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February 25, 2011

Future Shock

Philadelphia Phillies Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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Previous Rankings: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System In 20 Words Or Less: Domonic Brown's a big league-ready starter and potential star, but a good system beyond him is filled with risk.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Domonic Brown, OF
Four-Star Prospects
2. Brody Colvin, RHP
3. Jonathan Singleton, 1B/LF
Three-Star Prospects
4. Jarred Cosart, RHP
5. Trevor May, RHP
6. Jesse Biddle, LHP
7. Jiwan James, CF
8. Aaron Altherr, OF/3B
9. Scott Mathieson, RHP
10. Sebastian Valle, C
Two-Star Prospects
11. Justin De Fratus, RHP

Nine More:
12. Antonio Bastardo, LHP: A undersized lefty with a swing-and-miss fastball, he should settle in nicely with a seventh-inning role.
13. Harold Garcia, 2B: This Venezuelan middle infielder comes with plus hit and run tools, but has very little power and an impatient approach.
14. Vance Worley, RHP: Very polished but low on stuff, Worley could end up at the end of the big-league rotation if Joe Blanton gets dealt.
15. Domingo Santana, OF: A six-foot-five teenager with tremendous raw power, but he struck out 149 times last year in just 351 at-bats.
16. Freddy Galvis, SS: He's among the best defensive shortstops in all of the minor leagues,but it's too bad he can't hit.
17. Phillippe Aumont, RHP: The top prospect received from Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal, Aumont fell apart mechanically in 2010, and is in some deep weeds.
18. J.C. Ramirez, RHP: Another part of the Lee deal, Ramirez still has a big frame and impressive velocity, but his secondary pitches remain well below-average.
19. Perci Garner, RHP: A highly athletic second-round pick, garner has mid-90s heat and could move up quickly as a reliever.
20. Austin Hyatt, RHP: He makes up for a lack of stuff with deception, control, and a nice changeup, but Double-A will be a big test for him.

1. Domonic Brown, OF
DOB
: 9/3/87
Height/Weight: 6-5/200
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: 20th round, 2006, Redan HS (GA)
2010 Stats: .318/.391/.602 at Double-A (65 G); .346/.390/.561 at Triple-A (28 G); .210/.257/.355 at MLB (35 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Arm/glove

Year in Review: Brown was a strong contender for minor league Player of the Year honors before a big-league callup saw him struggle in limited playing time.
The Good: Brown has crazy-good tools, and has transferred many of them into baseball skills that have delivered dominant numbers at the upper levels. He's a long, lanky athlete with blazing bat speed and outstanding wrists, making for easy projections to hit for both average and power. He's a 55 runner and comes with a rocket for an arm.
The Bad: While Brown has developed a more patient approach, he still has a tendency to expand his strike zone when behind in the count; he can be especially susceptible to chasing breaking balls in the dirt. He has all of the tools to be a plus defender, but he has poor outfield instincts and is often guilty of questionable routes.
Ephemera: Of Brown's 15 Double-A home runs in 2010, forty percent of them came in the fifth inning, as he went 11-for-25 with a triple and six bombs during that time, good for a 1.240 slugging percentage.
Perfect World Projection: Brown should turn into a star-level corner outfielder.
Fantasy Impact: With good batting averages and the potential for 20/20 seasons, Brown could be a stud.
Path to the Big Leagues: Brown will compete for the starting right-field job this spring, and even if he doesn't win the job in camp, he should get the majority of at-bats at the position this year.
ETA: 2011

2. Brody Colvin, RHP
DOB
: 8/14/90
Height/Weight: 6-4/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Seventh round, 2009, St. Thomas More HS (LA)
2010 Stats: 3.29 ERA (138.0-138-42-120) at Low-A (27 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/command

Year in Review: After receiving an over-slot bonus of $900,000, Colvin recovered from a slow start to rank among the best pitchers in the Sally League during the second half of the season.
The Good: Colvin has everything that scouts look for in a young power pitcher. With long levers and broad shoulders he's ultra-projectable, and he already sits at 91-95 mph with a fastball that can touch 98 on occasion. He gets good spin on a classic downward curveball and shows some feel for a changeup. He's an excellent athlete with a quick, loose arm and a delivery that he repeats well.
The Bad: There is some funk in Colvin's delivery, but in isolation his arm action itself is clean, and it seems to work for him. He needs to gain more consistency with his secondary offerings, and learn how to use them more as chase pitches instead of only throwing strikes with his off-speed stuff.
Ephemera: Colvin is the only player ever drafted out St. Thomas More School in Louisiana, although the school also graduated big-leaguers Lyle Mouton and Scott Dohmann, who were both only picked out of college.
Perfect World Projection: Colvin has a tremendous ceiling as a front-line starter.
Fantasy Impact: He could do it all with a low ERA, plenty of strikeouts, and a low WHIP thanks to good control.
Path to the Big Leagues: Colvin will begin the year in one of the minor leagues' most interesting rotations at High-A Clearwater.
ETA: 2013

3. Jonathan Singleton, 1B/LF
DOB
: 9/18/91
Height/Weight: 6-2/215
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Eighth round, 2009, Millikan HS (CA)
2010 Stats: .290/.393/.479 at Low-A (104 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/run

Year in Review: Singleton proved to be an outstanding hitting prospect during his full-season debut, but a .244/.356/.372 line in the second half of the season did produce its share of questions.
The Good: Singleton's combination of size, patience, and tremendous raw power from the left side brings on unavoidable comparisons to a young Ryan Howard. Beyond his massive strength, he has quick hands and very good hand-eye coordination, and he struck out less often than expected for a 18-year-old slugger in a full-season league. While he's a below-average runner, he's still athletic enough to hold his own in left field, where the Phillies moved him during the instructional league, a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that Howard is signed through at least 2016.
The Bad: After hitting .407/.500/.704 in his first 30 games, Singleton's numbers went into a steady decline as pitchers stopped giving him many looks at fastballs, and he even saw an occasional infield shift, something nearly unheard of at the minor-league level. He needs to improve his pitch recognition skills as well as adjust his approach to better use all fields, as opposed to looking to pull every fastball he sees.
Ephemera: Pitcher Randy Lerch is currently the only eighth-round pick signed by the Phillies to hit a home run in the big leagues.
Perfect World Projection: While all of Singleton's value is wrapped up in his bat, he has true middle-of-the-order potential.
Fantasy Impact: He could turn into an early draft pick, despite his lack of stolen bases.
Path to the Big Leagues: Opponents made adjustments to Singleton late in the 2010 season, and now the onus is on him to respond to them. He'll begin 2011 at High-A Clearwater, likely as an everyday left fielder.
ETA: 2014

4. Jarred Cosart, RHP
DOB
: 5/25/90
Height/Weight: 6-3/180
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 38th round, 2008, Clear Creek HS (TX)
2010 Stats: 3.79 ERA (71.1-60-16-77) at Low-A (14 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/changeup

Year in Review: Cosart was among the most impressive arms in the minors when he pitched, but the injury bug stuck again when he was shut down with elbow problems.
The Good: Cosart's fastball is among the best in the minor leagues, as it combines mid-90s velocity with outstanding movement, he has the ability to work both sides of the lower half of the plate with it. He shows a decent power curveball that he has confidence in, and he's an aggressive pitcher who works quickly and gets ahead of the count.
The Bad: Negatives about Cosart concern his health more than his stuff. With past shoulder and elbow issues a matter of record, he's thrown less than 100 innings in his career, although medical checkups have shown no cause for long-term concern. His changeup is still a below-average pitch.
Ephemera: None of the 14 players drafted out of Clear Creek High have reached the majors, but the school did graduate Jay Buhner, who wasn't selected until he played at McLennan College.
Perfect World Projection: Cosart's ceiling is as high as that of any pitcher in the system, but for now he has considerable risk.
Fantasy Impact: He could be a monster, he could be a reliever, or he could never get out of the minors.
Path to the Big Leagues: Cosart is healthy and bound for High-A Clearwater, and a full, healthy season could do wonders for his prospect status.
ETA: 2014

5. Trevor May, RHP
DOB
: 9/23/89
Height/Weight: 6-5/215
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Fourth round, 2008, Kelso HS (WA)
2010 Stats: 2.91 ERA (65.0-51-20-92) at Low-A (11 G); 5.01 ERA (70.0-53-61-90) at High-A (16 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/control

Year in Review: After struggling to throw strikes in the Florida State League early on, May dominated following a demotion thanks to simplified mechanics.
The Good: May has a pure power pitcher's frame and the swing-and-miss stuff to match, beginning with a 92-94 mph fastball that he can pump up to 97 when he reaches back for a little extra. He can flash a solid-average curveball with good late movement, and has feel for creating arm-side deception with his biting changeup. He should be able to gobble up innings as a starter, and he maintains his stuff deep into games.
The Bad: The Phillies have worked hard to remove some of the steps in May's delivery, to get all of his limbs going in one direction. While he's made significant progress, he still needs further consistency. His secondary pitches remain inconsistent, which also could be related to the on-and-off nature of his delivery.
Ephemera: May walked one of every 5.2 batters he faced in the Florida State League, but just one of every 13.1 after moving back down to the Sally League.
Perfect World Projection: If May can maintain his second-half adjustments, he has the ceiling of an above-average starter.
Fantasy Impact: He'll provide strikeouts for sure, but walks could keep his other categories from being star-level goodness.
Path to the Big Leagues: May will be part of a prospect-laden rotation at High-A Clearwater, and is the most likely of the group to reach Double-A by the end of the year.
ETA: 2013

6. Jesse Biddle, LHP
DOB
: 10/22/91
Height/Weight: 6-5/225
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010, Germantown Friends HS (PA)
2010 Stats: 4.32 ERA (33.1-35-9-41) at Rookie (9 G); 2.61 ERA (10.1-5-3-11) at Short-Seaosn (3 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/changeup

Year in Review: While he had an up-and-down spring as an amateur, Biddle still went in the first round thanks to his size, left-handedness, and potential.
The Good: Biddle's ceiling is tremendous. He already sits at 92-94 mph with his fastball, but then he shocked scouts by showing previously unseen velocity and touching 97 in the instructional league. While he's huge, he's also a good athlete with a loose arm. He has some feel for spinning a breaking ball, and earns high marks for his work ethic and attitude.
The Bad: Reports on Biddle were all over the board this spring, as he had some starts where his heat sat in the upper 80s, and his secondary pitches could be just as inconsistent. His arm slot can rise and fall from inning to inning, causing him to lose the strike zone.
Ephemera: Biddle is the only player ever drafted out of Germantown Friends, a private high school in Philadelphia, but the fictional character of Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks graduated from the school, per the script.
Perfect World Projection: Biddle easily has a star-level ceiling, but he's far from attaining it.
Fantasy Impact: Let's wait at least a year before worrying about this.
Path to the Big Leagues: Biddle will make his full-season debut at Low-A Lakewood, but multiple scouts who saw him this small labeled him a potential breakout candidate.
ETA: 2014

7. Jiwan James, CF
DOB
: 4/11/89
Height/Weight: 6-4/180
Bats/Throws: S/R
Drafted/Signed: 22nd round, 2007, Williston HS (FL)
2010 Stats: .270/.321/.365 at Low-A (133 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Run/power

Year in Review: A converted pitcher, James made plenty of progress in his first full season, but also showed that there is still plenty of work to be done.
The Good: James is a top-of-the-line athlete who is absolutely loaded with tools. He's a 70 runner with excellent range in center field and a slightly above-average arm. He shows good bat speed from both sides of the plate with game power, and projects to hit 10-15 home runs annually as he learns to take advantage of his long arms. Scouts love the energy he plays with.
The Bad: James remains far more tools than skills so far. He's an overly aggressive hitter who doesn't read balls well out of the pitcher's hand, and he still can flail at breaking balls. He's still learning how to use his speed on the basepaths, and he's currently stealing bases on wheels alone, and was caught stealing 20 times last year in 53 attempts as a result.
Ephemera: James hit .322 in the first four innings of games for Lakewood in 2010, but just .220 from the fifth inning on.
Perfect World Projection: He has the tools to be a first-division center fielder, but it's far from a sure thing.
Fantasy Impact: James could steal 30-40 stolen bases to go with double-digit homer totals, so his fantasy potential could eclipse the real-world value.
Path to the Big Leagues: James will move up to High-A Clearwater in 2011, but it might be hard to truly gage his potential until he reaches Double-A.
ETA: 2013

8. Aaron Altherr, OF/3B
DOB
: 1/14/91
Height/Weight: 6-5/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Ninth round, 2009, Agua Fria HS (AZ)
2010 Stats: .304/.331/.400 at Rookie (27 G); .287/.350/.426 at Short-Season (28 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/glove

Year in Review: A relatively obscure ninth-round pick who signed for $150,000, Altherr left scouts wondering where he came from after showing impressive tools at the short-season leagues.
The Good: Altherr's size and tool set left one scout labeling him as, “Dom Brown light from the right side." He doesn't have a below-average tool, as he has above-average bat speed, and the potential for average to plus power as he fills out and learns to turn on balls. He's a tick above average as a baserunner, and his arm is a true plus tool.
The Bad: He remains incredibly raw. He has excellent plate coverage, but also swings at anything in the same zip code and needs to develop a more patient approach. He seems content to go the other way with pitches he should drive, and scouts would like to see more extension in his swing.
Ephemera: Altherr is the highest drafted player ever out of Agua Fria High, whose only big leaguer is short-lived utility player Shawn Gilbert. The school's most famous athletic alumni is NFL Hall of Fame member Randall McDaniel.
Perfect World Projection: Altherr has the tools to be a power/speed combination, but he comes with considerable risk.
Fantasy Impact: For now, he's just someone to keep an eye on.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Phillies are spending time this spring to see if Altherr could be an option at third base, and he could open his first full season manning the hot corner at Low-A Lakewood.
ETA: 2014

9. Scott Mathieson, RHP
DOB
: 2/27/84
Height/Weight: 6-3/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 17th round, 2002, Aldergrove HS (Canada)
2010 Stats: 2.80 ERA (64.1-49-24-83) at Triple-A (54 G); 10.80 ERA (1.2-5-2-1) at MLB (2 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/command

Year in Review: After two elbow surgeries, Mathieson finally reached the big leagues before being shut down with back problems after two appearances.
The Good: Despite his history of arm problems, Mathieson still brings the heat with a fastball that is parked at 96-98 mph. He works in a decent slider to give hitters a different look, and earns high praise for the work he's put in to recover from his surgeries. He has the mental toughness to handle late-inning pressure.
The Bad: Mathieson tends to work up on the zone, and leaves too many fastballs over the middle, leading to a high home-run late. His slider lacks real bite, and lefties hit him hard when he struggles with the pitch. The Phillies brought in Bruce Sutter to teach him a splitter, with the hope that it can become his new secondary offering.
Ephemera: Mathieson is just the second player signed as the 509th overall pick to ever reach the big leagues.
Perfect World Projection: Mathieson could be an very good set-up man with an outside shot at closing one day.
Fantasy Impact: As a reliever, he's either getting saves, or not of much value.
Path to the Big Leagues: Mathieson will spend the spring battling for a job in the big-league bullpen.
ETA: 2011

10. Sebastian Valle, C
DOB
: 7/24/90
Height/Weight: 6-1/170
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2006, Mexico
2010 Stats: .255/.298/.430 at Low-A (117 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/run

Year in Review: While he did not produce the breakout year that some anticipated, Valle did show the kind of power at Low-A to keep scouts interested.
The Good: Valle has the kind of power rarely found in a backstop, as he already launches bombs in games, and could hit 20-25 annually in the big leagues thanks to a quick swing with plenty of strength and leverage. He has above-average arm strength and has made good progress with his receiving skills.
The Bad: Valle is an all-or-nothing hitter who takes massive cuts, makes few adjustments and swings at far too many pitches. He still needs to clean up his receiving skills and quicken his release. He runs like a catcher.
Ephemera: Only two players with the last name Valle have reached the big leagues (Dave and Hector), and both were catchers, like Sebastian.
Perfect World Projection: An above-average everyday catcher, but like many Phillies prospects, he has plenty of adjustments to make to fulfill that hope.
Fantasy Impact: Catchers who hit home runs always have value.
Path to the Big Leagues: Valle will continue to work with some of the top pitching prospects in the system at High-A Clearwater.
ETA: 2013

11. Justin De Fratus, RHP
DOB
: 10/21/87
Height/Weight: 6-4/215
Bats/Throws: S/R
Drafted/Signed: Eleventh round, 2007, Ventura Junior College (CA)
2010 Stats: 1.79 ERA (40.1-31-11-43) at High-A (29 G); 2.19 ERA (24.2-17-5-28) at Double-A (20 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/breaking ball

Year in Review: Always counted as one of the strong arms in the system, De Fratus proved himself at Double-A and was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason as a result.
The Good: In a system loaded with strong arms, De Fratus ranks with them fairly well thanks to a 93-95 mph fastball than can touch 98, and that's before noting that the pitch plays up due to his ability to throw it with command while adding some boring action to it now and again. He's an intimidating presence on the mound, and likes to challenge hitters.
The Bad: De Fratus' secondary pitch is a slider that is no more than average, and he often gets around on the pitch, causing it to flatten out and sweep across the plate.
Ephemera: Arizona Fall League batters facing DeFratus with runners on base went 0-for-10 with six strikeouts.
Perfect World Projection: De Fratus could be a big-league set-up man, but has a shot at pitching in the ninth if the slider improves.
Fantasy Impact: It's limited, unless he's getting saves.
Path to the Big Leagues: De Fratus will get a long look this spring, and should make his big-league debut at some point during the season.
ETA: 2011

The Sleeper: While his stuff doesn't match his impressive numbers, Julio Rodriguez is a loose-armed righty who could develop into a real starting pitching prospect if his secondary offerings improve.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/85 or later)
1. Domonic Brown, OF
2. Brody Colvin, OF
3. Jonathan Singleton, 1B/LF
4. Jarred Cosart, RHP
5. Trevor May, RHP
6. Jesse Biddle, LHP
7. Jiwan James, CF
8. Aaron Altherr, OF/3B
9. Scott Mathieson, RHP
10. Sebastian Valle, C

Well, that was easy enough. Hooray for veteran talent!

Summary: The Phillies concentrate heavy on high-ceiling talent, while understanding the inherent risks to doing so. This Top 11 list has the potential to be a monster one year from now, while an equal chance of moving backwards by the same amount.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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