Philadelphia Phillies

Writing up the Phillies organization is usually a struggle, and this year was no exception.  There are talented players, but most of them have flaws that make it difficult to put a realistic ceiling on them.   Here’s a sampling of what I’m referring to:

  • Andrew Painter looked like he was going North with the team in the Spring but blew out his elbow and is now recovering from TJS.
  • Mick Abel has a great arm but struggles to throw strikes.
  • Justin Crawford is a premium athlete but needs to get stronger to become a full-time regular.
  • Simon Muzziotti can hit and run with no power.
  • Griff McGarry got the Yipes and couldn’t throw strikes.

I could go on and on and encourage you to read the capsules.

The exception to the pattern might be their first-round pick last July – Aidan Miller.  He looks like he can hit with plus power.  There’s little speed, but that’s okay, as we know who the player might become.

Prospect Snapshot

  • Top Prospect: Andrew Painter
  • Biggest Mover: Justin Crawford
  • Biggest Disappointment: Griff McGarry
  • Emerging Prospect: Starlyn Caba

 

1. Andrew Painter (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP, maybe a #1 starter
  • Tools Summary: He had TJS in July and will likely miss the entire 2024.  Prior to the injury, the ceiling was a #1 starter.

It looked like Andrew Painter could break camp in the spring, but his arm started barking, and after rest and rehab failed, he had Tommy John Surgery in July.  He will likely miss the entire 2024 season.

Prior to the injury, he had everything you would want in a front-of-the-rotation starter.  There was size (6-foot-7), a fastball that could touch the upper 90s, a signature pitch in his curveball, a change-up that was getting better, and the ability to repeat his delivery.  Now we wait and hope that he returns to the pitcher we thought he would be.

 

2. Mick Abel (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 SP or a Closer if he can’t throw enough strikes
  • Tools Summary: He has the size and the big fastball but still needs time to develop his command and control.

Mick Abel is a tall, lanky right-hander with an electric fastball that can run up to the upper 90s.  He might be heavier than his listed 190 pounds, but not by much.

He’s exceptionally athletic but struggles to repeat his delivery and quickly gets out of sync.  Once that happens, the walks start to mount.  His best secondary pitch is his slider, which is a plus pitch when he throws it for strikes.  The change-up still needs work, but it should be good enough to keep glove-side hitters honest.

He just turned 22 and has already pitched an entire season in Double-A.  The ceiling is a number two starter if he can throw more strikes, and given his athleticism, I think he will.  But the Phillies have a history of rushing players, so there’s a chance he struggles early in his Major League career before putting things together.

 

3. Justin Crawford (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF with risk
  • Tools Summary: He has the athleticism to make him an impact player.  He does need to get stronger, and given his age, there’s a strong possibility that he will.

Justin Crawford was the Phillies’ first-round pick in 2022.  Like his father, Carl, he’s extremely athletic with 80-grade speed and plenty of bat speed.  He needs to get stronger as he currently has minimal power, but I think it will come in time.  The best news is that he’s showing a feel to hit.  He does chase too much, but again, he’s 19 with a lot of time to hone his craft.  There’s a lot to like, but it will take time for him to develop.  Know your parameters and, most importantly, your patience tolerance if you decide to roster him.

 

4. Aidan Miller (3B, #27)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2027 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 3B with risk
  • Tools Summary: He’s a big strong kid with the ceiling of a power-hitting third baseman.

Aidan Miller is a big, strong kid who could hit for substantial power at the highest level (30+ home runs).  Despite being a high schooler, he’s not terribly athletic and is already 6-foot-2 and at least 210 pounds.  The swing should produce enough contact to let the power play.  However, the Phillies have a history of pushing their young players hard, so fantasy managers need to add this into their risk equation before deciding to roster him.  However, he’s an intriguing pick for Dynasty League managers with picks 15 through 20.

 

5. Simon Muzziotti (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 OF
  • Tools Summary: He’s a double-plus runner who has always hit.  There is only average at best power.

Simon Muzziotti is an intriguing prospect.  He can hit with double-plus speed, but the contact quality is average, meaning he doesn’t hit the ball consistently hard.  He’s also a plus defender, but the Phillies have two plus defenders in Rojas and Marsh, who are also pretty good.  I think he could be a fantasy contributor if he got a chance.  The ceiling is 25+ stolen bases, a 280 average, with 5 to 10 home runs.  I don’t see a current path for him in Philadelphia.

 

6. Starlyn Caba (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2027+ Fantasy Ceiling: Unknown
  • Tools Summary: Athletic with speed and an understanding of the strike zone.

Starlyn Caba was the Phillies’ top player signed in January, signing for $3 million.  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 setup is there for him to be an impact player at the highest level.

In the DSL last season, he slashed .301/.423/.346 with 16 SB, walking more than he struck out.

 

7. Devin Saltiban (SS/OF)

  • Highest Level:  Complex ETA: 2027 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 SS or Top 45 OF with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: He had an impressive debut in the Complex League with plus speed and a feel to hit.

Devin Saltiban was the Phillies’ third-round pick in the 2023 Draft.  He’s a toolsy shortstop/outfielder from Hawaii who played well in his 10-game debut in the Complex League.  He slashed .333/.391/.452 with a home run and five stolen bases while only striking out 15% of the time.  If the Phillies follow their typical process, he’ll be quickly moved to Clearwater to test his skills in Low-A.  Based on some feedback I’ve received, there is some bullishness with him as people believe he will hit.

 

8. Carlos De La Cruz (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF with upside
  • Tools Summary: One of the tallest baseball positional players I’ve ever seen at 6-foot-8 with plus power.

I first saw Carlos De La Cruz in May, and I stopped and went to my phone to see how tall he was.  Baseball-Reference has him at 6-foot-8, svelte, looking more like a basketball player than a baseball player.

It’s a whippy swing that generates a lot of bat speed.  His bat will naturally have a lot of swing and miss, and his 27.5% K-Rate in Double-A tells that story.  However, given his height, you would expect even more.  I like the kid and believe he could hit 20+ home runs annually with full-time at-bats.

 

9. Gabriel Rincones (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2025-26 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 in 2022.  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 he will strike out more than you would like.  I thought he was a below-average runner, but the 24 stolen bases he stole in 48 games in Low-A were a surprise.  The stolen bases fell off after his promotion to High-A to eight in 72 games.  That made more sense to me.

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. Griff McGarry (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Bullpen arm, maybe a Closer
  • Tools Summary: He has a great arm but couldn’t find the plate.  It got so bad that the Phillies moved him to the Development List to end the season.

Griff McGarry started the season on the IL with an oblique injury and finally got back on the mound in early May.  He has struggled with his control for much of his career (both professional and college), and that continued in 2023.  His control got so bad in his three starts in Triple-A that the Phillies shut him down and moved him to the Development List to get him sorted.  How bad?  In 4.1 innings, he walked 14.  In one particularly awful outing, he faced seven batters, walked six of them, and hit the other.

It’s big stuff with a fastball that will touch 97 with big spin, a power slider that misses bats, and an average change-up with nice pitch characteristics. But if he can’t throw strikes, it doesn’t matter.

I’ve long believed he’ll be a bullpen arm and have set that as his ceiling. I’m being generous with his recent struggles in putting his ultimate ceiling as a Closer.

 

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