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Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies system starts very strong with two of the best young arms in the minor leagues, Andrew Painter and Mick Abel.  Painter, in particular, shoved it this year, and it looks like he could be an Ace in the making.  I also like Johan Rojas.  There’s plenty of speed, and assuming he can get stronger, the upside is a full-time regular.  Their first-round pick last July, Justin Crawford, is athletic with crazy tools, but he has a long way to go before hanging an actual ceiling on him.  After that, there are some good arms that project as bullpen roles, and some high-upside 18-year-olds, but the system, overall, lacks impact depth.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Andrew Painter
  • Biggest Mover: Hao Yu Lee
  • Emerging Prospect: Starlyn Caba

1. Andrew Painter (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Fantasy Ace
  • Tools Summary: Size, stuff, and athleticism to be an ace.  

The Phillies started their prized 2021 first-round draft pick (pick 13) in Low-A to begin the 2022 season, and in a word…he shoved it.  Ok, that’s two.  As impressive as his performance was, he only turned 19 in April.  The Phillies had seen enough in early June and promoted him to High-A, and he didn’t miss a beat. He threw more strikes and lowered his walk rate to 1.7 per nine.  He finished the season in Double-A and did what he does best, missing bats and keeping hitters off base.  He doesn’t always repeat his delivery, and I expect some hiccups along the way, but given his size (6-foot-7) and arsenal, it’s everything you want in a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. 

2. Mick Abel (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP
  • Tools Summary: He’s showing his premium arsenal but has had trouble throwing strikes.  

As the Phillies are prone to do, Mick Abel, the Phillies first-round pick in 2020, had an aggressive assignment to High-A to begin 2022 and then, after modest success, was promoted to Double-A to finish the year.  The arsenal is great, but the control is lagging.  Across the two levels, he walked 4.2 per nine.  But when you consider his height (6-foot-5), it’s understandable.  Pitchers of his height usually struggle to throw strikes when they are young.  He’s young and athletic enough that I don’t believe this will be a problem long-term, so I’m still keeping his ceiling as a number two starter.

3. Johan Rojas (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF
  • Tools Summary: Double-plus speed with plenty of bat speed to project double-digit home runs

I’ve long been a fan of Johan Rojas.  He’s a double-plus runner, has a feel to hit, and plenty of bat speed to project at least average power.  He only hit .244 across High and Double-A last season, but most of that can be attributed to a .285 BABIP.  I had a chance to see him several times over the summer, and it appears that he’s trying to add loft to his swing and, in the process, is both popping up too many pitches and getting out in front of pitches and beating them into the ground.  He also will get stronger over time and, in the future, will be able to hit 15 to 20 home runs at the highest level.

4. Justin Crawford (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2026 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: Toolsy but lacks the hit-tool you typically see in a high first-round pick.  Patience will be the key – not something the Phillies are known for.

Justin Crawford, son of former Major Leaguer Carl Crawford (feeling old yet???), was the Phillies’ first-round pick last July.  Like his father, he’s athletic with great speed and plenty of bat speed.  Hopefully, he can also have the career, particularly his father’s fantasy career – but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Justin is very young with a lot of swing and miss in his game and currently chases way too many pitches out of the strike zone. If the Phillies are patient with him, I think he could develop into an exciting Major Leaguer.  Here’s the problem with that statement…the Phillies are RARELY patient with a player and tend to aggressively challenge them to levels they can’t handle.  Already, Crawford saw five games in Low-A.  In 23 plate appearances, he struck out nine times.  Is that good for the player?  The upside is significant, but the risk is also very high, made higher by the team he plays for.

5. Hans Crouse (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Closer
  • Tools Summary: Delivery and pitching mentality point to a reliever who could be a good one.

Many things about Hans Crouse point to a bullpen arm.  He has max effort delivery that leaves him off balance far too often.  He doesn’t have the big fastball but has plenty of tools to get guys out.  Finally, he’s a quirky pitcher with many different wiggles and waggles to confuse hitters.  That mentality would also work well in the bullpen.  For now, the Phillies continue to develop him as a starter, but I think that changes next season, and I think he could have enough success to be a closer one day.

6. Griff McGarry (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Closer
  • Tools Summary: Fastball-slider pitcher that could be a serious weapon in the bullpen

When Griff McGarry made our Hot Prospects of the week list in late June, I had to do some research as I wasn’t too familiar with him.  First, he’s a fastball-slider pitcher with both pitches grading out as plus, if not double-plus.  The problem is that he doesn’t always throw strikes.  In 85.1 innings in High, Double, and Triple-A, he walked 5.2 per nine.  But, when digging into his college career, he has made tremendous strides.  In his four-year college career, he walked nearly a batter an inning.  But the Phillies loved the arm and took him in the fifth round in the 2021 Draft.  The Phillies are still developing him as a starter, but I have put his ceiling as a Closer.

7. Hao Yu Lee (2B)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 20 2B
  • Tools Summary: Plus hit tool but his projected speed and power grade out to average-at-best

I picked up Hao Yu Lee in several Dynasty Leagues for one reason – he can hit.  He’s not the toolsiest of players with average speed and average power.  But he can hit.  In 79 games in Low and High-A, plus eight games in the FCL rehabbing, he hit .284 with .386 OBP with a 19% strikeout and 12% walk rate.  He also hit nine home runs and stole 14 bases but was caught seven times. I’m betting that there is more power in the bat, and as he matures, I could project 15 home runs with high single-digit stolen bases.  That’s far from a star, but that could be a nice middle infielder in a deeper fantasy league.

8. Simon Muzziotti (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF
  • Tools Summary: Plus speed and controls the strike zone.  His power is more doubles-oriented, but with some tweaks to his swing, perhaps he could hit high single-digit home runs annually.

I’ve always liked Simon Muzziotti.  He’s a 70-runner who controls the strike zone but lacks power.  He’s also a plus defender in center.  It’s likely the profile of a fourth outfielder, but if he could stay on the field, perhaps he could be more.  But he had Visa issues in 2021, and his season ended in August when he blew out his knee.  He’ll be 24 in December and has already seen time in the Major Leagues, so he could be a sneaky player to draft very late in a Draft and Hold format.

9. Gabriel Rincones (OF)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF
  • Tools Summary: Plus raw power with some swing and miss in his game.

The Phillies drafted Gabriel Rincones in the third round last July.  He grew up in Scotland (not a hotbed for baseball) and is the son of Gabriel Rincones Sr., a former minor league pitcher.  He’s a big kid at 6-foot-4 with plus raw power but will strike out more than you would like.  He’s a below-average runner, so stolen bases will not be part of the profile.  If it all comes together, he will work best in a corner outfield role with 20+ home run pop.  As is often the case, it will come down to how much contact he makes.

10. William Bergolla (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2026+ Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: He has a Major League lineage and is already showing an understanding of the strike zone.

William Bergolla Jr’s father played briefly in the Major Leagues for the Reds, and now his son has a chance to fulfill his dream of being a Major Leaguer.  Last January, he was the Phillies’ big international signee and got his first exposure to professional baseball in the DSL.  He showed an impressive understanding of the strike zone, striking out thrice in 83 plate appearances while walking 11 times.  He’s athletic with good speed and bat speed, but he’s only 17 and needs to get stronger for the power to translate into in-game power.

11. Ethan Wilson (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF with upside
  • Tools Summary: A tough player to get your arms around.  He’s athletic with enough bat speed to eventually hit for power.

Ethan Wilson was drafted in the second round in 2021 and was aggressively pushed by the Phillies despite modest success to start the season.  In High-A, he hit .238 with a sub .300 OBP and finished the season in Double-A, hitting .214 with a sub .300 OBP.  I saw him play in a series, and while he was aggressive at the plate, he didn’t expand the strike zone.  In trying to understand the player more, I dug into his college career.

He hit 17 home runs as a freshman, struck out 26% of the time as a sophomore, and then only hit eight homes in 2021 but rarely struck out (8% K-Rate) and walked a ton (13% K-Rate).  In the minor leagues last season, he showed more line drive power than over-the-fence power, struck out a lot, and never walked.  The only thing consistent across his professional and college career is that he steals bases. 

After seeing him play, I think he will hit, but I’m not sure how much power he will have.  But, as we’ve seen, his game might change.

12. Erik Miller (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Reliever
  • Tools Summary: He’s a large human that could become a high-leveraged reliever if his control improves.

The Phillies moved Erik Miller to the bullpen in 2022 to try and extract some value out of their 400K investment.  The stuff played up, but the control was no better.  He walked 27 in 46 innings but did strike out nearly 12 per nine.  It could work in the bullpen for him at the next level as he has swing-and-miss stuff, but for him to have a high leveraged role, he’ll need to improve his control.

13. Jordan Viars (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60
  • Tools Summary: A big kid with plus raw power.

Jordan Viars was the Phillies’ third-round pick in 2021.  He spent most of 2022 in the Complex League with a promotion to Low-A in the last week to finish his season.  Overall, he slashed .236/.324/.315 with two home runs and five stolen bases.  He made decent contact and showed a semblance of an approach.  He’s a big kid at 6-foot-4 with plenty of strength to hit for power but is already a below-average runner and will only slow as he fills out.  If it all comes together, he could be a power-hitting right-fielder capable of hitting 20 to 25 home runs.

14. Jhailyn Ortiz (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 75 OF
  • Tools Summary: He has tremendous raw power, but there is a lot of swing and miss in his game.

Jhailyn Ortiz seemed to turn a corner in 2021 as he finally translated his enormous raw power into in-game power, slugging .521 with 19 home runs in High-A.  Unfortunately, he could not carry that forward this season as he slugged .415 in 119 games in Double-A while striking out an alarming 33% of the time.  He’ll be 24 next season, and the ceiling appears to be a power-hitting corner outfielder with a low batting average and sub .320 OBP.

15. Starlyn Caba (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Expected to sign in Jan. ETA: 2026+ Fantasy Ceiling: Unknown
  • Tools Summary: Athletic with speed and an understanding of the strike zone.

Starlyn Caba is expected to sign with the Phillies next January.  He’s an athletic shortstop with double-plus speed and an understanding of the strike zone.  As with many 17-year-olds, he needs to get stronger, but the overall tools will demand one of the most significant signing bonuses in the class.

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