Philadelphia did well in acquiring a pair of potentially quickly moving collegiate pitchers — Aaron Nola and Matt Imhof — to open the draft, both of whom rank among the club’s top 10 prospects. Maikel Franco has been a major disappointment over the first half of the season, hitting a paltry .227/.280/.353. Teenage shortstop J.P. Crawford has already begun ascending up the minor league ladder.
For a look at the club’s Top 10 Prospects heading into the year click HERE
1. Maikel Franco, 3B, Age: 21
In terms of production relative to the league average, Franco is in the midst of the worst season of his five-year professional career. According to Weighted Runs Created Plus, the 21-year-old third baseman has been 30% below the league average production, a mark he equaled during his debut season in 2010.
2. J.P. Crawford, SS, Age: 19
Crawford’s torrid debut in rookie ball last season carried over into an impressive showing in low Class A this year, a move that earned the former first round pick a promotion to Clearwater. Simply put, he’s the heir apparent to Jimmy Rollins’ throne.
3. Aaron Nola, RHP, Age: 21
A three-year starter for LSU, Nola finished his collegiate career on a high note: 1.47 ERA, 10.37 K/9, and 2.09 BB/9. The Phillies, fully recognizing Nola’s polish and guile, pushed the right-hander straight to high Class A to begin his professional career. A Tim Hudson-esque peak. For his full pre-draft analysis click HERE.
4. Jesse Biddle, LHP, Age: 22
Instead of showing tangible developmental progress during his second go round in the Eastern League Biddle has actually taken a few steps backwards and has taken a bit of mental break. Still, though, left-handers with an above-average ability to miss bats are at a premium.
5. Severino Gonzalez, RHP, Age: 21
I was incredibly high on Gonzalez entering the season, ranking the lanky right-hander as the #86 prospect in baseball. He’s disappointed a bit in Class AA this year, averaging the second lowest K-rate of his career (6.73 K/9), though he’s still showing his trademark control (1.77 BB/9).
6. Matt Imhof, LHP, Age: 20
The #19 player on my College Big Board, Imhof finished the year with the seventh most strikeouts in DI this season. Solid mid-rotation-type arm who could move semi-quickly through the system. For Imhof’s full pre-draft analysis click HERE.
7. Yoel Mecias, RHP, Age: 20
Mecias bounced back relatively quickly from Tommy John surgery, making his return in less than 12 months. Prior to the injury, he was in the midst of a breakout season in low Class A.
8. Andrew Knapp, C, Age: 22
The #14 player on my Collegiate Big Board last season, the organization pushed Knapp to the high Class A after a 30-game crash course with Lakewood.
9. Kelly Dugan, OF, Age: 23
For an organization that tends to take an aggressive approach with its prospects (see: Carlos Tocci), it’s a bit perplexing as to why the club didn’t push Dugan into Class AAA to start this season after a solid 56-game stint in Reading in 2013. Nonetheless, he’s topped the league average production by 31% this year.
10. Dylan Cozens, OF, Age: 20
In my book, The 2014 Prospect Digest Annual, I pegged the man-child as one of the top breakout players heading into the season. And…I whiffed. Badly. Cozens is hitting .229/.291/.402 though he has added a career best 11 homeruns.
Photo Courtesy of HILARY SCHEINUK via theneworleansadvocate.com.