2016 Phillies Top 30 Prospects
So as was the case in 2015, I am terribly late in writing up my rankings again. Last year I decided to compare my list with a sample of those from around the industry, as compiled by Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman), owner/operator of the terrific site PhilliesMinorThoughts.com. Once again this year, Matt pulled all of the results from around the web and made them available with averages and such. If there was an award for making my life easier, I would nominate Matt. Or the Boon Suds Bottle Washer. Either way.
Last year, my biggest variances from average were Andrew Knapp (I was 10 over the average) and Aaron Altherr (+9), so probably you should assume everything I say here is correct, (as always). Nevermind I had Ricardo Pinto way low (-8). NEVER YOU MIND.
(I’ll note again like last year, that buried within are notes culled from my memory, some of which are very likely to have been reported originally by the dedicated reporting of Jay Floyd at Phoulballz.com, reporting on Lakewood/Reading and beyond, Mike Drago from The Reading Eagle, Mitch Rupert of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, Greg Joyce from The Express-Times covering Lehigh Valley, or otherwise by Jim Peyton from PhuturePhillies.com or Matt Winkelman reporting from the Great State of Wisconsin. Anyone who wants credit for the tidbits of their original reporting contained within, please let me know and I will happily add it).
The number in parentheses is where I am versus the consensus, so +1 means I am higher than the average, -1 means I am lower. And for the sake of making this a short story and not a novella, I’ll keep numbers 11-30 brief, at least in those spots where I can restrain myself, or think of a good one-liner. Enjoy.
- J.P. Crawford –(even) Repeating in the top spot, and repeating at even. Every single ranking Matt had on his spreadsheet has JPC at #1. Pencil him in for a big league promotion mid-year. The Phils could play service time/free agency games with him and hold him out all year, but I don’t see it. He’s good enough that any struggles at AAA will be worked through and he’ll be brought up. All that remains to be seen is whether it’s June 1, September 1, or sometime in between.
- Nick Williams – (even) Williams has a bit more risk in him than Crawford, but his ceiling is nearly as high. He’s got way more swing and miss in his offensive game than JP, but that was a point of great improvement in 2015 – his 2014 K% across affiliated levels was just over 30%. In 2015, he brought it under 20%. That’s a serious turnaround. Hopefully a new challenge at AAA won’t derail that progress and we’ll see him in Philly mid-year as well.
- Jake Thompson – (even) I saw Thompson pitch in the Eastern league playoffs this past year and came away impressed. With a 2015 K-BB% near 13, a 6’4”, 235lb. frame, and a four pitch arsenal of near-average or better pitches that includes a plus slider, it’s easy to see why many people believe he should be an innings-eater in the middle of a rotation for a good long while. It’s not an ace profile, which is how I keep him behind Williams without much hesitation.
- Franklyn Kilome – (+4) Finally off concensus here – maybe this is a case of familiarity, but I am all in on Kilome. His combination of big fastball and improving secondaries leads me places I can’t go with, say, Mark Appel. The risk is certainly there, as he’s yet to throw a full-season in competition. My read on his progress is that he likely won’t sniff the bigs until 2018. Quicker movement than that would be pretty remarkable, and probably a sign that he really does have top of the rotation potential.
- Jorge Alfaro – (+1) I gushed about Alfaro’s potential and talked a bit about his defensive weaknesses a couple weeks ago in my spring training piece. It sounds like he’s been impressing people with his BP power this spring. That’s not surprising, as he hit 18 and 16 homers in 2013-2014 respectively and has been touted as having plus raw power – but he’s got to do it against advanced competition before we should assume he’ll ever be able to tap into that power in the majors. Repeating AA after an injury-shortened 2015 should be a very interesting test for his offense and defense alike.
- Mark Appel – (-2) The “Change of Scenery” narrative is always taken with a grain of salt, and certainly doing so in Appel’s case is not unwarranted. He was a top of the draft talent who has been, let’s call it “lousy”, at times, in his pro career. But there are tangible things the Phils can do to help him, and intangible things he’s already said he hopes will help him as well, (just being away from a bad relationship with Houston, basically). Cross your fingers the “scenery” is actually conducive to Mark Appel’s development, and not just a backdrop for his further falloff.
- Cornelius Randolph – (-2) Big bat potential for the 10th overall pick in 2015 leaves some salivating, but his immediate move to a left field screams “defensive liability”. To me, if he can hit, and hit for a reasonable amount of power, I’ll be fine with his best effort in left. Jim Peyton from PhuturePhillies.com has let us all know that this young man likes to be called by his first initial, “C”. In his honor, I propose we do the same for everyone. I am now “B”. Adam is “A”, Spencer is “S”, Dave is “D” and Corinne is “C”. Hmm…now there are two “C”s. Sounds like the best part of my last semester report in college. *sneers and adjusts tie* Ok, moving on.
- Andrew Knapp – (+1) As I mentioned at the top, I had Andrew Knapp pretty high last year, banking on his 2015 being reasonably like his 2013 pre-draft scouting, after a 2014 of what I always thought was Tommy-John-related struggles with a few green shoots at the plate. Indeed, that’s what we saw in 2015. He’s got gap power that will translate to his fair share of home runs, and his defense was improved after a lot of work with coaches in Clearwater. Even if he just holds that progress to “passable” defense, the solid bat and on-base skills helps him profile as an everyday backstop.
- Roman Quinn – (-2) Quinn’s development has been slowed by injury, to the point where just a full season up and running would be at least a mild success. He’s racked up 137 steals in 176 tries (a not-terrific but very workable 78%) over about two full seasons worth of playing time in his four pro seasons, including 88% in 16 tries in the prospect-heavy Arizona Fall League in 2014. The speed is there, as evidenced by a bunch of really good times down the line this spring that fall into the 80 grade range. Add a little sneaky power, a pretty good eye, and defense that’s been an asset since he moved back to center field in 2014, and you’ve got yourself a player. Whether he can stay on the field will be his big question going forward.
- Ricardo Pinto – (+1) Pinto went a long way towards alleviating some concerns about his frame in 2015, when he threw 145 innings without injury issues in putting up solid numbers at Lakewood and then again at Clearwater. His Ks diminished at CLR as he was working on secondaries and reportedly was using his very good change-up less often. He kept the walks down, and continues to keep the ball in the ballpark. Reading’s park will be a challenge to that skill, but Pinto’s got a high-leverage bullpen pedigree if the starters gig never quite works out, and limiting the longball helps solidify his floor in a big league pen as well.
- Scott Kingery – (+1) Let’s see what he can do with a proper offseason and all the skills that led him to be drafted where he was. Could easily be the second baseman on a winning club by mid-2017.
- Zach Eflin – (-2) An odd year for him, with improved velocity and some time off in the middle for the Pan Am games. Hopefully we get a better sense of his progress as he settles in at Lehigh Valley this spring.
- Carlos Tocci – (even) [insert your own GrubHub gift card joke here]. Good year. He moved up for me in a crowded system.
- Adonis Medina – (even) 2015’s Franklyn Kilome-type may be a tick behind Kilome as I read it, but still worth a lot of attention as the year gets rolling.
- Tyler Goeddel – (+1) Hard to imagine a Rule 5 guy with a more firm lock on a future with his new org than Goeddel has now that Aaron Altherr is going to be out for most of the year.
- Malquin Canelo – (+2) If Kingery doesn’t make it work, this guy could slide into the second base job eventually. His wRC+ of 89 as a 20-year-old in the second half at Hi-A Clearwater is a pretty nice accompaniment to an excellent 135 wRC+ at Class A Lakewood in the first half.
- Nick Pivetta – (+2) The Phils got rid of a crotch/neck grabbing rogue and replaced him with what seems to be a terribly nice Canadian fellow. Good trade, even if Pivetta retires tomorrow. To work with stray animals, I would assume. Or underpriveledged kids.
- Victor Arano (+10) My four largest variances on the positive side are Latin American players, and my two largest the other way are white dudes. Not sure that means much, except maybe that I hate “Whitey”. No surprise there, if you follow me on Twitter. I’m always down on “The Man”, (Chase Utley excluded). Anyway, I like Victor Arano. I don’t believe that you can ticket him for the bullpen just yet, and I think he showed us enough in his time as one of the youngest players in the Florida State League in 2015. He had some trouble missing bats, but as a 21-year-old this year, he’s got lots of time to get back to the form from his first two pro seasons, where his K-BB% was around 17 both years. That’s outstanding, and the control held up through a trying 2015, as he improved his already impressive walk rate to a downright stingy 5%.
- Deivi Grullon – (+5) Guy is a big league receiver in the making. There is no doubt. And with eight homers as a 19-year-old this past season, you can dream on a big league regular with a good bit of pop. Figure on another year of controlling the run game for his staff and striking out a lot at the plate. Limiting the latter may become the biggest determining factor in his ceiling.
- Dylan Cozens – (+1) He was added to the Reading roster late in the year, and I got a chance to see him in the playoffs. It’s hard to appreciate on paper, but the guy’s Really Freaking Large. I learned that term in Med School. Yes, Online, why do you ask?
- Rhys Hoskins – (-6) Every time I see his name I picture Seth Rosin in my head. I really can’t explain why. Does anyone know? It haunts my dreams. Anyway, I am down on Hoskins because I don’t believe the power will be enough to carry him to a big league average regular at first base. Simple.
- Darnell Sweeney – (even) I kind of thought of Sweeney as the breaking point between levels of prospects, with Hoskins being a tier above Sweeney and everyone else from here to about 26. But lots of people like Eshelman a lot more and Arano and Grullon a lot less, so like always, this type of thing remains fluid from evaluator to reporter to blogger to commenter.
- Thomas Eshelman – (-6) Eshelman’s biggest strength can be compared easily to the reason my dogs are most rambunctious on a rainy day: no walks. Not my favorite profile, here. (BTW, I want you all to know that I spelled “rambunctious” correctly on the first try. Unlike “Eshelman”).
- Jimmy Cordero – (-1) And so we come to the reliever portion of the list. You’ll see I’m about in line with the field on Cordero, Tirado and Ramos. The logic here is pretty simple – Cordero is a MiLB level higher than Tirado, Tirado is at least a grade more wild than Cordero. Ramos is just simply not as exciting as either of them, though he is the least likely to wash out. Cordero is, on the whole, the closest to a big league closer of the three.
- Alberto Tirado – (+1)
- Edubray Ramos – (-1)
- Jose Pujols – (+4) Probably will be just as good as his brother Albert. If you believe either part of this statement, please send me your bank info and I will wire you a dollar.
- Jhailyn Ortiz – (+2) Probably will be just as good as his brother David. (Yeah, that’s not a fair comp, but he might be the same general type of player. Big dude with power and almost no mobility as he matures. But they are brothers, I swear. Please don’t forget your routing number).
- Elniery Garcia – (+7) His shoulder could literally explode tomorrow and he would have provided as much value to the Phils as his brother Freddy. (If you give me your social security number I’ll, uhh, save your social security somehow). (Ok, now you know I’m kidding. Ain’t no one saving Social Security).
- Juan Luis – (+5) And finally, and in all seriousness…I blame Chris King and Matt Winkelman for this +5 variance – Luis has not gotten a ton of notice, but his profile is right up my alley – Matt wrote this about Luis in his Top 30: “The ultimate upside for Luis is a plus defensive center fielder with a solid hit tool and below average power”. Sounds pretty nice to me. Centerfield defense carries guys through all kinds of adversity.
Luis Encarnacion (+10)
Ben Lively (-12)
Arquimedez Gamboa (-1)
Aaron Brown (even)
Alec Asher (+2)
Tom Windle (-3)
Alexis Rivero (+2)
Lucas Williams (+2)
Jesmuel Valentin (+6)
John Richy (+3)
Jose Pujols – His arm means a solid right field defensive floor going forward, and if all that power finally shows up in games as he continues to refine his swing and approach, he will jump up the org’s lists.
Victor Arano – For the reasons I listed above, I think Arano will be moving up this year. Maybe not so much on my own list since I have him high already, but compared to everyone else.
Scott Kingery – If he hits well, has no defensive struggles at second, and steals a bunch of bases at a premium rate, (he was 11/12 last year at Lakewood), he could easily be a Top 100 type this time next year.
Adonis Medina – Like Kilome before him, Medina has the makings of a borderline ace profile. More good scouting looks and solid results could have him feeling the love nationally.