I failed to put together a midseason top prospect list update, so instead, I’ll do a somewhat extensive stock up/down entry.
3. SS J.P. Crawford: Crawford proved his strong pro debut in 2013 wasn’t a fluke, and he’s on the short list for best shortstop prospects in the league. He’s a no doubt big league shortstop defensively, and his bat has been better than expected, particularly his power. He should start next season with Double-A Reading, and it’s not out of the question that he is Jimmy Rollins’ direct replacement in 2016.
9. CF Carlos Tocci: Whether Tocci should be in this group or the steady group was a tough choice, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. In his second South Atlantic League season, he did show some improvement; he was clearly a bit stronger with more extra base hits, but it would’ve been nice to see some improvement in his walk and strikeout rates. He’ll again spend an off-season trying to get stronger.
16. CF Roman Quinn: Quinn would have been ranked much higher if he had entered the season healthy, and now that he’s proven that he is, he’ll reclaim his spot near the top of the organization. He shrugged off his achilles injury to steal 30 bases for the third straight season, and he continued to hit decently at the plate. Moving forward, he has to make more contact and walk at a higher rate to better utilize his speed.
20. LHP Yoel Mecias: Mecias missed most of the year after Tommy John surgery, but he returned to throw 50.2 innings. His strikeout rate decreased a pretty significant amount compared to his partial-breakout 2013 season, but his walk rate decreased too, something I don’t think is too common after elbow injuries. We’ll see how his stuff looks next year with Clearwater.
IF Jesmuel Valentin/RHP Victor Arano: Both players the Phillies acquired for Roberto Hernandez are coming off seasons that saw their stock improve. Valentin hit better in his second go-around in the Midwest League and earned a promotion to the Florida State League after the trade. Arano might already be their second best right-handed pitching prospect behind Aaron Nola.
1. 3B Maikel Franco: There’s no question Franco found his power stroke and finished the season hot, but he still finished with just a .727 OPS thanks to his horrendous months of April and June. Because of his great finish and the surprisingly positive review of his defense at third base (Baseball America’s survey of International League managers found that he was the best defensive third baseman in the IL,) there’s a case to be made that Franco’s stock should be steady, not down. I’d be surprised to see him back in BA’s top 20 prospects this off-season though, and that would mean his stock is down.
7. RHP Severino Gonzalez: In 2013, Gonzalez emerged as a prospect with average stuff and great control, and 2014 in Double-A would be a test if he could keep getting batters out. For the most part, he wasn’t able to do that. He still threw a lot of strikes, but the stuff wasn’t getting strikeouts anymore. Batters hit him harder, and suddenly he looks like less of a prospect. Because the organization has such little depth, he’s still one of their better ones though.
8. CF Aaron Altherr: Altherr enjoyed a breakout 2013 that conveniently featured the highest BABIP of his career. He still showed the power and speed evaluators came to expect, but he finally hit for an acceptable average. In 2014 with Reading after coming back from injury, it appears 2013 was a fluke. His hit tool still seems to be below average, and that probably means he’s not an everyday player.
13. Cameron Rupp: Last off-season, I wasn’t sure if signing Wil Nieves to a big league deal made a lot of sense because Rupp should’ve had a leg up for the Phillies’ backup catcher spot. This off-season, the Phillies can’t expect anything from Rupp. He’s had a terrible 2014, batting .155 with a career high 34.7% strikeout rate. He was always a bit of an all-or-nothing offensive player, but 2014 has just been nothing.
2. LHP Jesse Biddle: After a foot injury and illness hampered Biddle in 2013, a concussion altered 2014. He was struggling even before that though, and next year, he has to pitch well. We’ve already, fairly I might add, written off the last one and a half seasons due to injuries, but the excuses have to stop at some point.
5. RF Kelly Dugan: I’m tempted to list Dugan as a straight down because of his lengthening injury history, but factually, injuries did affect him again this year. He performed well again, and that’s what makes his injuries so frustrating. At some point, it’ll be time to just stop expecting he’ll ever be able to play 130-140 games.
6. RHP Miguel Gonzalez: Between the reduced signing bonus, no off-season activity, poor spring training and getting shut down with injuries twice, it was a long string of bad news for the Phillies’ big Cuban signing. Gonzalez has his fastball velocity back in relief, but it’s hard to call this anything but a missed year. Hopefully he can transition back to the rotation next spring.
12. LHP Adam Morgan: Morgan had shoulder surgery in the off-season after a poor 2013, and he didn’t pitch at all in 2014. I expected he would be back for at least a little bit, but obviously he didn’t make enough progress to get back on the mound. It was a huge blow to the Phillies since before his shoulder problems, he was a fringe top 100 prospect in baseball.
17. RHP Shane Watson: Like Morgan, I expected Watson to pitch at some point this season. He also had shoulder surgery and also never returned to action despite that being the expectation. At 21 years old with just 79 professional innings under his belt, Watson has to come back and show something quickly to get his career back on track.
25. C Tommy Joseph: It’s hard to not feel bad for Joseph after having another season significantly altered by injuries, and he actually had fewer plate appearances this season than he did in 2013. This time, it was mostly a wrist injury that sidelined him. Unlike last year, he was actually performing well though. He could once again be the toughest player in the organization to rank.
10. RHP Ethan Martin: Martin started the season late because of a shoulder injury, and when he came back, the Phillies threw in the towel on his career as a starter. That’s probably for the best because he doesn’t have an effective changeup to get lefties out. He was a little better throwing strikes when he returned to Lehigh Valley, but he has to continue to improve to really capitalize on his good stuff.
15. 3B Zach Green: Green’s shoulder injury cost him a big chunk of plate appearances and forced him to play first base when he did return. As long as that shift across the diamond isn’t permanent, his future still looks pretty nice. He cut down on his strikeouts pretty significantly, and if his power fully returns when he’s healthy next year, he should be in good shape moving forward.
23. 1B Luis Encarnacion: Encarnacion was the youngest professional player in the U.S. this season, so it’s not a huge setback that he posted just a .637 OPS before sitting out the last two weeks of the season for seemingly no reason. When he goes back to the Gulf Coast League next year, he’ll probably still be one of the 20 youngest players in the league.
27. OF Jose Pujols: Pujols played the entire 2014 season at 17 years old, so he still has a lot of time to develop. It still would’ve been nice to see him show a little improvement repeating the GCL. Instead, his walk rate dropped, he somehow struck out more, and although his OPS was up 55 points, I’m inclined to attribute most of that to a huge increase in his BABIP.
4. 2B Cesar Hernandez: I’ve been of the opinion that Hernandez could be an everyday player for a while, but after a year he mostly spent in the majors not playing, it seems pretty unlikely. This was his last option year, and the Phillies are no closer to finding out what his potential is than they were at this time last year. He can hang on as a utility player with his speed and defensive versatility, but I don’t think they did him any favors with their development plan.
18. RHP Ken Giles: In retrospect, Giles should have obviously been higher, although to be fair, he’s pitching better now than he did as a minor leaguer. If he keeps throwing strikes the way he has, he’s certainly one of the best relievers in the league as it looks like the Phillies are starting to finally build a bullpen.
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