The Phillies system is nowhere near as strong as it has been in recent years but that comes about because they have used their system to improve the big league club in the midst of a robust championship window. The trades to acquire Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence have sucked much of the upper level talent from the system. Combine that with their recent propensity for losing first round picks through free agent signings and the Phillies are left with a system long on athletes and projection at the lower levels and short on big league ready help outside of a couple relievers.
1. Sebastian Valle (C)
Not necessarily the consensus pick for number one in this system but I’m a sucker for solid defensive catchers with offensive potential, and Valle is just that. He is a tough kid with good catch and throw skills and the athleticism to move well on balls in the dirt. He is an aggressive hitter with good plate coverage and easy plus bat speed. Some scouts believe he can hit .250 in the big leagues with 25 home runs and good defense which puts him on the cusp of being an All-Star level backstop.
2. Trevor May (RHP)
Owner of the highest ceiling among pitchers on this list, May could be a number two starter if he can put all of his raw tools to use on a consistent basis. He has great size and an over-the-top delivery that gives him good angle to the plate and helps his fastball play up because it lacks movement. He can sit 90-93 with his heater and touch 95 mph when he needs it. He has a hard 12-6 curveball that shows plus potential and it could be his best pitch in the end. His change-up is still below-average but he has shown better feel for it and he started throwing a slider late in 2011 but it is still a work in progress.
3. Jon Pettibone (RHP)
The High-A Clearwater club was loaded with pitching talent to start the 2011 season and Pettibone was the most polished and consistent of the group. He can touch 95 mph on occasion but sits comfortably at 91-93 mph and he is a horse that carries his velocity well beyond the sixth inning. He has good feel for his plus change-up and shows some feel for his slider at times. He throws strikes and has the pitchability scouts love to see in a guy without dominating raw stuff. His ceiling tops out as a number three starter but he offers less risk and a better chance of getting there.
4. Freddy Galvis (SS)
Though not all scouts agree that Galvis is an elite level defender, they are unanimous in their belief that he is at least a plus glove with excellent range, good hands and a plus arm. He has everything necessary defensively to be an everyday shortstop. His bat is another question entirely. Despite improvements in 2011 he still profiles as a bottom of the order hitter. He uses the whole field and has added enough strength to have a line drive bat but scouts still don’t see much more than a .270 hitter with modest gap power and 10-15 steals. His glove will carry him to the big leagues but his bat will determine if he ends up an everyday guy or something less.
5. Jesse Biddle (LHP)
Biddle was the Phillies top pick in 2010 and he showed well in his debut season at Low-A in 2011. He has good feel for a young pitcher, with an idea of how to manipulate the baseball and the beginnings of a good sense for pitch sequencing. He works consistently in the 87-89 mph range and can touch higher when he reaches for it, but he must add strength to his 6-4, 225 pound frame so that he can maintain his velocity beyond the third or fourth inning. His change-up and curveball both show promise and he is athletic enough to improve his command down the line. He could be another mid-rotation starter down the line.
6. Phillippe Aumont (RHP)
Aumont has gone from prospect to suspect and back again in recent years, finishing the 2011 season as a prospect in every sense of the word. A massive right-hander he can deal in the mid-90s with his fastball and has touched 98 without losing the sink that makes his fastball even more devastating. His curveball is a potential 70-grade hammer and he also will flash a change-up on rare occasions out of the bullpen. There are questions about his desire to relieve but his lack of consistency in the rotation has forced the move. He has the raw stuff to be a closer at the big league level but scouts wonder if he has the mental fortitude for that role.
7. Maikel Franco (3B)
Still just a teenager it’s time for Franco to start getting some recognition as one of the top prospects in the Phillies system. He shows an exuberance for the game that is nearly unmatched and he has a fine set of tools to go with that passion. He is already a quality defender with good actions at the hot corner and a plus arm across the diamond. His swing isn’t always pretty but he makes easy hard contact and will flash the potential for 20-plus home runs. He’s still a long way from the big leagues but he has a chance to be a plus offensive and defensive third baseman down the line.
8. Lisalberto Bonilla (RHP)
The Phillies did some tinkering with Bonilla’s pitch usage in 2011 and that caused a wide range of opinions on his ultimate projection. His fastball sits in the low-90s with life and can touch 95 mph at times. His best secondary pitch is a low-80s change-up that shows sink and fade and at least plus potential. The Phillies asked Bonilla to utilize his slider more frequently last year instead of his change-up and the pitch showed flashes of being an average pitch. If things come together, Bonilla could be a solid three or four starter in the big leagues.
9. Justin De Fratus (RHP)
Like Aumont, De Fratus is on the verge of being a nice relief piece for the Phillies. He has a plus fastball with some life down in the zone and a plus slider that he relies on heavily. His command has improved since signing in 2007 and he has shown the ability to stay down in the zone and work both edges of the plate, inducing both ground balls and swings and misses. He doesn’t have the raw stuff of someone like Aumont, leaving him just short of a closer profile but he should be a very strong setup option in the coming years.
10. Aaron Altherr (OF)
Statistically speaking it was a rough year for Altherr split between short-season ball and Low-A, but that doesn’t change one undeniable fact. He is an absolute tool shed with an enormous amount of raw potential. He has at least average tools across the board, with his hitting ability rating the worst of the five traditional tools and even then some scouts believe he could be a .275-.280 hitter. He has plus power potential, above-average speed, above-average defensive potential and a true plus or better arm that is a weapon in the outfield. He will likely take a long time to develop but the payoff could be very significant.
11. Brody Colvin (RHP)
The reports I received on Colvin ranged from middle reliever to solid mid-rotation starter and it all hinged on when scouts saw him in 2011. At his best he will show an above-average to plus fastball, a curveball and a change-up. He has some ugly mechanics that cause many scouts to see him in the bullpen in the end. Too many times last year his mechanics got away from him and his stuff dipped significantly, with everything losing velocity and flattening out. If he can right the ship in 2012 he regain the profile of a number three starter or he could be looking at a quick shift to the bullpen where he could work as a setup man.
12. Roman Quinn (SS)
Though he was the Phillies second pick last summer, most scouts I spoke with liked Quinn more than their top pick Larry Greene. Quinn is an 80-grade runner with flat out crazy speed that translates well on the bases and at shortstop. He has good range, an above-average arm and decent defensive instincts, giving him a very real chance to stay at his current position. He showed some gap pop as an amateur but he will have to add strength to maintain that against better pro fastballs. If he hits he’s a top of the lineup threat at a premium defensive position.
13. Ervis Manzanillo (LHP)
Don’t let the numbers fool you, Manzanillo is a very real prospect in this system and he could be in for a breakout 2012 campaign. Lefties that sit 92-94 and touch 96 mph don’t grow on trees and there might be more in the tank as Manzanillo continues refining his craft. He offers a curveball and a change-up though both require some work to be even average pitches. There’s a wide range of paths available to him down the line, including a mid-rotation workhorse with good stuff or a very nice lefty reliever capable of working high leverage situations.
14. Harold Garcia (2B)
Garcia missed all but 12 games in 2011 thanks to surgery to repair a torn ACL in his knee. Before the injury Garcia offered plus hitting ability with a chance to be a .290 hitter in the big leagues, as well as plus running ability with the ability to steal 25+ bases annually. He loves to hit and frequently swings at too many pitches. Though he has strength in his body, his swing lacks punch and he won’t produce more than the occasional double. Defensively he handled the position well and the hope is he won’t lose any range or quickness following his surgery.
15. Larry Greene (OF)
Greene garnered a $1 million bonus from the Phillies last summer, largely because they see some similarities to Ryan Howard in his game. He is a one-dimensional power hitter that has huge raw power to all fields from the left side of the plate. He doesn’t have great hitting instincts or barrel awareness, leaving some scouts to question how much of that power will play in game situations. Though the Phillies are going to give him a shot in the outfield, he will likely end up at first base down the line.