2013 Philadelphia Phillies Top Prospects

 

System Overview: Outside of left-hander Jess Biddle, who could develop into a good #2 and is one of the game’s better southpaws, lacks elite, impact talent. However, it doesn’t mean that there’s not plenty of potential big league value.

Catcher Tommy Joseph, the Eastern League’s youngest everyday player, performed at a league average level, offensively, and nabbed 40% of would-be base stealers. Third baseman Cody Asche’s power improved dramatically, looking like the slugger he did during his collegiate days. Both Maikel Franco and Roman Quinn provide young building blocks in the lower levels. And Darin Ruf, who paced the minors with 38 dingers, could develop into a .260/.330/.500-type hitter.

Right-hander Jonathan Pettibone is just months away from being big league-ready, as is power lefty Ethan Martin, if the team decides to push him to a bullpen role. And Philadelphia did well grabbing Shane Watson and Mitch Gueller early in last June’s draft.

This isn’t an elite system, but it provides a lot of depth and some moderate upside players. And considering how many prospects have been dealt away in the previous years, it’s actually quite impressive.

 

#1, Jesse Biddle, Age: 21, Position: LHP

Plucked out of the first round — 27th overall — in the 2010 draft, the Phillies have handled Biddle cautiously. After showing some promise as a 19-year-old in A-ball in 2011 (8.39 K/9 and 4.47 BB/9), the organization bumped him up a level last season. And in 26 starts, the 6-foot-4 left-hander took another developmental leap forward, striking out a career best 9.53 K/9 while walking a career low, 3.41 BB/9.

According to MinorLeagueCentral.com, Biddle’s Skill Independent ERA, or SIERA, was a solid 3.43.

Projection: Again, because of the cautious route the route organization has chosen to take, Biddle spent the entire year in with Clearwater when he probably should have been pushed to Double-A. He’s built solidly, hasn’t shown any major red flags thus far, and has performed well against older competition. He’s probably two years away from a fulltime MLB gig, but he should be able to settle in as an upper rotation guy, maybe peaking as a very good #2.

Ceiling: 4.0- to 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

#2. Tommy Joseph, Age: 21, Position: C

Joseph, who was acquired from San Francisco as part of the package for Hunter Pence, was not only the youngest player at the position, but also in the entire Eastern League. Between both organizations, he hit .257/.317/.399 with 24 doubles and 11 homeruns.

Projection: Joseph, who nabbed an impressive 40% of would-be base stealers, was essentially a league average bat, which, given his age, level of competition, and position, is a pretty big accomplishment. Along with solid power, he sports above-average patience at the plate, and strong contact skills. He’s kind of an under-the-radar-type prospect, one that could sneak into a few All Star games in the future.

Ceiling: 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

#3. Cody Asche, Age: 23, Position: 3B

The Phillies nabbed the lefty swinging third baseman in the fourth round two years ago out of — no surprise — the University of Nebraska, a state that no other team scouts more efficiently. And after a horrifically poor showing in Low-A (.192/.273/.264), Asche looked more like the collegiate slugger he was, hitting a combined .32/.369/.481 between High-A and Double-A. Along with his 33 doubles, he added six triples, 12 homeruns and 11 stolen bases. His total production was 33% better than the average.

Projection: After posting a sub-.100 ISO, or Isolated Power, in High-A, Asche’s power really took off in Reading, spiking to an above-average .213. And while Reading’s home ballpark tends to inflate homerun totals, his ISO on the road, .207, was still very consistent. Right now, it’s more doubles pop, but he’s got the chance to develop into a 15- to 20-homer threat. Asche won’t be a star, but he’s going to be an above-average regular, a nice #5 or #6 hitter.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

#4. Maikel Franco, Age: 20, Position: 3B

After getting a brief — albeit, highly unsuccessful — taste of A-ball in 2011, Franco’s repeat campaign fared much better. Among only a handful of teenagers in the South Atlantic League, the young third baseman hit .280/.336/.439, showing gobs of potential power (49 extra-base knocks), a strong contact ability (14.4% K-rate), and an average-ish eye at the plate.

Projection: Despite the spike last season, Franco’s power figures to develop into at least 20-homer territory as he learns to elevate the ball on a more frequent basis. His groundball rate last season, 51.5%, was absurdly high given the amount of extra-base hits he produced.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

#5. Roman Quinn, Age: 20, Position: SS

Quinn, a second round pick in 2011, began his pro career in Low-A last season, hitting .281/.370/.408 with nine doubles and a homerun while pacing the NYPL in triples (11) and stolen bases (30). His total offensive production was 34% above the average. Defensively, he remains a bit raw, error-prone.

Projection: There’s really not a whole to like about Quinn’s offensive game. He showed strong plate discipline and contact skills (9.1% BB-rate and 19.7% K-rate), above-average speed, and enough power to keep defenses honest. As a switch-hitter, he handled lefties far better than righties (.362/.430/.420 vs. .258/.356/.412), though both are pretty small sample sizes. If he can stick at the position — instead of moving to center — Quinn’s bat plays even better. He profiles as a .270/.340/.380-type hitter, capable of 50+ stolen bases.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

#6. Darin Ruf, Age: 26, Position: 1B/OF

One helluva find in the 20th round out of Creighton University (Nebraska!) in 2009, no prospect took a larger developmental leap than Ruf. After showing some strong peripherals through his previous three seasons, the 25-year-old exploded last year, hitting .317/.408/.620 with 32 doubles, one triple, and 38 homeruns, the most among any minor leaguer.

According to Weighted Runs Created Plus, or wRC+, Ruf’s total offensive production was a staggering 80% better than the Eastern League average.

Projection: Now the bad, or at least a dose of skepticism. Ruf’s a polished collegiate player — an older, polished collegiate player. The bat’s going to play in the big leagues, as well as his above-average eye at the plate and strong contact skills, but he’s not likely to develop into a star. Rather, maybe settling around a Nelson Cruz-type performer: .260/.330/.500, capable of adding 20- to 25-homeruns.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

 

#7. Jonathan Pettibone, Age: 22, Position: RHP

Another of system’s fast-tracked youngsters, Pettibone spent time with both Reading and Lehigh Valley as a 21-year-old last season, throwing a combined 159.2 innings with 113 punch outs (6.4 K/9) and 49 walks (2.8). The 6-foot-5 right-hander also generated a ton of groundballs, 48.5%, and posted a vanilla 4.08 SIERA.

Projection: Despite the ideal size, Pettibone’s more about pitchability, inducing contact, rather than avoiding it. In 488.1 career minor league innings, he’s averaged just 6.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. He’s needs another half-season or so in Triple-A, but Pettibone should settle in somewhere near the backend of the Phillies rotation for the better part of a decade, maybe peaking as a decent #4 for a couple years.

Ceiling: 2.0- to 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

Update: Through the first four starts of his big league career, Pettibone is showing a four pitch mix: fastball (~90 mph), cutter (~89 mph), changeup (~82-83 mph), and slider (~85 mph).  

 

#8. Kelly Dugan, Age: 22, Position: 1B/OF

A second round pick all the way back in 2009, Dugan finally made his way up to A-ball last season, after two stops in each of the Gulf Coast and New York Penn Leagues. And after showing a league average bat in 2011 (.284/.343/.386), Dugan’s power took a noticeable step forward.

In 117 games, the left swinging first baseman hit .300/.387/.470 with 33 doubles, a pair of triples and a dozen homeruns. His production was 38% better than the league average.

Projection: Dugan, who spent time between right field and first base, was hampered by Lakewood’s negative impact on power, mainly its ability to depress homeruns. He doesn’t figure to develop a whole lot more pop — maybe peaking as a 20-HR guy — but he could figure in as a decent league-average regular, maybe a tick better.

Ceiling: 2.0- to 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

#9. Shane Watson, Age: 19, Position: RHP

Nabbed 14 picks ahead of fellow supplemental first rounder Mitch Gueller, Watson just dipped his toe into the professional waters, throwing just seven innings.

Projection: Per the usual, any long term projections for recent draft picks and international signings will be withheld until the following season.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

#10. Ethan Martin, Age: 24, Position: LHP

The centerpiece of the Shane Victorino deal with Dodgers at the deadline last season, Martin put together a very, well, Martin-like season.

In 157.2 Double-A innings, the former first rounder missed a lot of bats (147), offered up a lot of free passes (79), and posted a run-of-the-mill SIERA (4.09).

Projection: Martin has as much potential as any pitcher in Philadelphia’s system, sans Biddle, of course. But it’s really time to accept him for what he is: a soon-to-be 24-year-old hurler that posted a horrible walk rate in 2012 (4.5 BB/9), which, unfortunately, happens to be the best mark of his career — by a wide margin. He’s not long for the rotation. He could, however, be a damn good late inning option out of the bullpen as soon as Opening Day.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player (reliever)

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

#11. Mitch Gueller, Age: 19, Position: RHP

A supplemental first rounder in last June’s draft, Gueller’s initial returns were far from impressive. In 27.1 innings, the 6-foot-3 right-hander struck out 19 (6.3 K/9) and walked 12 (4.0 BB/9).

Projection: Per the usual, any long term projections for recent draft picks and international signings will be withheld until the following season.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

#12. Larry Greene, Age: 20, Position: LF

After his selection in the first round two years ago, Greene bypassed both rookie levels for Low-A, where he more than held his own as a former high school player. In 70 games with Williamsport, the then 19-year-old hit .272/.373/.381, showing doubles power and an elite eye at the plate. His total production was 28% better than the NYPL average.

Projection: Greene’s production was largely driven by his patience at the plate. Otherwise, he showed below-average pop, the result of an astronomically high GB-rate (57.0%), and little foot speed. He’s already 20-years-old and likely headed for A-ball, so his develop curve is going to be a bit steeper than most.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

#13. Adam Morgan, Age: 23, Position: LHP

A low-ceiling, high-floor prospect out of Alabama in 2011, Morgan has fared far better in the professional ranks than during his time in the SEC. After a solid, but unimpressive showing during his final collegiate season (7.14 K/9 and 2.41 BB/9), the Phillies nabbed him in the third round and sent him to Low-A where his numbers remained quite similar (7.2 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9) through the first 50+ innings of his career.

Morgan, however, transformed into a strikeout machine for the better part of 2012.

In 123 innings in the Florida State League, he punched out 140 batters while showing his trademark feel for pounding the zone (2.0 BB/9). His strikeout numbers, of course, declined during his 6-game stint in Double-A (7.3 K/9).

Projection: A little more difficult to project than the average prospect. And Morgan’s spike in K’s could just be a result of his polished collegiate background. But, on the other hand, he’s never, ever approached those numbers since entering college either. For now, he’s probably nothing more than a good backend starter — unless he shows that ability to miss bats next season.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

#14. Dylan Cozans, Age: 19, Position: RF

Standing a massive 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, Philadelphia hoisted Cozans — probably by crane — in the second round last year. And the young right fielder’s debut showing was quasi-impressive. While in the Gulf Coast League, he hit .255/.341/.441 with 11 doubles, two triples, five homeruns, and eight stolen bases in 10 attempts. His total production was 34% better than the league average.

Projection: At some point he has to stop growing, right? And despite his gargantuan size, Cozan’s showed a pretty complete offensive skill set last season, albeit in a pretty limited sample size. He was willing to walk (11.5% BB-rate), already displayed above-average in-game pop (.186 ISO), and surprising speed. The problem, however, is his K-rate, 24%, which borders red flag territory.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

#15. Lisalverto Bonilla, Age: 23, Position: RHP

After spending the previous three years a full time reliever — with pretty strong results, really — Philadelphia opted to push Bonilla to the bullpen, perhaps in hopes of speeding his path to the big leagues. And the lively-armed right-hander blossomed. Split between High-A and Double-A, he struck out 64 and walked 21 in 46.1 innings.

Projection: Bonilla, who typically had a pretty good feel for the zone, saw his walk rate balloon to nearly two full free passes higher than his career norm. And given his track record, it’s pretty safe to say there’s probably some positive regression in his near future. He could be up some time mid-season.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

#16. Austin Wright, Age: 23, Position: LHP

A mid-round pick out of Mississippi two years ago, Wright put together a decent showing in High-A last season, averaging 8.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9.

Projection: Wright’s only been a full time starter since 2011, so he doesn’t have the typical wear-and-tear that a collegiate hurler enters pro ball with. He could be a useful #4/#5-type, capable of chewing up innings while posting a 4.40 ERA or so.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

Photo of Jesse Biddle Courtesy of  Mark Lomoglio/MiLB.com



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.