|Original Published Date: November 22, 2016|
Did the worm turn for the Phillies in 2016? They were eight games better in the win-column, but more importantly, they continued to right-size their organization while getting contributions from some of their young kids. Maikel Franco looks like the real deal, Freddy Galvis and Odubel Herrera turned in very good performances and Jerad Eickhoff and Aaron Nola look like solid mid-rotation starters for years to come. But that’s just the beginning. Through trades and picking early in the draft, more help is one the way.
Jorge Alfaro and Roman Quinn both made their major league debuts and demonstrated tantalizing skills. Aflaro is a potential impact offensive catcher and Quinn, if he can ever stay healthy, could be an impact center fielder. Despite a disappointing year, we still like J.P. Crawford very much; and he remains number one on our list. While we wish he would have posted more than a .688 OPS last season in the upper minors, he’s still only 21-years-old and walked more than he struck out. Perhaps Crawford can help Nick Williams with his pitch recognition. While we still like the toolsy outfielder, it’ hard to be a major leaguer and walk less than once a week. He walked 19 times in 125 games.
Adding to the offensive cache, the Phillies drafting number one overall in the 2016 MLB Draft, selected toolsy high school outfielder, Mickey Moniak. While he wasn’t at the top of our draft list, we still like him and believe the ceiling is a solid major league outfielder.
The system’s pitching still remains a work-in-progress. The highest upside pitchers are Franklyn Kilmore and Sixto Sanchez. Both have great arms but are a few years away from making an impact. While the system is a little unbalanced between arms and bats, the Phillies should be able to reach into free agency or explore trades to fix the imbalance going forward.
There’s a lot of excitement in the city of brotherly love and for good reason. The major league team is young and showing life and the minor league system has legitimate talent. It could all start to come together in 2018 and 19 and when it does, it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Highest Level: Triple-A, ETA: 2017 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 10 SS
If J.P. Crawford is one of the best prospects in all of baseball, then why do I get so many emails from readers asking “What’s wrong with Crawford?” Wait a minute…maybe they meant Carl Crawford…hmmm….
Look I get it, Crawford hit .244 last season in 87 games in Triple-A and only hit .265 in Double-A before his promotion. Plus, the power has yet to show up. He hit seven home runs in 123 games last season and has only hit 25 home runs in 406 games during his minor league career. When is it all going to come together? While that question is impossible to answer, I still believe the power will come, not plus power, but more low double-digit home run pop.
Today, what Crawford can do is…hit. In those same 123 games, he nearly walked as many times as he struck out (80K’s to 72 walks). For a kid that won’t turn 22 until next January, that’s just impressive.
Scouting Report: The scouting report for Crawford stays basically the same as it did last year. He’s very athletic with premium bat speed but his swing is more geared towards contact than power. As he fills out and gets stronger, the over-the-fence power should surface. Last year I put the ceiling at 20 home runs; now, perhaps, I’ll dial it back a little to 15 to 18. Regardless, it’s clearly more than what he has put up in his minor league career, so I’m still betting on the come.
His hit tool is progressing very well. He’s developing great plate control with the ability to make hard contact. A strikeout rate of 14.5% in the upper minors to go along with a 13% walk rate, points to a .290 to .300 batting average. Throw in 15 or more stolen bases and you’re looking at a first division starting shortstop with a chance to make several All Star games.
Fantasy Impact: If people are down on Crawford for whatever reason, make a trade offer. For me, he’s still a top 10 talent in the minor leagues. Does he have the upside of Corey Seager or Carlos Correa? Probably not, but a .300 hitter with 15 home runs and 15 to 20 stolen bases, hitting at the top of the lineup (position 1 to 3) is going to be an impact fantasy player.
Highest Level: Rookie, ETA: 2019-20, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 OF
The Phillies had the privilege of picking number one overall in the 2016 MLB Draft and selected high school outfielder, Mickey Moniak. Taking a high school player number one overall is clearly an aggressive pick, but the Phillies wanted to go for high upside and of course, save a little money for later on in the draft. It’s the Correra plan and it worked perfectly for the Astros in 2012. Will it work for the Phillies? While I like Mickey Moniak, he’s no Carlos Correra. He wasn’t on draft night and likely will not grow into one of the best players at his position. That said, he’s good with the ceiling of a solid major leaguer and more importantly, the Phillies were able to spread the wealth to other players, most notably in signing high school right-hander, Kevin Gowdy. Will Gowdy be Lance McCullers…time will tell.
Moniak played well in his first exposure to professional ball. In 46 games in the GCL, he slashed .284/.340/.409 with nine stolen bases and one home run. He made solid contact and clearly wasn’t afraid to swing the poll, only walking 6% of the time.
Scouting Report: Moniak had just turned 18 when he entered the MLB Draft, making him one of the younger players in the class. History has been kind to young positional draftees, often proving better big leaguers than 19-year-old high schoolers or even college players. His best tool is his ability to make hard contact. His swing lacks loft and is more contact-oriented and most reports I received indicate that his future home run potential would be average at best. He is a plus runner and projects to steal 20 plus stolen bases annually.
Defensively, he’s a pure centerfielder with enough speed to cover the position well. While he could slide over to a corner spot, I’m not sure the bat plays as well there.
Fantasy Impact: In general I like players that can hit and believe that Moniak will hit his way to the majors. His secondary skills are not very loud, although I believe he can steal 20 bases annually. Given his youth, it’s hard to project power but eight to 10 home runs feels like a good baseline. What he should be able to provide for fantasy owners are runs scored. In roto leagues, this should prove extremely valuable. Overall, I see his ceiling as a Top 40 fantasy outfielder and despite his age, a low risk to hit that ceiling.
Highest Level: Majors, ETA: 2016, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 10 Catcher
I know we say it a lot, but Latin players signed at 16-years-old, seemingly take “forever” to get to the big leagues. In reality, it doesn’t; but the extra two to three year in the minor leagues, sometimes more, leads to prospect fatigue. What usually happens is the player has his normal ups and downs, a few injuries, and then fans as well as fantasy owners right him off. Then “bam”, he’s in the major leagues and people are like…who…what…
Jorge Alfaro was starting to get that reputation. Signed in 2009, he finally made his Major League debut in a September callup last season. Here’s the bad news, he probably starts next year back in Triple-A. But here’s the good news, he’s still only 23-years-old and as a catcher, still considered very young.
Scouting Report: Alfaro had another typical growth season in 2016. In 97 games in Double-A, he posted a .783 OPS with 15 home runs. He struck out too much (24%) and never walks (5%), but his plus raw power is starting to translate and given how hard he hits the ball, his BABIP should help to prop up his batting average. However, in order for him to become a Top 10 offensive catcher, he needs to learn to control the strike zone better. The approach is very aggressive and sometimes I believe he tries to hit the ball 700 feet and winds up missing. Again, he’s still young, so the hit tool could still move up a grade.
Defensively, he has a double-plus arm but his receiving skills are still a work-in-progress. As we saw with Gary Sanchez, who has a similar catching profile, it can work at the highest level. It does help if you hit 20 home runs in the first 50 games in the big leagues.
Fantasy Impact: Given the dearth of catchers in fantasy baseball, Alfaro could easily become a Top 10 starting catcher in the game. He has 20 to 25 home run potential and enough speed to provide a handful of stolen bases. However, his aggressive approach will put pressure on his batting average and even more on his on-base percentage. I’m staying with him and believe you should as well.
Highest Level: Triple-A, ETA: 2017, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 OF but with BA pressure
Nick Williams was the lead player in the Cole Hamels trade that saw the Phillies acquire not only Williams but also Jorge Alfaro and RHP Jake Thompson. Both Alfaro and Thompson spent time in the major leagues this season but the Phillies did not promote Williams. Part of the reason can be attributed to him not being on the 40-man roster, but part of the reason could have been his 7:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The bottom line is that Williams put up pedestrian numbers this year. In 125 games, he slashed .258/.287/.427 with 13 home runs and six stolen bases. The biggest issue was his 19 walks. It’s just hard for a player to become a regular contributor at the highest level when he walks once a week. Yes, the game has become about home runs and strikeouts, but a .287 OBP is tough to swallow when it comes with 20 home run pop.
Scouting Report: Williams has a lot of exciting tools with premium bat speed being at the top of the list. He doesn’t have a ton of loft in his swing but he’s strong and is able to put backspin on the ball; all of which should allow him to hit for 20 or more home runs annually. He’s also a good runner and should be able to steal low double-digit stolen bases. As he matures though, the speed will diminish and the power should increase. A reasonable stat line could be 15HR/15SB early in his career, morphing into a 20HR/6SB player later in his career.
Fantasy Impact: The offensive upside for me is Adam Jones. I’m not sure Williams will ever hit 33 home runs in a season or steal 34 bases, but he could have a season or two where he hits close to 25 home runs and steals 15 to 20 bases. Will his hit tool evolve enough to allow him to equal Jones’ .279 career batting average? I just don’t know. Jones is an outlier; successful because of extreme hand-to-eye coordination. Time will tell if Williams is able to equal that.
Given the friendly fantasy tools, Williams will still be in my Top 100 prospects but will drop from where he was placed last year.
Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2018-19, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP
I was very bullish on Franklyn Kilome entering the 2016 season but was concerned, as most were, when he got off to a terrible start. At the end of April, he was pitching to a 15.83 ERA with more walks than strikeouts. Was I wrong about him? Was he hurt? Or, was it just a slow start to the year? So, I did what I usually do…I went to see him. He was dominate, hitting the mid 90’s, giving up only an earned run in six innings while striking out five and walking only one.
Kilome went on to pitch extremely well the remainder of the season, ending the year with a 3.92 in 23 starts for the Lakewood Blue Claws. He also struck out 130 and walked 50 and considering his rough April, he basically shoved it the rest of the year.
Scouting Report: As mentioned, I had a chance to see Kilome this year and he was impressive. He sat 93 to 95 MPH, bumping 97. It was a heavy, sinking fastball that batters struggled to square. His curve ball was as good as I remembered – a classic 12-to-6 offering, that has nice shape and good velocity separation.
Kilome has very simple and clean pitching mechanics. He has a high three-quarters delivery that given his size is truly impressive to see. If he could extend his stride, the added momentum would give his stuff even more life. Given the difficulties that batters have in squaring his stuff already, he could become unhittable along the lines of Tyler Glasnow.
Fantasy Impact: The ceiling for Kilome remains a number two starter on your fantasy team. He could strikeout a batter an inning with a low ERA but given his ground ball tendency, a slightly higher WHIP. I expect him to begin 2017 in High-A with a good chance to finish the year in Redding. That would put his major league debut sometime in 2018.
Highest Level: Majors, ETA: 2016, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 OF if he can stay healthy
Long time readers of Prospect361 know our love for Roman Quinn. We’ve written prose after prose talking about the potential; the double-plus speed, the ability to hit with some authority, but he’s never been able to stay healthy. Never.
2016 was yet another example. He missed time during the year and even suffered a concussion late in August when there was speculation that he would be called to the majors. He recovered, got the call, and overall played well. In 15 games, he hit .263 with five stolen bases. It wasn’t always pretty though as he had an infamous game against the Mets where he struck out five times.
As has been the case throughout his career, he got injured; this time a strained oblique that cost him the last week of the season. It’s frustrating…there’s tremendous talent but in his five years of professional ball, his high water mark in games played was 2016 where he played in 92 games.
Scouting Report: Quinn’s carrying tool is double-plus speed that he has demonstrated by stealing 159 bases in 356 games in his five seasons of professional ball. While many players with 80-grade speed are simply trying to make contact to get on base and use their wheels to disrupt. Quinn is not that player. He has enough strength to not only drive the ball, but to also hit a handful of home runs annually. This is what sets Quinn apart from other similar players and why we have set his ceiling as a first division starter.
Defensively, Quinn’s outfield play has improved greatly over the years. In fact, he’s developed into at least an above-average defender if not a plus defender. While offensively, he might not yet have the same current offensive ceiling as Odubel Herrera, he’s a much better defender.
Fantasy Impact: Quinn could be an impact fantasy player with a chance to steal 40 plus bases annually hitting at the top of the Phillies lineup. His hit tool has improved enough for him to get on-base at a .330 to .340 clip and enough power to hit 5 to 8 home runs. If it all clicks, he could be a top 100 fantasy player. However, given his injury history, I just am not sure he’ll ever hit that ceiling consistently.
Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2019-20, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 50 OF
The Phillies 2015 first round pick Cornelius Randolph had a mixed season as it was marred by a strained muscle in his back that cost him two months of the season. Once he got rolling, he showed an advanced approach at the plate that led to a decent contact rate of 77% and an excellent walk rate of nearly 10%. He didn’t show much pop, slugging .356 with an .085 ISO and only two home runs in 63 games at Lakewood.
Scouting Report: In his draft year, Randolph was one of the best high school hitters in the class. He has plenty of bat speed, a very mature approach and can control the strike zone. Scouts who saw him in high school have commented that he can get pull happy and try and hit everything “500 feet”. The Phillies will have to work with him on this but assuming he plays within his skillset, he has a chance to be an everyday regular at the big league level.
The power has yet to develop but given his bat speed and athleticism, he has a chance to develop above-average future power. What Randolph does not have is plus foot speed. He’s currently a fringe average runner but will likely lose a step over the next few years as he matures and fills out. Therefore, I don’t see high stolen base totals; maybe five to eight annually.
Fantasy Impact: If Randolph could run better, the fantasy upside could be impressive. However, he’s not going to be a stolen base threat and that will hurt his fantasy upside. The bat and power should play with a chance to be .280/.350 batter and 20 home runs. He should be owned in all leagues with 150 or less minor league slots.
Highest Level: Rookie, ETA: 2020-21, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP
Kevin Gowdy was set to join the UCLA Bruins pitching staff when the Phillies did some Draft Day maneuvering to save enough money to pay the 6-foot-4 right-hander a well over slot of $3.5 million dollars when they drafted him with the first selection in the second round. For reference, that’s what the Tigers paid Matt Manning at pick nine. That should give you a sense for the type of upside the Phillies think they got with Gowdy.
In his debut, he did just fine. In four starts, only nine innings, he gave up nine hits, four earned runs while striking out nine and walking two. In was enough to give the Phillies confidence that they did the right thing in paying him one and half million dollars over slot value.
Scouting Report: At 6-foot-4 and a listed 170 pounds, Gowdy has the type of body that scouting directors love to draft. It’s the definition of projectable and when you couple that with a fastball that can already bump 93 MPH, a velocity that can bump 95 to 96 in a year or two is not out of the question. His best secondary pitch is his curve ball but it’s still emerging.
His delivery is very classic with a high leg-kick and a pronounced trailing leg extension. He pitches over-the-top and that should lead to excellent plane on his pitches. The arm action is clean and the delivery is smooth.
Fantasy Impact: Gowdy is somebody I would consider drafting in a Dynasty League. You’ll have to wait three to four years but I think the upside is a number two starter. Granted, there is extreme risk but sometimes you have to just go for it and from a risk/reward standpoint, it’s a nice buy.
Highest Level: Triple-A, ETA: 2017, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 10 to 15 Catcher
Drafted in the second round of the 2013 MLB Draft, Andrew Knapp has made quick work of the minor leagues. He follow-up his 2015 breakout season with a fine showing in Triple-A last year. In 107 games, he batted .266 with eight home runs, a 24% strikeout rate and an 8% walk rate. While he’s been moving through the system quickly, he turns 25 in December and the Phillies need to get him to the major leagues. He’s nearly ready and has the offensive profile to be a first division starter.
Scouting Report: Knapp is a switch hitter with good bat speed and enough present strength to project future average power. He has a good approach with the ability to control the strike zone when he avoids chasing pitches. He’s got catcher speed so stolen bases will not be part of the profile.
His defensive game has gotten better. He has a solid arm with improving footwork. He provides a good target for pitchers but his framing skills are still lacking.
Fantasy Impact: I think Jorge Alfaro will start the season in Triple-A with Knapp having a chance to break camp with the team. The upside is a .265 hitter with 12 to 18 home runs. If he reaches that output, that’s a Top 15 fantasy catcher.
Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2017, Fantasy Ceiling: Platoon OF with 20 HR pop
I understand that I’m not the highest evaluator on Dylan Cozens. In fact, I know that many of you reading this site will disagree with my ranking and write-up. I get it and recognize that I might be wrong, in fact, it’s part of the reason he makes my list as I do think there’s a non-zero chance he becomes a solid regular contributor at the big league level.
Cozens had a tremendous season this year. In 134 games in Double-A, he posted a .941 OPS, hitting 40 home runs along the way. He also walked 10.6% of the time. However, on the negative side, he struck out 31.5% of the time with terrible righty/lefty splits, hitting .197 against lefties and most importantly, hit 29 of his 40 home runs at home. Why is that important? Reading is a hitter’s paradise and his 11 home runs in 66 away games feels more like his ceiling at the highest level. Granted, that translates into 27 home runs in a full season but that number likely drops as he faces better pitching.
Scouting Report: It’s hard to ignore a 4-handle on a home run total at any level. There’s no question that Dylan Cozens has double-plus raw power. He’s also 6-foot-6 with a long swing and strikeouts are just going to be part of the profile. He has shown good plate discipline, so with some improvement there, he could become a three true-outcome player (home run, strikeout, or walk). Complicating matters is his inability to hit left-handers. He just doesn’t get a good luck and I after seeing him a couple of times against southpaws, I think it’s going to be a long-term struggle.
Fantasy Impact: Conzens was a big add in Dynasty Leagues this past year. Look, I get it…but I’m not sold. It’s the Joey Gallo argument all over again, but for me, Gallo is more athletic with better plate discipline. If you believe, he’s a 30 home run threat, hitting .230. If you don’t, he’s a platoon player, getting 300 at-bats annually and hitting 20 home runs with a .220 batting average. I lean towards the latter and for that reason, he’s a sell high for me in all Dynasty Leagues.
2017 Emerging Prospect
Sixto Sanchez is the perfect player to put on our emerging prospect list. He’s young with a fast ball that can bump the upper-90’s, and he completely dominated the GCL. In 54 innings, he struck out 44, walked eight and gave up three earned runs. Yes, I wrote 3. He’s showing good control and even some fastball command. It’s not perfect as he’s listed at 6-feet tall and might not even be that. I would not be surprised if he starts the season in Lakewood and if that happens, he could move quickly.