|Original Published Date: November 19, 2019|
It was a grind writing the Phillies Top 15 Prospects List. The system starts off strong with Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard; two, no-doubt big leaguers. After that, the system starts to thin out quickly and ends with several back-of-the-rotation starters and potential extra bats.
Despite a terrible season, Luis Garcia continues to intrigue. He was one of the youngest players in Sally League to begin the 2019 and it showed. He was overwhelmed and just didn’t hit. I still think he does with some pop and speed. Johan Rojas is another interesting prospect who if he puts it all together, could be a solid major league regular.
It’s not the type of system you want when your Major League team is solid, but far from Championship caliber. The Phillies will likely have to dip into the free-agent market again to finish their rebuild.
Prospect Quick Shot
- Top Prospect: Alec Bohm
- Biggest Mover: Spencer Howard
- Emerging Prospect: Johan Rojas
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1. Alec Bohm (3B)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 3B
- Tools Summary: Plus future power potential who can control the strike zone. The upside is an All-star performer with a chance to see Philadelphia next season.
After a slow start to his career in 2018, Alec Bohm has been flying through the minor leagues in 2019. He started off in Low-A and after 21 games and batting .368 with a .592 SLG, he was promoted to High-A. He was there for six weeks and again showed that he was too advanced for the league as he slashed .329/.393/.497.
He finished the season in Double-A and enjoyed playing in the hitter-friendly environment of Reading. In 64 games, he slashed .269/.344/.500 with 14 home runs
Bohm has an advanced approach at the plate showing the ability to make solid contact (16% K/9 in 2019) with nearly a 10% walk rate. While he’s not showing a lot of over-the-fence power yet, at 6-foot-5, he’s got the size and bat speed to eventually hit for at plus power (25+ home runs). While the Phillies still have him primarily playing at third, he has played a little at first as well. Given his size, I doubt he stays at third long-term, but he’s blocked at first. I do think there is enough athleticism for him to move to the outfield and that could eventually be where he winds up. Regardless, he could be a solid fantasy performer with 25 plus home runs power who can post a .270 average and a .360+ OBP.
2. Spencer Howard (RHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2020-21 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP
- Tools Summary: Premium arsenal with plus control. His biggest problem has been staying healthy.
Spencer Howard was a pitcher that I targeted in Dynasty Leagues last winter given the reports I received on him. Unfortunately, his 2019 season was plagued with a shoulder injury that caused a couple of stints on the Injured List. However, in July he was finally back and healthy and looked every bit as good as he did in 2018. He also pitched well in the Fall League where he made up innings that he missed during the season.
Howard has good size at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds that should allow him to handle a starter workload. The arsenal is impressive with a fastball that he can run-up to the upper nineties that usually sits 94 to 96 MPH. His mid to upper 80’s hard slider is his main strikeout weapon with his change-up being a nice pitch that can keep lefties off balance.
Assuming he’s healthy, the size, arsenal and control point to a number two starter. However, any shoulder injury is serious and Dynasty League owners need to stay on their toes to ensure he remains pitching.
3. JoJo Romero (LHP)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 50 SP
- Tools Summary: Solid arsenal but got roughed up in Triple-A. He stands 6-feet and this could lead to being homer-prone.
After a nice season in 2018, JoJo Romero took a step back in 2019. He started the year in Triple-A but quickly got roughed up in April and May posting nearly a 10 ERA with as many walks as strikeouts. Romero doesn’t have the big fastball sitting in the low-90s and relies instead on his sinker to produce a lot of ground balls. That together with the Major League baseball likely caused his poor performance.
The Phillies wisely moved him back to Double-A and things quickly returned to 2018-form. In late August, they moved him back to Triple-A and while he wasn’t dominating, he pitched better. Plus, he looked very strong in the Fall League.
So…what do we have? As an owner of Romero, I too am trying to figure it out. I’ve seen him pitch twice and it’s good stuff. He has a solid four-pitch arsenal with a fastball that sits 91 to 94 MPH, a plus slider and a feel for a change-up. In general, he throws strikes but will lose his release point and have bouts of wildness. But, can he pitch in the Major Leagues? I think he can and still believe his upside is a number three or strong number four starter.
4. Francisco Morales (RHP)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP or Closer
- Tools Summary: Athletic, power arsenal but with 30-grade control.
The Phillies are finding a lot of success in signing and developing Latin American pitchers. With Sixto Sanchez (now with the Marlins), Adonis Medina, and Enyel De Los Santos all close to the Major Leagues, Francisco Morales is the next Latin arm to catch our attention.
At 6-foot-4 and a listed 180 pounds, Morales is tall with some projection remaining. He throws hard with improving secondary pitches.
Morale performed well in Low-A last season pitching to a 3.82 ERA striking out 12 per nine. He had trouble finding the strike zone as he also walked 4.28 per nine.
It’s a power arsenal with a fastball that can touch the mid to upper nineties with a plus slider. He also shows a feel for a change-up. But the control is well below average as he doesn’t consistently find his release point. He is athletic and through repetition, he should improve.
The upside might be a number two starter, but the control and command have such a long way to go, I’m risk adjusting his ceiling to a number three starter.
5. Adonis Medina (RHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2020-21 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP with risk or Closer
- Tools Summary: Premium arsenal but control and command are lacking. Also, his 6-foot-1 stature will make him homer-prone.
When I wrote my capsule last season on Adonis Medina, I said the following:
I’ve seen several games in Redding and while it isn’t quite the hitters park that Lancaster of the California League is, it’s not far off. Balls fly out and Medina’s stock could take a hit as his ERA could blow-up.
Medina finished the year with a 5.06 ERA giving up 12 home runs and 105 hits in 110 innings. Part of that was indeed the park, but things are not going to get any better in Triple-A and the bandbox in Philadelphia. In my opinion, there are other things going on. First is his size. At 6-foot-1, he’s going to prone to giving up home runs. Second, his lack of control and command is hurting his arsenal which could be the best in the system. The arsenal says he could be a number two starter, but I think it will be difficult to reach that. In fact, in the Fall League, one evaluator thought he would be a better fit in the bullpen. While I’m not ready to go there yet, it is a reasonable path.
He should begin the 2020 season in Triple-A with a chance to see Philadelphia at some point later in the season.
6. Luis Garcia (SS)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2023+ Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS with risk
- Tools Summary: After looking so good in 2018, he looked that bad, if not more in 2019. Very young for the level, but flat out did not hit.
The Phillies spent $2.5 million dollars to sign Luis Garcia as an international free agent in 2017. They skipped him over the DSL and moved him stateside in 2018 where he looked great in the GCL. He hit .369 walking nearly as much as he struck out. Based on that, the Phillies assigned him to Lakewood in the Sally League and he flat out didn’t hit. In 127 games, he hit .186 striking out 25% of the time. He showed no power with a SLG of .255. Were the Phillies being overly aggressive or was Luis Garcia perhaps overhyped after his 2018 debut?
First, Garcia was the youngest player to begin the year in the Sally League. The Phillies push their players hard and sometimes they respond but it appears more times than not, they struggle. I saw Garcia in June and pitchers were eating him up. He was constantly late and expanded the strike zone. The contact he made was weak and beaten into the ground. In batting practice, the swing was loose, and he showed good bat speed. Once the games started, he tightened up and could not hit. It also did not get better as the year went along. He was bad in April and bad in August. If you are wondering why the Phillies kept him there, I don’t have an answer for you.
My scouting report says there is above-average power in the bat and he’s a good runner. It’s hard for me to say he’ll eventually hit as he looked so bad when I saw him. I asked others while at the game and the common response was the shaking of their head and a shrug. Sorry, that’s all I’ve got.
7. Enyel De Los Santos (RHP)
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2019 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: Plus fastball but secondary pitches need improvement.
Enyel De Los Santos has been a very consistent performer since signing as an international free agent with the Mariners in 2014. Nearly every year, he logs significant innings with solid strikeout rates (7 to 8 K/9), and reasonable walk rates (3 to 3.25 BB/9). Despite a high ERA, he’s done the same thing in 30 innings in the Major Leagues.
While he has solid stuff and control, he’s never put up an eye-popping year. Part of the problem is the data suggest his slider is not yet a plus pitch. In fact, he only throws it 11% of the time. He throws his change-up more and it’s only an average pitch. The good news is that pitchers can improve their secondary pitches and De Los Santos only turns 24 in December.
While his ceiling is a number four starter, there could be more in the tank and fantasy owners need to stay on their toes for any changes in his effectiveness.
8. Bryson Stott (SS)
- Highest Level: Short-Season ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Middle Infielder
- Tools Summary: No standout offensive tool which puts his ceiling as a soft regular or utility player at the highest level.
Bryson Stott was the Phillies first-round pick (#12) in last June’s MLB Draft. He played college at UNLV where he put up impressive numbers across the board. In his three-year career, he slashed .336/.417/.491 with 25 home runs and 70 stolen bases. Once signed, the Phillies primarily had him play in the college-heavy New York Penn League where he also showed solid skills across the board. He hit .274 with a 21% strikeout rate and a 12% walk rate.
Stott doesn’t have a true standout offensive skill and likely will develop into a soft regular or even a utility player at the highest level. While I know some will get excited about his 70 stolen bases in college, he’s an average runner, so I think 10-12 stolen bases annually is a reasonable baseline. I know he’s worked on developing more power, but time will tell if that is successful. He’s got average bat speed.
9. Johan Rojas (OF)
- Highest Level: Short-Season ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: Plus speed, good fielder with plenty of bat speed. He’s young, but there is a big leaguer in there.
Signed as an International Free Agent in 2018, Johan Rojas is an under-the-radar prospect who has displayed intriguing skills since signing. First, he’s a plus runner and has already stolen 34 bases in 129 games across two seasons. Second, he has excellent bat speed and while he hasn’t displayed a ton of power (.432 SLG), as he matures, there should be both doubles and some over-the-fence power that develops. Finally, his swing is compact and short to the ball and that should allow him to hit enough to let his power and speed play. There is still a lot of work left with his approach as he will expand the strike zone and chase, but last season, he made excellent contact (16.9% K/9).
The Phillies will likely challenge him with a full-season assignment to Lakewood on the Jersey shore.
10. Mickey Moniak (OF)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2020-21 Fantasy Ceiling: Streaming outfielder
- Tools Summary: Has not developed since going 1:1 in the 2016 MLB Draft. Average skills across the board suggest a Major League fourth outfielder ceiling.
If you’re reading this site, you know who Mickey Moniak is and the struggles he’s had since going number one overall in the 2016 MLB Draft. Therefore, I will not dwell on that.
The 2019 season was more of the same. He did show a bit more pop, but that might have to do with Reading than a skill improvement. Still, he hit 11 home runs and stole 15 bases. Unfortunately, nothing else changed. He’s still striking out too much at 22% of the time and is still not patient enough at the plate (6.5% BB/9). Although, his walk rate was the highest of his career.
I know it’s hard to stomach that Moniak’s ceiling is a fourth outfielder in the big leagues, but that’s what the scouting report and the stat line are suggesting. He’s still very young and will begin the 2020 season at age 21. There’s still time, but the ceiling for me is still the same.
11. Damon Jones (LHP)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: Good size with a power arsenal but with 30-grade control. There is still a lot of work left before he can be effective at the highest level.
An 18th round pick in 2017, Damon Jones has defied the odds and is on the doorstep of the Major Leagues. He started the 2019 season in High-A and finished in Triple-A pitching to a 2.91 ERA and striking out 12 per nine. However, his walk rate was 4.6 per nine and without some control improvement, he’s likely an up-and-down guy or possibly a middle reliever. At 6-foot-5, he has good size to match a power arsenal. Assuming he improves his control, the ceiling is a number four starter.
12. Jamari Baylor (SS)
- Highest Level: Rookie ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: Athletic, bat speed and a plus runner. It’s an interesting skill-set, to say the least, but he only played in four games last year. The next Roma…no I can’t say it…
I’m not sure what it is with me and young, athletic Phillies shortstops who likely must move centerfield and oh yeah, get hurt. But Jamari Baylor might be the next one.
Drafted in the third round last June, Baylor is athletic with plus speed who looks like he might be able to hit a little. He only played in four games last season, so there isn’t a lot to go on, but I’ve gotten some very good reports on him that suggest he has good bat speed and solid contact skills.
13. Erik Miller (LHP)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling: Closer
- Tools Summary: Large human with a power arsenal but also, 30-grade control.
Erik Miller was drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 MLB Draft after starting for three years at Stanford. He has big stuff (and is also a large human at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds) but has 30-grade control. In his draft year, he struck out over 11 per nine but also walked five per nine. It was more of the same in his professional debut.
The delivery and control point to a bullpen role, but it could be a late-inning high-leverage role as well. He’s an intriguing prospect and one that could move quickly if the Phillies do decide to move him to the bullpen.
14. Cole Irvin (LHP)
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2019 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 75 SP
- Tools Summary: Control and command lefty that should be able to carve out a career like Tommy Milone.
When you have early success in the big leagues, the waiver wire in Fantasy Leagues generally blow-up. That’s what happened when Cole Irvin made his big-league debut against the Royals and pitched seven innings of one-run ball on May 12th. The soft-tossing lefty came back to earth in his subsequent outings but still has enough stuff to carve out a career as a back-of-the-rotation or swing starter. While the stuff is league-average, the entire arsenal plays up because he pounds the strike zone.
15. Jhailyn Ortiz (OF)
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Extra Bat
- Tools Summary: Big power but big strikeouts. He’s a two true outcome performer and the line between success and failure for those types of players is very thin.
The Phillies spent $4 million dollars to sign Jhailyn Ortiz in 2015. While he still has the 80-grade raw power and when he makes contact, it will appear in games. However, he’s striking out an alarming rate and without the benefits of a high walk rate, it’s a tough profile for success. When he posts a low BABIP like he did in 2019, he hits .200. The best-case scenario is a Franmill Reyes type of performer, but even to achieve that, he’ll have to cut down on his 30%+ strikeout rate.