Philadelphia Phillies' Top 10 Prospects for 2015

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterJanuary 9, 2015

Philadelphia Phillies' Top 10 Prospects for 2015

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    The Philadelphia Phillies haven’t launched a full-on rebuilding process, at least not yet, but the organization appears to be headed in that direction based on recent trades.

    The Phillies have targeted young, projectable pitchers in trades this offseason, acquiring Zach Eflin and Tom Windle from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Jimmy Rollins deal and then getting right-hander Ben Lively from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Marlon Byrd. Those additions give the Phillies some much-needed pitching depth on the farm behind 2014 first-rounder Aaron Nola and former top prospect Jesse Biddle.

    J.P. Crawford, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2013 draft, was lauded for his offensive potential and ability to remain at shortstop, but no one could have predicted how advanced the hit tool would be in his first full professional season. Meanwhile, third baseman Maikel Franco overcame a rough first half at Triple-A to reach the major leagues as a September call-up, setting him up for a potential everyday role in 2015.

    Beyond that, the Phillies system also stands out for its collection of young, high-upside talent in the low minors, a group that includes center fielder Roman Quinn, catcher Deivi Grullon, left-hander Yoel Mecias and right-hander Franklyn Kilome.

    Here are the Phillies' top 10 prospects for the 2015 season.

How They're Ranked

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    Position Players

    • Body type/athleticism
    • Speed
    • Hitting mechanics, bat speed
    • Injury history
    • Statistical trends
    • Age vs. level: How well a player fared at a certain level relative to his age and that of the competition
    • Tools: Number of projectable tools a player possesses in relation to his position, age and competition; present vs. future tool grades
    • Hit tool: In the evolution of the prospect landscape, the hit tool is the most importantbut also the hardest to project.
    • League and park factors
    • On-base skills: Approach; strike-zone management; pitch recognition
    • Makeup/character
    • Defensive tools and skill sets; present vs. projected position
    • Place on organization's depth chart
    • Positional scarcity; up-the-middle potential 


    • Body type/athleticism/strength
    • Mechanics: Delivery; arm speed; release point
    • Age vs. highest level of experience
    • Injury history (durability)
    • Statistical trends
    • Arsenal quality and depth
    • Pitch projections: Present vs. future grades
    • Hitability: How tough is he to barrel? Does he keep the ball on the ground/in the park?
    • Control/command: Is he usually around the zone? Does he effectively command his stuff? How much development/refinement is needed?
    • Pitchability: Feel (and confidence) for using and sequencing entire arsenal.
    • Approach: Does he fearlessly attack and challenge opposing hitters?  
    • Projection: Does he project as a starter? If so, what type? Or is he likely to be relegated to the bullpen? If so, why?


Close Calls

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    Tom Windle, LHP

    Carlos Tocci, CF [Scouting Video]

    Matt Imhof, LHP

    Zach Green, 3B [Scouting Video]

    Dylan Cozens, OF [Scouting Video]

    Jesmuel Valentin, SS

10. Kelly Dugan, OF

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 09/18/1990 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 215 lbs

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted: Second round, 2009 (Notre Dame HS, California)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NR

    ETA: Late 2015

    2014 Stats (AA): 76 G, 290 PA, .296/.383/.435, 32.0 XBH%, 5 HR, 10.0 BB%, 19.3 K%

    Tools Breakdown (Future Grades):


    Scouting Report

    Kelly Dugan struggled to stay on the field in 2014, as he missed nearly two months with an oblique injury and then had his season cut short by a broken foot. However, the 24-year-old still posted solid numbers at Double-A Reading when he was healthy, hitting for average while getting on base at a high clip.

    At 6’3”, 215 pounds, Dugan is an impressive athlete with an ideal defensive profile for right field, including above-average arm strength and average range. However, whether he actually achieves that role will be determined by his bat.

    The left-handed hitter showed a much more refined approach last season, as he made more consistent contact and eliminated a lot of the swing-and-miss from his game. The adjustments hurt Dugan’s in-game power, but he still possesses plenty of raw power and should tap into it more frequently as he becomes comfortable with his approach.

    Ceiling (Overall Future Potential): 50 (average major leaguer)—Medium risk

9. Ben Lively, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 03/05/1992 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 190 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Fourth round, 2013 (Central Florida)

    Last Year’s Ranking: 10 (Reds)

    ETA: Late 2015

    2014 Stats (A+/AA): 26 GS, 151 IP, 3.04 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, .215 BAA, 0.8 HR/9, 3.1 BB/9, 10.2 K/9

    Future Pitch Grades:


    Scouting Report

    Ben Lively jumped on the fast track to the major leagues in his first full professional season, striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings while splitting the year between High- and Double-A. The 22-year-old was acquired from the Reds this offseason in exchange for outfielder Marlon Byrd.

    A 6’4”, 190-pound right-hander, Lively has a strong, durable frame built for eating innings, though there is some effort to his delivery. However, that effort is what makes him deceptive, as he rarely gives opposing hitters a good look at the ball.

    Lively lacks a true plus offering but compensates with a mature four-pitch mix, including a fastball in the 90-94 mph range with late sink and run, an average changeup and curveball and a slider that has some swing-and-miss potential, with tight spin and diving action off the plate.

    Ceiling (OFP): 50 (No. 4 starter)—Low risk

8. Deivi Grullon, C

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    Position: C

    DOB: 02/17/1996 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: 2012 (Dominican Republic)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NR

    ETA: 2018

    2014 Stats (SS/A/A+): 79 G, 290 PA, .227/.267/.297, 25.8 XBH%, HR, 4.1 BB%, 18.3 K%

    Tools Breakdown (Future Grades):


    Scouting Report

    The Phillies gave Deivi Grullon the largest bonus ($575,000) of any of their 2012 international signees, and, amazingly, the Dominican Republic native is already looking like a worthy investment after parts of two seasons in their system.

    At 6’1” and 180 pounds, Grullon shows all the tools to stick behind the plate over the long term, with a projectable blend of strength and athleticism, quick feet, outstanding catch-and-throw skills and arm strength, the latter grading anywhere from 70 to 80 on the scouting scale depending on whom you ask. However, his blocking and receiving skills require refinement, and he’ll need to move away from relying on sheer arm strength moving forward.

    Offensively, the right-handed-hitting backstop lacks a standout tool, but his feel for the zone and ability to make hard contact should make him an average hitter at maturity. Furthermore, Grullon has the strength and post-contact extension to amass double-digit home runs in a given season, though he’s more likely to serve as a consistent source of doubles during his promising career.

    Ceiling (OFP): 60 (First-division player)—Extreme risk

7. Jesse Biddle, LHP

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 10/22/1991 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 220 lbs

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted: First round, 2010 (Germantown Friends HS, Pennsylvania)

    Last Year’s Ranking: 3

    ETA: 2015

    2014 Stats (Rk/A+/AA): 19 GS, 94.1 IP, 4.58 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, .234 BAA, 1.1 HR/9, 4.9 BB/9, 8.8 K/9

    Future Pitch Grades:


    Scouting Report

    The Phillies were hoping that Jesse Biddle would take a step forward in 2014 and pitch himself into the major league rotation, but instead, he continued to battle the same control/command issues that plagued him in 2013 during his first tour at Double-A Reading.

    Biddle, 23, was placed on the temporary inactive list in late June at the height of his struggles, with the Phillies offering him a mental break after he scuffled through May and June. He returned to action a month later, pitching in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League before moving up to High-A Clearwater and then Double-A Reading. Unfortunately, Biddle made only two starts back at Reading, as his disappointing season ended early due to a strained right quad. He returned to the mound this winter in the Venezuelan Winter League but was shut down with elbow soreness after making just a couple of starts.

    Biddle still has mid-rotation upside, with three potentially average-or-better offerings, but his past two seasons in the Eastern League have raised questions about his capacity to make adjustments and future role.

    Ceiling (OFP): 55 (No. 3 or 4 starter)—Medium risk

6. Zach Eflin, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 04/08/1994 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 200 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2012 by Padres (Hagerty HS, Florida)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NR (Padres)

    ETA: 2016

    2014 Stats (A+): 24 GS, 128 IP, 3.80 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, .281 BAA, 0.6 HR/9, 2.2 BB/9, 6.5 K/9

    Future Pitch Grades:


    Scouting Report

    Zach Eflin continued his steady climb through the San Diego Padres system in 2014, as the 20-year-old logged 128 innings in the hitter-friendly California League. However, he was traded to the Dodgers this offseason in the Matt Kemp deal and subsequently flipped to the Phillies in exchange for Jimmy Rollins.

    A 6’4”, 200-pound right-hander, Eflin works in the low 90s with his fastball and uses his size to create plane toward the plate, attacking hitters down in the zone. Eflin’s changeup is currently his best secondary offering, thrown with fastball-like arm speed and good velocity separation, while his slider is less developed but flashes solid-average potential.

    Eflin’s build, arsenal and command profile should make him a solid No. 3 starter at maturity, but given his age and progress to date, there’s a chance he ends up surpassing those early projections.

    Ceiling (OFP): 55 (No. 3 or 4 starter)

5. Roman Quinn, CF

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    Position: CF

    DOB: 05/14/1993 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 5’10”, 170 lbs

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted: Second round, 2011 (Port St. Joe HS, Florida)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NR

    ETA: 2016

    2014 Stats (A+): 88 G, 382 PA, .257/.343/.370, 23.8 XBH%, 7 HR, 32 SB, 9.4 BB%, 20.9 K%

    Tools Breakdown (Future Grades):


    Scouting Report

    A ruptured Achilles tendon last winter cost Roman Quinn the first six weeks of the season, but the 21-year-old looked good upon his return to action in the Florida State League, showing improved on-base skills as well as some unexpected pop.

    The timing to Quinn’s right-handed swing is a mess and makes him extremely vulnerable to secondary pitches. He’s much more fluid from the left side of the plate, though, as his bat-to-ball skills enable him to consistently foul off tough pitches and put together lengthy at-bats. Speed is still Quinn’s greatest asset, as he’s still an easy 70-grade runner with good baserunning instincts and a feel for reading pitchers.

    As a former shortstop, Quinn’s defense in center field has been a pleasant surprise, as his speed is a perfect fit at the position and translates to exceptional range in all directions. His jumps and routes still need some work, but he’s able to compensate for any misreads with his closing speed.

    Ceiling (OFP): 55 (solid-average regular)

4. Yoel Mecias, LHP

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 10/11/1993 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 160 lbs

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Signed: 2010 (Venezuela)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NR

    ETA: 2017

    2014 Stats (Rk/A): 11 GS, 50.2 IP, 3.73 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, .258 BAA, 0.4 HR/9, 3.0 BB/9, 5.9 K/9

    Future Pitch Grades:


    Scouting Report

    In his return to action last summer after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013, Yoel Mecias flashed his upside with 50-plus strong innings between the Gulf Coast and South Atlantic Leagues.

    Mecias, 21, is an ultra-projectable, 6’2”, 160-pound left-hander with the potential for three average or better pitches. His fastball currently sits in the low 90s and should gain velocity with physical development, and he complements it with a changeup that flashes plus potential with good fading action. Lastly, Mecias’ slider is below average at the present, both in terms of shape and action, but should play as an average offering at maturity.

    Ceiling (OFP): 55 (No. 3 or 4 starter)—High risk

3. Maikel Franco, 3B/1B

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    Position: 3B/1B

    DOB: 08/26/1992 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: 2010 (Dominican Republic)

    Last Year’s Ranking: 1

    ETA: Debuted in 2014

    2014 Stats (AAA): 133 G, 556 PA, .257/.299/.428, 39.6 XBH%, 16 HR, 5.4 BB%, 14.6 K%

    2014 MLB Stats: 16 G, 58 PA, .179/.190/.214, 2 2B, 13 K

    Tools Breakdown (Future Grades):


    Scouting Report

    A physically strong right-handed hitter, Maikel Franco's strong wrists and plus bat speed fuel his plus power projection, which could manifest in the form of 25-plus home runs at maturity. The 22-year-doesn’t miss many fastballs, but his recognition of secondary pitches is fringy and prevents him from consistently barreling such offerings. However, even if Franco’s hit tool doesn’t pan out in the major leagues, there’s a good chance he’ll still meet expectations in the power department.

    Defensively, Franco is a below-average runner but has a good first step and decent lateral range at third base, where his above-average arm strength is also a clean fit. However, he’s likely to lose some of that quickness with physical maturation, which would prompt a full-time move across the infield to first base.

    Ceiling (OFP): 55 (Solid-average regular)—Low risk

2. Aaron Nola, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 06/04/1993 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 195 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2014 (Louisiana State)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NA

    ETA: 2015

    2014 Stats (A+/AA): 12 G/11 GS, 55.1 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .240 BAA, 1.3 HR/9, 1.9 BB/9, 5.6 K/9

    Future Pitch Grades:


    Scouting Report

    Aaron Nola showcased excellent command last summer in his professional debut, as he walked only 10 batters over 55.1 innings while reaching the Double-A level.

    Working from a low-three-quarter arm slot, Nola sits in the low 90s with a heavy fastball that induces both whiffs and weak contact, while his slider is an above-average pitch thrown with tight spin and depth on a fastball plane. Nola also does a nice job of keeping hitters off-balance with his changeup, which registers in the 83-85 mph range, and his entire arsenal should always play up thanks to his plus command profile.

    The Phillies have Nola on the fast track to the major leagues, and if all goes as planned with the right-hander’s development, he should spend most of 2015 in the team’s starting rotation. There may be some bumps in the road along the way, but Nola has a high probability of reaching his potential—and soon.

    Ceiling (OFP): 55 (No. 3 starting pitcher)—Low risk

1. J.P. Crawford, SS

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 01/11/1995 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 180 lbs

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted: First round, 2013 (Lakewood HS, California)

    Last Year’s Ranking: 2

    ETA: 2017

    2014 Stats (A/A+): 123 G, 538 PA, .285/.375/.406, 25.8 XBH%, 11 HR, 24 SB, 12.1 BB%, 13.8 K%

    Tools Breakdown (Future Grades):


    Scouting Report

    J.P. Crawford emerged as one of the game’s better shortstop prospects in his first full season, as the 19-year-old showcased an impressive blend of tools and baseball skills while splitting the season between both Class-A levels.

    A left-handed batter, Crawford has the potential for a slightly above-average hit tool thanks to his loose wrists, quick-twitch forearm muscles and above-average bat speed. He currently shows a contact-oriented approach and solid bat-to-ball skills, though his swing can get long at times and the barrel will drag. Crawford projects for fringe-average over-the-fence pop at maturity, though he should always be a consistent source of doubles and triples.

    Crawford is a good athlete with the above-average speed, range and arm strength to remain at shortstop long term, but he needs to work on his body control as well as some other nuances of the position.

    Ceiling (OFP): 60 (First-division player)—Medium risk


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