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Philadelphia Phillies

Original Published Date: Oct. 28, 2012

The Philadelphia Phillies have been very aggressive in the Major League free agent market over the past several years and that decision has taught them to be very thorough in their scouting of amateur players.  While their system is far from elite, there is talent and some of that talent is getting close to helping the big league club.

Left-handed pitcher Jess Biddle leads the list with three above average pitches and improving command with a ceiling of a number two starter.  Ethan Martin arrived in Philadelphia as part of the Shane Victorino trade and shows a nice combination of power stuff to go along with his ultra athletic body.

The top positional prospect is Tommy Joseph, a nice defensive catcher who comes with power and the opportunity to become the catcher of the future in Philadelphia.  Roman Quinn also makes the list with a ton of upside as a top-of-the-order speedster who might turn out to be a tremendous fantasy asset down the road.  Finally there is 26 year-old Darin Ruf, who continues to turn heads as he hits mammoth home runs and might just have a career as a power hitting first baseman or a “Delmon Young-like” left fielder.

1. Jesse Biddle (LHP)

2013 Age: 21 BP: Pennsylvania
Ht: 6-4  Weight: 225 Bats: Left Throws: Left ETA: 2014
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 HiA 142.2 129 51 10 3.41 9.53 3.22 1.28

Born and raised just outside of Philadelphia, Jesse Biddle realized his childhood dream when the Phillies selected him in the first round in the 2010 draft (number 27 overall).  While he pitched well in 2010 and 2011, he really stepped it up in 2012 when he led the Florida State League (FSL) in strikeouts with 151, while showing improved fastball velocity.

As the third youngest pitcher in the FSL, Biddle showed three quality pitches with the ability to rack up huge strikeout totals.  While his fastball only sits in the low 90’s, it has a lot of late-life that sets up his power-curve as his swing and miss pitch.  His change-up also took a big step forward in 2012 as was evident by his .243 average against right-handed batters.  In general, he keeps the ball low in the strike zone and has a favorable ground ball and home run rate.

Mechanically, he is fairly sound with a nice easy delivery and great balance.  His posture could be improved and this would in turn improve his release point that, at times, can get inconsistent.

Biddle will start the year in Double-A and could see Philadelphia in 2013 as a 21 year-old, although 2014 is more likely.  His stuff profiles as a number two starter and with continued command improvement, he could easily be a top 30 pitcher in the major leagues once he fully matures.

Fantasy Impact:  Jesse Biddle has size, stuff, good mechanics and improving command and is starting to move into the upper echelon of pitching prospects.  From a fantasy standpoint, the name recognition has not caught up to his pitching profile and therefore he’s somebody that you can add later in a Dynasty League draft.  I would draft him ahead of other more notable left-handers such as James Paxton and Martin Perez.

2. Ethan Martin (RHP)

2013 Age: 23 BP: Georgia
Ht: 6-2  Weight: 195 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2013-14
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 AA 157.2 118 61 8 4.52 8.41 3.49 1.25

As a surprise to many of you, maybe including myself, I’ve ranked Ethan Martin as the number two prospect in the Phillies organization.   While conventional wisdom would suggest that Trevor May should be ahead of Martin, I really like Martin’s combination of stuff and athleticism.

Martin was drafted by the Dodgers with the 15th pick in 2008 based on his mid 90’s fastball and his ability to spin a curve.  Since then, he has maintained his velocity while his curve has manifested into a combination of a curve and slider.  While a slurve is not the best prescription for success, the pitch comes in with good tilt and is achieving a lot of swing and miss.  The change-up is also working well and I would throw an above average rating with the chance to grow into a plus pitch.

Mechanically, there is also a lot to like with Martin.  He has great posture and balance with a very easy delivery.  The easy delivery also gives the illusion that the ball is jumping up on the batter and therefore makes the fastball that much better.  The big problem with Martin and what shows up in his statistical profile is his release point.  Candidly, it’s all over the place, which I find unusual as the delivery is clean and he’s a great athlete.  The good news is that he’s made great strides in 2012, resulting in an improved walk-per-nine, down from 6.47 in 2011 to 4.52.  If Martin can take another step forward in 2013, you could be looking at a ceiling of a number two starter.  Given his athleticism, I’m betting he does.

Fantasy Impact: Martin will probably just miss my Top 100 list but I do believe he should be drafted on a Dynasty League.  After repeating Double-A, he should move to Triple-A next year and be a phone call away from making his major league debut.  It’s all going to come down to repeating his delivery.  If he does this, you could be looking at a special pitcher.

3. Tommy Joseph (C)

2013 Age: 21 BP: Arizona
Ht:6-1  Weight: 215 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2014
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2012 AA 404 44 11 48 0 .257 .315 75.7 8.4 .313

Tommy Joseph came to the Phillies via the Hunter Pence trade and while I preferred the haul that the Astros got for Pence in 2011 (Cosart, Singleton, and Domingo Santana), Joseph has a chance to be a first division catcher.

Drafted in the second round of the year of Trout (2009), Joseph has turned his raw catching skills into sound defensive capabilities with a plus arm with great pop times and better receiving skills.  While there was once concerns about his ability to stick at catcher, that is no longer the situation.

The swing mechanics are also very encouraging.  He has a short compact swing that should generate plus power.  While we saw this in the homer-friendly California League, the power was greatly reduced in Double-A.  I’m not too worried about this as all the elements are in place for 20 home run power.  The contact rate was fine at 76% but again with his swing, I would expect this to improve.  Remember, Joseph just turned 20 during the season and was the third youngest player in the Eastern League.

Fantasy Impact: It will be interesting to see if the Phillies push Joseph to Triple-A next year.  There is an argument for this promotion as it will progress his catching skills and prepare him better to take on the likes of Lee, Halladay, and Hamels.  I’m drafting Joseph in a Dynasty League and feeling good that he could be nice number two fantasy catcher in a few years.

4. Trevor May (RHP)

2013 Age: 23 BP: Washington
Ht: 6-5  Weight: 215 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2011
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 AA 149.2 139 81 22 4.69 9.08 4.87 1.45

I’ve never been a huge fan of Trevor May.  While I like the size at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds and the fastball velocity, I’ve never been enamored with the pitching mechanics.  In 2012, those poor mechanics caught up to him as his BB/9 ballooned and he gave up 22 home runs in 149.2 innings.

First the positives:  The fastball is a plus offering, despite sitting in the low 90’s.  He hides the ball well and then takes a huge stride that gives the illusion that the velocity is higher as it jumps up on batters.  The curveball is an above average offering with nice tilt that causes right-handed batters to chase.  The change-up is ok but he tips the pitch by slowing down his delivery.

Mechanically, Trevor May has a lot of problems.  First, he doesn’t use his size well as he has a noticeable back-leg collapse that straightens out his fastball and probably explains the reason for his 22 home runs.  Secondly, with the exaggerated stride, his release point is all over the place and this is leading to poor control and the inability to spot his fastball.  Finally, when he pitches from the stretch, he uses a slide step poorly that reduces his stuff considerably.   Part of the reason he has to use the slide step is to compensate for the exaggerated stride.

Fantasy Impact: I think Trevor May has a ceiling of a number three starter but is more likely a back of the rotation contributor at the highest level.  He could provide high strikeout totals but at the expense of a high ratios.  See, I told you I wasn’t a fan of May.

5. Cody Asche (3B)

2013 Age: 22 BP: Missouri
Ht:6-1  Weight: 180 Bats: Left Throws: Right ETA: 2014
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2012 A-AA 518 73 12 72 11 .324 .366 82.0 6.6 .375

Drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, Cody Asche had an outstanding year and showed that he has major league potential at third base.

As an advanced hitter coming out of college, Asche had little trouble in High-A where he showed nice contactability at 85% while stealing a surprising 10 bases.  He continued to play well in his 263 at-bats in Double-A by making solid contact and showing off the power that he demonstrated in college.  He’s an aggressive hitter with a low walk rate but does have a nice two-strike approach.

From a scouting standpoint, Asche has strong hands with a nice compact swing that should profile into above average future power (15-20 home runs).  He does have a definitive two-part swing that causes him to loose considerably kinetic energy and hopefully that can be resolved during the development process.

As a third baseman, Ashce is not an above average defender but does have good reaction times, soft hands and enough arm strength to play the position.

Fantasy Impact: I’m not sure Asche will ever be an elite offensive third baseman but he could have enough power to roster in deeper leagues.   While I don’t believe he will help you in the batting average category, he should be a slightly above average hitter and therefore will not hurt you.  He could have some speed early in his career with 10-12 stolen bases as a ceiling.

6. Roman Quinn (SS)

2013 Age: 20 BP: Florida
Ht:5-10 Weight: 170 Bats: Both Throws: Right ETA: 2016
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2012 SS 267 56 1 23 30 .281 .370 77.2 10.5 .359

While many teams added significant depth to their farm system during the deep 2011 draft, the Phillies were without a first round pick due to the signing of some guy named Cliff Lee.  However, they did have two supplemental picks.  With the second supplemental pick, they selected a light hitting, 80 grade speedster in Roman Quinn.

Quinn showed his speed in the New York Penn League in 2012 by accumulating 11 triples and stealing 30 bases in only 267 at-bats while only being caught six times.  The contact rate was good at 77% as was the walk rate of 10.5%.  While he has very good bat speed, the swing is not very compact as he reaches a lot, particularly when hitting from the left side (natural position is right-handed).  However with his speed, he’s able to leg out a lot of hits.  While I doubt he’ll ever develop much power, he could develop into an above average hitter with good OBP and be a stolen base threat at the top of the lineup.

His actions are ok at shortstop but I’m not convinced that’s where he’ll play long-term.  While he could move to second, his offensive game reminds me of Billy Hamilton or Juan Pierre, so don’t be surprised if center field winds up being his final position.

Fantasy Impact: Quinn has plus-plus speed with enough of a hit-tool to make it to the majors.   While I want to comp him to Dee Gordon, I think he’ll be able to sting the ball more and actually hit a handful of home runs.  I can’t imagine Gordon ever hitting more than one traditional home run a year.  While Quinn is very young and a long way from the majors, if he has a successful full season in Low-A in 2013, I would add him to my fantasy team without hesitation.

7. Sebastian Valle (C)

I owned Sebastian Valle in one of my Dynasty Leagues but dropped him as ultimately, I believe his ceiling is a second division starter at-best with a backup catcher more likely.  While he has good bat speed, his swing is long and when you combine that with his ultra-aggressive hitting approach (13 walks in 388 at-bats), I worry that he’ll hit enough to get regular at-bats at the highest level.

8. Adam Morgan (LHP)

Adam Morgan has nice size, good mechanics and command, but besides his plus fastball, his arsenal is very limited.  That said, there is room on a major league pitching staff for guys who can throw strikes, particularly if they are lefties.   However, unless he can progress his slider, Morgan’s ceiling is probably that of a LOOGY or a middle reliever.

9. Shane Watson (RHP)

Shane Watson was the first pick in the 2012 draft for the Phillies (Pick 40) and while he only pitched seven innings in 2012, the Phillies are very high on the high-school product.  At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, he throws a mid-90’s fastball with a plus power-curve and an emerging change-up.  I expect him to pitch in the New York Penn League before moving to full season ball in 2014.

10. Darin Ruf (1B)

I honestly don’t know what to make of Darin Ruf.  He had a magical month of August, where he hit a record 20 home runs.  He was then promoted to the majors in September and continued to hit – batting .333 in only 33 at-bats but with three more home runs.  In total, he hit 41 home runs, batted .318 with a 78% contact rate and a 13% walk rate.  Yet, I have him ranked as the 10th prospect for the Phillies and many people reading this profile will shake their head and say, that’s too high.

Why?  First Darin Ruf is a 26 year-old minor leaguer and while he’s hit at every level he’s played, he’s a bad body, right-handed first baseman.  Yes, the Phillies tried him in the outfield and he’s playing there in the Venezuelan winter league, I can’t imagine him profiling at anything more than a below average outfielder.  He also has a very long leveraged swing that could suppress his batting average but then again, he walks a ton, so his OBP should be ok.  Finally, he did have a large platoon split in 2012, with a .385 average against lefties and a .285 against right-handers.  While .285 is still very good, Ruf had a .328 BABIP for the year and that could translate into a sub .250 batting average against righties.

So, I’m torn with Ruf and therefore I’ve placed him 10th on the list.  Power is a scare commodity and as he continues to demonstrate elite power, such as currently leading the Venezuelan League with six home runs after 13 games and 46 at-bats, you have to take him seriously as a real prospect.

4 comments on “Philadelphia Phillies

  1. I’m glad you ranked Ethan Martin ahead of Trevor May. I go to a fair number of R Phils (soon to be renamed) games and May struggled. I am a huge Tommy Joseph fan and hope he continues to make progress. Nice work. BTW – I have a new twitter avatar, but I miss the egg.

  2. Rich,
    Fangraphs calling Roman Quinn “a better Billy Hamilton”. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/roman-quinn-a-better-billy-hamilton/

    They say he has clean swing mechanics from the left side and may be the Phils top prospect by next year. What do you think of their analysis?

  3. Good stuff! Just a heads up that Zach Lee is a right-hander, which I’m sure you know, but you cite him as a lefty under the Biddle write-up.

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