The Phillies system doesn’t have tremendous star power or depth but it does have a fair number of boom or bust types that could make a name for themselves in 2013. There are a few mid-rotation starters that could be in the mix to replace some of the Phillies aging starters but they lack the potential frontline starters to completely fill those shoes. I am interested to see the continued progression of Darin Ruf and Cody Asche as breakout prospects in 2012 to see if they can translate that success and prove the bulk of scouts wrong. Overall, the Phillie system is one to watch in 2013 but I’m not expecting a dramatic shift in the overall quality of the system.
1. Jesse Biddle – LHP (Last Year’s Rank: 5)
Biddle is a solid young arm that does a lot of things well. His foundation is a four-pitch mix that he throws for strikes, including a curveball with plus potential as his best pitch. His fastball sits in the 90-91 mph range and will fluctuate from 87-93 mph throughout his starts. He is still developing his change-up and slider but both should be solid pitches that he can throw in any count. Biddle’s ceiling isn’t spectacular but he has an excellent chance to develop into a mid-rotation inning eater.
2. Maikel Franco – 3B (7)
I have watched Franco evolve from an extremely raw 17-year old into a prospect on the verge of becoming one of the better third base prospects in the game. His bat has tremendous potential including the ability to hit for good average with plus power in time. He is such a natural contact hitter that he struggles to contain himself and will chase out of the zone. He has good hands, solid actions and a plus arm at third base and should be an above-average defender at the position. Franco has some work to do but he is a bright young player in the making.
3. Roman Quinn – SS (12)
Quinn is among the fastest players in the minor leagues and he has the potential to put that speed to good use in game situations. He shows good range at shortstop but his hands are a work in progress and his instincts for the position are raw. Some scouts still believe he will end up in center field long term. At the plate, Quinn’s speed makes his at-bats interesting, as even the most routine ground balls can turn into base hits. He lacks punch in his bat and doesn’t project for any power at his peak. Quinn needs to find a tool to carry him long term.
4. Tommy Joseph – C (NR)
Joseph’s defense has improved to the point that he projects to not only stay at the position, but to be an asset in controlling the running game. He still needs to improve his receiving and game calling but his work ethic gives him a chance to accomplish that. Though he lacks the ability to hit for average and has an aggressive approach, his strength and bat speed give him the potential to hit 15-20 home runs with a .250 batting average. Joseph getting close to the big leagues and could arrive late in the 2013 season.
5. Adam Morgan – LHP (NR)
Morgan gives the Phillies another potential mid-rotation lefty to pair with Jesse Biddle but he is more likely to end up in the number four range than number three. With a fringe-average fastball that bumps the solid-average range, Morgan needs even better command and control than Biddle. His slider is a plus pitch and he shows some promise with the change-up. He will also mix in a curveball that needs even more work.
6. Ethan Martin – RHP (NR)
Acquired from the Dodgers, Martin could be an enigmatic back-end starter or a powerful late inning reliever. He sits in the 92-94 mph range and touches the upper-90s when he needs a little more or pitches out of the bullpen. He throws two breaking balls that both flash in the plus range but his change-up has stagnated and doesn’t project as a useable pitch, leaving some scouts to peg him for late inning work. He still struggles to command his arsenal and will have to polish that part of his game to succeed at the highest level.
7. Jon Pettibone – RHP (3)
With a consistent solid-average fastball and solid compliment of pitches, Pettibone works through lineups with relative ease. He relies on sinking movement to induce weak contact as well as his plus change-up. His slider took a step forward in 2012 but still ranges from fringy to average without much consistency during his starts. Pettibone relies heavily on hitting his spots and mixing pitches but he has the feel for the craft necessary to succeed as a fourth or fifth starter.
8. Cody Asche – 3B (NR)
Asche exploded onto the scene with a .349/.378/.447 line at High-A and a .300/.360/.513 line after a promotion to Double-A in 2012. His bat will have to carry him as his defense is below-average but he has the potential to hit enough for it not to matter. He makes easy hard contact to all fields and has the potential to hit .275-.280 with 15 home runs and a bunch of doubles at his peak. Asche will have to mash at every level and his ability to duplicate his 2012 success will determine how high his prospect stock soars.
9. Shane Watson – RHP (NR)
Watson was a first round pick of the Phillies in 2012 and came out of the gate strong with a 1.29 ERA in his first seven innings in the Gulf Coast League. He has a tremendous pitcher’s frame and the potential to work in the 94-95 mph range once he reaches physical maturity. He throws a curveball with solid potential and is working to develop a useable change-up to keep hitters off balance. Watson’s developmental arc is likely to be long but he could be a mid-rotation starter down the line.
10. Gabriel Lino – C (NR)
Lino is a bit of a flyer in this slot but his ceiling warrants the high ranking. With an easy plus arm that occasionally earns higher marks than that, he shows the potential to be an outstanding defender behind the plate. His feet are quick and he is a good athlete. Lino is a raw hitter that has to develop a better concept of the strike zone for his plus raw to play in game situations, but he could become an offensive force in time.
11. Carlos Tocci – OF (NR)
Tocci put up underwhelming numbers in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2012 but that doesn’t mean he’s not a legitimate prospect. Still just 17-years old, Tocci has lots of physical projection that could help his offensive game. He is a quality athlete that can run and should be a factor defensively in center field. He shows an early feel for contact and if you believe in the development of the body, he could have some gap power well down the line. It’s a big dream for Tocci to become a legit prospect but his athleticism and present tools intrigue.
12. Darin Ruf – OF (NR)
As one of the most talked about prospects in baseball last year, this ranking may seem low for Ruf, but I struggle to see the everyday big-league profile. He truly has impressive raw power but it is generated with more of an uppercut swing that many scouts believe will be problematic against better quality pitching. He was not a good defensive first baseman but the Phillies are trying him in the outfield to give him a chance to play in the big leagues; an experiment that is not expected to produce positive defensive results. Ruf projects as more of a bench bat than a true impact slugger.
13. Larry Greene – OF (15)
Greene is still very interesting because of his massive frame and plus raw power, but there is a lot of work to do for him to reach the big leagues. He has more a strength-oriented swing that isn’t predicated on bat speed and he can be beat by good velocity at this time. The Phillies are working with Greene in the outfield but scouts are almost unanimous in their belief that he will end up at first base long term.
14. Sebastian Valle – C (1)
I was over-eager with Valle last year, pushing him to the top of the Phillies list but I don’t regret the decision given his raw ceiling and the dearth of legit impact prospects in this system. Valle still has the over-aggressive approach at the plate that lends to him getting in trouble at times. When he’s in a groove, he can hit for a solid average and show average pop. Defensively, Valle continues to improve and shows the potential to be an above-average backstop long term.
15. Jose Pujols – OF (NR)
I got my first exposure to Pujols during the fall instructional league and let’s just say I’m hooked. A very raw 16-year old, Pujols is a plus athlete with a good frame and the room to bulk up and add plenty of strength. He already has plenty of raw power with the ability to drive the ball out of the ball park but he must refine his hit tool and develop an approach at the plate to allow his power to manifest in games. Phillies fans are looking at least five years of development in Pujols future before he even approaches the big league radar but you should keep an eye on him.