I struggled writing the Phillies system last year. A lot of players had down seasons in 2019 and with the missed 2020 season, and little information to go on, there weren’t a lot of positive stories to write about. This year was different.
Many of their young players have gotten better. Johan Rojas had a great season where he showed speed, growing power, and a much-improved approach. Luis Garcia did as well and is back on track to being a prospect again. Finally, Logan O’Hoppe, a defensive catcher also improved his approach, reducing his striking out rate in a meaningful way. He now looks like a legitimate prospect. Throw in Mick Abel, Bryson Stott, Andrew Painter, and even newly acquired Hans Crouse, and the Phillies have something upon which they can build.
Prospect Quick Shot
- Top Prospect: Mick Abel
- Biggest Mover: Johan Rojas
- Emerging Prospect: William Bergolla
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP with risk
- Tools Summary: He has a great delivery with a plus fastball, but secondary pitches need work. While he doesn’t always throw strikes, he’s going to get better by just pitching more
There was a lot of anticipation about Mick Abel’s professional debut. He was the 15th overall pick in the 2020 draft and based on reports out of the Fall Instructional Leagues, I was excited to see what he could do. The results were mixed. He showed plus stuff with a fastball that would touch 98 MPH and sit 95 to 97 MPH. His breaking ball is more “slurvy” and needs work, but the change-up showed solid fade with plenty of swings and misses. He didn’t always throw strikes, walking 5.4 per nine, but the delivery is simple, smooth, and athletic. He’s got a long way to go and while he didn’t “shove it” in his first 14 games, there’s an awful lot to like.
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 OF with upside
- Tools Summary: Fantastic year where he showed speed, growing power, and most importantly, an improved approach
I almost put Johan Rojas as the number one player in the Phillies system. There’s just a lot to like. He’s got great bat speed, is a plus runner, and has refined his approach to a point that not only does he have a chance to be a full-time regular, but perhaps an All-Star. He spent most of 2021 in Low-A where he stole 25 bases, hit seven home runs, and struck out 20% of the time. After his promotion, he continued to hit, steal bases, and show even better contact. He’ll likely start the year back in High-A but if he continues to progress, the Phillies will start to accelerate his timeline.
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 20 SS or Top 15 2B
- Tools Summary: An improved approach is encouraging, but I question how much power and speed he will ultimately have
I finally caught up with Bryson Stott this year in Double-A and he was good. I know that’s not terribly descriptive, but after watching him play in three games in Double-A, that was my conclusion. The question I asked myself when watching him: he’s good, but can he become an impact Major Leaguer? That was the question I struggled with. He’s more a grinder. His approach is solid, perhaps though too passive. The bat speed is good, not great and while he stole 9 bases this year, he’s far from a speedster. I do think he’ll hit and could post a .270 batting average with a .350 OBP. But, it might come with 15 home runs and 5 to 8 stolen bases. That’s fine, but if he stays at shortstop, that’s a middle infielder on a fantasy team. If he moves to second, then my calculus changes. So, yeah, he’s good, but will he be an impact performer at the highest level?
- Highest Level: Complex League ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 SP with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: A big kid and a big arm but a long way to go
The Phillies boldly went back-to-back in selecting a high school pitcher with their first pick in the last two drafts. Mick Abel in 2020 and Andrew Painter last June. Painter is a tall kid at 6-foot-7 but at 215 is pretty lean. However, as he puts on weight, his velocity should also increase. He was hitting the mid-90s in his handful of appearances in the Complex League, but that is only going to increase as he fills out. His secondary pitches are pretty raw and he doesn’t always throw strikes. So, he’s a project, but one with size and present velo.
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS with risk
- Tools Summary: He showed flashes this season of being a top prospect again
While it was far from a true step-up year, Luis Garcia showed promise that he could once again become a top prospect with a chance for a Major League career. After a disastrous 2019 where he looked completely overwhelmed in Low-A, he managed to slash .246/.356/.423 with 11 home runs and 11 stolen bases in a repeat visit to the level. He got a late-season promotion to High-A and continued to perform well. The approach was much improved resulting in fewer strikeouts more walks and he was driving the ball with much more authority. The tools are alluring and at least for this year, it appears his confidence is returning.
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 Catcher
- Tools Summary: Dramatic improvement in his contact rate has put him on the radar.
As I research players, I’m seeing something that I have not seen before – players cutting down their strikeout rates in a significant way. The most famous is Royals catching prospect, MJ Melendez. He went from a strikeout maker to a guy with a 20% strikeout rate. But, Logan O’Hoppe, a marginal prospect before this year, has done it as well. In 2019 in Low-A, he struck out 28% of the time. In 2021 between High and Double-A, he struck out 17% of the time. In looking at video, the swing is more direct to the ball and the high levered swing is gone. He still managed to hit 16 home runs, so there is natural power. A catcher who was drafted as a defensive-first catcher, who now has a chance to hit .270 with a .350 OBP and hit 15 to 20 homer runs…sign me up.
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP or Closer
- Tools Summary: Big fastball but command and control is still missing as is an average change-up
In an interesting trade at the deadline, the Phillies acquired Ian Kennedy, Kyle Gibson, and Hans Crouse for principally Spencer Howard. Since both Kennedy and Gibson were rentals, it amounted to a bit of a challenge trade. Your big arm for mine. I get it…Howard had big-league experience, so you needed something else. So, who do you like better?. Both have big arms but struggle to throw strikes. Crouse walked 3.5 per nine in Double-A and also had trouble commanding his fastball and slider. His change-up still has not developed. But, there’s talent as there is with Howard. In end, they both might work better in the bullpen and I wouldn’t be surprised if both become elite closers. Crouse did make his Major League debut in late September and threw a total of 7 innings.
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 50 OF with BA pressure
- Tools Summary: Huge power but with a ton of strikeouts
The Phillies spent $4 million to sign Jhailyn Ortiz in 2015 and while the Phillies had him repeat High-A to begin the 2021 season, he looked like the power hitter they thought they acquired six years ago. In 74 games, he slugged .521 with 19 home runs. He also struck out 28% of the time. He got a late-season promotion to Double-A where he struggled, partially because of a low BABIP. We’ve all seen this profile before. He’s going to hit a ton of home runs, but the strikeouts are going to be put huge pressure on his batting average and likely long-term playing time. He’s not a walk-machine but will walk 8 to 10% of the time. I don’t typically roster players like Ortiz because they frustrate me and I worry about their long-term playing time. If you decide to roster him, you know the parameters, so you can set your expectations appropriately.
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF
- Tools Summary: Showed great contact in college but there are questions on his power
I didn’t know a lot about Ethan Wilson, so in researching him on thebaseballcube.com, I noticed something odd. As a freshman in college, he showed power, hitting 17 home runs, but with some strikeout concerns. In his draft year, his junior, year, he hit 7 home runs but only struck out 8.5% of the time. You hear about players tradiing contact for power, but rarely does it go the other way. The Phillies thought enough to make him their second-round pick last June. In 30 games, we didn’t learn much. He hit .216 with a 21% strikeout rate and only slugged .374. He’s an average runner at best, so he’ll likely play a corner, so the bat is going to have to play. We should know more next season, but call me crazy, I’m intrigued.
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF
- Tools Summary: Contact hitter with plus speed but is currently a singles hitter
I was bullish on Muzziotti when I researched the Phillies system last year. He had plus speed, controlled the strike zone, and might develop enough power to get full-time at-bats. Unfortunately, he didn’t play much in 2021 due to visa issues that lingered most of the season. I’ve not heard an explanation as to what happened. He finally got into games on August 31st but didn’t do much. He will hopefully play this fall in the Fall League and winter leagues. He’s a kid that I will continue to monitor.
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP with risk
- Tools Summary: Spent most of the season on the IL. He does have promising stuff but has always struggled to throw strikes
Erik Miller missed most of the season due to a variety of injuries and only logged 12.2 innings. He was reportedly hitting 98 MPH with this fastball but was wild. He struck out 16 and walked 11 in those 12.2 innings. If you squint, you can see a number four starter, but he needs to get healthy and get back on the mound.
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS but needs a better approach
- Tools Summary: 70-grade runner with good bat speed but strikes out too much to be a full-time regular at this point. Perhaps he needs to hang out with Logan O’Hoppe
Martin was the Phillies’ third-round pick in 2020. He was assigned to Low-A to start the 2021 season and showed the tools he did in college. He’s a double-plus runner with a little bit of pop and stole 15 bases and hit 6 home runs 69 games in Low-A. While he’s always been a free swinger, he kept his strikeouts in check (23% K/9 rate). Then he got promoted to High-A mid-season and it didn’t go well. He struck out 42% of the time and hit .136 in 29 games. The approach needs significant improvement or I’m afraid he’ll not make it. There are exciting tools, especially his speed, but there is much work left to unlock his ceiling.
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Bullpen arm
- Tools Summary: Fastball is only average and a move full-time to the bullpen could be the ticket for a Major League career
Adonis Medina is only 24, but it feels like he should be older. I haven’t gone back to see how many years I’ve written about him, but it’s been a while. He’s now pitched a handful of innings in both 2020 and 21 in the Major Leagues and has yet established himself. The fastball only averages 92 to 93 MPH and while the secondary pitches are solid, the fastball is holding him back. He’s now 24 and the Phillies should just move him to the bullpen full-time to let his fastball play up to see if they extract some value.
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Lottery pick
- Tools Summary: Athletic with good bat speed. He needs a lot of development time, but I talked to an evaluator who thought there was something there
Baylor was selected by the Phillies in the third round in 2019 as a raw teenager that had intriguing athleticism and bat speed. The missed 2020 hurt his development timeframe and he started back in the Complex League where he hit everything. He then spent the last three weeks in low-A where he found the sledding much more difficult. He just turned 21 and still has a long way to go. But, if he can just hit a little, he’ll steal some bases and pop the occasional home run. At this point, he’s simply a lottery ticket.
- Highest Level: Int’l Player expect to sign ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling: Unknown
- Tools Summary: Toolsy shortstop with a big-league lineage
The Phillies haven’t stuck their toe too deep into the international market for a while but in January thhey are expected to sign William Bergolla. He’s a toolsy shortstop from Venezuela with good bat speed and a feel to hit. There’s also plus speed and the actions to stay in the dirt. His father played briefly in the big leagues in the mid-2000s.