May 212013

Phillies logoWith the draft coming up in about two weeks, the Phillies are scrutinizing possible players to add to the organizations.  Teams don’t, and shouldn’t, draft for need at the major league level, but they should see which areas of the organization need depth and if those areas can be addressed through the draft.  Overall, it’s a below average farm system, but some areas are stronger than others.  Next week, I’ll start talking about specific players in the draft that could help.

Catcher: Average

With Carlos Ruiz’s contract set to expire, and whether he finishes the season with the Phillies or not, they need a catcher of the future.  They first thought that could be Sebastian Valle, but that ship has seriously sailed.  Tommy Joseph has starter potential, but he’s only hit well enough in one out of three seasons in his career to indicate that could happen.  He’s hitting poorly again this year and is now on the DL with a concussion.  Cameron Rupp is nothing more than a backup, and recent signing Deivi Grullon is only 17 years old and far, far away from ever having an impact, if he ever does.  The point is, no player in the organization should be preventing them from taking a catcher if he’s at the top of their board.

First base: Average

It’s really hard to compare first depth because there are so few legitimate first base prospects in the minors.  Many players who will play the position in the majors are playing elsewhere right now.  Darin Ruf could provide some power, and Clearwater’s Chris Serritella was thought to have some potential from last year’s draft, but he hasn’t been good at all this season.  2013’s draft has a real rarity, a high school first baseman that will be drafted in the first round, Dominic Smith from California.  He could be available at 16th for the Phillies as one of the best bats in the draft.

Middle infield: Below average

This is a very thin spot in the system, especially at shortstop.  Roman Quinn probably won’t be able to play the position at the major league level, and that really leaves no one promising in the organization.  At second base, at least they have Cesar Hernandez in AAA who could be an average player.  There’s no star talent here, so shortstop is certainly one position to target.  If draft picks can’t stick at shortstop as professionals, they often become second or third basemen.  Targeting shortstops often provides depth at other positions in future seasons since they’re the best athletes.  The lack of depth here is one of the more concerning aspects of the system.

Third base: Above average

After over a decade of failing to develop anything at this position, the Phillies could actually have some internal options coming through.  Cody Asche will be first up despite a pretty mediocre start to the 2013 season.  Like Hernandez, his potential is really just that of an average player, but average looks pretty good compared to their recent efforts developing their own third baseman.  Perhaps the top bat in the system belongs to Maikel Franco in Clearwater.  He still has a lot of work to do with his plate approach, but he has All-Star potential.  Young players like Mitch Walding and Zach Green offer other raw options, and for once, it seems like this is not a sore spot for the organization.

Corner outfield: Below average

The big club has been lacking power for years now, and that trickles down through the organization.  There really isn’t anyone that profiles as an everyday player playing in a full-season league right now.  Maybe Larry Greene could become that kind of player.  His walk rate is impressive, but his power has not come as advertised, and it’s almost comical how much he strikes out.  Dylan Cozens could prove to be a huge power threat too, but he’s still so far away that no one can say what will happen with confidence.  Jose Pujols was a big Latino signing along with Grullon, and he has impact power too.  He’s yet to appear in a professional game though.

Center field: Average

The saving grace here is Carlos Tocci who hasn’t even been performing well in low-A, albeit as a 17 year old.  The performances of the center fielders in the upper minors, Tyson Gillies and Zach Collier, have been abysmal at best.  Neither had greater potential than average starter at best anyway, but in a season where Ben Revere is looking more like a minor leaguer than a long-term solution, it doesn’t appear they’ll be getting help anytime soon.  Aaron Altherr’s hot start has been a pleasant surprise, but his strikeout rate and high BABIP are potential red flags.  He’ll have to prove his start is for real in the coming months.  Like shortstop, center field depth is important because often times those players become good corner outfielders later in their careers.

Right-handed pitching: Below average

Even if Jonathan Pettibone wasn’t about to graduate from prospect status, they would probably still be below average.  Now that he’s essentially out of prospect discussions, Ethan Martin is the organization’s best right-handed pitching prospect, followed by Shane Watson.  Watson could very well turn out to be a great pitcher, but he’s very unproven right now.  Despite being in triple-A, it’s more likely that Martin is pitching in relief in his career rather than in the rotation.  Mitch Gueller, another 2012 first rounder, has potential too, but he’s not even pitching in Lakewood yet.  Teams can never have enough pitching depth, and the Phillies certainly need it from the right side.

Left-handed pitching: Above average

I hesitated to go above average here, but the strength of Jesse Biddle and Adam Morgan was enough.  Beyond them, the depth is almost non-existent.  Austin Wright, drafted in the same class as Morgan, has suddenly contracted Steve Blass Disease with Reading and isn’t on the map at all right now.  Fortunately, if this draft class does have a strength, it’s in high school pitching.  The Phillies will have a chance to address pitching depth from both sides in June if they choose to do so.

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Scott Grauer writes for PSC and Bus Leagues Baseball – check him out!