Coming into the season, the Phillies‘ farm system was a consensus top 10 system in the league. Keith Law of ESPN was the most bullish on the organization, ranking them 5th. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus had them 8th, and Baseball America had them 10th. It’s impressive to have a farm system in great shape after making several high profile trades in recent years. It’s a testament to the great work of the scouting and development staff to find the talent they do with a limited draft and international signing budget.So the talent is there, but there is one problem: just about all of it is in the lower levels of the system.
Because of the recent trades for Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, the upper minors are depleted at the moment. Among the players sent away in those trades, Josh Outman, Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Carlos Carrasco, Kyle Drabek and J.A. Happ are in the majors or have been in the majors. Adrian Cardenas and Michael Taylor have reached AAA. Matt Spencer, Travis d’Arnaud, Anthony GoseVillarand Jonathan have made AA. Some of those guys don’t have much of a future, but that’s still a lot of talent in the majors and in the upper levels of the minors.
While they have great talent and more than most other teams, it often doesn’t help in trades with few exceptions. Jason Knapp was the big piece in the Cliff Lee trade, and he was only in low-A at the time. Of course, the Phillies also gave up three near ready, solid prospects to compliment Knapp.
It’s extremely unlikely the Phillies will be able to make another big trade like they have in recent years, but they have the ability to get some quality players. I thought I’d try to evaluate the trade value of their best prospects. It’s not easy since every organization values different players differently, and the prospect return a team receives can vary if they’re trading a star, very good player or someone coming off the bench. It’s important to note that this isn’t really a ranking of prospects. A player with lesser potential in the upper minors usually has more value than someone less developed. I’ll use the format Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus used in a post on Baseball Time in Arlington.
RHP Jarred Cosart
Potential impact: #2 starter or great closer
Present value: Top 50 prospect in baseball; primary piece in trade for 2-3 starter or #5 hitter
Attributes: Cosart has the frame to build up strength and handle a 200 IP workload in the future. He has one of the best fastballs in the minors in the mid 90’s, and he’s shown the ability to throw a lot of strikes in the past. His curveball has plus plus potential, and his changeup is developing with a nice velocity difference from his fastball. He was one of the most impressive players at the Futures Game.
Red flags: Cosart has shown injury concerns as an amateur and professional; could end up as a reliever in the long run; performance hasn’t matched the stuff this season despite health.
1B Jonathan Singleton
Potential impact: Middle of the order hitter
Present value: Top 50 prospect in baseball; primary piece in a trade for a very good starter or hitter
Attributes: Singleton has a huge frame listed at 6’2 215, but he’s probably actually much bigger than that. That means he has the potential to hit for very good power in the future. He’s a complete hitter that can make very good contact too. For a 19 year old, he has a very advanced plate approach and has the ability to take a lot of walks. He’s a pretty good athlete and could handle a corner outfield spot in the future.
Red flags: Incredibly streaky and can run extremely hot and cold at any time; needs to cut down on strikeouts; power hasn’t developed as expected this season; may have less value if he has to stay at 1B.
RHP Trevor May
Potential impact: #3 starter
Present value: Top 100 prospect in baseball; secondary piece in a trade for a 2-3 starter or #5 batter
Attributes: May is showing improvements in 2011 after a disastrous stint in Clearwater last season. He has a big frame that can handle a full starting workload in the future. His fastball can get up to the mid 90’s with movement, and his above average curveball makes him one of the minor league’s leading strikeout pitchers. He can also throw an effective changeup to limit left handed batters. He could be promoted to AA soon.
Red flags: Inconsistent mechanics can result in an extreme loss in command; better this season but still prone to terrible outings; despite movement on his fastball, he’s an extreme fly ball pitcher.
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