I’m not saying the Phillies are old, but Geritol and Bengay are the supplements of choice in the locker room these days. The Philliess starters visit the disabled list like most people visit the grocery store. So, as the current team grows older, how is the next generation looking for the Fightin’ Phils? In a nutshell, not terrific. There are some promising players, but they lack much real star power and are not very deep in many positions. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top prospects, shall we?
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1. Maikel Franco/ Third Base
Franco is the one shining offensive star on the horizon for the Phillies at this point. That being said, he’s a very bright star. Franco is, by all accounts, the real deal. The Phils’ 2013 Minor League Player of the Year slashed an impressive .320/.356/.569 between high A and AA ball. He hit 31 long balls and knocked in 103 runs. His defense is fine at third base, but the presence of Cody Asche at the big league level could eventually move him over to first base (once Ryan Howard moves on, that is). Calling him the next Mike Schmidt may be hyperbolic (I’m not even sure what kind of mustache Maikel can even grow), but Franco has a very good shot at being a star at the Major League level, with some .300 years with 25+ homers in his future.
2. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez/ Pitcher
The early returns have been less than stellar out of Clearwater on the Cuban prospect, but it’s just a wee bit early to call MAG a bust. He’s 26 years old, so he’s not a typical newcomer who’s out to prove himself with every pitch. He’s sure to show the stuff that landed him a $12 million contract at some point during the Spring. With a 96 MPH heater and good secondary stuff, MAG is likely to dominate in Reading or Lehigh Valley for a while this year. He should get the call to Philly by the All-Star break.
3. JP Crawford/ Shortstop
Many people probably know him as Carl’s little cousin, but JP is starting to make a name for himself. As a 2013 first rounder, the lefty hitting shortstop slashed an impressive .308/.405/.400 in his first taste of pro ball. His defense is outstanding, so if he hits at all, he looks to be the heir apparent to J-Roll in South Philly. Crawford’s power is still in question, and he profiles as a 5-10 HR guy at this point. He possesses good, but not great, speed. 30 steals are not out of the question in the future, but 15 is probably more realistic. In all, Crawford looks like a solid bet going forward.
4. Jesse Biddle/ Pitcher
The unquestioned Phillies’ top pitching prospect before the Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez signing, Biddle had a solid (if unspectacular) year in 2013. Spending the full season at AA Reading, the 6’4″ lefty had a 3.65 ERA, with 154 K’s over 138 innings. His WHIP was a pedestrian 1.35, so that’s something for him to work on this season. He is likely to start the year in Lehigh Valley, but will almost undoubtedly be up with the big club some time in 2014.
5. Roman Quinn/ Shortstop
C’mon without, c’mon within. You’ve not seen nothin’ like the mighty Quinn. Roman is fast… Really fast. Billy Hamilton fast, or pretty darn close to it anyway. While a wrist injury did him no favors, Quinn hit just .238 in just under 300 ABs last season. Barring further injuries, this will be a telling year for Roman. If he can manage to hit near .280, while maintaining his steals and decent pop, he’ll shoot up this list. If not, he could disappear from it all together.
6. Cesar Hernandez/ 2B-OF
Hernandez is not supposed to be a top prospect. He doesn’t possess spectacular physical ability. He’s not near the top of the leader board in steals or homers. He’s a good defender, but not a Gold Glover. But he’s the definition of a gamer, and just seems to rise to the occasion when needed. Everything came together in 2013 for Cesar. He slashed a solid .309/.375/.402 in AAA, then fared even better over a 121 at bat stint in Philly with a .344 average. His power and speed numbers are unlikely to ever help your dynasty roster, but he’s a name to remember in the late rounds of deeper leagues.
7. Deivi Grullon/ Catcher
Signed as an international free agent, Grullon made his pro debut in 2013. In a very small sample size, Deivi slashed .273/.333/.364 with 1 homer in the Rookie League. Just 18 years old in February, the jury’s still out on him, but coaches love his attitude and scouts love his defensive ability. He projects as a good power-hitting backstop, something that doesn’t grow on trees. File Grullon in your memory bank for now.
8. Aaron Altherr/ Outfield
Tim and Al from Tool Time are on the phone. They want some of their tools back. Altherr has plenty of tools, but this year will be a big test for him as he moves up to AA Reading. Altherr had few problems handling high A pitching last year, although it was as a 21 year old. His 12 homers and 23 steals in 2013 could be a sign of things to come, but he’s going to need to work on his walk/strikeout ratio to be successful at the higher levels.
9. Carlos Tocci/ Outfield
Yet another international signee, Tocci has yet to have much success at the pro level. Still just 18 years old, Carlos has time very much on his side. The numbers are barely worth mentioning, but he slashed just .209/.261/.249 in A ball as a 17 year-old. Obviously, both Tucci and the Phillies organization will be looking for vast improvement this season.
10. Zach Green/ Third Base
Green may only be the third best option at the hot corner in the Philadelphia organization (behind current starter Cody Asche and top prospect Maikel Franco) , but he’s developing into a pretty nice prospect in his own right. He’s still a bit… well, Green, but the youngster hit 13 homers and slugged .478 in just under 300 at bats. Granted, he also managed an average of just .252 and struck out nearly 30% of the time, so there’s still work to be done.