Philadelphia Phillies' Top 10 Prospects for 2014
While the Phillies system is thin on projectable talent and ranks in the bottom tier among all organizations, things are starting to look up thanks to the emergence of slugger Maikel Franco and shortstop J.P. Crawford.
Franco announced his presence as one of the top power hitters in the minor leagues last season, as the 21-year-old third baseman combined to club 36 doubles and 31 home runs in 581 plate appearances between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. With a knack for making consistent contact and generating backspin carry, Franco’s power projects favorably at the major league level and could even play up at Citizens Bank Park.
Meanwhile, Crawford, the team’s first-round pick in 2013, flashed huge upside last summer by winning the batting title in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League with a .345 average in 168 plate appearances. And for the record, speedster Roman Quinn would have ranked in the top five had he not suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in the fall.
In terms of pitching, left-hander Jesse Biddle once again gets the nod as the team’s top young arm after a solid but inconsistent showing at Double-A Reading as a 21-year-old. Although he ranked third in the Eastern League with 154 strikeouts in 138.1 innings, the southpaw struggled with his control and command to the tune of a career-worst 5.33 walks per nine innings.
Beyond those players, the Phillies’ prospect pool features its usual mix of high-risk, high-reward position players, such as outfielders Aaron Altherr and Dylan Cozens as well as third baseman Zach Green. And similar to previous years, the organization also houses its share useful major league arms including right-handed starter Ethan Martin, who debuted in late 2013, and flamethrowing reliever Ken Giles.
Here’s a look at the Philadelphia Phillies’ top 10 prospects for the 2014 season.
10. Zach Green, 3B
DOB: 03/07/1994 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 210 pounds
Drafted: Third round, 2012 (Jesuit HS, Calif.)
Physically strong right-handed hitter at 6’3”, 210 pounds; excelled in Short-Season New York-Penn League in 2013; paced the circuit with 13 home runs and tied for lead with 20 doubles but also struck out (91) more than any other player; 70-grade raw power gives him big upside; amount of swing-and-miss hinders potential to hit for average; fringy long-term projection as third baseman; lacks speed and range, but he shows good arm strength and hands; huge gap between present and future, but there’s undeniable upside.
Projection: Major league regular
9. Ken Giles, RHP
DOB: 09/20/1990 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 190 pounds
Drafted: Seventh round, 2011 (Yavapai JC, Ariz.)
6’2”, 190-pound right-hander is loaded with arm strength; legitimate triple-digit fastball but little idea as to where it’s going; good athlete with some effort to his delivery; struggles to control the pitch against left-handed hitters, regularly missing up and away; slider is fringe-average and works in the upper-80s; good tilt but inconsistent pace; further development of pitch could lead to a ninth-inning role.
Projection: Setup man
8. Dylan Cozens, OF
DOB: 05/31/1994 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’6”, 235 pounds
Drafted: Second round, 2012 (Chapparal HS, Ariz.)
Was committed to play both football (defensive end) and baseball at Arizona before Phillies popped in and drafted him in the second round (2012); physically imposing build at 6’6”, 235 pounds; good athlete for size; prototypical right field profile with plus raw power from left side of the plate; possesses enough speed to remain in the outfield; probable first baseman later in career; underrated feel for hitting; swing has some length and stiffness that may prevent him from achieving a favorable batting average; patient approach should yield more over-the-fence pop in future seasons.
Projection: First-division regular
7. Andrew Knapp, C/OF
DOB: 11/09/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’1”/175 lbs.
Drafted: Second round, 2013 (Cal-Berkley)
Switch-hitter; consistent swing from both sides of the plate; features a toe-tap trigger and compact, quick swing from the left side; hips tend to drift forward, and he’ll open up with his front side to compensate; more length to right-handed swing; more of a rotational swing; good extension through the ball.
Average power potential from both sides of the plate; his tendency to roll over his front foot will limit his ability to hit for power; left-handed swing is more geared toward power; more forceful swings from the right side; will probably hit more doubles than home runs; could increase power by adding more strength to 6’1”, 175-pound frame.
Athletic ballplayer but lacks true speed; good mobility for his size; Phillies wanted to develop Knapp behind the plate before he underwent Tommy John surgery in early October; isn’t expected to return until next June; career as a catcher up in the air due to injury; could be moved to either right field or first base once he’s healthy.
Projection: Fourth outfielder/reserve
6. Carlos Tocci, OF
DOB: 08/23/1995 (Age: 17)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 170 pounds
Signed: 2011 (Venezuela)
Tocci was the second youngest position player at a full-season level in 2013; looked like the youngest player on the field due to his lean and wiry 6’2’, 170-pound frame; he has plenty of room to fill out physically and will need to in order to hit at higher levels; right-handed hitter held his own against advanced pitching in South Atlantic League; good bat-to-ball skills but lacks strength to drive it; should be a better-than-average defensive center fielder; good speed and range; reads and routes steadily improved during season.
Projection: Second-division regular
5. Aaron Altherr, OF
DOB: 01/14/1991 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’5’, 190 pounds
Drafted: Ninth round, 2009 (Augua Fria HS, Ariz.)
Altherr has one of the more athletic frames in the minor leagues at 6’5”, 190 pounds; has been slow to develop but made huge strides in all facets of the game in 2013; currently a center fielder where his above-average speed and long strides result in slightly above-average range; physical development may force him to a corner spot; struggles to make consistent contact with long swing; lots of swing-and-miss to his game; quick wrists and hands; above-average future power projection stands to improve with better contact rates.
Projection: Reserve outfielder
4. Ethan Martin, RHP
DOB: 06/06/1989 (Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 195 pounds
Drafted: First round, 2008 by Dodgers (Stephens County HS, Ga.)
ETA: 2014 (Debuted in 2013)
Headlined the prospect package for Shane Victorino at the 2012 trade deadline; composed and balanced delivery with fluid arm action; release point is still inconsistent, which had led to command problems; impressive athlete who should continue to refine his mechanics.
Fastball consistently registers in the mid-90s and visibly jumps on opposing hitters; curveball can get a bit slurvy at times but flashes plus potential when thrown with consistency; changeup is a work in progress but was better this past season; arsenal and athleticism give him No. 3 starter upside provided his command continues to improve.
Projection: No. 4 or 5 starter
3. Jesse Biddle, LHP
DOB: 10/22/1991 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 225
Drafted: First round, 2010 (Germantown Friends HS, Pa.)
Projectable 6’4” frame with broad shoulders; balanced delivery; minimum effort; durable innings eater; throws on a downward plane; eliminated some of the cross-body delivery that hindered his command in previous seasons.
Fastball sits 90-93 mph, and he works it to both sides of the plate; control/command deteriorated during second half of season; curveball features tight spin and late, downer bite; comfortable throwing it for a strike; spots it out of zone to induce whiffs; changeup continues to improve but still has a ways to go; chance for three average-to-plus pitches at maturity; secondary arsenal in need of seasoning and refinement; good pitchability and feel for sequencing.
Projection: No. 3 or No. 4 starter
2. J.P. Crawford, SS
DOB: 01/11/1995 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 180 pounds
Drafted: First round, 2013 (Lakewood HS, Calif.)
Potential for a slightly above-average hit tool; loose wrists and forearms with quick-twitch muscles; strong core; above-average bat speed; hits off a strong front side; left-handed hitter with contact-oriented approach; swing can get long at times and barrel will drag; tends to drift toward contact with hips; improving bat-to-ball ability; laces line drives across entire field.
At best, average power potential; should have consistent pop to the gaps at maturity; will need to make significant adjustments to his weight transfer and bat path in order to hit for average power.
Good athlete with lean 6’2”, 180-pound build; speed is currently average but can’t rule out the chance of improving a grade with the addition of strength; plays better in game settings than straight-line running; plus arm strength; effortless, fast arm stroke results in accurate throws across the infield with carry; does a nice job of generating momentum toward his target with athletic footwork, which aids the overall accuracy of his throws.
Projection: First-division regular
1. Maikel Franco, 3B/1B
DOB: 08/26/1992 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’1”/180 pounds
Signed: January 2010 (Dominican Republic)
Already physically strong at 6’1” and 180 pounds with room to add strength; really strong wrists; plus bat speed; feasts on fastballs; usable, in-game plus raw power; makes consistent, hard contact; drives ball with impressive backspin carry; still tends to over-swing at times; aggressive hitter who controls the barrel; doesn’t expand the strike zone as often as he did in 2012; improved secondary recognition.
Below-average speed but surprisingly good range; could eventually move to first base full time; struggles with body control; above-average arm strength; bat will always drive projection.
Projection: First-division regular