Philadelphia Phillies Top 25 Prospects
There's something about the Philadelphia Phillies organization that has become the gift that keeps on giving and, no, I'm not talking about former general manager Ed Wade.
However, it would be wrong to write a list about the facet of the Phillies' organization that helped turn the franchise from perennial pretender to annual contender without mentioning Wade, who helped turn a farm system littered with "busts" into one of the best in baseball.
Under the watch of Wade and his cabinet of baseball executives, the Phillies developed the likes of Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, among others. When Pat Gillick took the reigns, he deepened the talent pool with players like Domonic Brown and Vance Worley, and now, it is Ruben Amaro Jr.'s job to keep the Phillies' farm system afloat.
Now after his third draft as the general manager of the Phils (and as we try and put a miserable postseason exit behind us,) what better time to check in on the Phillies' farm system once again? Chocked full of talented, high end prospects, listing 25 distinct players in ranked form is no simple task, but that is good news for the Phillies as an organization—fighting over which highly touted player is better than the next shows just how deep the system actually is.
So this list, by no means, is the be-all-end-all. Please note that the following list is constructed completely from my mind, and is not associated with any other baseball organization. These lists will vary from source to source.
Just a final note before we kick this list off—any prospect in the Phillies' organization on Monday, October 17, 2011 (and is under team control for the 2012 season) will be eligible for the ranking.
So without any further ado, lets take a look at the 25 best prospects in the Phillies' system.
The Best of the Rest
Before we get to the actual list, I thought this would be a good place to talk about some of the guys who didn't quite make my top 25, but certainly have the potential to bump some of the guys we'll be talking about off. On this slide I'll give a brief explanation of why I didn't put some guys in the top 25, in no particular order.
Cody Overbeck - Still not quite convinced that Overbeck is a "prospect." Scouts have little hope for him as a Major League player.
Matt Rizzotti - Perfect example of a "one-trick pony." He'll put up some misleading offensive numbers, and while some people will call for him to temporarily replace Ryan Howard in Philadelphia, he hasn't even shown that he can hit at AAA Lehigh Valley.
Cody Asche - Third baseman drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011. Solid glove and bat, but haven't seen / read about enough of him to place him in the top 25. Could very well be there by mid-season.
Harold Martinez - Was tempted to include him because of the sheer potential of his power and throwing arm, but haven't seen enough of him to convince me that his junior year in college was just a fluke.
Braden Shull - Also drafted in 2011. May have a quick path to the Major Leagues, but more so because he is a polished college left hander than actual upside.
Zach Collier - Has he finally figured something out? Has a lot to prove in 2012, in my opinion.
Carlos Rivero - The Cleveland Indians have already given up on him, and though he has shown some flashes of potential at AA Reading, it is unreasonable to think that he could excel at AAA Lehigh Valley, let alone as a Major League player.
JC Ramirez - Came to Philadelphia in the Cliff Lee trade with the Seattle Mariners, but took a huge step backwards in 2011. Needs another year in Reading (or perhaps lower) and other pitching prospects have hurdled over him.
Perci Garner - I like Garner a lot and wanted to include him in the top 25, but had a tough time convincing myself that he belonged. Could be there come mid-season if the first half of 2012 is as kind to him as 2011. Also, would like to see him against some tougher competition.
Leandro Castro - Has a lot of upside, but is a bit more risky than some of those "high-risk, high reward" outfielders on the list.
25. Lisalberto Bonilla
We kick the list off with a guy who could catapult his way up this list with a good 2012 season, Lisalberto Bonilla. A tall right hander out of the Dominican Republic, the Philadelphia Phillies knew that when they agreed to terms with him, he had three pitches with the potential to be above average at the Major League level—a fastball, change-up, and slider.
A few years into his professional career and it has become obvious that he'll need to be able to control those three pitches to make any noise in a system packed to the brim with power arms. He made great strides towards doing just that in 2011, when he reduced his rate of walks by half.
As long as he is able continue the development of his change-up and pitch of his fastball, using that good slider as a complement, he should be able to push his way through the system and to the Major League.
Photo courtesy of blog.blueclaws.com, a must read for any fan of Phillies' prospects.
24. Joe Savery
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images
Can Joe Savery really be considered a prospect?
If you're interested in Savery's whole story, I wrote about him at length about a month ago, here. The gist of that article may be helpful in answering that question at the top of the slide. After failing as a hitter and a starting pitcher, Savery once again made his way into the headlines by showing some success as a reliever, earning a late-September call-up.
During his brief stint with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, Savery made it clear that he was healthy, and a healthy Savery makes for an effective Savery. With his arm now at full strength, Savery showed an average fastball paired with an improving slider, and now that he's found a role he excels in, it may be time to once again consider him a prospect.
The Phillies, who are noticeably light in lefties in the bullpen at the Major League level, will be giving Savery a good look this spring, and if he doesn't make the club out of Spring Training, he could very well pitch his way on to the roster with a few effective months early in the season.
At the very least, he's worth a mention at the back-end of this list.
23. Adam Morgan
The Philadelphia Phillies drafted Adam Morgan in the third round of the 2011 draft and the 6-foot-1 left-hander immediately began drawing comparisons to another pretty popular left handed pitcher already under contract with the Phils: Cliff Lee.
However, those comparisons aren't out there to project Morgan as one of the best left handed pitchers in baseball, so I'd keep those Morgan jerseys off of the wishlist for now. With that being said, he certainly does have the tools to be an effective Major League pitcher.
Morgan is comparable to Lee in the sense that they both have seemingly effortless deliveries (despite some concern from scouts over that dreaded "inverted W." Morgan's repertoire in no way compares to Lee's, and in the long run, may be best suited for the bullpen with a solid fastball and developing off-speed pitches.
Some scouts do project Morgan to develop into a solid, middle of the rotation starting pitcher, but that report seems to be a bit generous. Most agree that because he signed as a polished college pitcher with above average control, he'll be on the fast track to the big league.
22. Maikel Franco
There has been a lot of debate recently between scouts, fans, and experts alike about third base prospect Maikel Franco—just what do the Philadelphia Phillies have in this guy?
Signed out of the Dominican Republic, a quick glance at Franco's numbers is more than enough to show that he had a bit of a roller coaster campaign in 2011, excelling with the Phils' low-A club and struggling with the high-A squad.
At his best, he showed a lot of great qualities for a young hitter. He was able to work the count well and swung at quality strikes, hit for power, and showed an affinity for getting on base. He has good speed and a solid glove at third base, and his frame will allow some extra room for growth and the development of power.
With those qualities, it isn't hard to understand why some are expecting big things out of the third base position in the Phillies' system, and Franco is just the tip of the iceberg.
Photo courtesy of the Sun Gazette, a must-read for information on the Williamsport Crosscutters.
21. David Buchanan
Some people are going to be surprised to see David Buchanan already on this list, but I'm not as high on him as some people for a number of reasons. The first is that he doesn't have the same upside as some of those power arms in this system. Buchanan, who doesn't throw hard and won't fool anyone, is going rely on control moving forward.
When his control escapes him, he becomes a lot less attractive as a prospect. During a hot stretch at the beginning of the 2011 season, he moved up a lot of lists and when he struggled with command later in the season, his status fell. That said, it isn't ridiculous to see him settling somewhere in the middle.
Buchanan is a work in progress and at best, will be a middle to bottom of the rotation starter unless he can figure something out with his control. More likely, he'll eventually transition to the bullpen where he can use his fastball in combination with his good hook to confuse hitters. Just how effective he can be out of the bullpen (or as a starter, for that matter) largely depends upon just how much control he has moving forward.
20. Austin Hyatt
The obvious knock against Austin Hyatt is that he isn't getting any younger. At 25-years-old, he is considered "older" for a prospect, and the debate over whether or not he can cut it as a starting pitcher is probably stunting his development a bit in the Minor Leagues.
That being said, he certainly has the tools to be a quality pitcher in some regard. Called a "change-up artist" by some, Hewitt is much more than a one-trick pony. He has a good live fastball and a slider that is a work in progress, but his bread and butter is that change-up, which Baseball America called the best in the Philadelphia Phillies' system.
As a fastball / change-up pitcher, at least to me, an obvious comparison comes to mind: Ryan Madson. Hyatt throws a fastball that sits in the low to mid 90s and a change-up that can absolutely fool a hitter, with control over both.
In my opinion, moving him to the bullpen and letting him develop as a late-innings reliever would be the best course of action, and could catapult him towards the top of this list in the near future.
19. Tyler Cloyd
It seems like that over the last couple of seasons two distinct groups have emerged among the Philadelphia Phillies' minor league pitchers—those that have been identified as the "Baby Aces," and those who haven't. Those that haven't, among them Tyler Cloyd, often seem to get lost in the system, and as such, overlooked.
Cloyd, who was drafted in 2008, doesn't seem to get much recognition, or at least he didn't until very recently after putting together a very good season at AA Reading. He moved into Reading's rotation full time last season and excelled there, impressing scouts.
He is the type of guy who is never going to rely on pure "stuff" to get batters out. His command is his greatest asset, and as he's gone through the system, he has developed a couple of very nice off-speed pitches to complement a fastball that always seems to be well placed.
He may not be one of those "Baby Aces," but he could be a very solid middle of the rotation starter. Of course, the Phillies will have to make a decision on him soon—he'll be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft in December.
18. Cesar Hernandez
The Philadelphia Phillies had just a few decent middle infield prospects heading into the 2011 draft, and I thought that Cesar Hernandez was the weakest of the group. Then they went crazy shoring up the middle infield in the most recent draft, and a few new middle infielders came into the fold pushing Hernandez back even further.
With that being said, he is still one of the top positional players in the organization. A second baseman, Hernandez has a small frame at 5-foot-10, and as such, you can imagine that his two best tools are speed and contact. He simply is not going to hit for power and as such, will rely on making contact and getting on-base. When he fails to do so, as was the case in 2011 when he hit just .266 and posted an OBP of .302, his stock is going to fall some.
In the field he is a good defensive second baseman—not great, but not a liability. Some scouts actually still consider him to look more natural playing shortstop, so his range and throwing arm are solid.
Overall, I think that his most direct route to the Major League is as a utility player, having shown an ability to play both middle infield positions. He still has to make adjustments to better pitching, and until he proves that he can do so, I think that's a fair judgement. He'll need to strike out less (17.9 % K/9 in 2011) and hit more to make any noise.
17. Aaron Altherr
When the Philadelphia Phillies draft outfielders, they prefer the "high-risk, high-reward" type guys, so you'll notice that there are a ton of them littered throughout the system. As such, you will also noticed that a lot of scouts can't seem to agree on just where they belong in a ranking, which is understandable given the amount of "what ifs" involved in evaluating them.
One of those guys is Aaron Altherr, taken in the ninth round by the Phillies in the 2009 draft. The "high-risk" part of his game is that he doesn't really do anything exceptionally well. He can hit for average, but won't hit .300. He can hit for power, but won't be known for it. His speed, fielding, and base running are all good, but not great.
The obvious "high-reward" is that he'll be able to fill out his 6-foot-5 frame and be able to do a little bit of everything, developing as a five-tool player that the Phillies can plug into any of the outfield positions. That is a big "if," however, and he hasn't shown anything of substance.
A lot of scouts value him more than this, but I think there are better outfield prospects in the system that we'll be touching on in just a moment.
16. Harold Garcia
Harold Garcia is the guy often forgot about in the Philadelphia Phillies' system. He was on his way to the top heading into the 2011 season, once again joining AA Reading before suffering a knee injury that would end his season. Once clumped in a lump statement about middle infielders with Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez, it was Garcia that was beginning to separate himself as the heir apparent to Chase Utley.
Garcia, who stands at just 5-foot-11, isn't the type of hitter you'd expect out of a middle infield of his size. He has good power to the gaps and makes good contact with the ball, being able to spray it to all fields as a switch-hitter. He also has well above average speed, making him a good candidate to hit at the top of an order.
In the field he isn't considered an above average defender, but he gets the job done at second base. Garcia has an average arm and gloves, making all of the routine plays. 2012 will be an important season for him to reclaim some of his value, and that road begins in the Arizona Fall League.
Photo once again courtesy of blog.blueclaws.com.
15. Mitchell Walding
A two-sport athlete out of high school with a college commitment to Oregon State, it was somewhat surprising to see the Philadelphia Phillies actually sign Mitchell Walding after drafting him in the fifth round (though, some scouts did expect him to sign.)
Looking to bolster the level of talent in the middle infield, the Phils rolled the dice on drafting Walding, a shortstop, and turned out a nice result. Few high school shortstops stay there professionally, but Walding has the tools to stick. A good defender with a strong arm, he has shown the ability to pick balls deep in the hole and make a strong throw across the diamond.
At 6-foot-3, he is a bit tall for a shortstop, but has the athleticism to play the position well. Offensively, he has a gap-to-gap approach, hitting for power and contact in high school and showing signs that he'll be able to develop into an offensively-minded shortstop.
Because he didn't play professionally in 2011 after signing, you probably won't see him on many lists of top prospects to begin the season, but he has all of the tools to make it there by mid-season and shoot towards the top in the coming years.
14. Jon Pettibone
Jon Pettibone is an interesting prospect. He has all of the makings for a middle to bottom of the rotating starting pitcher, and yet, he does everything so well that a lot of scouts predict he'll be better than that.
He doesn't have a fastball that he's going to throw right by hitters, as it consistently sits in the upper 80s to low 90s, but his control makes up for a lack of velocity. He walked just 34 batters in 161 innings with the Cleawater Threshers this season. What a lot of scouts tend to agree upon is that his secondary pitches—currently a change-up and a curveball—will develop into useful tools (he's also shown an affinity for being able to control those as well) and that he is a resourceful pitcher who can get by without overpowering "stuff"—not all that unlike Cliff Lee.
Pettibone's biggest concern is his health. Drafted in 2008, he has already missed some time with arm and shoulder troubles, though, he seemed to put those issues behind him in 2011.
13. Tyler Greene
Tyler Greene, a high school shortstop entering the 2011 draft, was an absolute steal for the Philadelphia Phillies. One of the highest rated high school shortstops heading into draft day, a strong commitment to the University of Georgia scared a lot of teams away, and he fell right into the Phillies' lap during the 11th round. The sides were able to agree to a deal quickly and Greene began his professional career, posting a wRC+ of 132 in 17 games at Rookie ball.
From a "tools" perspective, he is comparable to Mitchell Walding, but better. Though his skill set is still very raw, his 6-foot-2 frame still has some filling out to do, and all indications point to him being an offensive minded shortstop for the foreseeable future, with the ability to drive the ball.
The Phillies approached the 2011 draft by looking to stockpile talent in the middle infield, and did an excellent job inking Greene and Walding to contracts.
12. Jiwan James
Jiwan James is another one of those "high-risk, high-reward" type outfielders, but with a twist: He was actually drafted as a pitcher out of high school. After the Philadelphia Phillies had seen enough of him on the mound, and it was decided that his future was elsewhere, James moved to the outfield to once again begin rising through the system.
For some reason, scouts love this guy. If you're going to limit that love to defense, I can understand why. As a former pitcher, James has a cannon for an arm and well above average speed and natural, defensive instincts that make him a prime candidate to be a great center fielder.
The only problem is that, as he stands right now, he simply can't hit. Scouts project that he will be able to learn to make better contact and hit for more power as he progresses through the system, but the old axiom of, "You can't teach hitting," has always resonated through me, and it is especially tough to learn to hit against professional pitching.
Last season with the Clearwater Threshers, James made strides in his offensive prowess, getting on-base at a higher clip and stealing bases with efficiency. That said, I think there is still work to be done for the now 23-year-old center fielder, and he won't crack my top ten just yet.
11. Roman Quinn
The Philadelphia Phillies didn't have a single pick in the first round of the 2011 draft, and yet, managed to draft and sign two of the players with the highest upside. The first of those that we'll be covering is another high school shortstop, this one by the name of Roman Quinn.
Quinn, who stands at just 5-foot-9, plays a game that is predicated on speed. Actually, that statement doesn't really do him any justice. It should be ready like he is really, really fast. He was rated by most scouts as the fastest player in the draft, and even at a young age has shown a proficiency in base running. His speed has the ability to alter the course of a game.
Though his offensive attack is speed oriented, he can also hit. He has a smooth stroke and quick hands backed by strong wrists, giving him a little extra pop than you would expect for someone of his stature. As a switch-hitter, he is a good hitter from both sides of the plate, making him all the more valuable to the Phillies.
Defensively, he is an adept shortstop. Not elite, but a good defender. Quinn has a strong arm and the ability to make tough throws, leaving the experts to believe that he'll be able to stick at shortstop, although, he certainly wouldn't be a bad guy to plug into center field either.
Reading scouting reports about him, I can't help but think of him as a young Jimmy Rollins, though his defense isn't on the same level.
Photo courtesy of Perfect Game USA, a must read for fans interested in the MLB Draft.
10. Michael Schwimer
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Most people are now familiar with the work of Michael Schwimer, but 14.1 innings of work are hardly evidence of his level of talent and he didn't pitch to the best of his abilities with the Philadelphia Phillies last season. With the MLB being his third stop of the year, some time to work with the Phillies' catchers and coaches on a consistent basis should help moving forward.
Since most of us have seen Schwimer pitch, the scouting report will be brief. He has a good, live fastball that has a tendency to sit in the low to mid 90s, and he normally controls it much better than he did in his brief stint with the Phils. He also has a good change-up and a slider that is a work in progress, and moving forward, he'll need to utilize all three of those pitches to be effective.
That said, he still has a high ceiling and could someday work as a set-up man or closer.
9. Julio Rodriguez
Philadelphia Phillies' fans should start getting excited about Julio Rodriguez. Somewhat of a non-prospect a few years back, Rodriguez always had the tools to put it together and become a top prospect, but for reasons I'll list below, he had scouts baffled about how he should be ranked. Now, after a few successful seasons, he should be heading towards the top of most lists.
Despite being a tall, 6-foot-4 right handed starter, Rodriguez is not overpowering. He throws a fastball in the low 90s, but it's a straight fastball that can be hittable. Thanks to an interesting delivery, however, he has become deceptive, and throws a big, slow, looping curveball a la Roy Oswalt that has been fooling his competition.
Though he still has some work to do with his control, he had an extremely impressive season for the Clearwater Threshers in 2011, leading not only the team but all of Minor League Baseball with 16 wins.
He still has room for improvement, and I suspect he'll be joining the conversation of top starting pitchers in the Phillies' organization soon.
8. Freddy Galvis
Freddy Galvis has come a long way, progressing from just being a mention in a name of possible Major League-caliber middle infielders to the heir apparent to Philadelphia Phillies' shortstop Jimmy Rollins, should the club be unable to re-sign their longtime shortstop.
After distancing himself from Cesar Hernandez and Harold Garcia in 2010, a strong 2011 season catapulted Galvis to the top of the Phillies' list of middle infielders. The strongest part of his game has always been his defense. A natural shortstop, Galvis has quick feet and good range, with a strong arm to boot. Recently, the argument has been made that defensively, his defense is on par with Rollins.
It has been his offense that has always come into question, and he made great strides to giving us some answers in 2011. A move back to the top of the batting order seemed to help Galvis, who posted an OPS of .727 in AA Reading before being promoted to AAA Lehigh Valley, where he registered a lower OPS—.678 at this stop.
His offensive numbers have a tendency to be misleading, and while he may very well be able to prove a suitable replacement at shortstop defensively, his offensive approach still leaves much to be desired. In both Minor League stops from 2011, Galvis posted below league average wRC+ ratings of 99 and 81, respectively.
That said, Rollins' 2011 wRC+ was just 106. Still, I question Galvis' ability not to be a black hole, offensively, at the Major League level.
7. Phillipe Aumont
The Philadelphia Phillies like Phillippe Aumont a lot. They liked him so much that following the 2009 season, they traded Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for a package of prospects that he headlined. After a miserable 2010 season, a lot of Phillies' fans doubted he would ever reach his lofty potential, but a dominant 2011 season seems to have but a lot of those worries to rest.
After tinkering with his mechanics and moving him to the bullpen for good, Aumont is back on track. After all, keeping every inch of his 6-foot-7 frame in order during a delivery is no simple task. However, with the help of the Phils' coaches, he seems to have straightened all of that out and it has paid dividends.
Boasting a fastball that consistently sits in the upper 90s, the biggest knock in Aumont's game has always been his control. Fixing his mechanics has seemed to help. He nearly cut his walks in half with AA Reading before watching them balloon again at AAA Lehigh Valley.
The biggest difference was that he was now able to pitch out of trouble. Along with a great, live fastball, Aumont has a nasty hook that can be un-hittable at times. His change-up is a work in progress, but if he can work in a third pitch to complement the fastball and curveball, there is little doubt in my mind that he is the Phillies' closer of the future.
Photo courtesy of MLB Clubhouse.
6. Justin De Fratus
Hunter Martin/Getty Images
Justin De Fratus also made his Major League debut in 2011, but like Michael Schwimer, didn't really show the potential that he's been harnessing in the Minor Leagues. Drafted in the 11th round of the 2007 draft, it took him a while to put everything together. However, his work in the bullpen in recent years gave him a decent shot at making the Philadelphia Phillies' roster in 2011, and now moving into 2012, it seems like he could very well break camp as a Major League reliever.
De Fratus is a crafty right hander that also has the ability to be overpowering. His fastball sits in the mid 90s and he controls it well, working on the corners and in the lower half of the strike zone. The development of his slider has separated him from Schwimer and Phillippe Aumont, giving him a second plus pitch that he commands. His change-up has also come around nicely, but it is clearly a distant third to the fastball / slider combination.
5. Brody Colvin
Once upon a time, Brody Colvin was considered to be the best of the Philadelphia Phillies quartet of "Baby Aces." One would assume that, with Jarred Cosart being traded to the Houston Astros, less competition would only distance his lead, but that isn't the case. In fact, he's now at the back end of that group, but why?
A lot of people will point you towards declining statistics from the 2011 season, but that isn't entirely true. He was dealing with a back injury that sapped some of his strength and effectiveness, a concern for the future of his health, but not his talent.
Colvin has all the tools to be a top of the rotation starting pitcher, the first of which is a fastball that sits in the low to mid 90s. He complements that with a pair of very good off-speed pitches, the first of which is a curveball (called a slurve by some) with good break and a solid, deceptive change-up. Both could be plus pitches in the future.
The biggest concern may lie in his mechanics. He has a tendency to throw the ball across his body. Good for movement on pitches, but not so good for upper boy health. Regardless of that, it isn't unreasonable to expect a bounce back season in 2012, complete with a promotion out of Clearwater.
4. Larry Greene
First, a bold statement: It won't be long before Larry Greene is the top prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies' organization.
Drafted in the Supplemental Round as compensation for losing Jayson Werth to the Washington Nationals, Greene has cause quite a stir in Philadelphia since draft as fans look forward to the future. A pure physical specimen, he has quite the muscle mass for his age and the ability to translate that into power. In short, he is an absolute beast.
Greene could have gone in the first round of the draft, easily, but a commitment to the University of Georgia scared some teams looking for sure things away. The Phillies were willing to pay him like a first round draft pick, and Greene was happy to sign with the Phils.
Normally, I wouldn't place a guy with just one elite tool this high, but I'm not sure that "elite" even describes Greene's power. The guy is an absolute monster. Despite his size, he is very athletic and there is little doubt that he'll be able to handle left field, where he won't be a great defender, but projects to be average.
He has great discipline at the plate, and although he had a tendency to swing a lot in high school (read: will be a free-swinger as a professional) he often swung at good pitches. His power has been compared to that of Russell Branyan, and he has the plate discipline to be a much better hitter overall.
A future number one on this list.
3. Sebastian Valle
All signs point towards Sebastian Valle being the catcher of the future for the Philadelphia Phillies, but he is still quite a ways away from Philadelphia. Currently the starting catcher for the Clearwater Threshers, Valle still has some work to do behind the plate, though he has progressed a lot, earning a spot on the World roster for the Futures Game in 2011.
Ranked as one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball, Valle was tasked with making a couple of distinct improvements in 2011, starting with his defense behind the plate and ending with his discipline at it on the other side of the ball.
Defensively, he has come a long way. Valle has always had athleticism from behind the plate and a strong arm, but controlling the running game and making silly errors had always been a problem. His blocking has developed nicely, and the running game was much better in 2011. He could learn a thing or two defensively from current Phillies' catcher Carlos Ruiz though.
Offensively, Valle's projection is a tough call. He has quick, strong wrists and could hit for some power at the Major League level, but he has yet to cut down on those strikeouts and doesn't walk much.
All in all, he should be a good defensive catcher with average production at the plate, at the very least.
2. Jesse Biddle
Of the remaining three "Baby Aces" in the Philadelphia Phillies' system, Jesse Biddle might have the highest ceiling. He has a ton of positive forces working in his favor, but most notably the fact that he is a power-lefty with a big frame, and the fact of the matter is that those types of pitchers don't come around very often. For comparisons sake, he has a similar build to that of Andy Pettitte.
From a "stuff" perspective, Biddle has enough raw talent to send him to the top. With a smooth and effortless delivery, the Philadelphia-native can reach back and throw his fastball in the mid 90s, sitting comfortably in the low 90s. He complements that with a slider that has good shape and break, and a change-up that he's done some work with recently—both can be above average pitches.
The biggest knock against him is his control, which has been somewhat erratic as a professional. He posted a BB/9 of 4.47 in 2011, but still managed to post a FIP of just 3.38.
1. Trevor May
After losing Jarred Cosart at the trade deadline, one would think that the Philadelphia Phillies' system was taking a major hit, but that wasn't the case, especially considering the year that fellow "Baby Ace" Trevor May was having. He put everything together in 2011, shooting him all the way up the rankings to number one.
Tinkering with his mechanics this season helped May find a new release point, and there was an obvious increase in the effectiveness of all of his pitches. He has a fastball that rests comfortably in the low 90s with the ability to reach back and get it up a little higher than that. Arguably, his best pitch is a sharp curveball that he is not only able to throw for strikes, but fool hitters out of the zone as a strikeout pitch. His change-up, still labeled as a "work in progress," was much improved in 2011, and helped May's rate of strikeouts—a whopping 12.10 K/9—reach new heights.
At 6-foot-5, there was always little question about his durability as a starter, but the use of his secondary pitches prior to 2011 often questioned his potential effectiveness as a starter. After eclipsing 200 strikeouts in 2011, I think there is little doubt about May's effectiveness as a starting pitcher, and he'll head into 2012 as the ace of the "Baby Aces."