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November 3, 2014

2015 Prospects

Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects

by Chris Mellen and BP Prospect Staff

Last year's Phillies list

The Top Ten

  1. SS J.P. Crawford
  2. RHP Aaron Nola
  3. 1B/ 3B Maikel Franco
  4. LHP Yoel Mecias
  5. LHP Jesse Biddle
  6. C Deivi Grullon
  7. RF Kelly Dugan
  8. CF Carlos Tocci
  9. LHP Elniery Garcia
  10. OF Dylan Cozens

1. J.P. Crawford
Position: SS
DOB: 01/11/1995
Height/Weight: 6’2” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, Lakewood HS (Lakewood, CA)
Previous Ranking: #3 (Org), Just Missed the Cut (101)
2014 Stats: .275/.352/.407 at High-A Clearwater (63 games), .295/.398/.405 at Low-A Lakewood (60 games)
The Tools: 5+ potential hit; 6 potential glove; 5+ arm; 6 run

What Happened in 2014: Crawford was all systems go in his full-season debut, hitting .285 in 123 games, including spending half the year in High-A as a 19-year-old.

Strengths: Smooth and agile body actions; athletic player; arm for left side of the infield; instincts for position; can range well to both right and left; soft glove; plus run; loose, quick hands enable barrel control; solid-average bat speed; ability to stay inside of ball.

Weaknesses: In the early stages of learning the ins and outs of being a pro and slowing the game down; engagement in field can drift; glove technique needs work; power likely to play to fringe-average at best; will presently lunge at spin; needs to continue to add strength to handle rigors of long season.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; yet to reach upper levels; gap between present and future.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: At first glance, Crawford’s scouting report reads like a player who’s a good bit more valuable in real life than fantasy, but similar to Francisco Lindor (in theory, not practice), this undersells the fantasy potential here. Crawford’s power can play up to the mid-teens in Philadelphia and with 20-plus steal potential at an extremely tough fantasy position, he’s someone to be excited about in our world as well.

The Year Ahead: Crawford will likely return to High-A for further experience before getting a taste of Double-A at some point this season. The soon-to-be 20-year-old will dictate his own pace, though. Crawford’s swing is geared toward high contact, which bodes well for his hit tool projection, but don’t expect high power output to be a large part of the ultimate game. Some sources suggested the shortstop might experience some growing pains as he continues to learn to slow the game down against the rising competition. There are still plenty of rough edges to polish in Crawford’s game, making what he could look like in his mid-20s quite different than the current product. This will be a developmental journey, with plenty of lead time before reaching peak totals, but all the ingredients are here to round into a first-division talent with continued repetition of his overall game.

Major league ETA: 2017

2. Aaron Nola
Position: RHP
DOB: 06/04/1993
Height/Weight: 6’1” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2014 draft, Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA)
Previous Ranking: NA
2014 Stats: 2.62 ERA (24 IP, 25 H, 15 K, 5 BB) at Double-A Reading, 3.16 ERA (31.1 IP, 24 H, 30 K, 5 BB) at High-A Clearwater
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 potential CB; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2014: Nola was drafted seventh overall, and then proceeded to throw 55 1/3 professional innings, including five starts at Double-A.

Strengths: Easy delivery; repeatable mechanics; low-90s fastball displays strong movement; can reach back for more; creates deception via changing angles on hitters; feel for turning over change; curve flashes deep break and tight rotation; plus-to-better command of arsenal; understands how to execute craft; comes after hitters.

Weaknesses: Doesn’t have prototypical size; can wrap and have trouble staying on top of curveball; becomes loose and loopy; needs to throw changeup more in sequences; fastball is flat when above middle of the thighs; needs one of the secondary offerings to emerge as consistent bat-misser; more polish than projection.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; reached upper levels; limited experience against advanced pro bats.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Nola is much more about safety than upside in fantasy leagues as he currently projects to be a helpful starter in all four categories, who can rack up enough innings to be a roto compiler—his aggressiveness and control can lead to 220 innings a year down the road. Even if he tops out, Nola is unlikely to push past solid SP3 status.

The Year Ahead: Nola’s stuff is likely to be advanced past minor-league hitters and ready for the bigs this season. The right-hander brings a polished three-pitch arsenal, with strong command and solid deception via a low three-quarters delivery. Nola does need at least one of his secondary offerings to fully emerge to complement his fastball against high-quality hitters. There are concerns that if neither the curve nor change reach potential, batters will sit on his heater, which is around the plate often. The concerns are somewhat mitigated by Nola’s advanced mindset, but it’s something to keep on the radar. The ceiling isn’t enormous, but it’s likely he develops into a quality middle-of-the-rotation arm for a number of years with a bit more development going forward.

Major league ETA: 2015

3. Maikel Franco
Position: 1B/3B
DOB: 08/26/1992
Height/Weight: 6’1” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2010, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #1 (Org), #52 (Top 101)
2014 Stats: .194/.212/.226 at major league level (9 games), .257/.299/.428 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley (133 games)
The Tools: 5+ potential hit; 6+ potential power; 6+ arm; 5 glove

What Happened in 2014: Franco experienced resistance out of the gate in his jump to Triple-A, but came on strong in the second half of the year, culminating in a call-up to The Show.

Strengths: Excellent fastball hitter; explosive hands; lightning-quick swing; feel for barreling the ball up with backspin; thunder in the stick; knows how to create lift; can adjust swing in zone; plenty of arm for left side of infield; soft hands and glove.

Weaknesses: Extremely aggressive approach; will guess, leading to misses or weak contact against soft stuff; gets out in front of ball often—creates hole with breaking stuff away; despite excellent hand-eye and bat speed, hit tool may end up playing down due to approach; lacks quick reactions and instincts at hot corner.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; solid-average regular

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level; concerns with exploitable aggressiveness and glove

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Some players are just built for standard 5x5 roto leagues, and Franco is one of them. Franco’s third base eligibility will linger for longer than his skill or playing time at the hot corner, but even if that passes, he could hit .275 with 25+ homers and more RBI than you’d expect, due to his free-swinging nature. He’s still the top fantasy prospect in this system.

The Year Ahead: While Franco might end up starting the year in Triple-A for another tour of duty, the 22-year-old is in line to get an extended chance to show what he can do in the majors at some point this season. Franco is a talented hitter, with top-shelf bat speed and the power to crack 25-plus bombs. While the early Triple-A struggles proved to be a transition period, the overzealousness in the box casts some doubts as to whether the hit tool will translate consistently, possibly leading to extended valleys at the highest level. If there were stronger feeling about his ability to stick at the hot corner, the role would play up a little, but it’s still a potential regular at first who can hit down a bit in the order with some pop.

Major league ETA: Made debut in 2014

4. Yoel Mecias
Position: LHP
DOB: 10/11/1993
Height/Weight: 6’2” 160 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2010, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: #9 (Org)
2014 Stats: 3.21 ERA (33.2 IP, 29 H, 23 K, 9 BB) at Low-A Lakewood, 4.76 ERA (17 IP, 19 H, 10 K, 8 BB) at complex level GCL
The Tools: 6 potential FB; 5 potential SL; 6+ potential CH

What Happened in 2014: Mecias returned to the mound after Tommy John surgery in 2013 to log 50 2/3 innings, while also showing that his stuff is coming back to pre-surgery form.

Strengths: Loose arm; frame to continue filling out and add strength; balanced delivery; late life to fastball; works 89- 92, with potential to sit higher; can touch up to 95; feel for changeup; shows arm-side fade and fastball guise; more grow in offering; flashes ability to snap tight slider; solid foundation of raw pitching tools to work with.

Weaknesses: Immature body; must improve strength levels to handle grind of professional season year in and year out; learning how to approach pitching; some delivery cleanup needed to enhance command; presently below average; tends to spin slider with more slurvy than true break; lacks hard bite.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; TJ on resume; limited professional experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Once you get beyond the top-50 fantasy pitching prospects or so, the sound strategy is often grabbing guys who could see short-term value bursts and then looking to package them in a trade immediately. With a strong change and the FSL in his purview, Mecias is a strong choice for the strategy.

The Year Ahead: This may seem a little aggressive with Mecias considering he still isn’t too far into his return from surgery and has fairly limited professional experience, but this is a prospect with an excellent foundation, who is likely to start turning some heads. Both the fastball and changeup show the makings of plus pitches at the left-hander’s disposal, with the change having the most room for growth. With added strength to Mecias’ lanky frame, the heater also has a good chance to tick up in velocity. The long pole is the slider, which needs tightening and to emerge as a legit piece of the arsenal for the projection to come into full focus. Look for Mecias to further sharpen his skills in High-A this year, and for the whispers of a potential future mid-rotational starter to get louder.

Major league ETA: 2017

5. Jesse Biddle
Position: LHP
DOB: 10/22/1991
Height/Weight: 6’5” 220 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, Germantown Friends HS (Philadelphia, PA)
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org), #94 (Top 101)
2014 Stats: 5.03 ERA (82.1 IP, 78 H, 80 K, 44 BB) at Double-A Reading, .90 ERA (10 IP, 3 H, 9 K, 6 BB) at High-A Clearwater
The Tools: 5+ FB; 5+ potential CH; 5 CB

What Happened in 2014: In a repeat of Double-A, the wheels suddenly fell off the tracks for Biddle during a disastrous June stretch where the left-hander posted a 12.64 ERA over 4 starts that heavily contributed to an ugly overall season line.

Strengths: Smooth, fluid delivery; size and strength to handle rigors of starting; able to throw 89-92 heater downhill; shows feel for creating fade with change—potential for more growth; loose wrist when throwing both curve and change; depth and teeth to curve when throwing from same spot as fastball; athletic on mound.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent fastball command; struggles to finish pitch across the plate (glove side); runs into stretches of wavering release point—stuff becomes bland; changeup will float up in zone; slow and loopy break (69-74) to curve allows good hitters to wait; up-and-down confidence shows in body language on the mound.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3/4 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; upper-minors experience; concerns about confidence level and ability to manage expectations.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: While there’s still a modicum of name value left here, Biddle is not someone who should be relied upon in anything by deep mixed and NL-only formats. A left-hander without an out pitch in a ballpark that significantly aids right-handed power is not a recipe for fantasy value.

The Year Ahead: Biddle will look to use his late-season success as a stepping stone into this coming season. The assignment could be a third stint in Double-A or a bump up to the next level. There have always been questions centering on the left-hander’s fastball command and lack of a true plus pitch. Can the command grow enough to allow him to fulfill a role near the back of a rotation? Well, that’s even more muddied now, as some concerns over Biddle’s ability to manage the peaks and valleys of the game have crept in. The mental side of the game can always be interesting as both good and bad results tend to snowball. It’s not time to bury Biddle, but the stock here has definitely dropped and it’ll be a pivotal season.

Major league ETA: 2015

6. Deivi Grullon
Position: C
DOB: 02/17/1996
Height/Weight: 6’1” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2012, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #6 (Org)
2014 Stats: .200/.200/.200 at High-A Clearwater (2 games), .237/.275/.342 at Low-A Lakewood (24 games), .225/.268/.283 at Short-Season Williamsport (53 games)
The Tools: 8 arm; 6+ potential glove; 5 potential hit

What Happened in 2014: Grullon continued to flash his elite arm and defensive promise behind the dish, but the 18-year-old showed that there’s a ways to go on the other side of the ball, hitting a combined .227 on the season and slugging under .300.

Strengths: Elite arm strength; crisp with release; accurate when throwing with power; frame to handle rigors of position—already filled out in trunk; flashes high growth potential with glove; solid footwork and movements; whip-like swing generates some bat speed.

Weaknesses: In the early stages of learning how to catch; more vision than polish presently; ball control needs work; likes to come up early with body; hit tool potential plays to average at best; tends to break wrists early; lunges at stuff with spin; below-average power; well below-average run.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; backup/platoon catcher

Risk Factor/Injury History: Extreme risk; 18 years old; dual development profile

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: He’s really fun to watch behind the plate, but Grullon should not be owned in any fantasy leagues.

The Year Ahead: It’s easy to like Grullon's defensive potential, as he does some things well now that you don’t typically see yet from catchers his age. Toss in the elite arm strength with a quick release, and this can develop into a monster behind the plate. Of course, the hit tool is a little on the light side, but Grullon does show some ability to hit the ball hard when he squares it up. This is a player who is going to require patience and will slowly marinate. The bat likely isn’t going to do much in a full-season assignment next season, but it’s about a steady progression offensively over the next handful of years to fulfill a projection of a regular.

Major league ETA: 2018

7. Kelly Dugan
Position: RF
DOB: 09/18/1990
Height/Weight: 6’3” 215 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2009 draft, Notre Dame HS (Sherman Oaks, CA)
Previous Ranking: #4 (Org)
2014 Stats: .296/.383/.435 at Double-A Reading (76 games)
The Tools: 5 potential hit; 5+ potential power; 5+ glove; 6 arm

What Happened in 2014: Dugan once again showed that he can hit when on the field, but missed two months with an oblique injury, which ate into some development time and adds another injury to the resume.

Strengths: Solid frame; athletic; shows feel for barreling up balls consistently; brings a plan to the plate; some leverage in swing; solid-average bat speed; filled out chest and shoulders; arm for right field; fundamentally sound in the outfield.

Weaknesses: More of an upper-body hitter; power doesn’t play up to strength level; doesn’t have the loosest of hands; reaches out on front foot against off-speed stuff; questions on how bat will play up against high-quality stuff; below-average runner.

Overall Future Potential: 5; major-league regular

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average regular/bench outfielder

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; has missed development time with injuries.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: An underrated option in deep leagues, Dugan is close to the major-league level in an organization that has very little outfield help or depth. In that respect, he’s similar to future teammate Cody Asche was last year, though whether they are teammates in Philadelphia or Lehigh Valley speaks to the risk.

The Year Ahead: Dugan is a bit of a bland profile as the ceiling here isn’t all that high, but if he can stay on the field and continue to polish the offensive skills, he has a chance to carve out an extended career. These types can fool you because nothing really jumps off the page. The 24-year-old’s bat speed will be tested by a step up in competition and, ultimately, the unforgiving, merciless arms in the majors. If the contact can remain consistent, Dugan should drive some balls out of the ballpark, especially as he gets comfortable muscling up in his spots. It comes down to the outfielder staying healthy and taking advantage of an opportunity, which could come this season if the former holds up. The end result is likely a big leaguer who can put up some productive seasons.

Major league ETA: 2015

8. Carlos Tocci
Position: CF
DOB: 08/23/1995
Height/Weight: 6’2” 160 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2013, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: #5 (Org)
2014 Stats: .242/.297/.324 at Low-A Lakewood (125 games)
The Tools: 6+ arm; 6 potential glove; 5+ potential hit; 7 run

What Happened in 2014: Tocci improved upon his triple slash the second go-around in Low-A, but the overall line still leaves more questions than answers.

Strengths: Possesses baseball instincts; above-average range; foundation to round into a plus defender; excellent athlete; frame to fill out; showing signs of strength improvement; plus-to-better arm; can impact the game; runs very well; feel for contact; flashes barrel control and ability to get bat on a lot of offerings.

Weaknesses: Body has a ways to go to fill out; needs a large jump in strength for tools to play up, especially the bat; presently a free swinger, with little plan at the plate; minimal present power; not likely to be a part of the profile; crude overall game.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average regular/bench outfielder

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; long lead development; concerns on ultimate strength gains.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If you’re going to take a chance on a lower-level Phillies prospect strictly for upside, Tocci is your guy. You’ll probably end up kicking him off your farm team in two years, but the small chance that he develops into a fantasy option with a solid average and 25-stolen-base potential is worth clogging up a spot in leagues with big farm systems (think 300+ owned).

The Year Ahead: Tocci is one of those players who needs a considerable gaze out into the future to see everything come together. The big hurdle for the 19-year-old is gaining the necessary strength to compete against advanced competition. There are concerns that the gap is too large for Tocci to fill, but over the last year there have been some improvements, which showed in his game this past season. If the outfielder continues to make gains in this area, the offensive tools really have a chance to play up. His fluid swing would be further enhanced, and his strong overall instincts for the game point to more evolution in approach. It’s a developmental slow burn with Tocci, with a combination of smaller steps likely rather than a sudden explosion.

Major league ETA: 2017

9. Elniery Garcia
Position: LHP
DOB: 12/24/1994
Height/Weight: 6’0” 155 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2011, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NR
2014 Stats: 5.79 ERA (4.2 IP, 6 H, 5 K, 2 BB) at Short-Season Williamsport, 2.08 ERA (26 IP, 26 H, 23 K, 4 BB) at complex level GCL
The Tools: 5+ potential FB; 5+ potential CH; 6 potential CB

What Happened in 2014: Garcia handled the complex league competition well, fanning 23 and only issue 3 free passes in 26 innings.

Strengths: Projectable body; fastball has potential to tick up in velocity; presently works 89-92; shows late, arm-side tail; solid feel for snapping off curve with two-plane break; plus potential; loose wrist when dealing changeup; flashes arm-side fade.

Weaknesses: Overall command needs improvement; releases fastball early; changeup has a ways to go to play as a viable offering; curve gets loose and sloppy; crude with level of pitching polish.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3/4 starter

Realistic Role: High 4; long/middle reliever

Risk Factor/Injury History: High; 19 years old; complex-level resume;

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: When you’re down to the complex-league level, there are better chances to take in fantasy formats than Garcia.

The Year Ahead: Garcia is an arm who has shown fastball velocity growth over the past couple seasons, with the overall stuff beginning to show progress as well. The left-hander has fairly limited professional experience and is relatively unknown, which on the surface may make him a curious choice for this placement, but there’s a gut feel here. A good showing in either the New York-Penn League or placement in a full-season league will really start to move the stock forward. This is a pitcher with feel for his stuff at an early age. While Garcia is a far from putting his projection in focus, this season is about taking a few more steps forward against better competition.

Major league ETA: 2018

10. Dylan Cozens
Position: OF
DOB: 05/31/1994
Height/Weight: 6’6” 235 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2012 draft, Chaparral HS (Scottsdale, AZ)
Previous Ranking: On The Rise
2014 Stats: .248/.303/.415 at Low-A Lakewood (132 games)
The Tools: 5 potential hit; 6+ power potential; 5+ arm

What Happened in 2014: Cozens flashed in-game power during his first year of full-season baseball in dropping 16 bombs, but also whiffed 147 times in the process.

Strengths: Large frame; good present strength; plus-plus raw; leverage in swing to produce loft; hits from a firm foundation; strong hands and forearms; solid-average bat speed; plus arm strength.

Weaknesses: Questions on utility of hit tool; swing can get long, loopy and lose fluidity; swing-and-miss tendencies in the zone; power may play down as a result of lack of contact; immature approach; on the stiff side with actions; will have to watch bulk; engagement drifts.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; solid-average regular

Realistic Role: High 4; bench/platoon outfielder

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; yet to reach upper levels; hit-tool utility

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Power is power, but Cozens comes with more red flags than a slalom course. He’s a pure flier at this point in fantasy leagues, but rebuilding owners do love big power numbers from prospects, and Cozens could be a 25-homer guy if he can figure out how to get to it.

The Year Ahead: The big draw here with Cozens is the plus-plus raw power and the ability to drive the ball with carry at a young age. There are questions as to how the hit tool is going to play up given the long arms, max extension, and heavy leverage created. Those concerns are likely to be tested fairly quickly when the 20-year-old takes a step up the ranks. Near-term improvements with his presently pull-heavy approach and tendency to get loose with his swing deeper in counts will go a long way toward keeping Cozens’ from stalling out before reaching the upper levels. This is a high-risk profile and a bit of an upward battle given the rawness, but one that could pay out down the line with averages in the .250s and 20-25 home runs at peak.

Major league ETA: 2018


Prospects on the Rise:

1. OF Cord Sandberg: It's clear the former Mississippi State football recruit is a bit of a project, but there are baseball skills that can be teased out. The easiness of the swing sticks out, though the heavy pull nature to his approach and off-balanced attacking of secondary offerings are equally visible. It’s a longer developmental road for Sandberg, but one that can lead to a projection as a regular with the unlocking of his hit tool potential as experience builds.

2. OF Aaron Brown: The former two-way star at Pepperdine is an intriguing prospect, mainly because of the growth potential in the bat with his attention now fully turned to hitting. There are questions about Brown’s ability to stick in center field, but the raw power is impressive, with some feel for the barrel. If the 22-year-old can fine tune his pitch selection to compensate for the swing-and-miss in his game, it’s a player who can rise up in status within the system relative quickly.

3. LHP Matt Imhof: This left-hander with good size has stuff that’s average across the board, but the deception out of his delivery allows it to tick up a bit. Imhof’s curve is his best secondary pitch and can get chases, especially against left-handed hitters. While the cutting action of his heater gives it some life, the pedestrian velocity is a concern. The expectation is for Imhof to perform relatively well in the low minors, and if there’s any further growth in the stuff, a projection as a back-end starter comes clearer into focus, pushing the 20-year-old up the board in the process.


Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2015)

1. RHP Nefi Ogando: It’s been a winding developmental road for Ogando, but one that has always featured a high-octane fastball. Anyone who has followed Ogando’s career can tell you that his command has always been the big issue. The right-hander can crank his heater up to 98-99 out of the bullpen and flashes a power, mid-80s slider. If he can consistently slow the game down, it’s an arm that can click, leading him right into the back of the major-league bullpen.

2. OF Cameron Perkins: The former sixth-round pick found his way to Triple-A in 2014 after quickly proving he had advanced past the Eastern League. The highest level of the minors was a challenge to Perkins as he struggled to adjust to the caliber of secondary stuff. If he can prove his hit tool is up to snuff, the 24-year-old has a chance to provide outfield help should the organization have a need for him. The profile is more of a bench outfielder or up-and-down player, but Perkins does some things well and can hit his way into contention for a look.

3. RHP Ethan Martin: The lack of command has never enabled Martin to reach the level that his stuff should have gotten him too, but as a potential late-inning reliever there is some promise. The righty’s fastball has shown to tick up close to the mid-90s in relief appearances, and when paired with the late-breaking version of his slider they can be a tough two-pitch combo. It’s not the most exciting profile, and could be labeled as a disappointment for a former mid-first-round pick, but he can provide help to the club in getting key outs in a seventh-inning role.


Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/89 or later)

  1. J.P. Crawford
  2. Aaron Nola
  3. Maikel Franco
  4. Ken Giles
  5. Cody Asche
  6. David Buchanan
  7. Yoel Mecias
  8. Jesse Biddle
  9. Deivi Grullon
  10. Kelly Dugan

After tying for the third-worst record in the National League and finishing 25 games behind the NL East champion Washington Nationals, the time may have finally come for the Phillies to focus on getting younger and the next competitive window. The 2014 club remained very much a veteran-heavy assemblage, with Cody Asche, Ben Revere, and Dominic Brown the only everyday position players under the age of 34. The rotation was similarly aged, with David Buchanan the only pitcher to log more than two starts and finish the season under the age of 30.

The 25-and-under list, accordingly, skews heavily toward the prospect side, though there are a handful of usable pieces currently populating the major-league roster. Cody Asche has settled in as a second-division performer at third base, though the presence of Maikel Franco behind and Ryan Howard across the diamond could make 2015 a make-or-break year for the former Cornhusker, as far as holding on to an everyday spot with the club. The bat has fallen short of expectations thus far, but there are still evaluators who believe he could wind up a .270/.325/.425 six-hole type.

Cesar Hernandez should provide some value as a super-utility option capable of logging time across the grass, as well as the dirt. The bat is light for an everyday gig and major-league arms will not shy away from challenging the switch-hitter with hard stuff in the zone. Freddy Galvis fits best as a back-up infield option, but like Hernandez, lacks the pop to keep big-league arms honest, maxing out as a down-the-order bat.

There is slightly more to work with on the bump, as Ken Giles emerged this year as a legit eighth-inning arm while David Buchanan surprised in the rotation. Improved control allowed Giles’ big velo and swing-and-miss slider to carve up opposing hitters this summer, with the former seventh rounder now in the discussion as the potential closer of the future. Buchanan wields bland stuff but has excelled at keeping the ball on the ground and limiting free passes. There’s a thin margin for error given the arsenal, but this year gave evaluators reason to believe the righty could serve as a back-end starter with a swingman fallback.

Ethan Martin remains a likely bullpen fit whose loose control continues to limit his utility in high-leverage situations. Hector Neris could emerge as a sixth or seventh-inning option with an outside shot at late-inning work if he can find more consistency in his breaking ball. Jonathan Pettibone entered the year as a potential back-end contributor in the rotation but was lost to labrum surgery and currently stands as an unknown for the Phils.

There is some help on the way from the farm, and Philly isn’t without trade assets at the major-league level, but there remains a lot of work to be done in restructuring the team and working back into relevancy in the NL East. –Nick J. Faleris


A Parting Thought: The system is on the thin side, but offers some promise up at the front and a few new additions who can deepen the pool with progress.

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

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