzotti is another prospect who will one day find himself in a big league line up. Rizzotti is batting .291 in 99 games for Double-A Reading to go with 105 hits and 18 home runs.
June is the only month in which Rizzotti has batted under .300.
However, Rizzotti struggled in 17 games last season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, batting only .200 with just nine hits.
He will also be turning 26 this year.
Both Singleton and Rizzotti are on track to reach the majors.
What uniform they wear once they get there is not as clear.
Despite Singleton’s average against left handed pitchers and Rizzotti’s strikeout numbers, there’s a slightly larger road block in their path to the big leagues.
Howard is signed through 2016, and has a club option for 2017.
In 2017, Singleton and Rizzotti will be 26 and 32, respectively.
The Phils can afford to trade Rizzotti, who would serve well as a DH for an American league team.
Singleton’s talent means that he should one day wear a Phillies uniform. However, if his try-out in left field had turned out better, his future would not be as uncertain.
Cody Overbeck is another prospect who batted .275 with 18 homers in Double-A Reading but has seen a drop-off in production in Triple-A.
Regardless if the Phils trade one of these prospects or not, they should be set at first base for years to come.
The Phillies bullpen should be receiving some help in the near future, whether it’s through trades or September call-ups.
One of the positions the Phillies are most aggressive in trying to trade for is also one of their most well-stocked farm positions.
If Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo are any indication, the Phils bullpen could soon be filled with homegrown talent.
Just as Clearwater houses a potential set of big league starting pitchers, Lehigh Valley is home to the future bullpen.
Well, someone’s future bullpen.
Justin De Fratus, Phillippe Aumont, and Michael Schwimer should find themselves in a major league bullpen in the near future, if not as September call-ups.
De Fratus has struck out a combined 68 batters between Double-A and Triple-A this season. An 1th-round pick in 2007, the 23-year-old De Fratus has a fastball that has reached 96 mph to go with very good control.
Aumont, a 6’7”, 255-pound reliever, is enjoying the sight of the bullpen again after posting a 7.43 ERA and 1-6 record in 11 starts with Double-A Reading last season. However, this season Aumont racked up 41 strikeouts and a 2.32 ERA in relief, before being called-up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
In five games with Lehigh Valley, Aumont had a 3.52 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 7.2 innings before landing on the disabled list.
Schwimer has been lights out this season for Lehigh Valley.
At least against righties.
The 25 year old has a 1.75 ERA with 73 strikeouts and just 18 walks in 56.2 innings. He also has eight saves and has allowed 11 earned runs.
Lefties are hitting .271 against him, while righties have only managed a .145 average.
Since June, Schwimer has struck out 60 batters while walking 11. This month alone has seen 17 strikeouts to a single walk.
Would the Phillies be willing to trade for a potential two month rental in Heath Bell when they can call-up one of their own?
The Phils also have a potential bullpen arm in Justin Friend. In Double-A Reading, Friend has 12 strikeouts in 12 innings to go with a 1.50 ERA. Friend had 30 strikeouts and 19 saves while holding opponents to a .190 average in Clearwater to start the season.
Friend was a 2010 Rule 5 draft pick by the Phils.
Michael Cisco, Josh Zeid, and Eric Pettis have also posted modest numbers between Reading and Clearwater.
The Phils may try to include one of these relievers in a deal as opposed to a potential front-end starting pitcher.
But a future bullpen featuring Bastardo, Stutes, De Fratus, Aumont, and Schwimer could be difficult to pass up.
The future came early for the Phils outfield.
Domonic Brown, who was considered not only the Phillies top prospect but the top prospect in all of baseball, as well as John Mayberry, Jr. have had impacts at the major league level this season.
The remaining outfield prospects have not progressed as smoothly.
However, the Phillies have four outfielders in their farm system that are 23 or younger and still show promise.
Jiwan James is batting .287 through 93 games this season, along with 109 hits and 20 stolen bases.
This month alone, James is batting .381 with 19 runs on 32 hits. His 92 strikeouts is an area that needs improvement, however.
Leandro Castro got off to a modest start, but hasn’t played since June 16th. Prior to his injury, the 22-year-old was batting .277 with 10 home runs and 31 RBI.
Castro has displayed plus speed and has been solid on both sides of the ball while showing the potential for more power at the plate.
Domingo Santana is an example of the type of prospect the Phils have targeted in recent drafts: tall and athletic.
Signed at the age of 16, Santana has turned into a fastball hitter but needs to become more consistent against off-speed pitches. His pitch recognition needs improvement, although his defensive skills have proven solid.
The 6’5”, 205-pound 18-year-old is batting .267 in 80 games in class-A Lakewood this season.
However, his 104 strikeouts take away from his 78 hits, 7 homers, and 29 RBI.
Tyson Gillies was acquired from Seattle along with Phillippe Aumont and J.C. Ramirez in exchange for Cliff Lee in 2009.
While Aumont and Ramirez have found moderate success on the mound this season, Gillies has appeared in only three games for Clearwater.
Gillies batted .313 and .341 in 2008 and 2009, respectively, while in the Seattle Mariner’s farm system.
Gillies is more of a contact hitter who has great speed and is solid both defensively and at the plate.
Aaron Altherr is another Phils outfield prospect who hasn’t progressed as the team would have liked.
In 35 games for Williamsport, Altherr batted .271, with a .345 average against righties. However, in 41 games for class-A Lakewood, Altherr batted just .211 along with 31 hits to 47 strikeouts.
Not the best stat line for someone who was considered a top-10 Phillies prospect heading into this season.
The Phils have received a pleasant surprise in Double-A Reading in Derrick Mitchell. After batting .264 last season at Clearwater, Mitchell has continued his progression by batting .281 to go with 99 hits and 16 homers.
The 24 year old has a .299 average versus right handed pitching and a .337 average with runners in scoring position this season. Mitchell batted .312 and drove in 20 runs in the month of June.
Although outfielders in the Phillies farm system are having decent seasons, none are displaying the elite talent the team had hoped.
However, with Domonic Brown having already earned his promotion to the big leagues, and John Mayberry Jr., earning more and more playing time, the Phillies might not have enough room for all of these prospects.
With the numbers they have put up this season, none of these outfielders would be enough to bring back elite talent by themselves. But, if paired with the right combination of pitchers, one of these prospects could be enough for the Phillies to gain some instant help at the big league level.
While the Phils hope that the remaining prospects discover some greatness soon.
It must be difficult to walk around Clearwater, Florida, without bumping into a potential Phillies starting pitcher.
With Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, Trevor May, Julio Rodriguez, and Jonathan Pettibone, the Phillies have the makings of a major league rotation in advanced-A ball.
Trevor May is the oldest of the five.
At 21 years old.
Cosart’s name has been mentioned in trade proposals for Pence, as part of a package with Singleton and catcher Sebastian Valle.
In 18 starts, Cosart is 8-8 with a 4.19 ERA and 75 strikeouts. In May alone, Cosart went 4-0 while compiling a 1.95 ERA and 28 strikeouts in six starts. He also held opponents to a .188 batting average.
Originally a 38th-round pick in 2008, Cosart was the winning pitcher in this month’s Futures All-Star game. His pitching repertoire includes a sinking fastball that can reach 99 mph, as well as an above average changeup and a curveball that needs better consistency.
Cosart also has a strong mental make-up that will come handy if he pitches in Philadelphia.
Colvin is 2-4 with a 3.87 ERA in 14 starts this season, along with 56 strikeouts. Similarly to Cosart, Colvin’s name has been mentioned as part of any deal bringing back a top-level right handed bat.
Colvin has hit 96 mph consistently and also has a 12-6 curveball and a changeup, both of which are considered above average.
The oldest of the “Baby Aces,” May, has struck out 151 batters in 112 innings this season while walking 49. May has also thrown two complete games and one shutout.
A fourth round pick in 2008, May throws a fastball that reaches the mid-90’s consistently as well as a curveball and changeup that he isn’t afraid to throw in any count.
Julio Rodriguez is another high strikeout pitcher this season, with 113 in 115.2 innings. Rodriguez has a 13-6 record with a 3.03 ERA in 20 starts. He has also held opponents to a .194 average.
Jonathan Pettibone has also contributed in Clearwater, going 8-7 with a 2.81 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 20 starts.
The bright pitching future for the Phils isn’t limited to just Clearwater.
Class-A Lakewood also boasts a group of pitchers who have turned themselves into big league prospects.
David Buchanan is currently 11-5 with a 3.38 ERA and one complete game in 20 starts this season. Since the All-Star game, Buchanan is 3-1 with 31 strikeouts and just 9 walks.
Jesse Biddle is a true home grown prospect whose 5-6 record, 102 strikeouts, and 3.10 ERA are helping to justify his ranking as the Phillies' eighth-best prospect by Baseball America.
Garrett Claypool’s 117 strikeouts and Lisalberto Bonilla’s 2.62 ERA since June 11th are helping to add even more depth to the Phils starting pitching prospects.
Double-A Reading has two pitching prospects of their own in Austin Hyatt and J.C. Ramirez.
Hyatt is 9-5 with 125 strikeouts in 20 starts this season, while Ramirez has held left handers to a .219 average.
With Roy Halladay signed through 2013 and a club option for 2014, and Cliff Lee signed through at least 2015, the Phils do not have nearly enough spots in the rotation for these prospects.
If the Phillies can resign Cole Hamels, their rotation through 2014 can potentially consist of Halladay, Lee, Hamels, and Vance Worley.
That leaves one opening for ten possible candidates.
The Phillies did not want to trade Cosart or Colvin for a two month rental player such as Beltran, and have been hesitant to pull the trigger on a deal for Bell.
However, at some point, if the right deal comes along, the Phils would have to look at their starting pitching depth to draw talent.
And then consider a 10-man rotation for 2014.